Cerdo Gordo, Battle of

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Cerdo Gordo, Battle of

Battle of Cerdo Gordo, an engagement on 18 April 1847 in which the Mexican Army was decisively defeated by the United States Army at a mountain pass between Veracruz and Mexico City. Following the indecisive engagement at Buena Vista, Antonio López de Santa Anna rushed south to deal with political problems in Mexico City and to confront the U.S. Army led by General Winfield Scott. Santa Anna chose to meet Scott at a narrow pass named Cerdo Gordo just east of Jalapa. He blocked the road with 25 pieces of artillery and 4,000 of his best troops and fortified the nearby heights of El Telégrafo and La Atalaya, holding 8,000 troops in reserve.

On 12 April, General David Twiggs, commanding some 2,500 men, ordered a precipitous attack on the Mexican position but escaped disaster by the overeagerness of the Mexican gunners. Scott arrived the following day with 6,000 men and ordered a reconnaissance of the formidable Mexican position. Engineer officers Captain Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant George Derby discovered a path around the Mexican position, which was unknown to Santa Anna.

Early on the morning of 18 April, Scott opened his assault with an artillery barrage. While part of the U.S. Army engaged the Mexicans along their front, Twiggs advanced along the path in order to cut off the Mexican line of retreat. Before reaching the Mexican rear as ordered, Twiggs prematurely attacked El Telégrafo and La Atalaya. After three hours of fighting, the Mexican Army broke and fled in disarray; Santa Anna barely escaped capture. The Mexicans lost approximately 3,000 men, and a like number were captured along with a large quantity of munitions. The United States suffered 64 dead and 353 wounded.

The victory at Cerdo Gordo allowed the U.S. Army to escape the unhealthy lowlands at the beginning of the yellow fever season. Also, the Mexicans lost most of their remaining better-trained units. Although the Mexican-American War continued for another year, the Mexican Army was no longer capable of executing offensive maneuvers.

See alsoMexico, Wars and Revolutions, Mexican-American Wars .


Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Mexico (1883).

José Fernando Ramírez, Mexico During the War with the United States, edited by Walter V. Scholes and translated by Elliott B. Scherr (1950).

Additional Bibliography

Heidler, David Stephen, and Jeanne T. Heidler. The Mexican War. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006.

Vázquez, Josefina Zoraida. México al tiempo de su guerra con Estados Unidos, 1846–1848. México: Secretaría de Exteriores: El Colegio de México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1997.

                              Robert Scheina