Mexican War

Mexican soldiers abandoning Veracruz to General Scott's soldiers, lithograph by Sarony and Major, 1847. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Mexican American War Timeline - Major Battles

For three years from 1846-1848, the United States battled with Mexico over the lands of the southwest. Prompted by the agreed annexation of the Republic of Texas in 1845 by the United States, Mexico went to battle, now with the United States of America over the disputed land won by the Texas people in the 1836 Texas Revolution.

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  • Battle Timeline

  • Battle of Reseca de la Palma, Mexican War


    April 25, 1846 - Thornton Skirmish
    Troops: USA 80; Mexico 1,600.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 66, 49 captured; Mexico NA.
    Ambush of Captain Seth B. Thornton, investigating reports of Mexican troops north of the Rio Grande in territory still claimed by Mexico as Mexican Texas, results in President Polk asking Congress for a Declaration of War. Congress declared War on Mexico on May 13, 1846.

    May 3-9, 1846 - Siege of Fort Texas (Texas)
    Troops: USA 500; Mexico 1,600.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 12; Mexico 4, 3 captured.
    Mexico attacks fort built by Zachary Taylor's troops when Taylor leaves to defend Fort Polk. Men left behind withstand siege until Mexican troops leave to battle Taylor when his troops leave Fort Polk to reinforce Fort Texas.

    May 8, 1846 - Battle of Palo Alto (Texas)
    Troops: USA 2,288; Mexico 3,709.
    Casualties: USA 56; Mexico 257.
    First major battle of the war occurs when Mexican troops meet Taylor's Army of Occupation while returning to Fort Texas. Inconclusive battle near present day Brownsville leads to the Battle of Reseca de la Palma.

    May 9, 1846 - Battle of Reseca de la Palma (Texas)
    Troops: USA 1,700; Mexico 4,000.
    Casualties: USA 122; Mexico 515.
    Taylor defeats the retreating Mexican Army searching for a more defensible position after Palo Alto. Mexican Army continues a panicked retreat across Rio Grande River, leaving Texas territory.

    July 7, 1846 - Battle of Monterey (California)
    Troops: USA 225, 3 warships; Mexico NA.
    Casualties: USA 0; Mexico 0.
    United States Navy sailors land and annex northern California for the USA with no resistance, in part due to fears that the British would take the territory to repay debts.

    July 9, 1846 - Battle of Yerba Buena (California)
    Troops: USA 247; Mexico NA.
    Casualties: USA 0; Mexico 0.
    United States Pacific Squadron continues to annex California lands with seizure of San Francisco and Presidio without battle. This continued President Polk's desire to take the territory.

    August 8-15, 1846 - Capture of Santa Fe (New Mexico)
    Troops: USA 1,700; Mexico NA.
    Casualties: USA 0; Mexico 0.
    U.S. Army Troops in Army of the West capture Santa Fe, the capital of Mexican New Mexico, upon arrival, with no battle. General Stephen W. Kearny establishes himself as military governor.

    September 21-24, 1846 - Battle of Monterey, Mexico
    Troops: USA 6,220; Mexico 7,303.
    Casualties: USA 531; Mexico 367.
    Following the earlier capture Matamoros and Camargo earlier in the year, Zachary Taylor's Army of Occupation attack Monterey while Mexican forces attempt to stop his advance south. Armistace signed after USA victory by Zachary Taylor not seen by some in the U.S. government, including President Polk, as appropriate. Terms too positive for Mexican Army, which would lead to further conflict.

    September 22-30, 1846 - Siege of Los Angeles (California)
    Troops: USA 48; Mexico 150.
    Casualties: USA 0; Mexico 0.
    Occupation by USA forces in August lead to small force of pro-Mexican followers to siege Los Angeles area and force withdraw of American forces.

    October 24-26, 1846 - First Battle of Tobasco (San Juan Batista), Mexico
    Troops: USA 253, 7 ships; Mexico 300.
    Casualties: USA 6; Mexico 5.
    Blockade of eastern Mexican cities of Tampico, Veracruz, and Alvardo, and Matamoros leads to back and forth battle and Mexican victory, although aftermath led to successful blockade by Commodore Perry.

    December 6-7, 1846 - Battle of San Pasqual (California)
    Troops: USA 150; Mexico 75.
    Casualties: USA 31; Mexico 13.
    Small battle between some of General Kearny's men in present day San Diego leads to withdraw of Mexican forces, despite significant American casualties.

    December 25, 1846 - Battle of El Brazito (New Mexico)
    Troops: USA 850; Mexico 500.
    Casualties: USA 7; Mexico 29-193.
    Attack south of Las Cruces along the Rio Grande with frontal assault by Mexican forces fails, causing their retreat.

    Note: Image above: General Zachary Taylor at the Battle of Reseca de la Palma, lithograph by Currier and Ives, 1854. Courtesy Library of Congress. Casualty and troop strength numbers from Wikipedia Commons via various sources.

    Mexican War 1847

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