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Battle of Contreras
Part of the Mexican-American War
Battle of Contreras 1847.jpg
"The Battle of Contreras" by Carl Nebel. Oil on canvas, 1851.
DateAugust 19–20, 1847
LocationMexico City, D.F.
Result American victory
 United States  Mexico
Commanders and leaders
United States Winfield Scott Mexico Gabriel Valencia
Mexico Agustín Jerónimo de Iturbide y Huarte[1]
8,500 5,000 and 22 artillery pieces (6 howitzers)
Casualties and losses
~60 to 300 killed or wounded ~700 killed
1,224 wounded
843 captured (including Generals M. Salas, S. Blanco, J. M. Gonzalez-Mendoza and Garcia), 1,000s of small arms and all the artillery

The Battle of Contreras, also known as the Battle of Padierna, took place during August 19–20, 1847, in the final encounters of the Mexican-American War. In the Battle of Churubusco, fighting continued the following day.


During the march on Mexico City, the U.S. army under Major General Winfield Scott found its way north blocked by a strong Mexican force at the "El Peñon" (near the current airport of Mexico City). Scott settled down at "Peña Pobre" on the southwest of Mexico City, and from Zacatepetl hill, sent a force west across the "Pedregal", a lava field, to the town of San Jerónimo to flank the Valencia's Mexican position at "Rancho Padierna", on Contreras. Mexican commander and President Antonio López de Santa Anna dispatched the Army of the North of about 5,000 soldiers under Gabriel Valencia to flank the Americans. The Battle of Contreras or Padierna began on August 19 of 1847, and culminated at dawn on August 20, on the outskirts of Mexico City, at Padierna, among the neighborhoods of San Ángel, Contreras and Tlalpan (currently in the area between San Jerónimo, the neighborhood Heroes of Padierna, Anzaldo Dam in the periphery, and the area that today is ironically called "Placid Gardens" in Mexico City). Popular belief generally regarded this battle as a minor one, fought absurdly by the Mexican leadership. Even with the betrayals and quarrels dividing the leadership, there was no doubt as to the courage of the fighters in the field, and it was a battle that, if it had been well planned by the leadership of the Mexican side, could have changed significantly the last days of the war.

    • For Order of Battles see Mexico City Campaign overview.


The U.S. attacked and routed Valencia's Army of the North to Contreras. People participating in the attack was Brigadier General Franklin Pierce leading a brigade of regulars. During the fighting Pierce was seriously wounded when his horse fell on him. The Mexican battalions formed part of the remains of the Northern Division (under the command of General Gabriel Valencia), the cavalry of Guanajuato, the forces of General Frontera (died in battle), the guerrilla of Reina (originally from the village of Contreras), and the reinforcement of General Perez from Santa Anna's army.

Incomplete Mexican Order of Battle

Division of the North-Gen.div. G.Valencia

Engineers-Gen.Jose M. Gonzalez de Mendoza

Padierna rancho- Capt. Solis- pickets of infantry and cavalry

1st Line Infantry (Col? N. Mendoza)

left-San Luis Potosi Battalion

right-Infantry Brigade-Lt. Col. Cabrera-Celaya,Guanjuato & Queretaro Aux. and Activos

Artillery reserve-Gen. F.Mejia

second line-10th & 12th Line, Fijo of Mexico and Tampico Garda Costa Infantry

Anzaldo -Reserves-Gen. Salas-Sappers, Mixto de Santa Ana & Aguascalientes Infantry

2d,3d & 8th Line Cavalry and Guanajuato Activos
 right-7th and San Luis Cavalry

bridge- Torrejon Cavalry Brigade

the Fabriquita-Romero Brigade


With the rout of Valencia, the main Mexican position at San Antonio fell back to Churubusco. After the U.S. forces took San Antonio, they began to merge with the forces from Contreras for a further attack on Churubusco.

Commended by Scott at the end of the battle was Captain Robert E. Lee who had repeatedly ridden through treacherous territories allowing Scott to coordinate his forces who were separated by the harsh terrain. Lee received a brevet to the rank of lieutenant colonel [2]


  2. Davis, Jefferson. Edited by Colonel Harold B. Simpson. Robert E. Lee. The Hill Junior College Press. Hillsboro, Texas. 1960.


  • Nevin, David; editor The Mexican War (1978)
  • Gen. Winfield Scott's official report of the battle
  • Alcara, Ramon et al. "Apuntes Para la Historia de la Guerra entre Mexico y los Estados Unidos", Mexico City.
  • Ramsey, Albert C. "The Other Side", New York, John Wiley, 1850.
  • Prieto, Guillermo. "Apuntes históricos"
  • Frías, Heriberto. "La batalla de Padierna"
  • Annual Reports 1894, War Department lists trophy guns: 1- 16 pounder bronze, 3- 12 pounders,2- 8 pounders, 4- 6 pounders, 4-4 pounders, 3- 8 inch howitzers, 1- 6 inch howitzer and 1- 7 inch howitzer.

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