On April 25, 1846, the U.S.-Mexican War began and it ended 2-years later with the signing of the "Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo" on Feb. 2, 1848. Although the war was one of the most momentous conflicts of the 19th Century, most Americans seem to know little about it today.
Frequently, people confuse the U.S.-Mexican War with the Texas Revolution (1835-1836), the Spanish-American War (1898), or the border skirmishes with Mexican Revolutionaries (1913-1916). This is probably due in part to the overshadowing of the U.S.-Mexican War by the American Civil War.
The U.S.-Mexican War was fought to defend the right of a free people, i.e. the citizens of the Republic of Texas, to determine their own destiny, i.e. to join the United States. The government of Mexico wanted to deny the Republic of Texas of this right.
Approximately 75,000 men enlisted in volunteer regiments raised by various states and thousands more enlisted in the regular U.S. Army. In some places, so many men flocked to recruiting stations that large numbers had to be turned away. In addition, thousands of newly arrived Irish and German immigrants also heeded the call to arms.
The U.S.-Mexican War was the first war anywhere in the world to be photographed. In addition, steamboats played an important role. Also, it was the first war in which newspaper correspondents regularly reported from the scene of the war. And lastly, it was the first war in which graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point participated.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the war, is still in force today. It not only fixed the Rio Grande as the boundary of Texas but also required Mexico to cede to the United States, in return for $15 million, all the territory that today includes the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming.
How do I locate records for family members who might have served in the U.S.-Mexican War?
Although the majority of Mexican War veterans served in volunteer regiments raised by the several states, those organizations were all mustered into federal service. As a result, both volunteer and regular service records are on file in the National Archives in Washington, DC.
Additionally, it was also the federal government, not the states, who awarded Mexican War veteran's bounty land warrants as a reward for their service. Also, it was the federal government, rather than the states, to which veterans had to apply for disability pensions, widow's pensions, orphans pensions, and service pensions.
There are Indexes to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the Mexican War (M616-41 rolls). This set is for all states that raised volunteer organizations during the Mexican War. There are Indexes to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the Mexican War in Organizations From the State of Texas (M278-19 rolls).
There are Registers of Enlistments in the United States Army, 1798-1914 (M233-81 rolls). Roll 21, covers enlistments from 1840 to June 1846. Roll 22 covers enlistments from July 1846 to Oct. 1850 and Roll 23, specifically identified as Mexican War enlistments, covers the period Jan. 1846 to June 1849.
There are Indexes to Rendezvous Reports, Before and After the Civil War (1846-1861, 1865-1884) (T1098-32 rolls). These rolls are in alphabetical order, listing the names of all men who enlisted in the Navy during the years 1846-1861 and 1865-1884. Muster Rolls of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1789-1892 (T1118-123 rolls). Roll 45 covers the period Jan. 1846 - June 1846 and Roll 50 covers the period Jan. 1848 - July 1848.
You should also check the Old War Index to Pension Files, 1815-1926 (T316-7 rolls) and the Index to Mexican War Service Pension Files, 1887-1926 (T317-14 rolls).
NOTE: If you do not have access to this microfilm at your local library, remember you can order it through a LDS Family History Center.
The "Descendants of the Mexican War Veterans" (DMWV) is a non-profit organization chartered by the State of Texas and full membership is available to any person who is: (a) at least 18 years of age; (b) is of good moral character; and who meets one or more of the following requirements: (1) the lineal descendant (or collateral kinsman or kinswoman) of a U.S. veteran who rendered honorable service in the war with Mexico for any length of time between April 25, 1846 and August 2, 1848 or (2) the descendant of a civilian employee of the U.S. armed forces who served during the Mexican War as a teamster, laundress, steamboat hand, etc.
For more information on the DMWV, contact the Corresponding Secretary, P. O. Box 19207, Houston, Texas 77224-9207 or visit their website at: http://www.dmwv.org/.
In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.
Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/2670/ COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This webpage was last created on 14 Nov 2000 and was last revised on ________ 2000
Copyright © 1999, 2000 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604