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Battle of Cerro Gordo
Part of the Mexican-American War
Battle Cerro Gordo.jpg
"The Battle of Cerro Gordo" by Carl Nebel.
DateApril 18, 1847
Locationnear Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
Result United States victory
 United States  Mexico
Commanders and leaders
Winfield Scott Antonio López de Santa Anna
8,500 9,000-10,000
Casualties and losses
63 killed
367 wounded
436 killed
764 wounded
~3,000 captured
43 artillery pieces captured and 4,000-5,000 small arms. Gen. C. Vasquez dead. Gens. J. Jarero, R. Diaz de la Vega, L. Pinzon, Manuel Noriega (Uruaga) (?) and Jose Obando (?) claimed captured by the Americans.

The Battle of Cerro Gordo, or Battle of Sierra Gordo,[1] in the Mexican-American War saw Winfield Scott's United States troops out-flank and drive Santa Anna's larger Mexican army from a strong defensive position.


United States forces captured the port of Veracruz on March 27, 1847. Following this, General Winfield Scott advanced towards Mexico City. General Antonio López de Santa Anna, commanding Mexican forces in the area, blocked Scott's march at Cerro Gordo, near Xalapa, with more than 12,000 soldiers in a fortified defile. Represented were the remnants of the Division of the North (5,650 total: 150 Artillery, 4,000 Infantry and 1,500 Cavalry: including the Ampudia Brigade (the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 11th Line Infantry Regiments), the Vasquez Brigade (the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Light Infantry Regiments) and the Juvera Cavalry Brigade (5th, 9th Morelia and the Coraceros Cavalry Regiments); plus reinforcements from the Capitol: the Rangel Brigade (the 6th Infantry Regiment, Grenadiers of the Guard, Libertad and Galeana Battalions, two Cavalry Squadrons and eight guns), the Pinzon Brigade, and the Canalizo Special Cavalry Division. The Artega Brigade (1,000: Pueblo Activos and National Guard Battalions) arrived at the end of the battle.

Army Corps of Engineers Captain Robert E. Lee discovered a mountain trail around Santa Anna's position. General Scott quickly moved the main body of his command along the trail, out-flanking the Mexicans. A sharp action ensued on April 18, 1847, routing Santa Anna's force.

An American ambush was discovered at the start of the battle. However, Mexican lines soon collapsed.


The Mexicans lost 1,000 killed and wounded with an additional 3,000 men taken prisoner. United States casualties comprised 64 killed and 353 wounded. General Santa Anna, caught off guard by the Fourth Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Infantry, was compelled to ride off without his artificial leg, which was captured and is still on display at the Illinois State Military Museum[2] in Springfield, Illinois.[3]

This battle has been called "the Battle of Thermopylae of the West", because the use of terrain was similar to the maneuver that the Persians used to eventually defeat the Greeks. During the rout, members of the Saint Patrick's Battalion provided the Mexicans with the greatest opposition to United States forces in this battle. This battalion was composed mostly of soldiers from Europe that had enlisted in the U.S. Army when they arrived in America, but for a variety of reasons they deserted to fight for the Mexicans against the United States. They had the most to fear being captured by the Americans - being deserters - leading them to threaten with friendly fire fellow Mexican combatants intent on retreating or surrendering. Because of a heavy artillery engagement by the Americans, the battalion's members had to spend most of their time returning volleys at the enemy; therefore, its unlikely that more than a few "friendly fire" incidents actually took place.

Scott moved on to Puebla, 75 miles (120 km) from Mexico City, where he halted on May 15, 1847. There were five company grade officers in Scott's corp of engineers who were of significant historical interest; Captain Robert E. Lee, Captain George B. McClellan, Captain Joseph E. Johnston, Lieutenant John G. Foster and Lieutenant P. G. T. Beauregard. All went on to serve as generals in the American Civil War (1861–1865).


Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, Cerro Gordo, North Carolina and Cerro Gordo, Illinois take their names from the battle, much as Resaca, Georgia is named for the Battle of Resaca de la Palma.

See also


  1. John Frost (1853). "Battle of Sierra Gordo". Pictorial History of America. pp. 753–764. 
  2. Illinois State Military Museum
  3. Shaw, Karl (2005) [2004] (in Czech). Power Mad! [Šílenství mocných]. Praha: Metafora. p. 75. ISBN 80-7359-002-6. 
  • The Encyclopedia of Military History, Dupuy and Dupuy. Harper & Row, Publishers.
  • Dead Link
  • "Apuntes para la historia de la guerra entre México y los Estados Unidos". Alcaraz, Ramón. Mexico City.
  • "The Other Side: Or, Notes for the History of the War between Mexico and the United States", translated and edited in the United States by Albert C. Ramsey, New York: John Wiley, 1850.
  • Annual Reports, 1894 War Department lists trophy guns as: 1- 8 pounder bronze,2- 6 pounders and 3- 4 pounders.

External links

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