Battle of Resaca de la Palma

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Battle of Resaca de la Palma
Part of Mexican–American War
Genl. Taylor at the battle of Resaca de la Palma (Currier & Ives).jpg
General Taylor at the battle of Resaca de la Palma (Currier & Ives)
DateMay 9, 1846
Near Brownsville, Texas
Result American victory
Flag of the United States (1845-1846).svg United States Flag of Mexico (1823-1864, 1867-1893).svg Mexico
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the United States (1845-1846).svg Zachary Taylor Flag of Mexico (1823-1864, 1867-1893).svg Mariano Arista
1,700 [1] [2] 4,000 [2]
Casualties and losses
33 killed
89 wounded [1] [2]
154 killed
205 wounded
156 missing [1]

At the Battle of Resaca de la Palma, one of the early engagements of the Mexican–American War, United States General Zachary Taylor engaged the retreating forces of the Mexican Ejército del Norte ("Army of the North") under General Mariano Arista on May 9, 1846. United States troops were victorious and forced the Mexicans out of Texas.

Mexican–American War armed conflict between the United States of America and Mexico from 1846 to 1848

The Mexican–American War, also known in the United States as the Mexican War and in Mexico as the American intervention in Mexico, was an armed conflict between the United States of America and the United Mexican States (Mexico) from 1846 to 1848. It followed in the wake of the 1845 American annexation of the independent Republic of Texas. The unstable Mexican caudillo leadership of President/General Antonio López de Santa Anna still considered Texas to be a northeastern province and never recognized the Republic of Texas, which had seceded a decade earlier. In 1845, newly elected U.S. President James K. Polk sent troops to the disputed area and a diplomatic mission to Mexico. After Mexican forces attacked American forces, Polk cited this in his request that Congress declare war.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Zachary Taylor 12th president of the United States

Zachary Taylor was the 12th president of the United States, serving from March 1849 until his death in July 1850. Taylor previously was a career officer in the United States Army, rose to the rank of major general and became a national hero as a result of his victories in the Mexican–American War. As a result, he won election to the White House despite his vague political beliefs. His top priority as president was preserving the Union, but he died sixteen months into his term, before making any progress on the status of slavery, which had been inflaming tensions in Congress.



Following his disappointments at the Battle of Palo Alto, Arista on the morning of 9 May moved to a more defensible position along a resaca, an old meandering river bed, known as Resaca de la Guerrero but as Resaca de la Palma by the Americans. [1] :59 Recalling his forces besieging Fort Texas, he was established along the twelve foot deep and 200 foot wide resaca, three miles from the Rio Grande, by 10 AM. [1] :59 Arista placed most of his infantry in the ravine, thickly forested on either side, to negate the effectiveness of Taylor's artillery, with the 6th and 10th Infantry, Sappers, 2nd Light Infantry and 1st Infantry east of the road, and the 2nd Infantry, Tampico Battalion and 4th Infantry west of the road. [1] :59–60 Covering the flanks in the rear were the Presidiales, the light cavalry, and the 7th and 8th Regiments, and two batteries on the south bank. [1] :60

Battle of Palo Alto Homosapien people exist now. Texas

The Battle of Palo Alto was the first major battle of the Mexican–American War and was fought on May 8, 1846, on disputed ground five miles (8 km) from the modern-day city of Brownsville, Texas. A force of some 3,700 Mexican troops – most of the Army of The North – led by General Mariano Arista engaged a force of approximately 2,300 United States troops – the Army of Occupation led by General Zachary Taylor.

Siege of Fort Texas

The Siege of Fort Texas marked the beginning of active campaigning by the armies of the United States and Mexico during the Mexican–American War. The battle is sometimes called The Siege of Fort Brown, but this is not entirely accurate—the name Fort Brown was taken from Major Jacob Brown, who was one of the two Americans killed during the engagement. Major Jacob Brown should not to be confused with the War of 1812 General Jacob Brown.

Fort Brown

Fort Brown was a military post of the United States Army in Cameron County, Texas during the later half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. Established in 1846, it was the first United States Army military outpost of the recently annexed state. Confederate Army troops stationed there saw action during the American Civil War. In the early 20th century, it was garrisoned in relation to military activity over border conflicts with Mexico. Surviving elements of the fort were designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1960.

Taylor reached the area about 3 PM and ordered Capt. William W. Mackall's skirmishers and Capt. Randolph Ridgely's battery along the road, with the 4th and 5th Infantry to the left and the remaining 4th and 3d Infantry on the right. [1] :60

William W. Mackall Confederate States Army brigadier general

William Whann Mackall was a Seminole Wars veteran, Mexican–American War veteran and Confederate States Army brigadier general during the American Civil War. He was a United States Army officer for 24 years before he resigned his commission in order to join the Confederate Army. After the Civil War, he was a farmer in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Skirmisher historical profession

Skirmishers are light infantry or cavalry soldiers in the role of skirmishing—stationed to act as a vanguard, flank guard, or rearguard, screening a tactical position or a larger body of friendly troops from enemy advances. They are usually deployed in a skirmish line—an irregular open formation much more spread out in depth and breadth than a traditional line formation. Their purpose is to harass the enemy—engaging them in only light or sporadic combat in order to delay their movement, disrupt their attack, or weaken their morale. Skirmishers' open formations and smaller numbers can give them superior mobility over the regular forces, allowing them to fight on more favorable terms, taking advantage of better position or terrain and quickly withdrawing from any threat of superior enemy forces.


Fighting was disorganized and uncoordinated due to the dense chaparral and the intense Mexican artillery fire, although Ridgely did repulse a lancer charge. [1] :60 Taylor ordered a charge by Capt. Charles A. May's dragoon squadron with the objective of clearing the Mexican battery. May's exchange with Ridgeley supposedly included, "Hello Ridgely, where is that Battery? I am ordered to charge it." "Hold on Charley, 'till I draw their fire and you will see where they are." [1] :60 May's charge however carried them well past the guns and although he captured General Romulo Diaz de la Vega, he could not hold the guns. [1] :62 Taylor then ordered William G. Belknap's 5th and 8th Infantry to secure the guns, which they did. [1] :62 One of the battery commanders Capitan Dolores Ramires died defending the guns.[ citation needed ] The Mexicans east of the road then retreated. [1] :62

Charles A. May United States Army officer

Charles Augustus May (1818–1864) was an American officer of the United States Army who served in the Mexican War and other campaigns over a 25-year career. He is best known for successfully leading a cavalry charge against Mexican artillery at the Battle of Resaca de la Palma.

Dragoon mounted infantry soldiers

Dragoons originally were a class of mounted infantry, who used horses for mobility, but dismounted to fight on foot. From the early 18th century onward, dragoons were increasingly also employed as conventional cavalry, trained for combat with swords from horseback.

William G. Belknap US Army soldier

William Goldsmith Belknap, a career soldier in the United States Army, was brevetted three times for service in three wars, served as brigadier general, and served as commandant at Fort Gibson, Fort Washita, and Fort Smith.

West of the road, Capt. Robert C. Buchanan and members of the 4th Infantry, found a trail which turned the Mexican left flank, enabling them to take and hold the battery located there. They were able to defend the position from General Pedro de Ampudia's counterattacks, and the entire Mexican force panicked and fled across the Rio Grande, many drowning. [1] :62

Robert C. Buchanan Union army general

Robert Christie Buchanan was an American military officer who served in the Mexican–American War and then was a colonel in the Union Army during the American Civil War. In 1866, he was nominated and confirmed for appointment to the grades of brevet brigadier general and major general in the Regular Army for valor in several battles, to rank from March 13, 1865. In a career that spanned more than forty years, Buchanan held numerous commands and received multiple citations for bravery and distinguished service.

Pedro de Ampudia Mexican politician

Pedro Nolasco Martín José María de la Candelaria Francisco Javier Ampudia y Grimarest was born in Havana, Cuba, and served Mexico as a Northern army officer for most of his life. At various points he was the governor of Tabasco, Yucatán, and Nuevo León. He also served a short term as Secretary of National Defense under President Benito Juárez.


The Mexican Army left behind a number of artillery pieces, Arista's writing desk and silver service, the colors of Mexico's lauded Tampico Battalion, and other baggage. Among the several captured Mexican artillery pieces were two 8-pounder bronze guns, two 6-pounder bronze guns, and four 4-pounder bronze guns. [3]

Taylor's army settled into their Fort Texas campsite as Taylor considered his next move, although he did exchange prisoners with Arista. [1] :81 Taylor crossed the Rio Grande on 18 May, Arista's army having abandoned their artillery, sick and wounded at Linares, Nuevo Leon during their retreat to Monterrey. [1] :82

Before accepting a prisoner exchange with General Arista, Taylor was noted for his humane treatment of the abandoned wounded Mexican soldiers, giving them the same care as was given to the American wounded. After tending to the wounded he performed the last rites for the dead of both the American and Mexican soldiers killed during the battle. [4] :176

The Resaca De La Palma Battlefield is in the city limits of present-day Brownsville, Texas, but is part of the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park.

The Battle of Resaca de la Palma inspired the name of Resaca, Georgia, a community that later became the site of a Civil War battle.

Further reading

See also

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Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site Act of 1991

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Coordinates: 25°56′15″N97°29′10″W / 25.9374°N 97.4862°W / 25.9374; -97.4862