Texas Military Forces Historical Sketch

War With Mexico

In the period between the War for Independence and the War with Mexico, the volunteer companies, as stated above, were mainly concerned with Indian raids and marauding bandits, but when the call to arms came in the emergency, Texans were found ready once again to take the field and fight for what they thought belonged to them.

It was on December 29, 1845, that Texas was admitted to the United States as the 28th state, being the 15th state in the order of admission to the Union after the original 13 colonies.

Mexico, though, had no idea of parting with her vast and fertile province without striking a blow for its preservation, and General Arista crossed the Rio Grande in force, whereupon General Zachary Taylor, moving from Corpus Christi to Matamoros, apprehending the Mexicans would oppose him "upon American soil" with superior numbers, as they very easily could have done, dispatched an express to the settlements of Texas for aid. In an incredibly short space of time, the regiments of Jack Hays and Woods were en route, being preceded, however, by the gallant company of Walker and the incomparable troop of peerless Ben McCulloch.

The Congress of the United States solemnly declared that "war existed between Mexico and the United States by the act of Mexico," or words equivalent in meaning. This declaration was based on the title of Texas to all the territory between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. If the claim of Texas was null, then the United States was an aggressor and her Congress had stated a falsehood, but the battle was on and the Texans rushed to their newly adopted colors.

The first Texans to reach General Taylor's army on the Rio Grande were the two independent companies of mounted men commanded by Captains Samuel H. Walker and John T. Price. The former participated in the first two engagements, those of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, both of which were fought in Texas. The Second and Third Regiments of Mounted Men were present at the capture of Monterey in September, 1846. On September 27, 1846, seven companies of Texas Rangers, commanded by Colonel Hays and Lieutenant Colonel Walker, participated in the storming of Independence Hill, a strongly fortified and commanding position. It was in the War with Mexico that the mounted volunteers first clothed the name of Texas Rangers with its traditional glory.

The first Texas troops called out, having been mustered in for only six months, were discharged after the battle of Monterey, and most of them returned to their homes, with the promise of reporting (on the part of most of the officers) in case their further services should be required. Shortly after the Texans had reached home, General Taylor called for a limited number of mounted men. Four companies were raised.

McCulloch's Spy Company was recruited upon the termination of the armistice and arrived at Monterey January 31, 1847, and from there proceeded to Saltillo, where he found General Taylor, and the company was mustered in for the term of six months. McCulloch and W. H. Phillips penetrated the enemy's lines and secured valuable information.

In April and May, 1847, the second regiment of mounted men, or Rangers, to be commanded by Colonel John C. Hays was organized at San Antonio, being mustered into the service of the United States for 12 months or duration of the war. It consisted of two battalions, five companies each. This command was attached to the army under General Winfield Scott and started on the victorious march to the City of Mexico. Hay's men remained in Mexico until peace was declared.

As nearly as can be ascertained the following Texas troops took part in the War with Mexico: First Texas Infantry Rifles (Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston), enlisted for six months, at the expiration of which it was mustered out by General Taylor, was never engaged; Captain Samuel H. Walker's Spy Company (was the first Texas command to reach General Taylor on the Rio Grande and took part in the battle of Palo Alto, only Texas force present at that action, afterwards attached to Hay's Rangers); First Texas Mounted Rifles (Colonel John Hays, six months); Second Texas Mounted Volunteers, Third Texas Mounted Volunteers, Bell's Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers; Brower's Spy Company, McCulloch's Spy Company (attached to Hay's First Regiment), Cady's Company Mounted Rangers, Chevallie's Battalion, Texas Mounted Volunteers, Connor's Company (six months, 1846), Gray's and Grumble's companies (Texas Mounted Volunteers), Hill's Company and Lamar's Company (Texas Mounted Volunteers), Price's, Roberts' and Shapley P. Ross' companies (Texas Mounted Volunteers), Shivers and Scofield's companies (Texas Volunteers), Stapp's Company (Texas Mounted Volunteers), Sutton's Company (second service), Wyman's Company, Smith's Battalion. From first to last, Texas furnished some 8,000 men, but their terms of enlistment varied from three to 12 months. Hays' second regiment was the last Texas command to be mustered out.

So far as disclosed by the available records, the Texas frontier was comparatively free from Indian incursions during 1846-48, which may probably have been the result of the relatively large force kept on the Rio Grande and the movements of troops at other points.

The War with Mexico meant another victory for the United States and the first war in which the State of Texas served under the Stars and Stripes.

From the close of the War with Mexico early in 1848 to 1851, a number of companies were mustered into the service of the United States for the purpose of frontier protection, composed principally of ex-Texas Rangers and men who had served in Mexico or on the border during hostilities.

Following the War with Mexico, the volunteer companies once again turned their attention to Indian raids and the depredations of outlaws. During this period Texas was rapidly progressing and increasing its population, but the dark shadows of internal strife in the Union were cast over Texas and its men were once again to shoulder arms and march away to the battle.

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