Penetrating the Old Woman's Gun: A GPR and artifact analysis of a Mexican American War battlefield site


This paper will address the validity of the claim that the Battle of Rancho Dominguez (Battle of Old Woman’s Gun) took place on the lower terrace of the Rancho Dominguez. In the summer of 1846, the US military took control of Los Angeles. Soon after, the Mexican Army was able to regain the city. Captain Mervine, of the US military, landed his troops in San Pedro hoping to regain Los Angeles. Folk history tells of Captain Mervine’s troops being besieged in the early hours by Californios, wielding a four-pound cannon ("the old woman’s gun") and diversionary tactics. An archaeological investigation involving a GPR survey was followed by excavation and artifact analysis. A two cm in diameter iron ball was uncovered, which is consistent with iron shot used by the Mexican Army in 1846. Findings led to the investigation into the whereabouts of "the old woman’s gun". Results offer support for the existence of the Battle of Old Woman’s Gun and its approximate location, in Los Angeles. The present findings augment the literature on the Mexican American war, particularly the role of the Californios, the fate of the "old woman’s gun" and the Rancho Dominguez area.

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Penetrating the Old Woman's Gun: A GPR and artifact analysis of a Mexican American War battlefield site. Jennifer Stuck, Claudio Carini, Beatrice Villagomez, Jerry Moore. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397864)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;