The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Taylor's Trail

Robert H. Thonhoff General

Taylor's Trail, the route taken by Gen. Zachary Taylor's army of occupation from the Nueces River to the Rio Grande during the Mexican War, was one of the most important paths of conquest used by an American army on American soil. Composed of nearly 4,000 troops, Taylor's army marched 174 miles in twenty days during March 1846, along a route from Corpus Christi to the bank of the Rio Grande opposite Matamoros. Two possible routes had been reconnoitered and determined practicable for the advance of Taylor's army: one route coursed the entire length of Padre Island; the other route followed the coastline on the mainland to the Rio Grande. After receiving orders to advance on February 4, 1846, Taylor chose to take the mainland route. On March 4, 1846, a vanguard of sixty men under Maj. William Graham was dispatched to the crossing on Santa Gertrudis Creek to establish a supply depot for the main army which would follow. On March 8, 1846, Taylor issued orders for the army of occupation to advance to the Rio Grande. The army was organized into an advance guard and three brigades for purposes of marching, convenience of camp, supply, and mutual support in case of hostilities. The advance unit, composed of the Second Regiment of Dragoons and a battery of artillery under the command of Col. David E. Twiggs, left Corpus Christi on March 8, 1846. The three brigades, each followed by its own baggage and supply train, left successively at one-day intervals: the first brigade, under command of Bvt. Brig. Gen. William Jenkins Worth, started on March 9; the second brigade, under Col. James S. McIntosh, departed on March 10; the third brigade, under Col. William Whistler, left on March 11. The main supply train of more than 300 wagons drawn by oxen and mules followed the last column. Taylor and his staff, who planned to overtake the advance guard by the time it reached the Arroyo Colorado, were the last to leave. The first leg of Taylor's Trail from Corpus Christi was up the Nueces River for sixteen miles; thence almost due west to Agua Dulce Creek; then south past Los Pintos, San Fernando Creek, Santa Gertrudis Creek, Escondido Creek, Los Belladeros, Santa Clara Motte, Bobido Creek, Santa Rosa Ponds, El Sauz, Paso Real, and on to the bank of the Rio Grande opposite Matamoros. The trail passed through the area of present Nueces, Kleberg, Kenedy, Willacy, and Cameron counties. Taylor's Trail continued to be used for many year as the main route for the stage lines from San Antonio and Corpus Christi to Brownsville. A monument to mark the starting point of the trail was erected in Corpus Christi in 1934; another monument to mark a campsite on the trail was erected in 1936 seven miles south of Sarita, Kenedy County. After Taylor crossed the Arroyo Colorado (in future Cameron County near the site of present Harlingen) on March 20, 1846, the Paso Real Crossing there became known also as General Taylor's Crossing.

W. S. Henry, Campaign Sketches of the War with Mexico (New York: Harper, 1847). Edward Jay Nichols, Zach Taylor's Little Army (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1963). Harold Schoen, comp., Monuments Erected by the State of Texas to Commemorate the Centenary of Texas Independence (Austin: Commission of Control for Texas Centennial Celebrations, 1938). Robert H. Thonhoff, "Taylor's Trail in Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 70 (July 1966).

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

Robert H. Thonhoff, “Taylor's Trail,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 23, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.