The Battle of Palo Alto was the first major battle of the Mexican–American War fought on May 8, 1846. It took place north of the Rio Grande River near present-day Brownsville, Texas. Union forces, led by future president General Zachary Taylor, defeated a superior Mexican force. This victory along with others led to Taylor's status as a war hero and aided him down the road in his run for president.


  • Battle of Palo Alto Historic Marker
    Battle of Palo Alto Historic Marker
  • Portrait of U.S. General Zachary Taylor by Joseph Henry Bush circa 1848
    Portrait of U.S. General Zachary Taylor by Joseph Henry Bush circa 1848
  • Replica Model 1841 6-pound field gun at the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park
    Replica Model 1841 6-pound field gun at the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park

On April 23, 1846, Mexico proclaimed a "defensive war" against the United States, which had annexed Texas. On May 12, after hostilities had begun on Texas soil, the United States declared war on Mexico. U.S. General Zachary Taylor went to the Rio Grande to establish Fort Texas and Fort Polk. The battle began as a result of Mexican efforts to lay seige to Fort Texas.

     
The battle began at roughly 2:00 P.M. on May 8, and lasted until sunset. it could be considered a stalemate, but it was apparent that the American artillery was superior to that of the Mexican forces. The last maneuver at Palo Alto was a desperate Mexican charge at sunset. Taylor's troops managed to attack and defeat the Mexicans before they could regroup.

     The battle proved the effectiveness of the tactic of 
using light artillery to attack then quickly move to another location to fire again. It was followed by another American victory the next day in the Battle of Resaca de la Palma. These early accomplishment were a major boost for the moral of the American troops. Today, the battlefield is marked as the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park.

"The Battle of Palo Alto" Texas State Historical Association. Accessed December 5, 2014. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qep01 "The Mexican-American War: The Battle of Palo Alto" PBS.org. Accessed December 5, 2014. http://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/war/palo_alto.html Allison, William, Jeffrey Grey, and Janet G. Valentine. American Military History: A Survey from Colonial Times to the Present. 2007. 144-45. Print