Monterrey, Battle of

Monterrey, Battle of
   An early battle of the Mexican-American War, 1846–1848. As part of a threepronged offensive to seize northern Mexico, Major General Zachary Taylor’s Army of Occupation advanced on Monterrey in summer 1846. Natural and constructed obstacles rendered this provincial capital virtually impregnable. Fortified heights and the winding Rio Santa Catarina protected the city to the south and west, while a network of redoubts guarded its eastern flank. To the north, a massive fortress, the citadel, commanded the approaches to the city. The Mexican commander, General Pedro de Ampudia, had 7,500 regular troops, plentiful artillery, and weeks to prepare for the expected American attack.
   Without proper siege guns and considerably outnumbered, Taylor boldly divided his army of 6,000 effectives on September 20 and executed a double envelopment of the city. One division struck from the west, while the bulk of his force attacked from the east. Taylor’s audacious strategy and his troops’ perseverance despite heavy losses completely unnerved Ampudia, and the Mexican commander missed the opportunity to defeat in detail Taylor’s divided army. Facing heavy canon and musket fire from the strongly entrenched defenders, the Americans in two days of hard fighting battered their way into the city proper. With streets barricaded, stone houses loop-holed, and rooftops garrisoned, further advance required clearing the defenders street by street and house by house. Nevertheless, the two wings of Taylor’s army gradually closed on the city’s central plaza.
   On September 24, Ampudia asked for terms. Taylor granted an eight-week armistice and allowed Mexican forces to withdraw from the city unmolested. Infuriated, President James K. Polk immediately repudiated the truce and lost all confidence in Taylor. His situation, however, had been critical and a final assault would have decimated his exhausted and battered army. Capturing the fortress-city by any means was nonetheless an impressive feat, and Monterrey served as a major American base for the remainder of the war.
   See also <>; <>.
    Bauer, K. Jack. The Mexican War, 1846–1848. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992;
    Eisenhower, John S. D. So Far from God: The U.S. War with Mexico, 1846–1848. New York: Random House, 1989;
    McCaffrey, James M. Army of Manifest Destiny: The American Soldier in the Mexican War, 1846–1848. New York: New York University Press, 1992;
    Smith, Justin H. The War with Mexico. 2 vols. Gloucester, Mass: Peter Smith, 1963.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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