Contreras [key], village, central Mexico, near Mexico City, site of an important battle (Aug. 19–20, 1847) of the Mexican War. Gen. Winfield Scott, continuing his advance after the battle of Cerro Gordo, approached Mexico City. The Mexicans under General Santa Anna were drawn up for defense. Scott sent out a reconnaissance party under Gideon Pillow, who mistakenly ordered an attack that ended by isolating some of his advance troops. The situation seemed desperate, but brilliant night tactics, supported by reestablishment of communications by Robert E. Lee, prepared the way for a daybreak attack. Santa Anna was forced to retire to Chapultepec. Fierce fighting took place later on that same day at Churubusco, closer to Mexico City, where Mexican troops temporarily stemmed the U.S. advance.
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