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November 18, 1846: Governor William Smith Calls Troops to Fight in the Mexican-American War

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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

On November 18, 1846, Virginia Governor William Smith called for state troops to fight in the Mexican-American War. The two-year war followed the United States’ annexation of Texas. The conflict was primarily fought over the disputed southern border of Texas, which was claimed by both the United States and Mexico. The war was largely opposed in this country by the Whig Party, including a young Congressman from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, who saw it as an effort to pilfer territory from Mexico.

A higher percentage of men volunteered from Western Virginia than from other Virginia counties. However, most Western Virginians never made it into combat. The leading companies that saw conflict were from Berkeley, Jefferson, Monongalia, and Harrison counties.

The Harrison County recruits included 22-year-old Clarksburg native and Second Lieutenant Thomas Jackson, who would become known as “Stonewall” during the Civil War. During the Mexican-American War, Jackson took part in the Siege of Veracruz and the battles of Contreras, Chapultepec, and Mexico City. He earned two brevet promotions in Mexico and first met Robert E. Lee, under whom he would later serve in the Confederate Army.


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