8 May 1846 — Brownsville, Texas
The Battle of Palo Alto, occurring on 8 May 1846 near Brownsville, Texas, was the first big battle of the Mexican-American War. Zachary Taylor led about 2,300 men against more than 3,500 Mexicans under Mariano Arista. The Americans’ “flying artillery” gave them a great advantage, as did the failure of two attempted Mexican cavalry charges. At the end of the day of battle, neither side had obtained conclusive victory, but the Mexicans’ decision to withdraw rather than fight the next day ended the battle in the Americans’ favor. This and subsequent victories made Taylor a war hero, which bolstered his campaign when he ran for president in 1848.