Historical Note: This cannonball was found in a trench at the east side of Loma Alta Hill, near Palo Alto battlefield, by William A. Bellinghausen Sr. in 1920. 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 General Zachary Taylor and Mexican troops commanded by General Mariano Arista. 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. 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. At Palo Alto, Taylor tested the superiority of the so-called flying artillery developed by Major Samuel Ringgold, who was mortally wounded in the battle. Guns were mounted on light carriages drawn by specially trained teams of horses and could be moved quickly for tactical advantage. Although soldiers on both sides clamored for the traditional bayonet charge across the field, the artillery duel dominated the action.
Date range of creation:
1840 to 1846
Texas State Library and Archives Commission, 1971/026
Artifact Box 0173
Palo Alto, Battle of, Tex., 1846
Mexican War, 1846-1848
ATF0046, Artifacts collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
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Size or duration:
3.5 in diameter