Monterey

Historical Marker #925 in Owen County notes the location of the town of Monterey, which was established in 1847 and named for a Mexican-American War battle that had been fought the previous year.

Fought from September 19-25, 1846, the Battle of Monterrey (sometimes spelled slightly differently from the town name) proved to be some of the most difficult combat during the entire war.

General Zachary "Old Rough and Ready" Taylor’s 6,500 soldiers approached the Mexican city of Monterrey from the north and struck the fortifications of Mexican General Ampudia’s 5,000 troops. After scouting and positioning on September 19 and 20, Taylor devised a two-pronged attack that commenced on September 21. The assault allowed the U.S. troops to capture the important high ground. Some forces, however, became bogged down and were assisted by troops led by General William O. Butler, a native Kentuckian. Butler was wounded in the subsequent house-to-house fighting.

On September 22, Ampudia constricted his remaining forces to make his line stronger. The following day, Taylor resumed the offensive and gained more ground. Once U.S. artillery bombarded the Mexican line, the contending forces began negotiating for a Mexican surrender. Taylor’s lenient terms allowed the Mexicans to keep their arms and maintain an eight-week armistice and Monterrey came under U.S. occupation. Taylor’s army suffered about 450 casualties, while Ampudia’s force endured a similar number of killed, wounded, and missing.

Taylor’s lenient terms infuriated President James K. Polk. A Democrat, Polk quickly began efforts to sack Taylor, who was a member of the Whig Party. Polk’s attempts, however, proved to be in vain. Now on the national stage, "Old Rough and Ready" succeeded Polk as president in 1848.

Monterrey also proved to be a political boost for Kentuckian William O. Butler. His gallantry in combat was rewarded by the Democratic Party. He was nominated as that party’s vice presidential candidate, running with Lewis Cass of Michigan. Democrats Cass and Butler, however, were defeated by Whigs Taylor and Fillmore in the 1848 election.

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