Mexican War

The American soldier on the monument representing the Mexican War memorializes the brave men who fought to establish the United States as a continental power.

The soldiers rank could be identified by the color of their wool uniforms — light blue for privates and navy blue for officers. All wore dark blue caps.

Most who served were in their late teens to early twenties and had never been away from home before. They enlisted for what they thought would be an adventure. Their average pay was only $7 a month.

The seeds of this conflict were sown almost a decade before the first shots were fired. It began when Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836, but Mexico refused to accept the loss of Texas, considering it to be Mexican territory.

Texas officially joined the Union in 1845.

Shortly after a border dispute, tension between the US and Mexico increased. And as the situation deteriorated, both sides sent troops to the area. Congress declared war on Mexico on May 13th, 1846.

Americans enthusiastically supported the battle and because of long lines at some recruiting stations, many had to be turned away. Thousands of newly-arrived Irish and German immigrants were among the volunteers.

The Mexican War officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848. The agreement ended hostilities and included provisions that greatly increased the size of the United States. The border between the United States and Mexico was fixed as the Rio Grande River, and the country took undisputed control of Texas. The present day states of Utah, Nevada, California and portions of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming became American territory.

It was a decisive victory for America, and the first foreign war fought almost entirely in another country. American forces won all its battles through a combination of superior leadership, expert training and better weaponry.

Victory assured that the west — with half a million square miles of new territory — was officially open to Americans.