Today in History, September 13, 1847

imageToday in History, September 13: 1847 – In the midst of the Battle for Mexico City during the Mexican-American War, The US Army, US Marines, work together to storm Chapultepec Castle, and take it. It was a key defensive position for General Antonio López de Santa Anna. While the battle itself was of importance in establishing American presence on the international stage, it is much more important in my estimation for other reasons….Key players among the American forces were US Army Capt Robert E. Lee, who convinced commanding General Winfield Scott of the winning strategy, along with a young US Army Lieutenant, Pierre G. T. Beauregard. Lt. Col. Joseph E. Johnston fought in the battle, and George Pickett was the first soldier to top the wall of the castle. Lt. Thomas J. Jackson (Stone Wall) fought valiantly; Lt. Ulysses S. Grant found a strategic artillery position from which to fight during the taking of Mexico City; Naval officer Raphael Semmes saw his actions and found an equal position on the opposite side of the road to cover the enemy. Can you imagine? All of these men served together, bled together, and then in the end took up arms against each other in the Civil War over ideological differences. Think of your very best friend…and then think about taking up arms against him. This was the enigma of the Civil War. There are countless stories of episodes where, during a lull in a battle, or after a defeat, Confederates and Unionist soldiers took the opportunity to meet and commiserate with old friends on the opposite side….Another aspect is that the US Marines played an important part in the seizure of the castle, thus the beginning lines of the Marine Hymn, “From the Halls of Montezuma…”. My research also indicates that the red stripe down the side of the blue slacks of the US Marine uniform represents the blood shed by US Marines during this battle.  As the American Flag was being raised over the castle, in full view of both armies, thirty members of the “St. Patricio’s Battalion” were hanged en masse by the order of General Winfield Scott.  Several hundred immigrants from several nations that were members of the US Army had deserted and fought with the Mexican Army against their former comrades, fighting fiercely.  They are remembered as traitors North of the border, and as heroic martyrs South of the border.  When told that one of the men to be hanged had lost both legs the day before, the officer in charge of the hanging, Col. William Harney, stated, “Bring the damned son of a bitch out! My order was to hang 30 and by God I’ll do it!”

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