MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
Thursday marked the 160th anniversary of the battle of Chapultepec. On Sept. 13, 1847, 120 U.S. Marines and soldiers stormed the Chapultepec castle, a fort being used as a Mexican military academy, to engage in the last battle before invading the Mexican capital.
In order to advance into the city, Army Gen. Winfield Scott made the decision to enter Mexico City by using causeways leading to its Western gates. This strategy made it necessary for the troops to seize Chapultepec Hill, a heavily reinforced 200-foot hill that included a 12-foot wall designed to protect it against enemy attacks.
The American forces struggled as they attacked the steep hill from all directions and were greeted by the Mexican Army through massive amounts of musket fire and artillery bombardment.
When they reached the Western walls, the troops were forced to engage in vicious hand-to-hand combat. Finally, they were able to hoist scaling-ladders into the fort and claim the defensive position.
Once the troops entered the castle, known as the Halls of the Montezuma, they raised the American flag symbolizing their triumph. When Gen. Scott walked into the castle he found the surrounding streets guarded by the remaining Marines.
During this battle, 90 percent of the Marine officers and noncommissioned officers who fought were killed.
Today the Marines’ actions in the battle of Chapultepec are remembered in the opening lines of The Marines’ Hymn, “From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.”
Marine officers and noncommissioned officers also added scarlet stripes to their blue dress trousers, which are now referred to as “blood stripes,” to commemorate the Marines’ blood shed at Chapultepec.
This week was a time to reflect on the contributions made by Marines in the past and to honor their courage during the final stronghold of the Mexican War.