Part 6: We want all of your burritos, and you’re gonna like it

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The Mexican military had just taken a beating by the Texian military, yet they still wanted to remain on good terms with the newly formed Republic of Texas. Their only caveat? Don’t join the US. What did the Texans do? They became the 28th state on December 29th, 1845. #DontTellMeWhatToDo The US promptly caused a questionable intrusion into a disputed border between Texas and Mexico, causing an incident that would “justify” the invasion of Vietn…. wait, wrong country. I meant Cub… this is quickly becoming a reoccurring theme. The US invaded Mexico on April 25th, 1846, because Mexican food is awesome, and they wanted some. #DontTryRatChorizo #TrustMe

US President James K. Polk took office in 1845, and one of the first items on his agenda was to try and purchase the land between the Nueces River (the Texan border that Mexico recognized) and the Rio Grande (the border that the US recognized). Polk offered Mexico the absurd (at that time) amount of $25 million dollars for the Texan border, Nuevo Mexico, and the area of Alta California, which was pretty much California, Nevada and Arizonia. Why was it absurd? The precious metals and oil in those regions hadn’t been discovered yet. A majority of that land was dust, rocks, and angry natives. So why did the Americans want it? They wanted a port in the Pacific before the British started building hotels on the monopoly they were putting together. Polk was essentially paying $25 million for a Pacific port and some red rocks. The Mexicans refused. Polk turned around and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse, and ordered Major General Zachary Taylor to kind of saunter into the territory and start establishing outposts. #IfImStandingOnIt #Murica

 

The Mexicans decided to evict Taylor’s Squatters, or whatever they referred to them as. They did so by attacking a patrol and killed 12 soldiers and took 52 as prisoners of war. They then swung the unit around and laid siege to a fort on the Rio Grande. Polk immediately scurried off to Congress, citing these incidents as cause for war. Congress agreed, the Army marched on, the Navy set a blockade, and the Marines just sat around with their thumb up their collective butts for a while. #NoPuddlePirates #NoChairForce

To get to Mexico, the US moved through the disputed Texan territory and “Nuevo Mexico,” which is pretty easy to translate. When Spain was in charge of Mexico, they had been paying the Apaches and Comanches to leave their people alone. When that disappeared when Mexico gained its independence in 1829, and they then spent the next three decades either engaged in a Civil War or losing to the French. #ThatsEmbarrassing The entire reason that the Mexicans had tried to get people to settle those lands in the first place was to displace the Comanche’s and Apaches. It didn’t work, as most of the settlers wanted the rich farmland of east Texas, and New Mexico was mostly cacti and rocks. As such, the Mexican plan didn’t work, and the Apaches and Comanches started having their way with them. #FunTimes When the Army rolled through, they found little resistance and people who were just happy that someone could bring the Comanches and Apaches to heel for a while, because Mexico surely didn’t. Those troops were needed in the interior, mostly to fight each other. What about California? Most of them were trying to become another US state, as they Mexicans were virtually useless, and the British weren’t cool with veganism and surfing. #NotCoolBro

The Mexican military was a bad joke. Most of the soldiers were untrained and the officers were mostly political appointees rather than trained leaders. As an example of how little the Mexicans were capable of working together, only 7 of the 19 provinces sent money, troops, material, and money for the war. The rest? They watched from the sidelines as it was mostly the Conservatives that attempted to defend the country. Many of those that sat this one out were of the Liberal party. #GuessWhoWinsTheNextCivilWar

The American military was quite the opposite. While overall a smaller force, the US had better weapons, trained soldiers and sailors, and a competent Navy. The dark spot of this conflict were the Volunteer units called up for the war by Congress. They weren’t even able to be called poorly trained, and most of their officers were the ones that the regular Army didn’t want. What’s worse was that the Regular Army officers recorded in their journals multiple instances of the Volunteers wartime excesses- namely drinking tequila, looting villages, murdering innocent civilians, and torching their hovels. Rape was not often written of directly, but rather referred to in the abstract i.e. “making beasts of themselves” (to the women) and “taking liberties.” #Shitbags #DontCallThemSoldiers

The Mexican side was led by none other than Santa Anna, recently returned from his recent “forced vacation in a foreign environment.” Polk had actually sent him back in August 1846 with a bag with $2 million dollars to take control of the country, end the war and sell the territory that the US wanted. What did he do? Swapped sides and took control of the military with the promise of stopping there. #ThanksForTheGringoMoney Did he? Of course not. He took the presidency again. #HisSeatWasStillWarmFromLastTime The US side had a number of officers that fought in the conflict whose names are well recognized- Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, Commodore Matthew C. Perry, Robert E. Lee, George Meade, James Longstreet, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. The same people who would be leaders in the Civil War got their start fighting side-by-side in the Mexican-American War.

General Taylor initially set the military on a two-pronged attack, although it was really a three front war- the Navy and Marines on the coast, the Army marching towards Mexico City, and the reserves fighting Indians to the west. The Natives had more successful raids on the US military than the Mexicans, although the US Army made them pay for that both during and after the war. #Geronimo #SorryNotSorry

There were a number of battles fought throughout the course of the war, but they were fairly uninteresting in that it was mostly the US Army kicking the crap out of uniformed rabble. The Navy and Marines zombie stomped most of the Mexican military in California, taking the ports of San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Monterey without very much difficulty. The easiest way to display how easily the US won the California campaign, it started on July 3rd and was over by August 13th. Six weeks. With ships powered by WIND. That’s about as quick as you can possibly take that large territory at the time. #VivaLaSpeedBump

The residents of Santa Fe had considered an uprising against the US occupiers, but when the Army learned of it, they rounded up the leaders, shot a few, and basically convinced the locals that it was a bad idea. Everyone in the region caught the hint. #WereGonnaStayHome The Natives even quieted down, as they were pretty tired of getting the crap beaten out of them by actual soldiers rather than the incompetent Mexican military.

The turning point in Northern Mexico was the Battle of Buena Vista in January 1847. Santa Anna marched on Taylor’s position with 20,000 soldiers (15,000 actually made it to the fight) against Taylor’s 4,600. Sounds one-sided? Yeah, for the Americans. They beat the Mexicans like a red-headed step child. They mauled the Mexican Army and sent them packing by dawn. The Mexican defeat was so well known in the US that Taylor used that as a foundation for his 1848 presidential campaign. #Spoiler #HeWins

That was really the last major gasp of offense from the Mexicans, as they got turned on their heels at that point. #Quitter Along the way, the Americans discovered a tactic that we still use today successfully. Rather than going through a doorway that probably has enemy guns trained on it, they used artillery in direct fire mode to “mouse hole the buildings”- blow a big ass hole in the wall and just walk in. #ThanksForTheBreaches #%BuildingCodes

Polk got tired of Taylors long march across Mexico and sent a second army under General Winfield Scott to come in from Veracruz and shortcut to Mexico City with 8,500 troops. He did it in three months with minimal casualties and defending his log tail as well. #GuessWhoseMilitarySucks By August, Mexico City was under American control. Santa Anna tried one last attack on the Americans in September, but he got beaten so badly that he never led another military campaign again. #Quitter The US lost more people from yellow fever and other diseases than they did to the Mexicans throughout the course of the war.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was formally signed in February 1848 and ratified by an overwhelming majority by both the American and Mexican Senates by May. The US paid $15 million dollars for all of the territory that they wanted and assumed $3.25 million of debts owed by Mexico to the US. You read that right- the Mexicans took a $10 million-dollar loss to sell the same real estate to the US two years before because they thought they could fight it out. #BadMove #FiscalIrresponsibility

Just to bring everyone up to speed on what the continental US now looked like, it was pretty much what it is now with the exception of a little chunk of southern Arizona (that Santa Anna sells to the US in 1853 because he literally parties away $15 million dollars) and the Oregon Territory is time shared with Britain. That deal is about to peacefully end as well, so the US is about to look like it does now.

Two big items came about on the civilian and political side due to the war. First, Congressman Abraham Lincoln made a splash on the political scene by publicly ridiculing Polk for starting “a war unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President of the United States” and praising General Taylors execution of Polk’s War. This event began Lincoln’s rise to popularity and eventual presidential campaign. The second was that this was the first American War covered by the American media. “Freedom of the Press” would begin their love/hate relationship with the US military due to this conflict. #Great #EmbedsAreHere Reporters who went forward with the troops would be able to write their memoirs after the war, and some would make considerable money off of their novels.

The entirety of the conflicts with Mexico from 1835-1848 were instrumental in not only shifting the US from an isolationist country that fought defensively, but one that could successfully project its military might abroad. Granted, it was against the special needs military of the western hemisphere, but that’s not the point- the US was building an empire and winning. While the next war was fought against each other, the US would show the world how conflict was going to be waged from there out- violently and without being “gentlemanly” anymore. #YourRulesAreStupid #ImJustHereForTheViolence Events that occurred throughout this time were key pieces in the Civil War that would occur in only 12 short years. Mexico would arguably never recover from their defeat at the hands of the US, and except for a brief scrap with the French in 1862, their military was virtually non-existent.

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