Resaca de la Palma, Battle of

By: Art Leatherwood

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: August 4, 2020

The battle of Resaca de la Palma was the second engagement of the Mexican War. It was fought on May 9, 1846, a few miles north of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, the day after the retreat of the Mexican army at Palo Alto. The Mexican troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Mariano Arista and the Americans under Maj. Gen. Zachary Taylor had fought to a draw at the battle of Palo Alto on May 8. During the night Arista had withdrawn and established new positions in a dry streambed or resaca, Resaca de la Palma, which crossed the road between Matamoros and Port Isabel and provided the Mexicans with a strong defensive position. Sometime after 2:00 P.M. Taylor ordered the attack. After considerable difficulty with the Mexican artillery the American Dragoons and light infantry forced the Mexicans out of the resaca. The Mexicans counterattacked twice, were beaten back both times, and fled in panic, leaving behind all manner of baggage. Among the items left were 474 muskets and carbines, eight pieces of artillery, Arista's correspondence and silver service, and the colors of the Tampico Battalion. Of the 1,700 Americans engaged in the battle, thirty-three were killed and eighty-nine wounded. Of an estimated force of 4,000, the official records show the Mexican losses as 154 killed, 205 wounded, and 156 missing, many probably drowned trying the cross the Rio Grande at night. Taylor claimed to have buried 200 Mexican dead. See also RESACAS.

K. Jack Bauer, The Mexican War, 1846–1848 (New York: Macmillan, 1974).

Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Art Leatherwood, “Resaca de la Palma, Battle of,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 07, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 4, 2020