Mexican War

Mexican soldiers abandoning Veracruz to General Scott's soldiers, lithograph by Sarony and Major, 1847. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Mexican American War Timeline - Major Battles

For three years from 1846-1848, the United States battled with Mexico over the lands of the southwest. Prompted by the agreed annexation of the Republic of Texas in 1845 by the United States, Mexico went to battle, now with the United States of America over the disputed land won by the Texas people in the 1836 Texas Revolution.

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  • Battle Timeline

  • Battle of Veracruz, Mexican War


    January 8-9, 1847 - Battle of Rio San Gabriel (California)
    Troops: USA 607; Mexico 350.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 11; Mexico 11.
    Important battle in the eventual recovery and capture of Los Angeles and Alta California at a ford in the San Gabriel River ten miles southeast of Los Angeles. Victory by United States when Mexican forces retreated.

    January 9, 1847 - Battle of La Mesa (California)
    Troops: USA 607; Mexico 300.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 6; Mexico 1 plus.
    Final battle before conquest of Alta California and Los Angeles with Mexican forces retreating from the territory and signing the informal military Treaty of Cahuenga, giving California to the United States four days later.

    January 24, 1847 - Battle of La Canada (New Mexico)
    Troops: USA 353; Mexico 1,500 to 2,000.
    Casualties: USA 8-9; Mexico 36 plus 45 captured/wounded.
    Insurgents revolting against American control in New Mexico assemble and march toward Santa Fe, but are intercepted by garrison forces and dispersed quickly in this battle of the Taos Revolt.

    January 29, 1847 - Battle of Embudo Pass (New Mexico)
    Troops: USA 180; Mexico 600-700.
    Casualties: USA 2; Mexico 80.
    United States victory in Taos Revolt near Dixon, New Mexico allows U.S. troops to continue their march toward Taos.

    February 3-5, 1847 - Siege of Pueblo de Taos (New Mexico)
    Troops: USA 478; Mexico 600-700.
    Casualties: USA 52-55; Mexico 150.
    Final major battle in the Taos Revolt results in United States victory with rebellion leaders captured or killed.

    February 22-23, 1847 - Battle of Buena Vista (Mexico)
    Troops: USA 4,750; Mexico 5,142.
    Casualties: USA 1,203; Mexico 3,533.
    Brutal battle after end of armistace between main forces of U.S. General Zachary Taylor, with Colonel Jefferson Davis, and Mexican forces of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, back from exile. Inconclusive battle led to Taylor not pursueing Santa Anna further south, although Santa Anna was in retreat.

    February 28, 1847 - Battle of Sacramento River (Mexico)
    Troops: USA 940; Mexico 4,120.
    Casualties: USA 9; Mexico 600 plus 40 captured.
    Decisive victory by smaller United States force under Colonel Alexander Doniphan against Mexican earthworks leads to occupation of the town of Chihuahua.

    March 9-29, 1847 - Siege of Veracruz (Mexico)
    Troops: USA 8,600; Mexico 3,360.
    Casualties: USA 68; Mexico 130-400, 100-500 civilians.
    First significant amphibious assault by United States forces under Major General Winfield Scott attacks three strong Mexican forts; Fort Santiago, Fort Concepcion, and Fort San Juan de Ulua. Success of siege comes from seven miles of siege lines and a naval battery constructed by Captain Robert E. Lee. Initial surrender on March 22 declined, but later agreed with formal surrender on March 29. Scott would march toward Mexico City, leaving troops in Veracruz to occupy the town.

    April 18, 1847 - Battle of Cerro Gordo (Mexico)
    Troops: USA 8,500; Mexico 12,000.
    Casualties: USA 631; Mexico 1,000, 3,036 captured.
    Mexican General Santa Anna meets Scott's forces as they march toward Mexico City in a strong defensive position, but are turned when possession of Atalaya Hill makes Mexican positions untenable, leading to surrender.

    June 15-16, 1847 - Battle of Villahermosa (Mexico)
    Troops: USA 1,050, 8 ships; Mexico 600 plus.
    Casualties: USA 9; Mexico 30.
    Commodore Perry follows up his capture of Tuxpan and Carmen in the Mexican Blocade by sending over one thousand troops ashore to capture San Juan Batista, the current city of Villahermosa. This removed the last stronghold along the Mexican Gulf Coast.

    August 19-20, 1847 - Battle of Contreras (Mexico)
    Troops: USA 10,738; Mexico 7,000.
    Casualties: USA 60; Mexico 1,924, 843 captured.
    Rout on the second day of battle by General Winfield Scott, Captain Robert E. Lee, and the brigade of Persifor Smith cause Mexican forces under Valencia to retreat within seventeen minutes. Lee promoted to Lieutenant Colonel after battle for his efforts.

    August 21, 1847 - Battle of Churubusco (Mexico)
    Troops: USA 8,497; Mexico 3,800.
    Casualties: USA 998; Mexico 723, 1,831 captured.
    Retreat by Santa Anna following their defeat at Contreras leads to vibrant battle, but eventual defeat and the United States Army within five miles of Mexico City.

    September 8, 1847 - Battle of Molino del Rey (Mexico)
    Troops: USA 9,800; Mexico 4,000.
    Casualties: USA 799; Mexico 769, 685 captured.
    Battle occurred after negotiations between Santa Anna and Scott break down south of Mexico City. U.S. forces take the mill at Molino de Rey, but are unable to secure a path into the city.

    September 12-13, 1847 - Battle of Chapultepec (Mexico)
    Troops: USA 9,000; Mexico 3,400.
    Casualties: USA 2,029; Mexico 1,700, 823 captured.
    U.S. attacks the Castle of Chapultepec which guards Mexico City from the west with two storming parties on the second day of fighting after artillery attacks on day one and two. One hour infantry battle leads to the U.S. flag raised above the walls.

    September 8-15, 1847 - Battle for Mexico City (Mexico)
    Troops: USA 7,157; Mexico 16,000.
    Casualties: USA 1,651; Mexico 2,323, 3,000 captured.
    Battle for Mexico City continues after Chapultepec falls with attacks against the gates of the city. When Scott's forces succeed at the gates and finally enter the city, it had been abandoned by Santa Anna.

    September 13-14, 1847 - Siege of Puebla (Mexico)
    Troops: USA 500, 3,000 reinforcements; Mexico 4,000.
    Casualties: USA 78; Mexico NA.
    Santa Anna takes half of his forces and attacks a U.S. supply base at Puebla. Calls for U.S. surrender were rebuffed and Santa Anna departed. Siege fully abandoned after Battle for Huamantia and arrival of reinforcements.

    October 9, 1847 - Battle for Huamantia (Mexico)
    Troops: USA 2,700; Mexico 2,000.
    Casualties: USA 24; Mexico NA.
    U.S. charge and Santa Anna counterattack lead to Mexican forces retreating from the town.

    November 24, 1847 - Affair at Galaxara Pass (Mexico)
    Troops: USA 191; Mexico 700.
    Casualties: USA 4; Mexico 50.
    One in a series of battles after the capture of Mexico City, including Atlixco and Matamoros, between the Mexican Light Corps under General Joaquin Rea and U.S. General Joseph Lane, who attempted to stop Rea from attacking U.S. Army lines of communication. U.S. victory effectively ended the raids by Mexican forces against lines between Veracruz and Mexico City.

    Note: Image above: Veracruz during the bombardment on March 25, 1847, lithograph by E.B. and E.C. Kellogg, 1847. Courtesy Library of Congress. Casualty and troop strength numbers from Wikipedia Commons via various sources.

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