Mexican War: Battle of Molino del Rey
Battle of Molino del Rey
Report of Brigadier-General Cadwalader
Map of the Battle of Molino del Rey
Aftermath of battle
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 Tucubaya, 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.
[Thanks to Wikipedia for this summary of the events leading to the Battle of Molino del Rey.]
Official Report of Brigadier-General Cadwalader
Headquarters, 2d Brigade, 3d Division
Navarte, Mexico, September 10, 1847
Sir - In compliance with orders received on the 7th instant, I marched my brigade, consisting of the voltigeur regiment, under Colonel Andrews,, the 11th regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Graham, and the 14th regiment, under Colonel Trousdale, from it encampment at Mixcoac to Tacubaya, and reported to Major-General Worth for further orders on the same evening, preparatory to the attack and destruction of the foundry of the enemy at Molino Del Rey, under the fortress of Chapultepec.
Before daylight on the morning of the 8th instant, I placed my command on the plain, on the west side of the works of the enemy, in the position indicated in the order, number 95, of Major-General Worth; supporting the heavy battery of Captain Huger on my right, and the field battery of Lieutenant-Colonel Duncan on my left; holding my command in compact order, to support either of the three attacking columns, or any point which the circumstances might require.
The attack was commenced at daylight upon the enemy's positions, by the infantry of the 1st division - my command having been, from the commencement of the attack, within the range of the heavy fire of the enemy, from which it suffered severely.
A large body of the enemy's cavalry appearing on our left, I detached the regiment of voltigeurs two or three hundred yards in that direction, along a ravine which covered that flank of the army. Major Sumner, at the same time, crossed the ravine with his cavalry. By these movements, and an occasional shot from the field battery, the enemy's cavalry was driven out of reach. Two companies of the voltigeur regiment, command by Lieutenants Fry and Kintzing, were then detached, under Major Caldwell, to intercept a retreating party of the enemy - a corresponding movement being made by Major Sumner - and the party of the enemy killed or taken. The regiment of voltigeurs was subsequently moved to the right in support of Colonel Garland's brigade, and aided in defeating the enemy's last effort near the foundry at Molino del Rey.
A party of the enemy's cavalry, on our left, was driven off by Captain Blair's company, of the voltigeur regiment, detached for that purpose under Major Caldwell's directions.
Captain Edwards's company was detached, with the field-piece captured on the road near the foundry, to the one-gun battery in the road to Chapultepec, where the piece was actively served by that company. The gun and ammunition were taken to this position, as well as withdrawn, by the men, no limber being found with the piece, and was subsequently taken from the field by Captain Biddle's company of the same regiment.
The attack was commenced at daylight upon the enemy's position, by the infantry of the 1st division. It soon after became necessary to support the centre, which I did, by advancing in two columns, the 11th regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Graham, on the right, and the voltigeur regiment, under Colonel Andrews, on the left. The enemy being in great force, in a very strong position, behind stone walls difficult to attack, well defended with artillery, and with continuous lines of infantry, resisted, for a time, the assault; but were compelled to give place to our troops, who ultimately occupied the whole line of the their positions which defended the foundry, captured their batteries and a large quantity of ammunition, turning their own guns upon them, and driving them back into the fortress of Chapultepec, securing also a large quantity of grain and flour in the mill.
This result was greatly hastened by the efficient use of three pieces of field artillery, which were brought forward by Lieutenants Harley, McClelland and Scott, by order of Lieutenant-Colonel Graham, under a heavy fire from the enemy. A portion of the 11th regiment gained an entrance into the lower end of a building on the right, occupied by the enemy, where several Mexican officers surrendered, the commanding officer delivering his sword to Lieutenant Scott of the 11th regiment. In the meantime, Lieutenant R. H. Johnson, commanding company E, was killed by a musket ball, while most gallantly leading on his men. Lieutenant-Colonel Graham, although badly wounded in two places, and Lieutenants McCoy and Harley, and a portion of their command, pursued the enemy to the left; and, while leading an assault on a large and strongly fortified building still in the possession of the enemy, Lieutenant-Colonel Graham received two mortal wounds, of which he died in a few minutes, upon the field he had so gallantly assisted to win. Captain Irwin, although severely wounded, remained in command of his company as long as it was engaged; and Captain Guthrie was disabled by severe wounds.
Soon after the action commenced, four companies of the 14th regiment were also detached, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel P. O. Hebert, to support the assaulting party upon Molino Del Rey. A captured piece of artillery was fired, under the direction of Captain Glenn of that regiment, who was placed in charge of the same by Lieutenant-Colonel Hebert, until the ammunition was exhausted. Four moulds for casting cannon, found inside the building, were destroyed by Captains Hoffman and Lovell, of the 6th infantry. A number of muskets, and some ammunition, were also destroyed.
The remainder of the 14th regiment, under the command of Colonel Trousdale, remained upon the field to support the artillery, during which time they were also exposed to the fire of the enemy from both cannon and musketry. In addition to the officers already named, I would particularly mention the services and gallantry of Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston, Majors Caldwell and Talcott, of the voltigeur regiment, the latter of whom was wounded early in the action, but remained on the field during the day, and also Lieutenant-Colonel Hebert, of the 14th regiment. Captain Charles J. Biddle, of the voltigeur regiment, severely sick, left his bed at Mixcoac, when the firing began, and joined his company. Assistant-Surgeon Sameul D. Scott, of the 11th regiment, was active in his attention to the wounded on the field.
Assistant Adjutant-General George Deas, on duty upon my staff, was much exposed during the action; and by industry, coolness, and gallantry, rendered valuable service.
I forward herewith enclosed the separate reports of commanding officers of regiments, and also a return of the killed, wounded, and missing, on the occasion.
I am very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brig.-Gen. U.S.A. Comd'g.
[Thanks to The Rice Scholarship Home, Americas Archive for this 1850 map of the battle of El Molino del Rey]
4. Cpl. John T. Miller, Co. F, 14th Infantry.
13. Pvt. J. G. Tallaferro, 14th Infantry.
14. Pvt. J. J. Jones, 14th Infantry.
15. Pvt. T. Martin, 14th Infantry.
The slaughter had been dreadful. Nearly one-fourth of Worth's corps were either killed or wounded. The Mexicans had left 1,000 dead on the field. Their best leaders had been slain, and 800 men had been made prisoners. The strong buildings were blown up, and none of the defenses of Mexico outside its gates remained to them, excepting the castle of CHAPULTEPEC and its supports.
[Read more of this fascinating overview of the battle on the web site of Son of the South.]
Mexican War: Battle of Molino del Rey
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Last modified: December 04, 2013