January 29, This day during the Mexican American War

January 29, 1847 – The Battle of Embudo Pass was part of the Taos Revolt, a popular insurrection against the American army’s occupation of northern New Mexico. It took place on January 29, 1847, during the Mexican-American War, in what now is New Mexico. Following the Battle of Cañada, the local Pueblo Indians and New Mexicans retreated to Embudo, near present-day Dixon, New Mexico, where they made another stand in the narrow canyon south of the town. Finding the road by Embudo impractical for artillery or wagons, Colonel Sterling Price detached three companies under Captain John H.K. Burgwin, Captain Ceran St. Vrain and Lieutenant B.F. White to engage the insurgents and their native warrior allies. The result was a total rout and slaughter of the locals. The battle resulted in one American killed and one wounded. Among the defenders, about 20 killed, 60 wounded. Local tradition states that a series of crosses were chipped into several large rocks marking the spots where defenders were killed. These can still be seen today. Sterling Price’s official report of the battle describes it as follows: “The rapid slopes of the mountains rendered the enemy’s position very strong, and its strength was increased by the dense masses of cedar and large fragments of rock which everywhere offered shelter. The action was commenced by Capt. St. Vrain, who, dismounting his men, ascended the mountain on the left doing much execution. Flanking parties were thrown out on either side, commanded respectively by Lieut. White, 2d regiment Missouri mounted volunteers, and by Lieutenants Mellvaine and Taylor, 1st dragoons. These parties ascended the hill rapidly, and the enemy soon began to retire in the direction of Embudo, bounding along the steep and rugged sides of the mountains with a speed that defied pursuit. The firing at the pass of Embudo had been heard at La Joya, [now called “Velarde”] and Captain Slack, with twenty-five mounted men had been immediately dispatched thither. He now arrived, and rendered excellent service by relieving Lieutenant White whose men were much fatigued. Lieutenants Mellvaine and Taylor were also recalled; and Lieutenant Ingalls was directed to lead a flanking party on the right slope, while Captain Slack performed the same duty on the left. The enemy having by this time retreated beyond our reach, Captain Burgwin marched through the defile and debouched into the open valley in which Embudo is situated, recalled the flanking parties, and entered that town without opposition, several persons meeting him with a white flag.” Price’s forces then marched on to Taos where they engaged in the Siege of Pueblo de Taos.

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