Portions of the U.S. Army (nearly half of the Regular Army) underthe command of Maj. Gen. Zachary Taylor achieved an unbroken seriesof battleeld victories during the rst nine months of the war withMexico. From 8 May to 23 September 1846, Taylor defeated Mexicanforces at Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, and Monterrey. These victoriesvindicated the oft-scorned U.S. Regular Army and demonstrated thecompetence of the graduates of the U.S. Military Academy. In themonths following these victories, Taylor became a popular hero, andnewspapers speculated that he would win the Whig Party nomination forpresident in 1848. This prominence infuriated President James K. Polk,a Democrat, who was angry with Taylor both for making his presidentialambition known publicly and for granting overly generous cease-reterms to the Mexican Army after the battle for Monterrey.Meanwhile, on the basis of promises from former Mexicanstrongman Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna that he would settle theTexas border issue and sell California to the United States, Polk hadallowed him to return from exile in Cuba through the U.S. navalblockade in July 1846 to resume power. Polk hoped this would hastenthe end of the war. Instead, Santa Anna seized control and hurriedlyassembled a large force with the intention of driving the AmericanArmy out of northern Mexico. His attack struck Taylor’s force at aplace the Americans called Buena Vista.
In early October 1846, after the Americans’ capture of Monterreyin September, Santa Anna moved some 220 miles from Mexico Cityto San Luis Potosi, 250 miles south of Monterrey. Resisting demandsfrom threatened Mexican cities that he immediately confront theinvading forces, he instead concentrated most of his forces at this loca
tion in the northern part of the country. From this core, he immediatelybegan rebuilding the
Army of the North
into a massive force that mightbe capable of driving the Americans out of Mexico.The problems Santa Anna faced in accomplishing this task seemedinsurmountable, but his enthusiasm and personal charisma won
The Battle of Buena Vista