Captain Benjamin Moore quit yelling for his men to come up. Spurring his horse on as fast as it could go, he tried desperately to stop the Californios before they cleared the rocky point on the north side of the valley floor. Dawn was creeping over the horizon and the southwestern end of the valley was now barely becoming visible.
As the Captain cleared the rocky point to his right, he could barely make out in the early predawn darkness, some Californios way ahead down the road. He slowly brought his horse to a stop on the road. Caught up in the chase, he looked both to his front and to his rear.
He suddenly realized he was the only American that had yet cleared the point. As he sat there on top of his horse trying to grasp that realization, movement to his right unexpectedly caught his eye. With his sword in hand, Moore slowly wheeled his horse to the right. Perhaps his heart skipped a beat as he began to make out silhouettes against the darkness of the nearby hill. Not all the Californios had continued down the road as Moore had thought. There in front of him were about seventy Californios staring back at him.
Unbeknownst to Moore, most of the Californios’ force had chosen to stop and regroup after they cleared the point. A small remainder of Mexicans had ridden on to the center of two nearby hills located directly in the middle of the valley floor and, whom Moore had originally been chasing.
In the middle of the seventy Mexicans sat General Andres Pico on top of his horse. He had stopped there, thinking the battle was over. They had disengaged the strung-out Americans over half-a-mile away. Trying to now figure out what their new plan of action was going to be, they suddenly found themselves looking in disbelief at the crazy American officer.
Moore found himself in a very delicate situation. He had been totally caught off guard with the Mexican force behind the point. As an American officer, he had only two choices, to either charge the enemy or, turn tail and yellow-belly back around the point to his soldiers.
Moore knew the latter choice could never be. For several seconds he thought of his deceased wife, Martha. He thought of his six-year-old son, Matthew, and his four-year-old daughter, Mary Ann.
Pulling his pistol out with his other hand and a last-minute hope that his troops were coming around the bend any second, Moore spurred his horse and charged the Mexicans. His target was the man in the center of the group, General Pico. The Mexicans watched the lone officer charge towards their General, both gallantly and defiantly, yelling, and then slowly pointing his pistol.
Focused on the Captain’s charge, none of the Californios paid any attention to the second American officer now rounding the bend in the distance. It was Moore’s brother-in-law, Lieutenant Hammond.
As if everyone present including Moore knew what had to be done, in a matter of seconds, it was all over. Riding at full gallop, Moore aimed and fired his pistol at Pico but missed. Then quickly, Moore wheeled his horse around, raised his sword and made another pass at Pico. The Californios then did what had to be done.
Californios Leandro Osuna and Dionisio Alipas both rode up to Moore before he could make a second pass at Pico and ran their lances through his body. Several more Californios rode up and ran their spears through the Captain’s body. Then, Pico rode over to the soldier and ran his own sword through Moore as well.
With the Captain’s eyes glazed and blood running out of his mouth, his body began to quiver. Pulling their spears out of him as quickly as they had thrust them in, Moore’s body fell off the horse and onto the ground. His sword snapped in two as his hand still gripped firmly to the hilt.
Pablo Apis, an Indian from nearby Temecula, suddenly rode up and ran his lance clear through the soldier’s dying body. Soon, Moore had been lanced up to eight times. Perhaps as an act of mercy, Thomas Sanchez then rode over to the fallen soldier and shot him once in the head.
Hammond heard the single shot fearing the worse. He saw the Californios around Moore like wolves on a kill. He then made a reckless attempt to stop Moore’s death but, in the process, made his own ride into glory. Other Californios rode up immediately and intercepted Hammond, running lances through his body nine times. Their lances were much longer than Hammond’s sword could ever reach.
General Kearny and members of his small group quickly rounded the point and headed straight for the Californios.
Sergeant John Cox and a few other dragoons were finally catching up and rounding the point too. They were headed on down the same caretta road when all through the noise of their own galloping mounts, an array of movement to their right caught their eye as well.
They saw General Kearny and others fighting the Greyhounds near a lone willow tree in the middle of a lone plain, about 400 to 500 yards northwest of the point. The dragoons slowly wheeled their animals to the right and charged. The Californios however, were more than ready for them. They met the Americans’ charge with tremendous ferocity.
As the group of seventy Mexicans engaged the small group of dragoons, the other twenty-five or so Californios that had ridden on down the road earlier, now turned around and quickly headed back to rejoin their compadres. This, even more quickly turned the tables on the Americans, leaving approximately twenty to forty dragoons to take on approximately a hundred Californios. The Americans were outnumbered over two to one.
General Pico now led the Californios gallantly forward in their own charge. The Mexican cowboys were now showing their skills as the awesome horse soldiers of their country. Their lances that they used to spear bulls and hunt grizzlies with, were very deadly in the hands of these “Cabillarios.” Each lance was decorated with pennants that furled with each movement of the rider. Their pennants quickly became splattered with American blood.
John Cox and his men rode into the thick of the Californios. Somewhere, somehow, in a matter of seconds, things went drastically wrong for them. Several of the dragoons fired their weapons only to find they wouldn’t fire. Like their ice-cold and soaked uniforms, some had wet powder from the rain causing their weapons misfire.
For others, the Californios were upon them too fast to reload their weapons after getting just one shot off. Several lancers would converge on one dragoon, thrusting their sharp spears through his body.
Some dragoons found themselves being roped and pulled right out of their saddles where several Californios would ride upon them, jabbing their long lances into the bodies several times.
For the Americans, their guns were no good, their mounts were not responding fast enough, and their rusted swords were no match against the long lances of the Mexicans. The Greyhounds swarmed all around them with deadly precision.
Slowly, more American soldiers continued around the point. One of them was Lieutenant John Davidson and his artillery battery that consisted of two howitzers on run down carriages and a small group of men. Bringing the guns into the rear of the position just south of the caretta road, he immediately spun the guns into position in a desperate attempt to save the dragoons on the field.
As his men made several attempts to bring the battery into service, Davidson suddenly was overcome with two terrifying realizations.
One was that he was in a position where he could not fire the howitzers without hitting his own men. The second was that he realized he had no ammunition for the guns. The balls and canister shot, were farther back in the rear and hadn’t arrived up on the front yet.
Finally, in desperation, Davidson drew his sword and yelled to his NCO in charge of the battery that he could take the battery to hell. Then, raising his sword, Davidson rode off into battle.
Despite nine wounds to his chest, both his lungs punctured, Lieutenant Hammond slowly rode his mount back towards the rear. The whole time, he kept yelling to oncoming dragoons, “God sakes men, come up.”
He was met by Doctor Griffin on the field who after already being ordered by General Kearny to the rear, was skirting around the General to help in the fight. Due to the extreme intensiveness of the battle that seemed to swirl across several hundred yards of field all around the doctor, he could but only order Hammond to ride to the rear where he would attend to him later.
Coming up the road from the rear and finally arriving just in front of the howitzers was Captain Gillespie and about thirteen of his California Volunteers.
As Gillespie’s unit pulled up onto the field, the dragoons, to retreat from the enemy’s onslaught, were headed right towards Gillespie. The order to retreat had been ordered by General Kearny. Captain Henry Smith Turner had tried unsuccessfully to counter-order the General.
Kearny, Turner, Emory and the rest of the small group of dragoons were simply being laid upon by the vicious Greyhounds. The dragoons were being quickly destroyed and Kearny began the retreat to the rear.
With so few dragoons present, and the fact they were so greatly outnumbered by the Mexicans, the remaining Americans quickly began moving southward towards San Pasqual Hill. This took them back across the caretta road and into a field where the two howitzers were positioned.
Riding right pass the dragoons, Gillespie and his unit suddenly found themselves totally enveloped by the pursuing Californios. Left to fend for themselves, the California Volunteers were instantly thrust into mortal combat with the enemy.
Captain Gillespie was quick to see the fatal results of the dragoons “turning” in the face of the enemy and fleeing. He immediately yelled out, “Rally men, for God’s sake rally, show a front, don’t turn your backs, face them, face them, follow me,” but Gillespie’s words fell on deaf ears. The dragoons rushed by not even slowing.
One of the California Battalion Volunteers named Daniel Sexton was quickly overwhelmed by five of the Greyhounds who knocked him out of the saddle and had him sprawled out on the ground. They were about to thrust their bloodied spears into his body when by chance, Lieutenant Beale saw the near execution and charged all five. The Mexicans quickly fled seeing Beale aiming his weapon at him. Sexton’s life was indeed saved by this act.
Dragoons were all over the field fighting small skirmishes of their own. In the pre-dawn darkness, all the participants of this bloody battle resembled nothing more than silhouettes, nothing more than faceless outlines riding, running and fighting each other until death.
Private Joseph Kennedy was being chased by a small group of Californios across the field. Kennedy tried to make his mount go faster but it couldn’t no matter how deep he dug his spurs into its sides. Like many of the dragoons, Kennedy may have lost his rowels on the ends of his spurs and had nothing but metal ends to jab into the animal. Kennedy knew his time was up.
One lone Californio got right up behind Kennedy and thrust his spear forward at his skull. It sliced into the left side of Kennedy’s skull but was deflected. Kennedy was gripped with tremendous pain from the blow but even more with Adrenalin, from the absolute fear and terror of dying. He kept riding with his pursuer directly behind him.
The Californio thrust his spear again at Kennedy, and again, Kennedy’s skull proved to be a small target. The spear once more cut into and glanced off of the left side of his head. Now frustrated, the Californio continued his pursuit with even more vigor.
This sad and pathetic chase continued across the valley floor as the Californio kept jabbing his spear into Kennedy’s head. The Mexican was determined to kill the American with a single head shot. Kennedy’s heart was racing as fast as it could go. His veins were filled with straight adrenalin as he knew he was riding for his life. He could feel the warmth of his own blood as it was running down the left side of his face. It ran down his neck and into his clothing making it soggy. The grim reaper was calling.
It was the fifth jab to his skull that finally struck him with such impact that it threw him off his mount. Dazed, injured and confused, he flipped over on his back only to have his killer riding upon him again. Again, aiming for Kennedy’s skull, the Californio thrust his spear at Kennedy’s face but Kennedy threw his arm up to block the blow. The lance went right through his arm. His scream echoed off the valley walls.
Kennedy’s hunter was through. He pulled his spear out of Kennedy’s arm and took off into the battle. Kennedy lay there in silence, feeling like he wanted to just go to sleep. The effects of loss of blood and shock began to set in.
Private David Streeter suddenly found himself surrounded by a pack of “Caballeros.”. He was able to block a blow from a lance that was headed for his skull only to have it enter his neck.
He could suddenly hear the sounds of five spears thrusting in and out of his chest. If this were not enough to satisfy the appetite of the Dogs of War, they stabbed him two more times aiming for his kidneys, impaling him from both sides of his hips with their long lances.
Back in the rear of the field, Mexicans started to swarm towards the two howitzers being brought along on prairie carriages.
The soldiers opened fire with their rifles and in the process, spooked the mules pulling one of the guns.
The two mules pulling the gun took off in a wild panic, the driver being unable to control them. As he held on for dear life, two other mounted soldiers rode alongside the animals trying to grab them and slow them down.
Back at the other remaining howitzer, the crew of three dragoons died terrible deaths. Their bodies impaled over and over by the lances of the Greyhounds. In seconds, their bodies lay lifeless on the wet ground, steam rising from the warm pools of blood spilled across the cold ground.
A horde of Mexicans then took off, descending upon the three remaining soldiers and the runaway gun. The two accompanying dragoons were butchered in their saddles as the driver continued on with the cannon. He could only look back for a brief moment to see the fate of his two companions knowing the same fate now awaited him.
General Kearny, along with Lieutenants Emory and Warner, saw the howitzer with the runaway mules. Kearny realized he was about to lose one of his main artillery pieces to the enemy. He had to get to it quickly or fear losing it. The lieutenants looked on in horror, watching the killing of their men.
In a desperate attempt to save the gun, Kearny, his lieutenants and some dragoons immediately went after the field piece. This movement however was already detected by the fierce Greyhounds. As if a dam broke open, Kearny saw the field in front of him suddenly flooded with Californios. Kearny and his small group were again overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the battlefield, the two mules with the runaway howitzer finally came to a stop. The lone artillery piece now sat alone in the middle of the battlefield. Like in the eye of a hurricane, the howitzer seemed to be a place of calm while all the fighting was swirling around its outer edges.
In one quick swoop, the Californios were down upon the gun. In terror, the driver jumped down and from underneath the carriage, yelled out, begging for his life. The long lances of Gabriel Garcia and Francisco Higuera however, found their mark as they repeatedly stabbed the soldier to death. Like stabbing a live animal, they could feel the death jerks at the end of their spears. The young soldier fell silent. The two mules and their howitzer sat motionless in the middle of the field by the road. Much was happening all around it.
After already being lanced once through the left arm, General Kearny was about to be dealt a death blow from behind by one Californio. The lance was deflected however into the General’s posterior on the left side as a result of Lieutenant Emory who took on the Mexican from his immediate rear while fighting another to his front.
The General began to work his way to the rear when he came upon Doctor Griffin who immediately became concerned about Kearny’s wounds. However, the battlefield was alive with fighting and Kearny told Griffin to stay to the rear. Likewise, Griffin told the General to get to the rear where he could treat him. Then, both disappeared riding off in different directions into the darkness of the early morning.
Because most of Pico’s men were from Los Angeles, they suddenly recognized Gillespie fighting along with his men. Gillespie was the red-haired Marine Corps Captain whom they had captured once before. Their anger was now fueled because they remembered that one of his conditions of release had been his promise that he would never again take up arms against the Californios. Here he was, now once again fighting them in the Valley of San Pasqual.
Infuriated and yet elated that such a prize now lay before them, the Mexicans began to yell out in Spanish, “There is Gillespie, at him men, at him!” Four Californios instantly engaged Gillespie. Two more Mexicans in the distance saw the commotion and joined the group also.
Gillespie, with his sword drawn, quickly parried off four Californios only to be confronted by two more, one of which discharged a shotgun blast which narrowly missed his face. The remaining Mexican charged Gillespie with a lowered spear and, Gillespie parried the blow by sliding over in the saddle and behind the neck of his horse. This however didn’t save him as another lance came from the rear and struck him in the back of the neck, just above the collar. This blow knocked Gillespie clear off the horse and onto the ground, falling with his sword safely beneath him.
Although somewhat disoriented, Gillespie attempted to rise but at that precise moment, a Californio ran his lance right through Gillespie’s back. The spear entered just above his heart and punctured one of his lungs. Gillespie immediately turned his head to face his assailant, only to confront another Californio riding full charge at him and running his lance right into Gillespie’s mouth. The lance tore Gillespie’s lip open and broke a tooth. The impact however, threw Gillespie on his back while his attacker’s horse literally leaped over him, rider and all.
Losing blood and starting to go into shock, Gillespie didn’t feel yet another lance pierce his right forearm. Despite this, and knowing he would surely die if not, Gillespie got himself back on his feet and began to swing his sword wildly, clearing a way for himself. Also lucky for him, his horse took off running with several Mexicans in pursuit to capture it including Francisco Higuera.
At another end of the field, Lieutenant Davidson fell under attack by two Mexicans. He killed one with his pistol while the other one took up another charge against him. He parried the blow and the Californio rode off into the darkness. Davidson fought on, getting lanced several times, his uniform cut, the wounds superficial.
Out on the far edge of the battlefield lay Private James Osbourne, wounded by a lance cut through the neck.
One Mexican, while riding up close to attack an American, found himself shot in the neck with a Patterson five-shot pistol.
Lieutenant Edward Beale of the Navy saw the Californios flag bearer on the battlefield and gave chase. Beale managed to bring his mount right alongside that of the Mexican and inone swift movement, delivered a blow to the Californio while at the same time, putting his hand upon the staff to seize the standard. As faith would have it that morning however, faster than one could blink, Beale’s horse suddenly gave out from under him, crashing down onto the ground and throwing Beale, and losing the flag in the process.
Private William B. Dunne, who had been in the ill-fated advance guard, now rode across the field quickly. He was bleeding from several lance wounds including one from his fourth rib.
The battlefield seemed to be going in slow motion. Dragoons were riding in different directions all over the field. Through patches of fog and clouds of smoke from fired muskets, the smell of sparked flint and gunpowder penetrated the air.
Some of Captain Gillespie’s men from the Volunteer Battalion were able to take an elevated position adjacent the rocky point on the north side of the valley floor at the base of the hills. Comprised of carbineers and sailors, they began to lay down ground fire upon the Californios as they raced back and forth across the field. Futile attempts were made to shoot the Mexicans out of their saddles when they came within range of the rifles. This was made so difficult though due to the shaking from the cold and by the fact that their targets were constantly moving. Under such conditions, hitting any targets at all was absolute frustration for the riflemen.
In quick pursuit of the mounted dragoons across the battlefield were other lance-wielding Californios, numbering almost four to one, every dragoon on the field. The screams of death and terror were heard through the cold and dark morning air. The neighing of horses being wheeled back and forth echoed across the field. The battlefield began to become littered with the carcasses of horses and mules, while other rider-less mounts, still alive, ran wildly through the valley.
Californios Gabriel Garcia, his lance still wet with the blood of the howitzer driver he had lanced underneath the gun carriage, was now charging a lone dragoon across the field. The soldier opened fire however, dropping Garcia and his horse to the ground.
The impact was so sudden and hard, that Garcia’s spear was splintered. The dragoon, sitting reversed in his saddle, worked feverishly at reloading his pistol. As Garcia struggled up, he looked down at his dead horse and anger rushed through his veins. He ran over to the dragoon and pulled the soldier right out of the saddle. Slamming his opponent to the ground, Garcia drew his sword and began striking the soldier repeatedly.
Suddenly, another Californio named Pedro Perez rode up and without warning, ran his lance through the American. He then turned to Garcia and said, “Asi se hace” meaning “That’s the way it is done.“
For the Mexicans, as chaotic as the battlefield appeared, they were awed and brought together by one young and vibrant Californio named Juan Mariano. He was simply called “Lobo” or the wolf. Just twenty-three years old, he was but a Mexican cowboy from the San Gabriel Mission. Despite that caring for livestock had been his trade, he moved through the morning darkness like the wolf he had been named for.
Like the rider on the pale horse, Lobo moved through the battlefield descending death onto the Americans with uncanny precision. The Mexicans fighting alongside him, looked at the vaquero in awe. Said to be a Corporal in the Californios, several times, Lobo, with ice-cold calm and very calculating moves, took leadership of the Mexicans fighting on the field. Quickly reorganizing and directing his compadres against the Americans, Lobo stood tall among his people this morning.
The early morning darkness played havoc on the American soldiers. Several of Gillespie’s Volunteers who wore hunting shirts and who were unknown to the dragoons, found themselves being attacked by their own forces.
One volunteer in Gillespie’s unit named Franklin Sears had his skull cracked open from the butt of a rifle. It was done by a very large-built dragoon who mistook him for a Californio.
Captain Gibson, who accompanied Gillespie with a company of men, found himself surrounded and overcome by the deadly lances of the Californios. He was seriously lanced in two places and losing blood.
Gillespie meanwhile, staggered over to the howitzer, still in the carriage and left alone in the middle of the battlefield with no one to guard it. Its two mules remained still tethered to the gun but turned completely around. He didn’t pay attention to the butchered driver lying dead underneath it.
Losing a sufficient amount of blood from his wounds, Gillespie looked over to the rear of the field and saw the second howitzer with dragoons rallying around it. He tried to yell to them, ordering them not to leave this lone howitzer sitting by itself on the battlefield or surely the Mexicans would seize it, but no one heard him.
Gillespie tried to get the mules to move himself, but they would not budge. He felt himself getting weak very fast. He left the lone howitzer and started for the other one. It was there that the troops were rallying with General Kearny, and Lieutenants Warner and Davidson. All three officers sat mounted on top of their horses. The soldiers were eager to launch a counter-charge against the Mexicans. Kearny’s officers however, quickly dissuaded the General from putting together another charge.
As if in a bad dream, Gillespie looked around. Dragoons were still flying across the field on their mounts with Mexicans in quick pursuit. Bodies lay everywhere. He could still hear yells and screams amid the sounds of running steeds. Pops crackled through the crisp morning air as scattered gunfire echoed across the battlefield. He could see dragoons using their rifles as clubs as they fought to stay alive. He could hear the clashing of swords and lances.
He looked over at the rocky point and could barely see members of his Volunteer Battalion standing on the heights and firing their muskets down at Californios darting by. Indeed, the command had disintegrated to a point that it “was every man for himself. “
Doctor Griffin then rode up to Gillespie who was staggering alone across the field. Gillespie, his face smeared in blood, and bleeding profusely from wounds all over his body, looked up at the doctor and asked him for help.
With the heat of battle still in progress, the doctor could but tell him what he had told General Kearny and Lieutenant Hammond with their wounds, … to get to the rear. With that said, the brave Doctor Griffin, defying the General’s orders to stay to the rear, again rode off into battle.
Suddenly, the doctor found himself being chased by four Californios. Griffin abruptly stopped, and as he was about to be surrounded, he aimed his double-barrel shotgun at them and pulled the trigger only to find that it would not fire due to it needing the flint adjusted. Just the ominous appearance of the shotgun however, was enough to cause the Mexicans to turn and run but not before the doctor threw the broken gun at them in defiance.
Seeing the gun thrown at them, one Mexican decided to return to kill Griffin himself. In desperation, and with no other options available, Griffin pulled his empty pistol from his waist and pointed it at the lone Californio hoping to bluff him. The cabillaro decided not to call the doctor’s bluff and rode off in fear of the weapon.
John Cox had already realized they had made a terrible mistake. There were just so many Mexicans coming from so many directions. None of the Californios had run off in fear of the Americans as Carson and Gillespie had told them they would. Instead, it was quite the opposite. The deadly Greyhounds were more ferocious than they could have ever imagined.
John was trying to function without being consumed by fear and terror from the sights and sounds around him. His men were meeting terrible deaths. Silhouettes of death danced all around him in the early morning darkness as the sisters of faith and destiny, looked on.
It was now John’s turn to pay the piper. Several Californios converged on the young sergeant. With his guns spent and doing the only thing he could do, he waved his sword in defiance and yelled as he rode to engage them. Without warning, and with what seemed out of nowhere, a rope suddenly fell around him. In but a blink of the eye, the rope was jerked tight, pinning his arms to his body.
John could hear other soldiers coming to his aid just as he was yanked out of the saddle, through the air and, down onto the ground. Lasso’d like a helpless animal, he hit the ground hard, unable to do anything. Hoping he would be saved in the nick of time, he struggled on the ground trying to free his arms. Seconds seemed like minutes. He felt like a trapped animal.
As John’s fellow dragoons suddenly arrived to rescue their sergeant, the Mexicans suddenly broke away from him and prepared to take on the other arriving soldiers. In a rush with little time, one Californio on top of his horse rode up to John as he lay on his back. Without any reservation, he thrust his long lance into the helpless soldier.
John’s eyes bugged out and for several moments, he couldn’t breathe. Pain instantly racked his entire body like a steel grip. The sensation was overwhelming. As if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, the Californio then pulled the lance back out and rode off.
The lance tore through John’s skin just above his left hip-bone and entered his abdomen. The ten to twelve-inch lance cut all the way through, tearing his stomach open. The stomach released its gastric contents. His intestines burst out through the wound, exposing it to John’s sight. Suddenly, John felt another odd sensation inside his body. It was his stomach filling up with blood.
John couldn’t catch his breath. He could feel his uniform becoming warm as it began to soak up blood from his wound. His exposed intestines gave off steam-vapors in the cold morning air. He couldn’t believe he had taken a spear.
Fighting shock, losing blood, perhaps he was wondering many thoughts now. If he would now see the Pacific Ocean? Perhaps his mind now flooded with thoughts of Emily.
Captain Gillespie had gone on, making it to the first howitzer. There was still much confusion there because the cannon was ready to fire but no one had any way to light the fuse.
At the same time, more of Gillespie’s men were still coming up bringing with them a smaller cannon called the Sutter Gun. Familiar with this cannon, the Volunteers began to set it up to be fired.
At the howitzer, in pure panic and desperation, Lieutenant Warner of the Topographical Engineers took his pistol and shot at the fuse in a vain attempt to set off the cannon. Gillespie yelled for them to add more powder to the charge and then pulled out his cigar match. Half conscious, Gillespie lit the cannon’s fuse with it and passed out as the howitzer blasted its contents across the battlefield. The Mexicans were taken back by the powerful artillery boom.
Moments later, Gillespie regained consciousness to see Lieutenant Emory walking up to them with a pack on his back loaded with balls for the howitzer. As an attempt was being made to load the cannon, General Kearny along with Lieutenants Davidson and Warner, continued sitting atop their horses observing the activities. Several other soldiers stood nearby including Captain Henry Smith Turner. He also remained on top of his mount, his uniform cut all over from lances.
The Mexicans were quickly becoming aware that the remaining howitzer might get brought into action. This however, did not scare them in the least. Several Californios then scrambled to get at the other howitzer left abandoned on the field. The stubbornness of one of the two mules attached to the carriage cost him a musket ball in the head.
With no time to play with, the Mexicans quickly cut both mules free from the carriage. They then lasso’d the gun and dragged it across the field.
There, they turned it around to use against the Americans. Although a brilliant attempt by the Mexicans, they quickly found they had no way of using it. They had no ammunition for it, no matches for it, and for Mexican-cowboys, no knowledge of exactly how to load it properly and discharge it even if they could.
By now, the battlefield was starting to clear of the deadly Greyhounds who skirted the field. Half of them were still rallied around the captured howitzer which remained a white elephant.
Several of Gillespie’s men managed to get the Sutter Gun loaded with a bag of grape-shot and the fused primer. With the gun aimed at the enemy, Midshipman Duncan discharged a blast of shot onto the battlefield.
The blast reverberated off the mountain walls enclosing the valley. It was an ominous sound to the Californios. Although the grape-shot may have found no targets at all, it was enough to let the Mexicans know it was time to leave. This they did, with the captured howitzer in tow.
Lieutenants’ Beale and Rhusau of the Volunteers then took off across the battlefield in pursuit of the Californios along with a small portion of Captain Gibson’s company. They stopped at the edge of the field however, and left the Greyhounds in control of the valley floor due west.
The Mexicans rode off into the distance along the main caretta road suddenly leaving the battlefield in an eerie silence. Approximately twenty minutes of war, hell’s scourge on mankind, was finally over – at least for the meantime at San Pasqual. In this short time, men who had been alive just an hour before, were now gone for all eternity. Several of the wounded were also about to join them very soon.
The sun slowly rose, perhaps fearful of what it might find over its own horizon this day. The field was littered with dead and wounded men, their bodies among the many carcasses of mules and horses. For a few moments, General Kearny and the small group of Americans could lick their wounds and begin to catch their breath. The silence across the battlefield was loud with thoughts, indeed.
Back on top of San Pasqual Hill, Major Swords and his men, sitting with the supply train were overwhelmed with anxiety and frustration. They had no word yet back from the front. All they had were the haunting sounds that bellowed up from deep within the bowels of the valley floor. They desperately wanted word – had they won? Had they captured the horses? Did they capture the Mexicans? They could do nothing but wait for word.
Back down on the valley floor amid the carnage lay Sergeant John Cox. With his stomach continuing to fill with blood, he began to vomit. In the calm of the moment, his mind swirled with rationalization.
It had all gone so bad, so fast. They simply had no idea this whole affair was going to go like this. It was supposed to have been so simple, so easy. For God’s sake, it was just to get some horses, the Mexicans were supposed to have surrendered, …. suppose to have run off in fear. Where did it all go so wrong at?