Posts filed under ‘Mexican-American War’

SHAKO: WAR WITH MEXICO — 1846

Invasion.

On this date 175 years ago, August 17, 1846, Colonel Stephen W. Kearny, commanding the U.S. Army’s 1st Dragoons Regiment entered Santa Fe (in what is now the state of New Mexico) and occupied the town without resistance from the local populace.

Colonel Stephen Watts Kearny, U.S. Army 1st Dragoons (via wikipedia)

It was the first time since the War of 1812 that a large U.S. force crossed an international boundary to invade another country.

It was also the first time U.S. forces planned to take permanent control of an area populated by people who spoke a different language and generally had a different culture than that of the United States.

Kearny was dispatched from Fort Leavenworth (Kansas) to Santa Fe by President James Knox Polk on June 16, 1842. It was just a month since Congress passed war legislation and two battles had been fought in the disputed border area along the Rio Grande.

After a difficult, horse-killing trip with little water or forage along the Santa Fe Trail, Kearny issued a proclamation before he arrived in Santa Fe, that said in part, he came to “New Mexico with a large military force for the purpose of seeking union with, and ameliorating the condition of the inhabitants.” He advised the locals that “so long as they continue in such [cooperative] pursuits they … will be respected¬† in their rights, both civil and religious.”

Mexican-American War map.

The colonel wasted no time, however, building a fort overlooking the main plaza of Santa Fe to remind the New Mexicans and Indians — who had been raiding villages in the region — of U.S. authority.

This blog is the first in a series of, at first occasional and later regularly scheduled, posts taking a look at the war between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 and its implications for both countries.

It was a war of many firsts from the first large-scale joint Army-Navy amphibious landing in a foreign country, at Vera Cruz, to the Army’s first encounter with bloody urban warfare in Monterrey. The rugged geography of Mexico, desserts, mountains,¬† challenged U.S. planning, transportation and logistics. The war also was a training ground for the most recent graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. Young officers like Ulysses Grant, George Meade, P.G.T. Beauregard, Braxton Bragg and Thomas Jackson would rise to command troops on both sides in the American Civil War.

There were also moral issues. As young Lieutenant Grant would write years later, after his term as the 18th U.S. president, that it was “the most unjust war ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.”

U.S. infantry and dragoon on the march in Mexico.

August 17, 2021 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment


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