2nd Engagement Sites (SLP-TS-6) (SLP-TS-7) (SLP-TS-8)

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After the 1st engagement between the Americans and the Californios at the Battle of San Pasqual, the Californios would eventually retreat, out and around the point. The “Point” is where, today, the San Pasqual Battlefield Monument lies off Highway 78, at Santa Ysabel Creek Road. It is approximately one mile east of the entrance to the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

Approximately 75 Californios, riding away from the 1st engagement, would end up at the site SLP-TS-6. Another 25 would instead, continue riding along the road south, to the top of a nearby hill, believed to be where the present dairy rests.

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(Click on picture to enlarge)


This hill is also one of the two portrayed on Emory's sketch.


It is believed that it was closer to the far corner of SLP-TS-6, where Pico and his Californios sat atop their horses when the lone Captain Moore charged around the point, all the way to their location and to his death. Indeed, quickly after, rides Moore's brother-in-law, Lieutenant Theodore Hammond who is also quickly laid upon by the Californios.

It is not long after that, Kearny, with other officers and dragoons straggling behind on their slow mounts, followed the way of Moore and Hammond, charging right into the Californios. The Californios counter-attack attack is swift and vicious and, Kearny quickly sounds a retreat. The Californios begin chasing them down with many of the soldiers breaking away from each other and as one soldier would later write about,

Each man was for himself.

The fight took place near a bend of the high rocky point that makes out and around which runs the main road. Behind this bend, some Californians had halted, (it can hardly be said for concealment, for the moment you pass the whole ground is visible plainly.) A little level plain stretches off toward the northwest — there the lone tree is in sight, where Kearny was surrounded and at which Lt. Hammond was killed. There is much cactus at this bend and a high elder bush still indicates the site of the temporary hospital.

Philip Crosthwaite

With the approximately 25 Californios that had ridden onto the nearby hill, they had now turned around and rejoined Pico's group. The battlefield, alive with two mounted and opposing forces, grew large and spread out very quickly in the early morning fog and darkness.

Pico's counter-charge, and Kearny's retreat starts moving east and quickly covering sites SLP-TS-7 and SLP-TS-8.

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(Click on picture to enlarge)


The officers begin to establish a skirmish line that today, is suspected to run off of the northeast side of SLP-TS-8, running parallel with the present Santa Ysabel Creek Road. It was probably here that the mountain howitzer, and eventually the Sutter Gun, were placed. The remaining howitzer seized by the Californios was no doubt southwest of, and outside the boundaries of SLP-TS-7 & 8, towards the two hills (shown on Emory's sketch) that today sit a house and a dairy.

With site SLP-TS-4 having been identified as the location of the first engagement, various soldiers from different ranks, column placement, and actual involvement tell us how far to the second engagement site. Note the half-mile marker flags on the above aerial.

Gillespie 1 ½ mile
Carson   ¾ mile
Kearny   ½ mile
Smith-Turner   ½ mile
Doniphan   ½ mile
Griffin   ½ mile

Many historians including Leland Bibb have said that any sweep of the valley floor for artifact debris would be fruitless and a waste of time because of over a century-and-a-half of floods that have ravaged the flood plain. While this office would tend to agree with that summary, as an actual Site Location Project for the battlefield, no assumptions can be made. Indeed, two sweeps had already been made at the SLP-S-3 site meeting with negative results.

The SPBSLP then decided to conduct exploratory sweeps of the battlefield so as to ascertain whether or not the sites did or did not contain artifacts of any sort pertaining to the battle. It should be noted that nearly fifteen years earlier, the American Battlefield Protection Program had sent one of its members to San Pasqual to survey the battlefield. The final findings were that the battlefield was ravaged by so many years of flooding that it indeed had no potential for salvageable artifact recovery.

The goal of the SPBSLP was then to set up a grid pattern and conduct an initial survey of several of the sites. If any artifact from the battle was located, the exact location would be plotted and the artifact retrieved for further examination and analysis. Two very interesting artifacts were located at two of the site locations: SLP-TS-8 and SLP-TS-6.


A soldier's coat button was discovered inside SLP-TS-8 at 3-inches. Three inches is important because that is the depth where 1846 resides and the depth where over 100 other artifacts from these same soldiers were located at Mule Hill. The button is an interesting find because it may or may not be from the actual battle. The button was identified as a Symmetrical Spread Eagle, Lined Shield, introduced in an expedient fashion for the Mexican War in 1847. Now the Battle of San Pasqual was in 1846. However, the date of 1847 comes from when the patent was filed. During war time, was the button already being produced in 1846 with the patent finally getting filed and finalized in 1847? We don't know. There is a 10% margin of error on the 1847 date.

However, what is important is the button was found with little effort, at 3-inches, right in the middle of one of the SPBSLP's designated sites. The artifact did not get washed away as others predicted.

Canister Shot

One of the most remarkable finds by the SPBSLP was a piece of confirmed, fired, canister shot. It was found at site SLP-TS-6. Consistent with other artifact debris found from these soldiers, it too was found at 3-inches.

The object, a round ball measuring 0.630-inch in diameter and 0.383 grains in weight, was made of lead. There were two flattened areas on one side giving evidence of having been fired. There was no signs of impact.

Further analysis of the ball was done by the Director of Fort Leavenworth Museum in Kansas, Steve Allie, an artillery expert on the 12 lb. Mountain Howitzer, as was reported used at this battle. Allie stated that the diameter and weight of the ball fits perfectly for use in canister-shot. Knowing that General Kearny had stated in his official report that no howitzer was brought into action at this battle, I asked Allie what the difference was between canister-shot and “grape-shot” which might have been fired from the Sutter Gun? Besides, both are round metal balls of the same approximate size and weight so how could one tell if the ball found was canister-shot or grape-shot? Allie then asked what the ball was made of? He was told, “lead.”

Without hesitation, Allie replied that grapeshot was made of iron and so was canister shot, except for the “Mountain” Howitzer. Canister-shot for the Mountain Howitzer was made of “lead.”

This now told us that somewhere within 350 yards of where this canister-shot was found, there was a Mountain Howitzer fired. Finding other pieces of canister-shot in this area could give us a possible shot-trajectory. A reverse trajectory could then be done to help us locate where the cannon was when it was being fired.

Such finds as this piece of canister-shot and other objects discovered on the battlefield, give much reason and support for the San Pasqual Battlefield Site Location Project, or any other organization that promotes the archaeological investigation of the San Pasqual Battlefield. It would appear possible that other artifacts, including artillery–related artifacts might still be on the battlefield which could yield even more important clues concerning the use of artillery at this battle. Indeed, located even in a flood plain, this battlefield may still have secrets to offer up.

(Click on picture to enlarge)

(Click on picture to enlarge)

Aerial photograph showing both the 1st engagement (theory 2) and the 2nd engagement

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