Kentucky’s long history of military service is evidenced by the many monuments found across the commonwealth.
When the state’s military history is studied, however, Kentucky’s role in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) is often forgotten.
This conflict not only vastly expanded the geographical size of the nation, but the U.S. victory essentially ensured that the nation would ultimately become split over the issue of slavery.
Scholars widely recognize the Mexican-American War’s influence on the Civil War.
Unfortunately, the significance of this conflict is neither emphasized nor fully understood.
Kentucky’s participation in the Mexican-American War was unsurprising considering Kentuckians’ past experiences in serving the nation.
From fighting Native Americans and the British in the Revolutionary War to the War of 1812, the Bluegrass State had a strong martial tradition that generations of 19th century Kentuckians felt obligated to uphold.
When war came in 1846, Kentuckians enlisted with an unsurpassed enthusiasm.
More men volunteered than were needed or could be equipped.
Few of the Kentuckians who made it to Mexico found the martial glory and adventure they were looking for, but their commitment to service was widely recognized by the state’s citizens.
This tour sheds some much needed light on the state’s participation in this largely forgotten chapter of our history.
While the people, places, and events examined here have made their way onto Kentucky’s historical markers, many of these subjects are not known or traditionally remembered for their connections to the Mexican-American War.
This tour provides an opportunity to discover how these individuals, groups, and places were impacted by that conflict.
Also included here are numerous primary source images and documents that illustrate Kentucky’s participation.