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The Mexican American War debate

Printed From: History Community ~ All Empires
Category: Regional History or Period History
Forum Name: History of the Americas
Forum Discription: The Americas: History from pre-Colombian times to the present
Printed Date: 10-Jul-2020 at 10:57
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Topic: The Mexican American War debate
Posted By: hugoestr
Subject: The Mexican American War debate
Date Posted: 12-Apr-2006 at 18:22
This is the second organized debate in Modern History, following the highly successful one on the Monroe Doctrine.

The main debaters will be Jalisco, Pike, and me, but everyone is welcomed to participate as long as you avoid flaming, present your information in a respectful manner, and provide historical arguments.

We already have a conflicting point of view, which is on how to start the debate. Jalisco wants to focus on the Mexican-American War, but Pike feels that one must start with the Texan Independence for proper historical framing.

Personally, I would rather focus just on the Mexican American War too for two reasons. First, the Mexican American War is considered more important in Mexico. Second, the Mexican-American war had two existing nations, Mexico and the U.S. involved in it. The Republic of Texas hasn't existed for over 100 years.

Of course, a small summary of what the situation was like at the time of the Mexican American war will be useful, but it is not necessary. Maybe we can have a whole debate on Texas after this one is done.

Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 12-Apr-2006 at 19:42

Mexico achieved its Independence after 11 years of struggle. After being an Empire, the second largest country on the world prior 1836, it eventually became a political turmoil between foreign invasions and the internal fights between monarchists and republicans and then between liberals and conservatives.

Since the very first beginning , Mexico received offers from the US Gov. to adquire large portions of territory.

In 1825, Joel Roberts Poinsett, first US Ambassador in Mexico attempts to buy Texas for John Quincy Adams with an offer of $1 million. Offer was energically rejected. Poinsett was recalled from Mexico in 1830. -

Mexico allowed the population of the Northern Territories by US settlers. And that's how our history starts.

The US settlers in exchange of land at irrisorius prices were requested to adopt the Catholic Religion, becomes Mexican Citizens, Pay Taxes and learn spanish.

The first incidents ocurred back in 1826, when a group of Colonos attempted to declare the independence of Texas. The Fredonian Republic incident.

The Fredonian Rebellion was a dispute between the Mexican government and the Edwards brothers, Haden and Benjamin.qqv Haden Edwards received his empresarial grant on April 14, 1825. It entitled him to settle as many as 800 families in a broad area around Nacogdoches in eastern Texas. Like all empresarios he was to uphold land grants certified by the Spanish and Mexican governments, provide an organization for the protection of all colonists in the area, and receive a land commissioner appointed by the Mexican government. He arrived in Nacogdoches on September 25, 1825, and posted notices on street corners to all previous landowners that they would have to present evidence of their claims or forfeit to new settlers. This naturally offended the older settlers.

On November 22, 1826, Martin Parmer, John S. Roberts,qqv and Burrell J. Thompson led a group of thirty-six men from the Ayish Bayou to Nacogdoches, where they seized Norris, Haden Edwards, José Antonio Sepulveda, and others and tried them for oppression and corruption in office. Haden was released, and in fact his inclusion in the group may have been to cover up his participation in the attack. The others were tried, convicted, and told they deserved to die but would be released if they relinquished their offices. Parmer turned the enforcement of the verdict over to Joseph Durstqv and proclaimed him alcalde.

As soon as Mexican authorities heard of the incident, Lt. Col. Mateo Ahumada, principal military commander in Texas, was ordered to the area. He left San Antonio on December 11 with twenty dragoons and 110 infantrymen. It was clear to Haden Edwards that his only chance to make good the time and estimated $50,000 he had already expended on his colony was to separate from Mexico. He and Parmer began preparations to meet the Mexican force in the name of an independent republic they called Fredonia. Since they planned to include the Cherokees in their move for independence, the flag they designed had two parallel bars, red and white, symbolizing Indian and white. In fact, although a treaty was signed with the Indian leaders, Richard Fields and John Dunn Hunter,qqv that support never materialized. The flag was inscribed "Independence, Liberty, Justice." The rebels signed it and flew it over the Old Stone Fort.qv Their Declaration of Independence was signed on December 21, 1826.

Haden Edwards designated his brother Benjamin commander in chief and appealed to the United States for help. Ahumada enlisted Stephen F. Austin,qv who sided with the government, and Peter Ellis Bean,qv the Mexican Indian agent, headed for Nacogdoches. When the Mexican officers and militia and members of Austin's colony reached Nacogdoches on January 31, 1827, the revolutionists fled and crossed the Sabine River. The Indians killed Hunter and Fields for involving them in the venture. - html

Posted By: pikeshot1600
Date Posted: 12-Apr-2006 at 20:13

The influx of Anglo settlers into Texas was as unstoppable as the influx of Mexican immigrants to the southwest US is today.  In an agrarian society, land represented the prosperity of income and worth, and the push of population was going to flow to where the land was available, and easiest to obtain and to work.  Texas was sparsely populated, was warmer than the upper plains, with longer growing and grazing seasons, and was easily reachable by the Mississippi River.

There were both cultural and political problems that separated Anglo settlers from those Mexican authorities south of the Rio Grande.  However, there were Mexican citizens in Texas who were not happy with the Mexican government either.  The assumption that large numbers of Anglos would adopt Catholicism was a mistake too easily committed to paper.  The influence and role of the army in Mexican politics was both foreign to and mistrusted by American settlers who came largely from the South and from the western (transAppalachian) states.

The events of the 1820s are interesting (and rather new to me), but show the tensions that seem to have been inevitable.



Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 13-Apr-2006 at 11:39
The US Settlers flooded into Texas. The Mexican goverment established an Empresario program, where particulars were hired by the Mexican goverment in order to bring families to populate the vaste territories of Northern Mexico.

See the note below:

Mexico's preparation for the colonization of Texas---The establishment of an independent government in Mexico marked the beginning of a new era in the history of Texas, an era in which the suspicion and hostility of Spain toward all foreigners, and especially all citizens of the United States, was to be superseded by an invitation to the world to build homes within Mexico's vast wildernesses. When Spain controlled the territory, foreigners found without passports were thrown into prison where they might remain many weary years.

With the establishment of Mexican authority over Texas, the attitude toward foreigners was very different. As expressed in the colonization law of the State of Coahuila and Texas, it was "the state invites and calls them." Many answered the call, some as empresarios and others as colonists. The purpose of this paper is to give, wherever possible, a brief account of the work done by the minor empresarios of the period from 1825 to 1834. The better known empresarios, Stephen F. Austin, Green DeWitt and Haden Edwards, will not be included.

To understand the work of the empresarios, it will be necessary to examine some of the provisions of the colonization laws of Mexico and of the State of Coahuila and Texas. Mexico passed her first colonization law in January, 1823, while Iturbide was emperor. With his overthrow in March, 1823, and the repeal of the colonization law Of 1823, it was then necessary for the Mexican Republic to formulate its colonization policy. On August 18, 1824, the central government passed the national colonization law. This laid down a few general regulations with reference to colonization within the nation, but left the undertaking largely to the states. In the first place each state was to pass a colonization law for the settlement of the unoccupied territory within its limits. However, only the federal government could grant permission to establish settlements within twenty leagues of the boundary of any foreign nation or within ten leagues of the coast.

source: -

Under the recent events of the Fredonia Republic, Pres. Guadalaupe Victoria commisionated in 1827 to Gen. Mier y Teran to settle the boundaries with the US and review the status of the US settlements into Texas.

Years later, Pres. Anastasio Bustamente was seeking to better control the situation on the settlements, specially enforce them to follow the Mexican laws. In specific, the slavery abolition. The Mexican Costitution of 1824 abolished the slavery, but the US settlers coming predominantly from the southern US were reluctant to comply with the mexican laws.

Black slaves freedom was granted by the Mexican Goverment on the Texas territory, that was at that time part of the Coahuila State.

Bustamante issued a Decree on 1830, trying to reduce and control the waves of new immigrants into Mexico.

Art. 3. ...central government commissioners shall supervise the introduction of new colonists...
Art. 9. The introduction of foreigners across the northern frontier is prohibited under any pretext...
Art. 10. ...the government...shall most strictly prevent the further introduction of slaves.

General Mier y Teran issued several recommendations to the Central Goverment in Mexico City:

(1) The removal to the Nueces River of several companies of troops now on the Rio Grande;

(2) The establishment of a permanent garrison at the main crossing of the Brazos River, that there might be an intermediate force in the unsettled region, separating Nacogdoches and Bexar;

(3) The reinforcements of existing garrisons by troops of infantry properly belonging to them;

(4) The occupation and fortification of some point above Galveston Bay, and another at the mouth of the Brazos River, for the purpose of controlling the colonies;

(5) The organization of a mobile force, equipped for sudden and rapid marches to a threatened point and;

(6) The establishment of communication by sea, such being more prompt and less expensive than by land.

The political ways and means recommended by Teran were summarized by author Howien as:

(1) settlements of convicts in Texas;

(2) encouragement of immigration of Mexican families to Texas;

(3) encouragement of Swiss and Germans to Texas;

(4) encouragement of coast-wise trade;

(5) free importation of frame houses into Texas;

(6) appropriation of the portion of the customs receipts shared by the maritime States to the support of the troops destined for Texas;

(7) free importation into Texas of food supplies for the troops;

(8) alteration of Austin's contract to give the government control of the coast leagues;

(9) establishment of new Mexican settlements, and the support of the same for a time, at government expense;

(10) the creation of a loan fund for voluntary colonization of Mexican families and;

(11) special awards or bounties to successful agriculturists among Mexican colonists.

source: -

Map of the US settlemens at Coahuila - Texas -

Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 13-Apr-2006 at 11:54

Texas conflict sparked:


Comanches and distance had defeated Spanish and subsequently Mexican attempts to colonize New Spain north of Rio Bravo/Grande. There remained only the town of San Antonio de Bexar, and settlements at Goliad (connecting San Antonio to the coast) and at Nacogdoches (near the Louisiana border.) So in 1821 the authorities opened the province of Texas to foreign settlement, especially the settlement effort led by Stephen F. Austin. The settlers were given tax and customs abatements -- and extended no government services, including defense. And so they governed themselves, and came to outnumber the Mexican population of Texas five to one (20,000 to 5,000.) When, after 15 years, the central Mexican government tried to reassert control, trouble was entirely foreseeable.

Other factors aggravated the situation:

Many Mexicans also suspected that the settlers represented a covert U.S. effort to seize Texas. (They had taken note of the cases of Florida and Louisiana Territory, where Anglo territory expanded at the expense of Latin holdings. In Florida, Spain had ceded control to the U.S. after an American general occupied it during "hot pursuit" of Indians across the border. That general was Andrew Jackson. He was now president of the United States.)
Mutual ethnic prejudice in the two populations was undeniable. (But, as usual, the ones with the most contact produced the least friction. But assuming there was enough friction, someone had to decide to exploit it before a war could start.)
Many of the American settlers ("Texians" they were called) were Southerners who believed in and practiced slavery. (They noticed that the Mexican government had out-lawed slavery in Texas, where it continued under other guises, but left in legal in the rest of Mexico, where it was not practiced.)
The settlers gravitated toward the black-land regions of eastern Texas, mostly in the an area immediately west of what is now Houston, to the town of Gonzales, about 65 miles east of San Antonio. That meant they had failed to form the desired buffer between Comancheria (Comanche territory in central and northwest Texas) and the Mexicans.
So in 1830 Mexico called a halt to immigration, leading to unrest that culminated in 1832 with the taking of a Mexican fort on Galveston Bay by the Texans. Parallel, unconnected, political turmoil throughout Mexico led to the withdrawal of most Mexican garrisons in Texas.
The political unrest ended with the ascension of Santa Anna, who abrogated the Mexican Constitution of 1824 (based on a federal government of sovereign states), dissolved local legislatures, and imposed central control. (The Texans discovered that their political conventions were acts of treason.) Reactions included uprisings in central Mexico, unrest in Saltillo -- and a rebellion in Texas.

May 1835 -- Santa Anna's national Mexican army attacks the rebelling state and city of Zacatecas, whose militia is larger and better equipped than the Mexican national army. Also, Zacatecas is served by professional officers who defected from Santa Anna. Some of these turn out to be double agents, and resistance collapses as soon as Santa Anna attacks. The city is subjected to two days of looting, arson and rape. About 2,500 people die. Santa Anna denounces foreign instigators, and Americans and Englishmen are killed when found, their wives chased naked through the streets. (Or so it was reported.) Santa Anna orders that foreigners found among the rebel forces be summarily shot, but his subordinates demur. (This would change.) Texans would start warning of "pollution of our women" and see Mexican agents behind every domestic problem.

October 2, 1835 -- Skirmish at Gonzales, Texas, when a Mexican garrison from San Antonio came to take away the cannon the town had previously been issued for defense against Indians. There is a brief confrontation. The Mexican force withdraws back to San Antonio.

October 24, 1835 -- Various Texan militias that have coalesced around San Antonio begin laying siege to the Mexican garrison there.

November 1835 -- The Texas governing council authorizes a navy and acquires four ships. Their successful depredations lead Santa Anna to dismiss the idea of suppressing Texas via a blockade and/or naval campaign. (Also, he did not have the cash to lease the necessary transport vessels.) In the resulting land campaign he could not depend on supplies via sea and would have to live off the countryside.

November 26, 1835 -- Foragers from the Mexican garrison at San Antonio are destroyed in the "Grass Fight."

December 4, 1835 -- The Texan besiegers, reduced by men returning to their farms and families, decide to retreat. But then Col. Ben Milam objects, and gets himself made head of an attack by acclamation. He has about 350 men available.

December 5, 1835 -- The attack on San Antonio begins at 3 a.m. Incoherent street fighting drags on. Milam is killed on the third day and buried where he fell. The site is now a city park.

December 10, 1835 -- San Antonio's Mexican garrison of 1,105 (many of them recent conscripts of negative value) surrenders and evacuates. A Texan garrison of about 104 men take over the Alamo.

January 3, 1836 -- The Texan government authorizes a raid on Matamoros, Mexico, but sets up no clear chain of command for the Texan armed forces and eventually names four different commanders for the expedition, including Sam Houston. About 500 men gather at San Patricio (near modern Corpus Christi) for the raid. About that many more gather at Goliad under Col. James Fannin, a West Point drop-out. Many of them are American adventurers rather than Texans, the latter having gone home for spring planting.

January 10, 1836 -- Complaints that the Alamo had been stripped of cannons and supplies for the Matamoros expedition causes squabbling to break out in the Texan ruling council.

January 17, 1836 -- Houston sends Jim Bowie with about 20 men to the Alamo to inspect it, assuming he will recommend evacuation. Elsewhere, the Texan ruling council dissolves for lack of a quorum.

January 20, 1836 -- Travis arrives at the Alamo with the 30 men he has recruited for the Texan "regular army." (Other sources place this event on February 3.) Unable to assert himself with the groups gathered for the Matamoros raid, Houston leaves for eastern Texas. The bulk of the Matamoros volunteers drift away. Meanwhile, apparently unknown to the Texans, Santa Anna arrives in Saltillo. His available force in Northern Mexico is about 6,000-- equivalent to the adult male population of Texas.

February 8, 1836 -- Former Tennessee congressman David "Davy" Crockett arrives at the Alamo with a dozen men.

February 11, 1836 -- Col. James Neill, official commander of the Alamo, leaves for a "family emergency." (He ended up in Houston's army, where he was wounded in action.) He leaves young Travis in command. The garrison, however, holds an election and selects Bowie. The two agree to be co-commanders.

February 13, 1836 -- Travis sends a complaint to the government about Bowie's drunkenness -- and demands more reinforcements, having decided that defending the place was important.

February 15, 1836 -- Santa Anna arrives at the Rio Grande near present-day Eagle Pass. His intention: Every Texan rebel would be executed or exiled, the other settlers would be sent to the interior and replaced with Mexican settlers, and immigration would be stopped forever. Every foreigner under arms would be treated as a pirate (i.e., a common enemy of humanity to be suppressed without regard to jurisdiction.) Ethnic cleansing had begun.

February 16, 1836 -- Fannin at Goliad gets the first of several appeals for aid from Travis at the Alamo. Fannin refuses.

February 17, 1836 -- A smaller Mexican column leaves Matamoros to follow the coast north.

February 23, 1836 -- Vanguard of the Mexican army arrives at San Antonio and the siege of the Alamo begins. Bowie, sick, cedes command of the Alamo to Travis. Santa Anna makes his no-prisoners announcement. With the arrival of the rest of the Mexican force, the defenders are out-numbered 10 to one, but are the only thing standing in the way of the destruction of the Texas. They have taken into the fort 30 cattle and a large supply of grain. They had a random assortment of nearly two dozen cannon, but a shortage of technical skill and equipment makes them of limited use. (They apparently had a supply of Mexican powder captured in the Alamo after the siege of Bexar, considered unfit for rifles but suitable for use in the cannons.) The Mexicans, meanwhile, do not attempt a full "investment," and individuals and small groups are able to come and go after dark. Additionally, when shooting is not actually under way, both sides ignore the comings and goings of the locals, and Tejano defender Capt. Juan Seguin apparently had his meals delivered.

February 24, 1836 -- Travis sends out his famous appeal.

February 25, 1836 -- After fighting off a Mexican probe, Travis sends off an appeal addressed to Sam Houston, carried by Capt. Juan Sequin.

February 27, 1836 - The Mexican coastal column sweeps into San Patricio, killing most of the hangers-on left over from the Matamoros expedition -- estimates range from three dozen to 150. Travis sends out another appeal to Fannin, carried by James Butler Bonham, a fellow South Carolina lawyer from Travis' home county.

March 1, 1836 -- Responding to Travis' appeal, 32 Texans from Gonzales arrive at the Alamo. They will leave behind 20 widows. At Washington-on-the-Brazos, 150 miles east of San Antonio, the Texans convene a convention to form a new government.

March 2, 1836 -- Further remnants -- maybe 25 men -- of the Matamoros expedition are over-run by the Mexican coastal column at Agua Dulce. The new Texas government declares independence from Mexico.

March 3, 1836 -- Sam Houston is declared commander-in-chief of the Texas armed forces, with a clearly defined chain of command. At the Alamo, Bonham returns to report the negative results of his mission, having ignored the pleas of another rider not to return to certain death. Travis later sends out a courier with another appeal for aid, plus some private mail. The enemy, he reports, are firing cannon from less than 300 yards. Inside the fort, Travis supposedly draws a line in the sand and asks that every defender willing to stay to the end to cross it. All but one do so. (Others insist this must have happened on the first day of the siege, or the last day, or that it could never have happened.)

March 4, 1836 -- Fannin finally decides to move toward the Alamo. Four miles down the road his wagons start breaking down. The force turns back. Santa Anna learns immediately of the sortie and dispatches a battalion. It returns in time for the storming. That night an unnamed woman leaves the Alamo and is brought before Santa Anna, telling him the defenses are about to collapse. She urges him to attack immediately.

March 5, 1836 -- Santa Anna over-rules subordinates who want to wait several more days for the siege artillery to arrive, and sets the attack for the next day. Travis sent out one last courier -- 16-year-old James Allen -- with another appeal to Fannin.

Sunday, March 6, 1836 -- On the thirteenth day of the siege (it was a Leap Year) the Alamo is stormed before dawn, in darkness. The Mexicans are unable to get over the walls until the third attempt. The noise and spectacle amazes even Santa Anna. Over the walls, it's a melee with room to room fighting. Fighting goes on for anything from one to five hours -- no two sources agree. The size of the attack force was probably 1,400. Mexican losses are not known with accuracy. The garrison of the Alamo is destroyed, although some individuals do survive. About a half dozen wounded prisoners were brought before Santa Anna, who had them killed on the spot. These probably did not include Davy Crockett. Subsequently, Santa Anna expresses a desire to leave the army and return to waiting business in Mexico City, but his subordinates talk him out of it -- army morale is bad enough already.

March 11, 1836 -- Houston reaches Gonzales and finds 374 men have spontaneously gathered there. News of the Alamo's fate arrives. Houston sends orders to Fannin to join Houston's force, but if Fannin receives it he shows no urgency in acting on it. Houston then burns the town and retreats.

March 13 and 14, 1836 -- Fannin sends about 150 men to nearby Refugio to assist in the evacuation of settlers in the face of the Mexican coastal column. They are scattered by the arrival of the Mexican force.

March 17, 1836 -- Houston reaches the Colorado River with his force, now at about 500 men and boys.

March 18, 1836 - The coastal column skirmishes with Fannin's force at Goliad. Fannin decides to evacuate.

March 19, 1836 -- Fannin moves his force out of Goliad, and is soon surrounded and pinned down in the open.

March 20, 1836 -- Fannin surrenders "at discretion" (i.e., unconditionally) although he apparently has the impression he and his men will be simply expelled from Mexico. They are marched back to Goliad. Except for the force Houston is gathering, the Texan army has been destroyed.

March 27, 1836 -- In response to orders from Santa Anna, Fannin's men are marched out of Goliad and shot. About 390 are killed, and another 27 escape to spread the news.

March 28, 1836 -- Houston is now camped on the Brazos River, with about 1,400 followers -- the most he will have. Men soon begin to leave to assist their fleeing families. Meanwhile, the Mexican army advanced from San Antonio and begins burning Texan settlements. Cut off from logistical support from Mexico by the Texas Navy, they have to live off the land and move in five small columns. Rains turn the roads into mud.

April 1836 -- Texas is convulsed with the "Runaway Scrape" as essentially the entire Texan population abandons their land and flees across the soggy landscape toward Louisiana (i.e., the U.S. border.) The commander of the U.S. border force apparently looks the other way in the case of solders deciding to cross over and join the fighting, but otherwise produces no direct aid.

April 10, 1836 -- About 5,000 refugees are reported gathered at the ferry crossing of San Jacinto Bayou at the northern extremity of Galveston Bay. (The state still operates a ferry there.)

April 18, 1836 -- Deaf Smith, a scout for Houston, captures a Mexican courier whose papers show the planned movements of the Mexican columns. The courier was using captured Texan saddlebags monogrammed "W. B. Travis."

April 20, 1836 -- Houston lets his force be "trapped" by Santa Anna's column, near the San Jacinto ferry crossing. There is a brief skirmish, and then the Texan force returns to its camp, grumbling at Houston. Santa Anna keeps his men under arms all night, assuming a night attack was coming. Nothing happens.

April 21, 1836 -- Santa Anna's force of about 1,200 is over-run in broad daylight by a sudden attack on its camp by Houston's entire Texan force, then numbering 918. With the Texan camp only about a mile way over open terrain, Santa Anna had apparently posted no sentinels before retiring for a siesta and letting his tired troops do the same. The Texans lost nine dead and 30 wounded. Houston, who led from the front, lost two horses and was shot in the foot. Santa Anna, captured the next day in the bushes, agreed to recognize Texas independence and ordered all Mexican forces to evacuate Texas.

Thereafter -- Texas become an independent republic. At the end of 1845 Texas was annexed by the U.S., at its request. The annexation led to war with Mexico, and the expansion of the continental U.S. to nearly its present borders. Political stresses resulting from the expansion of slave-owner territory with the addition of Texas led to the U.S. Civil War, which resulted in the consolidation of the U.S. as an industrial nation-state.   

sources: -

Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 13-Apr-2006 at 11:55
Military Engagements Of The Texas Revolution

Name: Battle of Zacatecas
Date: May 11, 1835
Government: Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna and 3,400 Centralist troops
Insurgents: Francisco Garcia and 5,000 Zacatecan state militia
Scenario: The Mexican state of Zacatecas objected to actions of the Centralist government of Santa Anna, especially a law that called for all state militias to be virtually eliminated. When Governor Francisco Garcia refused to disband his state's militia, Santa Anna declared Zacatecas to be in revolt and marched with an army to crush the rebellion. In a brief battle outside the capital city, Santa Anna and his chief lieutenant, Martín Perfecto de Cos, routed the insurgent army. According to accounts that followed, Santa Anna then allowed his soldiers to sack the city to punish the rebels and to reward his troops.
Gov. Losses: approximately 100
Insurg. Lose: 2,000 killed and 2,700 captured
Outcome: The Centralists crushed the Federalist revolt in Zacatecas.
Significance: With the revolt in Zacatecs ended, the Centralists turned their attention toward Coahuila y Tejas. That summer Santa Anna ordered Cos to prepare for operations against the insurgents in Texas.
Reference: Donald S. Frazier, ed., The United States and Mexico at War (NY: Macmilan, 1998), 489. back to list

Name: Battle of Gonzales
Date: October 2, 1835
Government: Lieutenant Francisco de Castañeda and 100 members of the Presidial Company of Alamo de Parras
Insurgents: John Henry Moore and approximately 140 colonists
Scenario: Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos, who would soon be arriving in Texas with reinforcement to help reestablish Centralist control, had ordered Col. Domingo de Ugartechea to arrest several rebel ringleaders as well sieze weapons that could be used by their supporters. Colonists at Gonzales resisted the government's attempt to take back a small cannon issued to them for protection against Indian raids. They flew a homemade flag with the words "Come and Take It" painted on it. Government troops withdrew after being fired upon by the colonists.
Gov. Losses: Reportedly 1 Mexican soldier killed
Insurg. Losses: None
Outcome: The colonists retained the cannon.
Significance: Although really only a small skirmish, the engagement encouraged the insurgents to expand the revolt.
References: qeg3.html fca84.html
back to list

Name: Capture of Goliad
Date: October 9, 1835
Government: Capt. Manuel Sabriego and approximately 75 Centralist soldiers and ranchers
Insurgents: George M. Collinsworth and approximately 120 colonists
Scenario: La Bahía, an old Spanish fort, occupied by a Centralist garrison, controlled access to the ports along the coast. On the night of October 9, insurgents assaulted and captured the fort and most of its garrison.
Gov. Losses: 3 Mexican soldiers killed, 7 wounded, and 21 prisoners
Insurg. Losses: Several wounded but none killed
Outcome: The insurgents captured the Centralist presidio and a large supply of weapons, ammunition, and other military supplies.
Significance: Although about 20 Mexican soldiers escaped to spread the warning to other Centralist posts, the capture of a Bahía placed the insurgents in control of one of the most strategic locations in Texas.
Reference: qdg1.html
back to list

Name: Siege of Béxar
Date: Oct. 23- Dec. 4, 1835
Mex. Army: Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos and 650 Centralist troops
Insurgents: Stephen F. Austin/Edward Burleson and 400-600 colonists
Scenario: Encouraged by their success at the Battle of Gonzales, the insurgents elected Austin commander of "The Army of the People" and advanced on San Antonio de Béxar. The Centralist garrison, commanded by Cos, controlled the town as well as the fortified mission known as the
Alamo. Several engagements took place (see Battle of Concepción
and the Grass Fight) but the insurgents lacked agreement over
assaulting the town. Insurgent numbers changed daily as they debated whether not to attack. In mid-November, Austin (who had been
appointed by the provisional government to go to the United States to
obtain aid) left and was replaced by Burleson as commander.
Outcome: The siege used up most of Cos' supplies, leaving his army without food for men or animals.
Significance: Cos, by being bottled up in San Antonio, was unable to reestablish government control in the eastern settlements.
Reference: qeb1.html
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Name: Battle of Concepción
Date: October 28, 1835
Government: Col. Domingo de Ugartechea and 275 Centralist soldiers
Insurgents: James Bowie, James W. Fannin, and 90 colonists
Scenario: Austin had sent a small force, commanded by Bowie and Fannin, to
secure the old mission known as Concepción. The insurgents camped in the woods along a bend in the San Antonio River. Cos sent a force to drive the insurgents away, which encountered Bowie and Fannin early on the morning of October 28. Hidden in the woods, the insurgents caught the soldados in the open and inflicted heavy casualties on them. Austin arrived with reinforcements too late to deliver a decisive blow.
Gov. Losses: 14 killed and 39 wounded
Insurg. Losses: 1 killed and 1 wounded
Outcome: The Centralists retired to their fortifications in San Antonio.
Significance: The Centralists were unable to break the siege.
Reference: qec2.html
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Name: Capture of Lipantitlan
Date: November 4, 1835
Government: Capt. Nicolas Rodríguez and approximately 90 Centralist soldiers
Insurgents: Capt. Ira J. Westover A Texas and approximately 70 colonists
Scenario: Following the capture of La Bahía, Westover was sent to seize the garrison at Lipantitlan. His force captured the fort on November 3
but was forced to abandon it the following day when the Centralists
received reinforcements.
Gov. Losses: 28 killed
Insurg. Losses: 1 wounded
Outcome: The insurgents gained a military victory but nothing of lasting value.
Significance: The Centralists had been aided by Irish colonists, indicating that the
revolt lacked support in the area between Goliad and Matamoros.
Reference: qfl3.html
back to list

Name: Battle of Tampico
Date: November 15, 1835
Government: Gregorio Gómez and the Centralist garrison
Insurgents: Gen. José Antonio Mexía and 150 American volunteers
Scenario: Several of Santa Anna's political opponents fled to New Orleans
where they planned to resist the Centralist government. In October
1835, an expedition was raised in New Orleans for the purpose of
supporting Federalist opposition thought to be present in the
Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The expedition arrived at Tampico
and attempted to capture the important port city. Federalist
supporters had already been crushed by the Centralists and the
attack failed. Mexía re-embarked his men and sailed for Texas.
Gov. Losses: unknown
Insurg. Losses: 31 prisoners, 3 of whom died of wounds and 28 were later executed
Outcome: The expedition failed to stir Federalist support for a revolt against the
Centralist government.
Significance: The failure of the expedition prevented the formation of a united
front through which several Mexican states would fight Santa Anna
together. Mexía's defeat convinced many Anglos that Mexico's
Federalists would be no help, thereby causing hard feeling to arise
between these potential allies. Furthermore, the Mexican
government declared that the expedition had been carried out by
"pirates," executing the men Mexía left behind. This policy of "no
quarter" was extended to the Texas situation in the pronouncement
of the Tornel Decree.
Reference: qyt1.html
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Name: Grass Fight
Date: November 26, 1835
Government: Approximately 100 Centralist cavalry and pack train
Insurgents: James Bowie and approximately 100 colonists
Scenario: The insurgents believed that a column discovered by scouts approaching San Antonio from the west was Col. Domingo de Ugartechea with reinforcements for Cos. Burleson sent Bowie to intercept the column. The two forces met near Alazan Creek. The Centralist troops were forced to abandon their pack train.
Gov. Losses: 3 killed and 14 wounded
Insurg. Losses: 4 wounded
Outcome: The insurgents, who believed that the packs contained a Mexian
payroll for Cos' garrison, found that they instead contained hay for
his livestock.
Significance: The interception of the hay added to Cos' growing problem of dwindling supplies.
Reference: qfg1.html
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Name: Battle of Béxar
Date: Dec. 5 - Dec. 9, 1835
Government: Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos and 1250 Centralist soliders and presidials
Insurgents: Gen. Edward Burleson and 700 Texans and American volunteers
Scenario: The insurgent force under Burleson was undecided over what course to pursue. The fact that winter was near convinced many that the siege should be lifted and the army retire east until spring. The recent arrival of two companies of American volunteers (New Orleans Greys) bolstered the faction that called for an immediate assault on the town. On December 4, Benjamin R. Milam stepped forward and asked for volunteers who were willing to attack Cos. His call forced Burleson to take action when more than 300 men lined up beside Milam. The commanding general organized the attackers into two columns, one led by Milam and the other led by Francis W. Johnson. Burleson organized the other insurgents into a reserve that agreed to support the attack from outside town. James C. Neill commanded an insurgent artillery battery that fired on Centralist forces stationed at the Alamo. On the morning of December 5, the two insurgent columns entered the town from the north using two separate streets that led to the central plaza. The ensuing battle lasted for five days, with fierce fighting taking place from house to house. On December 7, Milam was killed and was replaced by Robert C. Morris. On December 8, Col. Domingo de Ugartechea returned to assist Cos, bringing 650 reinforcements. These men were of little use to Cos as most of them were untrained recruits whose arrival doubled the demand on his already inadequate food supply. On December 9, insurgent gains around the central plaza and the defection of several companies of presidial troops convinced Cos to end the battle and open talks for the surrender of the town. The capitulation was formalized on December 10 in a brief meeting where both commanders signed the surrender document.
Gov. Losses: approximately 100 killed, wounded or missing
Insurg. Losses: approximately 5 or 6 killed and 25 to 30 wounded
Outcome: Cos was forced to capitulate and pledge that neither he nor his troops would have any further role in the government's effort to suppress the effort to restore the Federal Constitution of 1824. Furthermore, the insurgents allowed Cos and his army to leave Texas.
Significance: The insurgent victory not only gained for them the important political center of San Antonio and its public property, it effectively cleared Texas of all Centralist troops.
Reference: qeb1.html

Alwyn Barr, Texas in Revolt (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990), 57-58.

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Name: Siege and Battle of the Alamo
Date: Feb. 23 - March 6, 1836
Government: Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna and 2,500 Centralist troops
Insurgents: Lieut. Col. Wm. B. Travis and 200-250 colonists and American volunteers
Scenario: Santa Anna entered San Antonio de Béxar on February 23, 1836, causing the insurgent forces to withdraw inside a fortified mission just east of the town known as the Alamo. At that point the insurgents, who reportedly numbered around 150 colonists and American volunteers, faced approximately 1,600 Centralists troops. Included in this number was Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos and his command who had returned to Béxar in violation of their terms of parole. The insurgents began the siege under "co-commanders" William B. Travis and James Bowie but illness forced Bowie to his sickbed. Letters calling for help were repeatedly sent out of the fort by Travis. Responding to his appeal, a company of 32 men from the town of Gonzales arrived on March 1 to reinforce the garrison.
Santa Anna also received reinforcement March 3 when approximately 1000 more Centralists troops arrived. Santa Anna used the days leading up to the final assault to encircle the Alamo, thereby cutting off reinforcements to the insurgents as well as making a breakout attempt more difficult. He ordered a predawn assault on the Alamo for the morning of March 6. The fighting lasted approximately 90 minutes and ended with the fort being carried by Centralist forces.
Gov. Losses: Estimates vary but possibly as many as 600 killed or wounded
Insurg. Losses: All combatants 200-250 were killed
Outcome: With the fall of the Alamo on March 6, Santa Anna reestablished Centralist control of the political center of San Antonio de Béxar. By putting all known insurgent combatants to the sword, he was enforcing his government's decree declaring that there would be "no quarter" for men he and his supporters considered "land pirates." He meant the battle to be not just a military victory but warning to all to cease their resistance to the Centralist government.
Significance: One of the most common misconceptions surrounding the battle is that by their stubborn defense that the men of the Alamo were able to buy Sam Houston time to build his army. This is untrue as Houston did not begin to build his army until after the Alamo's fall. It can be said, however, that Santa Anna's concentration on San Antonio de Béxar prevented the general from making an advance directly into the Anglo settlements. Furthermore, by putting the garrison to the sword, Santa Anna provided the insurgents with a powerful rallying cry.
Reference: qea2.html
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Name: Battle of San Patricio
Date: February 27
Government: Gen. José de Urrea and 400 Centralist troops
Insurgents: Francis W. Johnson and 34 members of the Matamoros Expedition
Scenario: Members of the Matamoros Expedition under James Grant and Francis W. Johnson had fanned out across the area south of Goliad in search of horses and supplies. The scattered detachments, operating in an region of Centralist support, were at risk of being defeated in detail once government forces returned. José de Urrea, an aggressive general, had been placed in charge of a column tasked with regaining control of the Goliad region. Early on the morning of February 27, he arrived unexpectedly at San Patricio and his men defeated and captured members of Johnson's command quartered in and around the town. Johnson and a few of his men escaped to warn Col. James W. Fannin at Goliad of the disaster.
Gov. Losses: light to none
Insurg. Losses: 8 killed and 13 prisoners
Outcome: The Matamoros Expedition, which was already stalled, was dealt a deathblow.
Significance: Urrea's victory at San Patricio signaled the arrival of a serious Centralist threat to the insurgent forces in the Goliad area.
Reference: qfs3.html
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Name: Battle of Agua Dulce Creek
Date: March 2, 1836
Government: Gen. José de Urrea and 400 Centralist troops
Insurgents: Dr. James Grant and 26 members of the Matamoros Expedition
Scenario: Members of the Matamoros Expedition under Dr. James Grant had been scouring the countryside south of Goliad searching for horses. On March 2, Centralists troops under José de Urrea surprised and killed Grant and most of his men. A few escaped and fled to Goliad.
Gov. Losses: light to none
Insurg. Losses: 14 killed and 6 prisoners
Outcome: By eliminating both detachments commanded by Johnson and Grant, Urrea effectively smashed the Matamoros Expedition.
Significance: Following on the heels of Johnson's defeat and the plight of the Alamo, news of Grant's defeat and death caused near panic and confusion to break out among the garrison at Goliad.
Reference: qfa1.html
                     http: //www.t qfs3.html
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Name: Battle of Refugio
Date: March 12-15, 1836
Government: Gen. José Urrea and 1500 Centralist soldiers, presidials, and ranchers
Insurgents: Amon B. King and 28 American volunteers Lt. Col. William Ward and approximately 120 American volunteers
Scenario: Fannin and his men had improved the fortifications at the old presidio
La Bahía and renamed it Fort Defiance. News of the fate of Johnson's and Grant's men created confusion rather than stirring the volunteers gather at Goliad into action. To make matters worse, Fannin learned that some colonists who supported the revolt were in danger from Urrea's advance. On March 10, he sent Amon B. King and a small force with wagons to collect the families and escort them back to Goliad. King found that the Centralist force in the area was greater than imagined and asked Fannin to send help while he took refuge in the old mission at Refugio. Fannin dispatched William Ward, commander of the Georgia Battalion, to assist King. The arrival of Ward at Refugio initiated a conflict over command
between the two insurgent officers. The squabbling caused the insurgents to break into several smaller detachments, each which was subsequently defeated and its survivors captured by Urrea's troops.
Gov. Losses: light to none
Insurg. Losses: The majority of insurgents were killed in the series of skirmishes that occurred following King's and Ward's rift or captured and later executed.
Outcome: The insurgents in the Goliad region suffered another serious blow.
Significance: Fannin had received orders from Gen. Houston while King and Ward were away that directed him to evacuated Goliad and retire to Victoria as soon as possible. Reluctant to leaving before these detachments returned, Fannin failed to leave Goliad ahead of Urrea's advance.
Reference: qer1.html
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Name: Battle of Coleto Creek
Date: March 19-20, 1836
Government: Gen. José de Urrea and 440 Centralist troops
Insurgents: Col. James W. Fannin and approximately 300 American volunteers
Scenario: On March 18, 1836, Fannin finally resolved to comply with Houston's order to evacuate Goliad and he and his men prepared to leave. The appearance of the vanguard of Urrea's forces, however, drew their attention as a light skirmish took place outside the fort. Fannin and his men left Fort Defiance on March 19 and marched in the direction of Victoria. Against the advise of his officers, Fannin ordered his command to halt and rest on the open prairie just several hundred yards short of the safety offered by the woods along Coleto Creek. Gen. Urrea and his men, who had been following close behind, were able to reach the creek and thereby keep Fannin from gaining the valuable cover. Upon seeing Urrea, Fannin formed his command into a square and prepared for battle. Urrea, whose main column had not yet arrived, fought a holding action throughout the afternoon intended to keep the insurgents from leaving the field of battle. Surrounded and with casualties mounting, Fannin and his men hastily dug breastworks and fought from behind supply wagons.That night, the trapped men debated whether or not to try to break out. The majority, however, voted to stay and fight instead of abandoning their wounded comrades who would have had to be left behind. On the morning of March 20, Urrea received reinforcements with several cannon. Fannin called for a truce while a message was relayed to Urrea asking under what terms he and his men could surrender. Urrea replied that he could not guarantee their safety but would try to intercede on their behalf. The insurgents took this as a pledge to treat them as prisoners of war and they laid down their arms, were taken captive, and were marched back to La Bahía.
Gov. Losses: light
Insurg. Losses: 10 killed, numerous wounded, and the command captured
Outcome: Fannin's defeat and capture deprived the insurgents of its largest organized force at the very time when it was needed the most. It also was the prelude to the March 27 execution of Fannin's command known as the Goliad Massacre.
Significance: Urrea's string of victories, which culminated at Coleto Creek, placed the Goliad area under Centralist control and set up for a drive deep into the Anglo settlements.
Reference: qec1.html
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Name: Goliad Massacre
Date: March 27, 1836
Government: Col. José Nicolas de la Portilla and the Centralist garrison at La Bahía
Insurgents: Col. James W. Fannin and approximately 400 American volunteers
Scenario: After receiving a direct order from Santa Anna to enforce the Tornel Decree, Portilla divided the men of Fannin's command into three groups and marched them out of La Bahía, telling them that they were going to the coast where they would be freed. Instead of being released, however, guards escorting the prisoners halted them shortly after leaving the fort and began to shoot down the unarmed men. A handful of prisoners escaped the carnage by fleeing to the safety of the nearby San Antonio River. Fannin and others who had been wounded at the Battle of Coleto Creek and were unable to march out with the rest of the command were killed inside the presidio. Insurgents who had been befriended by Mexican officers or who had useful skills (doctors, carpenters, blacksmiths) were pulled aside and spared. Approximately 80 volunteers were spared
because they had been captured unarmed and were saved by a technicality in the Tornel Decree.
Gov. Losses: None
Insurg. Losses: 342 killed
Outcome: Fannin's command was virtually eliminated.
Significance: The execution of Fannin's command spread terror and further convinced the insurgents that its was truly a struggle that would end in "Victory or Death!"
Reference: qeg2.html
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Name: Runaway Scrape
Date: March 13-April 19, 1836
Government: Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna
Insurgents: Gen. Sam Houston
Scenario: Fresh from the Convention at Washinton-on-the-Brazos, Houston arrived at Gonzales on March 11 to arrange relief for the Alamo garrison. He found more than 300 men already gathered there, ready to march to San Antonio. That same day, however, word reached Goliad that Santa Anna had already stormed and captured the Alamo and killed its garrison. Believing his force too small to confront the inevitable Centralist advance, Houston decided on a course of action that proved to be unpopular--he would retreat. His retreat exposed the settlements to Centralist columns who followed in his wake, spreading panic as families abandoned their homes and fled to escape Santa Anna's wrath. On March 11, Houston ordered Fannin to evacuate Goliad and withdraw to Victoria. On March 13, Houston burned Gonzales and marched eastward, panic raced
through the settlements as families abandoned their homes and fled to
escape the Centralist advance.On March 17, Houston crossed the
Colorado River; officials abandoned Washington-on-the-Brazos.
On March 20, Houston camped near Columbia. March 28, Houston
passed through San Felipe de Austin. March 30, Houston camped at
Groce's Plantation on the Brazos River. April 11, Santa Anna crossed
the Brazos River near Fort Bend in pursuit of ad interim government. April 15, Santa Anna passed through Harrisburg and burned the town. April 17, Houston marched toward Harrisburg. April 18, Houston camped at White Oak Bayou and learned Santa Anna was near. On April 19, Santa Anna arrived at Morgan's Point; Houston crossed Buffalo Bayou
Outcome: Although Houston's supporters claimed his retreat was a strategic masterpiece, exposing the settlements to the Centralist advance caused untold hardship of the civilian population.
Significance: Houston's retreat caused Santa Anna to overextend his forces as he tried to catch the insurgent army and its leaders.
Reference: pfr1.html qes4.html


Name: Skirmish near San Jacinto
Date: April 20, 1836
Government: Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna and 700 Centralist troops
Insurgents: Col. Sidney Sherman and a wing of the Texan Army
Scenario: After weeks of avoiding a fight with Centralist forces, Houston's men found themselves camped in the same area as Santa Anna. One of Houston's officers, Col. Sidney Sherman asked the general to allow him to demonstrate against the enemy. Houston consented but warned him not to bring on a general battle. In the skirmish that followed Thomas Rusk, the secretary of war for the recently formed Republic of Texas, narrowly missed death or capture at the hands of the Centralist cavalry only through the bravery of Mirabeau B. Lamar, who rode forward and snatched him from their path. Neither side fully committed their entire force, thereby, preventing the skirmish from becoming a full scale battle.
Gov. Losses: unreported
Insurg. Losses: 1 killed and 1 wounded
Outcome: Lamar was promoted from private to commander of the Texas cavalry with the rank of colonel for his courageous act.
Significance: Santa Anna sent word for reinforcements to join him as soon as possible.
Reference: qes4.html
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Name: Battle of San Jacinto
Date: April 21, 1836
Government: Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna and 1240 Centralist troops
Insurgents: Gen. San Houston and approximately 1000 Republic of Texas troops
Scenario: The reinforcements Santa Anna had sent for (Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos and 540 men) arrived after making a forced march through the night. Upon learning of their arrival, Houston ordered Vince's Bridge destroyed, cutting off the only possible escape from the horseshoe bend occupied by both his and Santa Anna's armies. Santa Anna allowed Cos' column to rest from their previous night's march. Late in the afternoon, Houston formed his army and attacked the Centralists camp. Santa Anna's men were caught unaware.
Within twenty minutes of launching the attack, Houston's men had driven the Centralists from a stack of equipment that had formed a breastwork and were in pursuit of the fleeing soldiers. The anger over Mexico's "no quarter" policy poured out as the cries "Remember the Alamo!" and "Remember Goliad!" rang out. Hundreds of Centralist soldiers were killed by Texans who refused
to take them prisoner due to the outrage created by the enforcement of the Tornel Decree. On the following day (April 22), Santa Anna, who had fled during the attack, was captured and turned over to Houston. The two generals agreed on an armistice until more official arrangements could be worked out.
Gov. Losses: 630 killed and 730 prisoners
Insurg. Losses: 9 killed and 30 wounded
Outcome: The vanguard of the Centralist army had been smashed.
Significance: Although there were still at least 4,000 Centralist troops operating in Texas, Santa Anna's defeat and capture coupled with onset of spring rains dealt the Centralists a blow that effectively ended their campaign to reestablish their control over Texas. The failure of the campaign made the existence of the Republic of Texas a reality.
Reference: qes4.html
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source -

Posted By: Decebal
Date Posted: 13-Apr-2006 at 12:02

This is an essay I wrote a while ago on the topic. Enjoy!

1.0 Introduction

The Mexican-American war of 1846-1848 is one of the defining moments in the history of the American West. Its significance has been overshadowed in popular imagination by the magnitude of the conflict that followed it, less than 2 decades later: the US civil war. This latter conflict has also made it difficult to evaluate and understand the exact consequences of the US Mexican War on the American West. The task of understanding the impact of this war is made even more difficult by other subsequent events occurring in that geographical area, such as the California gold rush, which have dramatically altered the demographics, economics, and hence the history of the region. One obvious way to understand the impact of the Mexican war on the West is to look at its immediate results and consequences of the war. Another way, more subtle, is to examine the impulses and motivations which have led to the war in the first place. As we will see, the various proponents of the war had some fairly precise motivations and goals which related to the geographical areas that were annexed by the US following their victory in the war.

We will therefore examine the impact of the US Mexican war on the American West, by examining the direct results of the war, but also by analyzing the motives and impulses which have led the United States to provoke the war with Mexico. The thesis of this essay has 3 parts. First, the United States ended up annexing the area which would benefit it the most economically and strategically, and which could be colonized the easiest without having settlers of European descent competing and intermixing with Mexicans, Indians and Blacks. Second, the annexed territories would have developed into slave states, as was the intent of the Southerners who pushed for the war, had it not been for the Civil War which erupted only 13 years after the annexation, and for the California Gold Rush. Finally, in the larger view of the American West, the war had the effect of modifying Western mythology by strengthening the American Westerners’ sense of their own infallibility and invincibility as compared to the supposedly inferior Mexicans and Indians. This was to play a role in the later interactions between these people and the American Westerners.

The direct result of the war was an overwhelming US victory, resulting in the annexation of a huge swath of territory, covering the current states of California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and most of Arizona. There have been numerous theories proposed as to why the US provoked the war and ended up annexing those particular areas. This essay will examine them and relate these theories to the implied consequences on this region of the West. The best known theory related the US-Mexican war is that this was a case of Manifest Destiny: in the view of Americans at the time, their God-given mandate to colonize the North American continent and bring American values and institutions to those areas. Another theory is that there was interest from the part of Southern states to provoke the war and annex these areas in order to transform them into slave-holding states, which would enable them to restore the balance of power with the North, which had been upset by the North’s population gains. By the Missouri compromise of 1820, any new states south of the 36th parallel would allow slavery [1]. Still other groups such as merchants and some politicians saw the war as an occasion to gain access to areas that could be ideal ports on the Pacific, notably the San Francisco and the San Diego bays, which could open up immense commercial opportunities. The question of why the Americans, following their decisive victory decided to annex only those areas mentioned above and not also more Mexican regions or possibly the entire Mexico, can be explained by economic reasons and by the racism of the American public, who did not want to annex areas heavily inhabited by a Mexican population which constituted of a mix between Europeans but also Native Americans and blacks. The war was also to have an effect directly and indirectly upon the American West, by changing the lives of the veterans that came from the West, and by adding to the mythology of the American West. All these aspects will have to be examined in order to gain a solid understanding of the US Mexican war and its consequences on the American West.

2.0 Prelude to War

The most logical place to start analyzing the impact of the US Mexican war is to briefly explore the war itself and some background which led to it. As we will see, there were numerous currents in the American political scene, which advocated war with Mexico. Texas, where the war would start, was a contentious issue. It had gained its independence from Mexico in 1836 and by April 1844, US representatives had secured a treaty of annexation. By June 1844, the US had sent a force under the command of General Taylor which was ready to protect the republic of Texas. However, the annexation treaty failed to pass through senate during that same month [2]. To complicate things further, this was an election year. Martin Van Buren, the leading Democratic candidate and Henry Clay, the permanent Whig contender, both issued carefully designed statements opposing annexation in a vain hope of excluding the divisive issue from the campaign. As a result of Van Buren’s statement, the southern delegates vetoed his candidacy and forced his replacement by the dark horse James Polk. Polk injected the question of Texas directly into the campaign by insisting on the "Reoccupation of Oregon and the reannexation of Texas". That tactic forced Clay to modify his stand in order to hold some of his southern votes. This in turn alienated sufficient abolitionists to enable Polk to carry the presidency [3]. The election of Polk due to his aggressive stance on expansionism had set the tone of his presidency and had set him up for desiring a war with Mexico.

The annexation of Texas created an uproar in Mexico, who had not ever recognized the former’s independence. In an effort to avoid war, the Mexican president Herrera asked the US to send an envoy for negotiations. The US took this opportunity to send Slidell to make an unsuccessful attempt at purchasing territory. President Herrera personally opposed war with the US, but he was overthrown by the so-called Centralists, led by Mariano Parades on Jan 2, 1846. The Centralists were against a moderate foreign policy and actually may have desired war. Parades approved the massing of troops on the Texan border. The Americans now found a pretext to get Mexico to declare war. As far as Mexico was concerned, her boundary with Texas lied on the Nueces River. The Americans declared that the natural border of the Texas actually lied on the Rio Grande, further to the south, and sent troops to occupy the region between the 2 rivers. It is worth noting here that the Americans were concerned about appearances, and that they did their best to provoke Mexico into a war, without having to bear the responsibility of actually starting the war [4].

3.0 The War

The occupation of the region between the Nueces and the Rio Grande rivers was interpreted as an act of war by Mexico and by April 1846, hostilities started [5]. The Mexicans initially had a much larger army and expected a victorious war fought mostly in Texas [6]. However, after some initial setbacks at Palo Alto and Resaca de Palma, the Mexicans were forced to evacuate the strategic town of Matamoros and retreat to the south. The war came to a standstill, as the American army encamped at Matamoros swelled with volunteers. Meanwhile, in large part due to the initial defeats, political turmoil occurred in Mexico City. Eventually, the ex-dictator Santa Anna came to power. The Americans achieved another victory by General Taylor capturing Monterrey on September 25, 1846, after which he agreed to an eight week truce. By this time, President Polk and the American public had their expectations bolstered by the series of victories and Taylor had to break the truce early. Santa Anna personally led a large army aimed to recapture Monterrey, but he was defeated by Taylor at the battle of Buena Vista. The decisive moment in the war came with General Winfield Scott’s landing at the major port of Vera Cruz on March 11, 1847 [7]. His force went inland towards Mexico City and achieved a string of victories at Cerra Gordo, Puebla and Contreras. The battle for Mexico City was fought at Chapultepec, which is sometimes referred to as "the Halls of Montezuma". As a result of the battles, Mexico City was occupied on September 13, and Santa Anna resigned his presidency on September 16, 1847 [8]. An American envoy, Nicholas Trist, concluded negotiations with the new Mexican government.

Of particular interest to us is the war in the western borderlands. Immediately after the declaration of war, General Kearny was ordered to occupy New Mexico and California. Under his command, the "Army of the West", which consisted largely of Missouri volunteers and numbered fewer than 2,000, moved down the Santa Fe Trail into New Mexico. Kearny entered Santa Fe unopposed on Aug. 18, 1846. Peaceful trade and commerce in the preceding years had greatly eased the conquest of New Mexico. After establishing a civil government, Kearny divided his command into three groups: one, under Sterling Price, occupied New Mexico; a second, under Alexander William Doniphan, captured Chihuahua; the third, under his own command, headed for California. Kearny set out for California on September 25 with only 300 dragoons. At Socorro, N. Mex., they met the famous guide Kit Carson, who was returning from California. Learning that the conquest of California was virtually complete, Kearny sent 200 of his men back to Santa Fe and, led by Carson, continued to California [7].

The American settlers in California had revolted against Mexican rule and established (June 1846) the Bear Flag Republic, under John C. Fremont. On July 2, U.S. Commodore John Drake Sloat landed at Monterey. He proclaimed U.S. jurisdiction on July 7 and two days later occupied San Francisco. However, California was by no means under U.S. control. Commodore Robert Stockton, who replaced Sloat on July 23, sailed down the coast and landed troops under Fremont at San Diego and others near Los Angeles. Stockton had to coordinate his troops with those of Kearny, to occupy Los Angeles and San Diego, which had been occupied by a Mexican rebel force. On January 13, Fremont received the final surrender of the rebels and signed the Treaty of Cahuenga. After a bitter dispute among Stockton, Fremont, and Kearny, the latter established a provisional government in California [10].

At the end of the war, Trist negotiated the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with the Mexican government. Even though his negotiations were not authorized, they were eventually approved by Congress. By virtue of the treaty, Mexico recognized the annexation of Texas, and ceded the territory corresponding to California, most of New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. Altogether, these territories amounted to about 3.1 million square kilometers, which was more than half of Mexico. This was the most spectacular conquest in the history of the United States, and indeed one of the most spectacular in the history of the world.

4.0 Was it Manifest Destiny?

The term "Manifest Destiny" was coined by John O’Sullivan in 1845, and was used on occasion during the 1840’s to justify the American expansionist policy in the West and beyond. The term was actually used much more widely by historians in the two decades following the Second World War [11]. The idea was that the United States had a "Manifest Destiny" given by God, to expand across the Western Hemisphere, a mission to spread the American ideals of freedom and democracy to the supposedly inferior and uncivilized peoples of the American West and Latin America. An associated idea is that of a "land hunger", as this period is characterized by the acquisition and colonization of territories by Europeans across the world. The ideals of "Manifest Destiny" supposed to be spread were thought to be typically American, as visitors to Europe had remarked on the appalling living conditions of European workers, to which supposedly even the living conditions of the American black slaves were preferable [12]. The influential editor Bennett of the New York Herald believed that Europe was too distressed to oppose America’s expansion in the West [13]. To the expansionists who believed in Manifest Design, the expansion of the United States is described not so much in terms of what the territorial acquisitions would do for the country but what the country would do for those new territories.

As Thomas Hietala notices, the expansionists relied on other self-serving beliefs to explain and justify territorial acquisitions. They perpetrated the convenient myth of a vacant continent, invoking the image of North America as an uninhabited, howling wilderness that the new chosen people had transformed from savagery to civilization during their predestined march to the Pacific. Others recognized that the continent was not empty and that Indians and Mexicans had occupied much of it prior to American ascendancy but stressed that the United States, in seeking to expand, sought only what was best for those dispossessed races. Unlike the exploitative Spanish, who had first encountered non-white natives in the trans-Mississippi West, Americans in the nineteenth century came to indigenous peoples as missionaries, not conquistadores [14].

This may have been the view of a large part of the American public, and even that of some politicians. But the people in positions of power were much more pragmatic. President Polk for example, was much more concerned with the economic value that the newly acquired territories would bring to the United States. The California ports, he said, "would in a short period become the marts of an extensive and profitable commerce with China and other countries of the East" [15]. This view was echoed in the reasoning of the few politicians, merchants and travelers who could appreciate California’s significance. In fact, the purchase of California for as much as 50 million dollars was contemplated at the time [16]. As for the acquired territories, after the end of the war, Polk predicted that "in this vast region, whose rich resources are soon to be developed by American energy and enterprise, great must be the augmentation of our commerce, and with it new and profitable demands for mechanic labor in all its branches and new and valuable markets for our manufactures and agricultural products" [17]. It is clear that he was much more concerned with the economic opportunities for the new territories and with their commerce with the already established areas of America than with the noble mission of bringing civilization to the West. It is also unlikely that he was alone in establishing this order of priorities, since most people in a capitalist system are profit driven. Another factor which played a role was the Americans’ fear of losing California to Britain or France, which both had designs on that rich and relatively uninhabited land [18]. The other lands annexed by the US were not even close to California in economic potential; however, their annexation was necessary for strategic reasons, even with the annexation of the Oregon in 1846, as an uninterrupted band of land across to the Pacific would have strengthened the US hold on California.

If the ideas of Manifest Destiny had been the predominant driving force behind the US Mexican War, then the Americans would have had no real objections to the colonization of the entire Mexico, especially since the Americans had won a sound victory, and most of Mexico was under American military occupation. What better way to bring American ideals to a people? Indeed, there were some who advocated the annexation of "all of Mexico" [19]. However, this was not the case. The Americans were primarily interested with those areas which presented the greatest economic potential, namely California and Texas. As we have seen above, the annexation of the other areas which they acquired was necessary to connect California with the rest of the United States. While some have argued that the Mexican government would have never agreed to the cession of even larger territories than were eventually annexed, that would not have stopped the Americans from annexing the entire Mexico, since they controlled militarily the entire country. One possible reason is the opposition of Southern groups, who while they had advocated war with Mexico, they did not deem southern Mexico suitable for the culture of cotton, and did not therefore think that slavery would flourish there [20]. In addition to economic reasons, there was another reason which deterred the Americans from annexing more of Mexico than they did, or the entire Mexico altogether.

That reason is racism. Anti-Mexican prejudices were widespread among Americans, although not universal. Illinois congressman Orlando Ficklin described Mexico’s heterogeneous population as "barbarous and cruel", "a sordid and treacherous people", who were "destitute of noble impulses" [21]. The administration’s assumption that the Mexicans would not fight (and its outraged assertion, when the Mexicans did fight, that their attack was treacherous and unprovoked) reflected an underlying assertion that the Mexicans were an inferior people [22]. In June 1846, the New York Herald’s editor, Bennett, attributed "the imbecility and degradation of the Mexican people" to "the amalgamation of the races" there and predicted an early triumph for the United States. He observed that "the idea of amalgamation has always been abhorrent to the Anglo-Saxon race on this continent" [23]. In political circles, there were two trains of thought: one that Mexico should be annexed completely and that the Mexicans would be assimilated, and the other that only those regions which were relatively uninhabited should be annexed, in order not to introduce too large of an "inferior" element to the United States population. In the end, it was the latter idea that carried the day.

To summarize, the ideals of Manifest Destiny, those of carrying forth American ideas of democracy and freedom to the people of the Western hemisphere, only had a limited impact on the annexation of northern Mexico. More important were the pragmatic motives that were really behind Manifest Destiny, and which President Polk was interested in: the acquisition of new territory where to develop agriculture and industry, the opening of new markets, the securing of good ports on the Pacific for trading with Asia, and ensuring that a continuous band of territory united the Eastern US to the Pacific, for strategic reasons. Also important in deciding which territories to annex, were racial and demographic concerns, since the Americans wanted territories which were relatively uninhabited by people they considered inferior, such as Indians, blacks and Mexicans.

5.0 The Southern Plot and Slavery in the West.

By the time of the Mexican War, the Southern states had lost a lot of ground in terms of power relative to the North. This was due to the greater population and industrialization of the northern states. This loss in relative strength was also apparent in national politics: the Northern states had more seats in Congress. According to the Missouri compromise of 1820, any new states south of the 36th parallel would allow slavery. When the issue of the annexation of Texas was discussed, the Southern delegates supported it wholeheartedly. Apparently, the plan was to carve four slave states out of Texas. This would have enabled the South to maintain control of the Senate, although the North would have maintained control of the House [24]. The territories that were annexed after the Mexican war, and for that matter all of Mexico, were south of the 36th parallel. Any new states carved out of Mexican territory would have become slave-holding states as well, further tipping the balance to the Southern side. This was even though Mexico had abolished slavery in the late 1820’s, and all annexed Mexican land was free territories.

The extent to which the political pressure from the Southern states would determine US diplomacy can easily be seen in these remarks made by the US commissioner during the treaty negotiations. During the progress of the negotiations, Mexico begged for the insertion of an article providing that slavery should not be permitted in any of the territories ceded. The US commissioner replied that: "the bare mention of the subject in a treaty was utter impossibility; that if the territory should be increased tenfold in value, and besides, covered all over a foot think with pure gold, on the single condition that slavery should be excluded therefrom, he could then not even think for a moment of communicating it to the President. The "invincible Anglo-Saxon race" could not listen to the prayer of "superstitious Catholicism goaded on by a miserable priesthood", even though the prayer was on the side of justice, progress, and humanity."[25]. Since the commissioner represented the interests of his country to the best of his knowledge and abilities, it was clear that the annexed territories were meant to be converted into slave-holding states.

Some historians have argued that there was no such Southern plot to create additional slave-holding states. They point out that some Southern politicians were against annexing Mexican territories, because most of them would be unsuitable to cotton production [26]. However, they probably were a minority as evidenced by the failure to include the Wilmot Proviso in the final peace treaty. A minor Democrat from Pennsylvania, David Wilmot offered an amendment which declared that slavery should be prohibited in any territory acquired from Mexico. A bloc consisting mostly of Whigs and Northern Democrats passed the amended bill. But a filibuster developed in the Senate (where the Southerners were still powerful), and Congress adjourned without further notice [27]. The Southerners had blocked the Wilmot Proviso.

The annexed territories were therefore to have become slave-holding states. However, most of the territories only became states after the Civil War erupted in 1861. The only one that did become a state before the war, California, created its own laws against slavery when it entered the Union. These laws were instituted primarily because the gold miners were worried about competition from slave-owners, and even then, were not always enforced [28]. If not for the gold rush and the civil war, one might easily envision the new states which resulted from the annexed Mexican territories, becoming states that allowed slavery.

6.0 The American Westerners and the War

The population of the West seemed to support the war much more whole-heartedly than that of other regions of the United States, perhaps with the exception of the South. Nowhere is that more evident than in the number of volunteers for the war: out of a total of 69540, 40000 were from strictly Western states and 17320 were from the sparsely populated Northwest; while from all the northern states, with a population twice as great and wealth many times greater, only 7930 volunteers offered. An imbalance existed for regular soldiers as well. With a population of 4.7 million, the Northwest sent nearly 25,000 soldiers to the front, while the whole North, from Maryland to Maine, with a population of 9.3 million, furnished only 27,000. The Southwest, including Kentucky and Missouri, had according to the same census of 1850, 4,985,000 people, of whom at least one third were black slaves, but from these lower Mississippi states there went more than 45,000 soldiers [29]. This disproportionate contribution to the war could not have been made by the Western states without widespread support from both the population, as evidenced by the number of volunteers, as well as support form the state governments, as evidenced by the comparatively large number of regular soldiers. The large number of soldiers coming from the West was also bound to have a lasting effect upon this region, as this would create a pool of numerous veterans who undoubtedly play an important role in the future development of the region. As a general rule, war veterans often become successful in politics or business, to say nothing of the veterans who would continue with a career in the army. The veterans who would become elected officials or successful businessmen would certainly have a different vision of the world after the war, so Western states were undoubtedly affected by the Mexican war in this indirect way.

Aside from the consequences of the war upon Westerners who fought or were connected somehow to soldiers who fought in the Mexican War, the war also had an undeniable effect upon the way Westerners viewed the Mexicans and by extension other people such as the Native Americans. We can see this as an effect upon the mythology of the American West. This change in perspective had a lot to do with the way the Americans desired to view themselves. The US Mexican War, as the first war the Americans fought on foreign soil, had a romantic and defining quality for the American public. In the words of Nathaniel Hawthorne: "With a spirit of romantic adventure, America’s peaceful citizens sought by daring and desperate valor, to prove their fitness to be entrusted with the guardianship of their country’s honor" [30]. As the war went very well for the Americans, better than anyone expected, a whole stock of literature developed around the war, prose and poetry along with the numerous newspaper articles.

Although the bravery of the Mexicans was sometimes noticed, so as not to belittle the achievements and character of the American troops, who had to have defeated a somewhat worthy opponent, in general the Mexicans were not very well portrayed. For example, in a Mobile newspaper, the Mexicans were said to be "inferior in virtually every element of success". It was charged that Mexican army officers secured their commissions through political influence or bribery, and were often men of corrupt morals and dissipated habits. Mexicans were at times even compared unfavorably with slaves in the American South [31]. Whether the supposed inferiority of Mexicans was attributed to racial differences, as the majority believed, or to the corruption of its political, military and religious differences, as others maintained [32], the fact remains that the perspective of the Mexicans in American imagination following the war, changed for the worse. Whereas before Mexico had a rather romantic quality in popular imagination, and the country and its people were respected as worthy rivals [33], after the war, the perception changed to give way to a general attitude of contempt and a complex of superiority which remains to this day imprinted in the American popular consciousness. This was to influence the lives of Hispano-Americans and cross border relations for the remainder of the history of the American West.

Conversely, the Americans’ view of themselves changed as well. The easy victories over the Mexicans had convinced the Americans that they were somehow superior to the Mexicans and that the United States was the greatest country in the world. This attitude was strongest in the soldiers who had fought in the war. In the words of a Pennsylvania volunteer: "Mexico is no doubt one of the best places in the world for an American to feel proud of his nationality" [34]. As we have seen before, a disproportionate amount of soldiers came from the American West, so this change in attitude and popular perception must therefore have been especially pronounced over there. Since the Mexicans, as a "mixed race", were considered to be superior to Native Americans, this change in perception must have accentuated even further the racism and the superiority complex of Americans towards Native Americans. We might say therefore that the war had the effect of modifying Western mythology by strengthening the American Westerners’ sense of their own infallibility and invincibility as compared to the supposedly inferior Mexicans and Indians

7.0 Conclusion

The US Mexican war was a conflict which was precipitated by various interest groups in the United States. The reasons why these interest groups desired war are reflected in the aftermath of the war. This aftermath was a major US victory, which resulted in the annexation of a huge portion of land, covering the current states of California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and most of Arizona. These areas were annexed because they would have benefited the United States from an economical and strategic point of view, and they could be colonized the easiest without having American white settlers competing and intermixing with Mexicans, Indians and African Americans. The annexed territories were to have developed into slave states, as was the intent of the Southerners who pushed for the war, had it not been for the Civil War which erupted only 13 years after the annexation, and in the case of California, the Gold Rush of 1849. In the larger view of the American West, the war had the effect of strengthening the American Westerners’ sense of their own infallibility and invincibility as compared to the supposedly inferior Mexicans and Indians. As most of the soldiers who fought in the US- Mexican war were Westerners, this was to play a role in the later interactions between Westerners and Mexicans as well as Native Americans. The consequences of the US-Mexican war are still felt to this day throughout the American West.



1. Thomas R. Hietala, "Manifest Design: American Exceptionalism & Empire", p 210

2. Dean B. Mahin, "The Olive Branch and the Sword: The United States and Mexico, 1845-1848", p 31

3. Jack Bauer, "The Mexican War 1846-1848", p7

4. Glenn W. Price, "Origins of the War with Mexico: The Polk-Stockton Intrigue", p 100

5. Mahin, p. 63

6. Jose Maria Roa Barcena, "Recuerdos de la Invasion Norteamericana (1846-1848)", v1 p 55

7. Ibid, pp 260-282

8. Bauer, pp 313-326

9. Ibid, pp 134-159

10. Ibid, pp 183-196

11. Hietala, p 255

12. Ibid, p.121

13. Ibid, p.120

14. Ibid, p132

15. President James K. Polk’s 3rd annual address (Dec 7, 1847)

16. Norman A. Graebner, "the Land-Hunger Thesis Challenged", p53 (part of Ruiz- "The Mexican War")

17. President James K. Polk message on the treaty with Mexico (July 6, 1848)

18. Hietala, pp.73-78

19. Ibid, p.163

20. Chauncey W. Boucher, "The Conspiracy Denied", p 25-27 (part of Ruiz- "The Mexican War")

21. Hietala, p.153

22. Ibid, p.154

23. Ibid, p.156

24. James Ford Rhodes, "The Conspiracy Thesis", p11 (part of Ruiz- "The Mexican War")

25. Ibid, p17

26. Chauncey W. Boucher, "The Conspiracy Denied", p 18-28 (part of Ruiz- "The Mexican War")

27. David M. Pletcher, "The Diplomacy of Annexation: Texas, Oregon and the Mexican War", p. 460

28. Andrea Franzius, "California Gold -- Californian Nativism and Racism"

29. William E. Dodd, "Western Responsibility", p 40-41 (part of Ruiz- "The Mexican War")

30. Robert W. Johannsen, "To the Halls of the Montezumas: The Mexican War in the American Imagination", p 68

31. Ibid, p 23

32. Ibid, pp 23-24

33. Ibid, pp 144-145

34. Ibid, p173



What is history but a fable agreed upon?
Napoleon Bonaparte

Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.- Mohandas Gandhi

Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 13-Apr-2006 at 12:15

Great Essay, Decebal.
I concurr with you about that the reasson at that time for not absorbing to Mexico completelly was the racial perjudices.

Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 13-Apr-2006 at 13:27
Originally posted by Jalisco Lancer

When was that map made? Looking at La Mesilla I'd say between 1848 and 1853, but it shows Soconusco not as being part of Mexico, while it was annexed (IIRC) some years before the Mexican-American War.


Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 13-Apr-2006 at 14:07
yes, the map is circa 1848-1853.
Indeed, Soconusco was already part of Mexico at that time.

Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 13-Apr-2006 at 14:25

The War between Mexico and Texas did not ended at San Jacinto back in 1836. Till The Republic of Texas was annhexed into the United States, there were amjor skirmish between both countries due the boundaries claimed by Mexico and Texas. After the annhexation of Texas to the US, this border disputes, ignitiated the Mexican American War 1846-1848.

source: - orders/map1a.html

The Map below shows the disputed territory between Mexico and Texas

Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 13-Apr-2006 at 16:51

Mexico, Texas, The Republic of Rio Grande, The Republic of Yucatan, San Antonio Expedition of 1842

In 1839 a series of federalist revolts of considerable proportions broke out in different sections of Mexico and for two years the centralist regime was in almost constant danger. General Urrea, who had directed the massacre of the Texans under Johnson and Grant in 1836, was one of the outstanding leaders of this movement, and for a time he was very successful. Gomez Farias, who had been vice-president during the early part of Santa Anna’s administration, returned from exile and also took a hand in the effort to restore the constitution of 1824. In Coahuila and the adjoining territory General Canales headed a movement, which culminated in a declaration of independence and the establishment of the "republic of the Rio Grande." Yucatan and Tabasco, two states bordering on the gulf, at the extreme southern end of Mexico, also set up for themselves as the republic of Yucatan. Bustamante found himself continually menaced from some quarter or another, and his authority became only nominal in many sections of the country. Santa Anna, using his new popularity with a calculating discretion, managed to inject himself into the situation from time to time in such a way as to attach glory to his own name without increasing the prestige of Bustamante. By these tactics he finally succeeded in creating a widespread demand for his return to power, and in accordance with a plan, known as the Bases of Tacubaya, he was declared provisional president of the republic on October 9, 1841.

The "Republic of the Rio Grande," though shortlived, was viewed with favor in Texas. General Canales made overtures to Lamar looking to an alliance, but the latter’s vision of the great nation of the future did not extend south of the Rio Grande, and he declined to have anything to do with the new "republic." Many Texans, however, on their own responsibility, enlisted as volunteers in the service of the "republic of the Rio Grande," and participated in several battles in Coahuila before the project finally collapsed.

But Lamar took a different attitude toward the Republic of Yucatan, which had a considerable coast line to defend. The vessels for the new Texas navy were delivered in 1839, and when the government of Yucatan proposed to Lamar a plan of naval cooperation he consented to the arrangement. The Yucatan government agreed to supply the money for the support of the Texas navy if it would enlist in a war upon Mexican vessels and provide adequate protection to Yucatan’s coast. As this would relieve the Texas treasury of a considerable burden, apparently without diverting the navy from its main business, Lamar regarded it as a favorable arrangement for Texas. It did not turn out to be so favorable for Texas in the long run, but for a period the Texas navy was practically transferred to the service of Yucatan. In passing, it should be said that the republic of Yucatan maintained its independence for three years, after which it peacefully acknowledged the authority of the central government of Mexico again.

Lamar declined to form an alliance with the "republic of the Rio Grande" for the reason that he was not particularly interested in extending the influence of Texas south of that river. But he was very much interested in extending, not only the influence, but the actual jurisdiction of the Texan government in another direction. The boundaries of the Republic of Texas, as understood by the Texan government, were set forth in an act of congress, approved by President Houston on December 19, 1836. This act provided that from and after its passage "the civil and political jurisdiction of this republic be and is hereby declared to extend to the following boundaries, to-wit: beginning at the mouth of the Sabine river, and running west along the Gulf of Mexico three leagues from land, to the mouth of the Rio Grande, thence up the principal stream of said river to its source, thence due north to the forty-second degree of north latitude, thence along the boundary line as defined in the treaty between the United States and Spain, to the beginning." The act also authorized the President to "open a negotiation with the government of the United States of America, as soon as in his opinion the public interest requires it, to ascertain and define the boundary line as agreed upon in said treaty." No difficulty had been experienced in negotiating a treaty of limits with the United States, but, because of the continuance of a state of war with Mexico, there had been no agreement with respect to the rest of the boundaries. The boundaries, as set forth in the act, included a line running from the mouth of the Rio Grande "up the principal stream of said river to its source," and this constituted an assertion of jurisdiction over territory which had never been within the province of Texas during the Spanish regime, and much of which had never even been part of the state of Texas and Coahuila. Lamar proposed that this doubtful territory should be brought under the actual jurisdiction of the Texan government.

The town of Santa Fe, the principal settlement in New Mexico, was on the east bank of the Rio Grande, and consequently within the limits of the Republic of Texas, as defined in the act quoted above. During Houston’s administration no attempt was made to enforce the jurisdiction thus declared, for there really was no legal basis for this boundary, other than the claim of the Texans, and it was generally recognized that the line was subject to modification through negotiation with Mexico, whenever formal peace should be agreed upon. When Lamar became president, however, he took the position that the government of the Republic of Texas should adopt measures to extend its authority to the upper waters of the Rio Grande, which would include Santa Fe. In his annual message in 1839 he urged upon congress the importance of some action in the matter. This was in keeping with Lamar’s "ambitious nationalism" and his dream of "an empire extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific." Bills were subsequently introduced in both houses of congress, appropriating money to defray the expenses of an expedition to establish Texan authority over the territory, but in both cases the proposal was decisively defeated. In spite of such legislative disapproval of the project, however, Lamar persisted in the belief that it should be undertaken.

On April 14, 1840, Lamar addressed a letter to "the citizens of Santa Fe," calling their attention to the fact that Texas had entered the family of nations, that the new republic had been recognized by the United States and France, and that its commerce was extending "with a power and celerity seldom equalled in the history of nations." He tendered to them a full participation in these blessings, and expressed the hope that he should be able to send commissioners to visit them in September to explain more minutely the condition of the country, the seaboard, and the correlative interests "which so emphatically recommend, and ought perpetually to cement, the perfect union and identity of Santa Fe and Texas."

This letter was inspired by information Lamar had received to the effect that the people of Santa Fe and adjoining settlements in New Mexico were restless under the rule of the governor of the territory. That dignitary, one Manuel Armijo, was a local despot, who had been the sole executive, legislative and judicial authority of the place for a number of years. Under the federal constitution of the Mexican republic, New Mexico had been classed as a "territory," and in theory was subject directly to the authority of the national government. But, due to its remoteness from the capital, Armijo was the absolute ruler of New Mexico, and the chief beneficiary of the profitable trade which Santa Fe had carried on with St. Louis ever since the latter place had passed from Spanish to American jurisdiction in 1804. The evident purpose of Lamar’s communication was to plant in the minds of the people of Santa Fe the idea that should they choose to throw off the yoke of their petty tyrant, they would be afforded support by the Republic of Texas. However, Lamar received no reply to his letter and, due to legislative opposition, he did not send the promised commission in September.

But the project of sending an expedition to Santa Fe continued to occupy Lamar’s mind in the face of the disapproval of many of the most influential men in Texas. It took such hold of his imagination that he finally came to the decision to undertake it without congressional authority. Nor was it the mere wish to extend the jurisdiction of the government that impelled him to this course. The trade with Santa Fe, of which St. Louis enjoyed a practical monopoly, was considerable and very profitable, and if it could be diverted to Texas great economic benefits would be gained. It was true that the region between the settled portions of Texas and Santa Fe was an unknown wilderness to the Texans, but Lamar believed that a practicable route, over which ultimately a military road might be built, could be found, and that in time this might become a great highway of commerce which would bind to the Texan government all the territory which it traversed. In the spring of 1841, therefore, he began forming plans to send an expedition to Santa Fe.

Lamar’s plan was to send a government commission, consisting of three members, whose duty it would be to invite the people of Santa Fe to place themselves under the protection of the Texan flag. A military escort would accompany the commission and a delegation of merchants and traders would be invited to go along for the purpose of establishing commercial relations with the people of the town. When his plans were complete in outline, Lamar announced the appointment of William G. Cooke, R. F. Brenham and Jose Antonio Navarro as commissioners, and issued an invitation to merchants to join the expedition. He then named Gen. Hugh McLeod to command the military escort, which should consist of two hundred and seventy men, and provided that merchants and others intending to accompany the expedition should rendezvous at Austin.

In the papers of Anson Jones there is a letter from A. C. Hyde, written from Austin on May 27, 1841, which gives an idea of how Lamar’s action in sending out this expedition was regarded by some of his contemporaries. "’Everything here," wrote Hyde to Jones, "is alive with the Santa Fe expedition, which will probably start about the 10th, and cost the government about a half million. Things are getting on worse than ever in the departments, they paying no attention to the acts of congress. . . . They have sent to New Orleans for another half million of the notes, which are to be given out before the next congress meets, in addition to what may be collected." Jones inscribed the following endorsement on this letter: "The Santa Fe expedition was not only unauthorized by congress, but, in effect, positively inhibited. I voted against it on all occasions, and the project received but few votes. The appropriations for its expenses were made without the authority of law, and by the despotic exercise of executive power, which no monarch would have dared venture upon in these times. This administration will be described by the poet in two lines, as ‘a chase of silly hopes and fears begun in folly, closed in tears."’

Whether the couplet quoted by Jones justly characterizes Lamar’s administration or not, it certainly describes the Santa Fe expedition very aptly. It was indeed "begun in folly" and "closed in tears." In two comprehensive paragraphs, Rives sums up the folly of its conception and inauguration. "President Lamar and his friends," he says, "believed that if a strong party of Texans showed themselves in New Mexico the inhabitants would gladly revolt and put themselves under the protection of the Texan government. They did not, however, reflect that grumbling at a governor of their own race and language was a very different thing from welcoming alien rulers, and that the people of New Mexico might possibly be familiar with the fable of King Log and King Stork. Under these impressions, therefore, the Texan government committed the same blunder that the Spaniards had committed in sending their absurdly inadequate expedition to Mexico in 1829, and again exemplified the truth of the military maxim that no expedition should be sent into a foreign country, no matter how dissatisfied the inhabitants may be with their own government, which is not fully adequate, of itself, to the object proposed."

"Not only was the expedition inadequate in size," he continues, "but it turned out also to be inadequately equipped for the hardships of the journey. The fact was that nobody knew anything about the country to be traversed. Apart from the latitude and longitude of Santa Fe, they had no notion of where they were going. A Mexican who accompanied them had been a trapper on the headwaters of the Red river, and had been in New Mexico, but he was utterly lost long before he reached the Mexican settlements."

Armed with an official proclamation, in which President Lamar invited the inhabitants of Santa Fe and the vicinity to cover themselves with the protection of the Texan flag, the expedition left Brushy Creek, about fifteen miles above Austin, on June 21, 1841. Besides the commissioners and the military escort, it included about fifty others, chiefly merchants and traders, and was accompanied by George W. Kendall of the New Orleans Picayune, who afterwards wrote an exhaustive account of the expedition. For about six weeks the journey was pleasant enough, for its course lay through country which afforded a plentiful supply of game for food, and in which there was an abundance of water and grass for the horses and cattle. But after that they entered country of a very different character. It was mountainous and arid, and when the last of the cattle was slaughtered and provisions ran short, the party began to encounter difficulties. To obtain food in a wilderness for a company of more than three hundred men would have been no small task under the best conditions. But in a country where there was neither vegetation nor game, and where even water was extremely scarce, it was practically impossible. Realizing that starvation would soon be an impending danger if provisions were not obtained, the commissioners decided to send three men ahead to announce the approach of the expedition and to return with food. Accordingly, the three chosen—Howland, Baker and Rosenberry, by name—set out for San Miguel, which was believed to be the nearest settlement, and the rest of the party continued their weary march, losing their way at times and being compelled to retrace their steps, and subsisting on such food as could be found in the barren country through which they passed. They were reduced to the necessity of eating snails and lizards, and to make matters worse, many of them were compelled to proceed on foot, their horses having been lost in a stampede. Kendall says that "every tortoise and snake, every living and creeping thing" was snatched up and devoured by the men "with a rapacity that nothing but the direst hunger could induce." Three weeks of such conditions brought the unhappy pilgrims to the verge of starvation and, no word having been received from Howland, Baker and Rosenberry, it was decided that the best mounted men should push on ahead, while the rest established camp and remained in the wilderness until relief could be sent.

Col. William G. Cooke, one of the three commissioners, took command of the advance party, and he set out with about ninety men. After experiencing much hardship this party finally reached a sheep ranch on Rio Gallinas, and here they feasted on mutton, the first wholesome food they had eaten for weeks. From this place Capt. William P. Lewis, who spoke Spanish, and four others were sent on toward San Miguel, bearing a letter to the alcalde announcing the approach of the expedition and declaring its friendly character.

Meantime, Howland, Baker and Rosenberry arrived at the Mexican settlements early in September. They were promptly placed under arrest, in spite of their protestations that the mission was a peaceful one, which claim they supported by displaying copies of President Lamar’s proclamation, printed in the Spanish language. Armijo set about immediately to alarm the people by circulating the report that the Texans were coming to conquer the country, and that they would kill them all and burn their homes. A condition of general excitement was created and soon the whole population was ready to join in repelling the "invaders." Howland escaped from his captors with the intention of making his way back to the main party to warn them of the situation, but he was recaptured and shot.

Captain Lewis and his four companions spent the night of September 14 in the little village of Anton Chico. On their way thither they had learned of the arrest of Howland, Baker and Rosenberry, and of the general excitement of the people, and during the night information was brought to them by persons in the village that they also would be arrested the next day and shot. Next morning, however, they resumed their journey toward San Miguel, but were soon met by a force of Mexican soldiers, who compelled them to dismount and took them into custody. The Mexicans then turned around and started with their prisoners toward Santa Fe. The prisoners were bound together with ropes and were required to walk, surrounded by their captors. After passing through San Miguel and proceeding all day in the direction of Santa Fe, the company encountered Governor Armijo himself and a force of about six hundred men on their way to meet the Texas expedition. Armijo questioned the prisoners, and finding that Captain Lewis understood Spanish, he ordered him to accompany his force as interpreter.

By this time Colonel Cooke and his party had arrived at Anton Chico, where it was decided to await the return of Captain Lewis. When Lewis did return he was accompanied by Armijo and the force of Mexican soldiers. It would have been useless for Colonel Cooke, with only eighty-five men, to have attempted resistance in the face of such great odds. The Mexicans outnumbered his little company by more than seven to one. However, it is a fact that should be recorded that Lewis had made terms with Armijo by the time the governor came upon Cooke’s company, and he represented that Armijo and the people were friendly and thus induced Cooke to surrender. It may be that the governor deceived Lewis, though this is contradicted by the warm terms in which Armijo afterwards commended Lewis’s services in an official report to the Mexican government. But whether he was a traitor or merely an unsuspecting tool, Lewis assured Cooke that if the Texans would give up their arms they would be permitted to remain at Santa Fe for several days for the purpose of trading, after which their arms would be returned to them. Cooke surrendered, but discovered immediately that he had been made the victim of treachery. He and his whole company were taken to Santa Fe as prisoners. A few days later the two hundred men who had been left in camp, most of whom were now weakened and ill from want of food, dragged their way to the Mexican settlements. They were promptly made prisoners by a superior force of Mexicans. Thus the entire expedition was captured by Armijo without the necessity of firing a single shot.

In the official report of the affair to the Mexican government, however, it was represented that two great victories had been gained over the Texans, and the announcement of these "glorious triumphs" was made the occasion of universal public rejoicing at the national capital. The news was received on the eve of Santa Anna’s election as provisional president, and his partisans among the newspapers capitalized it by making it appear that in some way it magnified the glory of their idol. It was decided that the prisoners should be sent to Mexico City and placed at the disposition of the national government. On October 17, 1841, therefore, the unhappy Texans were started from San Miguel on the long journey to Mexico City on foot.

From the moment of their surrender the prisoners were treated with great cruelty by Armijo’s soldiers, and the march from San Miguel to the border of New Mexico at El Paso was one of almost constant torture. Many of the men were ill from privation in the wilderness and some found it extremely difficult to keep going. The commander of their guard had no sympathy for such men, and those who faltered in the march were brutally treated and in many instances they were shot down in their tracks and their bodies left by the wayside. During the three weeks consumed by the journey to El Paso, the prisoners were in constant fear for their lives. But at the border they were turned over to troops of the national government and thenceforth they were treated more humanely. However, the journey was a long and arduous one. To add to their other miseries smallpox broke out among the prisoners and a number of them died from this disease. A rather amusing aspect of the journey was the fact that it soon became evident to the prisoners that they were on exhibition. They were paraded through the principal streets of every city and town between El Paso and Mexico City, the object being to display before the gaping crowds this evidence of the great power of Santa Anna’s government. American prisoners constituted a spectacle worth going miles to behold, and the very most was made of the opportunity which the moving of the captives to Mexico City afforded. For three months this march was kept up, and finally the survivors of the expedition which had left Texas in high spirits eight months before arrived at the Mexican capital early in February. There they were thrown into prison.

Members of the party who claimed citizenship of other countries appealed to their respective diplomatic representatives for aid, and through the efforts of the foreign ministers at the Mexican capital these were released in the course of a few months. The affair created great indignation in the United States, and the newspapers printed vivid accounts of the sufferings of the prisoners. There were demands that the government take prompt steps in their interest, and as a result Waddy Thompson of South Carolina was sent to Mexico to procure their release. The Mexican government reluctantly released those who could claim the protection of the United States or of European governments, but the rest were kept confined in military prisons for four months. At the end of that time, Santa Anna decided to utilize the prisoners in treating his countrymen to another display. So on June 16, 1842, in celebration of the feast day of Santa Anna’s patron saint, most of the Texans were released. Jose Antonio Navarro, one of the commissioners, was kept in prison at the capital until December, 1844, the object being to make an example of him, inasmuch as he was of Mexican blood, a native of San Antonio. He was then moved to Vera Cruz, from which place he escaped and returned to Texas early in 1845.

President Lamar’s administration came to an end while the Santa Fe prisoners were being marched to Mexico City. Vice-President Burnet, who had served as president during a few months in the winter of 1840-1841, while Lamar was absent in the United States for medical treatment, was a candidate to succeed his chief, but he had to bear the onus of Lamar’s alleged extravagance and his opponent was the popular "hero of San Jacinto," Sam Houston. There was now as great a demand for retrenchment as there had been for protection of the frontier at the beginning of Lamar’s administration, and Burnet was decisively defeated by Houston. Houston was inaugurated in December, 1841, and immediately he announced a complete reversal of the policies of Lamar. He declared that three-fourths of the money consumed in Indian wars during Lamar’s administration could have been saved by following a policy of conciliation with respect to the Indians, and advised the establishment of peace with them as soon as possible. How successful this policy proved has already been recounted. Houston advocated extreme economy in the administration of the government, a reduction of the number of officers and the adoption of a pay-as-you-go policy. And while admitting that it would be futile to renew efforts to establish formal peace with Mexico, he recommended that no aggressive attitude should be assumed and that steps be taken to establish trade with the Mexicans on the border.

Houston, however, was destined to reap where Lamar had sown. The aggressive attitude displayed by the sending of an armed expedition to Santa Fe seemed to the Mexican leaders to call for retaliation by Mexico. Accordingly plans were started for an expedition into Texas. On January 9, 1842, Gen. Mariano Arista issued an address to the inhabitants of "the department of Texas" from Monterey, announcing that he would shortly undertake an invasion of the "department." He promised amnesty and protection for all who would refrain from taking up arms to oppose the invading army, and pointed out that the struggle for independence was hopeless. While Mexico held out "the olive branch of peace with one hand," he said, "she would direct with the other the sword of justice against the obstinate."

The copies of this address and the news of the fate of the Santa Fe prisoners reached Texas about the same time. There was great grief among the relatives of the Texans who had gone on the expedition, and general excitement prevailed. Congress was in session, and the opinion was expressed on all sides that "something should be done." The "something" which congress decided upon supplies one of the most striking instances in history of a futile "blowing off of steam" by a legislative body. For it immediately passed an act extending the boundaries of the Republic of Texas to include the two Californias, the whole of the states of Chihuahua and Sonora and the territory of New Mexico, and parts of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Durango and Sinaloa. The futility of the action may be judged from the circumstance that the territory thus "annexed" contained a population of nearly two million people, whereas Texas had not yet attained one hundred thousand! Houston, of course, vetoed the bill. He pointed out that the act could serve no purpose but to make Texas a laughing-stock among the nations, and that even if it were possible to undertake such an invasion of Mexican territory as the act, if regarded seriously, must contemplate, it would be very injurious to the interests of Texas abroad. But congress was determined to "do something," so it passed the bill over the president’s veto. That, of course, was the last heard of it, for the establishing of such boundaries as the act set forth was unthinkable.

But the Mexican threat of an invasion of Texas was not quite so idle a boast as the action of the Texas congress. On March 3, 1842, a small company of Mexicans appeared suddenly at Goliad and occupied the town, and two days later a force of five hundred, under command of General Vasquez, captured San Antonio without meeting resistance. At the same time another detachment occupied Refugio. It looked as if a formidable invasion was under way, and great excitement prevailed throughout Texas. "The war, after great preparation on the part of the enemy, is upon us," wrote Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, to a friend, "without the slightest effort having been made by us. Our people are, however, turning out well and hastening westward, for the purpose of concentrating to meet the enemy. and notwithstanding every advantage has been given, we rely upon the energy and courage of our people to achieve most brilliant results." The people were indeed hastening westward. In a few days, more than three thousand men were under arms and moving from all sections of Texas in the direction of San Antonio. President Houston, after issuing a proclamation calling out the militia, wrote to the Texan consul at New Orleans to accept volunteers in the United States, provided they were equipped with arms and supplies. But the enemy had other plans of warfare. Santa Anna evidently had no intention of conducting a campaign on the soil of Texas. Vasquez, acting under orders, held San Antonio for only two days and then retired from the town as suddenly as he had advanced. Within a week all the Mexican detachments had quitted Texas and withdrawn to the south of the Rio Grande. The "invasion" proved to be merely a raid. But the country was aroused and by March 15 there were about three thousand Texans gathered at San Antonio. The general sentiment among them was in favor of a counter-march into Mexico, but the Texan government was in no condition to sustain such a campaign. Houston dispatched Gen. Alexander Somervell to take command of the volunteers, with instructions that in no circumstances should an invasion of Mexico be attempted. He declared that it would require four months of preparation to insure the success of such an expedition and fixed July 20 as the earliest date for starting such a move. He then issued a call for a special session of congress to meet at Houston on July 27. President Houston had seized upon the first opportunity to discredit Austin as a proper site for the capital and, shortly after the receipt of Arista’s address threatening an invasion, had moved the seat of government to Houston again. This action was opposed by the people of Austin, and they organized an armed force and prevented the transfer of the archives from that place. This incident came to be known as the "archive war."

Somervell reached San Antonio on March 17 and found the men there clamoring for invasion. Moreover, they refused to accept Somervell as their commander and insisted upon their right to elect one of their own. They chose Gen. Edward Burleson as leader, but in the face of President Houston’s opposition to an immediate invasion, Burleson could do nothing but disband the men. In doing so, however, he took occasion to criticize Houston severely for his stand. There was some partisan politics mixed up in this incident, and Somervell reported to the secretary of state that the next presidency was involved in it. "I have no doubt political intrigue has been at work," he wrote, "with the view to block out the next President. It is a rough concern, and no glory that can be won in the field can ever polish it. I think there is a move for the Vice-Presidency also. The hobby on which they ride is ‘invasion of Mexico’ to give peace and happiness to poor suffering Texas, and thereby achieve immortal glory for themselves."

Meantime, the Texas minister at Washington also wrote the secretary of state, informing him that the report of a contemplated invasion of Mexico was injuring Texas in the United States. "President Houston, I perceive," he wrote, "has issued his proclamation convening congress. . . . War or no war, I suppose, is the question. We can get men, but no money, for invasion. Our friends think the measure impolitic. The excitement is doing us great injury here. Men with property will not emigrate to Texas. They know Mexico to be utterly powerless, and dread the result of the excitement. They think us partaking too much of the revolutionary character of the Mexicans." Considering that the United States had just emerged from a controversy with Mexico over the Santa Fe prisoners, the feeling reported by the Texan minister is not difficult to understand.

When congress met Houston submitted a message recommending war. While he expressed the belief that Mexico could never reconquer Texas, he said he had become convinced a counter-invasion was advisable in order to implant in the Mexicans a desire for peace. Congress voted for a declaration of war and appropriated ten million acres of land to prosecute it, but Houston took the position that an invasion could not be adequately organized and supported by this means, and vetoed the measure. So the war scare came to an end for the time being.

The Mexicans, however, were evidently watching the course of events in Texas and governing their actions accordingly, for no sooner had congress adjourned than preparations were set under way for another raid. On September 11, 1842, while the district court was in session at San Antonio, Gen. Adrian Woll and a force of infantry, cavalry and artillery, about fourteen hundred strong, appeared before the town and demanded its surrender. The small body of Texan troops stationed there refused to comply with this demand and, reinforced by men in attendance at the court session, made a show of resistance. The struggle was hopeless, however, and fifty-three Texans, including the presiding judge, Anderson Hutchison, and all the attorneys present, were made prisoners. Again the country was aroused and a march of volunteers to the relief of San Antonio was begun. On March 18 a force of Texans, about two hundred strong, which had reached Salado creek, on the outskirts of San Antonio, enticed Woll and part of his men into an ambush. The Texans, who were commanded by Col. Matthew Caldwell, were more than a match for the superior force of Mexicans, and the latter suffered a loss of nearly one hundred killed and wounded. However, a small band of volunteers, under Capt. Nicholas Dawson, which was en route to reinforce Colonel Caldwell, was surrounded by a force of four hundred Mexicans at a point about two miles away from the scene of battle, and slaughtered. Keeping out of rifle range, the Mexicans poured artillery fire into the ranks of the Texans, heedless of their efforts to surrender. Of a total of fifty-three men, forty-one were killed, ten were taken prisoners, and two escaped. Woll then retired into San Antonio, but two days later he evacuated the place and began a retreat to the Rio Grande, taking all the Texan prisoners with him. He was closely pursued by Caldwell, but he reached the Mexican side of the border without further difficulty.

The "invasion" had again proved to be only a raid. But this time the demand for retaliation in the form of an invasion of Mexico was so pronounced that Houston could not ignore it. He issued a call for volunteers to rendezvous at San Antonio for this purpose, and again he ordered General Somervell to take command. Somervell complied with the president’s orders without enthusiasm. He proceeded to San Antonio, where he found about twelve hundred men. They were poorly organized, being divided into several camps, and were without proper equipment or supplies for an expedition. Somervell was reluctant to begin an invasion of Mexico with such a force and in such circumstances, and he procrastinated for more than a month before making a move to carry out Houston’s orders. Meantime about five hundred of the volunteers had left for home, and when the march for the border was begun on November 18 Somervell had only seven hundred and fifty men under his command. At Laredo two hundred of these decided to go no further, and left the expedition. With the remainder Somervell marched along the Rio Grande on the Texas side until he came to a point opposite the town of Guerrero. Then he crossed the river to the Mexican side, but, having become convinced by this time that the enterprise was futile, he decided to abandon it. Accordingly he recrossed the river and, on December 19, 1842, issued an order to the men to return to Gonzales and disband. Six captains and their companies, consisting of about two hundred and sixty men, refused to obey this order and, after electing Col. W. S. Fisher to command them, marched against the Mexican town of Mier. Somervell and the others returned home.

Mier was defended by a force of fifteen hundred Mexican troops, under command of Gen. Pedro Ampudia, but the Texans, remembering the defeat of General Cos at San Antonio by a small force of Texans under Johnson and Milam, were not daunted by the great disparity of numbers. They decided to adopt the same tactics which had been employed on that occasion. On Christmas night, 1842, they entered the town and took possession of a number of outlying houses. Their plan was to work through the walls from house to house, in the same way that Johnson had done at San Antonio. But the odds were too great. On the afternoon of December 26 the Texans surrendered to Ampudia after having been given written assurance that they would be treated with due consideration as prisoners of war. Two hundred and twenty-six men were taken into custody and, as in the case of the Santa Fe prisoners, were started on a march to Mexico City. Thus within twelve months after the Santa Fe affair, Texas found itself faced with another of similar character.

The Mier prisoners, however, did not propose to go supinely to the Mexican capital. On the contrary, they decided to watch their opportunity to escape and return to Texas. After traveling under guard for six weeks, therefore, on the morning of February 11, 1843, at a point about one hundred miles south of Saltillo, they suddenly overpowered their guards, seized the Mexican cavalry horses and rode furiously in the direction of the Texas border. In order to evade pursuit, however, they left the main road and soon lost their way in the mountains. Here the experience of the Santa Fe expedition was repeated. The Texans were entirely without supplies and food was not to be found in that barren, mountainous country. Even water was scarce and in a few day they were frantic from hunger and thirst. Several died of starvation, and when the others were overtaken by Mexican troops they surrendered gladly.

In punishment for their attempt to escape it was decreed that one in every ten of their number should be executed. The number of the prisoners had now been reduced to one hundred and seventy, for in addition to those who had died a few had escaped and subsequently made their way back to Texas. The order required, therefore, that seventeen of the remaining prisoners should be selected by lot and executed. Accordingly, a jar containing one hundred and seventy beans, seventeen of which were black and the rest white, was brought forward, and each of the prisoners was blindfolded and directed to draw a bean from it. A black bean was a sentence of death. The operation was carried out, and the seventeen Texans who drew black beans were lined up immediately and shot. During the Mexican war, Gen. Walter P. Lane and a scouting party made a special trip to the Hacienda del Salado, where this barbarous order was carried out, and exhumed the bones of these unfortunate men. They were then sent to La Grange, Texas, where they were interred on Monument Hill with military honors.

After the execution of their companions the rest of the Mier prisoners were sent to the Mexican capital. By Santa Anna’s orders they were imprisoned in the castle Perote, where most of them remained until September, 1844, when they were released in connection with the celebration of the anniversary of Mexican independence. A few had died in the meantime, and a number of others, led by Thomas Jefferson Green, had escaped and returned to Texas.

Thus ended the last attempt of Texas to send an expedition into Mexico. The only other hostile move made during the existence of the republic was the sending of a force of one hundred and eighty men, under Col. Jacob Snively, to intercept a party of Mexican traders returning to Santa Fe from Missouri. This occurred in the spring of 1843. It failed of result for the reason that the Mexican party was guarded by two hundred United States cavalry under command of Capt. Philip S. Cooke. Cooke disarmed the Texans, leaving them only ten guns to protect themselves from the Indians on their return journey to Texas. The American government subsequently paid the Texas government for the confiscated arms.

The policy of Texas thenceforth was in line with Houston’s original one--that of letting the Mexicans alone. Houston had been diverted from this policy only by the public clamor caused by the raids of 1842, and, as has been seen, never really made any serious attempt to invade Mexico. The general outlines of this policy may be summed up in the words of Anson Jones, who, as Houston’s secretary of state, drew up recommendations covering this and other questions and submitted them to a cabinet meeting on December 22, 1841.

"The civil expenses of the Government," wrote Jones, "can easily be estimated, and those for the defence of the country approximated.

"Our policy, as it regards Mexico, should be to act strictly on the defensive. So soon as she finds we are willing to let her alone, she will let us alone.

"The navy should be put in ordinary; and no troops kept in commission, except a few rangers on the frontiers.

"The Indians should be conciliated by every means in our power. It is much cheaper and more humane to purchase their friendship than to fight them. A small sum will be sufficient for the former; the latter would require millions.

"By a steady, uniform, firm, undeviating adherence to this policy for two or three years, Texas may and will recover from her present utter prostration. It is the stern law of necessity which requires it, and she must yield to it or perish! She cannot afford to raise another crop of ‘heroes.’"

This policy was bearing fruit before Houston’s second administration came to an end. Texas was learning to live within her means and there was no further increase of the public debt. Moreover, as shall be seen, she was making progress toward commanding the respect of other nations, including that of the United States.

source: -

Posted By: pikeshot1600
Date Posted: 14-Apr-2006 at 18:41

Originally posted by Jalisco Lancer

Great Essay, Decebal.
I concurr with you about that the reasson at that time for not absorbing to Mexico completelly was the racial perjudices.

I must disagree.  The purpose for the Mexican War was not to expand southward and embrace a Catholic/Spanish population as part of the US.  the purpose was to consolidate communications with the Pacific coast so that (1) the trade of Asia could be accessed, and (2) the contiguous area in between was not controlled by a foreign power.

Let us not be under any assumption that, in the middle of the 19th century, cultural attitudes toward peoples of different religions or languages, whatever they might be, were much different anywhere.  Sensitivity training and diversity were not concepts that would have had many adherents then.


Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 14-Apr-2006 at 18:45

Hi Pikeshoot, indeed the motives of the war was not to absorb Catholic/Spanish population, but that's what prevented to entire Mexico being absorbed as part of the policy All Mexico. I will show some sources to back up this during the debate.
Basically letters fron Nicholas Trist to Pre. Polk in 1848 during the negotiations that ended into the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.


Posted By: pikeshot1600
Date Posted: 18-Apr-2006 at 19:40

OK, we have covered some of the preliminaries.  Now, Texas was admitted to the Union, the Mexican government, that had never been reconciled to the loss of Texas, viewed this as a cause for war.

There was also a dispute over the border of Texas, with the US recognizing the Rio Grande as the border now between Mexico and the United States.

How did the initial military actions come about, and what were the results?


Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 19-Apr-2006 at 16:45

The ten-year existence of this sovereign state further complicated the disputed border. Mexico never recognized the independence of Texas and therefore claimed the 1819 borders as intact. The United States, as well as Great Britain and France, however, did approve of Texas's claim to nationhood. The question remained as to the precise western and southern borders of the nation. In 1836, Texas pressed a frontier claim south to the Rio Grande and west to its source in spite of the lack of historical precedent. This put into dispute the Trans-Nueces region, or the Seno Mexicano, long a part of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, as well as most of Nuevo Mexico. In subsequent years, Texas legislatures claimed even more Mexican territory, eventually laying claim to the Californias. Starting in 1841, Texas attempted to press its claim to eastern New Mexico militarily, but without success.

Diplomacy would intervene to settle the issue, or so it appeared. An armistice between Texas and Mexico in 1844 hinted at recognition of Texas independence, but the boundaries remained at issue. Meanwhile, Lone Star agents worked for annexation to the United States, a goal sought by the vast majority of Texans. Their efforts, however, were themselves retarded by the vagueness of Texas borders as the issue aggravated fears of abolitionists that slavery would be extended across the continent.

In 1845, the United States had worked out its own reluctance regarding the expansion of slavery and intervened in the question of national boundaries once again by annexing Texas through a joint resolution of Congress. That same year, it settled its dispute with Great Britain over the Oregon country. When Gen. Zachary Taylor's army moved from U.S. territory to Corpus Christi, Texas, all observers realized that the issue of borders between the United States and Mexico would be resolved at the point of the bayonet. Indeed, by the end of the U.S.-Mexican War, not only had Texas been secured, but so had a large swath of territory including Alta California, Nuevo Mexico, and large portions of the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora in a vast tract known simply as the Mexican Cession. Even with this enormous acquisition, many in the United States advocated the annexation of all of Mexico and grumbled at their government's failure to do so. -

Posted By: pikeshot1600
Date Posted: 19-Apr-2006 at 17:17

In November, 1845, the US had offered $30,000,000 for California and Nueva Mexico.  Mexico had refused the effort to resolve the Texas annexation by the purchase offer.  With the border dispute in Texas and Mexican honor offended, war was all but inevitable.

In April, 1846, US troops near present day Brownsville were attacked by Mexican troops (in the disputed area), and Pres. Polk asked for a declaration of war from Congress.

In May, at Resaca de la Palma, US troops under Zachary Taylor forced the Mexican army back across the Rio Grande.

From then on, the war would be fought on Mexican soil.


Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 19-Apr-2006 at 18:51
Hi Pikeshoot, here's where the history gets complicated.

The cou ntry was deeply divided since the achievement of the independence. The economy was collpased due the multiple internal wars and the foreign wars agaisnt Spain and France, plus the failed Texas campaing.

Yucatan Peninsula ( comprising Yucatan, Campeche and Quintana Roo states ) secced from Mexico in 1840.
Yucatan signed an agreement of Commerce and Mutual Assistance Agreement with Texas and when the war against the US started, Yucatan declared neutrality and even offered to be annexhed to the US.

Texas which independence was never recognized by Mexico was annexhed by the US as another state in 1845. The short lived republic boundaries with Mexico were delimited by the Nueces River. However, the US claimed the border to be stablished at the Bravo River or Rio Grande.

The Federalist and the Centralist factions were in continuous clashings.

In 1844, General Jose Joaquin Herrera removed from office to Gen. Valentin Canalizo and exiled to Santa Anna to Cuba

President Jose Joaquin Herrera ordered to have dispatched troops to the limits with Texas, while Taylor stablished his headquarter on the regio.
Gen. Paredes y Arrillgada revolted at San Luis Potosi agaisnt the goverment and used the troops under his command to stop the American invasion in order to remove from power to Pres. Herrera, claiming that he was negotiating with the US to give up the northern territories.

Mexico was expecting that the US and the UK could go to war in regards the US interest on Oregon. However, the US and the British goverment settled the terms for Oregon to be another US State.

Paredes y Arrillaga sent an army north to Matamoros, which put 5,000 men across the Rio Grande from Taylor's army. And, on April 23, Paredes y Arrillago proclaimed that Mexico had begun a defensive war against the United States. On April 24 the Mexican commander at Matamoros, General Mariano Arista, had the courtesy to inform Taylor that hostilities had commenced, and on the 25th he sent 1,600 men on patrol across the river. Taylor that day sent a party of 60 mounted infantry (dragoons) on patrol. Taylor had failed to have scouts about maintaining an awareness of enemy positions, and Taylor's men rode into a trap. Sixteen of Taylor's men were killed or wounded before they could withdraw.

Taylor sent a message to Washington that blood had been spilled, that the war had begun, and on the 28ththe Mexicans attacked a patrol of Texas Rangers, with nine Texan-Anglos being killed or taken prisoner.

On May 8, President Polk received Slidell, back from Mexico City. On May 9, Polk received the message about fighting from Taylor. On May 11, President Polk went before Congress to ask for a declaration of war, in response to what he said was Mexico's initiation of hostilities. "American blood," he said, "had been spilled on American soil."On the 13th, the U.S. Congress declared war, the Senate voting 40 to 2 in favor, the House voting 174 to14.

U.S. citizens were alarmed, fearing that the men under General Taylor would be overwhelmed by Mexico's larger and more experienced military. Meanwhile on May 8, back in Texas, fighting between the armies of Taylor and Arista had broken out in earnest - on Taylor's side of the Rio Grande. It was to some extend an artillery duel - artillery being the weapon with the greatest range. And Taylor's artillery was more effective. The Mexicans fought well in what became known as the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca del la Palma, two battles in two days, about five miles apart, after which the Mexicans withdrew to their side of the Rio Grande, with many killed as they crossed the river. The Mexicans lost approximately 320 killed and 700 wounded. Taylor's army lost 9 killed and 47 wounded.

Mexico had plans to blockade the Texas coasts, but those plans did not considered a war agaisnt the US.

Mexican troops stablished at Mazatlan were supposed to be sent to California. The garrison instigated by the liberals, rebeled agaisnt Paredes y Arrillaga, calling for the return of Santa Anna. The militar commnader of Guadalajara rebelled as well.

Santa Anna and Polk had an approach. Polk allowed to Santa Anna to return in a US vessel to Verazcruz and was able to cross the US blockade.

Santa Anna took the command of the Army and denominated to Valentin Gomez Farias, as President, while he prepared the defense of the country.

Taylor advanced towards Monterrey and Saltillo and fought at La Angostura. Santa Anna had to retire from the field to fleed to Mexico City.

Gomez Farias in an attempt to collect more funds for the war, declared the expropiation of properties of the Church. The conservatives rebelled and instead of marching to assist the garrison at Veracruz, revolted in Mexico City agaisnt Gomez Farias ( Rebellion of the Polkos ).

Santa Anna at Cerro Gordo ( Fat Hill ). Santa Anna did not fortified the positions on the hill, becuase accordingly with him, not even the rabbits could climb the hill.

Scott was marching from Veracruz to Puebla and Tlaxcala were he found no resistance after giving all kind of warranties to the Catholic Church that her properties will not be touched.

Scott's troops were stationated now at Valley of Mexico. Gen Valencia resisted at Padierna and Contreras. He made a brilliant defense and his flank was reinforced. Santa Anna ordered to Valencia to retire from the field and join him to defense Mexico City.

Gen. Valencia was ordered twice to leave the position and still continue to refuse. Santa Anna ordered in secret to the cavalry dispatched to cover his flank to retire without advise to Gen Valencia. The US troops then met no resistance at Valencia's flank and attacked his uncovered position. Santa Anna observed the disaster from a safer position and stated: That's what you wanted ? Now F... yourself.

Scott then advanced towards the convent of Churubusco. The position was held by the troops of Gen. Pedro Maria Anaya. It was reinforced by the Bataillon of San Patricio, the US desserters that joined the mexican army. They were incorporated as infantry instead of artillery.

The garrison soon ran out of ammo. The ammo sent by Santa Anna was not of the caliber requested and the battle soon became a melee fight.
Anaya, wounded and without ammo, ordered the surrender. When he was interrogated where the ammo and the powder was, he replied, if we had ammo, you should not be in here.

   Scott moved towards Mexico City and the last bastion on his way was the Castle of Chapultepec ( Montezuma Halls ).
The position at the bottom of the Castle was defended by a Naval Bataillon ( San Blas ) that was overwhelmed and annhiliated. The castle was defended by sappers, infantry and 200 cadets of the Militar Acdemy. This battle is remembered as an epic episode in our national history.

   Gen Juan Alvarez was observing the battle with 5,000 cavalry men and did not participated on the battle. Trying to keep his resources for the war aftermath.

   There were examples of cowardice and uncompetence. Brave soldiers eager to protect Mexico, but also the interest of local warlords, the Catholich Church and the Army that interfered on the defense of the Fatherland. A shameful episode. Only the French Mexican War could redime our history and make us whortly as a nation.

Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 19-Apr-2006 at 18:54

List of battles
Key: (A) – American Victory; (M) – Mexican Victory; (I) – Inconclusive.

Battle Date Engagement remarks Result
Thornton Affair April 25/26 Skirmishing in the disputed borderlands of South Texas. (M)
Siege of Fort Texas May 3-9 Mexican Army besieges American outpost. (I)
Battle of Palo Alto May 8 Mexican Army under Mariano Arista enters the disputed land between the Rio Grande (Río Bravo) and the Nueces River. (A)
Battle of Resaca de la Palma May 9 Arista is defeated by Zachary Taylor. (A)
Occupation of Matamoros May 18 U.S. troops occupy Matamoros, Tamaulipas, with no resistance. (A)
Battle of Monterey[1] July 7 U.S. Navy occupies Monterey, California. (A)
Occupation of Camargo, Tamaulipas. July 14 – (A)
Battle of Santa Fe August 18 Stephen Watts Kearny occupies Santa Fe, New Mexico. (A)
Battle of Monterrey[1] September 21-23 Zachary Taylor forces Pedro de Ampudia to surrender Monterrey. (A)
Battle of Dominguez Rancho October 7 Californeros clash with John C. Frémont. (M)
First Battle of Tabasco October 24-26 Commodore Perry makes a demonstration against Tabasco (I)
Occupation of Tampico, Tamaulipas November 14 Occupation by the U.S. Navy. (A)
Occupation of Saltillo, Coahuila November 16 Occupation by the U.S. Army. (A)
Battle of Natividad November 16 Town located in northern California. (A)
Battle of San Pascual December 6 Californeros and Presidial Lancers defeat Stephen Watts Kearny. (M)
Battle of El Brazito December 25 U.S. forces attack El Brazito, New Mexico. (A)

Battle Date Engagement remarks Result
Battle of Santa Clara January 2 Fight in California. (A)
Battle of Rio San Gabriel January 8 Part of a series of battles for control of Los Angeles. (A)
Battle of La Mesa January 9 Last conflict before U.S. forces enter Los Angeles. (A)
Battle of Cañada January 24 Sterling Price defeats Insurgents in New Mexico. (A)
Battle of Mora January 24/February 1 After a failed attack by American Forces lead by Israel Hendley on January 24, on February 1 another expedition armed with cannon succeeded in razing the village of Mora in New Mexico. (A)
Battle of Embudo Pass January 29 – (A)
Siege of Pueblo de Taos February 3/4 Rancheros and Mexican Militia surrender to U.S. forces. (A)
Battle of Buena Vista February 22/23 Antonio López de Santa Anna engages Zachary Taylor in one of the largest battles of the war. (A)
Battle of the Sacramento February 28 Alexander W. Doniphan captures Chihuahua, Mexico. (A)
Siege of Veracruz March 9-29 Beginning with Marine landings, U.S. forces besiege and gradually encircle Mexican Marines and Coast Guard in vicious twenty-day siege. (A)
Battle of Cerro Gordo April 18 Dubbed the "Thermopylae of the West." (A)
Battle of Tuxpán April 18 Commodore Perry siezes port city on the Gulf coast. (A)
Skirmish at Las Vegas, NM June 6 – (A)
Second Battle of Tabasco June 16 Commodore Perry captures last port city on the Gulf coast. (A)
Battle of Contreras (a.k.a. Battle of Padierna) August 19 Santa Anna fails to support the Mexican line at a critical moment; turns victory into rout. (A)
Battle of Churubusco August 20 Regular Mexican troops and San Patricios under Manuel Rincón hold a fortified monastery against Winfield Scott; San Patricios decimated. (A)
Battle of Molino del Rey September 8[2] Americans lose nearly 800 men in an attempt to take a suspected cannon foundry: "They fell in platoons and companies." (A)
Battle of Chapultepec September 13 Scott assaults Chapultepec Castle. Los Niños Héroes pass into legend. (A)
Battle for Mexico City September 13/14 Fierce fighting for Mexico City. (A)
Siege of Puebla September 14 Mexican forces begin the siege of Puebla, Puebla. –
Fall of Mexico City September 15 U.S. forces finally enter Mexico City. (A)
Battle of Mulegé October 2 Mexican forces lead by Captain Manuel Pineda defeated a small detachment of American forces near Mulegé, Baja California Sur. (M)
Battle of Huamantla October 9 U.S. relief column is able to reach Puebla. (A)
Siege of Puebla October 12 Siege of Puebla lifted. (A)
Skirmish at Atlixco October 19 Also known as the "Atlixco Affair" (I)

Battle Date Engagement remarks Result
Battle of Santa Cruz de Rosales March 16 Sterling Price advances into Chihuahua after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was already signed. (A)

From January to August Mexican partisans harassed the U.S. Army of Occupation. Formal fighting, however, had ceased by the end of January.

^ a It is a common misconception to confuse "Monterrey, Nuevo León" with "Monterey, California". These are, in fact, two very different battles.
^ Throughout the month of September, reports of guerrilla attacks on U.S. army hospitals, supply columns, and camps reached epidemic proportions.

source: _War

Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 19-Apr-2006 at 19:07

Call to Arms !!!

The Organization of the Mexican Army
A Conversation With William DePalo, Jr.
The University of New Mexico

The Mexican army of 1846 rostered 18,882 permanent troops (permanentes) organized into 12 infantry regiments (of two battalions each), eight regiments and one separate squadron of cavalry, three brigades of artillery, one dragoon brigade and one battalion of sappers. Supplementing the permanentes were 10,495 active militiamen (activos) apportioned into nine infantry and six cavalry regiments. Commanded by permanent army officers, the militia was supposed to be activated only in times of emergency; in reality, however, most units were retained on active duty indefinitely. Posted along the northern periphery, presidial companies (presidiales) reported 1,174 additional troops. Poorly trained and inadequately outfitted, these frontier units were too far removed to affect the correlation of forces in the main theaters of war.

These standing formations were allocated among five territorially delineated military divisions and five commandancies-general. A general staff was in place to coordinate the concentration of brigade and division-size units to practice the linear tactics necessary for conventional battlefield success. The regional dispersal of forces, however, impeded centralized military authority and abetted localism. Proposals to regroup scattered permanent army formations into single garrison divisions where units could train routinely under the supervision of experienced officers were not realized before the outbreak of hostilities with the United States.

This regional force distribution scheme compelled the war ministry to confront foreign aggression with extemporaneous armies assembled from the most readily available formations. Generally, the ranks of these hastily assembled composite armies were filled with conscripts impressed into service via the detested levy (leva). Prone to desertion, mutiny and larceny, such draftees were difficult to train and discipline, but fought reasonably well when led resolutely. The repetitive creation of improvised armies kept Mexican units from acquiring the cohesion and esprit necessary to persevere under trying circumstances. On battlefields where small unit leadership and individual initiative were keys to success, such melded organizations were decidedly disadvantaged.

The lone exception to such improvisation was Division General Mariano Arista's 5,200-man Army of the North. Created in the wake of the loss of Texas to guard the extended Río Grande frontier, it was Mexico's most experienced military formation and the one that engaged General Zachary Taylor's Army of Occupation in all four of the northern campaign's major battles. Redeployed to the Valley of Mexico in July 1847, under the command of Division General Gabriel Valencia, the Army of the North bore the brunt of the action at Padierna and, thereafter, ceased to exist as an effective fighting force.

General Winfield Scott's impending advance into the Mexican heartland prompted the war ministry to activate the Army of the East in March 1847. Commanded by General President Antonio López de Santa Anna, this 11,000-man force was an amalgamation of units posted in central Mexico, fragments from the Army of the North and remnants of the defeated Veracruz garrison. Following its disintegration at Cerro Gordo, the Army of the East was reconstituted under the command of Brigade General Manuel María Lombardini with the survivors of that battle and selected national guard (guardia nacional) battalions. Comprised of both middle and lower class residents of the valley, these national guard troopers had a vested interest in preserving their homes and fought tenaciously to defend the capital's perimeter strongpoints.

Responsibility for interdicting Scott's communications with Puebla and guarding the line from Acapulco to Mexico City was entrusted to the 3,000-man Army of the South. Commanded by the obdurate southern cacique Juan Álvarez, this predominately cavalry formation influenced the war only minimally, until Molino del Rey, when Álvarez' unwillingness to commit his cavalry likely affected the outcome of that engagement. A 3,800-man contingent under the nominal leadership of Division General Nicolás Bravo rounded out the valley campaign's force structure. Designated the Army of the Center, this ad hoc organization was initially positioned to protect the Mexicalzingo-San Antonio line. Thereafter, elements of the Army of the Center participated in the Churubusco bridgehead fight and the defense of Chapultepec.

Lacking established government depots, Mexican soldiers routinely procured supplies from nearby communities or foraged off the land. Since local purchases were habitually compensated with unredeemable drafts on the treasury, troops often went hungry. The army's systemic logistical deficiencies were recompensed, in part, by soldiers' wives and girlfriends (soldaderas) who invariably accompanied each campaign. By performing essential sewing, cooking, maintenance and foraging duties, and ministering to the sick and wounded of both armies, soldaderas made a significant contribution to the Mexican war effort.

Army Life: Mexican Army
by Donald S. Frazier

Life in the Mexican Army The Mexican army of 1821 to 1854 was composed largely of peasants who were either drafted or dragooned into service. Thus, the culture and social life of the Mexican rank and file while under arms reflected that of Mexico as a whole. Like their civilian counterparts, the soldados of Mexico enjoyed music, paid dutiful attention to Catholic ritual, if not tenets, were self-reliant in terms of medicines and food, maintained a healthy cynicism toward their government, and pursued various forms of recreation including talking, drinking, and games of skill and chance. Largely illiterate, the common soldiers who fought for Mexico spent little time keeping diaries, writing letters, or reading books; rather, these were activities that distinguished the officer corps. One of the aspects that had the most profound effect on the culture of the Mexican army in the first three decades of independence was the large number of women accompanying the troops.

Music abounded. From the fairly sophisticated brass bands that accompanied every army to the simple wooden flutes of the privates, the tunes of Castilian marches and Indian corridos floated from the midst of every encampment. In 1836 when Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna marched north to suppress the rebellion in Texas, his advance guard of 2,000 men was accompanied by a band numbering 150 members. The band book included tunes inherited from the Spanish Armv, revolutionary airs like the Marseillaise, and campesino waltzes that reminded them of home. One observer from the early stages of the siege of the Alamo noted that the band frequently played selections from the opera The Barber of Seville.

For a Catholic army, priests were required on the march. These men were more than the obligatory chaplains of the U.S. armies and served the dual role of confessor and enforcer. The Catholic calendar was respected in the field to varying degrees depending on the forcefulness of the army's clerics. Before battle, priests offered prayers and blessings; after the fight, they offered rites and absolution.

The true keepers of the soldiers' morale, however, were the ubiquitous soldaderas. These women had no official role in the army but tagged along with their husbands, brothers, customers, and lovers as they had since the earliest days. These women served a variety of useful roles, including those of laundress, cook, nurse, and maid. This informal relationship became such a part of Mexican war planning that logistics often were neglected by military officials with the expectation that the soldaderas would make up for any deficiencies.

Mexican soldiers had to endure the effects of a poor system of logistics and medical care. Food was often scarce and had to be pressed from local residents as the army passed. Animals, too, were often requisitioned. As a result, troops often spent time away from camp foraging for supplies. In combat, the rank and file's weapons and ammunition were unreliable. Powder and shot were often in short supply throughout the Mexican military, and soldados often faced U.S. forces with less than a full cartridge box. Men wounded in battle faced a grim future. The medical corps of the Mexican army was virtually nonexistent, and even a modest injury could result in weeks of agony and death. Soldiers who did not receive attention from relatives or friends were often abandoned by their officers.

A reality of the Mexican army was the gulf that separated the enlisted ranks from their officers. Considered a bastion of wealth and privilege, the officer corps was filled with aristocrats who had little concern for the welfare of their men. These leaders, more often than not, saw their position as an opportunity for personal glory and financial gain. As a result, payrolls disappeared, phantom soldiers remained on rolls for pay and supply purposes, and food and ammunition often became "lost." While on campaign, Santa Anna referred to his men as "mere chickens" and viewed their lives simply as tools for advancing his career. Military justice was often arbitrary, and punishments in camp, for crimes real and imagined, were severe, ranging from execution by hanging or firing squad to flogging, branding, and cropping. Ever so, when called on by these same officers to perform heroically, the soldados did their duty to the best of their ability.

Another feature of the Mexican army of 1821 to 1854 is that it spent more time fighting other Mexicans in the various coups and in the service of the various caudillos than it did fighting foreigners. As a result, battles were not as lethal and campaigns not as protracted as those that would be experienced when fighting the United States, Texas, France, Spain, or Indians.

When out of the watchful eye of priests and officers, the men of the Mexican army enjoyed the universal pastimes pursued by soldiers worldwide. Gambling was commonplace, from cards to dice to horse races in mounted regiments. Mexican soldiers often composed poems and songs as satire of their plight. Fandangos, impromptu dances accompanied by drinking, were favorites in an army in the field.

source: -

The American Army in the Mexican War: An Overview
A Conversation With Richard Bruce Winders
Historian and Curator, The Alamo

The United States had two armies during the 19th century. The first, a standing army commonly referred to as the U.S. Army, had been authorized by the Congress in 1789. Designated the regular army, this force was composed of officers commissioned by Congress and enlisted men who joined for a five year period. In 1792, Congress created a second army intended as an auxiliary to the regulars called the militia. One major difference between the regulars and militia was the first was a national force while the second was the armies of the various states. Congress stipulated three instances when the militia could be called into federal service: to execute the laws of the United States, to suppress insurrections, and to repel invasions. This two-tiered arrangement formed the basis of the American military establishment during the Mexican War.

The U.S. Army was unprepared for war. While Congress had authorized a strength of 8,613 men and officers, the actual number of soldiers in uniform was fewer than 5,500. Many of the regimental commanders had entered the service before the War of 1812 and were too elderly and infirm for active duty. Companies were far below their authorized strength of forty-two privates with many carrying only half that number on their rolls. Reacting to the poor state of the army once war broke out, Congress increased the number of privates within individual companies to one hundred. It also created a company of the U.S. Engineers as well a new regiment of U.S. Mounted Rifles. These measures turned out be stopgaps at best.

The presence of a large number of graduates from the United States Military Academy worked in favor of the U.S. Army. These officers, mostly lieutenants and captains, formed a tight knit corps whose leadership ability and training helped offset the initial shortage of manpower. Historians point out that their ranks included men such as George G. Meade, Ulysses S. Grant, George B. McClellan, P.G.T. Beauregard, Braxton Bragg, Joseph E. Johnston, and Robert E. Lee, officers who later went on to command the great armies of the Civil War.

The militia system had already proven unreliable by the time of the Mexican War and had undergone substantial revision. Two issues emerged during the War of 1812 that demonstrated its flaws. First, many states prohibited their troops from participating in military operations on foreign soil. Second, by law a militiaman could only serve for a period of ninety days, meaning that recruiting, training, and marshaling occupied most of a unit's time with little left over for campaigning. As a solution to this problem, Congress created a subclass of militia called volunteers who were not confined by these two restrictions. On May 13, 1846, Congress authorized President Polk to raise 50,000 12-month volunteers.

Although both composed a part of the American Army, regulars and volunteers were notably different. Observers noted little interaction between officers and men, with each occupying a clearly defined station within the military establishment. Most Americans avoided enlisting in the regulars, guaranteeing that a high percentage of privates, corporals, and sergeants were foreign born. The combination of aristocratic officers and foreign "hirelings" made many Americans suspicious of the regulars. After all, what American citizen would settle for $7 a month as an army private unless forced to by dire circumstance? The volunteer, on the other hand, seemed to fit the spirit of the young republic because he was a citizen-soldier. Politics entered into the system as most volunteers elected their own officers. Volunteer units were raised locally, allowing friends, neighbors, and relatives to serve together. Although nominally under federal authority, volunteers maintained strong ties to their home states. The democratic nature of the volunteers meant that discipline in this corps was more lax than in the regulars.

More troops were needed as the war progressed. In November 1846, Congress issued an additional call for volunteers after realizing that most of the one year men would leave at the expiration of their terms. This second wave of volunteers was enlisted for the duration of the war. On February 11, 1847, Congress created ten additional regiments of regulars to serve for the period of the war. In all, 26,922 regulars and 73,260 volunteers served at some point during the Mexican War.

The combat elements were the same for both the regulars and the volunteers. The majority of troops were raised and trained as infantry and armed with flintlock muskets. The regulars maintained two regiments of light cavalry called dragoons with a third created for the war. Several regiments of mounted volunteers were raised that served mainly with Taylor's Army of Occupation and Kearny's Army of the West. Artillery formed the third branch of service. Just prior to the outbreak of the war, the army equipped several companies as "flying artillery" in which each cannoneer had his own mount. The innovation meant that the unit could gallop around the battlefield, bringing its guns to bear wherever they were most needed. This style of artillery was instrumental in several U.S. victories.

Readers who like military history will find the battles and leaders of the Mexican War extremely interesting. The American military is fascinating, too, because it reveals much about society in the Age of Jackson. Several works are recommended to those who want to learn more about the American Army in the Mexican War. John Porter Bloom's 1953 Emory University Ph.D. dissertation, "With the American Army in Mexico, 1846-1848," remains an outstanding study of the American soldier in Mexico. More accessible to most readers will be James M. McCaffrey's Army of Manifest Destiny: The American Soldier in the Mexican War, 1846-1848. A more recent work which examines the army is Richard Bruce Winders' "Mr. Polk's Army: The American Military Experience in the Mexican War." Also recommended are the many volumes of published letters and diaries that place the war on a personal level, giving the reader a "soldier's eye view" of the war.

Life in the U.S. Army
by James M. McCaffrey

At the outbreak of war with Mexico the U.S. Army had only 8,600 officers and men, and almost half were assigned to frontier defense. In addition, more than thirty years had elapsed since the last war, and, except for those with experience fighting Indians, most of the soldiers had no combat experience. In response to the manpower shortage Congress authorized the president to call up 50,000 volunteers, who, after receiving a bare minimum of training, left for Mexico.

These additional troops were necessary for victory, but even though they were subject to the same regulations as those in the regular army their arrival caused friction with the regulars. During peace time, many saw the army as simply a place of refuge for those men who were unable to earn an honest living anywhere else. Although most of the regular officers were professionally educated, the enlisted men came from the low end of the socioeconomic ladder; approximately 40 percent were immigrants and a third of them were illiterate. Now, suddenly, it was fashionable to be in the army, and the regulars resented these newcomers for their absence of training and their appalling lack of discipline.

The volunteers quickly learned that soldiering was not all flag waving and martial glory. The food was often bad, the housing primitive, and the threat of disease always present. The soldier's basic ration consisted of beef or pork, hard bread (or flour or cornmeal with which to bake bread), peas, beans, or rice, and a little salt, sugar, and coffee as available. Each member of a squad took his turn preparing the food. Often the various articles were put into a camp kettle and boiled for hours into an easily digestible soup. There were ways to supplement this meager fare. Some men sampled the local cuisine, but many found it too spicy. Others patronized civilian sutlers who set up shop wherever the army was. Many raided local gardens and orchards, although army regulations strictly forbade all uncompensated foraging. The volunteers soon earned an unsavory reputation for this practice.

Upon arrival in Mexico, most of the troops lived in canvas tents. These simple affairs, each designed to accommodate six men and their bedrolls, offered far less protection against the wind and rain than even the rudest log cabins back home. As the war progressed and U.S. forces occupied towns, Mexican government buildings served as barracks. Yellow fever, malaria, dysentery, smallpox, measles, and various other diseases prevalent in Mexico were a constant scourge to the U.S. soldiers and killed far more than did Mexican bullets. The lack of attention to hygiene exhibited by many of the volunteers left them particularly susceptible to illness. Treatment of the sick and wounded in army hospitals was probably comparable to what was available in the United States. Army doctors were, on average, as capable as their civilian counterparts, but the general state of medical knowledge was such that treatments offered were not always beneficial to the patient. When the overworked surgeons encountered a wounded soldier with a limb shattered by a heavy musket ball, they often did not have time to do mud more than amputate it quickly before moving on to the next patient.

On the march, the U.S. soldier traveled as lightly as possible, since every ounce of extra weight made it that much more difficult to continue in the heat and dust. Still, with a nine-and-a-half pound musket, ammunition, a bayonet, a canteen of water, a haversack in which to carry food and small personal items, and a blanket, even soldiers carrying the bare essentials often plodded along with thirty or more pounds of gear.

Soldiers in camp sought various means by which to reduce their boredom. Some attended Mexican fandangos where they sought the company of young women. Some found solace in drink, and this often led to violations of military rules. Soldiers committing offenses faced court martial proceedings, but the Articles of War gave the courts considerable leeway in assessing penalties. Consequently, two soldiers committing identical crimes but tried by different courts might receive vastly different sentences. These sentences ran the gamut from a few hours in the guardhouse for drunkenness to death by hanging for desertion.

In many ways, the U.S. soldiers who fought in Mexico were the same as their brothers in arms of other periods. They complained about their food, they groused about incompetent officers, they belittled the ethnic character of their enemies, and they believed in their ultimate military success.

source: -

Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 19-Apr-2006 at 19:33
Battle Reports

The Battle of Palo Alto

The Battle of Palo Alto, the first major engagement of the U.S.-Mexican War, was fought on May 8, 1846, just north of present-day Brownsville, Texas. Weeks earlier, U.S. General Zachary Taylor had led 3,000 troops to the Rio Grande and established Fort Texas opposite the Mexican City of Matamoros, as well as a supply base, Fort Polk, at Point Isabel about forty miles away on the Gulf Coast.

Mexican General Mariano Arista countered by bringing a 4,000-man force, the Army of the North, to Matamoros. He crossed the Rio Grande to the west and headed east to place his army between Taylor and his supply base, while putting Fort Texas under siege. Taylor managed to slip past Arista’s trap with the bulk of his forces on May 1, but left behind a small American garrison in dire straits. Taylor moved to Point Isabel, gathered all available supplies and reinforcements, and moved with a column of 2,200 men to the relief of Fort Texas. Arista, catching wind of this move, left forces to continue the siege while he led 3,400 troops north to intercept Taylor.

The two armies located each other at the scrubby crossroads of Palo Alto in the early afternoon of May 8. Each side deployed their troops, and the American troops stepped boldly forward to within 800 yards of the Mexicans. Almost immediately the superiority of the U.S. cannons and artillery tactics came to bear. Over the next three hours, the battle consisted mostly of a lopsided artillery duel. Attempts by the Mexican cavalry to turn the U.S. flank proved unsuccessful, and Arista ordered his troops out of action and moved to a strong defensive position at Resaca de la Palma. Arista lost between 250 and 400 men at Palo Alto, double the number of American losses.

The Capture of Monterrey

The Capture of Monterrey occurred on September 25, 1846, after a week of maneuvering, skirmishing, brutal assaults, and deadly house-to-house fighting. General Zachary Taylor moved his 6,640 many army into position north of the city on September 19, scouted its approaches, and captured the road leading to Saltillo the next day. A Mexican army of 5,000 men under General Pedro Ampudia waited behind fortifications, effectively cut-off from reinforcements.

The Battle of Monterey

Taylor planned a two-pronged assault for September 21, with General William J. Worth’s Division to attack from the west and southwest while the regulars under the temporary command of John Garland demonstrated against Monterrey’s eastern defenses. Worth’s assault carried the important positions atop Federation Hill, then moved on to capture redoubts on Independence Hill, as well giving U.S. troops command of the heights overlooking the city.

Fighting east of the town bogged down, and Garland’s command required the assistance of General William O. Butler’s reserves to finally carry the Mexican positions at La Tenería, Fort Diablo, and Purísima Bridge. With American forces east and west, Ampudia drew in his lines in the following day, fortifying the houses around the central plaza, the cathedral, and the imposing citadel, Black Fort.

Fighting resumed on September 23 with the Americans making impressive gains before being ordered to fall back at sundown. The following day, U.S. artillery began a systematic bombardment of the Mexican positions, leading to Ampudia’s request for a parlay. The two generals agreed on an eight-week armistice and the Mexican forces marched away with their weapons on September 25, giving the city over to the Americans. President James K. Polk grew furious over these terms, and subsequently plotted the end of Taylor’s career. The U.S. lost 450 men killed and wounded in the battle. The Mexicans suffered an equal number of losses.

The Battle of Buena Vista
The Battle of Buena Vista on February 23, 1847, was perhaps the most dramatic fight of the U.S.-Mexican War. After the Battle of Monterey in September 1846, President James K. Polk ordered the bulk of Taylor’s veterans and regulars to join an expedition under General Winfield Scott, who would land at Vera Cruz and march on Mexico City. Taylor was to defend his position near Saltillo with 5,000 inexperienced troops.

Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, recognizing this as a military opportunity, moved quickly to catch the Americans while they made their transition. Santa Anna and an army of 20,000 hurried north from San Luis Potosi to crush Taylor before turning south to deal with Scott. Taylor, hearing of the Mexican movement upon his position, deployed his outnumbered command in a mountain pass near the Hacienda Buena Vista, where his small numbers might do the most good.

Santa Anna demanded Taylor’s surrender on February 22, but was refused. The Mexicans then skirmished with the Americans to ascertain their positions and numbers. Santa Anna ordered an all-out assault the following morning and had broken the U.S. line by mid-day. Taylor rushed forward his only reserves, the 1st Mississippi Rifles under Colonel Jefferson Davis. These troops stabilized the U.S. line by routing a Mexican cavalry breakthrough. Santa Anna’s attack stalled.

Taylor unwisely ordered his men to counter-attack the still-dangerous enemy that afternoon, and the U.S. troops ran headlong into withering fire. The audacity of the attack threw off Santa Anna’s planned final blow and the Mexican attack stumbled to a halt by dark. More than 3,400 of Santa Anna’s men lay dead or wounded; Taylor lost 650. The Mexican Army declared victory the following day and retreated to sofocate the Polkos rebellion at Mexico City.

The Capture of Veracruz
The vitally important Mexican port and stronghold of Veracruz fell to American forces on March 28, 1847, after a two-week siege. General Winfield Scott, with the assistance of Commodore David E. Conner’s Home Squadron, landed an army of 10,000 men at Collado Beach to the south of Veracruz on March 9. Covered by the guns of Conner’s ships, the U.S. troops moved north to invest the defenses of the city, eventually bottling up 3,000 Mexican troops under General Juan Morales behind its defenses. They also isolated another 1,000 troops inside the nearly impregnable walls of harbor fort San Juan de Ulúa.

Scott finished his lines by March 12, severing ties between Veracruz and the rest of Mexico. Engineers then created approach trenches, while Commodore Conner sent ashore a half-dozen heavy guns and crews. On March 21, with his most of his guns and earthworks in place, Scott requested that non-combatants be allowed to leave the city. General Morales refused. The next day the combined guns of the army and fleet began to pummel Veracruz and San Juan de Ulúa, joined by the naval battery ashore on March 24. The American shelling caused little damage to Fort San Juan de Ulúa, but the three-day bombardment had breached the city walls, smothered counter-battery fire, and collapsed buildings inside Veracruz.

Unwilling to take credit for the disaster, General Morales turned over command of the garrison to General Juan Landero, who surrendered his army, fort, and city on March 28. From that point forward until the end of the U.S.-Mexican War, Veracruz served as a vital supply base for Scott’s invasion of Mexico and became crucial to U.S. victory.

The Battle of Cerro Gordo
In April 1847, U.S. General Winfield Scott moved his army away from Vera Cruz and down the national road toward the interior. Mexican forces under General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna occupied the strategic mountain pass of Cerro Gordo to block the way. The collision of these two armies on April 18 began a string of American victories that lead, ultimately, to the capture of Mexico City.

Santa Anna made his stand at a point where the national road climbed the highlands near Jalapa by traversing a narrow defile dominated on the west by two major hills, La Atalaya and El Telégrafo. Twelve thousand Mexican troops dug in to block the road and waited for the Americans. The vanguard of the 10,000-man U.S. force arrived on April 11, and scouts sized up the enemy position. They concluded that a costly frontal assault was the only option until an April 17 reconnaissance by Captain Robert E. Lee revealed that Santa Anna had trusted the terrain on his left to be impassible, and therefore had only lightly defended that approach.

On April 18, Scott ordered General David Twiggs to lead 7,000 men around the Mexican left along the path discovered by Lee, while a smaller force of about 3,000 men under General Gideon Pillow demonstrated against the Mexican front. General Santa Anna, alerted to the American plan by a U.S. deserter, repositioned his forces to intercept Twiggs’ attack. The Americans still worked their way around the Mexican line, cut off their line of retreat, and captured their camps. Santa Anna’s forces, fearing encirclement, fled. U.S. troops killed or wounded an estimated 1,000 Mexican soldiers and captured another 3,000, as well as the artillery, baggage, and supplies of Santa Anna’s army. U.S. losses were a little more than 400.

The Battle of Contreras
The U.S. launched two major assaults on August 20, 1847, as part of General Winfield Scott’s sophisticated strategy to neutralize the 36,000-man army assembled by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna to defend Mexico City. The principal Mexican positions covered two roads heading to the city. A fortified Hacienda in the town of San Antonio covered the easternmost approach, while the town of San Angel covered the westernmost. Between them to the south lay a vast, seemingly impenetrable lava field, El Pedrégal.

General Gabriel Valencia, on the Mexican right flank, abandoned his assigned post and moved four miles down the road to the town of Contreras, placing this rough terrain between him and the Mexican left. A premature, ill-advised, and unsuccessful August 18 attack by generals Gideon Pillow and David Twiggs revealed American intentions to isolate and destroy Valencia. Santa Anna rushed Valencia reinforcements rather than recalling him to the more defensible positions at San Angel.

The next day, American scouts found a way to emerge from El Pedrégal a little farther north, thus cutting the road to Mexico City and isolating Valencia from additional reinforcements. Scott realized that once Valencia’s command fell, Pillow and Twiggs could race north to the Rio Churubusco and gain the rear of the Mexican forces facing the rest of the American army. Scott prepared to advance.

At dawn on August 20, Pillow renewed his attack on Valencia’s front and elements of Twiggs’ command attacked the rear position of the Mexican force. Valencia’s 5,000-man army quickly melted away, a portion heading toward San Angel, the bulk simply quitting the field. By 6 a.m. Pillow and Twiggs started their troops toward the Rio Churubusco, and Scott ordered an attack against the Hacienda at San Antonio.

The Battle of Churubusco, fought on August 20, 1847, was part of a larger operation by U.S. forces under General Winfield Scott against Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s defense of Mexico City. U.S. troops faced a daunting challenge of rooting out these forces from several carefully prepared defensive positions. Scott wanted to eliminate these positions in detail. He divided his army, sending half to eliminate a Mexican force on the westernmost of these roads, while he faced the Mexicans at San Antonio.

The destruction of Mexican General Gabriel Valencia’s force at Contreras in the early morning hours of August 20 uncovered a route to the Mexican rear. Santa Anna ordered his forces to abandon San Antonio. He ordered General Pedro Anaya to cover this retreat by occupying the fortified convent, town, and river crossing at the village of Churubusco three miles north of San Antonio.

Scott’s forces, in close pursuit, attacked Anaya at Churubusco, but were checked by its defenders. The Americans regrouped and continued a relentless battering of the Mexican position throughout the day. To the west, forces under generals Gideon Pillow and David Twiggs fought their way across the Rio Churubusco. Anaya, aware that he would soon be surrounded, slipped away across the river, his retreat covered by the timely arrival of reinforcements. The two battles—Contreras and Churubusco—had eliminated 10,000 Mexican troops from the defense of the city, and resulted in the loss of 1,000 killed, wounded, and missing Americans.

The Battle of El Molino del Rey (Attack upon the Molino)
In August 1847, after the twin defeats of Contreras and Churubusco, the Mexican army fell back to defensive position just two miles from the gates of Mexico City, and the last line before the city itself. Key to this position was the castle at Chapultepec, the earthwork fort at Casa Mata 2,000 yards to the west, and the fortified stone buildings and of Molino del Rey half way between. On September 8, U.S. General William J. Worth tried to take these last two strong points by frontal assault.

The Battle of El Molina del Rey
Worth’s 3,400-man division advanced in two column advance against this position, with Brevet Brigadier General John Garland leading his brigade on the right against the Molino del Rey, Lieutenant Colonel James S. McIntosh leading his brigade on the left toward the Casa Mata, and Brigadier General George Cadwalader commanding the reserves.

The spearhead of Garland’s column was an ad hoc, 500-man storming party composed largely of soldiers from the 8th infantry, and backed by the Battalion of Voltigeurs, or light infantry. The advance that Worth had intended as a reconnaissance in force soon became a bloody nightmare. Brigadier General Antonio León unleashed a storm of artillery and small arms that bucked the Americans and sent them back in disorder. The heavy guns of Chapultepec 1,000 yards to the right added a heavy enfilading fire that caused the U.S. attack to falter.

The U.S. troops, reinforced by the Voltigeurs and some of Cadwalader’s men, made another run at the position and managed a breakthrough. Eventually the steady success of the regulars on their right carried the Mexican position, but only after Worth had lost nearly one-in-four of his attacking soldiers.

The Battle of El Molino del Rey (Attack upon the Casa Mata)
General William J. Worth’s September 8 attack on the Casa Mata and Molino del Rey complex became one of the bloodiest days for American forces in the U.S.-Mexican War. These two positions, part of a chain of strong points just two miles short of the gates of Mexico City, were supposed to be lightly held. Worth shelled the Mexican positions without response, and then ordered his columns forward. These included Brigadier General John Garland’s command on the right against the Molino del Rey, a storming party to capture an angle in the center, Lieutenant Colonel James McIntosh’s brigade to carry the Casa Mata on the left, and General George Cadwalder’s brigade in reserve.

Worth’s 3,400 troops were marching steadily into a Mexican ambush. Garland felt it first when hidden Mexican cannons and the guns of Chapultepec butchered his attacking column. McIntosh, spared the chaos on the right, was himself encountering a hail of small arms from the men of General Francisco Perez’s Brigade to his front. At this critical point in the battle, a 4,000 man Mexican cavalry division under General Juan Álvarez threatened to swoop in and roll up the American left. Quick thinking by a mixed command of U.S. mounted troops caused the Mexican horsemen to veer off, saving McIntosh from certain disaster.

Chastened by the resistance ahead and spooked by the Mexican cavalry beside, McIntosh fell back. The hard-won successes of Garland’s command eventually penetrated the Mexican line at the Molino del Rey, making the Casa Mata untenable, and the Mexican troops retreated. McIntosh’s infantry followed at a prudent distance. The day’s casualties included 800 killed and wounded Americans, and nearly 2,000 killed, wounded, and captured Mexicans

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.
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 Chapultepec.

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.

The Storming of Chapultepec (Quitmans’s Attack)
When U.S. General Winfield Scott ordered the capture of the Mexican citadel of Chapultepec, he envisioned coordinated assaults by two divisions. General Gideon Pillow would attack east from Molino del Rey, and General John Quitman would head north up the Tacubaya causeway to isolate the Mexican garrison from reinforcements. While Pillow would carry the brunt of the attack on the Mexican fort, Quitman would have the important task of pinning down two nearby Mexican brigades to the east.

U.S. guns pummeled the Mexican positions for more than a day before Pillow launched his assault up the slopes to the west of Chapultepec on September 13. His advance signaled a similar movement by Quitman’s command, which pushed up the causeway a half-mile from Tacubaya. A dug-in brigade under General Joaquin Rangel stalled Quitman’s advance a few hundred yards short of the intersection leading to the gates of Mexico City. Quitman ordered General Persifor Smith to shuttle his brigade to the east, while General James Shields veered to the west to join the attack on Chapultepec. Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Watson and his battalion of marines held the causeway and attempted to fulfill Quitman’s original mission.

Shields’s command breached the southern wall of the Mexican stronghold and linked up with Pillow’s men pushing in from the left. Together, these co-mingled commands pushed to the walls of the castle itself, raised scaling ladders, and completed the capture. By mid-morning, Chapultepec had fallen. While Shields and his men were attacking, General Smith, Lieutenant Colonel Watson, and their supporting batteries at last drove Rangel from his position, and the fall of Chapultepec caused the entire Mexican line to give way and fall back to the gates of Mexico City. The combat resulted in 2,000 Mexican and 450 American casualties.

Choose a Battle from this menu: The Battle of Palo Alto The Capture of Monterrey The Battle of Buena Vista The Capture of Veracruz The Battle of Cerro Gordo The Battle of Contreras The Battle of Churubusco The Battle of El Molino del Rey (Attack upon the Molino) The Battle of El Molino del Rey (Attack upon the Casa Mata) The Storming of Chapultepec (General Pillow's Attack) The Storming of Chapultepec (Quitmans' Attack) Entrance into the City of Mexico Occupation of Mexico

Entrance into the City of Mexico
The final blow to General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s defense of Mexico City came on September 13 and 14. U.S. forces followed up the victory at Chapultepec by pursuing the retreating Mexican forces to the west-side gates of the city. In fighting that lasted throughout the afternoon of September 13, American troops under General William Worth carried the fortified Garita San Cosme, while those of John Quitman’s division captured the Garita de Belén. Americans killed or captured some 3,000 Mexican troops in this close, brutal, and deadly combat, while suffering 800 casualties of their own. That night, U.S. General Winfield Scott ordered his commands to reorganize, consolidate, and prepare for savage house-to-house fighting the next day. The Americans - tired, shot up, but victorious - anxiously awaited the coming dawn.

As a result of the disasters at Chapultepec and at the garitas, chaos reigned among the Mexican army and government inside the city. With the Americans inside the gates and in control of the roads to the south and west, officials believed that their cause was lost and that the capital city would soon become a battleground. Santa Anna, persuaded that the struggle was no longer worth the costs in lives and property, led the battered remnants of the Mexican national army out of town to regroup, rearm, and plot their next move.

In the early hours of September 14, instead of having to fight his way through town, Scott instead received a delegation of Mexican politicians who surrendered the city unconditionally. The U.S. army that had begun the campaign to capture Mexico City in early March now marched triumphantly to the national plaza.

Occupation of Mexico
Despite the doubtful legitimacy of the U.S. war against Mexico, in general the regular U.S. Army behaved with respect toward the institutions and the populace of the country it occupied. This was exemplified in Matamoros, where Gen. Zachary Taylor recognized the city council in office at the time and defended its continuance based on the right of jus gentium. This became a pattern in other Mexican towns, although in some municipalities, such as Tampico and Vera Cruz, the councils dissolved and the U.S. forces became military authorities with civil functions.

While in Jalapa before advancing into central Mexico, Gen. Winfield Scott calmed the population by assuring local authorities that private property, civil liberties and guarantees, as well as the church and religious freedom would be respected and that crime - even that committed by U.S. troops - would be punished. He did, however, declare martial law in order to control relations between his army and the Mexican authorities and population. Nevertheless, in its military actions, the U.S. Army did not hesitate to use its force to the fullest, even if it brought devastating consequences to the civilian population, as was observed in Monterrey, New Mexico, and Vera Cruz. The siege of Monterrey involved ferocious combat that inflicted great material losses on the population. When the inhabitants of New Mexico, led by native Tomas Ortiz, rebelled and killed Governor Charles Bent and five Anglo-Americans, Colonel Sterling Price reacted quickly, attacking the rebels at Taos. The principal leaders were killed and the rest of the rebels dispersed. In confronting resistance and fortifications at the port of Vera Cruz, the U.S. Army and marines implemented an intense bombardment of the city from March 22-26, 1847, causing about five hundred civilian deaths and significant damage to homes, buildings, and merchandise. General Scott and Commo. Matthew C. Perry capitalized on this civilian suffering; by refusing to allow the consulates of Spain and France to assist in civilian evacuation, they pressed Gen. Juan Morales to negotiate surrender.

The U.S. Army, as a warning to cities, townships, and whole vicinities, held civilian populations responsible for damages and losses to its war machine. One such case occurred in the township of Guadalupe, near Mexico City, when the town council was arrested for divesting a U.S. soldier of his weapons and his horse.

After Mexico City was occupied, General Scott officially recognized the city council, which was headed by Reyes Veramendi. He also allowed the continued functioning of the local police and granted that the civil administration continue to take charge of routine court cases, except when U.S. forces were involved or when they took on a political nature. He appointed Gen. John A. Quitman military governor. In consideration for its protection, the U.S. Army charged the city council 150,000 pesos, which was used to care for U.S. soldiers wounded during the campaign. To cover this cost, the city council pledged money from district revenue sources that remained under its control such as customs, the post, tobacco, and direct contributions. As the occupation continued, the U.S. Army increased its authority in some towns by assuming control of public works, jails, and judicial administration and by taking over the collection of various public revenues. In Mexico City, the U.S. military governor authorized gambling and assessed one thousand pesos per table per month.

At the end of 1847, U.S military authorities allowed for the renovation of city hall in Mexico City. This went against Mexican laws and was done purposely to cultivate a city government that would collaborate or accept peace terms, thereby putting pressure on the national government of Mexico, headquartered in Queretaro. Some Mexican politicians were under the impression that if the country were not to lose its autonomy altogether, it must submit to the new U.S. order. One of these was Francisco Suarez Iriarte, who began the movement to renovate Mexico City's city hall. He was named president of the new municipal assembly, one of the first functions of which was to change the city's political definition to that of state. These advantages did not prevent the U.S. occupiers from demanding a new loan of 668,000 pesos, which the municipal assembly was obliged to pass on to the people in the form of a 6-percent tax on revenues and other payments.

Foreign trade, formerly heavily taxed under the Mexican fiscal system, was simplified under U.S. control of maritime customs. The U.S. military levied a low tax, which helped the government finance war costs. The state monopoly on tobacco was also abolished, as well as the tax on domestic trade. During the occupation, the U.S. forces paid for their provisions, which caused a flow of dollars in occupied areas and facilitated the circulation of foodstuffs and merchandise.

U.S. forces caused little disturbance among the locals and conducted themselves well in the churches. They developed a curious language to make themselves understood, especially with the peddlers of fruit and trinkets.

Nevertheless the conduct of the U.S. volunteers left much to be desired. After an area was occupied, and there was little left to do, they often resorted to theft and treated the Mexicans abusively. This was plain from the outset of the war, when Texas volunteers preyed on the ranches in northern Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon. The U.S. Army installed public pillories in Mexico City to punish soldiers and volunteers who disobeyed the law. There, U.S. culprits were flogged along with Mexican offenders.

To amuse themselves in the Mexican capital, U.S soldiers enjoyed the shows at the Nuevo Mexico Teatro and frequented the dance halls on Coliseo and Betlemitas Calles. In the Hotel Bella-Union, they set up a canteen where there were gambling tables and prostitutes. U.S. citizens published various newspapers during the U.S occupation of Mexico, in which they reported the progress of the war, promoted factionalism among Mexicans, and advertised various businesses and shows.

source: - o.html

Posted By: Raider
Date Posted: 20-Apr-2006 at 03:55
Originally posted by Jalisco Lancer

April 20, 1836 -- Houston lets his force be "trapped" by Santa Anna's column, near the San Jacinto ferry crossing. There is a brief skirmish, and then the Texan force returns to its camp, grumbling at Houston. Santa Anna keeps his men under arms all night, assuming a night attack was coming. Nothing happens. April 21, 1836 -- Santa Anna's force of about 1,200 is over-run in broad daylight by a sudden attack on its camp by Houston's entire Texan force, then numbering 918. With the Texan camp only about a mile way over open terrain, Santa Anna had apparently posted no sentinels before retiring for a siesta and letting his tired troops do the same. The Texans lost nine dead and 30 wounded. Houston, who led from the front, lost two horses and was shot in the foot. Santa Anna, captured the next day in the bushes, agreed to recognize Texas independence and ordered all Mexican forces to evacuate Texas.
Yesterday evening I saw a movie about Alamo. In the end the Texans frontaly charged the fortified camp of Santa Anna, who waited for them. According to the movie the Texan broke Mexican resistence in 18 minutes. I knew that something is wrong with the story, it was totally unbelievable.

Posted By: hugoestr
Date Posted: 20-Apr-2006 at 10:42
Understanding the internal disputes in Mexico and the Mexican nation before the Mexican American War.

Liberals and conservatives had radically different visions for the political organization of the country. The Mexican American war happens almost at the mid point of this five-decade struggle. This long political fight frames the loss of Texas and the West. The centrist constitution, favored by conservatives, was one of the issues which encouraged Texans to leave Mexico. And the sharp political differences proved fatal when organizing a defense against the American invasion.

What follows is a more detailed explanation of the differences between the two factions, the features and arguments in favor of a centrist government, and its final repercussions.

Until the French were expelled at the end of the Mexican Second Empire, Mexico had not fully resolved the issue of what kind of a country it would be.

There were two radical camps: the conservatives and the liberals. The liberals favored a federalist republic patterned after the U.S., with independent, autonomous states. The conservatives favored a constitutional monarchy or a centrist government, with department instead of states.

There main difference between these two kinds of governments, as proposed by Mexicans at the time, is that the centrists saw Mexico as a single country that would have regional administrators whose appointments occurred at the federal level whereas liberals wanted independent states whose governors were elected locally.

In many practical ways, the centrist government was not too different from a monarchy, making it very appealing to conservatives.

An outright centrist government would have been a good choice for Mexico. It actually reflected the political reality of the nation and had a stronger connection to the political precedent of the prior 300 years. Its main weakness was that it failed to address the problem of disenfranchised nationals living far away from the capital, but I am sure that some kind of solution could have been found had Mexico not been in civil war for five decades, and the liberal objections to centrism had been seriously taken into consideration.

In hindsight, the liberal project of mapping the American Constitution on Mexico was ludicrous in many different ways. First, it seems that most Mexican liberals ignored how difficult it was to actually come up with the American Constitution in the first place. The American Constitution reflected the historical and contemporary political reality of the American nation. The reality of the former British colonies was that there were 13 centers of power, many of them very different in culture, character, economy, and ethnic composition. The reality was that there were in fact 13 different nations—states—that were united for their best interest in a Republic, but kept a lot of power for the locals to decide. Most importantly, the American colonies were used to local self-governing and that is what came natural to them.

This was not the situation in Mexico. For 300 years, Mexico was a province of the Spanish empire, and most cities in Mexico looked towards Mexico City the way Mexico City looked towards the capital of Spain. Most of the decisions were expected to come from the center. At the same time, the regional capitals functioned also as centers of power. Local power was exercised by simply doing whatever the local leader thought was correct, even when it went against instructions from the central authority, although never explicitly going against the orders from the capital.

More pragmatic times would have democratized the already existing power structures in Mexico. A centrist government with semi-independent departments would have been a good compromise. Maybe the regional administrators could have been elected locally so that they could better represent local interests to the national government could have been included to satisfy the demands of the liberals. Conservatives should have realized that a monarchy would never work in independent Mexico because too many Mexicans were opposed to it.

But the times wouldn’t allow such a pragmatic compromise. Each side was radicalized. No side would ever grant any concession to the other. Moderates were looked with suspicion by both liberals and conservatives, and because of this, they were often ineffective leaders.

When one side seized power, they often revamped the Mexican government and expelled political enemies from the administration. In the mean time, their opponents plotted ways of grabbing power away from them, started revolts, or did anything in their power to bring failure to the projects started by those in power. The Mexican Army played a huge role in Mexican politics at the time since gaining their favor was often the deciding factor on which side was going to be in power.

It is important to stress that most Mexicans didn't care one way or the other, and that many lacked any identity as belonging to the Mexican nation. Most Mexicans saw their local regions as their true "country", (patria chica), which most were eager to defend, but didn't really care for Mexico as a country, so they were not as eager to defend it.

The issue of determining what kind of nation Mexico would be was finally resolved when liberals won the decisive political battle with the expulsion of the French forces and the end of the Second Mexican Empire. Mexico was going to be a federal republic… at least in appearance. Mexico has been run as a centrist government for the vast majority of its existence ever since, but keeping with federalist forms.


Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 20-Apr-2006 at 15:50
Originally posted by Raider

Originally posted by Jalisco Lancer

April 20, 1836 -- Houston lets his force be "trapped" by Santa Anna's column, near the San Jacinto ferry crossing. There is a brief skirmish, and then the Texan force returns to its camp, grumbling at Houston. Santa Anna keeps his men under arms all night, assuming a night attack was coming. Nothing happens. April 21, 1836 -- Santa Anna's force of about 1,200 is over-run in broad daylight by a sudden attack on its camp by Houston's entire Texan force, then numbering 918. With the Texan camp only about a mile way over open terrain, Santa Anna had apparently posted no sentinels before retiring for a siesta and letting his tired troops do the same. The Texans lost nine dead and 30 wounded. Houston, who led from the front, lost two horses and was shot in the foot. Santa Anna, captured the next day in the bushes, agreed to recognize Texas independence and ordered all Mexican forces to evacuate Texas.
Yesterday evening I saw a movie about Alamo. In the end the Texans frontaly charged the fortified camp of Santa Anna, who waited for them. According to the movie the Texan broke Mexican resistence in 18 minutes. I knew that something is wrong with the story, it was totally unbelievable.

Well, at El Alamo the texicans were completelly overwhellmed and slaughtered inside the Mission.
At San Jacinto, the Texicans attacked frontally Santa Anna's camp. But those were completelly 2 different battles as well as the outcome.

Posted By: pikeshot1600
Date Posted: 20-Apr-2006 at 15:56

Originally posted by Jalisco Lancer

Originally posted by Raider

Originally posted by Jalisco Lancer

April 20, 1836 -- Houston lets his force be "trapped" by Santa Anna's column, near the San Jacinto ferry crossing. There is a brief skirmish, and then the Texan force returns to its camp, grumbling at Houston. Santa Anna keeps his men under arms all night, assuming a night attack was coming. Nothing happens. April 21, 1836 -- Santa Anna's force of about 1,200 is over-run in broad daylight by a sudden attack on its camp by Houston's entire Texan force, then numbering 918. With the Texan camp only about a mile way over open terrain, Santa Anna had apparently posted no sentinels before retiring for a siesta and letting his tired troops do the same. The Texans lost nine dead and 30 wounded. Houston, who led from the front, lost two horses and was shot in the foot. Santa Anna, captured the next day in the bushes, agreed to recognize Texas independence and ordered all Mexican forces to evacuate Texas.
Yesterday evening I saw a movie about Alamo. In the end the Texans frontaly charged the fortified camp of Santa Anna, who waited for them. According to the movie the Texan broke Mexican resistence in 18 minutes. I knew that something is wrong with the story, it was totally unbelievable.

Well, at El Alamo the texicans were completelly overwhellmed and slaughtered inside the Mission.
At San Jacinto, the Texicans attacked frontally Santa Anna's camp. But those were completelly 2 different battles as well as the outcome.

That does sound a lot more like San Jacinto.  Were both actions covered in the movie?


Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 20-Apr-2006 at 17:27

I saw The Alamo back in 2004 and yes that movie covers also the Battle of San Jacinto including the capture of Santa Anna.

Posted By: Raider
Date Posted: 21-Apr-2006 at 02:58
Originally posted by pikeshot1600

Originally posted by Jalisco Lancer

Originally posted by Raider

Originally posted by Jalisco Lancer

April 20, 1836 -- Houston lets his force be "trapped" by Santa Anna's column, near the San Jacinto ferry crossing. There is a brief skirmish, and then the Texan force returns to its camp, grumbling at Houston. Santa Anna keeps his men under arms all night, assuming a night attack was coming. Nothing happens. April 21, 1836 -- Santa Anna's force of about 1,200 is over-run in broad daylight by a sudden attack on its camp by Houston's entire Texan force, then numbering 918. With the Texan camp only about a mile way over open terrain, Santa Anna had apparently posted no sentinels before retiring for a siesta and letting his tired troops do the same. The Texans lost nine dead and 30 wounded. Houston, who led from the front, lost two horses and was shot in the foot. Santa Anna, captured the next day in the bushes, agreed to recognize Texas independence and ordered all Mexican forces to evacuate Texas.
Yesterday evening I saw a movie about Alamo. In the end the Texans frontaly charged the fortified camp of Santa Anna, who waited for them. According to the movie the Texan broke Mexican resistence in 18 minutes. I knew that something is wrong with the story, it was totally unbelievable.

Well, at El Alamo the texicans were completelly overwhellmed and slaughtered inside the Mission.
At San Jacinto, the Texicans attacked frontally Santa Anna's camp. But those were completelly 2 different battles as well as the outcome.

That does sound a lot more like San Jacinto.  Were both actions covered in the movie?


Yes, but I mean San Jacinto. Above you wrote that Mexicans slept and there was no guards. In this movie they were difinitively aware of the coming attack and waited it. -

Posted By: pikeshot1600
Date Posted: 21-Apr-2006 at 08:28


Jalisco may know more, but I recall that the Mexicans expected a night attack, both forces being encamped close by to each other.  Santa Anna may not have been Napoleon, but I doubt there were no sentries.  Most likely, a large prtion of his force remained on alert all night.

Movies are rotten sources of historical information.


Posted By: pikeshot1600
Date Posted: 21-Apr-2006 at 08:29
Originally posted by pikeshot1600


Jalisco may know more, but I recall that the Mexicans expected a night attack, both forces being encamped close by to each other.  Santa Anna may not have been Napoleon, but I doubt there were no sentries.  Most likely, a large prtion of his force remained on alert all night.

Movies are rotten sources of historical information.


Oh I just read Jalisco's post.  he already said all that.  Sorry.


Posted By: Jalisco Lancer
Date Posted: 21-Apr-2006 at 13:34

As result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico lost
California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and portions of Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Kansas to the United States at the end of the war in 1848.

I will post some articles and info about the negaotiations of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and how the policy of All Mexico failed to prevail, as well as the conflicts between the US Negotiator, Nicholas Trist and the Pres. James Polk.

Posted By: pikeshot1600
Date Posted: 26-Apr-2006 at 15:02

From the operational perspective, there were three army and two navy campaigns conducted:

Maj Gen. Zachary Taylor's corps driving the Mexican army across the Rio Bravo (Rio Grande) and away from the border recognized by the US.

Brig Gen Stephen Kearny's corps proceding down the Santa Fe Trail to sieze New Mexico.

Commodore David Conner's squadron conducting the US force under Winfield Scott to Vera Cruz, a base of operations on the shortest practical route to Mexico City.

Maj Gen. Winfield Scott's campaign to take Mexico City and force a settlement on the Mexican government.

Commodore Robert Stockton's squadron capturing coastal positions in California (land forces under John C. Fremont).  There was minimal fighting in California, and almost none in New Mexico.

Taylor's operations over the Rio Grande separated Mexican attention from Tampico and Vera Cruz.  Once Vera Cruz had been secured as a port of debarcation, after the surrender of San Juan de Ulua fortress, US forces could be resupplied by sea from New Orleans and Texas.  Much of Taylor's corps was then transfered to Scott for the campaign against Mexico City.

Jalisco gives good accounts of the actions of the war in the "battle reports."

How about assessments of the character and capability of the two armies?




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