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Pedro de Ampudia

Pedro de Ampudia (1803-1868) was born in Cuba and served Mexico as an officer throughout most of his life.

Ampudia began his career in the Spanish Army, and emmigrated to Mexico following the Mexican War of Independence[?]. In 1836, Ampudia served with the Mexican artillery at the Siege of the Alamo[?] and later saw heavy combat at the Battle of San Jacinto. During border skirmishes with Texas in the early 1840s, Ampudia was never defeated, and earned the grudging respect of his enemies across the border.

Briefly appointed as commander-in-chief of the Mexican Army of the North in 1846, Ampudia was removed from command following the brutal public execution of a local guerilla leader by his personal order. As a conservadore (a member of Mexico's conservative faction), Ampudia was quickly relegated to a staff position in favor of his liberale rival, General Mariano Arista. At the Battle of Palo Alto, Ampudia harshly criticized Arista for what he saw as "unacceptable tactical blunders" and continued his criticism at the Battle of Resaca de la Palma - a defeat for which Arista partially blamed him.

During the long retreat south, Ampudia was appointed commander-in-chief of the Army of the North, in time to command Mexican forces at the Battle of Monterrey. Despite orders from Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna that he was to retreat to Saltillo, Ampudia chose to stand at Monterrey instead - informing Santa Anna that,

"The men will brook no further retreat in the face of the enemy."

After a skilled defense of the city, Ampudia controversially chose to request a flag of truce and retreat his battered army, despite the breaking of American lines in several places. His arrangement with Zachary Taylor allowed the Army of the North to keep its weapons but march as far south as possible and neglect offensive operations for three months. At Saltillo, Ampudia attempted to throw up a defense similar to that at Monterrey, but the inhabitants of the city would have none of it. His failure to defend that city led to his removal by Santa Anna, and like his former superior, Arista, Ampudia found himself spending most of the rest of the war in administrative duties, though he was in command of portions of the Mexican artillery at the Battle of Buena Vista[?] in 1847.

Despite his controversial retreat at Monterrey, Ampudia remained popular in Mexican folklore as "the only man who could defeat Taylor". After the war, Ampudia's policies became gradually more liberal, so that he supported the government of Benito Juarez during the Maximillian Intervention[?] and served with considerable bravery and skill as commander of the liberal Army of the East, in whose command he was gravely wounded. In 1868, Ampudia died (possibly from complications arising from his wartime injuries), and was buried in the Panteon de San Fernando.

References

  • Bauer, K. Jack, "The Mexican-American War, 1846-1848"
  • Miguel Ángel Peral, ed., "Diccionario Biográfico Mexicano"

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