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The Battle of Chapultepec

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September 1847 was a volatile and critical month in the Mexican American War. Although an armistice between the U.S. and Mexico was signed on August 24, 1847, it was short-lived and hostilities resumed with battles at Molino del Ray (September 8) and Chapultepec (September 12-13) just outside Mexico City. General Winfield Scott ultimately claimed Mexico City on September 14, forcing General Santa Anna’s Mexican troops to abandon the city in defeat.

The Battle of Chapultepec was bloody, long, and difficult. Marines and soldiers scaled the fortress walls and engaged in close hand-to-hand combat toward the end. It is a well-remembered battle of an oft-forgotten war. The Chapultepec fortress was also known as the Halls of Montezuma and is historically significant for the U.S. Marine Corps. Most of the Marines who fought at Chapultepec were killed in the battle. The Corps’ official Marines’ Hymn memorializes their bravery and losses, as it begins with a phrase referring to the storming of Chapultepec: “From the Halls of Montezuma.”

At the Battle of Churubusco, a few weeks earlier, U.S. troops had captured 85 members of the St. Patrick’s Battalion, a Mexican artillery unit comprised mostly of Irish Catholic defectors from the U.S. They were court-martialed and fifty were sentenced to be hanged. However, the hanging of thirty of them was delayed to deliver a message. The thirty condemned men stood with nooses around their necks, waiting to be hanged for several hours until the American flag was raised over the fortress of Chapultepec. They were then provided with a final vision of their treachery.

Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Ulysses S. Grant were three of many who became future leaders in the U.S. Civil War, yet began their military careers in battles near Mexico City.

Explore Mexican War Service Records on Fold3 to learn more about those who fought in these and other battles between the U.S. and Mexico. Be sure to locate the Unit Information which precedes individual service records within each military unit for accounts of the battles in which the units were engaged.

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