The Mexican War 1846-1848 (Essential Histories, Volume 25)

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The northern area of Mexico was sparsely settled and not well controlled politically by the government based in Mexico City. After independence , Mexico contended with internal struggles that sometimes verged on civil war and the northern frontier was not a high priority. In northern Mexico, the end of Spanish rule was marked by the end of financing for presidios and for gifts to Native Americans to maintain the peace.

The Comanche and Apache were successful in raiding for livestock and looting much of northern Mexico outside the scattered cities. Northern Mexico was a violent and chaotic area due to the Indian raids. The raids after resulted in the death of thousands of Mexicans, halted most transportation and communications, and decimated the ranching industry that was a mainstay of the northern economy.

As a result, the demoralized civilian population of northern Mexico put up little resistance to the invading U. Distance and hostile activity from Native Americans also made communications and trade between the heartland of Mexico and provinces such as Alta California and New Mexico difficult.


The Mexican government's policy of settlement of U. Instead of settlement occurring in the central and west of the province, people settled in East Texas , where there was rich farmland and which was contiguous to the southern U. As settlers poured in from the U. In , Mexico was relatively united in refusing to recognize the independence of Texas.

Mexico threatened war with the United States if it annexed the Republic of Texas. President Polk's assertion of Manifest Destiny was focusing United States interest on westward expansion beyond its existing national borders. During the Spanish colonial era, the Californias i. After Mexico became independent, it shut down the missions and reduced its military presence. France and England both have had their eyes upon it. US President John Tyler 's administration suggested a tripartite pact that would settle the Oregon boundary dispute and provide for the cession of the port of San Francisco from Mexico.

Lord Aberdeen declined to participate but said Britain had no objection to U. A significant number of influential Californios were in favor of annexation, either by the United States or by the United Kingdom. In , Spain's colonial province of Texas Tejas had few inhabitants, with only about 7, non-Indian settlers. After independence, the Mexican government implemented the policy, granting Moses Austin , a banker from Missouri, a large tract of land in Texas. Austin died before he could bring his plan of recruiting American settlers for the land to fruition, but his son, Stephen F.

Austin , brought over American families into Texas. Austin's colony was the most successful of several colonies authorized by the Mexican government. The Mexican government intended the new settlers to act as a buffer between the Tejano residents and the Comanches , but the non-Hispanic colonists tended to settle where there was decent farmland and trade connections with American Louisiana, which the United States had acquired in the Louisiana Purchase , rather than further west where they would have been an effective buffer against the Indians.

In , as a result of the large influx of American immigrants, the non-Hispanic outnumbered native Spanish speakers in the Texas territory. President Vicente Guerrero , a hero of Mexican independence, moved to gain more control over Texas and its influx of southern non-Hispanic colonists and discourage further immigration by abolishing slavery in Mexico. The settlers and many Mexican businessmen in the region rejected the demands, which led to Mexico closing Texas to additional immigration, which continued from the United States into Texas illegally. He decided to quash the semi-independence of Texas, having succeeded in doing so in Coahuila in , Mexico had merged Texas and Coahuila into the enormous state of Coahuila y Tejas.

Finally, Stephen F. Austin called Texians to arms, and they declared independence from Mexico in Texas consolidated its status as an independent republic and received official recognition from Britain, France, and the United States, which all advised Mexico not to try to reconquer the new nation. Most Texians wanted to join the United States of America, but annexation of Texas was contentious in the US Congress , where Whigs and Abolitionists were largely opposed, although neither group went so far as to deny funds for the war.

Public opinion about the war seems mixed. Writer Henry David Thoreau famously refused to pay a poll tax, spent a night in jail, and wrote an essay about it called, Civil Disobedience. Army and formed the Saint Patrick's Battalion to fight for Mexico. In Texas agreed to the offer of annexation by the US Congress and became the 28th state on December 29, When that offer was rejected, President Polk moved U.

The border of Texas as an independent state was originally never settled. The ill-fated Texan Santa Fe Expedition of attempted to realize the claim to New Mexican territory east of the Rio Grande, but its members were captured and imprisoned. Reference to the Rio Grande boundary of Texas was omitted from the US Congress's annexation resolution to help secure passage after the annexation treaty failed in the Senate. President Polk claimed the Rio Grande boundary, and when Mexico sent forces over the Rio Grande, this provoked a dispute.

Polk wanted to protect the border and also coveted for the U. At the same time Polk wrote to the American consul in the Mexican territory of Alta California, disclaiming American ambitions in California, but offering to support independence from Mexico or voluntary accession to the United States, and warning that the United States would oppose a British or French takeover. To end another war scare with the United Kingdom over the Oregon Country , Polk signed the Oregon Treaty dividing the territory, angering northern Democrats who felt he was prioritizing Southern expansion over Northern expansion.

In the winter of —46, the federally commissioned explorer John C. After telling the Mexican governor and the American Consul Larkin he was merely buying supplies on the way to Oregon, he instead went to the populated area of California and visited Santa Cruz and the Salinas Valley , explaining he had been looking for a seaside home for his mother. US expansionists wanted California to thwart British ambitions in the area and to gain a port on the Pacific Ocean.

Mexico was not inclined nor able to negotiate. In alone, the presidency changed hands four times, the war ministry six times, and the finance ministry sixteen times. When de Herrera considered receiving Slidell to settle the problem of Texas annexation peacefully, he was accused of treason and deposed. After a more nationalistic government under General Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga came to power, it publicly reaffirmed Mexico's claim to Texas; [31] Slidell, convinced that Mexico should be "chastised", returned to the US. The Mexican Army emerged from the war of independence — as a weak and divided force.

Before the war with the United States, the military faced both internal and foreign challenges. In general, the military supported conservative positions, advocating for a strong central government and upholding privileges of the military and the Catholic Church. Some military men exercised power in local areas as caudillos and resisted central command.

The French blockaded Veracruz in to collect debts, a conflict known to history as the Pastry War. Compounding the demands on the Mexican military, there were continuing Indian challenges to power in the northern region. On the Mexican side, only 7 of the 19 states that formed the Mexican federation sent soldiers, armament, and money for the war effort, as the young Republic had not yet developed a sense of a unifying, national identity. Mexican soldiers were not easily melded into an effective fighting force. Santa Anna said "the leaders of the army did their best to train the rough men who volunteered, but they could do little to inspire them with patriotism for the glorious country they were honored to serve.

The artillery hardly ever maneuvered and never fired a blank shot. The general in command was never present on the field of maneuvers, so that he was unable to appreciate the respective qualities of the various bodies under his command If any meetings of the principal commanding officers were held to discuss the operations of the campaign, it was not known, nor was it known whether any plan of campaign had been formed. At the beginning of the war, Mexican forces were divided between the permanent forces permanentes and the active militiamen activos.

The permanent forces consisted of 12 regiments of infantry of two battalions each , three brigades of artillery, eight regiments of cavalry, one separate squadron and a brigade of dragoons. The militia amounted to nine infantry and six cavalry regiments. In the northern territories of Mexico, presidial companies presidiales protected the scattered settlements there. One of the contributing factors to loss of the war by Mexico was the inferiority of their weapons.

The Mexican army was using surplus British muskets e. Brown Bess from the Napoleonic Wars period. While at the beginning of the war the majority of American soldiers were still equipped with the very similar Springfield flintlock muskets, more reliable caplock models gained large inroads within the rank and file as the conflict progressed.

Some US troops carried radically modern weapons that gave them a significant advantage over their Mexican counterparts, such as the Springfield rifle of the Mississippi Rifles and the Colt Paterson revolver of the Texas Rangers. Most significantly, throughout the war, the superiority of the US artillery often carried the day.

While technologically Mexican and American artillery operated on the same plane, US army training, as well as the quality and reliability of their logistics, gave US guns and cannoneers a significant edge. Desertion was a major problem for the Mexican army, depleting forces on the eve of battle. Most soldiers were peasants who held loyalty to their village and family, but not to the generals who had conscripted them. Often hungry and ill, underequipped, only partially trained, and never well paid, the soldiers were held in contempt by their officers and had little reason to fight the invading US forces.

Looking for their opportunity, many slipped away from camp to find their way back to their home village. In his memoirs, former US President Ulysses Grant himself a veteran of the Mexican war attributed Mexico's defeat to the poor quality of their army, writing:. The private soldier was picked from the lower class of the inhabitants when wanted; his consent was not asked; he was poorly clothed, worse fed, and seldom paid. He was turned adrift when no longer wanted.

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The officers of the lower grades were but little superior to the men. With all this I have seen as brave stands made by some of these men as I have ever seen made by soldiers. Now Mexico has a standing army larger than the United States. They have a military school modeled after West Point. Their officers are educated and, no doubt, very brave. The Mexican war of —8 would be an impossibility in this generation. Women who traveled with the men in the Mexican army were known as soldaderas. While they only carried their packs, there were recorded instances where the soldaderas would join in the battle alongside the men.

These women were involved in street fighting during the defense of Mexico City and Monterey. Political divisions inside Mexico were another factor in the U. Inside Mexico, the centralistas and republicanos vied for power, and at times these two factions inside Mexico's military fought each other rather than the invading U. Another faction called the monarchists , whose members wanted to install a monarch some advocated rejoining Spain , further complicated matters.

This third faction would rise to predominance in the period of the French intervention in Mexico. The ease of the U. As Gen. Santa Anna said, "However shameful it may be to admit this, we have brought this disgraceful tragedy upon ourselves through our interminable in-fighting. On the U. At the beginning of the war, the US Army had eight regiments of infantry three battalions each , four artillery regiments and three mounted regiments two dragoons, one of mounted rifles. These regiments were supplemented by 10 new regiments nine of infantry and one of cavalry raised for one year of service by the act of Congress from February 11, State volunteers were raised in various sized units and for various periods of time, mostly for one year.

Later some were raised for the duration of the war as it became clear it was going to last longer than a year. There were two reasons for this. Both General Scott and General Taylor had such armies as are not often got together. At the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca-de-la-Palma, General Taylor had a small army, but it was composed exclusively of regular troops, under the best of drill and discipline.

Every officer, from the highest to the lowest, was educated in his profession, not at West Point necessarily, but in the camp, in garrison, and many of them in Indian wars. The rank and file were probably inferior, as material out of which to make an army, to the volunteers that participated in all the later battles of the war; but they were brave men, and then drill and discipline brought out all there was in them.

A better army, man for man, probably never faced an enemy than the one commanded by General Taylor in the earliest two engagements of the Mexican war. The volunteers who followed were of better material, but without drill or discipline at the start. They were associated with so many disciplined men and professionally educated officers, that when they went into engagements it was with a confidence they would not have felt otherwise.

They became soldiers themselves almost at once. All these conditions we would enjoy again in case of war. US soldiers' memoirs describe cases of looting and murder of Mexican civilians, mostly by State Volunteers. One officer's diary records:. We reached Burrita about 5 pm, many of the Louisiana volunteers were there, a lawless drunken rabble. They had driven away the inhabitants, taken possession of their houses, and were emulating each other in making beasts of themselves.

John L. O'Sullivan , a vocal proponent of Manifest Destiny, later recalled:. The regulars regarded the volunteers with importance and contempt Many of the volunteers were unwanted and considered poor soldiers. The expression "Just like Gaines's army" came to refer to something useless, the phrase having originated when a group of untrained and unwilling Louisiana troops were rejected and sent back by Gen.

Taylor at the beginning of the war. In , after Polk ordered General Taylor's troops into the disputed territory, Mexican forces attacked an American Army outpost " Thornton Affair " in the occupied territory, killing 12 U. These same Mexican troops later laid siege to an American fort along the Rio Grande. President Polk ordered General Taylor and his forces south to the Rio Grande, entering the territory that Mexicans disputed.

However, Mexico rejected the treaties and refused to negotiate, instead still claiming all of Texas. The Mexican forces under General Santa Anna immediately prepared for war. On April 25, , a 2,man Mexican cavalry detachment attacked a man U. In the Thornton Affair , the Mexican cavalry routed the patrol, killing 11 American soldiers. Regarding the beginning of the war, Ulysses S. Grant , who had opposed the war but served as an army lieutenant in Taylor's Army, claims in his Personal Memoirs that the main goal of the U.

Army's advance from Nueces River to Rio Grande was to provoke the outbreak of war without attacking first, to debilitate any political opposition to the war. The presence of United States troops on the edge of the disputed territory farthest from the Mexican settlements, was not sufficient to provoke hostilities. We were sent to provoke a fight, but it was essential that Mexico should commence it. It was very doubtful whether Congress would declare war; but if Mexico should attack our troops, the Executive could announce, "Whereas, war exists by the acts of, etc.

Once initiated there were but few public men who would have the courage to oppose it. Mexico showing no willingness to come to the Nueces to drive the invaders from her soil, it became necessary for the "invaders" to approach to within a convenient distance to be struck. Accordingly, preparations were begun for moving the army to the Rio Grande, to a point near Matamoras [ sic ].

It was desirable to occupy a position near the largest centre of population possible to reach, without absolutely invading territory to which we set up no claim whatever. A few days after the defeat of the U. Mexican artillery at Matamoros opened fire on Fort Texas, which replied with its own guns. The bombardment continued for hours [56] and expanded as Mexican forces gradually surrounded the fort.

Thirteen U. On May 8, Zachary Taylor and 2, troops arrived to relieve the fort. Army employed "flying artillery", their term for horse artillery , a type of mobile light artillery that was mounted on horse carriages with the entire crew riding horses into battle. It had a devastating effect on the Mexican army. In contrast to the "flying artillery" of the Americans, the Mexican cannons at the Battle of Palo Alto fired at such slow velocities that it was possible for American soldiers to dodge artillery rounds.

It provided a natural fortification, but during the retreat, Mexican troops were scattered, making communication difficult. During the Battle of Resaca de la Palma the next day, the two sides engaged in fierce hand-to-hand combat. Cavalry managed to capture the Mexican artillery, causing the Mexican side to retreat—a retreat that turned into a rout. Mexican casualties were heavy, and the Mexicans were forced to abandon their artillery and baggage.

Fort Brown inflicted additional casualties as the withdrawing troops passed by the fort. Many Mexican soldiers drowned trying to swim across the Rio Grande. In , relations between the two countries had deteriorated considerably and on April 23, , the president of Mexico issued a proclamation, declaring Mexico's intent to fight a "defensive war" against the encroachment of the United States.

Congress approved the declaration of war on May 13, , after a few hours of debate, with southern Democrats in strong support. Sixty-seven Whigs voted against the war on a key slavery amendment, [64] but on the final passage only 14 Whigs voted no, [64] including Rep. John Quincy Adams. In Mexico, although President Paredes issued a manifesto on May 23, , and a declaration of a defensive war on April 23, both of which are considered by some the de facto start of the war, Mexico officially declared war by Congress on July 7, After the U.

Santa Anna returned to Mexico taking his place at the head of the army. Once in this position, he went back on his word, declaring himself president. As president, Santa Anna made an unsuccessful attempt to fight off the U. Santa Anna left for Veracruz in August The people of Mexico did not focus on Santa Anna's many military shortcomings and betrayals, opting to see him as a hero that never abandoned his people when they needed him most. Despite his history of corruption, local people often cite Santa Anna as one of the most reliable people when it came to protecting Mexico from invasion. In the United States, increasingly divided by sectional rivalry, the war was a partisan issue and an essential element in the origins of the American Civil War.

Most Whigs in the North and South opposed it; [66] most Democrats supported it. O'Sullivan , editor of the Democratic Review , coined this phrase in its context, stating that it must be "our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions. Northern antislavery elements feared the expansion of the Southern Slave Power ; Whigs generally wanted to strengthen the economy with industrialization, not expand it with more land.

Adams had first voiced concerns about expanding into Mexican territory in when he opposed Texas annexation. He continued this argument in for the same reason. War with Mexico would add new slavery territory to the nation. When the vote to go to war with Mexico came to a vote on May 13, Adams spoke a resounding "No!

Only 13 others followed his lead. However, he later voted for war appropriations. Ex-slave Frederick Douglass opposed the war and was dismayed by the weakness of the anti-war movement. None seem willing to take their stand for peace at all risks. Democrats wanted more land; northern Democrats were attracted by the possibilities in the far northwest. Joshua Giddings led a group of dissenters in Washington D. He called the war with Mexico "an aggressive, unholy, and unjust war", and voted against supplying soldiers and weapons. He said: "In the murder of Mexicans upon their own soil, or in robbing them of their country, I can take no part either now or hereafter.

The guilt of these crimes must rest on others. I will not participate in them. Fellow Whig Abraham Lincoln contested Polk's causes for the war. Polk had said that Mexico had "shed American blood upon American soil". Lincoln submitted eight " Spot Resolutions ", demanding that Polk state the exact spot where Thornton had been attacked and American blood shed, and clarify whether or not that location was actually American soil, or in fact had been claimed by Spain and Mexico. Lincoln, too, refused to actually stop money for men or supplies. Whig Senator Thomas Corwin of Ohio gave a long speech indicting presidential war in We charge the President with usurping the war-making power Let us put a check upon this lust of dominion.

We had territory enough, Heaven knew. Northern abolitionists attacked the war as an attempt by slave-owners to strengthen the grip of slavery and thus ensure their continued influence in the federal government. Prominent artists and writers opposed the war. Thoreau, who served jail time for his opposition, turned a lecture into an essay now known as Civil Disobedience.

Emerson was succinct, predicting that, "The United States will conquer Mexico, but it will be as a man who swallowed the arsenic which brings him down in turn. Mexico will poison us. Democratic Representative David Wilmot introduced the Wilmot Proviso , which would prohibit slavery in new territory acquired from Mexico. Wilmot's proposal passed the House but not the Senate, and it spurred further hostility between the factions. Besides alleging that the actions of Mexican military forces within the disputed boundary lands north of the Rio Grande constituted an attack on American soil, the war's advocates viewed the territories of New Mexico and California as only nominally Mexican possessions with very tenuous ties to Mexico.

They saw the territories as actually unsettled, ungoverned, and unprotected frontier lands, whose non-aboriginal population, where there was any at all, represented a substantial—in places even a majority—American component. Moreover, the territories were feared to be under imminent threat of acquisition by America's rival on the continent, the British. He also elaborated upon the many outstanding financial claims by American citizens against Mexico and argued that, in view of the country's insolvency, the cession of some large portion of its northern territories was the only indemnity realistically available as compensation.

This helped to rally congressional Democrats to his side, ensuring passage of his war measures and bolstering support for the war in the U. The Mexican—American War was the first U. Mexican coverage of the war both written by Mexicans and Americans based in Mexico was affected by press censorship, first by the Mexican government and later by the American military.

The coverage of the war was an important development in the U. The most important of these was George Wilkins Kendall , a Northerner who wrote for the New Orleans Picayune , and whose collected Dispatches from the Mexican War constitute an important primary source for the conflict. Moreover, Shelley Streetby demonstrates that the print revolution s—s , which preceded the U. Along with written accounts of the war, there were war artists giving a visual dimension to the war at the time and immediately afterward.

Carl Nebel 's visual depictions of the war are well known. By getting constant reports from the battlefield, Americans became emotionally united as a community. News about the war always caused extraordinary popular excitement. In the Spring of , news about Zachary Taylor's victory at Palo Alto brought up a large crowd that met in a cotton textile town of Lowell, Massachusetts. Among fireworks and illuminations, they had a "grand procession" of about , people.

After the declaration of war on May 13, , U. War Department sent a U. Cavalry force under Stephen W. This was done primarily because of concerns that the British might also try to seize the area. Two more forces, one under John E.

The Mexican-American War - AP US History - Khan Academy

Wool and the other under Taylor, were ordered to occupy Mexico as far south as the city of Monterrey. In Santa Fe, Governor Manuel Armijo wanted to avoid battle, but on August 9, Catholic priests , Diego Archuleta the young regular-army commander , and the young militia officers Manuel Chaves and Miguel Pino forced him to muster a defense. An American named James Magoffin claimed he had convinced Armijo and Archuleta to follow this course; [83] an unverified story says he bribed Armijo. Kearny and his troops encountered no Mexican forces when they arrived on August Kearny declared himself the military governor of the New Mexico Territory on August 18 and established a civilian government.

American officers with a background in law drew up a temporary legal system for the territory called the Kearny Code. Kearny then took the remainder of his army west to Alta California. He appointed Charles Bent as New Mexico's first territorial governor. Following Kearny's departure, dissenters in Santa Fe plotted a Christmas uprising.

When the plans were discovered by the U. They attracted numerous Indian allies, including Puebloan peoples , who also wanted to push the Americans from the territory. On the morning of January 19, , the insurrectionists began the revolt in Don Fernando de Taos, present-day Taos, New Mexico , which later gave it the name the Taos Revolt.

Romero led an Indian force to the house of Governor Charles Bent , where they broke down the door, shot Bent with arrows, and scalped him in front of his family. They moved on, leaving Bent still alive. With his wife Ignacia and children, and the wives of friends Kit Carson and Thomas Boggs, the group escaped by digging through the adobe walls of their house into the one next door. When the insurgents discovered the party, they killed Bent, but left the women and children unharmed. The next day a large armed force of approximately New Mexicans and Pueblo attacked and laid siege to Simeon Turley's mill in Arroyo Hondo , several miles outside of Taos.

Charles Autobees , an employee at the mill, saw the men coming. He rode to Santa Fe for help from the occupying U. Eight to ten mountain men were left at the mill for defense. Both escaped separately on foot during the night. The same day New Mexican insurgents killed seven American traders who were passing through the village of Mora. At most, 15 Americans were killed in both actions on January Price led more than U. Vrain , the business partner of the brothers William and Charles Bent.

The insurgents retreated to Taos Pueblo , where they took refuge in the thick-walled adobe church. During the ensuing battle , the U. They captured more men after close hand-to-hand fighting. Only seven Americans died in the battle. A separate force of U. Hendley and Jesse I. Morin campaigned against the rebels in Mora.

The Americans attacked again in the Second Battle of Mora and won, which ended their operations against Mora. New Mexican rebels engaged U. Although the U. American consul Thomas O. Captain John C. Army topographical expedition to survey the Great Basin , entered the Sacramento Valley in December Mexico had issued a proclamation that unnaturalized foreigners were no longer permitted to have land in California and were subject to expulsion.

Within a week, 70 more volunteers joined the rebels' force, [95] which grew to nearly in early July. Ide , became known as the Bear Flag Revolt. Commodore John D. Sloat , commander of the U. Navy's Pacific Squadron, near Mazatlan, Mexico, had received orders to seize San Francisco Bay and blockade California ports when he was positive that war had begun.

On July 9, 70 sailors and marines landed at Yerba Buena and raised the American flag. Later that day in Sonoma, the Bear Flag was lowered and the American flag was raised in its place. Stockton , who was more militarily aggressive. Stockton's army entered Los Angeles unopposed on August 13, whereupon he sent a report to the Secretary of State that "California is entirely free from Mexican dominion. Stockton arrived with reinforcements at San Pedro, which increased the American forces there to Meanwhile, U.

Colonel Stephen W. Kearny and his force of about men, who had performed a grueling march across New Mexico and the Sonoran Desert , crossed the Colorado River in late November, Army entered Los Angeles to no resistance. After upper California was secure, most of the Pacific Squadron proceeded down the California coast, capturing all major cities of the Baja California Territory and capturing or destroying nearly all Mexican vessels in the Gulf of California. Other ports, not on the peninsula, were taken as well. Numerous Mexican ships were also captured by this squadron, with the USS Cyane given credit for 18 ships captured and numerous destroyed.

Within a month, they cleared the Gulf of hostile ships, destroying or capturing 30 vessels. Following reinforcement, Lt.

The Mexican War 1846-1848

Henry S. Burton marched out. His forces rescued captured Americans, captured Pineda, and, on March 31, defeated and dispersed remaining Mexican forces at the Skirmish of Todos Santos , unaware that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo had been signed in February and a truce agreed to on March 6. When the U. Santa Anna promised the U. Then, after being appointed commanding general, he reneged again and seized the presidency.

Led by Zachary Taylor, 2, U. His soldiers occupied the city of Matamoros , then Camargo where the soldiery suffered the first of many problems with disease and then proceeded south and besieged the city of Monterrey. The hard-fought Battle of Monterrey resulted in serious losses on both sides. The American light artillery was ineffective against the stone fortifications of the city. American soldiers, including many West Pointers, had never engaged in urban warfare before and they marched straight down the open streets, where they were annihilated by Mexican defenders well-hidden in Monterrey's thick adobe homes.

In other words, they needed to punch holes in the side or roofs of the homes and fight hand to hand inside the structures. Taylor agreed to allow the Mexican Army to evacuate and to an eight-week armistice in return for the surrender of the city. Under pressure from Washington, Taylor broke the armistice and occupied the city of Saltillo, southwest of Monterrey.

Santa Anna blamed the loss of Monterrey and Saltillo on Ampudia and demoted him to command a small artillery battalion. On February 22, , Santa Anna personally marched north to fight Taylor with 20, men. Taylor, with 4, men, had entrenched at a mountain pass called Buena Vista. Santa Anna suffered desertions on the way north and arrived with 15, men in a tired state.

He demanded and was refused surrender of the U. Army; he attacked the next morning. Santa Anna flanked the U. Furious fighting ensued, during which the U. Polk mistrusted Taylor, who he felt had shown incompetence in the Battle of Monterrey by agreeing to the armistice. Taylor later used the Battle of Buena Vista as the centerpiece of his successful presidential campaign. On March 1, , Alexander W. Doniphan occupied Chihuahua City.

British consul John Potts did not want to let Doniphan search Governor Trias's mansion, and unsuccessfully asserted it was under British protection. American merchants in Chihuahua wanted the American force to stay in order to protect their business. Major William Gilpin advocated a march on Mexico City and convinced a majority of officers, but Doniphan subverted this plan.

The American merchants either followed or returned to Santa Fe. Along the way, the townspeople of Parras enlisted Doniphan's aid against an Indian raiding party that had taken children, horses, mules, and money. The civilian population of northern Mexico offered little resistance to the American invasion, possibly because the country had already been devastated by Comanche and Apache Indian raids. Josiah Gregg , who was with the American army in northern Mexico, said that "the whole country from New Mexico to the borders of Durango is almost entirely depopulated.

The haciendas and ranchos have been mostly abandoned, and the people chiefly confined to the towns and cities. Southern Mexico had a large indigenous population and was geographically distant from the capital. These issues factored into the Mexican—American War. Navy contributed to the war by controlling the coast and clearing the way for U. Even before hostilities began in the disputed northern region, the U. Navy created a blockade.

Given the shallow waters of that portion of the Gulf coast, the U. Navy needed ships with a shallow draft rather than large frigates. Since the Mexican Navy was almost non-existent, the U. Navy could operate unimpeded in Gulf waters. Commodore Matthew C. Perry led a detachment of seven vessels along the northern coast of Tabasco state. Perry arrived at the Tabasco River now known as the Grijalva River on October 22, , and seized the town Port of Frontera along with two of their ships.

Leaving a small garrison, he advanced with his troops towards the town of San Juan Bautista Villahermosa today. Colonel Juan Bautista Traconis, Tabasco Departmental commander at that time, set up barricades inside the buildings. Perry realized that the bombing of the city would be the only option to drive out the Mexican Army, and to avoid damage to the merchants of the city, withdrew its forces preparing them for the next day. On the morning of October 26, as Perry's fleet prepared to start the attack on the city, the Mexican forces began firing at the American fleet.

Before taking the square, Perry decided to leave and return to the port of Frontera , where he established a naval blockade to prevent supplies of food and military supplies from reaching the state capital. On June 13, , Commodore Perry assembled the Mosquito Fleet and began moving towards the Grijalva River , towing 47 boats that carried a landing force of 1, Again at an "S" curve in the river known as the "Devil's Bend", Perry encountered Mexican fire from a river fortification known as the Colmena redoubt, but the fleet's heavy naval guns quickly dispersed the Mexican force.

The attack included two ships that sailed past the fort and began shelling it from the rear. David D. Porter led 60 sailors ashore and seized the fort, raising the American flag over the works. Perry and the landing force arrived and took control of the city around In Maya revolted against the white elites of the peninsula in a racial war known as the Caste War of Yucatan.

Jefferson Davis , then a senator from Mississippi, argued in congress that the president needed no further powers to intervene in Yucatan since the war with Mexico was underway. Davis's concern was strategic and part of his vision of Manifest Destiny, considering the Gulf of Mexico "a basin of water belonging to the United States" and continuing "the cape of Yucatan and the island of Cuba must be ours" rather than under British influence. Desertion was a major problem for the Mexican Army, depleting forces on the eve of battle.

Most soldiers were peasants who had a loyalty to their village and family, but not to the generals who had conscripted them. Often hungry and ill, underequipped, only partially trained, and never well paid, the soldiers were held in contempt by their officers and had little reason to fight the Americans. The desertion rate in the U. Army was 8. Some deserted because of the miserable conditions in camp. It has been suggested that others used the army to get free transportation to California, where they deserted to join the gold rush; [] this, however, is unlikely as gold was only discovered in California on January 24, , less than two weeks before the war concluded.

Several hundred U. Nearly all were recent immigrants from Europe with weak ties to the U. The Mexicans issued broadsides and leaflets enticing U. Mexican guerrillas shadowed the U. Army and captured men who took unauthorized leave or fell out of the ranks. The guerrillas coerced these men to join the Mexican ranks.

The generous promises proved illusory for most deserters, who risked being executed if captured by U. The most famous group of deserters from the U. Army, was the Saint Patrick's Battalion or San Patricios , composed primarily of several hundred immigrant soldiers, the majority Catholic Irish and German immigrants, who deserted the U. Army because of ill-treatment or sympathetic leanings to fellow Mexican Catholics and joined the Mexican army. Most of the battalion were killed in the Battle of Churubusco ; about were captured by the U. Rather than reinforce Taylor's army for a continued advance, President Polk sent a second army under General Winfield Scott , which was transported to the port of Veracruz by sea, to begin an invasion of the Mexican heartland.

On March 9, , Scott performed the first major amphibious landing in U. A group of 12, volunteer and regular soldiers successfully offloaded supplies, weapons, and horses near the walled city using specially designed landing crafts. Included in the invading force were Robert E. Lee , George Meade , Ulysses S. The city was defended by Mexican General Juan Morales with 3, men.

Mortars and naval guns under Commodore Matthew C. Perry were used to reduce the city walls and harass defenders. After a bombardment on March 24, , the walls of Veracruz had a thirty-foot gap. The effect of the extended barrage destroyed the will of the Mexican side to fight against a numerically superior force, and they surrendered the city after 12 days under siege.

Santa Anna had entrenched with 12, troops, and artillery that were trained on the road, where he expected Scott to appear. However, Scott had sent 2, mounted dragoons ahead and they reached the pass on April The Mexican artillery prematurely fired on them and therefore revealed their positions, beginning the Battle of Cerro Gordo. Instead of taking the main road, Scott's troops trekked through the rough terrain to the north, setting up his artillery on the high ground and quietly flanking the Mexicans.

Although by then aware of the positions of U. In the battle fought on April 18, the Mexican army was routed. Army suffered casualties, while the Mexicans suffered over 1, casualties and 3, were taken prisoner. They can do nothing and their continued defeats should convince them of it. They have lost six great battles; we have captured six hundred and eight cannon, nearly one hundred thousand stands of arms, made twenty thousand prisoners, have the greatest portion of their country and are fast advancing on their Capital which must be ours,—yet they refuse to treat [i.

In May, Scott pushed on to Puebla, the second largest city in Mexico. Because of the citizens' hostility to Santa Anna, the city capitulated without resistance on May 1. During the following months, Scott gathered supplies and reinforcements at Puebla and sent back units whose enlistments had expired.

Scott also made strong efforts to keep his troops disciplined and treat the Mexican people under occupation justly, so as to prevent a popular rising against his army.

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Those weary, hungry, thirsty, ragged soldiers established the first practical wagon road to the Pacific coast—another lasting contribution to the American West. But there are few who have the boldness to express these opinions publicly, or who [would] be willing to stem the current popular prejudice by undertaking to carry them out. The American Panic of was an economic downturn that caused a sudden drop in demand for Mexican copper, silver, gold, zinc, and other metals. Apart from the pyramidal structures, Teotihuacan is also known for its large residential complexes, the Avenue of the Dead, and numerous colorful, well-preserved murals. In northern Mexico, the end of Spanish rule was marked by the end of financing for presidios and for gifts to Native Americans to maintain the peace. This kind of discipline was considered beneath the dignity of free citizens and more appropriate for slaves and the quasi-slaves that regular soldiers were believed to be. Such service was reserved for men who could not attain these goals and the citizenship that came with them.

With guerrillas harassing his line of communications back to Veracruz, Scott decided not to weaken his army to defend Puebla but, leaving only a garrison at Puebla to protect the sick and injured recovering there, advanced on Mexico City on August 7 with his remaining force. The capital was laid open in a series of battles around the right flank of the city defenses, the Battle of Contreras and Battle of Churubusco. After Churubusco, fighting halted for an armistice and peace negotiations, which broke down on September 6, With the subsequent battles of Molino del Rey and of Chapultepec , and the storming of the city gates , the capital was occupied.

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Scott became military governor of occupied Mexico City. His victories in this campaign made him an American national hero. At this time, this castle was a renowned military school in Mexico City. Although not confirmed by historians, six military cadets between the ages of 13 and 17 stayed in the school instead of evacuating.

Rather than surrender to the U. Army, some military cadets leaped from the castle walls. A cadet named Juan Escutia wrapped himself in the Mexican flag and jumped to his death. In late September , Santa Anna made one last attempt to defeat the Americans, by cutting them off from the coast. Joseph Lane prompted Santa Anna to stop him. Puebla was relieved by Gen. The battle was Santa Anna's last. He strengthened the garrison of Puebla and by November had added a man garrison at Jalapa , established man posts along the National Road, the main route between the port of Veracruz and the capital, at the pass between Mexico City and Puebla at Rio Frio , at Perote and San Juan on the road between Jalapa and Puebla, and at Puente Nacional between Jalapa and Veracruz.

Joseph Lane to carry the war to the Light Corps and other guerrillas. He ordered that convoys would travel with at least 1,man escorts. Later a raid against the guerrillas of Padre Jarauta at Zacualtipan February 25, further reduced guerrilla raids on the American line of communications. After the two governments concluded a truce to await ratification of the peace treaty, on March 6, , formal hostilities ceased.

However, some bands continued in defiance of the Mexican government until the American evacuation in August. Cuevas, Bernardo Couto, and Miguel Atristain, ended the war. The treaty gave the U.