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First Battle of Mora
Part of the Taos Revolt
Mexican-American War
DateJanuary 24, 1847
LocationMora, New Mexico
Result Mexican strategic victory, United States tactical victory.
United States United States Mexico Mexico
Commanders and leaders
United States Israel R. Hendley Mexico Manuel Cortez
80 ~200
Casualties and losses
1 killed
3 wounded
~25 killed
17 captured

The First Battle of Mora was part of the Taos Revolt and the Mexican-American War, between United States Army troops and New Mexican militia. It took place in January 1847.


On January 20, 1847, Manuel Cortez, a Spanish descendant of the village of Mora, New Mexico, organized an armed front against the invading American Army. The rebellion in Mora began with the capture and subsequent execution of a group of eight American merchants [1] traveling to Missouri. Word of the uprising reached Captain Israel R. Hendley outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Hendley learned that the insurgents had gathered a force of about two hundred men in Mora.

On January 24, eighty U.S. troops commanded by Captain Hendley arrived in Mora to confront the insurgents. A general engagement ensued, they fired from windows of the houses in the village and skirmished in the streets. After a few minutes of fighting, the New Mexicans fell back to and entrenched themselves in an old fort and fired on the Americans from there also. Hendley led a charge on the fort but was shot and killed. The U.S. troops, having no artillery, retreated to the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico, to reorganize. The three-hour battle claimed Hendley as the sole American fatality, while the insurgents lost twenty-five men, reportedly. Other casualties included three wounded Americans and seventeen rebels taken prisoner. The Americans would return, though, and defeat the New Mexicans at the Second Battle of Mora.

Lieutenant Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, a member of the Army of the West, reports the battle thus: “At the handsome village of Mora, eighteen miles west of the present [as of 1878] Fort Union, eight Americans were murdered. January 22d, Capt. Hendley, Second Missouri Volunteers, marched there from Vegas the 24th, with eighty men; he found it occupied by above one hundred and fifty men; he engaged with a number, attempting to enter the town, who were supported by a sally; he then assaulted the town; he penetrated from house to house, some of which were destroyed and into one end of their fort, where he was killed and several were wounded. Lieut. McKarney then – apprehending the return of from three hundred to five hundred men, who had left there that day for Pueblo – withdrew, and marched back to Las Vegas, with fifteen prisoners; he reported fifteen to twenty of the enemy slain.[2]

See also


  1. Lavender, David, Bent's Fort, Doubleday and Company, Inc., Garden City, NY 1954 p. 285
  2. Cooke, Philip St. George (1964). The Conquest of New Mexico and California, an Historical and Personal Narrative. Albuquerque, NM: Horn and Wallace. pp. 122. 
  • Twitchell, Ralph Emerson, The History of the Military Occupation of the Territory of New Mexico from 1846 to 1851, Denver, Colorado: The Smith-Brooks Company Publishers, 1909
  • Herrera, Carlos R., New Mexico Resistance to U.S. Occupation, published in The Contested Homeland, A Chicano History of New Mexico, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000
  • Niles' National Register, NNR 72.081, April 10, 1847, available at [1]

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