Folks closest to me have had to endure my annual celebration of Buena Vista Days on February 22-23. What are BV Days?
Well, in my mind, they commemorate the overwhelmingly heroic stand of about 4,500 U.S. volunteers and regulars against 18,000+ Mexican soldiers in 1847. Commanded by old Rough and Ready, General Zachary Taylor, the U.S. forces withstood wave after wave of attacks by Santa Anna's forces for two days.
On the night of February 23, 1847, the American troops — badly bloodied but still protecting the pass of La Angostura and the plateau above extending back to Saltillo —prepared themselves for what they thought would be their final stand on the dawn of the 24th.
Throughout the night, they could hear Mexican wagons and artillery, infantry commands, and bugle calls. The Americans were certain Santa Anna had brought up the last of his column from San Luis Potosi and was aligning his troops for a final, pre-dawn assault.
When the sun finally broke over the Sierra Madre's bordering the plateau, the Americans could not believe their eyes — Santa Anna had vamoosed! All that littered the plain in front of the exhausted Americans were the dead and wounded of the previous day's fighting. Cheers went up throughout the valley extending back to Saltillo where Taylor had evacuated his wounded and reinforced the square for a final stand.
Not too many share my enthusiasm for the Battle of Buena Vista. Nevertheless, each year on the 22nd and 23rd, I go out for Mexican food and hoist a toast to General Taylor and his little army of 4,500.
The real thanks goes to General Taylor and his band of 4,500 who held their ground on a couple of very cold days in February, thousands of miles from home, in the belief that they were defending the interests of the United States of America.
Happy Buena Vista Days,