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The Battle of Cerro Gordo or Sierra Gordo in the Mexican-American War saw Winfield Scott's US troops flank and drive Santa Anna's larger Mexican army from a strong defensive position.


United Statesmarker forces captured the port of Veracruzmarker on March 27, 1847. Following this, General Winfield Scott advanced toward Mexico Citymarker.


General Antonio López de Santa Anna, commanding Mexicanmarker forces in the area, blocked Scott's march at Cerro Gordo, near Xalapamarker, with more than 12,000 soldiers in a fortified defile. Represented were the remnants of the Division of the North (5,650 total: 150 Artillery, 4,000 Infantry & 1,500 Cavalry: Ampudia Brigade (3d,4th,5th & 11th Line Infantry Regiments), Vasquez Brigade (1st,2d,3d & 4th Light Infantry Regiments) and Juvera Cavalry Brigade (5th, 9th Morelia & Coraceros Cavalry Regiments), plus reinforcements from the Capitol: Rangel Brigade (6th Infantry Regiment, Grenadiers of the Guard,Libertad & Galeana Battalions, two Cavalry Squadrons & 8 guns), Pinzon Brigade, Arteaga Brigade (Puebla Activo & Natl Guards Battalions)& Canalizo Special Cavalry Division. Army Corps of Engineers Capt. Robert E. Lee discovered a mountain trail around Santa Anna's position. General Scott quickly moved the main body of his command along the trail, flanking the Mexicans. A sharp action ensued on April 18, 1847, routing Santa Anna's force.
A U.S. ambush was discovered at the start of the battle, however Mexican lines soon collapsed


The Mexicans lost 1,000 killed and wounded with an additional 3,000 men taken prisoner. U.S. casualties comprised 64 killed and 353 wounded. General Santa Anna, caught off guard by the Fourth Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Infantry, was compelled to ride off without his artificial leg, which was captured and is still displayed in Illinoismarker.

This battle has been called "the Battle of Thermopylaemarker of the West" because the use of terrain was similar to the maneuver that the Persiansmarker used to eventually defeat the Greeks. However, casualties were dissimilar: the attacking American casualties were moderate while the defending Mexican casualties were heavy, which was opposite to Thermopylae.

During the rout, members of the Saint Patrick's Battalion provided the Mexicans with the greatest opposition to US forces in this battle. They had the most to fear being captured by the Americans, leading them to threaten fellow Mexican combatants with friendly fire who were intent on retreating (or surrendering). Because of heavy artillery engagement by Americans the battalion's members had to spend most of their time returning volley at the Americans, therefore its unlikely that more than a few "friendly fire" incidents actually took place.


Scott moved on to Pueblamarker, 75 miles (120 km) from Mexico City, where he halted on May 15, 1847.

There were five company grade officers in Scott's corp of engineers who were of significant historical interest; Captain Robert E. Lee, Captain George B. McClellan, Captain Joseph E. Johnston, Lieutenant John G. Foster and Lieutenant P.G.T. Beauregard. All went on to serve as generals in the American Civil War (1861–1865).


Cerro Gordo County, Iowamarker, Cerro Gordo, North Carolinamarker and Cerro Gordo, Illinoismarker take their names from the battle, much as Resaca, Georgiamarker is named for the Battle of Resaca de la Palma.

Sierra Gordo is one of the countries in which the fictional character G.I. Joe fights.

See also


    • If the same ratios of killed/wounded applied as at Buena Vista.
  • The Encyclopedia of Military History, Dupuy and Dupuy. Harper & Row, Publishers.
  • Dead Link
  • "Apuntes para la historia de la guerra entre México y los Estados Unidos". Alcaraz, Ramón. Mexico City.
  • "The Other Side: Or, Notes for the History of the War between Mexico and the United States", translated and edited in the United States by Albert C. Ramsey, New York: John Wiley, 1850.

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