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Battles of the War

The Storming of Chapultepec (General Pillow’s Attack)

The successful storming of Chapultepec Castle on September 13, 1847, struck the final blow to the Mexican defense of their capital and precipitated the collapse of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s defensive line. The imposing structure - a complex including a large castle-style fort, a manicured park, landscaped grounds, outbuildings, and all surrounded by a high wall - commanded a rise that towered over the surrounding plain. American General Winfield Scott ordered his army to take that position, directing General Gideon Pillow and his 2,500-man regular division to spearhead the assault, starting from the Molino del Rey to the west of Chapultepec. General John Quitman would lead his 2,500 troops in from the south and cut Chapultepec off from reinforcements, while General David Twiggs demonstrated against positions further east.

The Storming of Chapultepec by Carl Nebel
The Storming of Chapultepec by Carl Nebel
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth

Inside the walls, General Nicolás Bravo realized that his 1,000 men were too few to hold the castle. Even so, Bravo was determined to defend Chapultapec.

U.S. artillery pounded the Mexican position for more than a day before Pillow launched his attack at 8 a.m. on September 13. Mexican troops on the western slope of the castle held for a while, but gave way in the face of mounting U.S. pressure. Pillow’s men followed, capturing a redoubt below the castle, and then gained its walls, disarming several powder mines as they advanced, avoiding a potential disaster. By 9:30 Chapultepec had fallen.