On Wednesday, September 28, 2016, the remains of 13 American Soldiers that are thought to have fought in the Mexican-American War were received by the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at Dover Air Force Base, Dover, Delaware.
The Old Guard conducts dignified transfers of the remains of fallen service members when arriving in the National Capital Region regularly as part of its mission as the nation’s premier memorial affairs and ceremonial unit of the U.S. Army.
This transfer is especially notable due to the fact the 170-year-old remains are of troops that fought along with, or perhaps as members of The Old Guard, at the Battle of Monterey.
The two-year Mexican-American War began in 1846. The Old Guard, the Army’s oldest active infantry regiment, fought in most of the major battles of the war. These battles included Palo Alto, the invasion and Siege of Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, Churubusco and Chapultepec.
The conflicts origins began with the forming of the Mexican Republic in 1824. The Mexican government, at the time, was prone to instability.
Indian raids on the Mexican border prompted the Mexican government to institute a
policy of attracting American migration to the province of Texas. The hope was the Americans that settled in Texas would act as a buffer and lessen the impact of the Indian raids.
Americans and some of the Mexicans in Texas revolted against Mexico in October of 1835. The result was the Texas Republic that was not recognized by the Mexican Government. Mexican troops and Texan defenders skirmished throughout the 1840’s.
In 1844, the annexation of Texas was a major issue in the Presidential Campaign. When pro-annexation candidate James K. Polk won the election, Texas was annexed in 1845.
Annexation of Texas escalated the conflict. Mexico and the United States were unable to come to a diplomatic solution and open war followed.
General Zachary Taylor, who served as a Major in The Old Guard in 1816, commanded the U.S. forces in the Battle of Monterey in September 1846.
Hugh Berryman, director of the forensic institute research and education at Middle Tennessee State University, was present Wednesday at Dover Air Force Base.
Berryman said his understanding was that the Soldiers repatriated this week were assaulting a tannery at the time of their death. The DNA from the skeletal remains will be used to attempt to identify the Soldiers.
The Mexican Government uncovered the remains six years ago outside of Monterey. After negotiating with the U.S. State Department, the Soldiers have finally been returned home.