San Diego Historical Landmarks—#3: Fort Stockton

San Diego Historical Landmarks

San Diego Historical Landmark #3 is the site of Fort Stockton. From afar, all you see is a flag:

Site of Fort Stockton in San Diego, California, marked by a flag

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fort Stockton was originally named Fort DuPont and is located on Presidio Hill. It has expansive views of Mission Valley, Old Town San Diego, the San Diego Harbor, and the Pacific Ocean, accounting for its strategic importance during the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848.

View from Presidio Hill

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

View from Presidio Hill

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The square doohickey in the picture immediately above is the carriage for an old cannon. The cannon is on display in the Serra Museum a few hundred yards away. It was cast in 1783, bears the coat of arms of King Carlos III of Spain, the name “El Jupiter,” and a Latin phrase which translates as “Beware the King’s Thunderbolts.” I will endeavor to get a picture of the cannon this weekend.

Presidio Hill is where the first European settlement in Alta California was established in 1769. The Spanish occupied Presidio Hill until Mexico gained its independence in 1821. By the time war broke out between Mexico and the U.S. in 1846, Presidio Hill had been abandoned.

At the beginning of the Mexican-American War, in July of 1846, U.S. forces numbering 160 from the USS Cayne took San Diego and re-established a military outpost on Presidio Hill, naming it Fort DuPont after the Cayne’s captain, Samuel F. DuPont.

Ten days after capturing San Diego, DuPont and the majority of his men sailed the Cayne north to successfully take Los Angeles, leaving behind just forty men in San Diego. A Mexican offensive which began in Los Angeles in September 1846 made its way south to San Diego. By October, San Diego once again belonged to the Mexicans. Three weeks later, though, the Americans recaptured San Diego for the second time.

Old Fort Stockton in San DiegoIn November 1846, Commodore Robert Stockton, commander of the American Pacific Squadron, sailed the USS Congress into San Diego Bay. His troops took over Fort DuPont, renamed it Fort Stockton, and strengthened its defenses. Fort Stockton changed hands several times between American troops and Mexican troops during the war. When the war ended in 1848, Fort Stockton was abandoned.

Plaques, monuments, and the flag mark the spot where Fort Stockton once stood. All evidence of its existence, however, has faded into history.

Several of the plaques and monuments remind us that the famed Mormon Battalion arrived at Fort Stockton in on January 29, 1847. Originally consisting of 500 men and about 80 women and children, they had left Council Bluffs, Iowa on July 16, 1846, a grueling 2,000-mile march to San Diego. They had come as their patriotic duty to help in the war effort. But the war in California was over by the time of their arrival. Nonetheless, their patriotism and march are unparalleled in the annals of history.

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Monument to the Mormon Battalion at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Monument to the Mormon Battalion at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Monument to the Mormon Battalion at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fort Stockton is San Diego Historical Landmark #3 and California Registered Historic Landmark #54.

Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Old Glory at Fort Stockton historical site in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post
to San Diego’s historical landmarks,
click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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