Thornton Affair

Last updated

Thornton Ambush
Part of the Mexican–American War
Rancho de Carricitos.jpg
Rancho de Carricitos
DateApril 25, 1846
Location
26°03′43″N97°47′03″W / 26.0619°N 97.7842°W / 26.0619; -97.7842 Coordinates: 26°03′43″N97°47′03″W / 26.0619°N 97.7842°W / 26.0619; -97.7842
Result

Mexican victory

Belligerents
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 (1847-1848).svg Seth Thornton
Flag of the United States (1847-1848).svg William J. Hardee
Flag of Mexico (1823-1864, 1867-1893).svg Anastasio Torrejón
Strength
80 [1] 1,600 [1]
Casualties and losses
11 killed
6 wounded
49 captured [1]
unknown

The Thornton Affair, also known as the Thornton Skirmish, Thornton's Defeat, or Rancho Carricitos [2] was a battle in 1846 between the military forces of the United States and Mexico twenty miles west upriver from Zachary Taylor's camp along the Rio Grande. [1] :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. [1] :48

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.

Mexico country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

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.

Contents

Background

Although the United States had annexed Texas, both the US and Mexico claimed the area between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. [1] :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. [1] :26

Texas annexation annexation

The Texas annexation was the 1845 annexation of the Republic of Texas into the United States of America, which was admitted to the Union as the 28th state on December 29, 1845.

Nueces River river in the United States of America

The Nueces River is a river in the U.S. state of Texas, about 315 miles (507 km) long. It drains a region in central and southern Texas southeastward into the Gulf of Mexico. It is the southernmost major river in Texas northeast of the Rio Grande. Nueces is Spanish for nuts; early settlers named the river after the numerous pecan trees along its banks.

Mariano Paredes (President of Mexico) President of Mexico

Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga was a Conservative Mexican general and president. He took power via a coup d'état in 1846. He was the president at the start of the Mexican–American War.

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. [1] :47 Arista promptly ordered General Anastasio Torrejón to cross the Rio Grande fourteen miles upstream at La Palangana. [1] :48

Mariano Arista President of Mexico (1851–1853)

José Mariano Martín Buenaventura Ignacio Nepomuceno García de Arista Nuez was a noted veteran of many of Mexico's nineteenth-century wars. He served as president of Mexico from 15 January 1851 to 6 January 1853.

Division of the North

The Division of the North was a 19th-century Spanish infantry division.

Matamoros, Tamaulipas City in Tamaulipas, Mexico

Matamoros, officially known as Heroica Matamoros, is a city in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas. It is located on the southern bank of the Rio Grande, directly across the border from Brownsville, Texas, in the United States. Matamoros is the second largest city in the state of Tamaulipas. As of 2016, Matamoros had a population of 520,367. In addition, the Matamoros–Brownsville Metropolitan Area has a population of 1,387,985, making it the 4th largest metropolitan area on the Mexico–US border. Matamoros is the 39th largest city in Mexico and anchors the second largest metropolitan area in Tamaulipas.

Battle

Taylor received two reports on April 24 of Mexicans crossing the Rio Grande, the first crossing below his camp, the other a crossing upriver. [1] :48 Taylor ordered Captain Croghan Ker to investigate downriver and Captain Seth B. Thornton with two Dragoon companies to investigate upriver. [1] :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. [1] :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. [1] :48

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.

Aftermath

In the fierce encounter, 11 of Thornton's men were killed and 6 wounded, while the rest were taken prisoner (including Captain Thornton and his second in command Captain William J. Hardee). [1] :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. [1] :48

William J. Hardee Confederate Army general

William Joseph Hardee was a career U.S. Army officer, serving during the Second Seminole War and in the Mexican–American War, where he was captured and exchanged. In the American Civil War, he sided with the South and became a general. Hardee served in the Western Theater and quarreled sharply with two of his commanding officers, Braxton Bragg and John Bell Hood. He served in the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 and the Carolinas Campaign of 1865, where he surrendered with General Joseph E. Johnston to William Tecumseh Sherman in April. Hardee's writings about military tactics were widely used on both sides in the conflict.

Texas Ranger Division Texas law enforcement agency

The Texas Ranger Division, commonly called the Texas Rangers, is a U.S state-wide investigative law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction in Texas, based in the capital city of Austin. Over the years, the Texas Rangers have investigated crimes ranging from murder to political corruption, acted in riot control and as detectives, protected the governor of Texas, tracked down fugitives, and functioned as a paramilitary force at the service of both the Republic (1836–1845) and the state of Texas.

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. [1] :81 Thornton was killed on August 20, 1847 in an engagement at Churubucso outside Mexico City. [1] :291 [3]

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.

Battle of Resaca de la Palma

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 under General Mariano Arista on May 9, 1846. United States troops were victorious and forced the Mexicans out of Texas.

Battle of Churubusco

The Battle of Churubusco took place on August 20, 1847, while Santa Anna's army was in retreat from the Battle of Contreras or Battle of Padierna during the Mexican–American War. It was the battle where the San Patricio Battalion, made up largely of American deserters, made their last stand against U.S. forces. The U.S. Army defeated the more than two-to-one outnumbered defending Mexican troops. After the battle the U.S. Army was only 5 miles (8 km) away from Mexico City. About 50 of the captured San Patricio's were later hanged.

Declaration of war

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:

"The cup of forbearance had been exhausted even before the recent information from the frontier of the Del Norte [Rio Grande]. But now, after reiterated menaces, Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon the American soil. She has proclaimed that hostilities have commenced, and that the two nations are now at war.".

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". [4] Congressman Abraham Lincoln demanded to know the "particular spot of soil on which the blood of our citizens was so shed." [5] 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.

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Bauer, K.J., 1974, The Mexican War, 1846–1848, New York: Macmillan, ISBN   0803261071
  2. https://www.nps.gov/paal/learn/historyculture/ranchodecarricitos.htm
  3. Tucker, Spencer (2013). The Encyclopedia of the Mexican-American War: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN   9781851098538.
  4. "A Controversial War". Digital History. Archived from the original on May 7, 2008. Retrieved August 10, 2008.
  5. "Abraham Lincoln Protests the Mexican War". Digital History. Archived from the original on November 11, 2017. Retrieved November 11, 2017.