Illinois' Role

by Drew VandeCreek, Ph.D.

States nearer to the Mexican frontier often provided more volunteers for the Mexican War than states a greater distance from the conflict. Nevertheless, Illinois filled the ranks with more than her quota of soldiers. On May 25, 1846 Illinois Governor Thomas Ford issued a proclamation calling for the enlistment of three regiments of infantry and named Alton, on the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis, as their rendezvous point.

The vast majority of these troops enlisted for twelve months' service, which led the Governor to make a second call for troops in April of 1847. The state raised two more regiments of men. In total, the State of Illinois provided 6,123 men to the Mexican War. Of these, 86 were killed and 160 wounded. Twelve of the wounded later died of their injuries.

Illinois troops participated in the Battle of Buena Vista, and the state's Third and Fourth regiments won distinction at Vera Cruz and Cerro Gordo. These regiments also participated in General Winfield Scott's march into Mexico City.