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Brief History Mexican War along the Rio Grande
Posted by: Nancy Beck Date: February 22, 2002 at 17:38:50
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American Invasion of Mexico
Anticipating a rupture with Mexico, the United States sent Gen. Zacariah Taylor from Fort Jessup, La., to Corpus Christi, Texas. In February, 1846, General Taylor started southward with part of his forces from Corpus overland, sending his supplies and munitions by the boat Woodbury, and the remainder by sea to Brazos de Santiago and Point Isabel (about 20 miles east from Brownsville). On his march south the army encamped at Rancho Santa Gertrudis, then occupied by Mexicans but for many years past the home of Mrs. H. M. King, the largest land and cattle owner in the South. Thence southward he traveled parallel with what is now the line of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway to a point on the Arroyo Colorado called Paso Real, about 34 miles north from Brownsville.
He arrived at a point about 12 miles north of Brownsville on March 24, 1846, and leaving the bulk of his army there, proceeded in person to Fronton (now Point Isabel). There he reinforced his supplies, returned, incorporated with his entire command and proceeded south to Brownsville, then a part of the town commons of Matamoros. He engaged his army from the date of his arrival, March 28, in constructing what was afterwards named Fort Brown in commemoration of Major Jacob Brown who lost his life in its defense. In the meantime General Arista and General Pedro Ampudia, of the Mexican armies, arrived at Matamoros with a total of 5,200 men and 26 pieces of artillery. On April 10, 1846, Colonel Cross of the US Quartermaster's department was waylaid and killed just west of what is now the site of the Brownsville waterworks. The murder was laid at the door of Mexican guerrillas. Lieutenant Porter with a squad of his men went out to look for the body. They were ambushed, Porter and one soldier killed, and the others taken prisoner. General Arista concentrated the Mexican cavalry to gather at Rancho Soliseno, south of the Rio Grande, 26 miles west from Matamoros, also sending the engineer corps and two companies of Light Artillery there. With a view to cut off Taylor's supplies, he crossed from Soliseno on April 24 and took a position on the Point Isabel road near Loma Alta (9 miles north of Brownsville) Taylor, upon hearing of this move, sent Captain Thornton out with a detachment to investigate. Thornton and his men got as far as the river opposite to Soliseno, where they in turn were ambushed. Here Lieutenant Mason and 16 men were killed or wounded and Thornton and his men taken prisoners. On the twenty-eighth, a part of Walker's Texas rangers also met a force of the Mexicans just north of the Loma Alta and in an engagement several men were killed on each side.
Taylor with his army, except some fifty men left at Fort Brown under command of Major Jacob Brown, left the Fort on the first of May destined to Point Isabel where he, believed the fresh salt atmosphere would recuperate the sick, and to look after his supplies. He also wished to protect his line of communication with the Point.
Palo Alto -- Two brigades under Ampudia and Arista crossed from Longoreno, 10 miles east of Matamoros, on the first of May, and believing that Taylor was about to withdraw were determined to drive him and his army out of the territory. Leaving a great number of men with seven cannon to attack Brown the bulk of the Mexican army proceeded north to Loma Alta. During the incessant bombardment or Fort Brown, the commander was mortally wounded and the garrison about to surrender. Taylor, anticipating this and having received news of the Mexican movements, departed from Point Isabel on May 7. On the eighth, the Americans and Mexicans confronted each other on the battlefield of Pale Alto, an extensive prairie 9 miles north of Brownsville, just west of Loma Alta. This prairie extends northward from the Resaca Rancho Viejo, which is only 6 miles north from Brownsville. Unable to avail himself of the water in the Resaca, Taylor camped near the Pale Alto Resaca, 10 miles north of Brownsville and about two miles southeast from the Los Fresnos townsite, then a mere ranch.
Soon after the battle opened, Taylor brought his artillery to within seven hundred yards of the Mexicans and mowed their solid ranks of infantry. The Mexican right rested on the west end of Loma Alto hill and his left on the edge of an impassable marsh, a mile distant from the hill. Taylor endeavored to flank the enemy's left wing and to effect a crossing of the Resaca Rancho Viejo west of the Marsh. At dusk when the battle ceased, honors were about divided. When the battle began there were but 3,000 Mexican soldiers (p.28){insert Map} present, but soon thereafter Ampudia came up with his reinforcements and the total number opposed to the Americans was 5,000.
The Mexican loss was 102 killed and 127 wounded. The American loss was 9 killed and 44 wounded, among the killed being Major Ringgold of the 4th U. S. artillery, and Captain Page.
Resaca la Palm -- During the early hours of May 9, the Mexicans retired southward and made a stand at Guerrero, since known in history as Resaca de la Palma. Here they planted three cannon on the north bank of the Resaca and the greater part of the Infantry, supporting these with four cannon on the south side of the Resaca distributed on each side of the road from Point Isabel, and with the remainder of the infantry protected behind the banks of the Resaca. The cavalry was distributed along the western turn of the Resaca, and a body called Defensores de Tampico were entrenched and hidden in the woods west of the old road which came south from Resaca Rancho Viejo in the direction of Brownsville. In front and to the north of the position taken by the Mexicans there was, and still is, a prairie about three miles in length then covered with sacahuiste (wire) grass, and to the west along the road on both sides, quite a chaparral of mesquite, ebony, and other native woods. Ridgeley’s battery was with great difficulty transported over this prairie, the grass impeding progress. After the first discharges, unable to withstand the galling tire of the Mexican cannon, General Taylor ordered Captain May of the dragoons to charge the position. This he successfully did, his men galloping, four abreast along the narrow winding road, and capturing General La Vega and routing the Mexicans whose army fled in great disorder followed by the Americans. They crossed 9 miles west of Brownsville, 1 mile west, 6 miles east and 14 miles east, many drowning in their attempts to ford the Rio Grande.
The American loss in the battle of Resaca de la Palma was 39 killed and 83 wounded. The Mexican loss on the battlefield, 160 killed and 228 wounded, more than two hundred missing. Both armies rested a few days, the Mexicans at Matamoros and the Americans at Brownsville and Ramireno (now within the city limits of Brownsville). In the exchanges of prisoners, Thornton and his men were delivered to Taylor's army.
Taylor in Mexico -- By May 17, the Mexican army now consisting of 4,000 regulars had evacuated Matamoros, and General Taylor crossed with his army on the eighteenth, the first Americans in Mexico.
In July, 1846, General Taylor and Staff were transported from Fort Brown (Brownsville) to Camargo (on the Rio Grande, 108 miles west from Brownsville) on the steamboat Corvette; Capt. Mifflin Kenedy, and the army marched overland arriving there on August 8, 1846. From Camargo, Gen. Taylor and his army began the march to Monterrey. En route, they stopped at Cerialvo (140 miles west from Brownsville) where some of Ampudia’s soldiers attempted to block the road and to check the advance. Monterrey -- On September 21, 1846, Gen. Worth carried the heights on which is situated the Bishop's Palace, Monterrey, 206 miles northwest of Matamoros. On the twenty-third, Generals Quitman and Butler assailed the front. Soon the American flag was floating over the Municipal hall in Monterrey, while the Mexicans fled in great disorder. Ampudia was granted the honors of war on condition that he should vacate the city, and he soon did this. An armistice of eight weeks was agreed on. When it had expired, it was found that the Mexicans had mustered a force of 20,000 men in the interior of the Republic.
Saltine -- On November 15, 1846, the Americans under General Worth captured Saltillo, about 300 miles northwest of Matamoros. Shortly afterwards, Victoria, capital of Tamaulipas, 220 miles southwest of Matamoros, was taken by Gen. Robert Patterson. In the meantime, Tampico, 335 miles south of Matamoros, on the gulf had capitulated to Captain Conner of the American flotilla.
Buena Vista -- On February 23, 1847, at Buena Vista, 25 miles south of Saltillo, another battle was fought and here again the Americans defeated the Mexican army. This was General Taylor's last battle, and he and his men soon returned to the Texas frontier.
Scott in Mexico -- On March 9, 1847, Gen. Winfield Scott, with about 12,000 men, landed near Vera Cruz. A fierce battle ensued, the batteries of San Juan d’Ulloa resisting for four days. Then the Mexicans surrendered. On April 8, 1847, the Americans set out towards Jalapa (on what is now the Inter-oceanic railway about 80 miles from Vera Cruz). On April 22, 1847, was fought the battle of Cerro Gordo where the Americans captured two fortified strongholds situated on the top of almost insurmountable peaks. On May 15, 1847, the Americans marched into Puebla about 200 miles west from Vera Cruz. On the twentieth of August 1847, the Americans captured Contreras, 8 miles from Mexico City, and on the same day, they took Churubusco, 3 miles from Mexico City. On September 13, Chapultepec was carried by storm, and on the fourteenth of September the American flag floated from the National Palace in the beautiful City of Mexico, 293 miles west from Vera Cruz.
After the capture of Mexico City by the Americans, a commission was named to negotiate for peace, and on February 2, 1848, it submitted its report, which later, March 16, 1848 was ratified by the president of the United States. This treaty recognized the Rio Grande as the boundary line between the United States and Mexico.

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