OPENING THE U.S.-MEXICO WAR
Site of the first salvo launched in the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846, the Palo Alto Battlefield still retains its natural character over 150 years later. This coastal prairie, a blanket of cordgrass surrounded by dense thickets of mesquite, cactus, and thornscrub, survives relatively unmarred by the rise of human development throughout much of the rest of the Rio Grande Valley. Here, American troops under General Zachary Taylor and 3,200 Mexican soldiers led by General Mariano Arista lobbed cannon and gunfire across the battlefield throughout the day on May 8, 1846. Arista’s soldiers suffered the heaviest casualties, and by day’s end, over 100 would be dead, compared to nine U.S. casualties, and another 129 would be wounded. By the next morning, the Mexican troops had withdrawn, awarding Taylor a victory.
Today, under the stewardship of the National Park Service, the Palo Alto battlefield features a visitor center where interactive exhibits and artifacts help tell the battlefield story. Across the park , walking trails provide an overview of the battlegrounds. The site is also the starting point for the eight-mile Brownsville Historic Battlefield Hike and Bike Trail that ends in heart of downtown Brownsville’s Mitte Cultural District.