Battle of the Sacramento River

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Battle of the Sacramento River
Part of the Mexican–American War
Batalla de Sacramento.jpg
"Battle of the Sacramento" by F. Bastin
DateFebruary 28, 1847
LocationSacramento River Pass, about fifteen miles north of Chihuahua, Mexico
Result United States victory
 United States  Mexico
Commanders and leaders
Alexander Doniphan Angel Trias Alvarez
Jose A. Heredia
940 4,120
Casualties and losses
1 killed
8 wounded[1]:156
~300 killed
~300 wounded
~40 captured[1]:156
Disposition of forces along the Sacramento[2]

The Battle of the Sacramento River was a battle that took place on February 28, 1847 during the Mexican–American War. About fifteen miles north of Chihuahua, Mexico at the crossing of the river Sacramento, American forces numbering less than 1,000 men defeated a superior Mexican army which led to the occupation of Chihuahua.[1]:153


On February 8, Colonel Alexander Doniphan's force of 924 soldiers and 300 civilians left El Paso del Norte for Chihuahua despite learning John E. Wool had abandoned his march there.[1]:153 Major Samuel Owens had the civilians formed into a battalion along with the caravan of 312 wagons.[1]:153 On 25 February, they reached the Laguna de Encenillas, where they learned of the Mexican defenses prepared for them.[1]:153

Governor Trias had built up a force under the command of General Jose A. Heredia, consisting of 1200 cavalry (Gen. Garcia Conde: Vera Cruz Dragoons, Durango & Chihuahua Lancers), 1500 infantry (Chihuahua Activos), 119 artillerymen (10 field guns & 6 culverins) and 1000 rancheros.[1]:154 They had constructed a redoubt near the Hacienda Sacramento where the El Paso road crosses the river, and at Hacienda el Torreon two miles to the west.[1]:154

At sunrise on February 28, the last day of February, the Americans took up the line of march and formed the whole wagon train into four columns with the artillery and mounted men in the middle.[1]:154 Three companies screened the front.[1]:154 When the Americans arrived within sight of the Mexican defenses, Doniphan made a reconnaissance of the enemy positions.[1]:154 Twenty-three separate works had been dug for twelve 4- to 9-pounders and nine lighter pieces.[1]:154


Doniphan used his cavalry to screen the movement of his force parallel to the Arroyo Seco and to the right and out of range of the Mexican artillery.[1]:155 Doniphan formed the wagons into a fort after crossing the gully onto a plateau, and Major Meriwether Lewis Clark, Sr.'s guns fired onto General Garcia Conde's lancers, forcing them to flee.[1]:155

Doniphan's men approached the southernmost Mexican earthworks, held by Heredia's best troops.[1]:155 Doniphan ordered Capt. Richard H. Weightman's twin howitzers to the front accompanied by Capt. Reid's force of mounted cavalry men.[1]:156 Major Owens was killed in the charge, but Missourians took the fort.[1]:155

Trias attempted a counterattack but his lancers were halted by canister shot.[1]:156 By 5 PM the fighting was over.[1]:156


Unable to defend Chihuahua, Trias fled to Parras.[1]:156 Doniphan commented, "The fire of our battery was so effective as to completely silence theirs."[3] Doniphan's men marched into Chihuahua on 2 March and on 23 April was ordered to bring his men to Saltillo, reaching Encantada on 21 May.[1]:157

See also[edit]


Sketch of the Battle of Sacramento Omnis Viae Private Collection


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Bauer, K.J., 1974, The Mexican War, 1846-1848, New York:Macmillan, ISBN 0803261071
  2. ^ Smith, J.H., 1919, The War with Mexico, New York:Macmillan
  3. ^ Doniphan's report

Additional Reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 28°52′18″N 106°11′11″W / 28.87167°N 106.18639°W / 28.87167; -106.18639