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Battle of Churubusco
Part of the Mexican-American War
Battle of Churubusco2.jpg
"Battle of Churubusco" by J. Cameron, published by Nathaniel Currier.
DateAugust 20, 1847
LocationMexico City, D.F.
Result United States victory
United States United States Mexico Mexico
Commanders and leaders
United States Winfield Scott Mexico Manuel Rincón  (POW)
Mexico Pedro María de Anaya  (POW)
8,497 3,800
Casualties and losses
139 killed
865 wounded
40 missing
263 killed
460 wounded
1,261 captured
20 missing and 15 artillery pieces (incl. San Antonio)

The Battle of Churubusco took place on August 20, 1847, in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Contreras (Padierna) during the Mexican-American War. After defeating the Mexican army at Churubusco, the U.S. Army was only 5 miles (8 km) away from Mexico City, the capital of the nation. A month later, the US forces captured Mexico City and the war was over.


Following their defeats at Contreras and San Antonio, the Mexicans fell back to the village of Churubusco. During retreat from San Antonio, the Mexican defenders (part of the 1st Line of Defense (or sometimes the "Army of the Center") with Col. F. Villarreal and about 2,000 men: 700 of the "Hidalgo," 500 of the "Victoria" (Lt. Col. P. Jorrin) Natl. Guards Battalions, and 800 others: under Cols. A. Zerecero & J. G. Perdigon Garay), were struck in flank by Clarke's Brigade of the division of Gen. William J. Worth. The US forces captured about 500 prisoners, including Acting Gen. Perdigon Garay, and five guns. The U.S. forces began to merge with forces coming from Contreras for a further attack.

The Mexicans made their stand at the Franciscan convent of Santa María de Churubusco. Although the convent offered no advantage of height over the surrounding terrain, there was a small river, crossed by a bridge, that the U.S. forces had to negotiate first. In addition to the stone walls of the convent, the defenses included a series of incomplete trenches the Mexicans had begun digging prior to the attack.[1] 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, also called the San Patricios. Some elements of the Tlapa and Lagos Battalions arrived as reinforcements. The Mexicans had seven cannons (Art. Battery- Bn Comdte.J.B. Argulles(4-8 lbs.guns),1-6 lb. gun ( Lt M. Alvarez) & 2-4 lbs.guns)

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)


Battle of Churubusco, during the Mexican-American War, painting by Carl Nebel.

The first assault, by the 5,000-strong U.S. divisions of William J. Worth and David E. Twiggs, was successfully repulsed. Pedro María Anaya, second in command to General Manuel Rincón, managed to repel 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 calibers of ammunition provided were not correct for the rifles used by the defenders.

Battle of Churubusco.

Two of the Mexican cannons 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 killed in the battle. Captured at the tete-du-pont (bridge) were 192 prisoners, 3 artillery pieces, and 2 flags.

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. They were Irish immigrants from the US who had deserted their units in the US Army and joined the Mexicans. Seventy-two men [2] were ultimately captured and court-martialed for desertion, including the leader, John O'Riley.

The brigade of Franklin Pierce crossed the river under fire, followed by Shields' brigade, and turned the Mexican right flank. On the left, elements of Worth's division also succeeded in a river crossing and took the Mexican defenses in the rear. Resistance collapsed except for those inside the convent, who held out for some time before surrendering.

U.S. Captain James Milton Smith mounted the convent wall and raised the white flag of surrender. Arriving some minutes later, General Twiggs obtained the surrender of General Anaya.


A brigade of volunteers from New York was billeted to the convent, remaining there until September 7. Following their victory at Churubusco, Scott's army was only five miles (8 km) from the capital of 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, as well as the film One Man's Hero (1999).

See also


  1. Ramsey (1850), pp. 292
  2. Pam Nordstrom, "SAN PATRICIO BATTALION," Handbook of Texas Online [1], accessed March 11, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


  • Balbontin, Manuel " Recuerdos de la invasion norte-americana, 1846-1848.
  • Annual Reports 1894, War Department lists trophy guns as:1- 16 pounder bronze, 4- 8 pounders, 4- 6 pounders and 3- 4 pounders.

Coordinates: 19°21′22″N 99°08′56″W / 19.356°N 99.149°W / 19.356; -99.149

External links

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