The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970

Camp Life in the Army of Occupation:
Corpus Christi, July 1845 to March 1846
DARWIN PAYNE*
THE SEVEN-MONTH ENCAMPMENT OF GENERAL ZACHARY TAYLOR'S
army at Corpus Christi in 1845-1846 in the disputed frontier be-
tween Texas and Mexico merits examination for several intriguing
reasons. More than half of the United States' entire army congregated
there just inside the territory between the Nueces River and the Rio
Grande which was claimed both by Mexico and Texas. The soldiers
comprised the biggest assembly of United States regulars since the
Revolutionary War. Among their numbers were two who would be-
come presidents of the United States, Taylor and a young, love-starved
lieutenant named Ulysses S. Grant. Moreover, a host of fledgling offi-
cers who later would become famous in the Civil War served at Corpus
Christi. Here the troops' numbers swelled from 1,500oo to slightly be-
low 4,000 as they prepared for eventual combat in war with Mexico.
The soldiers drilled, practiced marksmanship, reveled in the area's
unspoiled natural wonders, enjoyed the more sophisticated American
amusements which soon followed them to that Latin-flavored land,
and eventually became disillusioned from bad weather and poor
health. Upon departing Corpus Christi the regular army would win
resounding victories at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, thereby
eliminating the Mexican military threat along the Rio Grande and
capturing headlines back home that would project their commander
into consideration for the presidency. Unusual though the experiences
at Corpus Christi seem, they nevertheless foretold in many ways what
would come later as the United States forces moved into Mexico and
established other camps.
The story of the incubation at Corpus Christi is one that begins
with elation but erodes into despair. Perhaps never before had United
States soldiers' spirits been so high as when the troops first arrived to
experience the summer wonders of the Texas frontier; yet, as summer
*Mr. Payne has divided his interests between the fields of journalism and history. He
has served as a reporter for the Dallas Times-Herald and the Fort Worth Press and has
taught journalism at Southern Methodist University; at present he is working in the
American Civilization program at the University of Texas. His article, "Early Norwegians
in Northeast Texas," appeared in the October ig961 Quarterly.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117147/. Accessed May 23, 2015.