Fort Guijarros and the Battle of San Diego
1900 photo of Fort Rosecrans, built upon Fort Guijarros
1851 map of the section of Ballast Point where the fort was located. Where it is written "Battery (Ruined)" denotes were the fort was exactly located,
Artist's rendition of the fort upon completion
Historical marker for the fort on Ballast Point
Artists's rendition of the Battle of San Diego Bay
1911 photo of a troop inspection by Brigadier General T. H. Bliss of the 28th and 115th Companies, Coast Artillery Corps.
Members of the Royal Spanish Court, a Los Angeles group that re-enacts the Spanish history of California, attends the 212th anniversary of the Battle of San Diego Bay in 2015. Courtesy of the San Diego Union Tribune.
Backstory and Context
In 1803, a United States trading vessel tried smuggling otter pelts to Spanish merchants, in violation to Spain's blockade of foreign goods. On March 22, the Leila Byrd, tried escaping from the bay's notorious "Smugglers Cove," when it was fired on by guns from the fort. As the Byrd waited for favorable winds to help in its escape, the Byrd fired back, but in the end this "battle" resulted in a few shots from each side, no deaths, and only taking under an hour to finish. The United States ship suffered slight damage. This would be the only action between Spain and America along the Pacific Coast.
In 1828, now under Mexican control, the fort fired on another American vessel with similar results. In 1846, American forces with Californio allies took control of San Diego and the fort; the fort having been long abandoned prior to San Diego's occupation. Until 1873, the fort was maintained with its original purpose until modern and larger shore batteries were constructed. Fort Guijarros and the new batteries were renamed Fort Rosencrans. The batteries were active throughout the Spanish-American War, WW1, and WW2. During the Cold War, the batteries and the point became a nuclear submarine base. In 1890 a lighthouse was constructed nearby and decommissioned in 1957.
Now the fort itself is decommissioned, with remnants seen today as part of the Cabrillo National Monument. The fort's two original (and remaining) cannons are found in Fort Stockton and San Diego's Old Town Plaza. the Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation conducts archaeological digs and historical research into the history of Ballast Point.
Ruhlen, George. "Historic California Posts - Fort Rosecrans (Including Castillo de Guijarros and Point Loma Military Reservation)". MilitaryMuseum.org. The California State Military Museum.
"San Diego Historic Site 69 FORT GUIJARROS SITE". Crone's Cobblestone Cottage. Archived from the original.
Miller, Max (March 15, 2007). Harbor of the Sun - The Story of the Port of San Diego. Miller Press. p. 75.
Engstrand, Iris (2005). San Diego: California's Cornerstone. Sunbelt Publications. p. 54.
May, Ronald V., Pettus, Roy, and Colston, Stephen A., Fort Guijarros. San Diego: Cabrillo Historical Association, 1982