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Contreras

san, mexican, road, padierna and geronimo

CONTRERAS, Battle of (Mexican name, Padierna), in the Mexican War, 20 Aug. 1847. At Churubusco (q.v.), the main road south from the city of Mexico is joined from the southwest by another, running to the hills be yond the hamlet of Contreras. This is about 1.2 miles from the city; a mile nearer the latter. is the hamlet of Padierna. The road to Mexico City winds around the east flank of the ridge, across the brook from Padierna and keeps on north, across four brooks to the important village of San Angel. The Mexican general, Valencia, with the Weterans of the North," i forming the right of Santa Anna's army, had made his headquarters at San Angel on the 17th; and he ecided to occupy and fortify Pekin two miles southwest, to block the road to the capital skirting it. Power ful batteries were placed to command this and sweep the pedregal; and some 7,000 men were concentrated about the• ridge, and facing Auzaldo and San Geronimo. Santa Anna, ap prehensive for his position on the main road, ordered Valencia to retire to Churubusco; but Valencia refused. On the 19th, Scott, at San Augustin, ordered a road leveled to Padierna; Twiggs and Pillow to check the enemy mean while. A fierce running fight with the Mexican troops ensued, and skirmishing continued. At 2.30 A.M. of the 20th, a dismal morning of cold, rain and fog, Smith and Riley moved southwest through the steep, gullied, slippery streets of San Geronimo, and, unperceived, gained posi tions southwest of the ridge on the right flank of Valencia's lines. Meantime a strong diver

sion was made by an assault on Padierna and along the rocks. The battle was won by a single impetuous onslaught of Riley's troops against Valencia's main batteries on the ridge, when the "Veterans of the North" broke and scattered like sheep. The battle was over in 17 minutes, and the Mexican army a routed mob, in face of a force numbering but a fraction of their own. Shields, who had taken Smith's place at San Geronimo, marched rapidly to Auzaldo to cut off the retreat; but a portion of the 'army escaped in wild flight toward Churu busco along the San Angel road, while the rest plunged in disorder down the steep flanks of San Geronimo, leaving all impediments behind. No more brilliant victory was won in the war. Scott had not over 4,500 men in sight, to Valencia's 7,000, and Santa Anna's 12,000 within supporting distance; and the natural and arti ficial defenses should have made the Mexican positions impregnable. The latter lost 700 killed and wounded, and 813 prisoners, includ ing 88 officers, four of them generals; 22 brass cannon, vast quantities of small arms and ammunition, and many hundreds of pack-mules and horses. The American loss was 60 killed and wounded. This route contributed mate rially to the winning of Churubusco. Consult Wilcox, 'History of the Mexican War> ; Wright, 'Life of Scott' ; Scott, 'Autobiog raphy.'