Siege of Pueblo de Taos
|Siege of Pueblo de Taos|
|Part of the Taos Revolt
The death of John Burgwin at the Siege of Taos.
|Commanders and leaders|
Ceran St. Vrain
|Casualties and losses|
|~150 killed or wounded
The Siege of Pueblo de Taos was the final battle during the main phase of the Taos Revolt, an insurrection against the United States during the Mexican-American War. It was also the final major engagement between American forces and insurgent forces in New Mexico during the war.
In August 1846, New Mexico fell to American troops under Stephen Watts Kearny. When Kearny departed for California, Colonel Sterling Price was left in command of American forces in New Mexico. In December 1846, Price learned of a Mexican revolt in the territory. Price encountered resistance at Santa Cruz and Embudo, then moved on to the Pueblo de Taos, the center of insurrection activity while another American force fought the New Mexicans at Mora, on the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
On February 3, Price entered Taos where he found the rebels well entrenched at the fortified native Pueblo "next to the opposite side of town" (what does this mean?). Price assembled an artillery battery and began laying siege to the pueblo, hoping to drive out the rebels and their Native American allies. His artillery barrage did little to the adobe walls because the U.S. cannon were too small. He completely surrounded the pueblo by the next day, Price then decided to attack on two fronts, after a long artillery attack. After the bombardment, the infantry and militia were sent in, as well as the dragoons fighting on foot, the United States force captured the most of the pueblo so the rebels retreated and sought refuge in the chapel, the heart of the fortified pueblo. However, a large wooden door protected the church which the Americans tried hack open with axes. The force failed to create an opening which forced the Americans to wheel up their biggest gun.
At 3:00 pm, a 6 pound cannon was brought to the front line, once within sixty yards, the cannon opened fire on the door where the Americans had previously attempted to breach. A hole was made and the cannon was wheeled forward again. This time into the opening of the doorway, the gun was loaded with grapeshot and fired through the hole into the defending Mexicans and native Americans. Unable to withstand the cannon, the rebels began an unorganized retreat out of the pueblo as American foot forces stormed the breach. The Mexicans retreated into the surrounding mountains and were pursued by the dragoons and St. Vrain's militia who stopped many of the insurgents from fleeing. Ceran St. Vrain's militia company was credited with killing over fifty of the New Mexicans, Pueblos and Apaches, a total of 150 to 250 killed or wounded altogether according to different sources.
Around 400 men were captured by the Americans. By the next day, most of the rebels had surrendered. Price reported having lost 7 men killed, including Captain John Burgwin, and 45 wounded.
The action at Pueblo de Taos effectively put an end to main period of the rebellion, a few months later, more fighting broke out, three small engagements occurred. They are known as the Red River Canyon Affair, the Las Vegas Affair and the Taos Affair. These three skirmishes ended with the deaths of nine more Americans troops and several more injuries; Mexican casualties are unknown. The two suspected instigators of the rebellion, Pablo Montoya and Tomás Romero, were captured in the fighting. Romero was assassinated by an American soldier named Fitzgerald in his prison cell before being brought to trial. Montoya was convicted of treason and hanged. Later trials resulted in 21 additional public hangings.
- Lavender, David, Bent's Fort, Doubleday and Company, Inc., Garden City, NY 1954 p. 293
- Bauer, K. Jack, "The Mexican-American War 1846-48"
- Cooke, Philip St. George (1964). The Conquest of New Mexico and California, an Historical and Personal Narrative. Albuquerque, NM: Horn and Wallace. pp. 116-120.