Vacation getaways, white sands, and Cancun are what modern day México is renowned for.  The Travel Channel and other broadcasts proclaim México as south of the border party central for people both young and old.  Cancun, the most popular Yucatan destination has been the feature of Mexican travel destinations for its oasis style beaches, lavish resort accommodations, and madcap nightlife.  Cancun alone hosts more than ten million visitors a year. While many people vacation in Mexico, they are blissfully unaware of Mexico’s road to independence and the relationship that it had with it neighbors, including Mexico’s disastrous preliminary rapport with that of the United States in the Mexican-American War.  While many are unaware of the war itself, leaving the remnants of history in their grade school textbooks, they are also unaware of the historic figures that shaped the war from beginning to end.

The leading commanders in the Mexican-American War including General Winfield Scott from The United States and General Antonio López de Santa Anna of Mexico are two of the most significant figures of the war, equally impacted the war with their personal, political, and military exploits years many years before the war was contemplated as well as during the war as well. Even as both of these infamous figures were tediously forming their personal, political, and militia focused pursuits, the two must prevalent nations of the Americas were expanding in size and territory while simultaneously trouncing treaties, alliances, and previous negotiations for monetary profit and territorial development.  Nonetheless, in conjunction with previous animosities, General Scott was able to utilize previous strategic analysis as Santa Anna was able to emit acquired strategic skills while simultaneously attempting to counterbalance deficiencies such as lack of advanced strategy and advanced weaponry that allowed the capture of Mexico City to materialize.

General Winfield Scott also known as “Old Fuss and Feather” during his presidential Whig Party run and loss against Franklin Pierce in 1852, has been deemed as the most able general to serve in a military militia in American History.  His countless number of involvements in various wars and confrontations spanned from The War of 1812 to the Civil War in 1861.  Nonetheless, Scott was best known for his tactful skill and heroism in The Mexican American war, however, is has been speculated that his success in the Capture of Mexico City was based upon luck in conjunction with the Mexicans Lack of agility and preparedness in regards to their militia led under General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.  Santa Anna, born in Jalapa, Mexico, February of 1794 was born to Antonio López de Santa Anna and Manuela Pérez, a middle class family amidst the birth of a revolution from Spain.  Although gaining martial and  political recognition is not easily attainable, Santa Anna effortlessly demonstrated a resilient interest in the armed forces, thus entering in the colonial Spanish Army at the early age of 16, during the most villainous and manic period of Mexican history; The Mexican resistance and Independence from Spain.  Santa Anna’s military and political career were correlated; as his military career advanced, his political stature concurrently progressive as well.  Santa Anna’s military vocation began as Mexico’s independence from Spain became inevitable; however, Santa Anna continued to serve the Spanish coalition.  In fact, with Mexico unstructured with an informal band of Mexican nationalists, the Spanish Army best prepared Santa Anna for his future roles on the other side of the fence, dedicating his cause to the future president of Mexico, Agustín de Iterbide.  Under Iterbide, Santa Anna was awarded the title of General Santa Anna in 1823.  Although Iterbide ultimately furnished Santa Anna with the opportitunity to progress in his military career, Santa Anna envisioned Mexico as a republic nation, which led to Santa Anna decision to consequentially overthrow Iterbide, thus gaining the position as governor of the Yucatan State.  After vast successes in his military career, Santa Anna retired to enjoy the fruits of his labor only to be called upon by Anastasio Bustamante in 1833 to aid in the continual battle against government corruption and interdependence on Spain.  Ultimately, Santa Anna was elected president in 1833, which only began as the forefront for the many battles and political input that he would pour into the Mexican-American war.

            In the time that lead up to the capture of Mexico City, Mexico-American relations had deteriorated.  Once Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, its government, disorderly, corrupt, and penniless, was unable to maintain its control over the lands of Texas, Alto California (California), and Nuevo México (New Mexico).  Although Mexico retained control of Texas, Mexican officials permitted some American families to settle into Texas. However a few hundred families multiplied into a multitude of U.S. citizens whom at one point were unwilling to participate in Mexico’s legislation.  Despite the Texas dwellers, Mexico had created a laundry list of problems regarding legislation and enforcing it.  For instance, unlike the rest of the United States where these dwellers had many freedoms and liberties in relation to religion, Mexico required that all Texas settlers practice Roman Catholicism.  Additionally, although Texas could be considered a southern state in which slavery should be legal, Mexico abolished slavery long before the settlers were allowed into Texas, therefore, this eliminated slaves used for cotton picking and crop rearing that most southerners were accustomed to. Unlike the United States where congress has power to defy and or ratify governmental themes in concurrence with the president, a newly sanctioned Mexican constitution operated strictly under a set of seven laws which ultimately gave more power to the president.  Under the new constitution, the president could dismiss congress without recourse and also take over judicial decisions instead of leaving it in the hands of the courts.  This gave predominant power to Antonio López de Santa Anna, who was coincidentally the Mexican President during this period.  Enraged, by the lack of liberties that Mexico proposed, the people of Texas fought for their annexation from Mexico. Ironically, the same dwellers that Mexico permitted to utilize the land of Texas are the same few thousand people that revolted and opted for Texas to be acknowledged as a separate state.  Furthermore, as the people of Texas attempted to establish itself as a republic while the President Polk used the Mexican’s inability to govern from afar as an opportunity to claim Texas as part of the United States.  Notwithstanding the recent gains as Texas as a part of the union, President Polk had all intensions of acquiring lands from Mexico by way of price of force.  In fact, according to Maurice Matlof, “The President went into the war with one object clearly in view- to seize all of Mexico north of the Rio Grande and the Gila River and westward to the Pacific .“[1] This was directly influential in the Mexico’s failed attempt to resist force from The United States’ illegitimate acumination of Mexican territory, thus marking the preceding events that ultimately initiated the war.

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            Although there were many battles that skewed a throng of injured soldiers and disarray on both sides of the war, the battles leading up to the Capture of Mexico City thoroughly impacted the Mexican regime, including Santa Anna’s ability to attain control and tactfully execute a plan of attack and protection from American forces, while General Winfield Scott continually implemented successful strategic attacks.  The war was not intended to become a war of years or months even.  According to Matlof, Polk anticipated a brisk war, however, as time passed, Polk had a general anticipation of striking Mexico City this is where centralized government was conducted in the capital.[2]  Winfield Scott deeply opposed taking such a risk, fearing that the inability of supplying food, additional artillery and supplies would hinder progress. President Polk remained unmoved against considering those precautions, and consequentially, Polk sent General Zachary Taylor to begin making assessments while Winfield Scott began planning The Battle of Palo Alto was the opening battle of the war in which Zachary Taylor led approximately three thousand soldiers to present day Brownsville, Texas to establish Fort Texas.  Genera Mariano Arista of the Mexican army countered this number by bringing four thousand troops to remain between Fort Texas and the supply base that Taylor established.  When Arista’s regime captured Fort Texas, Taylor and part of his army managed to escape, however, the few that were left behind were unable to impede the Mexican forces.  Taylor subsequently attempted to return to Fort Texas with over two thousand men in order to aid those left behind, however, Arista tactfully intercepted Taylor’s army before they reached the fort. Conversely, Arista’s tactics were no contest to the powerful artillery and cannons of the Americans, thus counterbalancing the American’s artillery for the number of Mexican losses, which was double that of the Americans.  General Winfield Scott did not come into play until General Zachary Taylor’s army was almost demolished throughout the preliminary portions for the battle.  In fact, it was not until almost a year later in March of 1847 that Winfield Scott was directly active in the war, despite his corroboration with President Polk in mapping a strategic plan to capture Mexico City.  México’s most active port of Vera Cruz had been overtaken by American forces which were subsequently established as a supply port for American troops.  General Scott and David Conner arranged ten thousand troops at the port of Vera Cruz.  Shortly after the capture of Vera Cruz, General Scott moved his troops away from Vera Cruz towards the inner portions of México.  While Scott and his troops stormed across México, General Santa Anna concurrently occupied the mountains of Cerro Gordo in order to prohibit any American troops from gaining any substantial ground towards the interior of Mexico near the capital.  As Santa Anna was aware of the American’s approach, he then ordered his men to dig trenches in order to stop the American’s from entering their camps.  To his avail, a U.S. deserter alerted Santa Anna of the American’s newly discovered route across the backside of the mountain terrain, which allowed him to attempt to counterattack the American’s by leading the vast majority of his troops to the rugged terrain while leaving a small portion of his troops to defend their original post.  Unfortunately for the Mexican regime, their attempts to retaliate against the Americans was highly unsuccessful, thus causing the capture of more than three thousand Mexican troops and as well as the interception of artillery, weapons, and other various supplies.  Shortly after this embarrassing defeat, Santa Anna’s militia attempted to regain strength by acquiring over thirty thousand new troops to defend México City, however, General Scott skillfully comprised a detailed plan to neutralize Santa Anna’s troops.  There were two main roads that led directly into Mexico City; one road from San Antonio and another near the town of San Angel.  In the middle of these roads lay an area of rough terrain that was called by most, the lava field.  This area had not been traveled and was considered hazardous, hence the need to travel the roads near the surrounding towns.  Troops under the leadership of David Twiggs, attempted to storm the city of Valencia.  Somehow, Santa Anna was again alerted of the American’s strategy to take General Gabriel Valencia’s fort at Contreras, and attempted to head off the Americans at Valencia’s fort instead of sending more reinforcements to San Angel.  In doing this, this gave General Scott the opportunity to rush push past the nearly neglected road near San Angel, therefore allowing Scott to gain momentum while entering Mexico City.  Simultaneously, Scott was able to head towards the Churubusco while also giving order to David Twiggs to decimate Valencia’s army and troops at San Antonio.  Consequentially the Mexican army, composed of over five thousand troops, was annihilated and Scott continued on towards Churubusco[3].  After losing nearly every battle due to General Scott’s skillful maneuvers, there had been talks of piece which drew concern for Santa Anna since at that time, he presided as General and as President of Mexico. Ultimately, Mexico continued to lose every succeeding battle, consequentially permitting the take over of Mexico City.             Although Mexico was tactfully agile from over twenty years of intergovernmental warfare and rebellion, they were still unable to deter the Americans from storming Mexico City which marked the end of the war.  This can be accredited to the lack of military preparedness of General Santa Anna in conjunction with deficiency in technological weaponry advancements.  Clearly, the U.S. was outnumbered in nearly every battle.  For instance, in the Battle of Palo Alto had only three thousand American troops whist the Mexican militia consisted of four thousand troops. Although this may not seem significant, in terms of warfare, an additional one thousand men can cause quite significant damage to the opposing side as this allows extra men for hand to hand combat as well as the orchestration of cannons and the disbursement of supplies and ammunition to those who may require those items.  Logically speaking, the size of a military should outweigh any additional factors in determining who shall become the victor in battle, however, skill and patience always compensated for the number of soldiers.  This can be seen in Monterrey.  “On July 28, 1846, Paredes resigned the presidency. Command of the Mexican army was given to Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Santa Anna’s army confronted the U.S. troops at a mountain pass near Buena Vista. Taylor had only 4,600 men compared with 15,000 led by Santa Anna. After nearly being defeated, however, the Americans rallied and won the battle. Taylor was in control of northern Mexico.”[4]  Additionally it also became apparent that the number of Mexican soldiers outweighed the number of American soldiers with the accounted deaths.  Tim Weiner states that according to documents, “The war killed 13,780 Americans, and perhaps 50,000 or more Mexicans.“[5]  Nonetheless, throughout the war, the Mexicans continued to outnumber the Americans in each attack, however they were not successful.  This can be accredited to the lack of proper ammunition and weaponry. Despite the staggering ratio of Mexican soldiers to American soldiers, the standards that the Americans were accustomed to in comparison to that of the Mexican army was quite disproportioned.  In fact, for some portions of the war, the American Army had aid by way of fleet ships, which is something that the Mexicans had yet to establish.  Additionally, the type of artillery that the Americans had was far more superior to that of the Mexican military.  Even if the Mexican troops possessed the same type of arsenals as the Americans, it is more likely that they would not have attained the ability to structurally utilize them to their advantage.  Since Mexico had only just established itself as independent from Spain, they did not have a properly trained army.  Most of the troops were farmers and laborers whom volunteered to help with the cause.  Unfortunately for the Mexican forces, all of these factors directly contributed to their loss against the United States.

            In conclusion, although the war began with one goal, which consisted of President Polk’s constant persistence to acquire land from Mexico either rationally or illegitimately, it was anticipated to be brisk and painless.  On the contrary, the war was anything but.  Two men had consistent roles throughout the majority of the war, both before and after.  In regards to Winfield Scott, his previous military experience proved to be sound and useful in order to aid his regime and others to execute skillful attacks while simultaneously maintaining the health and size of the army.  General Santa Anna, enrolling in the Spanish Colonial Army at the young age of sixteen also gained significant military familiarity which consequentially led to his part in aiding Mexico’s road to independence from Spain while concurrently becoming president of the Nation.  Their backgrounds had tremendous effect on their future roles in the war, both positively and negatively.  General Scotts skillful tactics and patience led him to many battles, while Santa Anna’s lack of warfare logic and improperly trained and equipped regime also led to his demise in the war. Despite the affirmative outcomes and deficient tactics, both men aided in replacing a once vile relationship with a peaceful ending that continues into the present


King, Rosemary. “Border Crossings in the Mexican American War (Critical

            Essay). “ Bilingual Review, 1 January 2000. Available from High beam Online Database. Http://  Accessed 24, September 2008.

Matlof, Maurice.  “ American Military History: Chapter 8 The Mexican War

            and After.” U.S. History 30 (September 1990): 58-61

“The Mexican War (Time Trip).” Current Events,  a Weekly Reader publication, 22 September 2006.  Available from High beam Online Database.  Accessed 23, September 2008.

Weiner, Tim. “War ; remembrance: the U.S. and Mexico share a long,      sometimes-troubled history that goes back to the Mexican-American War–which still resonates on both sides of the border.(Cover Story) New York Upfront Times, 5 Apr 2004, C13

[1]           Maurice Matlof, “American Military History: Chapter 8 The Mexican War

and After,” US History 30 (September 1990): 59
[2] Ibid
[3]              Rosemary King, “Border Crossing in the Mexican American War (Critical Essay),” Bilingual Review, 1 January 2000.  Database on-line. Available from High beam Database.  Accessed 24 September 2008.
[4]           “The Mexican War (Time Trip), Current Events, a Weekly Reader publication, , 22, September 2006.Database on-line.  Available from High beam Online Database.  Accessed 23, September 2008.

[5]         Tim Weiner, “War ; remembrance: the U.S. and Mexico share a long,      sometimes-troubled history that goes back to the Mexican-American War–which still resonates on both sides of the border.(Cover Story) New York Upfront Times, 5 Apr 2004, C13


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