Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Battle of Buena Vista

The advantage swung from one side to the other in the battle of Buena Vista, one of the most hard-fought battles of the Mexican War. While 5,000 American soldiers withstood a brutal attack from a much larger Mexican force, a U.S. Army band played “Hail Columbia.”

The war between Mexico and the United States began in May, 1846. In September, General Zachary Taylor, “Old Rough and Ready,” led a U.S. force about 200 miles into Mexico and captured the city of Monterrey.

Then in January, 1847, Mexican President and General Santa Anna marched north with 20,000 men to confront the Americans. Outnumbered four to one, the U.S. troops set their defense in the narrow La Angostura Valley, near a ranch named Hacienda Buena Vista.

The Mexicans attacked on February 20, capturing important defensive positions. The next day, the Americans were almost surrounded. But when Santa Anna offered Taylor a chance to surrender, Taylor ordered his soldiers to “Double shot your guns and give them hell!!!!” Two American units – the Third Indiana and the Mississippi Rifles formed a long, wide angle that would later be called the “V of Buena Vista.” When the Mexicans charged again, they were cut down by the withering cross fire. Santa Anna lost 1800 soldiers. Taylor 700. By day’s end, the Mexican army was in retreat.

In 1848, the hero of Buena Vista, Zachary Taylor, was elected President

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