Red River Canyon Affair
|Battle of Red River Canyon|
|Part of the Taos Revolt, Mexican-American War|
The Red River.
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
The Red River Canyon Affair, or the Battle of Red River Canyon, was a military action fought during the Taos Revolt of the Mexican-American War. In May 1847, American troops, traveling through northern New Mexico, were attacked by a combined force of Mexican militia with their Pueblo, Apache, Kiowa, and Comanche allies.
After the Siege of Pueblo de Taos, the American army had thought the rebel New Mexicans were defeated. This was true until the Taos rebels regrouped for another campaign.
On May 26, 1847, United States Army Major Edmondson, with a company of two hundred infantry and cavalry under Captains Holaway and Robinson, were marching at almost sunset along the Red River. They had just entered Red River Canyon when ambushed by an estimated 500 Mexicans and natives, according to reports given to Colonel Alexander Doniphan, a commander during the New Mexican Campaign.
The natives and Mexicans opened fire and the Americans advanced on them, the cavalry at first on horseback, the infantry on foot. Red River Canyon being very narrow and full of thick, deep mud, Major Edmundson was forced to dismount his cavalry and proceed in the attack on foot with the infantry. Now all on foot, the Americans pushed forward and began to break up the ambush.
The Mexicans and natives were repulsed but soon regrouped and assaulted the American position. The Americans slowly made an organized retreat, the withdrawal being covered by a Lieutenant Elliot and his force of Rangers. In complete darkness, the United States forces fell back a few hundred paces and occupied a hill with good defenses.
Ammunition was redistributed and the Americans were ordered to rest until daybreak. At sunrise, the Americans reformed and reentered the canyon, where they discovered that the Mexicans and natives had retreated just before their arrival.
Seventeen Mexicans and Native Americans were left on the battlefield and counted dead by the Americans; they also reported that several of the enemy had been wounded by musketry but survived. Only one American died in the combat and several others had minor injuries. Smaller battles between Major Edmondson's men and the Mexicans with their native allies would continue to occur for several weeks, ending with the Battle of Cienega Creek.
- Hughes, John T. Doniphan's Expedition (Cincinnati: J. A. & U. P. James, 1848), pp. 403.
- Twitchell, R. E. Old Santa Fe (Santa Fe: R. E. Twitchell, 1925), p. 146.