17 May Battle of Monterey: Mexican–American War
Monterey, 21 September 1846. Taylor’s forces left Camargo at the end of August and launched an attack on Monterey on 21 September 1846.
The city was defended by a force of from 7,300 to 9,000 Mexican troops under the command of Gen. Pedro de Ampudia.
After three days of hard fighting, the Americans drove the enemy from the streets to the central plaza.
On 24 September Ampudia offered to surrender the city on the condition that his troops be allowed to withdraw unimpeded and that an eight-week armistice goes into effect.
Taylor, believing that his mission was simply to hold northern Mexico, accepted the terms and the Mexican troops evacuated the city the following day.
Ampudia reported that his army had suffered 367 casualties in the three-day fight.
Taylor reported his losses as being 120 killed and 368 wounded. Both reports were probably underestimated.
Taylor was severely criticized in Washington for agreeing to the Mexican terms, and the Administration promptly repudiated the armistice, which had almost expired by the time the news reached Monterey.
Meanwhile, in keeping with the strategic plan, the other two prongs of advance into northern Mexico had been put in motion.
On 5 June 1846, Brig. Gen. John E. Wool had left San Antonio with his “Army of the Center,” a force of some 2,000 men.
His original objective was Chihuahua, but en route it was changed to Parras. Wool, encountering no opposition, arrived at Parras on 5 December; his force then became part of Taylor’s command.
The third prong, Col. (later Maj. Gen.) Stephen W. Kearny’s “Army of the West,” a force of about 1,660 men, left Fort Leavenworth early in June 1846 and entered Santa Fe unopposed on 18 August.
From there Kearny left for California on 25 September with about 300 dragoons.
En route he met a party, led by Kit Carson, bringing news from the west coast that a naval squadron under Commodore J. D. Sloat, with the questionable help of volunteers under Capt. John C. Fremont had won peaceful possession of California in July, although some opposition remained.
Kearny seat back 200 of his men and pushed on with the rest, arriving at San Diego on 12 December after having fought a sharp engagement on 6 December with a larger force of Californians at San Pasqual.
At San Diego, Kearny joined Commodore Robert F. Stockton, who had replaced Sloat, and their combined force of some 600 men, after same minor skirmishing, occupied Los Angeles on 10 January 1847.
Three days later the last remaining Californian opposition capitulated to the volunteer force commanded by Fremont.
Meanwhile, in mid-November of 1846, Taylor had sent one of his divisions to occupy the city of Saltillo.
Another detachment occupied Victoria, a provincial capital between Monterey and the port or Tampico, which latter had been occupied by an American naval force under Comdr.
David Conner on 15 November 1846. Thus, by the end of 1846, a very large part of northern Mexico had come under American control.
A plan was adopted late in 1846 to strike at Mexico City by way of Vera Cruz. In preparation for this expedition Maj. Gen.
Winfield Scott, Commanding General or the Army, detached about 8,000 men from Taylor ‘a command early in 1847, ordering the troops to Gulf ports to wait for sea transportation.
Taylor was left with some 4,800 men, practically all volunteers, most or whom he concentrated in a camp south of Saltillo.
*This article was originally published at hwww.history.army.mil