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Battle of Churubusco
The Battles of Churubusco took place on August 20, 1847, in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Contreras (Padierna) during the Mexican-American War. The defeat of the Mexican army at Churubusco left the U.S. Army only 5 miles (8 km) away from Mexico City.
Following their defeat at Contreras and San Antonio, the Mexicans fell back to the village of Churubusco. After taking San Antonio the U.S. forces began to merge with the forces from Contreras for a further attack there.
The Mexicans made their stand at the Franciscan convent of Santa María de Churubusco. Although the convent offering no advantage of height over the surrounding terrain, there was a small river, crossed by a bridge, that the U.S. forces would have to negotiate first. In addition to the stone walls of the convent, the defenses included a series of incomplete trenches the Mexican began digging prior to the attack. The defenders numbered 1300 men from the Independencia and Bravos battalions (90% of whom had never seen combat) and the Saint Patrick's Battalion (the San Patricios). They also had seven cannons.
Three cannons 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.
The first assault by the 6000-strong U.S. force under William J. Worth and David E. Twiggs was successfully repulsed. Pedro María Anaya , second in command to Gen. Manuel Rincón , managed to repell a particularly fierce attack on the left flank. Just as the bridge looked likely to fall to the invaders, three small group of militiamen 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. By this time, two of the Mexican cannons had melted and a third had fallen from its mount. Lt. Col. Francisco Peñúñuri of Independencia led a handful of men in a hopeless bayonet charge and was mowed down. (He and Capt. Luis Martínez de Castro , who had accompanied him, were later interred with full military honors in a monument at the convent gates.)
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. (Seventy-two were ultimately captured and court-martialed for desertion, including their leader, Jon Riley.)
Finally, U.S. Infantry Capt. James M. Smith mounted the convent wall and raised the white flag of surrender, in order to discourage his troops from excesses as they entered the defenseless convent. Arriving some minutes later, Gen. Twiggs saluted the Mexican commanders with military decorum and asked Gen. Anaya to hand over his ammunition. Anaya is reputed to have replied, "If I had any ammunition, you would not be here."
A brigade of volunteers from New York and South Carolina was billeted to the convent, remaining there until September 7. When they withdrew, they took with them as much booty from the church as they could carry, desecrated the buildings, and destroyed the kitchen garden.
Following their victory at Churubusco, Scott's army was now only five miles (8 km) away from Mexico City. A month later, following an abortive ceasefire and failed negotiations, the city would fall to the invaders.
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