Campsite (SLP-TS-5)

(Click on picture to enlarge)

In 1997, after much research, the SPBSLP targeted this site, SLP-TS-5, as where it had thought that the American soldiers camped the day of the battle, through the night and until the next morning. Since this date, numerous controlled sweeps using metal detectors of this entire sector now tells us this: The American Soldiers did not camp at this site. However, this is good news because we now know where they did not camp! This has caused us to now direct our attention specifically west of this site, onto the San Diego Wild Animal Park property just on the other side of the property fence line.

Closer study of Emory's sketch shows how he drew the symbol representing the American's camp site more to the left side and not the right of this enclave. The lack of physical evidence on the right side of this enclave now causes us to direct our attention to the left or far west side.

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Emory's camp site sketch

The retrieval of 14 artifacts from these soldiers from the Snook Adobe site is significant when understanding that the soldiers were only at this site for approximately two hours. If this number of artifacts can be recovered from a location where the soldiers were at for just two hours, imagine how many pieces of artifact debris could be recovered at a location where they camped for 24 hours? This, following heated battle and later, defensive positions maintained through the remaining day and night. Imagine the broken weapons and other equipment that was probably everywhere throughout their camp. Locating the site of this camp would be a treasure trove for artifacts related to this battle. The SPBSLP strongly believes and endorses, that an archaeological survey should be conducted of this site, just inside of the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

… they fled from the field, not to return to it, which we occupied and encamped upon.

General Kearny

Our position was defensible, but the ground covered with rocks and cacti, made it difficult to get a smooth place to rest, even for the wounded.

Lt. Emory

We encamped on the field


The whole force now moved to the heights on the right of the field which having a sort of breast work of rocks afforded us a secure camp.

We encamped for the day upon a hill near the field of battle.

Capt. Gillespie

We drove the enemy from the field and encamped.

Dr. Griffin

The newly suspected site of where the soldiers' campsite might be is located on the present day San Diego Wild Animal Park. We know that there has been extensive excavational road and earth work done in that area causing destruction to the site. Despite this however, the SPBSLP believes that there may still be a considerable amount of artifact debris at this location. This site is definitely worth an archaeological survey.

However, site SLP-TS-5, directly west of the San Pasqual Battlefield Monument Park, is still very significant and may also contain artifacts from this battle. The reason is that this site is believed to be where the temporary field hospital was set up just after the battle that morning.

There is much cactus at this bend and a high elder bush still indicates the site of the temporary hospital.

Philip Crosthwaite

We know that the Americans set up camp not far from where their temporary field hospital was set up at. Site SLP-TS-5 fits the description being right around the point (bend) and being home to both cactus and elder bushes.

Further, this site has long been rumored to be where, in the 1960's, several glass medicine bottles, supposedly later dated to 1846, were found right next to an elder bush. Although the SPBSLP has never been able to confirm this story, locate the actual person who found the bottles, or examine the artifacts for verification, this story is an interesting one.

This same area during the battle of San Pasqual was also suspected to be where, during the initial part of the 2nd engagement, Californios stood with rifles firing down on the American soldiers as they rode by in battle. Later, members of Captain Gillespie's group of volunteers supposedly then took the ground from the Californios and shooting at the Mexicans as they rode by. There is documented physical evidence that seems to support this.

As early as the 1960's, pieces of weaponry consistent with what the Californios were using at the battle have been found. One such piece was a brass center stock ram-rod holder or guide for a Brown Bess Musket. Some of the American Volunteers may have also been using some of these same type of weapons as well.

On an exploratory survey conducted by the SPBSLP, some of the following pieces of artifact debris were retrieved from this site:

  • Brass ram-rod holder for a musket
  • Spent 54-cal. musket ball
  • Flintlock lock-screw

    Site SLP-TS-5 is definitely worthy of an archaeological survey at this location.

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