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Battles of the War

The Battle of El Molino del Rey (Attack upon the Casa Mata)

General William J. Worth’s September 8 attack on the Casa Mata and Molino del Rey complex became one of the bloodiest days for American forces in the U.S.-Mexican War. These two positions, part of a chain of strong points just two miles short of the gates of Mexico City, were supposed to be lightly held. Worth shelled the Mexican positions without response, and then ordered his columns forward. These included Brigadier General John Garland’s command on the right against the Molino del Rey, a storming party to capture an angle in the center, Lieutenant Colonel James McIntosh’s brigade to carry the Casa Mata on the left, and General George Cadwalder’s brigade in reserve.

Worth’s 3,400 troops were marching steadily into a Mexican ambush. Garland felt it first when hidden Mexican cannons and the guns of Chapultepec butchered his attacking column. McIntosh, spared the chaos on the right, was himself encountering a hail of small arms from the men of General Francisco Perez’s Brigade to his front. At this critical point in the battle, a 4,000 man Mexican cavalry division under General Juan Álvarez threatened to swoop in and roll up the American left. Quick thinking by a mixed command of U.S. mounted troops caused the Mexican horsemen to veer off, saving McIntosh from certain disaster.

Chastened by the resistance ahead and spooked by the Mexican cavalry beside, McIntosh fell back. The hard-won successes of Garland’s command eventually penetrated the Mexican line at the Molino del Rey, making the Casa Mata untenable, and the Mexican troops retreated. McIntosh’s infantry followed at a prudent distance. The day’s casualties included 800 killed and wounded Americans, and nearly 2,000 killed, wounded, and captured Mexicans.