The year is 1847. The United States and Mexico are currently engaged in armed conflict that sparked over tensions surrounding the disputed borders of Texas, a republic that gained their independence from Mexico and voted to become a state in late 1845.
Battle of Chapultepec: Capturing the Mexican Capital in 1847
The Marines and American forces were about to launch a campaign with the sole mission of capturing the Mexican capital and bring a swift end to the Mexican-American War.
This campaign will produce one of the most famous battles of Marine Corps history that will shape the entire Marine culture and inspire the opening words to the Marines’ Hymn. This is the Battle of Chapultepec.
July 1, 1847. A regiment of approximately 300 Marines under the command of Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Samuel E. Watson arrived at Veracruz, Mexico.
A few weeks later, Watson was given orders to join Army Major General Winfield Scott’s forces at Puebla in order to attack the Mexican capital of Mexico City, hopefully ending the war. The Marines were assigned to a brigade under the command of Army Brigadier General Franklin Pierce, who would eventually become the 14th President of the United States.
After finally arriving in Puebla, General Scott and his forces were ready to move west. During their march to the capital, an armistice was agreed upon by both sides on August 23, which lasted about all of two seconds.
Okay, it actually lasted about two weeks until September 6. But I digress. When they got closer, General Scott and his staff decided to attack Chapultepec Castle, just west of the city, first, in order to keep reinforcements from coming to the capital.
On the morning of September 12, the Americans began shelling the castle with artillery fire. And, on September 13, they launched their main attack on Chapultepec, taking the castle by early afternoon, but not without taking heavy casualties.
To this day, Marine Non-Commissioned Officers wear the red blood stripe on their trousers as a part of their Dress Blues uniform. And, although it is already a part of the uniform, common tradition today holds that the blood stripe represents the bloodshed of the Marines that bravely fought and gave their lives at Chapultepec.
On the morning of the 14th, the Marines received orders to advance into the city to the Grand Plaza. Despite being prepared for more enemy attacks, they were surprised to learn the Mexican president, Santa Anna, and his remaining troops had evacuated the city during the night.
However, Mexican robbers and thieves still infested the National Palace inside the capital. The Marines were ordered to drive them out and to guard the palace from further looting. They became residents in the Halls of Montezuma, making their mark on history and inspiring the opening words to the Marines’ Hymn.
Thank you Cpl. Michael Parks for the video.