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San Pasqual Battlefield Site Location Project Overview

Author: Project Director and Research Historian George H. Hruby
George H. Hruby

Although the San Pasqual Battlefield and nearby Mule Hill have been identified as historical sites, no formal archaeological work has ever been done at either location pertaining to the battle. Owned by the City of San Diego and left to the care of the California State Department of Parks and Recreation, both sites have been savagely pilfered by treasure hunters. To date, over 500 artifacts (many of which have been photographed and documented) have been recorded lost from these sites. They have been lost to private collections and in some cases, to museums (Serra Museum in San Diego and the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History) who have suspiciously lost artifacts from this battlefield which were in their possession. Also, such archaeological evidence will help yield valuable information to scholars and historians alike about much unknown information concerning this battle.

While a Visitor's Center today sits at the battlefield, it has not one artifact from the battle that it was built to commemorate. To make matters worse, both the Battlefield and Mule Hill sit in the middle of a very rich, environmentally protected habitat preserved by the City of San Diego called the San Dieguito River Park Project. Every time treasure hunters attack these sites for more artifacts, they destroy native habitats from endangered and fragile plant life, to nesting sites for endangered bird species in the area. The question became: How can we save the artifacts from these sites, save the environmentally sensitive habitats, and for the first time in the history of the San Pasqual Battlefield Museum, be able to provide artifacts from the battle for public display?

The answer became the creation of the San Pasqual Battlefield Site Location Project. Informally created in 1991 by George Hruby, and formally in 1996, its goal has been to conduct academic, historical, and field research to determine site locations relevant to the battle. Also, to achieve a professional archeological investigation to confirm such sites, and to recover artifacts from these sites for historic preservation. Only by finally conducting major archaeological digs at these sites can we once and for all retrieve any remaining artifacts from this historical event. With the artifacts finally retrieved, the treasure hunters will have nothing more to dig for at these sites. This will, in turn, help stop the uncontrolled digging and thus help save the environmentally protected areas. Finally, it will provide artifacts for public display at the Battlefield Visitor's Center which should be their final resting place. Such artifacts do not belong boxed away in museum basements or inside a closet or garage of some treasure hunter. These artifacts will belong to the people of the County of San Diego, to the people of the State of California, and to all Americans as a rich part of our history and heritage.

In 1991, Project Director George Hruby initiated one of the most intensive historical field research investigations ever undertaken at the San Pasqual Battlefield. Joined by many other professionals in the field, the San Pasqual Battlefield Site Location Project has, after over twelve years of historical research and a tremendous amount of private and governmental resources, established important sites relevant to the San Pasqual Battlefield. Its depth of historical research encompassed fact–finding trips to the States of Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Indiana to learn as much as possible about some of the American soldiers who were actual participants in this battle on December 6, 1846. The project was also able to gain the acceptance of the tribe of San Pasqual Indians, being given unprecedented access to interviews done in the very early 1920's of Indians and their oral histories of the battle and even more important information documenting the actual location of the San Dieguito River in 1846 which became pertinent in locating the sites upon the battlefield.

Interviews were also done and collected from early pioneer families in the valley corroborating information obtained from the Indians. The project also created the first actual database cataloging every known artifact reported and known from the battlefield or Mule Hill, discounting many objects that were thought to be from the battle. Based on years of historical research by the SPBSLP, preliminary test sweeps did locate the first and only known artifacts from the battlefield as well as at a 'two hour campsite' near Mule Hill just prior to the soldiers coming under attack there. The amount of historical research, data compiled, and resources used to finally identify sites on the battlefield by the SPBSLP have been unprecedented. Already, research from this project helped rewrite some of the battle at Mule Hill (5 miles due west) never before known including and pertinent to exact site locations involved with the Hill itself and permanently recorded there today at the interpretative stations. The project has also made other exciting discoveries with this battle. For example, long before the Civil War, this battle became the first time in U.S. Army military history where a two-animal gun carriage (vs. single animal) for the howitzer was employed in actual battle by the U.S. Army and, a connection between the famous Civil War General, William Tecumseh Sherman and the Battle of San Pasqual, and much more.

However, the two most spectacular discoveries have been locating the actual battlefield itself and understanding the soldier's exact movements (both sides) upon that battlefield during the engagement. This has given us a much clearer knowledge of the events that fateful morning in December of 1846. The other has been the first ever, historically and chronologically accurate, minute-by-minute narrative account of the battle. Years in the making, it has involved the painstaking piecing together of all of the first and second hand witness reports of the battle to form this detailed narrative re-creation of the event.

George H. Hruby
Director and Research Historian
January 2010
Email rsvp209@gmail.com



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