|Part of the Mexican–American War|
Rancho de Carricitos
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
| 11 killed|
The Thornton Affair, also known as the Thornton Skirmish, Thornton's Defeat, or Rancho Carricitos 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 twenty miles west upriver from Zachary Taylor's camp along the Rio Grande. :
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, 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 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.
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:
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.
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 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. 47 Arista promptly ordered General Anastasio Torrejón to cross the Rio Grande fourteen miles upstream at La Palangana. :48:
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.
The Division of the North was a 19th-century Spanish infantry division.
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.
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:
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.
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). 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:
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.
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. 81 Thornton was killed on August 20, 1847 in an engagement at Churubucso outside Mexico City. :291:
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.
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.
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.
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 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. 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.
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The Mexican Cession is the region in the modern-day southwestern United States that Mexico ceded to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. This region had not been part of the areas east of the Rio Grande which had been claimed by the Republic of Texas, though the Texas annexation resolution two years earlier had not specified the southern and western boundary of the new State of Texas. The Mexican Cession was the third largest acquisition of territory in US history. The largest was the Louisiana Purchase, with some 827,000 sq. miles, followed by the acquisition of Alaska.
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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 spilt 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.
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 its 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.
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.
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. The Republic of Texas claimed the Rio Grande as its southern border; Mexico claimed the Nueces River. The area between the two rivers became known as the Nueces Strip. Both countries invaded it, but neither controlled it nor settled it.
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.