MONTERREY, Mexico (Reuters) - Archeologists have uncovered the remains of U.S. soldiers probably killed in an 1846 Mexican-American War battle, some with bullet wounds and with many of their bones intact.
Found at a construction site and encrusted in the desert soil in Monterrey near the Texan border, the 10 sets of skeletal remains were discovered with buttons from uniforms, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology said.
The institute’s archeologist leading the excavation, Araceli Rivera, said the height of the skeletons, ranging from 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches (1.70 to 1.75 meters), meant they were U.S. soldiers, who were taller than Mexicans then.
“They don’t coincide with the average height of Mexicans from that period,” the institute said.
The archeologists discovered the remains between January and mid-May. In other excavations since 1995 they have found another 10 skeletons, as well as half-dollar silver coins and bullets.
In the most recent discovery, photos show an entire skeleton with its arms partially folded emerging from the dirt, while its mouth has an almost complete set of teeth.
Some bones have light green stains after long contact with metal, probably the bullets that killed the servicemen.
“All the soldiers died in combat,” Rivera said.
U.S. forces under the command of General Zachary Taylor took Monterrey on Sept. 23, 1846 after several days of fighting, an important victory in the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. The conflict was sparked by the United States’ annexation of Texas in 1845, which Mexico considered its own.
Mexico eventually lost the war and ceded almost half of its territory to the United States -- including claims on Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and parts of Colorado -- in a humiliation that still stings some Mexicans today.
Some 367 Mexican soldiers and 120 U.S. troops were killed in the Battle of Monterrey, according to U.S. Army historians.
The Mexican anthropology institute believes bodies of Mexican soldiers were quickly claimed by families and buried in cemeteries across the city.
Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by David Lawder