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The Face of Battle Previous Next
Digital History ID 3265

 

American forces quickly conquered Mexico's northernmost provinces. In less than two months, Colonel Stephen Kearny marched his 1,700-man army more than a thousand miles, occupied Santa Fe, and declared New Mexico's 80,000 inhabitants American citizens.

Meanwhile, American settlers in California's Sacramento Valley, fearful that Mexican authorities were about to expel them from the region, revolted. In early July, U.S. naval forces under Commodore John Sloat captured the California town of Monterey and proclaimed California a part of the United States.

Despite the unbroken string of American victories, Mexico refused to negotiate. In disgust, Polk ordered General Winfield Scott to invade central Mexico from the sea, march inland, and capture Mexico City. On March 9, 1847, the Mexicans allowed Scott and a force of 10,000 men to land unopposed at Veracruz on Gulf of Mexico. Scott's troops then began to march on the Mexican capital. On September 14, 1847, the Americans entered the Mexican capital, and raised the American flag over Mexico City-- an event memorialized in the Marine Corps hymn with the line "from the halls of Montezuma."

Despite the capture of their capital, the Mexicans refused to surrender. Hostile crowds staged demonstrations in the streets, and snipers fired shots and hurled stones and broken bottles from the tops of flat-roofed Mexican houses. Outside the capital, belligerent civilians attacked army supply wagons, and guerrilla fighters harassed American troops. Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts expressed the prevailing sentiment: "Mexico is an ugly enemy. She will not fight--and will not retreat."

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