In Battle Essay

Submitted By BigStanStanley
Words: 3858
Pages: 16

In battle, what defines a victory? Is it the number of enemies killed, which force takes control over hard fought land, the force who does not retreat or is it the force who is able to convince the masses of their triumph? The U.S. is credited with the victory in the Battle of San Pascual, but the events that occurred during and after the battle suggest a different victor. Exploring statements and reports from those who witnessed and/or were involved in the Battle of San Pascual prove that there is a conflicting dichotomy as to who the true victor was, the invading U.S. forces, or the defending Californios. General Stephen Watts Kearny and his U.S. forces came into California with the strong belief that they would easily defeat any Californio forces who attempted to impede their conquering of California. Led by Commander Andres Pico, the Californios whom inhabited the California territory being invaded, fought long and hard with several motivators; the most prominent of these being the desire to defend and act upon their hate for the invading American forces. Californios refused to be defeated. General Stephen Watts Kearny was a highly decorated officer in the U.S. army. At the age of 18, as a first lieutenant, he fought against the British in the War of 1812, battled the Plains Indians in 1830, and was presidentially ordered to organize a heavily armed cavalry regiment, the First Regiment of Dragoons.i Given the responsibility of training new horse soldiers, Kearny was named "Father of the U.S. Cavalry".ii Kearny was a tough and strong man who could still be very just. He was known to be fair when it came to negotiations with Native Americans, but if he had to take action, he could do so easily. At the beginning of the Mexican-American War, Kearny was promoted to Brigadier General and was ordered to take a force of 2,500 men to seize Santa Fe, New Mexico.iii The Mexican forces at Santa Fe retreated to Mexico, allowing Kearny to take New Mexico without a fight during the initial contact, but Mexican forces would rally, rebel, and fight against the American invaders. Kearny’s reputation preceded him as a force to be reckoned with. General Andres Pico was a San Diego native, a productive Ranchero and served as Commander of the "California Lancers" of Alta California, what is today simply known as California. His older brother Pio Pico, was the last Mexican governor of Alta California. Alta Californians had mixed feelings regarding Andres Pico. They were not sure if he was in collusion with the Americans and someone who could potentially betray his homeland if the price was right, or if he was a loyal Californio.iv After the recapture of San Diego by the Americans, Jose Maria Flores, Mexican governor of California ordered Pico, with the assistance of Captain Leonardo Cota, to watch American movements and keep them from plundering resources in the surrounding area. Pico had an informant within the city, his sister Margarita, who told him of the American movements.v Aided by Margarita's knowledge, Pico learned that Captain Archibald H. Gillespie, U.S. Army officer who had fought to gain control of San Diego, had set out from San Diego toward the Native American Rancheria of San Pascual in an effort to join with another group of Americans. The troops, led by General Kearny, were making their way from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Kearny and Gillespie's forces were meeting up to join forces. Their combined forces were to head to San Diego and attempt to eliminate any other threats the Mexican forces stationed and living there. The Californios under Pico's command were eager and ready to fight Kearny and Gillespie because of their advantageous reputations toward Mexicans. Kearny held contempt for Mexicans and saw them as weak and cowardly after the easy take-over of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Gillespie, while in control of Los Angeles, "deemed them (Mexicans) of an inferior race and cowardly, was inclined to treat them with as much