Mapping the conflict
The lower Rio Grande Valley was the stage for much of the early action during the U.S.-Mexican War. The armies of Zachary Taylor and Mariano Arista battled each other several times in these early stages of the war. From the riverside action at Rancho de Carricitos to the artillery duel on the prairie of Palo Alto, the two armies clashed repeatedly as they vied for control of the area.
Palo Alto Battlefield (public domain)
Rancho de Carricitos
A brief skirmish at the tiny settlement of Rancho de Carricitos, ignited a two-year war between the United States and Mexico.
During the six-day siege, American defenders of Fort Texas withstood a heavy Mexican bombardment with limited casualties. One of those killed was Maj. Jacob Brown, for whom the post was renamed. The city of Brownsville, Texas, grew up around it.
Gen. Mariano Arista expected the open prairie of Palo Alto to favor his larger army and his cavalry. Instead, the power and mobility of U.S. artillery placed him at a disadvantage.
Resaca de la Palma
The battle of Resaca de la Palma was primarily an infantry clash in dense thickets. A cavalry charge by Capt. Charles May’s dragoons, however, captured both Mexican Gen. Rómulo Díaz de la Vega and the American imagination.
Did You Know?
Americans celebrated the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma with songs, artwork, and poetry. One enterprising company even marketed a men’s hat called the “Palo Alto.” Sales were so brisk that a “Resaca” women’s hat soon followed.