Skip Navigation

The Mexican War


DaguerreotypeThe Mexican War lasted from 1846-1848. As Manifest Destiny spurred expansion, Americans looked west for new land and trade routes. Manifest Destiny was the belief that U.S. expansion was inevitable and necessary because the United States was superior to other cultures. While not everyone subscribed to this theory, many did, and also used the doctrine to combat European influence in American territory.

The United States won the war, but had a high casualty rate particularly due to disease. The Mexican Army was ill-equipped in comparison to the modern U.S. equipment. Mexico has already lost some northern territory after the Texas Revolution; that, combined with the land lost after this war, would later form the U.S. states of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah, and portions of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.

The volunteer Palmetto Regiment elected officers like a militia unit, but served in General Winfield Scott's regular army. The regiment joined Scott's army in February 1847 and participated in the siege of Vera Cruz, the first major American victory of the war. They were also among the first troops to reach Mexico City and capture it, ending the war. The Palmetto Regiment flag, and the flag of a New York regiment were placed atop Chapultepec Castle, which guarded the entrance to the city.

1847 letterLt. Moragne wrote this letter to his friend, detailing the events surrounding the Siege of Vera Cruz (March 1847).  Vera Cruz was a key Mexican seaport and thought to be one of the strongest fortresses during the Mexican-American War.  The battle marked America’s first major amphibious assault and ended with the surrender and occupation of the city. American troops advanced inland, occupying Mexico City by September 1847. Lt. Moragne was from Abbeville, SC and served as an officer in Company E of the Palmetto Regiment.  He was killed five months later during the Battle of Chapultepec. To read a full transcript of the letter, click here (PDF).

The Palmetto Regiment suffered the highest death rate in General Scott's army. Many of the soldiers went on to be leaders in the Civil War. The Palmetto Regiment became the 2nd South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Confederate Army.

LEFT: Daguerreotype of Sgt. Daniel Boone Morgan, Co. H, Richland District, died at Puebla July 6, 1847
RIGHT: Letter from First Lt. John B. Moragne to Dr. J. J. Wardlaw, April 9, 1847


Future SC Confederate Generals:
Milledge L. Bonham
Richard Anderson
Barnard Bee
Maxcy Gregg
Nathan G. Evans
Adley H. Gladden
Joseph B. Kershaw
Arthur M. Manigault
James Longstreet

Other Major Leaders:
President James K. Polk - took office in 1844
General Zachary Taylor "Old Rough and Ready" -  elected President in 1848
General Winfield Scott - "Old Fuss and Feathers"
General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna - Mexican dictator before and after the war; leader of the Mexican Army during the war
 

Silver medalAfter the war, the SC General Assembly commissioned medals for the Palmetto Regiment veterans. William Glaze of the Palmetto Armory and William J. Keenan of Charleston created the designs. 68 gold officers’ medals and 814 silver enlisted men’s medals were struck.  

 



Silver Medal of Private Thomas M. Brown, Company B. from Hazelwood, Chester District.

 


Palmetto Regiment flagAfter the capture of Mexico City, Major General William O. Butler presented the Palmetto Regiment with a new flag since their regimental flag was damaged in combat. The flag survived the Civil War and accompanied the 2nd SCVI to Cuba in the Spanish-American War, becoming the only American flag to fly victorious over two foreign countries.  

 

The regimental flag was given to the State of SC in 1900 and became part of the SC Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum's collection.

 

 - Continue to Civil War