This province of Spanish American, which would later become the state of Texas, had attracted many emigrants from the adjoining States on the east, who showed a strong rebellious sentiment against the oppressive acts of the Mexican government, and in 1835 broke out into open rebellion. A collision took place on October 2 of that year. A war ensued, which continued with varying fortunes until the following year, a Declaration of Independence being made by the Texans on March 2, 1836. On March 6 took place the famous massacre at the Alamo, and on April 21 the battle of San Jacinto, in which the Mexicans were badly beaten, and their general and president, Santa Anna, taken prisoner. He was forced, as a condition to his release, to send the Mexican troops from the country and to decree the cessation of hostilities.
The independence of Texas was soon after acknowledged by the United States, France, and England, and in 1845, in response to a proposal from the Texan authorities, the new republic of Texas was accepted as a State of the American Union. This action gave great umbrage to Mexico, which country had never acknowledged the independence of Texas, and in the ensuing year collisions took place between the armies of the two countries, on the border line of the Rio Grande. On May 7, 1846, a conflict occurred on Texan soil, at Palo Alto, and another on the ensuing day, at Resaca de la Palma, in both of which the Mexicans were defeated. These events were quickly followed by a declaration of war on the part of the United States, and an army of fifty thousand volunteers was called for.
Mexico was invaded in several directions, General Kearney marching upon Santa Fe and General Wool towards Chihuahua. The results of these movements were the occupation of the province of New Mexico and the capture of the city of Chihuahua, while Fremont, about the same time, took possession of California.
Meanwhile, General Taylor, with the main army, advanced, and laid siege to the strong city of Monterey. The assault on this city began on September 21, and was repeated on the 22d and 23d, the troops excavating their way through the stone walls of the houses. On the morning of the 24th the Mexican general surrendered. The succeeding events were the capture of Saltillo by General Worth, of Victoria by General Patterson, and of the port of Tampico by the fleet under Commodore Perry.
A new enterprise was now projected by the government at Washington,-the capture of Vera Cruz, and a direct march from the coast upon the city of Mexico. General Scott was sent out to take the chief command, and withdrew most of the regulars under Taylor to aid in this expedition. Taylor's force was now reduced to about ten thousand volunteers and a few companies of regulars. Meanwhile, Santa Anna was at San Luis Potosi, with twenty-two thousand of the best troops of Mexico, prepared to oppose his advance. In early February, 1847, Taylor advanced with part of his force to Agua Nueva, but learning that Santa Anna was marching on him with his whole army, he fell back to Buena Vista and took position in a strong mountain-defile. He had then with him four thousand seven hundred and fifty-nine men to oppose an army of about twenty thousand.
Santa Anna's march to this point had been a difficult one, through deserts and over mountains, his army almost destitute of food and water. A speedy victory or a hasty retreat was necessary for him, for his men could not long be sustained in the country into which he had advanced. Yet he had a serious task before him, despite the small force of his opponents. The pass through the mountains, which the Americans had seized, was constricted by impassable gullies, till it was little wider than the road that traversed it, while on each side rose high and precipitous mountains. Three miles distant was the small village of Buena Vista, where the American baggage-and supply-trains were stationed. On February 22 the Mexican army advanced to the southern entrance to the pass, and Santa Anna sent General Taylor a summons to surrender, which was without ceremony declined. Some skirmishing took place, but the main action was reserved for the next day.
The remaining events of the war were a constant series of successes. General Scott, with the army under his command, landed near Vera Cruz on March 9, 1847. He forced this city to surrender on the 27th, and on April 8 began an overland march towards the city of Mexico. On April 18 Santa Anna was seriously repulsed at Cerro Gordo, and in August the American army reached the immediate vicinity of the Mexican capital. On the 18th the formidable Mexican intrenchments at Contreras were carried by assault, and on the same day the important post of Churubusco was carried. On September 8 the fortress known as the Molino del Rey was captured, and on the 13th the very strong fortifications on the hill of Chapultepec were carried by an impetuous and daring assault.
On the same day an advance on the city took place, and by nightfall the American troops were within its gates. The capture of the city was fully achieved during the ensuing day. This result virtually ended the war, though some minor military movements followed. A treaty of peace was signed on the 2d of February, 1848, and was ratified on May 30. Under its provisions the United States gained a large accession of territory, embracing all New Mexico and Upper California. In return the United States surrendered all other conquered territory, paid Mexico fifteen million dollars, and assumed all debts owed by Mexico to American citizens.
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