Back to Top Skip to main content

Mexican-American War remains arrive in U.S. for dignified transfer

The skeletal remains of the possible U.S. soldiers were solemnly carried to an awaiting vehicle by the U.S. Army Old Guard ceremonial team, under the watchful gaze of senior military, university and government leaders. (U.S. Air Force photo) The skeletal remains of the possible U.S. soldiers were solemnly carried to an awaiting vehicle by the U.S. Army Old Guard ceremonial team, under the watchful gaze of senior military, university and government leaders. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Recommended Content:

Military Medical History | Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Delaware — The Mexican-American War and the Battle for Monterrey is noted, in part, as the reason Tennessee is called the “Volunteer State.”

The state’s nickname is derived from an outpouring of physical support during the War of 1812, and later in 1846 when the U.S. declared war against Mexico.

A reported 30,000 Tennesseans volunteered and marched against Mexico, and this after the nation had only requested 10 percent of that robust force.

On Sept. 28, 2016, approximately 170 years after the war, as many as 13 skeletal remains were returned to U.S. soil and honored during a solemn movement at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

The solemn movement of the remains, believed to be members of the Tennessee militia who died in the Battle of Monterrey in 1846, was the culmination of more than three years of diplomatic negotiation, sparked by a professor of forensic science at Middle Tennessee State University, according to Andrew Oppmann, the university’s spokesman.

On Sept. 28, 2016, approximately 170 years after the war, as many as 13 skeletal remains were returned to U.S. soil and honored during a solemn movement at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. (U.S. Air Force photo)On Sept. 28, 2016, approximately 170 years after the war, as many as 13 skeletal remains were returned to U.S. soil and honored during a solemn movement at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. (U.S. Air Force photo)

 

The remains, transported aboard a U.S. Army C-12 aircraft, were solemnly carried to an awaiting vehicle by the U.S. Army Old Guard ceremonial team, under the watchful gaze of senior military, university and government leaders.

A delegation of MTSU officials flew in to witness the dignified transfer of the possible U.S. soldiers, and to meet with experts at the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES) to begin a collaboration geared at discovering details about the ancient remains.

With the long journey to the U.S. completed, the skeletal remains were transferred for examination to the AFMES, which is located on base.

U.S. Army Colonel Louis Finelli, AFMES director, said it was too early to speculate how long the process would take to begin learning more about the skeletal remains. He added that his team would work closely with MTSU’s staff in finding answers to unlock details by studying the skeletons.

“Given the age of the remains, we can do everything in our power, but without accurate references and accurate family genealogy, we may not be able to put a name to them (the skeletal remains),” Finelli said. “We should hopefully be able to at least individualize these remains.”

During the solemn movement, U.S. Rep. Diane Black, of Tennessee, stood with the official party, including senior military, university and other government representatives. She said her office first became aware of the remains in 2011, and she and other members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation worked with university, military and Mexican officials to retrieve the remains.

“It had taken six years to bring these brave soldiers home,” she said, during a break in the otherwise constant drizzle of the day. “We have been in ongoing negotiations with the Mexican government and we have finally returned our fallen … heroes back to American soil.”

Black said she lived about seven miles from a cemetery where Mexican-American War dead are buried. She said if the bones are indeed determined to be Tennessee militia volunteers, “We would love to see their remains buried in that cemetery.”

Oppmann said the history surrounding the Mexican-American War, which ended in 1848, was nothing less than fascinating. “In September 1846, American forces caught the Mexican army in retreat at the city of Monterrey in northern Mexico, referenced as ‘a Perfect Gibraltar’ for its formidable defenses.”

Oppmann went on to describe how in a frontal attack U.S. commander Zachary Taylor sent regular soldiers and Texas militia as the main attack force to the western sector; at the same time, a regiment of regulars led by West Point officers such as Ulysses S. Grant and Braxton Bragg, along with volunteer regiments from Mississippi and Tennessee, attacked the northeastern sector.

With a specific nod to the militia of his home state, Oppmann noted that the unfortunate distinction of the “Bloody First” went to a Tennessean regiment that suffered noteworthy losses due to a staggering number of dead and wounded. “Fourteen percent of all forces engaged were killed or wounded (about 394) men, representing one of the bloodiest days in West Point history as 11 former cadets fell in action,” according to Oppmann. He also noted that Mexican war records indicate the dead were buried in “hastily covered mounds” along the roadside.

Historical evidence strongly indicates that these burials are likely those of Tennesseans,” according to Oppmann.

Dr. Hugh Berryman, a MTSU forensic anthropologist and professor, has been leading a team of 22 scientists that will work closely with AFMES in hopefully shedding light on the ancient remains.

They were in a part of the battle that had a high number of Tennesseans that died,” said Berryman. “This is important for a number of different reasons.”

But perhaps the most important of which, Berryman said, was how interwoven the Mexican-American War is with the very identity of Tennessee.

“We’re the ‘Volunteer State,’” he said. “That name was given to us by the War of 1812, and this war, in 1846.”

HISTORICAL NOTE:

In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war and demanded the Mexican Cession of territories of Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico to the United States. The U.S. agreed to pay $15 million to pay the physical damage of war. In addition, the U.S. assumed approximately $3.25 million of debt owed by the Mexican government to U.S. citizens. Mexico recognized the loss of Texas and thereafter cited the Rio Grande as its national border with the U.S.

You also may be interested in...

AFMES DoD DNA Lab receives perfect score

Article
8/6/2018
Sean Patterson, quality management section DNA analyst, checks expiration dates on reagents in the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System – Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory. AFDIL recently underwent a quality assessment where they received zero findings of nonconformance for the first time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

This was the first time AFDIL has received zero findings during a quality assessment

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

AFMES embraces resiliency

Article
7/8/2018
Col. Louis Finelli, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System director, talks with AFMES personnel during a resiliency day at Dover International Speedway, Dover, Del., May 24, 2018. Finelli talked about the importance of coming together as a family to be able to destress and be more resilient. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

AFMES town hall focused on workplace and summer safety, security awareness and resiliency

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner

AFMES DNA FAQs 2018

Fact Sheet
6/26/2018

This Fact Sheet describes the purpose of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System's Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner | DoD DNA Operations | DNA Identification Laboratory

AFMES DoD DNA Operations Fact Sheet 2018

Fact Sheet
6/7/2018

This Fact Sheet describes the purpose of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System's Department of Defense DNA Operations

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner | DoD DNA Operations | DNA Identification Laboratory

AFMES Fact Sheet 2018

Fact Sheet
6/7/2018

This Fact Sheet describes the purpose of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner | DoD DNA Operations | Forensic Toxicology

AFMES DNA lab helps identify the fallen of past conflicts

Article
5/30/2018
Gina Parada, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System DNA analyst, collects a DNA sample during a POW/MIA Accounting Agency Family Member Update in Louisville, Kentucky. DNA can be used to support anthropology of recovered skeletal remains or be used as primary means of identification. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

DNA can be used to support anthropology of recovered skeletal remains or be used as primary means of identification

Recommended Content:

Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner | Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

AFMES participates in Operation Joint Recovery, introduces MACRMS

Article
3/20/2018
U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bryan Platt (right), Armed Forces Medical Examiner System forensic pathologist, demonstrates an examination at a simulated Mortuary Affairs Contaminated Remains Mitigation Site during Operation Joint Recovery exercise at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Mar. 10, 2018. Platt familiarized participants in recovery and processing of contaminated remains. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

AFMES primary role in the exercise was to familiarize participants in contaminated remains recovery

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

Vietnam Vascular Registry helps veteran reunite with doctors

Article
3/13/2018
The Vietnam Vascular Registry, developed by Dr. Norman Rich at Walter Reed General Hospital, documented and analyzed blood vessel injuries in Vietnam. Each patient entered into the registry was assigned a consecutive number and given a vascular registry card, such as this one. (Courtesy photo by Dr. Norm Rich)

The Vietnam Vascular Registry, developed by Dr. Norman Rich at Walter Reed General Hospital, documented and analyzed blood vessel injuries in Vietnam

Recommended Content:

Military Medical History

New exhibit at military medical museum features gas warfare during World War I

Article
2/21/2018
Two soldiers participate in gas warfare training at Fort Myer, Virginia in 1917. Soldiers were drilled to maintain “gas discipline” and use their gas mask at the first instant the presence of chemical agents are detected. (Reeve 001061, Otis Historical Archives, National Museum of Health and Medicine)

A new exhibit at the NMHM reveals how American military medicine responded to chemical warfare on the battlefields of France during the Great War

Recommended Content:

Military Medical History

Earthquake shakes Dover Air Force Base

Article
12/1/2017
A map of Delaware and the surrounding areas where a magnitude 4.1 earthquake occurred Nov. 30, 2017, six miles northeast of Dover is shown. (Courtesy photo)

On November 30, 2017, a magnitude 4.1 earthquake occurred six miles northeast of Dover, Delaware

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

Commentary: Medicolegal death investigations from a federal viewpoint

Article
11/24/2017
A view of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System facility is shown July 21, 2017, on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Pursuant to a Base Relocation and Closure, the new AFMES facility was constructed adjoined with the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs. Prior to the BRAC, AFMES called Rockville, Maryland, home. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashlin Federick)

Investigators at AFMES face unique challenges inherent to the military structure and area of responsibility

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Medical-Legal Examinations

DPAA accounts for 183 missing service members in fiscal year 2017

Article
10/27/2017
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency conducts a ceremony for POW/MIA Recognition Day at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii, Sept. 15, 2017. POW/MIA Recognition Day, first established in 1979 through a proclamation from President Jimmy Carter, is an observance to honor and recognize the sacrifices of those Americans who have been prisoners of war and to remind the Nation of those who are still missing in action. Today, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is conducting worldwide operations to provide the fullest possible accounting for those classified as still missing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Bruch)

DPAA works closely with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, part of the Research and Development Directorate of the Military Health System

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | DNA Identification Laboratory

Hospital corpsman disregards own life to save Marines

Article
7/5/2017
Richard Dewert’s gravestone at Massachusetts National Cemetery. (Courtesy photo by Gary Boughton)

Early in 1951, DeWert received orders to the 7th Marine Regiment, a unit known suffering more casualties than just about any other Marine unit during the Korean War

Recommended Content:

Military Medical History

D-Day through the eyes of a combat medic, 73 years later

Article
6/6/2017
Edwin “Doc” Pepping, left, and Albert “Al” Mampre, right, both served as combat medics attached to Easy Company during World War II. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Pepping)

With no chance to be nervous or afraid, and often times equipped with little supply, World War II combat medics reflect on their experiences for D-Day’s 73rd anniversary

Recommended Content:

Military Medical History

AFMES, helping bring loved ones home one FRS at a time

Article
4/7/2017
Personnel from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System Department of Defense DNA Registry Family Reference Sample-Laboratory Automation group pose for a photo, at AFMES on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The FRS-LA group’s primary mission is to process family reference samples for the past accounting community as well as current day operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashlin Federick)

The Family Reference Sample-Laboratory Automation group was established in October 2016

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | DoD DNA Operations
<< < 1 2 3 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 3

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.