Palo Alto Battlefield

The battle of Palo Alto, the first major engagement of the Mexican War, was fought north of Brownsville on May 8, 1846, between American forces under Gen. Zachary Taylor and Mexican troops commanded by Gen. Mariano Arista. Earlier, on April 23, Mexico had proclaimed a defensive war against the United States, which had annexed Texas. On May 12, after hostilities had begun on Texas soil, the United States declared war on Mexico. The battle, which began about 2:00 P.M. and lasted until twilight, resulted in a standoff. Darkness ended the action, and both armies bivouacked on the battlefield. That night Mexican soldiers buried their dead at Palo Alto. Of 3,461 troops that formed the Mexican Army of the North, Arista's commissary reported 102 killed, 129 wounded, and 26 missing, including deserters. Lt. George Meade, who interrogated captured Mexican officers, concluded that Mexican losses numbered 400 men. The American army, which totaled over 2,200 soldiers, reported five dead and forty-three wounded. Arista's adjutant, Jean Louis Berlandier, however, stated that American casualties were about 200 dead and wounded.