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The Mexican American War

 

Comparisons of Mexico and America     American Plans for the Invasion of Mexico   Gen Taylor in Matamoros 

              Battle of Palo Alto     Battle of Resaca de la Palma    Preparations for the invasion of Mexico   The March on Monterey

  Battle of Monterey    Surrender of Monterey   Conquest of New Mexico and California    Return of Santa Anna

            Battle of Buena Vista   Siege of Vera Cruz   Battle of Cerro Gordo   Battle of Chapultepec   Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

          The Gadsen Purchase

 

 

 

 

Comparisons of Mexico and America

 

At the outset of the war Mexico had a population of 7 million and a

      bankrupt and stagnant economy, while the US had a population of 20 million

      and a dynamic and growing economy . The contrast between the armies was

       even more pronounced . The Mexican military lacked a professional officer corps

        and its army was in great want of resources . Mexican soldiers were often fed

         and cared for by their women who followed the troops. The army had antiquated short range artillery and solders often only fired their guns for the first time in battle .

         Lack of medical services meant the wounded often had to be abandoned .The US, in contrast had a professional officer corps and the most advanced artillery, including the U.S. Army horse artillery or ' flying artillery ' ,which  played a decisive role in several key battles. The violence of the war and its unjust nature was very traumatic to Mexican pride and is still a source of resentment for Mexicans today which can be seen in the Reconquista movement in Mexico to recover the lost Mexican territories .

 

American Flying Artillery

 

 Both sides used smoothbore muskets, but the frontiersman's rifle of the time, with its spiral grooved bore was much more accurate .The rifle, was expensive and the US Army was slow to adopt it .Mexico had no small arm factories of its own , and had to make do with obsolete European discards

 

Early photograph of American dragoons entering Saltillo.

Dragoon were soldiers trained to fight on foot, but trained in horseback riding and combat .The name probably derives probably from the dragoon's primary weapon, a carbine or short musket called the dragon, like a fire breathing dragon.

 

American Plans for the Invasion of Mexico 

 

Map of the Mexican American War

 

The plan of the campaign in Mexico for the year 1846, seems to have been arranged jointly, by consultations between the President, Secretary at War, and General Scott .The President declared that in his opinion, " the immediate appearance in arms of a large and overpowering force," would be the best means of producing peace.

 

 

At this time, General Scott, as commander of the army, was stationed at Washington, engaged in arranging and superintending the various staff duties of the army. He would be naturally consulted on the plans to be formed, and the means to execute them. The whole detail of the physical and social condition of Mexico, were almost utterly unknown in the United States, and that information on these topics had to be obtained by inquiry and study, before even a general of the army could make prudent military arrangements.

The American strategy called for a three pronged offensive . General Stephen W. Kearny would leave from Fort Leavenworth with the army of the West and occupy New Mexico and California with 1,500 hundred men . The Army of the Center under Doniphan would was ordered to northern Mexico and the Army of Occupation  would head for Mexico City under Zachary Taylor. 

 

Gen Taylor in Matamoros  

 

Three days after the Thornton affair, the camp of Captain Walker's Texan Rangers was surprised, and several killed and wounded. . This was between Point Isabel and Matamoros. In the mean while, it was ascertained that a large body of the Mexican army had crossed the river (Rio Grande) above, 3 and that another corps was about to cross below. General Taylor was convinced that the object of attack was Point Isabel, which had been left in care of a small detachment, and where a large depot of provisions invited the enemy. Leaving an unfinished field-work, under the command of Major Brown, and garrisoned by the 7th infantry, with Lowd's and Bragg's companies of artillery, he marched for Point Isabel on the 1st of May, with his main force, and arrived on the next day.

 

The departure of General Taylor with his army, furnished the enemy in Matamoras with the opportunity for a safe attack on Fort Brown. At five in the morning of the 3d of May, a heavy bombardment was commenced from the batteries in Matamoras, and continued at intervals till the 10th, when the defenders of the fort were relieved. In this defense, Major Brown, Captain Hawkins, and Captain Mansfield were greatly distinguished, both 
for skill and gallantry. The former was killed by a shell, and the defense was vigorously continued by Captain Hawkins. Captain Mansfield was an engineer officer, under whose direction the fort was built, and by whose skilful conduct the defenses were increased and strengthened during the siege. 

 

The siege of Fort Brown was raised by the arrival of the victorious army of Taylor, which had just fought the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. It appears that General Arista, who was now in command of the Mexican army, had assembled in all about eight thousand men at Matamoras, and being well advised of the strength of the American forces, thought the time had arrived for a decisive blow.

The capture of Captain Thornton's party had also emboldened the Mexican troops. Arista saw that Point Isabel, the depot of large quantities of provisions and military munitions, was comparatively defenseless. To take this place would, therefore, both cut off the supplies of Taylor's army, and leave it isolated in the heart of the enemy's country. The plan of Arista was to cross the Rio Grande, get in the rear of General Taylor's army, capture Point Isabel, and then fall on the American army. The plan was judicious, and was only prevented from being carried out, by the accidental information brought to General Taylor by one of Thornton's party sent in by the Mexican commander !

Battle of Palo Alto 

Death of Major Ringgold at Palto Alto, who was an officer of the ' flying artillery'

was one of the 5 Americans who died in the battle

The next day (the 8th) the march was resumed, and at noon the enemy was discovered drawn up in battle array upon a prairie three miles from the Palo Alto. The army was halted, and the men refreshed at a pool.

At two P. M., the army advanced by heads of columns, till the Mexican cannon opened upon them, when they were deployed into line, and Ringgold's Light Artillery on the right, poured forth its rapid and deadly fire on the enemy. The Mexican cavalry, mostly Lancers, were on their left, and were forced back by the destructive discharges of artillery. To remedy this, General Arista ordered Torrejon, general of cavalry, to charge the American right. This he did, but was met by the Flying Artillery, under Lt. Ridgely, and by the 5th Infantry. The Lancers were again driven back. At this period the prairie grass was set on fire, and under cover of its smoke the Americans advanced to the position just occupied by the Mexican cavalry. Again a Mexican division of Lancers charged, under the command of Col. Montero, but with as little success. The continuous fire of artillery disordered and drove back the enemy's columns. On the left wing of our army, attacks of the Mexicans were met by Duncan's battery, and by other troops of that division. The combat on our side was chiefly carried on by artillery ; and never was there a more complete demonstration of the superior skill and energy of that Arm of service, as conducted by the accomplished graduates of West-Point. He who was the life and leader of the Light Artillery, Major Ringgold was in this engagement mortally wounded, and died in a few days

The battle terminated with the possession, by the Americans, of the field, and the retreat during the night of the Mexicans. Arista, dating his despatch, says, " in sight of the enemy, at night" This might be true ; but he was in retreat, and took a new position several miles off, at Resaca de la Palma. A ravine here crossed the road, and on either side it was skirted with dense thickets. This ravine was occupied by the Mexican artillery. The position was well chosen ; and with troops better skilled in the use of artillery, and with greater energy of body, might have easily been defended.

Battle of Resaca de la Palma 

General Taylor had encamped on the field of battle, from which he did not depart till two P. M. the next day. In two hours, the American army came in sight of the Mexican array. The dispositions of our troops were soon made. A battery of artillery, under Lt. Ridgely, moved up the main road, while the 3d, 4th, and 5th Regiments of Infantry deployed on either flank to support it and act as skirmishers. The action commenced by the fire of the Mexican artillery, which was returned by Ridgely's battery and by the infantry on the wings. In this firing, the Mexican cannon were well managed by Generals La Vega and Requena, and the effect began to be severely felt on the American lines. It was necessary to dislodge them and this duty was assigned to Captain May of the Dragoons. It was here that this officer became so distinguished. The charge was gallantly made. The Dragoons cut through the enemy. The artillerymen were dispersed, and General La Vega taken prisoner.

The Dragoons, however, had advanced beyond support, and in turn fell back on the main body. The regiments of infantry now charged the Mexican line, and the battle was soon ended. Their columns, now broken by successive charges, were unable to bear the continued and well-directed fire poured upon them by both infantry and artillery. They fled precipitately from the field, and were rapidly pursued by the American rearguard. The Mexicans lost many prisoners, and ceased not their flight till they either crossed or were overwhelmed in the waters of the Rio Grande. In these engagements neither cowardice nor feebleness was attributed to them. They fought gallantly, behaved well, and were only conquered by that union of physical strength and superior skill, with which some nations are fortunately gifted, by the natural influence of climate and the artificial developments of science.

Preparations for the invasion of Mexico 

From the period at which the American army occupied Metamoras, after the battle of Resaca de la Palma, both the general government at home, and the officers of the army on the Rio Grande, were busied with preparations for an advance into the interior of Mexico. The Rio Grande was assumed as the military base-line of operations, although the real base was necessarily the Mississippi.

More than three months were consumed in these preparations. In the mean time, the Mexican villages of Reinosa, Comargo, Mier, and Revilla surrendered, and were occupied. Comargo, a town about one hundred and eighty miles above the mouth of the Rio Grande, was the point selected as the depot of supplies. Here the various divisions which were to compose the particular army of General Taylor were gradually concentrated. The entire army of General Taylor consisted of about nine thousand men.

The March on Monterey 

A small portion was assigned to garrisons, while the main body, numbering six thousand six hundred, were destined for the march to Monterey. On the 20th of August General Worth began his march for Monterey, the capital of New Leon ; and on the 5th of September, the general- in-chief left Comargo, leaving that town garrisoned by about two thousand men. Worth reached Ceralvo about seventy miles on the 25th of August, and at that point sent out reconnoitering parties, who discovered strong bodies of the enemy in front. Being reinforced, he advanced to the village of Marin, where the entire army was in a few days concentrated under the command of General Taylor.

Battle of Monterey 

Monterey The city of Monterey is situated in the valley of the San Juan ; and in the rear, and around it, rise the mountain ridges of the Sierra Madre.

In front, the road from Ceralvo and Marin entered the town. On the heights, in rear of the town and beyond the river, works were erected which commanded the valley and the approaches from the north. Above the Saltillo road was a height upon which was the Bishop's Palace, and near it other heights, all fortified. In front of the city was the Cathedral Fort, or citadel, which was regularly fortified, and about two thousand yards in front and below the Bishop's Palace. The opposite side of the city, to the left, as the Americans approached, were forts also erected, and there were barricades in the streets of the city.

Siege of Monterey

Both the natural and the artificial defenses of Monterey seem to have been very strong. Notwithstanding this neither the extant of the defenses nor the garrison within them seem to have been known to the American army previous to its arrival in front of the city.

The army, however, pressed forward, and on the 19th of September arrived at Walnut Springs, three miles from Monterey, having met with no more serious resistance than that of skirmishing parties of Mexican cavalry.

Monterey was then under the command of General Pedro Ampudia, and the garrison under his command consisted of about seven thousand regular troops, and two or three thousand irregulars. Notwithstanding this strong garrison, superior in numbers to the American army, General Taylor thought it possible to carry the place by storm, with the bayonet and the artillery.

In the afternoon of the 20th of September, General Worth, with his division, was ordered to make a detour to the right turn the hill of the Bishop's Palace take a position on the Saltillo road and, if practicable, carry the enemy's works in that quarter. This movement was executed during the evening, and the troops remained upon their arms, just beyond the range of the enemy's shot. During the night two 24-pounder howitzers and 1 ten-inch mortar were placed in battery against the citadel.

On the morning of the 21st the main battle came on. Twiggs' and Butler's Divisions, supported by the Light Artillery, were both ordered forward ; May's Dragoons, and Wood's Texan Cavalry, were detached to the right, to the support of General Worth. A column of six hundred and fifty men, with Bragg's Artillery, was ordered to the left, to attack the lower part of the town. The point of attack was designated by Major Mansfield, who accompanied the parlay in its advance. The front defense here was a redoubt, into the rear of which, in spite of its fire, the column rapidly moved, and commenced its assault on the town. Here it was opposed by entrenched streets and barricaded houses. On one of these the company of Captain Backus succeeded in getting, and fired upon the redoubt. Garland's force, however, were with- drawn. It was then that General Taylor ordered up the 4th Infantry, and the Volunteer regiments from Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi, commanded by Colonels

Mitchell, Campbell, and Davis. The two last regiments, with three companies of the 4th regiment, advanced against the redoubt. The last companies being in front were received with a deadly fire, which killed or disabled one-third of the men, and they were compelled to retire. The brigade of General Quitman (Tennessee and Mississippi) pushed on, and with the aid of Captain Backus's company (on the roof of a house) captured the fort, with its cannon and ammunition. In the mean while the Ohio regiment, with General Butler and Colonel Mitchell, entered the town to the right, and advanced against the second battery, but the fire was so severe that the regiment was withdrawn ; General Butler, who had advanced with it, being wounded. The guns of the first battery were turned upon the second, and Colonel Garland was again ordered forward with an- other column. They were compelled to pass several streets trenched and barricaded, and after another severe contest retired in good order. Up to this time, it is obvious, no important success had been obtained against the lower town. The Mexican cavalry had also made several charges, but always unsuccessfully. On the same day (the 2 1st) Worth's Division had advanced to the right, defeated the enemy, and carried several fortified heights. At night General Taylor ordered a large part of Twiggs' and Butler's Divisions back to Walnut Springs a portion remaining to guard the battery in the ravine, while Gar- land's command held the captured redoubt on the enemy's extreme right.

 The Surrender of Monterey, retreat of Mexican troops

At dawn of the 22d, Worth and his Division, which had bivouacked on the Saltillo road, recommenced the advance. The height above the Bishop's Palace was stormed and taken ; when the Palace and the guns of both were turned upon the enemy below. The guns of the Citadel continued, during this day, to fire upon the American positions ; but General Taylor made no important movement in front. The turning of the enemy's position by Worth, and the capture of the Bishop's Palace, gave a new face to affairs. This was the key to Monterey, and General Ampudia concentrated his troops in the heart of the city. General Taylor, on the morning of the 23d, found nearly all the works in the lower part of the city abandoned. He immediately ordered General Quitman to enter the place ; but here a new resistance was made. The houses were fortified, and our troops actually dug through from house to house ! On the upper side of the city, Worth's Division had also gained a lodgment. The firing continued during the 23d the Americans having possession of the greater part of the city, and the Mexicans confined, in their defence, chiefly to the Citadel and Plaza. That evening (at 9 P. M.) General Ampudia sent in propositions to General Taylor which, after some negotiation, resulted in the surrender and evacuation of Monterey. The main part of the capitulation was, that the Mexican troops should retire beyond a line formed by the Pass of Rinconada, the city of Linares, and San Fernando de Prezas ; and that the forces of the United States would not advance beyond that line before the expiration of eight weeks, or until the orders or instructions of the respective governments should be received.

The Mexicans marched out with their arms, and the terms were unusually favorable to them. For this concession there were strong reasons. A change of government had just taken place in Mexico, believed to be favorable to peace, and to have reduced the citadel of Monterey would have cost the lives of many men. Besides al! this, the American army had but a short supply of provisions, and were one hundred and eighty miles distant from their depot. The American loss in this battle was (killed and wounded) four hundred and eighty-eight, a large portion of whom fell in the attacks of the 21st on the lower town.

End of the armistice

The War Department did not choose to continue the armistice ; but, on the 13th of October, directed General Taylor lo give notice that the armistice should cease, and that each party should be at liberty to resume hostilities. In communicating this notice to General Santa Anna, then in command of the Mexican army, General Taylor took occasion to suggest the idea of an honorable peace. To this the Mexican chief replied, " You should banish every idea of peace while a single North American, in arms, treads upon the territory of this republic."

Conquest of New Mexico and California 

Immediately after the opening of hostilities in the valley of the Rio Grande, of which notice has been taken in preceding chapters of this work, among the expeditions which were organized by the Federal authorities, was one to move against, and take possession of, California and New Mexico, two provinces, in the northern part of the enemies country. The command of this expedition had been vested in General Stephen W. Kearney, and the force under his command embracing the First regiment of Missouri Mounted Volunteers, under Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan ; two companies of light- artillery {Captains Weighiman's and Fischers), from St. Louis ; five troops of the First regiment United States dragoons ; " The Saclede Rangers," a volunteer troop, from St. Louis, and two companies of infantry (volunteers), from Cole and Platte counties, Missouri, under Captains Augney and Murphy sixteen hundred and fifty-eight men in all, with twelve six-pounders and four twelve-pound howitzers, had rendezvoused at Fort Leaven-worth ; and the most energetic measures had been adopted to insure its early departure and its ultimate success.In Northern California, Mexican General José Castro and Governor Pío Pico fled further south into loyalist Mexico. When Stockton's forces, sailing south to San Diego, stopped in San Pedro, he dispatched 50 U.S. Marines. The force entered Los Angeles unresisted on August 13, 1846. It is known as the Siege of Los Angeles, the nearly bloodless conquest of California seemed complete. Stockton, however, left too small a force in Los Angeles, and the Californios, acting on their own and without help from Mexico, led by José Mariá Flores, forced the American garrison to retreat in late September. More than 300 reinforcements sent by Stockton, led by U.S. Navy Captain William Mervine, were repulsed in the Battle of Dominguez Rancho, October 7 through October 9, 1846, near San Pedro. 14 U.S. Marines were killed. The rancho vaqueros, banded together to defend their land, fought as Californio Lancers. They were a force the Americans had not prepared for. Meanwhile, General Stephen W. Kearny, with a squadron of 139 dragoons, finally reached California after a grueling march across New Mexico, Arizona and the Sonora desert, on December 6, 1846, and fought in a small battle with Californio Lancers at the Battle of San Pasqual near San Diego, California, where 22 of Kearny's troops were killed. Kearny's command was bloodied and in poor condition but pushed on until they had to establish a defensive position on "Mule" Hill near present-day Escondido. The Californios besieged the dragoons for four days until Commodore Stockton's relief force arrived. Later, their re-supplied, combined force, marched north from San Diego on December 29, entering the Los Angeles area on January 8, 1847,[24] linking up with Frémont's men. With U.S. forces totaling 607 soldiers and marines, they fought and defeated a Californio force of about 300 men under the command of captain-general Flores, in the decisive Battle of Rio San Gabriel,[25] and the next day, January 9, 1847, they fought the Battle of La Mesa. On January 12, 1847, the last significant body of Californios surrendered to U.S. forces. That marked the end of the war in California. On January 13, 1847, the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed.

On January 28, 1847, U.S. Army Lieutenant William Tecumseh Sherman and some army units arrived in Monterey, California. The next day, the famous Mormon Battalion commanded by fellow dragoon, Lt. Col. Philip St. George Cooke arrived at San Diego after making a remarkable march from Council Bluffs, Iowa Territory. Other U.S. forces continued to arrive in California. On March 15, 1847, Col. Jonathan D. Stevenson’s Seventh Regiment of New York Volunteers of about 900 men started arriving in California. All of these men were in place when word went out that gold was discovered in California, January 1848.

Return of Santa Anna 

 

The defeats at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma caused political turmoil in Mexico, turmoil which Antonio López de Santa Anna used to revive his political career and return from self-imposed exile in Cuba in mid-August 1846. He promised the U.S. that if allowed to pass through the blockade, he would negotiate a peaceful conclusion to the war and sell the New Mexico and Alta California territories to the United States. Once Santa Anna arrived in Mexico City, however, he reneged and offered his services to the Mexican government. Then, after being appointed commanding general, he reneged again and seized the presidency.He began to revitalize the army at San Luis Potosi, in a few months he had assembled an army of 25,000 .

Battle of Buena Vista 

Tell Santa Anna to go to hell ! , Gen Taylor's reply to Santa Anna's demand for surrender

On February 22, 1847, Santa Anna personally marched north to fight Taylor with 20,000 men. Taylor, with 4,600 men, had entrenched at a mountain pass called Buena Vista. Santa Anna suffered desertions on the way north and arrived with 15,000 men in a tired state. He demanded and was refused surrender of the U.S. army; he attacked the next morning. Santa Anna flanked the U.S. positions by sending his cavalry and some of his infantry up the steep terrain that made up one side of the pass, while a division of infantry attacked frontally along the road leading to Buena Vista. Furious fighting ensued, during which some U.S. troops were routed, but were saved by artillery fire against a Mexican advance at close range by Captain Braxton Bragg, and a charge by the mounted Mississippi Riflemen under Jefferson Davis. Having suffered discouraging losses and word of upheaval in Mexico city, Santa Anna withdrew that night, leaving Taylor in control of Northern Mexico. Polk distrusted Taylor, whom he felt had shown incompetence in the Battle of Monterrey by agreeing to the armistice, and may have considered him a political rival for the White House. Taylor later used the Battle of Buena Vista as the centerpiece of his successful 1848 presidential campaign

Siege of Vera Cruz 

On March 7, 1847, a force of 70 troopships approached Veracruz and two days later began to bombard the city with the goal of taking Mexico City .Rather than reinforce Taylor's army for a continued advance, President Polk sent a second army under General Winfield Scott, which was transported to the port of Veracruz by sea, to begin an invasion of the Mexican heartland. Scott performed the first major amphibious landing in the history of the United States in preparation for the Siege of Veracruz. A group of 12,000 volunteer and regular soldiers successfully offloaded supplies, weapons and horses near the walled city. Included in the invading force were Robert E. Lee, George Meade, Ulysses S. Grant, and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. The city was defended by Mexican General Juan Morales with 3,400 men. Mortars and naval guns under Commodore Matthew C. Perry were used to reduce the city walls and harass defenders. The city replied as best it could with its own artillery. The effect of the extended barrage destroyed the will of the Mexican side to fight against a numerically superior force, and they surrendered the city after 12 days under siege. U.S. troops suffered 80 casualties, while the Mexican side had around 180 killed and wounded, about half of whom were civilian. During the siege, the U.S. side began to fall victim to yellow fever.

Battle of Cerro Gordo 

Scott then marched westward toward Mexico City with 8,500 healthy troops, while Santa Anna set up a defensive position in a canyon around the main road at the halfway mark to Mexico City, near the hamlet of Cerro Gordo. Santa Anna had entrenched with 12,000 troops and artillery that were trained on the road, along which he expected Scott to appear. However, Scott had sent 2,600 mounted dragoons ahead, and the Mexican artillery prematurely fired on them and revealed their positions. Instead of taking the main road, Scott's troops trekked through the rough terrain to the north, setting up his artillery on the high ground and quietly flanking the Mexicans. Although by then aware of the positions of U.S. troops, Santa Anna and his troops were unprepared for the onslaught that followed. The Mexican army was routed. The U.S. army suffered 400 casualties, while the Mexicans suffered over 1,000 casualties and 3,000 were taken prisoner.

On the same day, another army attacked the Convent of Churubusco, which was defended by troops under Pedro Anaya as well as the St. Patrick Battalion of of US deserters of mostly Irish descent, who felt a kinship with Catholic Mexicans and were subject to discrimination in the US army . The Battalion fought until their last shot was spent and surrendered . The deserters were court martialed and many were hung, those that were not had the letter 'D' branded on their checks .

Battle of Chapultepec 

On September 8, 1847, in the costly Battle of Molino del Rey, U.S. forces had managed to drive the Mexicans from their positions near the base of Chapultepec Castle guarding Mexico City from the west. However Army engineers were still interested in the southern approaches to the city. General Winfield Scott held a council of war with his generals and engineers on September 11. Scott was in favor of attacking Chapultepec and only General David E. Twiggs agreed. Most of Scott's officers favored the attack from the south including Major Robert E. Lee. A young Captain Pierre Beauregard gave a text book speech that persuaded General Pierce to change his vote in favor of the western attack. Scott officially declared the attack would be against Chapultepec.

Antonio López de Santa Anna was in command of the army at Mexico City. He understood that Chapultepec Castle was an important position for the defense of the city. The castle sat atop a 200-foot (60 m) tall hill which in recent years was being used as the Mexican Military Academy. General Nicolás Bravo however had less than 1,000 men (832 Total including 250 10th Infantry, 115 Queretaro Battalion, 277 Mina Battalion, 211 Union Battalion, 27 Toluca Battalion and 42 la Patria Battalion with 7 guns) to hold the hill including 200 cadets, some as young as 13 years old. A gradual slope from the castle down to the Molino del Rey made an inviting attack point.

According to the military records at the General National Archives in Mexico City, Chapultepec Castle was only defended by 400 men, 300 from de Batallón de San Blas under command of Lieutenant Colonel Felipe Xicoténcatl, and the castle's garrison of 100 men, including the cadets.

Scott organized two storming parties numbering 250 hand picked men. The first party under Captain Samuel Mackenzie would lead Gideon Pillow's division from the Molino east up the hill. The second storming party under Captain Silas Casey would lead John A. Quitman's division against the southeast of the castle.The Americans began an artillery barrage against Chapultepec at dawn on September 12. It was halted at dark and resumed at first light on September 13. At 08:00, the bombardment was halted and Winfield Scott ordered the charge. Following Captain Mackenzie's storming party were three assault columns from George Cadwalader's brigade of Pillow's division. On the left were the 11th and 14th regiments under Colonel William Trousdale, in the center were 4 companies of the Voltigeur regiment under Colonel Timothy Patrick Andrews, and on the right were the remaining 4 Voltigeur companies under Lieutenant Colonel Joseph E. Johnston. Pillow was quickly hit in the foot but ordered the attack forward. Andrews's column followed Mackenzie out of the Molino and cleared a cypress grove to their front of Mexican troops as Trousdale and Johnston moved up on the flanks. The attack stalled when Mackenzie's men had to wait for storming ladders to arrive, and there was a lull in the battle.

To the southwest, 40 Marines led Captain Casey's storming party followed by James Shields' brigade of volunteers north towards Chapultepec. Again the storming party stalled while waiting for ladders, and the rest of Shields' men halted in the face of Mexican artillery. The scaling ladders arrived, and the first wave ascended the walls. In fact so many ladders arrived that 50 men could climb side by side. George Pickett (later famous for "Pickett's Charge" and the Battle of Five Forks during the American Civil War) was the first American to top the wall of the fort, and the Voltigeurs soon planted their flag on the parapet. Colonel Trousdale's column supported by Lieutenant Thomas J. Jackson's artillery faced superior numbers of Mexicans in a spirited defense. Newman S. Clarke's brigade brought new momentum to the fight on Pillow's front. General Shields was severely wounded when his men poured over the walls, but his troops managed to raise the U.S. Flag over the castle. Caught between two fronts, General Bravo ordered a retreat back to the city. Before he could withdraw, Bravo was taken prisoner by Shields' New York volunteers. The Mexicans retreated at night down the causeways leading into the city. Several Mexican cadets wrapped themselves around Mexican flags and jumped from the walls disregarding height to prevent the seizure of the Mexican flag from the attackers. Santa Anna watched disaster befall Chapultepec while an aide exclaimed "let the Mexican flag never be touched by a foreign enemy".Los Niños Héroes

During the battle, six Mexican military cadets refused to fall back when General Bravo finally ordered retreat and fought to the death against superior U.S. forces. Their names were: teniente(lieutenant) Juan de la Barrera, and cadets Agustin Melgar, Juan Escutia, Vicente Suarez, Francisco Marquez and Fernando Montes de Oca. One by one they fell; when one was left (Juan Escutia), and the U.S. forces were about to kill him, he grabbed the Mexican flag, wrapped it around himself and jumped off the castle point. It is said that the American commander saluted the cadaver of Escutia wrapped in the Mexican flag.

 

A moving mural decorates the ceiling of the palace, showing Juan Escutia wrapped in the flag, apparently falling from above . A monument stands in Chapultepec Park commemorating their courage. The cadets are eulogized in Mexican history as the Los Niños Héroes, the "Child Heroes" or Heroic Cadets.The battle had been a significant victory for the U.S. Lasting throughout most of the day, the fighting had been severe and costly. Generals Twiggs and Shields had both been wounded as well as Colonel Trousdale. The heaviest losses occurred during Quitman's attack on the Belén Gate. Every member of Quitman's staff had lost their lives in the close fighting on the causeway.

Santa Anna lost General Bravo as a POW, and General Juan N. Pérez was killed. In a fit of rage Santa Anna slapped General Terrés and relieved him of command for losing the Belén Gate. In his memoirs Santa Anna branded Terrés as a traitor and made him the scapegoat for the defeat at Mexico City.The efforts of the U.S. Marines in this battle and subsequent occupation of Mexico City are memorialized by the opening lyrics to Marines' hymn. "From the Halls of Montezuma..." is a reference to the Chapultepec Castle, also known as the Halls of Montezuma. The Marine Corps also remembers this battle with the "blood stripe" on the dress blues uniform of NCOs and Officers, who took over 90% casualties.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo 

 President Polk, ambitious for a larger slice of Mexico of Mexico than he had originally detailed to envoy Trist . There were supporters in Mexico and the US who thought the US should annex all of Mexico . President Polk tried to recall Trist, but was unable to communicate with him .

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848 by American diplomat Nicholas Trist, ended the war and gave the U.S. undisputed control of Texas, established the U.S.-Mexican border of the Rio Grande River, and ceded to the United States the present-day states of California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming. In return, Mexico received US $15,000,000—less than half the amount the U.S. had attempted to offer Mexico for the land before the opening of hostilities—and the U.S. agreed to assume $3.25 million in debts that the Mexican government owed to U.S. citizens. The acquisition was a source of controversy at time, especially among U.S. politicians that had opposed the war from the start. A leading U.S. newspaper, the Whig Intelligencer sardonically concluded that

The Gadsen Purchase 

  By 1853, with the 15 million already spent, Santa Anna decided the treasury could only be saved by selling more Mexican territory to the US .The US wanted the Mesilla Valley in lower New Mexico and Arizona to build a new railroad in California .Santa Anna agreed to sell the land for $10 million. By doing so. Santa Anna alienated the liberal opposition that he found himself exiled for the eleventh and last time. The liberals proclaimed the Revolution of Ayutla .

 

 

So Far from God: The U.S. War With Mexico

This well-written, comprehensive history of the war takes into account the political and diplomatic dimensions as well as the military.

 

A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States

The Mexican American War from a Mexican perspective

 

The Mexican-American War

This History Channel special, hosted by Oscar de la Hoya, looks at the war from the perspective of both countries

Prelude to the Mexican American War 1846-4

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Revolution of Ayutla,
1857 Constitution
War of the Reform 1857-61

 

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