The United States annexed Texas as a state in 1845, though Mexico continued to claim the territory. In 1846, the dispute over Texas erupted into war. Over the next two years, the bloody conflict killed or wounded approximately 44,000 people. Mexico ceded half of its national territory to the United States.
The Battle of Brazito
On Christmas Day 1846, Mexican troops battled US troops about 40 miles upriver from Paso del Norte. The US troops, primarily volunteers from Missouri, were invading southward from Santa Fe, New Mexico. A small engagement, the Battle of Brazito illustrates a local connection to the international conflict.
This guidon was carried by a Mexican officer in the Battle of Brazito. Mounted lancers flew such flags on their weapons. This one was later captured by the Missouri Light Artillery at the Battle of Sacramento and has been preserved by the Missouri Historical Society. The opposite side of the guidon is painted with the words, "Libertad o Muerte," meaning "Liberty or Death." A replica of the guidon is on display in the permanent museum exhibit at Chamizal National Memorial Cultural Center.
A Mexican Perspective
The enemy opened their fire, first by sections, then by platoons, and finally at will; but their first line soon fell into disorder, and fled towards the woods, where their officers endeavored to make them return to the action. Ponce then gave orders to sound the charge; and that sound (unheard of circumstance!) whether well or ill-executed by the trumpeter, whether intentionally or accidentally interpreted by the cavalry, is the signal of retreat.
This quote is taken from the English translation of Notes for the History of the War Between Mexico and the United States. The original version in Spanish was written by multiple contributors, but the account from the Battle of Brazito—or Batalla de Temascalitos, as it is called in Spanish—is generally attributed to don Ramón Ortiz, an activist priest living in Paso del Norte.
A United States Perspective
They advanced closer, and continued to advance, pouring in volley after volley, till the sound of bullets over our heads reminded me of a hail-storm.—We waited impatiently for the word of command. It was at length given, ‘Fire!’
—Private William H. Richardson, from Journal of William H. Richardson, a Private Soldier in the Campaign of New and Old Mexico
Last updated: December 16, 2021