|Battle of La Paz|
|Part of Mexican-American War|
The Pacific coast of La Paz.
|Commanders and leaders|
|Henry S. Burton||Manuel Pineda Munoz|
2 artillery pieces
1 artillery battery
|Casualties and losses|
|1 killed||4–5 killed|
The Battle of La Paz was an engagement of the Pacific Coast Campaign during the Mexican-American War. The belligerents were United States Army troops against Mexican militia, commanded by Mexican Army officers. The battle occurred on November 16 and 17, 1847.
In late September, Captain Manuel Pineda of the Mexican Army began to assemble a large militia force of farmers and ranchers to defend the Gulf of California region of Mexico from the invading United States military. Hundreds of men were among Pineda's ranks. In March and April 1847, the 1st Regiment of New York Volunteers, an American volunteer regiment from New York State, arrived in San Francisco, California.
Their mission was to reinforce the United States Navy and marines, occupying various Mexican ports to the south and also to take ports themselves. Lieutenant Colonel Henry S. Burton, of the United States Army, was in command. On May 30, 1847, Burton received orders to embark the sloop-of-war USS Lexington with companies A and B and proceed to La Paz for its capture.
On July 21, 112 New York Volunteers landed peacefully at La Paz. Lieutenant E. Gould Buffum, of Company B, later described the port city; "The houses were all of adobe, plastered white, and thatched with the leaves of the palm tree, and were most delightfully cool. The whole beach was lined with palms, date, fig, tamarind and coconut trees, their delicious fruit hanging down on them in clusters."
Pineda raised a force of over 500 men by pressing them into service. They were fed by requisitioned supplies of plundered property, taken from the so-called "collaborators" of the American occupation. Pineda set out for a campaign against La Paz and San José del Cabo, both occupied by United States forces. When November 16 came, Pineda's army, estimated by Colonel Burton at nearly 300, attacked the American garrison of La Paz.
The garrison was stationed at an adobe barracks. At the same time, about 150 of Pineda's militia, under three lieutenants, were sent to attack the American garrison at San José del Cabo. Burton's command of 112 infantry occupied a position overlooking La Paz at the south side of a gulch.
The New York Volunteers piled palm logs around their barracks and around an emplacement for their two 6-pound field guns with canister rounds for ammunition. When Captain Pineda's men assaulted the barracks, the American defended themselves effectively. The two 6-pounders and muskets of the Americans were placed in a good position and repulsed the Mexican attack.
Pineda, after failing to capture the American held barracks and realizing the good American defenses, ordered a retreat the next day. On November 17, the Mexicans withdrew to La Laguna, about six miles away. Before leaving, the insurgents burned Military Governor Colonel Francisco Palacios Miranda's town house and other buildings belonging to those who "collaborated" with the American force.
The New York Volunteers lost one man killed in this battle and another few wounded, the Mexicans four or five killed and many more wounded. The Mexican attempt to destroy the American garrison failed but the battle for San José del Cabo still continued and eventually Pineda would attack the towns again, in prolonged engagements known as the Siege of La Paz and the Siege of San José del Cabo. The same day Pineda retreated from La Paz, another battle involving USS Dale occurred across the Sea of Cortez at Guaymas.
- Nathan Covington Brooks, A Complete History of the Mexican War (The Rio Grande Press, Inc., 1965). Justin H. Smith, The War With Mexico, Vols. I and II. (Peter Smith, Gloucester, Mass., 1963).
- John R. Spears, The History of the Navy, Vol. III (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1897), pp. 401–409. K. Jack Bauer, Surfboats and Horse Marines (U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, Md., 1969).
- President James K. Polk's Message on War with Mexico, May 11, 1846, in Documents of American History, 9th edition, Vol. I (Prentice Hall, Inc., 1979), p. 311.
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