In a criminal investigation, police investigators recreate what transpired at a crime by two main means. The first is the interviewing of any witnesses to the event and the second is through physical evidence recovered.
In major crimes and/or events investigated, there may be many witnesses involved with the same event. These witnesses are then broken down into first-hand witnesses who are those persons who were actually at the event when it occurred, seeing and hearing what they did. Then there are second witnesses or those persons who heard from a first-hand witnesses, an account or piece of information concerning the event. This may sometimes include media interviews, or friends or family. The third classification of witnesses are third-hand and are often someone who heard from someone, who heard from someone, something about the event.
In criminal proceedings, third-hand witness accounts are often thrown out of court as inadmissible. Second-hand witness accounts are usually not accepted into court. However, this is changing and courts are starting to accept second-hand witness information when the first-hand witnesses have been silenced (deceased). This, even more so when it can be used to show the witness's state of mind when relaying information of the event and the credibility of the person the information was given to.
Finally, once the event has been pieced together, the physical evidence obtained should fit with what the witnesses are seeing or experiencing. Thus, the pieces of a puzzle start coming together.
When there is a major event, there can be multiple witnesses involved. Many of these witnesses, although involved in the same event, will often be recounting specific facts as they saw (or heard) them at that precise moment and at that precise location in the event. So, different people are seeing different things at different times and, at different locations throughout the same event. The investigator must be able to overlay all of these witnesses' testimonies across the entirety of the event.
While on the surface it may appear that one witness's testimony may go against another's, the truth is if each participant is placed in their specific moment, at their specific time and location, … all of them then put together, result in a large and complete picture of the event from beginning to end.
When this is applied to historical events, it is exciting because it is like having a
key that unlocks a door through which no one has seen for maybe centuries. It is like
going back in time and being the first eyes to see the event since it actually occurred.
After over twenty years of being involved in criminal and civil investigations, I have been on the forefront of what is called ‘Statement Analysis.’ The best investigators are ones that can master this and have the ability to scrutinize and conduct analysis of what witnesses say or write concerning an event.
Sometimes, in pages of testimony from an eye-witness, it can be simply one word, on one page that becomes a major clue that leads to a vital new discovery. Also, sometimes from a psychological standpoint, we can read something several times and never catch a hint or clue that is staring right up at us from pages of written words. By analyzing each and every word in a sentence, and its placement within paragraphs, and its place in the actual occurrences of events, we can sometimes make tremendous discoveries.
One example of this was my major discovery in the late 1990's that finally answered why at the beginning of the Battle of San Pasqual, a Captain Abraham Johnston had “mistaken” General Kearny's order to “Trot” and instead, yelled “Charge” and galloped the 1st U.S. Dragoons into the annals of history. The answer to this controversy for over a century-and-a-half had been staring us right in the face all the time but no one had paid attention to it. For more on this, you may refer to our “Interesting Discoveries, Articles, & Photos” section on our main menu.
Needless to say, the use of Statement Analysis has been applied here to the study
of all the witness statements involved with the Battle of San Pasqual.
The following account of the “Battle of San Pasqual” is created from all first-hand accounts of the battle with the exception of some second-hand accounts when the second-hand witness (often the interviewer) is believed to be credible, (e.g., Judge Benjamin Hayes, Captain S. F. du Pont, Hurbert H. Bancroft, Doctor George D. Lyman, etc.) .
It has, with purpose, been written in narrative form and not footnoted so that ordinary people can read a free-flowing and dramatic account of the battle. A complete bibliography has been included after referencing all source materials.
Any addition questions may be directed to George Hruby as listed in the “Contact Section” of the main menu.
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