Zachary Taylor National Cemetery

Historical Marker #1412 in Louisville notes the location of the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.

By the time Zachary Taylor fought in the Mexican-American War, he was already an accomplished soldier in the U.S. Army. During the Second Seminole War, Taylor was promoted to brigadier general. Later, when his superior resigned, Taylor was placed in command of all troops in Florida.

In anticipation of Texas being annexed in the 1840s, Taylor was transferred to Arkansas. When annexation of the Lone Star State occurred in 1845, he and his troops were deployed to the border along the Rio Grande River. Mexico did not recognize the Rio Grande as the border between Texas and Mexico; rather, they believed that the border was the Nueces River to the north. In April 1846, when Mexican forces attacked a U.S. detachment in the disputed territory, President James K. Polk used the opportunity to ask Congress to declare war on Mexico.

When the war erupted, Taylor assembled an army in Texas. He fought and won battles at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma in Texas despite being vastly outnumbered. Taylor’s popularity soared, and, with his capture of Monterrey in September 1846, Democratic President James K. Polk saw Taylor, a Whig, as a potential political threat.

Taylor’s popularity hit its zenith after winning the Battle of Buena Vista, in February 1847. He remained in Mexico until November 1847, but his military career was basically over. He returned to his home in Louisiana in December and began planning his presidential run.

In 1848, Taylor received the Whig Party nomination for president. With vice presidential candidate Millard Fillmore, Taylor won the election over Democrats Lewis Cass and Kentuckian William O. Butler. Taylor, however, did not live out his term as president. After participating in fundraising ceremonies for the Washington Monument, Taylor ate a large amount of fruit and drank cold milk, which apparently caused severe gastroenteritis. He died on July 9, 1850.

After first being buried in Washington, Taylor’s remains were reinterred at his old boyhood home of Springfield in Jefferson County, Kentucky. The site became the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in 1928.