Walk down Mule Hill Trail at the south end of Escondido and you’ll find yourself stepping into history.
A while back I blogged about the forgotten town of Bernardo. A hundred years ago it was located in farmland near this trail, prior to the creation of Lake Hodges.
Down this same trail information signs mark the location of Mule Hill, where a skirmish took place during the Mexican-American War.
Seeking shelter among rocky outcroppings, General Kearny established a defensive position against pursuing Californios, as his U.S. Dragoons retreated toward San Diego after the Battle of San Pasqual.
Today, after a short, easy walk south down Mule Hill Trail, you’ll see the outcroppings rising above several signs. You can find the wide dirt trail just east of Interstate 15, off Bear Valley Parkway, before Beethoven Drive.
Beginning south down Mule Hill Trail, part of the San Dieguito River Park.
The wide, easy trail leads south toward both Mule Hill and the forgotten town of Bernardo.
Off to the right near river trees, a solitary sign beckons.
Start of the Engagement, December 7, 1846
“Late in the evening, when we had arrived within about four hundred yards of the water where we intended to camp, they charged us, coming on in two bodies and compelling us to retreat to a pile of rocks about two hundred yards away on our left . . . ” source–Kit Carson’s Autobiography
Continuing our walk south. Jumbled boulders can be seen on the hill to our left.
We’ve arrived at three signs near a pair of rock outcroppings that figure in the early history of San Diego. The signs explain what happened here at Mule Hill.
Mule Hill Standoff
On December 7, the American soldiers, sailors and volunteers under command of Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearny, were attacked from the rear by Mexican forces 250 yards northwest of this location…
The Mexican forces recruited for the defense of their homeland were led by Captain Andres Pico . . . The forces were primarily comprised of Californios, residents of California at that time who descended from Mexican and Spanish colonialists…
The Americans were short of food and resorted to eating their mules, hence the name “Mule Hill” for this site…
…Navy Lieutenant Edward Beale volunteered to sneak through the Mexican lines to seek help from San Diego, and he asked that army scout Kit Carson go with him.
On December 8, after the sun had set, Beale, Carson and a Native American (identity unknown to us) sneaked through three lines of Mexican sentries…Nearing San Diego, they separated…The Native American arrived in San Diego first…
On December 9, with little food, water or supplies and a number of wounded men, General Kearny made the decision to fight his way to San Diego…
On December 10, Sergeant John Cox died and was buried at Mule Hill…
On December 11… A relief column of 100 sailors and 80 marines, sent by Commodore Robert Stockton, had arrived. The Mexican force, now outnumbered, withdrew. Later that morning the Americans left Mule Hill and marched to what is now Old Town, San Diego, thus completing a 2,000 mile march from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
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