A-M #01 2021-06-10T21:18:41+00:00

The Man Who Won The West Mexican War 1846 – 1848

The Man Who Won The West Mexican War By Page #


To Private Cornelius Maupin and Corporal Garland Maupin both related to my mothers side of my Missouri family.  They volunteered to join the Army of the West on June 16th, 1846 at Fort Leavenworth Missouri, serving in the 1st Regiment of Missouri Mounted Volunteers.

Both men completed the 4,000 mile journey serving under Colonel Alexander Doniphan in Captain Cosgrave Jackson’s Comp. “G” and later serving in Captain H. H. Hughes Comp. “G”. Regiment.  They completed their one year term of service, and received full pay and were honorably discharged from service at New Orleans on June 21, 1847.

1st Reg't Missouri Mounted Vols.


Colonel Kearny Goes To War

Born August 30, 1794  –  Died October 31, 1848

It seems Stephen W. Kearny was born to be a soldier, and when the War of 1812 began he left his studies at Columbia College, and entered the army at age 18 as a lieutenant of infantry.  He distinguished himself in the battle of Queenstown Heights, and in April 1813 he was made Captain.  Kearny traveled on the first Yellowstone Expedition in 1819 on the steamboat Western Engineer up the Missouri River to the mouth of the Yellowstone River in central Montana.

He was perhaps one of the greatest of army officers during the decade of 1840’s.  His great works included several trips of exploration, again by steamboat to the junction of the Yellowstone and the Missouri rivers in 1823.  He was assigned to find locations for forts along the western frontier from the upper Mississippi River area and south to Fort Gibson on the Arkansas River.

After he returned from his journey to upper Mississippi in 1826 he was assigned to develop a new fort near St. Louis.  When this was completed he was appointed commander.  It was named Jefferson Barracks and a most important fort west of the Mississippi River.  There Kearny organized the first regiment of dragoons as a cavalry unit.  In 1833 he was awarded the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the newly formed 1st Dragoon Regiment which later developed into the U. S. Cavalry.

Here Kearny developed the idea that mounted soldiers would be better able to protect the pioneers and travelers on the western frontier.  Both the Oregon and Santa Fe trails were seeing a great increase in traffic

In May of 1846 the Army of the West started to gathered at Fort Leavenworth.  The fort took on a renewed sense of urgency and dedication to its mission: organizing units, training recruits, and stockpiling war supplies.  Steamboat traffic increased rapidly as war materials arrived at docks on the Missouri River.  The enormous amounts of wagon traffic required 75 miles of new roadway northwest of Independence.

President Polk assigned Kearny the wartime mission to march southwest over the Santa Fe Trail, occupy Santa Fe, and all of New Mexico, then travel on to California and assist military forces fighting there.  To perform these tasks he organized the expedition using the full military force to conquer New Mexico.

In late 1846 President Polk awarded Kearny the rank of Brigadier General for his devoted service to the nation leading his 1st Regiment of Mounted Missouri Volunteers stationed at Fort Leavenworth.

During the Mexican War, Fort Leavenworth served as departure point for three major expeditions. Colonel Kearny being the fort commander, designed and directed the battle plan for the war, and led the dragoons and volunteers in the 1,600 man Army of The West to occupy Santa Fe.  After this was achieved in August 1846 he then turned his attention traveling west to invade and occupy California.  Colonel Doniphan was assigned the task to travel south to take El Paso then on to occupy the city of Chihuahua in Mexico.  There he hoped to meet up with General Wool’s army.

Fort Leavenworth on the Missouri River Circa 1840’s

Fort Leavenworth on the Missouri River  Circa 1840’s


Origins of the War with Mexico

The annexation of the Republic of Texas incorporated into the Union the largest state in the nation.  Thus having merged her sovereignty into that of our own government became one of the major causes, which led to the recent war with Mexico.

It was shortly after this event that Mexico was prompt to manifest hostility towards U. S. government, and sought the earliest plausible pretext for declaring war against the United States.  The declaration of war was issued in April 1846.  The United States Congress passed an act later that month authorizing President Polk to call into the field 50,000 volunteer troops.

The volunteers were accustomed to holding elections of their officers, and elected Alexander Doniphan from Liberty the Colonel of the regiment.  Kearny with his 300 Dragoons and artillery with Doniphan leading his troop of 1,300 Missouri Volunteers departed Fort Leavenworth for Santa Fe in groups between June 18 and June 26, 1846.  This large force consisted of more than 100 wagons, 500 pack mules, 400 Trader’s wagons loaded with goods for the Santa Fe trade.

After a long difficult march of 50 days, traveling more then 900 miles the army arrived on August 18th 1846 at Santa Fe without fighting one battle.

Colonel Kearny Enters Santa Fe August 18, 1846

Colonel Kearny Enters Santa Fe August 18, 1846


It was through his very important act that the “Army of the West” came into being with Stephen W. Kearny appointed as Colonel in charge.  He was directed by the president to march upon the city of Santa Fe, and annex the entire western Mexican territory.

The first of the volunteers came from counties along the western area of the Missouri River and began arriving at Fort Leavenworth in early June for training.

They were named the First Regiment of Missouri Mounted Volunteers.  Kearny, followed his orders from President Polk to lead the “Army of the West” to conquer New Mexico, and all the territory west, and onward to California.  A huge crowd of Army families and well wishers came to the Fort to see the army off.

Then Kearny turned his attention west to California with 300 dragoons. While near Socorro he divided his force and 200 dragoons to return to Santa Fe.  His journey west through mountains and great deserts was most difficult.

Arriving in California at San Pascual a major battle was fought with the Mexican army on December 6th.  The Colonel was wounded three times, and 18 of his men killed, and many others wounded.  Additional troops from San Diego arrived in time and his men were saved.

He was appointed governor of California serving a short time before departing overland from Monterrey on June 13, 1847, arriving on August 22nd at Fort Leavenworth. Kearny then traveled to St. Louis, and on to Washington for meetings with the President and the War Department.

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