According to the American point of view, Mexico's claim to the territory was weak. Although the region had been part of the Spanish Empire for over years, it was sparsely populated. The first Spanish Missions were established in California only seventy years before the war and the secular government that came to power in Mexico had abolished even these meager outposts of civilization. Mexico did not want to lose the territory, but neither had it done much to establish its dominion over the region. In Texas was admitted to the union as a slave-state and immediately thereafter, Mexico declared War on the United States of America.
It was a symbolic gesture, however, since the Mexican government was in complete disarray and in no position to actually fight a war. Many Americans saw this as an excellent opportunity to gain territory so there was a large pro-war party that sought any excuse to justify American aggression. Meanwhile, President Polk sought to avert a war by purchasing the territories that the United States sought after, but his offer was indignantly refused.
In the meantime, American settlers flocked to California, intending to declare their settlement "independent", and thereby provoke a war. An excuse to declare war on Mexico presented itself when the U. This activity provoked an incident with the Mexican forces in the region and American war-hawks lost no time in declaring war and sending a ready battalion to the area. The first battles were at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma in the disputed territory. In the following months Taylor's troops fought a number of skirmishes including major battles at Monterrey and Buena Vista.
Mexican War Articles
Although he prevailed in every event, the Mexican government was not willing to negotiate peace on the terms offered by the United States. In order to bring the war to a close, Polk sent a fleet directly to Veracruz, a coastal town adjacent to Mexico City. The object of this expedition, led by Winfried Scott, was to force the Mexican government to accept American terms of surrender. A force of over 12, Americans besieged Veracruz, the most heavily fortified city in Mexico, and in six days gained a landing.
It was not until they actually entered Mexico City, after fighting several famous battles en route that they were able to force the Mexican government to concede to the secession of the Southwest quarter of the United States. Some Americans were puzzled at Mexico's refusal to negotiate any terms for a territory that they could not possibly defend. The reason for this political. Various parties were vying for power and the idea of surrender was so unpopular that any politician who even discussed it would be thrown immediately out of office.
So to most Mexican leaders, a bruising defeat was more politically viable than an unpopular surrender. The Mexicans were completely routed, at very small cost to the victors. The battle was hard fought but the tide turned for the Americans after a successful cavalry attack forced a retreat.
The Mexicans suffered killed and wounded, and captured.
The Americans suffered 33 killed and 90 wounded. The Americans occupied a series of heights commanding the Angostura pass, and were there attacked by Santa Anna, who failed to dislodge them, the day ending with the combatants occupying the same ground as in the morning. It made the general awareness of the war and what battles were lost or won known to a greater number of people.
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American troops used the new flying artillery: cannons and artillery soldiers that could move around the battlefield more quickly than ever before, starting to change the way battles were fought. The Mexican government insisted that the actual border was the Rio Nueces, miles to the north. The intervening Trans-Nueces region was an uninhibited wasteland of no particular economic interest to either government, but the 1,mile-long Rio Grande stretched all the way to the Rocky Mountains — using it as the border could expand Texas into an empire.
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The U. Neither did the Mexican government define it when, at the same time, Mexico offered the Republic of Texas provisional recognition if Texas refused to become part of the United States. Events developed slowly but steadily, and in August U. President James K. Polk sent an Army of Occupation under General Zachary Taylor to encamp at what is now Corpus Christi, just inside the southern boundary of the disputed Trans-Nueces territory. With later reinforcements, by spring of Taylor had nearly 4, soldiers, all regulars.
Meanwhile, in December Polk sent an emissary to the latest president of Mexico, General Jose Herrera, who had indicated a willingness to negotiate. Surely, the Mexican government would find such money irresistible? The Mexican press went ballistic — who put up a for sale sign? Herrera therefore did not dare receive Slidell.
To boost his damaged credibility, Herrera then ordered General Mariano Paredes in San Luis Potosi to march north to the disputed border. Paredes, indeed, did march. Dollar diplomacy having backfired, Polk told Taylor to move his army to the Rio Grande. Taylor sortied on March 8, On March 28, the force arrived at the Rio Grande opposite Matamoros, having made a side trip to seize a port for receiving supplies by sea at Point Isabel, 23 miles northeast of Matamoros on the Gulf of Mexico coast.
Built in a vague star shape with six corner bastions, the fort featured walls that were 9. Thousands of cubic yards of dirt had to be excavated with hand tools, causing the work to continue night and day. Although Matamoros had a garrison of about 3, Mexican soldiers, the two sides did not exchange gunfire. Paredes, following his coup in Mexico City, had dismissed the commander of the Matamoros area, General Mariano Arista a future president of Mexico , for not supporting his takeover. He then had General Pedro de Ampudia scrape together about 2, second-line troops left in San Luis Potosi and head north.
Being broke, the Mexican forces faced chronic shortages. When Arista returned, he decided to act immediately while he still held a numerical superiority over the American force, surmising correctly that Taylor would promptly ask for reinforcements. Hearing of the Mexican movement, Taylor sent scouting patrols upstream and downstream on April The following day, Thornton, leading the upstream patrol, was ambushed. Before the Mexican mounted force could do much more damage, Arista sent the men to a point 13 miles downstream from Matamoros to cover the planned crossing of his main infantry force, which began April Within two hours Taylor had his army on the road back to Point Isabel, hoping to secure it against the Mexican threat and then return to the fort with more supplies.
At the hastily finished fort, Taylor left an infantry regiment and three artillery batteries, totaling about soldiers. He reached Point Isabel around noon the next day, May 2.
Mexican War Facts
At about that same time, Arista finished crossing the river and set out toward Point Isabel, leaving a force under Ampudia to watch the fort. On May 3, Arista reached the Palo Alto area and found that he had missed Taylor, who had already passed through on his way to Point Isabel.
Also on May 3, the Mexican artillery bombardment of the fort began, continuing during daylight hours for the next six days. Then they headed back to the fort, traveling seven miles before camping. The flat prairie provided no protective cover, while thick, knee-high cord grass, scattered ponds and muddy ground restricted off-road movement.
Random clumps of brush offered only minimal concealment, but denser thickets did limit visibility to the west and south. Taylor formed the men on a line about 1, yards long, with the wagon train gathered in the rear. Two pounder cannon were in the middle of the line, along with two batteries of four six-pounders each. Employing well-rehearsed drills, they would dash up to a point near the enemy line just beyond musket range, fire several rounds into the opposing ranks and then dash away. Two eight-pounder guns and six four-pounders were scattered along the Mexican line.
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The Mexican artillery began firing about p. When the superior U.
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This was the theme for the rest of the day, as the excellent U. Arista tried to send cavalry around the west flank, but the Mexican horsemen literally bogged down in the muddy, broken terrain and were easily driven off. Combat operations there were halted between about 4 p. Arista then launched an attack on the east flank, but it too was unsuccessful and his retreating soldiers disrupted the Mexican line.
The superbly trained, aggressively led U. Mexican casualties totaled killed and wounded or missing.
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