#0452 Mule Hill


#0452 Mule Hill

Site information:

The actual site of Mule Hill is this location:


There isn't really anything there, but one can hike to the spot.  The hill is viewable from the state plaque from a distance.

Plaque information:

State plaque located on Pomerado Rd, 0.1 mi E of I-15, San Diego


Private signage is located much nearer the actual hill

33.062535, -117.063127

State Plaque text:

Mule Hill

On December 7, 1846, the day following the Battle of San Pasqual fought five miles east of here, General Stephen Kearny's command, on its way to San Diego, was again attacked by Californians. The Americans counterattacked and occupied this hill until December 11. Short of food, they ate mule meat and named the place 'Mule Hill.'

Marker placed by California Centennials Commission. Base furnished by San Diego County Historical Markers Committee. Dedicated September 3, 1950.

Private Plaque text:

Mule Hill Standoff
  • On December 6, 1846, California's bloodiest battle of the Mexican War took place at San Pasqual five miles east of here.
  • On December 7, the American soldiers, sailors and volunteers under the command of Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearny, were attacked from the rear by Mexican forces 250 yards northwest of this location.  This compelled the Americans to withdraw to higher ground for cover, but fire still came from above.  The Americans were able to drive their enemy from the hill directly in front of you, but for the next four days they were besieged by the valiant Mexican forces.  The Mexican forces recruited for the defense of their homeland were led by Captain Andres Pico, younger brother of Pio Pico, a former Governor of California.  The forces were primarily comprised of Californios, residents of California at that time who descended from Mexican and Spanish colonialists.  These men, mostly ranchers and vaqueros, were excellent horsemen and very adept with their primary weapon, an 8-foot lance.  The Mexican forces formed a cordon around the Americans on the hill.  The Americans were short of food and resorted to eating their mules, hence the name "Mule Hill" for this site.  Under the protection of two small cannons, the men dug shallow wells for water at the base of the hill near the road behind you.  An exchange of one prisoner from each side took place.  The exchanged American informed Kearny that no help was coming from San Diego.  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.  In doing so they lost their footwear, and their feet were soon cut and sore from walking on sharp rocks and cactus.  Nearing San Diego, they separated to better insure that one would get through any Mexican forces in that area.  The Native American arrived in San Diego first, followed by Beale and then Carson.
  • On December 9, with little food, water or supplies and with a number of wounded men, General Kearny made the decision to fight his way to San Diego.  He ordered his troops to burn all excess baggage, including weapons and supplies.
  • On December 10, Sergeant John Cox died and was buried at Mule Hill.  Later his body was disinterred and reburied at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in a mass grave along with his comrades who had fallen at San Pasqual.  Dr. John Griffen reported that all but two of the wounded were able to ride and Kearny decided to march out the next day.
  • On December 11, in response to a sentry's early morning challenge, a reply came back in English.  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 competing a 2,000 mile march from Fort Levenworth, Kansas.
Registered 11/2/1949