Battle of Molino del Rey
|Battle of Molino del Rey|
|Part of the Mexican-American War|
A painting of the battle.
|Commanders and leaders|
| Winfield Scott
William J. Worth
| Antonio Léon†
|Casualties and losses|
4 artillery pieces captured
The Battle of Molino del Rey was one of the bloodiest engagements of the Mexican-American War. It was fought in September 1847 between Mexican forces under General Antonio Léon against an American force under General Winfield Scott at a hill called El Molino del Rey near Mexico City.
On September 6, 1847, as the armistice and negotiations that followed the Battle of Churubusco were breaking down, a large number of Mexican troops were observed around a group of low, massive stone buildings known as El Molino del Rey or King's Mill. Spread across the distance of this point, they were about 1,000 yards (0.91 km) west of the Castle at Chapultepec, which itself was about two miles (3 km) from the gates of Mexico City. A large grove of trees separated the Mill from the castle, while the castle's batteries covered the area.
General Winfield Scott received reports that the trees masked a foundry for casting cannon, and there were rumors that Antonio López de Santa Anna, leader of both the Mexican government and military, in desperate need of ordnance, was sending out church and convent bells to have them melted down and converted to cannon. From the roof of the bishop's palace at Tacubaya, where General Scott's quarters were, the evidence of there being some kind of furnace was distinctly visible in the bright red flame which rose above the Mill's roof. Scott ordered General Worth to attack and take the Mill, break up the factory, and destroy any munitions found.
The King's Mill is a range of stone buildings, about fifteen hundred feet in length. These include a flour mill, and the old royal gunpowder mill. About five hundred yards from the northern extremity of the mills is the Casa Mata, another strong stone building. About three hundred yards west of Casa Mata is a large ravine, with the hacienda of Morales beyond. This range of ground, from the King's Mill on the left to the high ground west from the ravine, on the right, was occupied by the Mexican forces. In the mills were the National Guard Battalions of Liberty, Union, Querétaro, and Mina,under General Leon( 1,400 men and 3- 8 lb.guns ), and the brigade of troops (Grenaderos, San Blas Activos, Mixto de Santa Ana and Morelia Battalions) commanded by General Joaquin Rangel. Between the mills and the Casa Mata were the 2nd light battalion, that of the Fijo the Mejico, and the 1st and 12th regiments of the line, with six pieces of artillery, under General Simeon Ramirez. In the Casa Mata were the 4th light battalion (600 men)and 11th regiment of the line (900 men), under General Francisco Perez. In the grove of Chapultepec, in the rear of the mills, as a reserve, were the 1st and 3d light battalions (700 men) . West of the ravine, toward Morales, were four thousand cavalry. With forces of 14,000, General Santa Ana was confident of victory.
At three o'clock in the morning of September 8, Worth sent an assault column of 500 men, the 8th Infantry led by Major George Wright, down a gently sloping plain. Behind them he placed Colonel Charles F. Smith's light battalion and George Cadwalader's brigade in the center, and to their right was Garland's brigade and a battery under Captain Simon H. Drum. On the left was Colonel James Duncan's battery and a brigade commanded by Colonel James S. McIntosh. Major Sumner commanded cavalry, initially on the extreme left. Worth had a total strength of 2,800 men.
Captain Huger's heavy guns first opened fire on the mills, and continued until that point of the enemy's line became shaken. Major Wright's storming party dashed forward at a charge. Fire began from Mexican artillery on the flank of the column, and infantry on the flat roof of the mills opened fire from the flank as well as the front. Eleven of fourteen American officers were killed, but Smith and Cadwalader's forces occupied the enemy line in the center of the battle. Colonel Garland and Drum's battery occupied the enemy's position on the right, immediately under the guns of Chapultepec.
On the left side, Colonel McIntosh's brigade advanced on the Casa Mata under murderous fire. McIntosh's forces compelled to fall back, Duncan's battery offered support and compelled the occupants and reinforcements to leave the Casa Mata.
After blowing up the Casa Mata and destroying the molds and other property in the mills, American forces returned to Tacubaya. Three Mexican guns, large quantities of small arms and ammunition, and 800 prisoners were captured. Mexican forces lost over 769 casualties along with General Leon and Colonels Balderas (Mina Battalion) and Gelaty dead. American losses included 729 men killed and wounded, 49 officers wounded, and the deaths of Lieutenant-colonel Scott, Major Graham, Captains Merrill and Ayres, and Lieutenants Johnston, Armstrong, Strong, Shackelford, Burwell, and Farry. Preparations began immediately thereafter for the Battle of Chapultepec.
- Bauer, K. Jack, "The Mexican-American War 1846-48"
- Brooks, N.C. "A Complete History of The Mexican War"
- Alcaraz, Ramon et al. "Apuntes Para la Historia de la Guerra entre Mexico y los Estados Unidos"
- Ramsey, Albert C. "The Other Side"
- (1899) "The Great Battles of All Nations", Volume 2. Edited by Archibald Wilberforce, 640-644. Peter Fenelon Collier & Son: New York.
- Annual Reports 1894, War Department lists trophy guns: 2- 6 pounders bronze, 1- 4 pounder.