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Battle of Santa Clara

Historic Sites, Monuments, Landmarks, and Public Art (State Historical Landmark)


Between January 2-7, 1847, Mexican and American forces fought in a skirmish that was nicknamed the "Battle of the Mustard Stalks." It was the only battle during the Mexican-American War fought in Northern California. It received its nicknamed because the American forces were in a mustard field when the Mexicans opened fire. A historical marker indicates the location of the skirmish. The actual battle only lasted a couple of hours on the first day but negotiations lasted for the full five days. Four Mexican soldiers died and four were wounded; only two Americans were injured.

Original marker by Moonlite Shopping Center
Marker at supposed site of Armistice Oak tree
Plaque for Oak tree site
Newer marker for Battle of Santa Clara. Located at address posted for this entry.
Marker were Santa Clara Treaty took place
Modern rendition of battle
Drawing of the battle


The battle was the result of the increasing tensions between the Californios, the Mexican inhabitants the Santa Clara area, and American immigrants who were encroaching on the Mexicans' lands. The spark for the battle occurred when six American sailors, who went ashore to buy food from the Mexicans, were taken hostage.

The event, nicknamed the Battle of the Mustard Stalks because it began in a mustard field,  was really more of a skirmish than an actual battle. It lasted only two hours and there were no deaths. 

As a result, an American force was sent to rescue the sailors who were eventually released after negotiations. Another marker nearby indicates the location where the formal surrender and release took place. 

There is an interesting side note to the battle at Santa Clara. One of the battle's participants was James Reed, one of the leaders of the doomed Donner Party. Reed was in the area to attempt to secure a relief party for the trapped remnants of his party, but had difficulties as many of the able-bodied men were fighting in the war. 


"The Battle of Santa Clara January 2-7, 1847." Historical Marker Database. Accessed June 24, 2015. Hoover, Mildred Brooke; Hero Eugene Rench; and Ethel Grace Rench. Historic Spots in California. Revised by William N. Abeloe (3rd ed.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1966. Tinkham, George Henry. The California Conquest: California Men and Events: Time 1769-1890. Record Publishing Company, 1915. Regnery, Dorothy F. The Battle of Santa Clara, January 2, 1847: The only campaign in the northern district between the Californios and the United States Forces during the Mexican War. Smith and McKay, 1978.

1515 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95050
  • Agriculture and Rural History
  • Latino/Latina History
  • Military History
  • Political and Diplomatic History
  • Maritime and Naval History
  • Western/National Expansion
This location was created on 2015-06-24 by Mike Emett .   It was last updated on 2017-07-22 by Rebecca Woodham .

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