Battle of Palo Alto - History

Battle of Palo Alto - History


The first two battles of the Mexican American War took place at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma on May 8th and 9th. The Mexican forces who were made their stand from defensive positions were forced to withdraw in both battles. The determination of American forces under General Taylor carried the day in both cases
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After the initial skirmish between American and Mexican forces Taylor moved most of his forces back to Point Isabel his supply base while leaving his most forward position Fort Taylor to be defended by 500 men. The Mexican began an artillery barrage against Ft Texas which was located opposite Matamoris on the Rio Grande. From Point Isabell the American forces could hear the cannon attack on Ft Texas and concerned mounted as to fate of her defenders. Samuel Walker a Texas ranger led four others through Mexican lines. He then managed to sneak into the fort. There, he determined that the Mexican assault had not harmed anyone. Walker successfully returned to American lines and reported.

On the seventh, replacement forces arrived at Point Isabell to defend the base, freeing Taylor to move out and relieve Fort Texas. The first afternoon the men moved out. They covered 5 miles that day and then camped out for the night. The Mexican army under General Arista decided to make their stand on a grassy plain spotted with ponds. Arista had 5,000 men, Taylor 3,000. Taylor allowed his men a last drink and headed toward the Mexican lines at 2:30 PM. The Mexicans opened fire first, but as the Americans were out of range the cannon balls fell harmlessly. Taylor then brought forth his artillery and it became an artillery duel between the two forces began. The American artillery was accurate and had a devastating effect on the Mexican forces. The Mexican tried a flanking attack on American position. The attack was successfully repulsed. The fighting continued until dusk with both sides sustaining casualties.

At dawn the Mexican forces withdrew towards Matmoras and Ft Texas. Taylors forces followed and found the Mexican forces dug in along an old bed of the Rio Grande called the Resaca de La Palma. This was an excellent defensive position and the Mexican were dug in well. The American forces tried to dislodge the Mexican with an artillery attack, but in that the American forces were not successful. A number of assaults took place against the Mexican lines. At first they were not successful, however American forces fought desperately, until finally forces under Captain Smith managed to capture a key Mexican cannon position. Then American forces managed to out flank Mexican forces on the right flank. By 5’o'clock Mexican lines broke and their soldiers fled across the Rio Grande.


Taylors Wins the Battle of Palo Alto

On May 8, 1846, future President Zachary Taylor led U.S. forces to their first major victory of the Mexican-American War at the Battle of Palo Alto.

After the Republic of Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836, it sought to join the United States. The union was delayed, as the Van Buren administration did not want to risk war with Mexico.

By the time James Polk took office in 1845, there was greater interest in adding Texas, and Polk won the presidential election largely because of his support for that issue. Even with the annexation of Texas, there was serious disagreement between Mexico and the U.S. as to the location of the southern border of the territory. Mexico claimed it was on the Nueces River, while Polk insisted it was on the Rio Grande. He ordered Taylor to set up a camp at the Rio Grande to defend the claim.

U.S. #C134 was the second issue in the Scenic American Landscapes Series.

Taylor raised a force of 4,000 volunteers and established a military base. Several months later, Polk ordered Taylor to cross the river into territory that undisputedly belonged to Mexico. Taylor did so, and prepared for an attack, which came soon.

U.S. #817 from the 1938 Prexies.

That first major battle of the Mexican-American War took place in Palo Alto on May 8, 1846. Mexican troops attacked Fort Texas, and Taylor, who was getting supplies at nearby Port Isabel, gathered his men to help defend the fort. His men met a Mexican force before they reached the fort and a battle began. Taylor employed a tactic known as “Flying Artillery,” where the artillery would attack from one position then quickly move to another. The Mexicans could not defend themselves against the strategy and withdrew that night.

General Arista, commander of the Mexican forces in the area, ordered his men to retreat to a strong defensive location called Resaca de la Palma. Taylor’s army, which was less than half the size of Arista’s, confronted them on May 9. Again the Americans out maneuvered the enemy, who fled the battlefield leaving many of their heavy guns behind.

U.S. #589 had multiple uses including the four-ounce letter rate and for airmail.

Taylor wasn’t the only revered general and future president present at these battles. A young Ulysses S. Grant was a quartermaster at the time and had his first combat experience at Palo Alto. He then led a cavalry charge at Resaca de la Palma.


10 Most Important Battles in American History and Why: Part I

War is bad, mmmkay? But whether we support certain wars or not (or are opposed to all of them), they have shaped our country into what it is today, for better or worse.

Within the bigger scope of war, specific battles have defined certain conflicts. I intend to take a humorous and fast-paced look at which of these battles rank among the most influential to our country today. And, while doing so, I hope to infuriate everyone by not including the one they thought should have been on the list.

The Battle of Bunker Hill: Starting a long tradition of naming battles after the wrong place, the battle of not-Bunker Hill was actually fought on Breed’s Hill (not to be confused with Beacon Hill, which was near a hill with a lot of prostitutes known on maps as “Mount Whoredom”—no lie). Approximately two months after the fight at Lexington and Concord, British troops held up in Boston didn’t think that the Colonists had the stones to meet them in pitched battle. So they were just sloshing pints of ale back, awaiting some orders, when the Colonists started fortifying Breed’s Hill (because they passed Bunker Hill in the dark), directly in front of the Brits.

The British, led by a commander who had his own servant carrying wine next to him, responded by torching Charlestown and lobbing cannon balls at the Colonists who were still frantically fortifying their position. The Colonists waited with amazing patience for the British to walk right to them, at which point they unleashed a volley of fire that focused a great deal on the officers (nice work, fellas), creating a great deal of chaos.

After retreating and regrouping, the British soldiers eventually took the hill, but only after losing over 1,000 men. The Colonists retreated, but mostly because they ran out of ammo (you can never have too much of that stuff), and the General in charge of the British forces even lost his bottle of wine. So while it was a victory for the English, obviously it came with a huge price.

Why it’s important: First and foremost, until the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Brits really didn’t take the Colonists seriously. At all. The view they had of the Colonial military capability was analogous to the “rebel scum” comment made in Star Wars by the commanders in the Empire. This battle forever changed that opinion.

Secondly, like many other strange events in history, the loser of the battle was actually the victor in a bigger sense. The heavy losses incurred by the British and the aftermath benefited the Colonists far more than their own loss hurt them. And, like many other events in American history, a great deal of confusion about who did what, when, and where still exists today. So, like a lot of other things in this country, we don’t know where we’re going but we fight like hell once we’re there.

The Battle of New Orleans: The War of 1812 had drawn to a close with a peace treaty being signed in Ghent, Belgium on December 24, 1814. Due to a wickedly slow internet connection, however, word of this treaty did not reach the British who attempted to seize New Orleans in hopes of separating Louisiana from the rest of the United States.

The endeavor was an absolute failure for the British and a resounding victory for General Andrew Jackson and his forces, who gained tremendous public appeal for their efforts. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Americans overwhelmed the invading force and sent them packing.

Why it’s important: A great number of Americans see the history of this country as winning the Revolutionary War and then moving on to greatness with no stops in between. The truth is that by the time of the War of 1812, there wasn’t a lot of confidence that this whole USA thing was going to work out. The war itself changed that, but the Battle of New Orleans put a giant rubber stamp on it and cemented the country as a real thing that wasn’t just an idea on a piece of paper.

Consider also that the intent of taking Louisiana by the British wasn’t just Louisiana as we know it today—had they succeeded, essentially everything west of the Mississippi would be watching Premier League Soccer right now. As it was, however, they got beat so bad that it was the last time the US and Great Britain ever fought (they made up over a gazillion pints of ale and promised only to make fun of each other’s accents from that point forward).

The Battle of Palo Alto: Say what? Yeah, it’s not exactly one that has had a library worth of books written on it, but the significance is large, nonetheless. President Polk believed that the whole continent should belong to the United States, including this place called Texas. Mexico, however, was convinced it belonged to them and was willing to fight for it. The Mexican Army retreats at Palo Alto and General Taylor, commander of the US forces, declares victory.

Why it’s important: Though a relatively small battle, the events at Palo Alto kicked off the Mexican-American War, which ultimately led to Texas being adopted as a state and a massive westward expansion into other territories that were previously kinda-sorta-maybe under Mexico’s control. The Mexican government was in shambles already and the war took advantage of that and, along with it, some mighty juicy pieces of land that happened to include some super sweet breaks off of Huntington Beach.

That whole Manifest Destiny thing is kind of controversial as a concept today, but agree with it or not, it shaped what we’ve got, and a great deal of that is due to the Mexican-American War—a war that kicked off with the battle of Palo Alto.

Any time a list of “best” or “most important” is made, everyone has a reason why that list is incomplete, stupid, or just plain wrong. So tell us your thoughts and how everything written above is ignorant and how we should just go get jobs selling tacos, and tune in next week for part two.


Legends of America

Fort Brown, in present-day Brownsville, Texas was established in 1846 as the first U.S. military post in Texas. Brigadier General Zachary Taylor arrived at the site in March 1846 to occupy the territory that was claimed by both the United States and Mexico. The initial fort was an earthen fortification constructed by Taylor’s troops and called “Fort Texas.” When Taylor marched a large portion of his troops to Point Isabel (now Port Isabel), he left a garrison, under the command of Major Jacob Brown, to guard the fort. Taking advantage of the situation, the Mexican Army attacked the fort, sending part of their force to engage the main portion of Taylor’s force as it returned from Point Isabel.

Taylor defeated the Mexicans at the Battle of Palo Alto on May 8, 1856, and at Resaca de la Palma the next day. These engagements were the first battles of the Mexican-American War, and the most important battles of the war fought on U.S. soil. Following these defeats, the Mexican Army fled back across the Rio Grande. The fort was renamed Fort Brown in honor of Major Brown, who was killed in its defense.

Federal troops left the fort with Texas’ secession from the Union during the Civil War. It was then occupied by Confederate Colonel John “Rip” Ford and his troops until 1863 when they were finally driven out by Union forces under General Nathaniel P. Banks, who then camped in tents erected at the fort site. However, in 1864, Confederate forces under General J. S. Slaughter and Colonel Ford reoccupied the area and held the post until the end of the war.

In 1867, a permanent fort was constructed under the supervision of Captain William A. Wainwright. The post remained active into the 21st century, often manned by regiments of Buffalo Soldiers.

On August 13 and 14, 1906 the Brownsville Raid occurred, in which several unknown individuals raided the city, indiscriminately shooting up the town, killing one man and wounding another.

Guardhouse at Fort Brown, Texas

The townspeople quickly blamed the black soldiers stationed at nearby Fort Brown and, when the Army investigated the matter, they came to the same conclusion. The Secretary of War, William H. Taft, then discharged all 168 black soldiers “without honor.” It would be another sixty years before a second investigation was held and the black soldiers had their honor restored. However, by then, only two of the original 168 men were still alive. Historians today believe that the real culprits who shot up the town, used the same caliber ammunition as the soldiers, in order to frame them.

On April 20, 1915, the first U.S. military airplane to be attacked by hostile fire came from Fort Brown. The plane, manned by Officers Byron Q. Jones and Thomas Millings, were looking to spot movements of Mexican Revolutionary leader Francisco “Pancho” Villa. Though it did not cross the border into Mexico, it was fired upon by machine guns and small arms.

The post remained active through World War II, but decommissioned in 1944. In 1948, the land was acquired by the City of Brownsville and Texas Southmost College. The fort buildings were sold or donated to various organizations and schools in the Brownsville area. There are several buildings that remain dating from the post-Civil War era, many of which are located on the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost Jr. College campuses. A small portion of the earthwork fort remains as well.

Fort Brown Ghosts

Fort Brown, Texas in Brownsville today by Carol Highsmith.

In the midst of Oxbow Lake on the University of Texas/Texas Southmost College is an island that was once National Cemetery. However, in 1909, some 3,800 bodies were unearthed and moved to Alexandria, Louisiana. After the cemetery was moved, the island became a mecca for hotels and retail stores. However, it was later taken over by the college campuses and now houses a number of dormitories and is known as the “Village at Fort Brown.”

In the “village,” numerous residents have reported strange occurrences including lights, televisions and water faucets seemingly turning on of their own accord.

They have also reported seeing a number of apparitions including a small gnome-like black figure that leaves behind a sulfur-like smell, a small boy and girl who have been seen playing, and another young boy who has been seen in the Resaca area wearing 19th Century clothing.

The old fort morgue was joined with a storage building in 1940 and now serves as Texas Southmost College office space. Though no one seems to know by whom it’s haunted, it comes as no surprise.

During the fort’s heydays, the morgue was used extensively by Dr. William Gorgas, who dissected bodies in order to study the Yellow Fever disease in a futile attempt to find a cure. In any event, odd things are said to happen here, such as electrical appliances turning on by themselves, small objects leaping into the air, staff who have regularly felt a presence within their midst, and one who even had her hair pulled by an unseen entity. Others report anomalies in their photographs including a solid dark image.

The Cavalry Building served as barracks at Fort Brown, Texas. Photo by Carol Highsmith.

At the former Post Hospital, now called Gorgas Hall, and serving as the Administration Building for the campus, more strange events occur regularly. Here, numerous patients with Yellow Fever were treated in the 1880s, many of whom, unfortunately, died. A ward on the second floor of the building was used for violent patients. The most often anomalies are the faces of former patients peering from the windows and captured on film, though they are apparently not seen with the human eye. Witnesses have also claimed to see a “face” appear on the surface of the brick wall.

Others have reported seeing spirits roaming throughout the building including a doctor, a couple of nurses, and mourning woman dressed all in black. The sounds of faint voices, footsteps, and other unexplainable noises are consistently heard in the building. Other unearthly happenings include doorknobs that seemingly move of their own accord, as well as objects transporting themselves.

The 1904 Commissary/Guardhouse building, now used as an art building, also has a record of hauntings. Its basement continues to display the metal grated cell gates where prisoners were once held. Unfortunately, for the art students, their projects are often found to be missing or damaged. Others report feeling cold drafts, hearing distant voices, having been touched by unseen entities, and the sounds of scraping metal on the outside of the building.

The Little Chapel, which dates to 1868, also has its share of tales. Though it was moved from its original location, the “move” evidently brought its spectral phenomena with it. Here have been heard unearthly footsteps and inexplicable shadows and movements have been reported.

Tales of the Arnulfo L. Oliveira Memorial Library date back for decades. One of the oldest stories is of a night janitor who was startled when he stepped outside of the library to witness what appeared to be the full fort still in action — cavalry soldiers on horseback and infantry soldiers marching on the former parade grounds.

Other claims include the spirit of a young girl, appearing in 19th-century attire, who appears on the second floor.

More reports tell of a malevolent phantom of an adult male who also appears on the second floor, as well as a dark shadowy figure. Staff also report items being mysteriously rearranged, mysterious chills, fans that turn on and off of their own accord, the sounds of creaks and rattling on the second floor, and more.

Ghost Hunters, who have investigated these buildings, support many of these tales, having recording strange anomalies on film and voices on recordings.


The Navy just changed who gets to wear the coveted gold stripes

Posted On April 29, 2020 15:48:48

The Navy announced updates to uniform policy, grooming standards, uniform item availability and mandatory possession dates for new uniform items in NAVADMIN 075/19, released March 25, 2019.

A command/unit logo shoulder patch is now an option for wear on the left shoulder pocket of the Navy Working Uniform (NWU) Type II and III in place of the Don’t Tread On Me shoulder patch.

Black leather and non-leather gloves can be worn with the black NWU parka fleece liner.

NWU Type III O-6 rank insignia will be available for purchase and optional wear in silver thread starting June 1, 2019, for easier visual recognition and distinction from the E-4 insignia.

Effective June 1, 2019, all enlisted sailors with 12 years of cumulative service in active or drilling reserve time in the Navy or Marine Corps may wear gold rating badges and gold service stripes on dress uniforms in lieu of red rating badges and stripes.

The gold rank insignia of a Boatswain Mate Chief Petty Officer.

Women have the option to wear smooth or synthetic leather flat shoes (flats) in service and service dress uniforms.

Nursing T-shirts may be worn with service uniforms, NWU Type I, II and III and flight suits.

The message provides clarification on the definition and manner of wear for ponytail hairstyles.

Effective immediately, sailors who are assigned to Joint/Unified Commands are authorized to wear the command’s identification badge only during the period of assignment.

Also read: This is why some sailors wear gold stripes, and some wear red

Navy Exchange (NEXCOM) uniform stores will provide a free replacement collar if needed to improve the fit of the officer and chief petty officer (CPO) service dress white coat (choker) effective March 1, 2019.

The NAVADMIN announces the completion of the testing and evaluation of the improved female officer and CPO slacks and skirts.

It also provides the schedule for when the NEXCOM Customer Contact Center and Uniform Centers will have slacks and skirts, the Improved Safety Boot (I-Boot 4) and the optional physical training uniform available for purchase.

The dates for when sailors must possess new uniforms and uniform components are listed in the NAVADMIN.

Sailors can ask questions and provide feedback and recommendations on Navy uniforms via the “Ask the Chiefs” email, on the Navy Uniform Matters Office (UMO) website, through MyNavy Portal at https://www.mnp.navy.mil/. Select Professional Resources, U.S. Navy Uniforms and “Ask the Chiefs”. Sailors can also contact UMO via the Navy Uniform App that can be downloaded at the Navy App Locker https://www.applocker.navy.mil/ and the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores.

Read NAVADMIN 075/19 in its entirety for details and complete information on all of the announced uniform changes, updates and guidelines at www.npc.navy.mil.

Get more information about the Navy from US Navy facebook or twitter.

For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp/.

More on We are the Mighty

MIGHTY MOVIES

“Flying Artillery” – New Tactics at Palo-Alto in the Mexican-American War

In 1846, The United States of America went to war with Mexico, eager to annex Texas and California to expand the Union from sea to shining sea. For the next two years, the American Army would fight increasingly dispirited Mexican forces, until eventually, they reached Mexico City itself.

Before the Army could march to the halls of Montezuma, they first needed to defeat the Mexican forces in the field. For General Zachary Taylor, that meant securing the Texas border.

General Taylor’s forces, sent to the disputed Mexican-American border, found himself engaging Mexican forces commanded by General Mariano Arista in early May of 1846. The bulk of General Arista’s Army consisted of cavalry, and General Taylor, though outnumbered, endeavored to put to the test his new flying artillery.

Developed by Major Samuel Ringgold, lighter guns were mounted on carriages and pulled by specially trained crews and teams of horses. Artillery proved to be the decisive force of the battle, with both sides engaging in artillery duels to silence their opponents.

Zachary Taylor, c. 1843–45

General Taylor’s battle report gives an appropriately detailed account of the battle. Another firsthand account of the battle stems from the memoirs of a young junior American Army officer by the name of Ulysses S. Grant.

General Taylor’s report explained the source of the battle,

“Mexican troops were reported in our front, and were soon discovered occupying the road in force. I ordered a halt upon reaching the water, with a view to rest and refresh the men, and form deliberately our line of battle.

The Mexican line was now plainly visible across the prairie, and about three-quarters of a mile distant. Their left, which was composed of a heavy force of cavalry, occupied the road resting upon a thicket of chapparal, while masses of infantry were discovered in succession on the right, greatly outnumbering our own force.”

Battle of Palo Alto site. Photo: Pi3.124 CC BY-SA 3.0

A young Second Lieutenant Grant wrote of the two sides’ armaments in his memoirs, noting that while both infantry carried flintlock muskets with paper cartridges.

“The artillery was generally six-pounder brass guns throwing only solid shot but General Taylor had with him three or four twelve-pounder howitzers throwing shells, besides his eighteen-pounders before spoken of, that had a long range. This made a powerful armament.”

Smoothbore Cannons at Chickamauga. Lhughesw5/Own Work/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

The Mexican artillery consisted entirely of solid shot. In the coming artillery duels, in which Grant would take part, the American artillery had a clear advantage. With both lines formed up in preparation for battle –the artillery, according to Grant, a rod or two ahead of the infantry (a rod being about sixteen and a half feet), the battle report explained that,

“while the columns were advancing, Lieutenant Blake, topographical engineers, volunteered a reconnoisance (sic) of the enemy’s line, which was handsomely performed, and resulted in the discovery of at least two batteries of artillery in the intervals of their cavalry and infantry.

These batteries were soon opened upon us, when I ordered the columns halted and deployed into line, and the fire to be returned by all our artillery. The 8th infantry, on our extreme left, was thrown back to secure that flank. The first fires of the enemy did little execution, while our 18-pounders and Major Ringgold’s artillery soon dispersed the cavalry which formed his left.”

Engraving memorializing the fatal wounding of Maj. Samuel Ringgold in the battle

The American artillery’s bombardments were so intense they set fire to the grass, throwing a thick pall of smoke to mingle with the puffs and clouds of black powder clogging the battlefield.

General Taylor’s report noted, “The fire of artillery was now most destructive openings were constantly made through the enemy’s ranks by our fire, and the constancy with which the Mexican infantry sustained this severe cannonade was a theme of universal remark and admiration.”

Mexican Fourth line regiment, under artillery attack

Despite their courage, the combined effect of American artillery and cavalry devastated both the Mexican flanks and center. A Mexican effort to assault the American left flank was rebuffed by a countering maneuver by an artillery battery. With the artillery constantly bombarding the Mexicans, and dragoons and cavalry harassing them at every turn, the Mexicans retreated, withdrawing from the field as the sun set.

General Zachary Taylor rides his horse at the Battle of Palo Alto, May 8, 1846. Photo: Mpinedag CC BY-SA 4.0

As General Taylor reported,

“Our loss this day was nine killed, forty-four wounded, and two missing. Among the wounded were Major Ringgold, who has since died, and Captain Page, dangerously wounded Lieut. Luther slightly so.”

The General reported his force totaling 2,288 men and officers, and that the Mexican force numbered, “according to the statements of their own officers taken prisoner…” over 6,000 troops, with ten artillery pieces at minimum, and an unknown number of irregulars.

Their losses, based on interrogation by a young Lieutenant George Meade, were estimated to be “not less than 200 killed and 400 wounded – probably greater.”

Monument to the Battle of Palo Alto at West Point. It is alongside a similar inscription to the Battle of Resaca de la Palma.

General Arista’s commissary report on the battle declared 102 killed, 129 wounded, and 26 missing. Regardless of the casualties, the battle proved a resounding success for artillery, a lesson the US Army would see again and again throughout the war, especially by a future Rebel general by the name of Thomas Jackson.


The "Old Guard:" 3d U.S. Infantry

The road to Fallen Timbers.

The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment or "Old Guard" is the oldest regiment in the Regular United States Army. Today, it is best-known for its ceremonial duties at Arlington National Cemetery, but the regiment has a history stretching back to the earliest days of the Republic.

The Old Guard was formed in 1784 as the 1st American Regiment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Josiah Harmar. It fought under Harmar in the Ohio frontier campaigns of 1790 and 1791. Between 1792 and 1795, it was known as the 1st Sub-Legion, and under that designation played a key role in Major General Anthony “Mad Anthony” Wayne's victory at Fallen Timbers in 1794. One year later, the regiment became known as the 1st Infantry, spending the next 17 years on frontier duty.

The road to Fallen Timbers.

During the War of 1812, the 1st Infantry served on the Canadian-Michigan frontier throughout 1812 and 1813. In 1814, it fought along the Niagara River. At the Battle of Lundy's Lane on July 25, 1814, the 1st provided key flank support for the famous actions of Brigadier General Winfield Scott's 1st Regular Brigade.

General Winfield Scott in 1835.

After the war's end in 1815, the U.S. Army consolidated its Regular infantry regiments from 44 to 8 (later 7). The 1st joined the 5th, 17th, 19th, and 28th to form a new unit this added battle honors for virtually every action along the Canadian-U.S. frontier to the regimental history. Due to considerations of geography and commander's seniority, the amalgamated unit became the 3d Infantry. This regiment deployed to the Northwest Territory along Lake Michigan's western shore in 1826, moving to Missouri and to Louisiana a decade later. From 1840 to 1843 the 3d Infantry fought in Florida in the concluding stages of the Second Seminole War.

The 3d Infantry's next major operation was the War with Mexico. The regiment joined Major General Zachary Taylor's army in southern Texas and was in the thickest of the fighting during Taylor's first two victories at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma on May 8 and 9, 1846. The 3d accompanied Taylor's advance to Monterey later in the year, helping to storm that city. The regiment formed part of the forces detached to assist Major General Winfield Scott's Mexico City campaign in 1847 this added Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, Contreras, Churubusco, and Chapultepec to the unit's battle honors. In Mexico City, General Scott nicknamed the regiment the “Old Guard” in recognition of its long and distinguished service. The regiment paraded for the first time with fixed bayonets in recognition of a key bayonet charge they made at Cerro Gordo this tradition of parading with fixed bayonets remains today, unique among all U.S. Army infantry units.

The Old Guard returned to frontier duty after the war. The Civil War's outbreak found the 3d Infantry scattered in detachments along the U.S. coast. Three companies surrendered to Texas authorities in 1861, while other detachments helped hold Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Florida. The regiment's remaining five companies comprised the bulk of the United States Infantry Battalion at the Battle of First Bull Run they, along with U.S. Marines, the 14th Brooklyn, 8th New York State Militia, and 27th New York charged Henry Hill and were repelled by the Stonewall Brigade.

After the battle, the regiment reassembled into a complete unit and was attached to George Sykes' Regular Division in the Army of the Potomac's 5th Corps. The Old Guard saw action at every battle Sykes' Division was engaged in from the Peninsula Campaign through Gettysburg, after which it was withdrawn for other duties. The 3d Infantry returned to the field for the Appomattox Campaign. Former regimental commander Ethan Allen Hitchcock played a prominent role in the War Department.

In 1866, Colonel George W. Getty assumed command of the Old Guard. Except for three years in Mississippi and Louisiana, the regiment performed garrison duty on the frontier between 1867 and 1898.

During the War with Spain, the Old Guard deployed with Major General William Shafter's 5th Corps and fought with distinction at San Juan Hill. Returning home in late 1898, the 3d Infantry won the last-ever battle between Native American and U.S. forces at Sugar Point. The next year, it transferred to the Philippines and for three years fought the Philippine Insurrection on Luzon. It then returned to the United States.

Gatling guns at San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War.

During the period before and during World War I (1916-1919), the 3d Infantry guarded the U.S.-Mexican border against incursions from the south. It then moved to Fort Snelling, Minnesota, where it remained for most of the interwar years.

During World War II, the 3d Infantry performed a variety of duties. After garrison duty in Newfoundland in 1941 and 1942, it served in several places as a training formation before deploying to Europe in March 1945. In France, it became part of the 106th Infantry Division, replacing one of two regiments lost in the Battle of the Bulge. The 106th helped mop up German pockets of resistance along the French coast and the Rhine River, and was on the troop schedule for the allied invasion of Japan, “Operation Downfall.” The 3d then served with the occupation forces in Germany before being inactivated November 20, 1946 in Berlin.

On April 6, 1948, the 3d Infantry reactivated at Fort Myer, Virginia, and Fort McNair, D.C. The Old Guard assumed the mission of funeral support to Arlington National Cemetery, guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and ceremonial support to the Military District of Washington. Notable funerals the unit supported were those of John J. Pershing, John F. Kennedy, Douglas MacArthur, Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Daniel Inouye, and the Unknown Soldiers from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Old Guard sentinels protect the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier all day, every day, in every kind of weather.

The Old Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Old Guard also remains an operational infantry unit. Battalions from the 3d Infantry fought in Vietnam 1967-72, while parts of the unit also deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terror.

The American Battlefield Trust has saved acreage at the following Old Guard battlefields: Manassas, Gaines' Mill, Glendale, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Appomattox Court House.


Battle of Palo Alto

Dates / Origin Date Issued: 1850 - 1859 (Approximate) Place: Boston New York Philadelphia Publisher: S. Walker Library locations The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection Shelf locator: PC AME-184 Topics United States -- 1840-1849 Mexican War, 1846-1848 Mexico -- History -- 1821-1861 Cannons -- Texas -- 1840-1849 Military personnel -- Texas -- 1840-1849 Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site (Tex.) -- 1840-1849 Artillery (Troops) Genres Prints Physical Description Steel engravings Extent: 22 x 29 cm (8 1/2 x 11 1/4 in.) Type of Resource Still image Identifiers NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b17168667 Barcode: 33333159317466 Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 6542f710-c531-012f-0cba-58d385a7bc34 Rights Statement The copyright and related rights status of this item has been reviewed by The New York Public Library, but we were unable to make a conclusive determination as to the copyright status of the item. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use.


Rio History: The Battle of Palo Alto

(May 14, 1836, Mexican President, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, signed the Treaties of Velasco which effectively established the Republic of Texas as a sovereign nation. In addition, Santa Anna pledged to withdraw his troops south of the Rio Grande River. However, the treaty was never ratified by the Mexican government and Mexico continued to claim the Nueces River as the boundary. Ten years later, the boundary dispute was about to escalate.)

May 7, 1846: Taylor and his men took up the march in the early evening and made their night camp some seven miles west of Port Isabel. Dawn found the column again on the march. The men made good time. About noon, the advanced guard reported the enemy forces were drawn up in great numbers just ahead.

Further on, the country opened into a broad prairie bounded by Palo Alto, a thick grove of dwarfish trees. It was here the Mexican army had chosen to fight. A division of cavalry, their pennants cracking briskly in the breeze, watched silently as the American force entered the flat plain. Behind the horsemen were the Mexican artillery and a solid column of infantry that stretched over a mile long.

While Taylors men were forming for battle, Lieutenant J.E. Blake of the Topographical Engineers galloped ahead and out onto the prairie to observe the enemy’s lines. He continued on until he was within about 150 yards of them. Dismounting he used his spyglass to do a reconnaissance of the enemy.

Not sure what his intentions were, several of the Mexican officers, who decided he had been sent to negotiate, rode towards Blake with the intention of receiving whatever message he may have been carrying for their commanding officer. Noting the two were approaching from an oblique angle, Blake quickly remounted and proceeded to deliberately ride the entire length of the enemy lines. The American troops cheered. The Mexican Cavalry however, showed no visible reaction too Blake’s daring ride. After all, they would meet him soon enough on the field of battle. We shall see who is so brave when he faces 6000 of his enemy.

Returning to the American lines, Blake gave General Taylor an accurate count of the Mexican force and the number if artillery and cavalry the Americans would soon face.

The space between the two armies was now lessening and details of the opposing side were becoming plainly visible. A space of less than seven hundred separated the two armies when the Mexican artillery opened fire throwing ball and grape shot over the heads of the Americans. Later, General Taylor would recall that first cannonade.

“In quick succession, the whole of their artillery fired causing the earth to tremble and creating a tremendous column of smoke and dust.”

The American artillery returned fire and the battle was on. For over two hours the cannonading continued, a deadly contest with the Mexicans out gunned from the start. Major Ringgold’s command moved about the field, pausing here and there to send painfully accurate bursts of grape amongst the massed might of the Mexican cavalry. Men and horses alike stood no chance under this kind of devastating fire power. A regiment of lancers commanded by General Torrejon, moved towards the right in an attempt to flank our lines, Major Ringgold directed his guns down upon their heads but still, they came on. Captain Walker and about twenty of the rangers was on the right and the 5th continued to throw volley after volley into the advancing lancers until at last they were stopped and then turned back. Confusion reigned among the now disorganized Mexicans and most made to retreat, though a small number continued their attempt to breach our lines, but they too were driven back when Col. Twiggs and the 3rd Infantry cut off their advance.

The cannon fire was so intense that the wiry grasses of the plain now caught fire. Clouds of thick smoke and the stench of spent gun powder seared the nostrils of men and animal alike. The battle had raged for two hours before the Mexican batteries began to slacken until they were silent.

Now the Mexican Army began falling back, hoping to reposition themselves.

The Americans quickly moved their guns forward however and continued their deadly cannonade. The enemy was not defeated yet. Major Ringgold had both legs shot away by a cannon ball that passed entirely through his horse. The enemy forces fought bravely, forming and reforming under some of the heaviest cannonading seen in the battle, but to no avail, steadily they were driven back, always fighting, always dying in great numbers. Night finally put an end to the battle. The Mexican forces had lost some 200 killed and 400 wounded. It was reported that a great number of them had become separated from their command and it took several days for the stragglers to return and be accounted for. Of the Americans, 4 were reported killed and thirty seven wounded.

The dispute was finally settled in 1848 with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo by Mexico and the United States which ended the Mexican War and firmly established the boundary between Mexico and Texas.


Watch the video: Lets Talk About Texas History: Battle Of Palo Alto