The Battle of Buena Vista
On February 23, 1847, more than 15,000
Mexican troops charged General Zachary Taylor's small command of
soldiers. Using heavy artillery, the general's 5,000 men turned
back the Mexican army led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa
Anna. By nightfall, the Mexican army retreated, ending the
Battle of Buena Vista, but not the Mexican-American War.
The Battle of Buena Vista was fought near Monterrey in northern
Mexico. The American war with Mexico was not for
independence or for political reasons but to obtain more land.
General Taylor was just the man to fight that sort of war.
Samuel McNeil, an Ohio shoemaker, wrote of General Taylor's
bravery on the battlefield, "I must mention one circumstance
that happened there, which shows the extraordinary coolness of
Gen. Z. Taylor in battle. He saw a small cannon ball coming
directly towards his person. Instead of spurring [his horse]
'Old Whitey' out of its way, he coolly rose in his very short
stirrups and permitted the ball to pass between his person and
General Taylor did not pursue General Santa
Anna after the Battle of Buena Vista, but General Winfield Scott
of the American Army caught up with the Mexican general a few
General Scott invaded Mexico from the sea.
At the Battle of Cerro Gordo, he defeated the Mexican army, but,
once again, General Santa Anna escaped capture. Despite strong
resistance, Scott pressed forward and captured the Mexican
capital in September. On February 2, 1848, the Treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in Mexico City, ending the war.
Five years later, the Gadsden Purchase set the current boundary
between the U.S. and Mexico.
Taylor's victories in the
war contributed greatly to his election as president in 1848.
Scott also ran for president but was defeated in 1852 by another
veteran of the Mexican-American War, Franklin Pierce.