The Mexican-American War
Written by Peter Fitzgerald
History of War - Mexican War
Did you know that Mexico and America went to war? No? Well they did. This is called the Mexican-American War and happened between April 25th 1846 and February 2nd 1848.
This war was one in which both sides can be seen as the aggressor, but it was America that would come out of the conflict as victorious as you will find out.
Prior to the Mexican-American War
In the mid 1830’s Mexico found itself in civil unrest and turmoil as the country looked set to end up in internal conflict. One area of the country was not enjoying its place in Mexican society and wished to move itself away from Mexico. This area is Texas, which was part of Mexico until the mid nineteenth century.
This move would result in the Texas Revolution between October 2nd 1835 and April 21st 1836 whereby Texas and the rest of Mexico would go to war. The result would be Texas gaining independence from Mexico.
Texas then gained international recognition from Britain, the US and France among others.
Texans then wished to join the United States, something the US debated but were wary as Mexico said it would go to war with the US if it did annex Texas. By 1845 America finally gave the green light and annexed Texas as one of its states.
During this time California was still part of Mexico and the Americans decided they had ideas on annexing the region as part of the United States. Rather than doing this through conflict they thought Mexico may give up upper parts of California in way of repaying debts.
Mexico was not happy with any of this and decides to cut diplomatic ties with America.
If this wasn’t enough an American explorer, supported by men with guns, went into California and built a small fort home and raised an American flag. This caught the imagination of other Americans in the area and they started saying they were playing “the Texas game” and wanted independence from Mexico.
America wished to let Mexico off the debts it owes and offered them further money for the two regions. Mexico declined and beside itself, Mexico decided to resort to military intervention.
The Mexicans sent a cavalry into American territory and this cavalry killed 16 American soldiers in doing so. The Americans saw this as a case for war and Congress agreed to go to war.
A Mexican called Antonio López de Santa Anna who was rallying for Mexican Presidency told Mexico he was withdrawing his name from the Presidency race and wanted to fight the American aggressors. At this time Antonio López de Santa Anna was on American soil and he was striking up a plan with the Americans in which they let him back into Mexico where he will take control of the Mexican army and work on getting the two states sold to America. Antonio López de Santa Anna went to Mexico and went against what he had said to both Mexico and America by becoming President of Mexico and deciding to fight the Americans.
The first real battle of the war was the Siege of Fort Texas between the 3rd and 9th of May in 1846. This siege cost the lives of 2 soldiers on both sides and finished with America winning and Mexican troops withdrawing.
As the withdrawal of Mexican troops at the Siege of Fort Texas there were other battles raging. The first was the Battle of Palo Alto near Brownsville, Texas on the 8th May where America routed the Mexicans killing 128 Mexican soldiers in the process. The next was the Battle of Resaca de la Palma not far from the Battle of Palo Alto the day before and between the same troops. Again the Americans won a resounding victory.
In June 1846 a small group of Americans in California took it upon themselves to revolt. To do this they stormed the Sonoma Mexican garrison and raised the Californian Republic flag (very similar to California’s flag of today). This republic was in force for a week before the United States moved in and took control from the Americans in the garrison.
Throughout July America used the Navy’s might to move through coast line areas of California and take control; this included raising the United State flag in the regions capital of Monterey on July 7th.
On the 13th August 1846 American Marines entered Los Angeles and took control of the city without any defence, this meant that California was pretty much under US control without any real conflict. The only real battle was the Battle of San Pasqual near San Diego in December 1846 in which the Americans won but lost 22 men doing so.
In early 1847 two more battles took place between the American soldiers who fought in the Battle of San Pasqual and the Mexican Californios. These were the Battle of Rio San Gabriel on January 8th 1847 and the Battle of La Mesa on January 9th, both of which achieved American victory.
These were the last battles in California and Mexican Californios troops signed a treaty in mid January saying no more fighting would take place; this was the Treaty of Cahuenga. This treaty was not anything agreed with Mexico.
After the end of Californian battles it was time for the Americans to take the battle to Mexico. This came first by the American Navy. The American Navy sailed into the Gulf of Mexico and won sea battles whilst also taking ports and towns en-route. The Mexicans tried to put up a fight but America won every battle, these battles being:
- Battle of Mulege
Battle of La Paz
Battle of San José del Cabo
Siege of La Paz
Siege of San José del Cabo
American land forces then moved into Northern Mexico. This accumulated in the twos battles, the Battle of Buena Vista and Battle of Chapultepec where the Americans won decisive victories and took control over many areas of Northern Mexico including Monterrey and Chihuahua City.
Mexico realised it was in a perilous position and could not defend itself any longer. In February 1848 Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the war.
The war was terrible for Mexico as it not only lost California and Texas, it also ended up giving the present-day states of Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming, New Mexico and most of Arizona and Colorado. America did give money to Mexico as payment, but this was half the first initial amount offered prior to the breakout of war.