Army of the West (1846)

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For the Confederate army of this name during the American Civil War, see Army of the West (1862). For the French force of this name, see Army of the West (1793).

The Army of the West was the name of the United States force commanded by Stephen W. Kearny during the Mexican-American War, which played a prominent role in the conquest of New Mexico and California.

It was headquartered at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. After the war, it was broken up into the Department of the Pacific and the Department of the West.

New Mexico

Colonel Stephen W. Kearny initially commanded some 1,700 regular army and volunteer soldiers mustering at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Kearny was promoted to brigadier general, and he designated the force the Army of the West and advanced on the Santa Fe trail by the end of June 1846. Other American forces followed including Colonel Sterling Price and the Second Missouri Mounted Volunteer Regiment and the famous Mormon Battalion the only religious unit in American military history. Months later the 1st New York Volunteer Infantry and some regular army units arrived by ship in California. Kearny moved into present day New Mexico and seized Santa Fe, establishing a military government there. Kearny dispatched forces under Colonel Alexander Doniphan for further operations in New Mexico while Kearny with the remaining forces of the army proceeded overland towards California, guided by Kit Carson. Colonel Sterling Price was left in command of U.S. troops in New Mexico. The forces left behind in New Mexico were still regarded as part of Army of the West. Price was able to successfully put down the Taos Revolt in the early part of 1847. Eventually the Army of the West would have some 4-5,000 soldiers operating in California, New Mexico and also Doniphan's regiment and its expedition in Chihuahua.


With just under 200 troops Kearny moved into the Alta California Province of Mexico and hastily attacked a Californio force at the Battle of San Pasqual. The battle was costly to the U.S., and Kearny moved on and occupied San Diego where he was joined by naval reinforcements serving as infantry under Commodore Robert F. Stockton. The combined force numbering 600 dragoons and sailors led by Kearny and Stockton attacked the Californios at Los Angeles. Winning the battles of Rio San Gabriel and La Mesa, the U.S. forces took control of the city on January 10, 1847. On January 13, the Californios surrendered to John C. Fremont, and the major fighting in California was over.


In late 1846, General Stephen W. Kearney headed west to California, where he was soundly defeated in several skirmishes and at the Battle of San Pasqual by the far superior Californio Lancers. He left three companies of Dragoons to form, with volunteer troops, a strong garrison in New Mexico. Command of the garrison eventually was placed with Colonel Sterling Price. The last major action of the army came in 1848 when Price, recently promoted to the rank of general, invaded the state of Chihuahua and defeated a Mexican force at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Rosales. This battle occurred after a cease fire and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo had been signed.

In 1862, Sterling Price would command another force named Army of the West, this time fighting against United States during the American Civil War.

Order of Battle at Santa Cruz de Rosales

Unit Commander
3rd Missouri Mounted Regiment Colonel Rolls
Santa Fe Mounted Regiment Major R. Walker
1st U.S. Dragoons Major Benjamin Beall
Love's Battery Lieutenant John Love

Major Battles

See also


  • The Mexican War Correspondence of Richard Smith Elliott, ISBN 0-8061-2951-4
  • Magoffin, Susan (1982). Down the Santa Fe Trail and Into Mexico. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-8116-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Eisenhower, John. So Far From God: The U.S. War with Mexico, Random House (1989).

External links