|Part of the Mexican–American War|
Rancho de Carricitos
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
| 14 killed|
1 fatally wounded
The Thornton Affair, also known as the Thornton Skirmish, Thornton's Defeat, or Rancho Carricitos 20 miles (32 km) west upriver from Zachary Taylor's camp along the Rio Grande. :48 The much larger Mexican force defeated the Americans in the opening of hostilities, and was the primary justification for U.S. President James K. Polk's call to Congress to declare war. :48was a battle in 1846 between the military forces of the United States and Mexico
Although the United States had annexed Texas, both the US and Mexico claimed the area between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. 11 Polk had ordered Taylor's Army of Occupation to the Rio Grande early in 1846 soon after Mexican President Mariano Paredes declared in his inaugural address to uphold the integrity of Mexican territory to the Sabine River. :26:
Mariano Arista assumed command of the Division of the North on April 4 and arrived at Matamoros on April 24, making the total force there about 5000 men, and notified Taylor hostilities had commenced. 47 Arista promptly ordered General Anastasio Torrejón to cross the Rio Grande fourteen miles upstream at La Palangana. :48:
Taylor received two reports on April 24 of Mexicans crossing the Rio Grande, the first crossing below his camp, the other a crossing upriver. 48 Taylor ordered Captain Croghan Ker to investigate downriver and Captain Seth B. Thornton with two Dragoon companies to investigate upriver. :48 Ker found nothing but Thornton rode into an ambush and his 80-man force was quickly overwhelmed by Torrejon's 1600, resulting in the capture of those not immediately killed. :48 Thornton's guide brought news of the hostilities to Taylor and was followed by a cart from Torrejón containing the six wounded, Torrejon stating he could not care for them. :48:
In the fierce encounter, fourteen of Thornton's men were killed, six wounded and one was fatally wounded, while the rest were taken prisoner (including Captain Thornton and his second in command Captain William J. Hardee). 48 Mexican casualties are unknown. Torrejón continued on to the Matamoros-Point Isabel road, surprising Samuel H. Walker's Texas Rangers on April 28, before continuing on to Longoreno to cover the crossing of the main Mexican army. :48:
Following the Battle of Palo Alto and the Battle of Resaca de la Palma, Arista and Taylor agreed to a prisoner exchange which resulted in the release of Thornton, Hardee and their men. 81 Thornton was killed on August 20, 1847 in an engagement at Churubusco outside Mexico City. With eerie symmetry, this soldier who was wounded at the war's opening act was killed in this last conflict of the war. :291 :139:
Upon learning of the incident, President James K. Polk asked for a Declaration of war before a joint session of the United States Congress, and summed up his justification for war by famously stating:
On May 13, 1846, the U.S. Congress declared war on Mexico, despite the Mexican government's position that Thornton had crossed the border into Mexican Texas, which Mexico maintained began south of the Nueces River (the historical border of the province of Texas). Opposition also existed in the United States, with one senator declaring that the affair had been "as much an act of aggression on our part as is a man's pointing a pistol at another's breast".Congressman Abraham Lincoln demanded to know the "particular spot of soil on which the blood of our citizens was so shed" (the spot resolutions). The ensuing Mexican–American War was waged from 1846 to 1848 with the loss of many thousands of lives and the loss to Mexico of all of its northern provinces. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war on February 2, 1848, and established the Rio Grande as the border between the U.S. and Mexico, and led to Mexico recognizing Texas as a part of the United States.
The Rio Grande is one of the principal rivers in the southwest United States and northern Mexico. The Rio Grande begins in south-central Colorado in the United States and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. After passing through the length of New Mexico along the way, it forms part of the Mexico–United States border. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, its total length was 1,896 miles (3,051 km) in the late 1980s, though course shifts occasionally result in length changes. Depending on how it is measured, the Rio Grande is either the fourth- or fifth-longest river system in North America.
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.
The Battle of Resaca de la Palma was one of the early engagements of the Mexican–American War, where the United States Army under General Zachary Taylor engaged the retreating forces of the Mexican Ejército del Norte under General Mariano Arista on May 9, 1846. The United States emerged victorious and forced the Mexicans out of Texas.
In the Battle of Monterrey during the Mexican–American War, General Pedro de Ampudia and the Mexican Army of the North was defeated by the Army of Occupation, a force of United States Regulars, Volunteers and Texas Rangers under the command of General Zachary Taylor.
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 inaccurately called The Siege of Fort Brown. Major Jacob Brown, not to be confused with War of 1812 General Jacob Brown, was one of the two Americans killed in action.
Jean-Louis Berlandier was a French-Mexican naturalist, physician, and anthropologist.
Juan Nepomuceno Cortina Goseacochea, also known by his nicknames Cheno Cortina, the Red Robber of the Rio Grande and the Rio Grande Robin Hood, was a Mexican rancher, politician, military leader, outlaw and folk hero. He was an important caudillo, military general and regional leader, who effectively controlled the Mexican state of Tamaulipas as governor. In borderlands history he is known for leading a paramilitary mounted Mexican Militia in the failed Cortina Wars. The "Wars" were raids targeting Anglo-American civilians whose settlement Cortina opposed near the several leagues of land granted to his wealthy family on both sides of the Rio Grande. Anglo families began immigrating to the Lower Rio Grande Valley after the Mexican Army was defeated by the Anglo-Mexican rebels of the Mexican State of Tejas, in the Texas Revolution.
The spot resolutions were offered in the United States House of Representatives on 22 December 1847 by future President Abraham Lincoln, then a Whig representative from Illinois. The resolutions requested President James K. Polk to provide Congress with the exact location upon which blood was spilled on American soil, as Polk had claimed in 1846 when asking Congress to declare war on Mexico. So persistent was Lincoln in pushing his "spot resolutions" that some began referring to him as "spotty Lincoln." Lincoln's resolutions were a direct challenge to the validity of the president's words, and representative of an ongoing political power struggle between Whigs and Democrats.
Samuel B. Ringgold was an artillery officer in the United States Army who was noted for several military innovations which caused him to be called the "Father of Modern Artillery." He was also, according to some records, the first U.S. officer to fall in the Mexican–American War, perishing from wounds received at the Battle of Palo Alto.
The following are synopsis of the campaigns of the Mexican–American War (1846—1848).
The presidency of James K. Polk began on March 4, 1845, when James K. Polk was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1849. He was a Democrat, and assumed office after defeating Whig Henry Clay in the 1844 presidential election. Polk left office after one term, fulfilling a campaign pledge he made in 1844, and he was succeeded by Whig Zachary Taylor. A close ally of Andrew Jackson, Polk's presidency reflected his adherence to the ideals of Jacksonian democracy and manifest destiny.
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. He died sixteen months into his term, having made no progress on the most divisive issue in Congress, slavery.
The Mexican–American War, also known in the United States as the Mexican War and in Mexico as the Intervención Estadounidense en México, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848. It followed the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas, which Mexico still considered Mexican territory since the government did not recognize the Velasco treaty signed by Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna when he was a prisoner of the Texian Army during the 1836 Texas Revolution. The Republic of Texas was de facto an independent country, but most of its citizens wished to be annexed by the United States. Domestic sectional politics in the U.S. were preventing annexation since Texas would have been a slave state, upsetting the balance of power between northern free states and southern slave states. In the 1844 United States presidential election, Democrat James K. Polk was elected on a platform of expanding U.S. territory in Oregon and Texas. Polk advocated expansion by either peaceful means or by armed force, with the 1845 annexation of Texas furthering that goal by peaceful means. For Mexico, this was a provocation, but Polk went further, sending U.S. Army troops to the area; he also sent a diplomatic mission to Mexico to try to negotiate the sale of territory. U.S. troops' presence was provocative and designed to lure Mexico into starting the conflict, putting the onus on Mexico and allowing Polk to argue to Congress that a declaration of war should be issued. Mexican forces attacked U.S. forces, and the United States Congress declared war.
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.
Sarah A. Bowman, also known as Sarah Borginnis or Sarah Bourdette, was an Irish American innkeeper, restaurateur, and madam. Nicknamed "The Great Western", she gained fame, and the title "Heroine of Fort Brown", as a camp follower of Zachary Taylor's army during the Mexican–American War. Following the war she operated an inn in Franklin, Texas before settling near Arizona City. Over the course of her life she was married multiple times, often without legal record or the blessing of a priest, and was known at various times by the names Boginnis, Bourdette, Bourget, Bourjette, Borginnis, Davis, Bowman, and possibly Foyle. Following her death she was breveted an honorary colonel and buried with military honors in the Fort Yuma cemetery. Her story became part of American popular culture.
In 1845, the Republic of Texas was annexed to the United States of America, becoming the 28th U.S. state. Border disputes between the new state and Mexico, which had never recognized Texas independence and still considered the area a renegade Mexican state, led to the Mexican–American War (1846–1848). When the war concluded, Mexico relinquished its claim on Texas, as well as other regions in what is now the southwestern United States. Texas' annexation as a state that tolerated slavery had caused tension in the United States among slave states and those that did not allow slavery. The tension was partially defused with the Compromise of 1850, in which Texas ceded some of its territory to the federal government to become non-slave-owning areas but gained El Paso.
The Nueces Strip or Wild Horse Desert is the area of South Texas between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande.
Anastasio Torrejón was a Mexican Army officer who commanded troops during the Mexican–American War.
Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site Act of 1991, Public Law 102-304, is a federal law, enacted on June 23, 1992, that established the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Site. Located in the lower Rio Grande Valley, north of modern Brownsville, Texas, the site was the location of the first battle of the Mexican–American War (1846–1848), on May 8, 1846. At the time of its establishment in 1992, Palo Alto was the first unit of the National Park Service to commemorate the Mexican–American War, a controversial conflict that ended with the American occupation of Mexico City and the cessation to the United States of Mexican lands in modern California and New Mexico.