Living History Season Begins at Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park

A soldier gets ready to pack powder into a canon during the first Living History event.

Story and photos by Tony Vindell/LFN

Canons, muskets, bayonets, civil-styled outfits and U.S. and Mexican soldiers were part of a war scenery at the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park in Brownsville.

The scene was part of the park’s Living History season that began Sept. 1 and will take place the first Saturday of each month until May 2019.

The groups of soldiers set up camp in a field just northeast of the park’s headquarters. Two tents, a primitive campfire to make coffee was at the site as the soldiers talked among themselves while two canons sat nearby.

A crowd, made up mostly of youngsters, cub scouts and about a dozen adults wanting to learn about the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846, watched from three shelters as the first of a couple of shows got under way.

An American and a Mexican soldier narrate how the two countries waged war in 1846. Photo: Tony Vindell/LFN

Donald Drefke, who described himself as one of the U.S. soldiers at the event, talked about the fighting he said took the lives of some 400 Mexican fighters and about 20 U.S. combatants.

The reason behind such disparity was due to the fact that the U.S. soldiers were better trained and armed than their counterparts.

Another volunteer described how the fighting took place even though he said the Mexican soldiers stood bravely shouting “Viva Mexico” as they were gunned down by the U.S. firepower.

Elizabeth Sigala, of Brownsville, and Harlingen resident Paula Mellinger were in the crowd watching the living history acts that included a loud blast from one of the canons.

“I have been driving in front of the park for many years,” Sigala said, “but this is my first time here. This is pretty neat.”

Mellinger said she has been to the park before but it was also her first time that she made it to the Living History event.

“We like to visit places that teach you about our country’s history,” she said. “This is new for us.”

The park, located along FM 1847, or Paredes Line Road, is about halfway between Los Fresnos and Brownsville. It opens all year around, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day and it’s one of the few places in the country that has no admission fees.

For more information about the Living History scenes or about the park in general, please call 956-541-2785.

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