Battle of Churubusco

Battle of Churubusco

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Churubusco

caption="The Battle of Churubusco " by Carl Nebel. Oil on canvas, 1851.
partof=the Mexican-American War
date=August 20, 1847
place=Mexico City, D.F.
result=American victory
combatant1=United States
commander1=Winfield Scott
commander2=Antonio López de Santa Anna
Manuel Rincón
casualties1=139 dead
865 wounded
40 missing
casualties2=263 dead and c460 wounded **
1,261 captured 20 missing. The Captured incl. Gens. Rincon, Anaya & Acting Gen.Ramirez Arellano.10 guns & 2 flags were taken.|

The Battles of Churubusco took place on August 20, 1847, in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Contreras (Padierna) during the Mexican-American War. The defeat of the Mexican army at Churubusco left the U.S. Army only 5 miles (8 km) away from Mexico City.


Following their defeat at Contreras and San Antonio, the Mexicans fell back to the village of Churubusco. After taking San Antonio, the Mexican defenders of which (1st Line of Defense or sometimes the "Army of the Centre" Gen. N. Bravo, with about 2,000 men : 700 "Hidalgo," 500 "Victoria" Natl. Guards Battalions, 800 others: under Cols. A. Zerecero & J. G. Perdigon Garay), were struck by the Clark American Brigade. They lost about 500 prisoners, including Acting Gen. Perdigon Garay & about 5 guns.The U.S. forces began to merge with the forces from Contreras for a further attack there.

The Mexicans made their stand at the Franciscan convent of Santa María de Churubusco. Although the convent offering no advantage of height over the surrounding terrain, there was a small river, crossed by a bridge, that the U.S. forces would have to negotiate first. In addition to the stone walls of the convent, the defenses included a series of incomplete trenches the Mexicans began digging prior to the attack. [Ramsey(1850, pp. 292)] The defenders numbered 1,300 men from the "Independencia" and "Bravos" battalions (90% of whom had never seen combat) and the Saint Patrick's Battalion (the "San Patricios)." There were some elements of the Tlapa & Lagos Battalions sent as reinforcements.They also had seven cannon.

Three cannon were placed on the right; two in the center; and the remaining two on the left. "Independencia" was assigned to defend the upper walls, the right flank leading to the bridge, the unfortified south and north sides, and two adobe huts further forward on the battlefield. The "Bravos" and the "San Patricios" were stationed on the left, behind barricades. In support along the Rio Churubusco was the Perez Brigade : 2,500 men (11th Line, 1st, 3d & 4th Light Infantry Regiments)


The first assault by the 6,000-strong U.S. force under William J. Worth and David E. Twiggs was successfully repulsed. Pedro María Anaya, second in command to General Manuel Rincón, managed to repell a particularly fierce attack on the left flank. Just as the bridge looked likely to fall to the invaders, three small groups of militia arrived to reinforce the defenders. Intense fire continued for three or four hours, until "Independencia" — in spite of a series of urgent messages dispatched behind the lines — ran out of ammunition. This lack of ammunition was because the provided calibers were not for the rifles used by the defenders. If the ammunition have had the correct caliber it is presumed that the defenders could have been resisted a bit longer.

Two of the Mexican cannon had melted and a third had fallen from its mount. Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Peñúñuri of "Independencia" led a handful of men in a bayonet charge and was defeated. He and Captain Luis Martínez de Castro, who had accompanied him, were later interred with full military honors in a monument at the convent gates.

Officers from the "Bravos" attempted to raise the white flag over the convent walls on three occasions. They were prevented from doing so, however, by members of the "San Patricios" who feared the fate that awaited them if they were taken prisoner. Seventy-twoFact|date=May 2007 were ultimately captured and court-martialed for desertion, including their leader, Jon Riley.

U.S. Infantry Captain James M. Smith mounted the convent wall and raised the white flag of surrender in order to discourage his troops from excesses as they entered the defenseless convent. Arriving some minutes later, General Twiggs saluted the Mexican commanders with military decorum and asked General Anaya to hand over his ammunition. Anaya is reputed to have replied, "If I had any ammunition, you would not be here."


A brigade of volunteers from New York was billeted to the convent, remaining there until September 7. When they withdrew, they took with them as much booty from the church as they could carry, desecrated the buildings, and destroyed the kitchen garden.

Following their victory at Churubusco, Scott's army was only five miles (8 km) away from Mexico City. A month later, following an abortive ceasefire and failed negotiations, Mexico City fell to U.S. forces.

In the Arts

Parts of the battle were portrayed in the mini-series "North and South".



*Ramsey, Albert C. [ The other side; or, Notes for the history of the war between Mexico and the United States] , New York: John Wiley 161 Broadway and 13 Paternoster Row, London, 1850

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