Part 2 out of 16

smell battle afar off, chafe to get into the fray. When they
say so themselves they generally fail to convince their hearers
that they are as anxious as they would like to make believe, and
as they approach danger they become more subdued. This rule is
not universal, for I have known a few men who were always aching
for a fight when there was no enemy near, who were as good as
their word when the battle did come. But the number of such men
is small.

On the 7th of May the wagons were all loaded and General Taylor
started on his return, with his army reinforced at Point Isabel,
but still less than three thousand strong, to relieve the
garrison on the Rio Grande. The road from Point Isabel to
Matamoras is over an open, rolling, treeless prairie, until the
timber that borders the bank of the Rio Grande is reached. This
river, like the Mississippi, flows through a rich alluvial valley
in the most meandering manner, running towards all points of the
compass at times within a few miles. Formerly the river ran by
Resaca de la Palma, some four or five miles east of the present
channel. The old bed of the river at Resaca had become filled
at places, leaving a succession of little lakes. The timber
that had formerly grown upon both banks, and for a considerable
distance out, was still standing. This timber was struck six or
eight miles out from the besieged garrison, at a point known as
Palo Alto--"Tall trees" or "woods."

Early in the forenoon of the 8th of May as Palo Alto was
approached, an army, certainly outnumbering our little force,
was seen, drawn up in line of battle just in front of the
timber. Their bayonets and spearheads glistened in the sunlight
formidably. The force was composed largely of cavalry armed with
lances. Where we were the grass was tall, reaching nearly to the
shoulders of the men, very stiff, and each stock was pointed at
the top, and hard and almost as sharp as a darning-needle.
General Taylor halted his army before the head of column came in
range of the artillery of the Mexicans. He then formed a line of
battle, facing the enemy. His artillery, two batteries and two
eighteen-pounder iron guns, drawn by oxen, were placed in
position at intervals along the line. A battalion was thrown to
the rear, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Childs, of the
artillery, as reserves. These preparations completed, orders
were given for a platoon of each company to stack arms and go to
a stream off to the right of the command, to fill their canteens
and also those of the rest of their respective companies. When
the men were all back in their places in line, the command to
advance was given. As I looked down that long line of about
three thousand armed men, advancing towards a larger force also
armed, I thought what a fearful responsibility General Taylor
must feel, commanding such a host and so far away from
friends. The Mexicans immediately opened fire upon us, first
with artillery and then with infantry. At first their shots did
not reach us, and the advance was continued. As we got nearer,
the cannon balls commenced going through the ranks. They hurt
no one, however, during this advance, because they would strike
the ground long before they reached our line, and ricochetted
through the tall grass so slowly that the men would see them and
open ranks and let them pass. When we got to a point where the
artillery could be used with effect, a halt was called, and the
battle opened on both sides.

The infantry under General Taylor was armed with flint-lock
muskets, and paper cartridges charged with powder, buck-shot and
ball. At the distance of a few hundred yards a man might fire at
you all day without your finding it out. The artillery was
generally six-pounder brass guns throwing only solid shot; but
General Taylor had with him three or four twelve-pounder
howitzers throwing shell, besides his eighteen-pounders before
spoken of, that had a long range. This made a powerful
armament. The Mexicans were armed about as we were so far as
their infantry was concerned, but their artillery only fired
solid shot. We had greatly the advantage in this arm.

The artillery was advanced a rod or two in front of the line,
and opened fire. The infantry stood at order arms as
spectators, watching the effect of our shots upon the enemy, and
watching his shots so as to step out of their way. It could be
seen that the eighteen-pounders and the howitzers did a great
deal of execution. On our side there was little or no loss
while we occupied this position. During the battle Major
Ringgold, an accomplished and brave artillery officer, was
mortally wounded, and Lieutenant Luther, also of the artillery,
was struck. During the day several advances were made, and just
at dusk it became evident that the Mexicans were falling back. We
again advanced, and occupied at the close of the battle
substantially the ground held by the enemy at the beginning. In
this last move there was a brisk fire upon our troops, and some
execution was done. One cannon-ball passed through our ranks,
not far from me. It took off the head of an enlisted man, and
the under jaw of Captain Page of my regiment, while the
splinters from the musket of the killed soldier, and his brains
and bones, knocked down two or three others, including one
officer, Lieutenant Wallen,--hurting them more or less. Our
casualties for the day were nine killed and forty-seven wounded.

At the break of day on the 9th, the army under Taylor was ready
to renew the battle; but an advance showed that the enemy had
entirely left our front during the night. The chaparral before
us was impenetrable except where there were roads or trails,
with occasionally clear or bare spots of small dimensions. A
body of men penetrating it might easily be ambushed. It was
better to have a few men caught in this way than the whole army,
yet it was necessary that the garrison at the river should be
relieved. To get to them the chaparral had to be passed. Thus
I assume General Taylor reasoned. He halted the army not far in
advance of the ground occupied by the Mexicans the day before,
and selected Captain C. F. Smith, of the artillery, and Captain
McCall, of my company, to take one hundred and fifty picked men
each and find where the enemy had gone. This left me in command
of the company, an honor and responsibility I thought very great.

Smith and McCall found no obstruction in the way of their
advance until they came up to the succession of ponds, before
describes, at Resaca. The Mexicans had passed them and formed
their lines on the opposite bank. This position they had
strengthened a little by throwing up dead trees and brush in
their front, and by placing artillery to cover the approaches
and open places. Smith and McCall deployed on each side of the
road as well as they could, and engaged the enemy at long
range. Word was sent back, and the advance of the whole army
was at once commenced. As we came up we were deployed in like
manner. I was with the right wing, and led my company through
the thicket wherever a penetrable place could be found, taking
advantage of any clear spot that would carry me towards the
enemy. At last I got pretty close up without knowing it. The
balls commenced to whistle very thick overhead, cutting the
limbs of the chaparral right and left. We could not see the
enemy, so I ordered my men to lie down, an order that did not
have to be enforced. We kept our position until it became
evident that the enemy were not firing at us, and then withdrew
to find better ground to advance upon.

By this time some progress had been made on our left. A section
of artillery had been captured by the cavalry, and some prisoners
had been taken. The Mexicans were giving way all along the line,
and many of them had, no doubt, left early. I at last found a
clear space separating two ponds. There seemed to be a few men
in front and I charged upon them with my company.

There was no resistance, and we captured a Mexican colonel, who
had been wounded, and a few men. Just as I was sending them to
the rear with a guard of two or three men, a private came from
the front bringing back one of our officers, who had been badly
wounded in advance of where I was. The ground had been charged
over before. My exploit was equal to that of the soldier who
boasted that he had cut off the leg of one of the enemy. When
asked why he did not cut off his head, he replied: "Some one
had done that before." This left no doubt in my mind but that
the battle of Resaca de la Palma would have been won, just as it
was, if I had not been there. There was no further resistance.
The evening of the 9th the army was encamped on its old ground
near the Fort, and the garrison was relieved. The siege had
lasted a number of days, but the casualties were few in
number. Major Jacob Brown, of the 7th infantry, the commanding
officer, had been killed, and in his honor the fort was named.
Since then a town of considerable importance has sprung up on
the ground occupied by the fort and troops, which has also taken
his name.

The battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma seemed to us
engaged, as pretty important affairs; but we had only a faint
conception of their magnitude until they were fought over in the
North by the Press and the reports came back to us. At the same
time, or about the same time, we learned that war existed
between the United States and Mexico, by the acts of the latter
country. On learning this fact General Taylor transferred our
camps to the south or west bank of the river, and Matamoras was
occupied. We then became the "Army of Invasion."

Up to this time Taylor had none but regular troops in his
command; but now that invasion had already taken place,
volunteers for one year commenced arriving. The army remained
at Matamoras until sufficiently reinforced to warrant a movement
into the interior. General Taylor was not an officer to trouble
the administration much with his demands, but was inclined to do
the best he could with the means given him. He felt his
responsibility as going no further. If he had thought that he
was sent to perform an impossibility with the means given him,
he would probably have informed the authorities of his opinion
and left them to determine what should be done. If the judgment
was against him he would have gone on and done the best he could
with the means at hand without parading his grievance before the
public. No soldier could face either danger or responsibility
more calmly than he. These are qualities more rarely found than
genius or physical courage.

General Taylor never made any great show or parade, either of
uniform or retinue. In dress he was possibly too plain, rarely
wearing anything in the field to indicate his rank, or even that
he was an officer; but he was known to every soldier in his army,
and was respected by all. I can call to mind only one instance
when I saw him in uniform, and one other when I heard of his
wearing it, On both occasions he was unfortunate. The first was
at Corpus Christi. He had concluded to review his army before
starting on the march and gave orders accordingly. Colonel
Twiggs was then second in rank with the army, and to him was
given the command of the review. Colonel and Brevet
Brigadier-General Worth, a far different soldier from Taylor in
the use of the uniform, was next to Twiggs in rank, and claimed
superiority by virtue of his brevet rank when the accidents of
service threw them where one or the other had to command. Worth
declined to attend the review as subordinate to Twiggs until the
question was settled by the highest authority. This broke up
the review, and the question was referred to Washington for
final decision.

General Taylor was himself only a colonel, in real rank, at that
time, and a brigadier-general by brevet. He was assigned to
duty, however, by the President, with the rank which his brevet
gave him. Worth was not so assigned, but by virtue of
commanding a division he must, under the army regulations of
that day, have drawn the pay of his brevet rank. The question
was submitted to Washington, and no response was received until
after the army had reached the Rio Grande. It was decided
against General Worth, who at once tendered his resignation and
left the army, going north, no doubt, by the same vessel that
carried it. This kept him out of the battles of Palo Alto and
Resaca de la Palma. Either the resignation was not accepted, or
General Worth withdrew it before action had been taken. At all
events he returned to the army in time to command his division
in the battle of Monterey, and served with it to the end of the

The second occasion on which General Taylor was said to have
donned his uniform, was in order to receive a visit from the
Flag Officer of the naval squadron off the mouth of the Rio
Grande. While the army was on that river the Flag Officer sent
word that he would call on the General to pay his respects on a
certain day. General Taylor, knowing that naval officers
habitually wore all the uniform the "law allowed" on all
occasions of ceremony, thought it would be only civil to receive
his guest in the same style. His uniform was therefore got out,
brushed up, and put on, in advance of the visit. The Flag
Officer, knowing General Taylor's aversion to the wearing of the
uniform, and feeling that it would be regarded as a compliment
should he meet him in civilian's dress, left off his uniform for
this occasion. The meeting was said to have been embarrassing to
both, and the conversation was principally apologetic.

The time was whiled away pleasantly enough at Matamoras, while
we were waiting for volunteers. It is probable that all the
most important people of the territory occupied by our army left
their homes before we got there, but with those remaining the
best of relations apparently existed. It was the policy of the
Commanding General to allow no pillaging, no taking of private
property for public or individual use without satisfactory
compensation, so that a better market was afforded than the
people had ever known before.

Among the troops that joined us at Matamoras was an Ohio
regiment, of which Thomas L. Hamer, the Member of Congress who
had given me my appointment to West Point, was major. He told
me then that he could have had the colonelcy, but that as he
knew he was to be appointed a brigadier-general, he preferred at
first to take the lower grade. I have said before that Hamer was
one of the ablest men Ohio ever produced. At that time he was in
the prime of life, being less than fifty years of age, and
possessed an admirable physique, promising long life. But he
was taken sick before Monterey, and died within a few days. I
have always believed that had his life been spared, he would
have been President of the United States during the term filled
by President Pierce. Had Hamer filled that office his
partiality for me was such, there is but little doubt I should
have been appointed to one of the staff corps of the army--the
Pay Department probably--and would therefore now be preparing to
retire. Neither of these speculations is unreasonable, and they
are mentioned to show how little men control their own destiny.

Reinforcements having arrived, in the month of August the
movement commenced from Matamoras to Camargo, the head of
navigation on the Rio Grande. The line of the Rio Grande was
all that was necessary to hold, unless it was intended to invade
Mexico from the North. In that case the most natural route to
take was the one which General Taylor selected. It entered a
pass in the Sierra Madre Mountains, at Monterey, through which
the main road runs to the City of Mexico. Monterey itself was a
good point to hold, even if the line of the Rio Grande covered
all the territory we desired to occupy at that time. It is
built on a plain two thousand feet above tide water, where the
air is bracing and the situation healthy.

On the 19th of August the army started for Monterey, leaving a
small garrison at Matamoras. The troops, with the exception of
the artillery, cavalry, and the brigade to which I belonged,
were moved up the river to Camargo on steamers. As there were
but two or three of these, the boats had to make a number of
trips before the last of the troops were up. Those who marched
did so by the south side of the river. Lieutenant-Colonel
Garland, of the 4th infantry, was the brigade commander, and on
this occasion commanded the entire marching force. One day out
convinced him that marching by day in that latitude, in the
month of August, was not a beneficial sanitary measure,
particularly for Northern men. The order of marching was
changed and night marches were substituted with the best results.

When Camargo was reached, we found a city of tents outside the
Mexican hamlet. I was detailed to act as quartermaster and
commissary to the regiment. The teams that had proven
abundantly sufficient to transport all supplies from Corpus
Christi to the Rio Grande over the level prairies of Texas, were
entirely inadequate to the needs of the reinforced army in a
mountainous country. To obviate the deficiency, pack mules were
hired, with Mexicans to pack and drive them. I had charge of the
few wagons allotted to the 4th infantry and of the pack train to
supplement them. There were not men enough in the army to
manage that train without the help of Mexicans who had learned
how. As it was the difficulty was great enough. The troops
would take up their march at an early hour each day. After they
had started, the tents and cooking utensils had to be made into
packages, so that they could be lashed to the backs of the
mules. Sheet-iron kettles, tent-poles and mess chests were
inconvenient articles to transport in that way. It took several
hours to get ready to start each morning, and by the time we were
ready some of the mules first loaded would be tired of standing
so long with their loads on their backs. Sometimes one would
start to run, bowing his back and kicking up until he scattered
his load; others would lie down and try to disarrange their
loads by attempting to get on the top of them by rolling on
them; others with tent-poles for part of their loads would
manage to run a tent-pole on one side of a sapling while they
would take the other. I am not aware of ever having used a
profane expletive in my life; but I would have the charity to
excuse those who may have done so, if they were in charge of a
train of Mexican pack mules at the time.



The advance from Camargo was commenced on the 5th of September.
The army was divided into four columns, separated from each
other by one day's march. The advance reached Cerralvo in four
days and halted for the remainder of the troops to come up. By
the 13th the rear-guard had arrived, and the same day the
advance resumed its march, followed as before, a day separating
the divisions. The forward division halted again at Marin,
twenty-four miles from Monterey. Both this place and Cerralvo
were nearly deserted, and men, women and children were seen
running and scattered over the hills as we approached; but when
the people returned they found all their abandoned property
safe, which must have given them a favorable opinion of Los
Grengos--"the Yankees." From Marin the movement was in mass.
On the 19th General Taylor, with is army, was encamped at Walnut
Springs, within three miles of Monterey.

The town is on a small stream coming out of the mountain-pass,
and is backed by a range of hills of moderate elevation. To the
north, between the city and Walnut Springs, stretches an
extensive plain. On this plain, and entirely outside of the
last houses of the city, stood a strong fort, enclosed on all
sides, to which our army gave the name of "Black Fort." Its
guns commanded the approaches to the city to the full extent of
their range. There were two detached spurs of hills or
mountains to the north and northwest of the city, which were
also fortified. On one of these stood the Bishop's Palace. The
road to Saltillo leaves the upper or western end of the city
under the fire of the guns from these heights. The lower or
eastern end was defended by two or three small detached works,
armed with artillery and infantry. To the south was the
mountain stream before mentioned, and back of that the range of
foot-hills. The plaza in the centre of the city was the
citadel, properly speaking. All the streets leading from it
were swept by artillery, cannon being intrenched behind
temporary parapets. The house-tops near the plaza were converted
into infantry fortifications by the use of sand-bags for
parapets. Such were the defences of Monterey in September,
1847. General Ampudia, with a force of certainly ten thousand
men, was in command.

General Taylor's force was about six thousand five hundred
strong, in three divisions, under Generals Butler, Twiggs and
Worth. The troops went into camp at Walnut Springs, while the
engineer officers, under Major Mansfield--a General in the late
war--commenced their reconnoissance. Major Mansfield found that
it would be practicable to get troops around, out of range of the
Black Fort and the works on the detached hills to the north-west
of the city, to the Saltillo road. With this road in our
possession, the enemy would be cut off from receiving further
supplies, if not from all communication with the interior.
General Worth, with his division somewhat reinforced, was given
the task of gaining possession of the Saltillo road, and of
carrying the detached works outside the city, in that quarter.
He started on his march early in the afternoon of the 20th. The
divisions under Generals Butler and Twiggs were drawn up to
threaten the east and north sides of the city and the works on
those fronts, in support of the movement under General Worth.
Worth's was regarded as the main attack on Monterey, and all
other operations were in support of it. His march this day was
uninterrupted; but the enemy was seen to reinforce heavily about
the Bishop's Palace and the other outside fortifications on their
left. General Worth reached a defensible position just out of
range of the enemy's guns on the heights north-west of the city,
and bivouacked for the night. The engineer officers with
him--Captain Sanders and Lieutenant George G. Meade, afterwards
the commander of the victorious National army at the battle of
Gettysburg--made a reconnoissance to the Saltillo road under
cover of night.

During the night of the 20th General Taylor had established a
battery, consisting of two twenty-four-pounder howitzers and a
ten inch mortar, at a point from which they could play upon
Black Fort. A natural depression in the plain, sufficiently
deep to protect men standing in it from the fire from the fort,
was selected and the battery established on the crest nearest
the enemy. The 4th infantry, then consisting of but six reduced
companies, was ordered to support the artillerists while they
were intrenching themselves and their guns. I was regimental
quartermaster at the time and was ordered to remain in charge of
camp and the public property at Walnut Springs. It was supposed
that the regiment would return to its camp in the morning.

The point for establishing the siege battery was reached and the
work performed without attracting the attention of the enemy. At
daylight the next morning fire was opened on both sides and
continued with, what seemed to me at that day, great fury. My
curiosity got the better of my judgment, and I mounted a horse
and rode to the front to see what was going on. I had been
there but a short time when an order to charge was given, and
lacking the moral courage to return to camp--where I had been
ordered to stay--I charged with the regiment As soon as the
troops were out of the depression they came under the fire of
Black Fort. As they advanced they got under fire from batteries
guarding the east, or lower, end of the city, and of musketry.
About one-third of the men engaged in the charge were killed or
wounded in the space of a few minutes. We retreated to get out
of fire, not backward, but eastward and perpendicular to the
direct road running into the city from Walnut Springs. I was, I
believe, the only person in the 4th infantry in the charge who
was on horseback. When we got to a lace of safety the regiment
halted and drew itself together--what was left of it. The
adjutant of the regiment, Lieutenant Hoskins, who was not in
robust health, found himself very much fatigued from running on
foot in the charge and retreat, and, seeing me on horseback,
expressed a wish that he could be mounted also. I offered him
my horse and he accepted the offer. A few minutes later I saw a
soldier, a quartermaster's man, mounted, not far away. I ran to
him, took his horse and was back with the regiment in a few
minutes. In a short time we were off again; and the next place
of safety from the shots of the enemy that I recollect of being
in, was a field of cane or corn to the north-east of the lower
batteries. The adjutant to whom I had loaned my horse was
killed, and I was designated to act in his place.

This charge was ill-conceived, or badly executed. We belonged
to the brigade commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Garland, and he
had received orders to charge the lower batteries of the city,
and carry them if he could without too much loss, for the
purpose of creating a diversion in favor of Worth, who was
conducting the movement which it was intended should be
decisive. By a movement by the left flank Garland could have
led his men beyond the range of the fire from Black Fort and
advanced towards the northeast angle of the city, as well
covered from fire as could be expected. There was no undue loss
of life in reaching the lower end of Monterey, except that
sustained by Garland's command.

Meanwhile Quitman's brigade, conducted by an officer of
engineers, had reached the eastern end of the city, and was
placed under cover of the houses without much loss. Colonel
Garland's brigade also arrived at the suburbs, and, by the
assistance of some of our troops that had reached house-tops
from which they could fire into a little battery covering the
approaches to the lower end of the city, the battery was
speedily captured and its guns were turned upon another work of
the enemy. An entrance into the east end of the city was now
secured, and the houses protected our troops so long as they
were inactive. On the west General Worth had reached the
Saltillo road after some fighting but without heavy loss. He
turned from his new position and captured the forts on both
heights in that quarter. This gave him possession of the upper
or west end of Monterey. Troops from both Twiggs's and Butler's
divisions were in possession of the east end of the town, but the
Black Fort to the north of the town and the plaza in the centre
were still in the possession of the enemy. Our camps at Walnut
Springs, three miles away, were guarded by a company from each
regiment. A regiment of Kentucky volunteers guarded the mortars
and howitzers engaged against Black Fort. Practically Monterey
was invested.

There was nothing done on the 22d by the United States troops;
but the enemy kept up a harmless fire upon us from Black Fort
and the batteries still in their possession at the east end of
the city. During the night they evacuated these; so that on the
morning of the 23d we held undisputed possession of the east end
of Monterey.

Twiggs's division was at the lower end of the city, and well
covered from the fire of the enemy. But the streets leading to
the plaza--all Spanish or Spanish-American towns have near their
centres a square called a plaza--were commanded from all
directions by artillery. The houses were flat-roofed and but
one or two stories high, and about the plaza the roofs were
manned with infantry, the troops being protected from our fire
by parapets made of sand-bags. All advances into the city were
thus attended with much danger. While moving along streets
which did not lead to the plaza, our men were protected from the
fire, and from the view, of the enemy except at the crossings;
but at these a volley of musketry and a discharge of grape-shot
were invariably encountered. The 3d and 4th regiments of
infantry made an advance nearly to the plaza in this way and
with heavy loss. The loss of the 3d infantry in commissioned
officers was especially severe. There were only five companies
of the regiment and not over twelve officers present, and five
of these officers were killed. When within a square of the
plaza this small command, ten companies in all, was brought to a
halt. Placing themselves under cover from the shots of the
enemy, the men would watch to detect a head above the sand-bags
on the neighboring houses. The exposure of a single head would
bring a volley from our soldiers.

We had not occupied this position long when it was discovered
that our ammunition was growing low. I volunteered to go back
(*2) to the point we had started from, report our position to
General Twiggs, and ask for ammunition to be forwarded. We were
at this time occupying ground off from the street, in rear of the
houses. My ride back was an exposed one. Before starting I
adjusted myself on the side of my horse furthest from the enemy,
and with only one foot holding to the cantle of the saddle, and
an arm over the neck of the horse exposed, I started at full
run. It was only at street crossings that my horse was under
fire, but these I crossed at such a flying rate that generally I
was past and under cover of the next block of houses before the
enemy fired. I got out safely without a scratch.

At one place on my ride, I saw a sentry walking in front of a
house, and stopped to inquire what he was doing there. Finding
that the house was full of wounded American officers and
soldiers, I dismounted and went in. I found there Captain
Williams, of the Engineer Corps, wounded in the head, probably
fatally, and Lieutenant Territt, also badly wounded his bowels
protruding from his wound. There were quite a number of
soldiers also. Promising them to report their situation, I
left, readjusted myself to my horse, recommenced the run, and
was soon with the troops at the east end. Before ammunition
could be collected, the two regiments I had been with were seen
returning, running the same gauntlet in getting out that they
had passed in going in, but with comparatively little loss. The
movement was countermanded and the troops were withdrawn. The
poor wounded officers and men I had found, fell into the hands
of the enemy during the night, and died.

While this was going on at the east, General Worth, with a small
division of troops, was advancing towards the plaza from the
opposite end of the city. He resorted to a better expedient for
getting to the plaza--the citadel--than we did on the east.
Instead of moving by the open streets, he advanced through the
houses, cutting passageways from one to another. Without much
loss of life, he got so near the plaza during the night that
before morning, Ampudia, the Mexican commander, made overtures
for the surrender of the city and garrison. This stopped all
further hostilities. The terms of surrender were soon agreed
upon. The prisoners were paroled and permitted to take their
horses and personal property with them.

My pity was aroused by the sight of the Mexican garrison of
Monterey marching out of town as prisoners, and no doubt the
same feeling was experienced by most of our army who witnessed
it. Many of the prisoners were cavalry, armed with lances, and
mounted on miserable little half-starved horses that did not
look as if they could carry their riders out of town. The men
looked in but little better condition. I thought how little
interest the men before me had in the results of the war, and
how little knowledge they had of "what it was all about."

After the surrender of the garrison of Monterey a quiet camp
life was led until midwinter. As had been the case on the Rio
Grande, the people who remained at their homes fraternized with
the "Yankees" in the pleasantest manner. In fact, under the
humane policy of our commander, I question whether the great
majority of the Mexican people did not regret our departure as
much as they had regretted our coming. Property and person were
thoroughly protected, and a market was afforded for all the
products of the country such as the people had never enjoyed
before. The educated and wealthy portion of the population
here, as elsewhere, abandoned their homes and remained away from
them as long as they were in the possession of the invaders; but
this class formed a very small percentage of the whole



The Mexican war was a political war, and the administration
conducting it desired to make party capital out of it. General
Scott was at the head of the army, and, being a soldier of
acknowledged professional capacity, his claim to the command of
the forces in the field was almost indisputable and does not
seem to have been denied by President Polk, or Marcy, his
Secretary of War. Scott was a Whig and the administration was
democratic. General Scott was also known to have political
aspirations, and nothing so popularizes a candidate for high
civil positions as military victories. It would not do
therefore to give him command of the "army of conquest." The
plans submitted by Scott for a campaign in Mexico were
disapproved by the administration, and he replied, in a tone
possibly a little disrespectful, to the effect that, if a
soldier's plans were not to be supported by the administration,
success could not be expected. This was on the 27th of May,
1846. Four days later General Scott was notified that he need
not go to Mexico. General Gaines was next in rank, but he was
too old and feeble to take the field. Colonel Zachary Taylor--a
brigadier-general by brevet--was therefore left in command. He,
too, was a Whig, but was not supposed to entertain any political
ambitions; nor did he; but after the fall of Monterey, his third
battle and third complete victory, the Whig papers at home began
to speak of him as the candidate of their party for the
Presidency. Something had to be done to neutralize his growing
popularity. He could not be relieved from duty in the field
where all his battles had been victories: the design would have
been too transparent. It was finally decided to send General
Scott to Mexico in chief command, and to authorize him to carry
out his own original plan: that is, capture Vera Cruz and march
upon the capital of the country. It was no doubt supposed that
Scott's ambition would lead him to slaughter Taylor or destroy
his chances for the Presidency, and yet it was hoped that he
would not make sufficient capital himself to secure the prize.

The administration had indeed a most embarrassing problem to
solve. It was engaged in a war of conquest which must be
carried to a successful issue, or the political object would be
unattained. Yet all the capable officers of the requisite rank
belonged to the opposition, and the man selected for his lack of
political ambition had himself become a prominent candidate for
the Presidency. It was necessary to destroy his chances
promptly. The problem was to do this without the loss of
conquest and without permitting another general of the same
political party to acquire like popularity. The fact is, the
administration of Mr. Polk made every preparation to disgrace
Scott, or, to speak more correctly, to drive him to such
desperation that he would disgrace himself.

General Scott had opposed conquest by the way of the Rio Grande,
Matamoras and Saltillo from the first. Now that he was in
command of all the forces in Mexico, he withdrew from Taylor
most of his regular troops and left him only enough volunteers,
as he thought, to hold the line then in possession of the
invading army. Indeed Scott did not deem it important to hold
anything beyond the Rio Grande, and authorized Taylor to fall
back to that line if he chose. General Taylor protested against
the depletion of his army, and his subsequent movement upon Buena
Vista would indicate that he did not share the views of his chief
in regard to the unimportance of conquest beyond the Rio Grande.

Scott had estimated the men and material that would be required
to capture Vera Cruz and to march on the capital of the country,
two hundred and sixty miles in the interior. He was promised all
he asked and seemed to have not only the confidence of the
President, but his sincere good wishes. The promises were all
broken. Only about half the troops were furnished that had been
pledged, other war material was withheld and Scott had scarcely
started for Mexico before the President undertook to supersede
him by the appointment of Senator Thomas H. Benton as
lieutenant-general. This being refused by Congress, the
President asked legislative authority to place a junior over a
senior of the same grade, with the view of appointing Benton to
the rank of major-general and then placing him in command of the
army, but Congress failed to accede to this proposition as well,
and Scott remained in command: but every general appointed to
serve under him was politically opposed to the chief, and
several were personally hostile.

General Scott reached Brazos Santiago or Point Isabel, at the
mouth of the Rio Grande, late in December, 1846, and proceeded
at once up the river to Camargo, where he had written General
Taylor to meet him. Taylor, however, had gone to, or towards
Tampico, for the purpose of establishing a post there. He had
started on this march before he was aware of General Scott being
in the country. Under these circumstances Scott had to issue his
orders designating the troops to be withdrawn from Taylor,
without the personal consultation he had expected to hold with
his subordinate.

General Taylor's victory at Buena Vista, February 22d, 23d, and
24th, 1847, with an army composed almost entirely of volunteers
who had not been in battle before, and over a vastly superior
force numerically, made his nomination for the Presidency by the
Whigs a foregone conclusion. He was nominated and elected in
1848. I believe that he sincerely regretted this turn in his
fortunes, preferring the peace afforded by a quiet life free
from abuse to the honor of filling the highest office in the
gift of any people, the Presidency of the United States.

When General Scott assumed command of the army of invasion, I
was in the division of General David Twiggs, in Taylor's
command; but under the new orders my regiment was transferred to
the division of General William Worth, in which I served to the
close of the war. The troops withdrawn from Taylor to form part
of the forces to operate against Vera Cruz, were assembled at the
mouth of the Rio Grande preparatory to embarkation for their
destination. I found General Worth a different man from any I
had before served directly under. He was nervous, impatient and
restless on the march, or when important or responsible duty
confronted him. There was not the least reason for haste on the
march, for it was known that it would take weeks to assemble
shipping enough at the point of our embarkation to carry the
army, but General Worth moved his division with a rapidity that
would have been commendable had he been going to the relief of a
beleaguered garrison. The length of the marches was regulated by
the distances between places affording a supply of water for the
troops, and these distances were sometimes long and sometimes
short. General Worth on one occasion at least, after having
made the full distance intended for the day, and after the
troops were in camp and preparing their food, ordered tents
struck and made the march that night which had been intended for
the next day. Some commanders can move troops so as to get the
maximum distance out of them without fatigue, while others can
wear them out in a few days without accomplishing so much.
General Worth belonged to this latter class. He enjoyed,
however, a fine reputation for his fighting qualities, and thus
attached his officers and men to him.

The army lay in camp upon the sand-beach in the neighborhood of
the mouth of the Rio Grande for several weeks, awaiting the
arrival of transports to carry it to its new field of
operations. The transports were all sailing vessels. The
passage was a tedious one, and many of the troops were on
shipboard over thirty days from the embarkation at the mouth of
the Rio Grande to the time of debarkation south of Vera Cruz.
The trip was a comfortless one for officers and men. The
transports used were built for carrying freight and possessed
but limited accommodations for passengers, and the climate added
to the discomfort of all.

The transports with troops were assembled in the harbor of Anton
Lizardo, some sixteen miles south of Vera Cruz, as they arrived,
and there awaited the remainder of the fleet, bringing
artillery, ammunition and supplies of all kinds from the
North. With the fleet there was a little steam propeller
dispatch-boat--the first vessel of the kind I had ever seen, and
probably the first of its kind ever seen by any one then with the
army. At that day ocean steamers were rare, and what there were
were sidewheelers. This little vessel, going through the fleet
so fast, so noiselessly and with its propeller under water out
of view, attracted a great deal of attention. I recollect that
Lieutenant Sidney Smith, of the 4th infantry, by whom I happened
to be standing on the deck of a vessel when this propeller was
passing, exclaimed, "Why, the thing looks as if it was propelled
by the force of circumstances."

Finally on the 7th of March, 1847, the little army of ten or
twelve thousand men, given Scott to invade a country with a
population of seven or eight millions, a mountainous country
affording the greatest possible natural advantages for defence,
was all assembled and ready to commence the perilous task of
landing from vessels lying in the open sea.

The debarkation took place inside of the little island of
Sacrificios, some three miles south of Vera Cruz. The vessels
could not get anywhere near shore, so that everything had to be
landed in lighters or surf-boats; General Scott had provided
these before leaving the North. The breakers were sometimes
high, so that the landing was tedious. The men were got ashore
rapidly, because they could wade when they came to shallow
water; but the camp and garrison equipage, provisions,
ammunition and all stores had to be protected from the salt
water, and therefore their landing took several days. The
Mexicans were very kind to us, however, and threw no obstacles
in the way of our landing except an occasional shot from their
nearest fort. During the debarkation one shot took off the head
of Major Albertis. No other, I believe, reached anywhere near
the same distance. On the 9th of March the troops were landed
and the investment of Vera Cruz, from the Gulf of Mexico south
of the city to the Gulf again on the north, was soon and easily
effected. The landing of stores was continued until everything
was got ashore.

Vera Cruz, at the time of which I write and up to 1880, was a
walled city. The wall extended from the water's edge south of
the town to the water again on the north. There were
fortifications at intervals along the line and at the angles. In
front of the city, and on an island half a mile out in the Gulf,
stands San Juan de Ulloa, an enclosed fortification of large
dimensions and great strength for that period. Against
artillery of the present day the land forts and walls would
prove elements of weakness rather than strength. After the
invading army had established their camps out of range of the
fire from the city, batteries were established, under cover of
night, far to the front of the line where the troops lay. These
batteries were intrenched and the approaches sufficiently
protected. If a sortie had been made at any time by the
Mexicans, the men serving the batteries could have been quickly
reinforced without great exposure to the fire from the enemy's
main line. No serious attempt was made to capture the batteries
or to drive our troops away.

The siege continued with brisk firing on our side till the 27th
of March, by which time a considerable breach had been made in
the wall surrounding the city. Upon this General Morales, who
was Governor of both the city and of San Juan de Ulloa,
commenced a correspondence with General Scott looking to the
surrender of the town, forts and garrison. On the 29th Vera
Cruz and San Juan de Ulloa were occupied by Scott's army. About
five thousand prisoners and four hundred pieces of artillery,
besides large amounts of small arms and ammunition, fell into
the hands of the victorious force. The casualties on our side
during the siege amounted to sixty-four officers and men, killed
and wounded.



General Scott had less than twelve thousand men at Vera Cruz. He
had been promised by the administration a very much larger force,
or claimed that he had, and he was a man of veracity. Twelve
thousand was a very small army with which to penetrate two
hundred and sixty miles into an enemy's country, and to besiege
the capital; a city, at that time, of largely over one hundred
thousand inhabitants. Then, too, any line of march that could
be selected led through mountain passes easily defended. In
fact, there were at that time but two roads from Vera Cruz to
the City of Mexico that could be taken by an army; one by Jalapa
and Perote, the other by Cordova and Orizaba, the two coming
together on the great plain which extends to the City of Mexico
after the range of mountains is passed.

It was very important to get the army away from Vera Cruz as
soon as possible, in order to avoid the yellow fever, or vomito,
which usually visits that city early in the year, and is very
fatal to persons not acclimated; but transportation, which was
expected from the North, was arriving very slowly. It was
absolutely necessary to have enough to supply the army to
Jalapa, sixty-five miles in the interior and above the fevers of
the coast. At that point the country is fertile, and an army of
the size of General Scott's could subsist there for an
indefinite period. Not counting the sick, the weak and the
garrisons for the captured city and fort, the moving column was
now less than ten thousand strong. This force was composed of
three divisions, under Generals Twiggs, Patterson, and Worth.
The importance of escaping the vomito was so great that as soon
as transportation enough could be got together to move a
division the advance was commenced. On the 8th of April,
Twiggs's division started for Jalapa. He was followed very soon
by Patterson, with his division. General Worth was to bring up
the rear with his command as soon as transportation enough was
assembled to carry six days' rations for his troops with the
necessary ammunition and camp and garrison equipage. It was the
13th of April before this division left Vera Cruz.

The leading division ran against the enemy at Cerro Gordo, some
fifty miles west, on the road to Jalapa, and went into camp at
Plan del Rio, about three miles from the fortifications. General
Patterson reached Plan del Rio with his division soon after
Twiggs arrived. The two were then secure against an attack from
Santa Anna, who commanded the Mexican forces. At all events they
confronted the enemy without reinforcements and without
molestation, until the 18th of April. General Scott had
remained at Vera Cruz to hasten preparations for the field; but
on the 12th, learning the situation at the front, he hastened on
to take personal supervision. He at once commenced his
preparations for the capture of the position held by Santa Anna
and of the troops holding it.

Cerro Gordo is one of the higher spurs of the mountains some
twelve to fifteen miles east of Jalapa, and Santa Anna had
selected this point as the easiest to defend against an invading
army. The road, said to have been built by Cortez, zigzags
around the mountain-side and was defended at every turn by
artillery. On either side were deep chasms or mountain walls. A
direct attack along the road was an impossibility. A flank
movement seemed equally impossible. After the arrival of the
commanding-general upon the scene, reconnoissances were sent out
to find, or to make, a road by which the rear of the enemy's
works might be reached without a front attack. These
reconnoissances were made under the supervision of Captain
Robert E. Lee, assisted by Lieutenants P. G. T. Beauregard,
Isaac I. Stevens, Z. B. Tower, G. W. Smith, George B. McClellan,
and J. G. Foster, of the corps of engineers, all officers who
attained rank and fame, on one side or the other, in the great
conflict for the preservation of the unity of the nation. The
reconnoissance was completed, and the labor of cutting out and
making roads by the flank of the enemy was effected by the 17th
of the month. This was accomplished without the knowledge of
Santa Anna or his army, and over ground where he supposed it
impossible. On the same day General Scott issued his order for
the attack on the 18th.

The attack was made as ordered, and perhaps there was not a
battle of the Mexican war, or of any other, where orders issued
before an engagement were nearer being a correct report of what
afterwards took place. Under the supervision of the engineers,
roadways had been opened over chasms to the right where the
walls were so steep that men could barely climb them. Animals
could not. These had been opened under cover of night, without
attracting the notice of the enemy. The engineers, who had
directed the opening, led the way and the troops followed.
Artillery was let down the steep slopes by hand, the men engaged
attaching a strong rope to the rear axle and letting the guns
down, a piece at a time, while the men at the ropes kept their
ground on top, paying out gradually, while a few at the front
directed the course of the piece. In like manner the guns were
drawn by hand up the opposite slopes. In this way Scott's
troops reached their assigned position in rear of most of the
intrenchments of the enemy, unobserved. The attack was made,
the Mexican reserves behind the works beat a hasty retreat, and
those occupying them surrendered. On the left General Pillow's
command made a formidable demonstration, which doubtless held a
part of the enemy in his front and contributed to the victory. I
am not pretending to give full details of all the battles fought,
but of the portion that I saw. There were troops engaged on both
sides at other points in which both sustained losses; but the
battle was won as here narrated.

The surprise of the enemy was complete, the victory
overwhelming; some three thousand prisoners fell into Scott's
hands, also a large amount of ordnance and ordnance stores. The
prisoners were paroled, the artillery parked and the small arms
and ammunition destroyed. The battle of Buena Vista was
probably very important to the success of General Scott at Cerro
Gordo and in his entire campaign from Vera Cruz to the great
plains reaching to the City of Mexico. The only army Santa Anna
had to protect his capital and the mountain passes west of Vera
Cruz, was the one he had with him confronting General Taylor. It
is not likely that he would have gone as far north as Monterey to
attack the United States troops when he knew his country was
threatened with invasion further south. When Taylor moved to
Saltillo and then advanced on to Buena Vista, Santa Anna crossed
the desert confronting the invading army, hoping no doubt to
crush it and get back in time to meet General Scott in the
mountain passes west of Vera Cruz. His attack on Taylor was
disastrous to the Mexican army, but, notwithstanding this, he
marched his army to Cerro Gordo, a distance not much short of
one thousand miles by the line he had to travel, in time to
intrench himself well before Scott got there. If he had been
successful at Buena Vista his troops would no doubt have made a
more stubborn resistance at Cerro Gordo. Had the battle of
Buena Vista not been fought Santa Anna would have had time to
move leisurely to meet the invader further south and with an
army not demoralized nor depleted by defeat.

After the battle the victorious army moved on to Jalapa, where
it was in a beautiful, productive and healthy country, far above
the fevers of the coast. Jalapa, however, is still in the
mountains, and between there and the great plain the whole line
of the road is easy of defence. It was important, therefore, to
get possession of the great highway between the sea-coast and the
capital up to the point where it leaves the mountains, before the
enemy could have time to re-organize and fortify in our front.
Worth's division was selected to go forward to secure this
result. The division marched to Perote on the great plain, not
far from where the road debouches from the mountains. There is
a low, strong fort on the plain in front of the town, known as
the Castle of Perote. This, however, offered no resistance and
fell into our hands, with its armament.

General Scott having now only nine or ten thousand men west of
Vera Cruz, and the time of some four thousand of them being
about to expire, a long delay was the consequence. The troops
were in a healthy climate, and where they could subsist for an
indefinite period even if their line back to Vera Cruz should be
cut off. It being ascertained that the men whose time would
expire before the City of Mexico could possibly fall into the
hands of the American army, would not remain beyond the term for
which they had volunteered, the commanding-general determined to
discharge them at once, for a delay until the expiration of
their time would have compelled them to pass through Vera Cruz
during the season of the vomito. This reduced Scott's force in
the field to about five thousand men.

Early in May, Worth, with his division, left Perote and marched
on to Puebla. The roads were wide and the country open except
through one pass in a spur of mountains coming up from the
south, through which the road runs. Notwithstanding this the
small column was divided into two bodies, moving a day apart.
Nothing occurred on the march of special note, except that while
lying at the town of Amozoque--an easy day's march east of
Puebla--a body of the enemy's cavalry, two or three thousand
strong, was seen to our right, not more than a mile away. A
battery or two, with two or three infantry regiments, was sent
against them and they soon disappeared. On the 15th of May we
entered the city of Puebla.

General Worth was in command at Puebla until the latter end of
May, when General Scott arrived. Here, as well as on the march
up, his restlessness, particularly under responsibilities,
showed itself. During his brief command he had the enemy
hovering around near the city, in vastly superior numbers to his
own. The brigade to which I was attached changed quarters three
different times in about a week, occupying at first quarters
near the plaza, in the heart of the city; then at the western
entrance; then at the extreme east. On one occasion General
Worth had the troops in line, under arms, all day, with three
days' cooked rations in their haversacks. He galloped from one
command to another proclaiming the near proximity of Santa Anna
with an army vastly superior to his own. General Scott arrived
upon the scene the latter part of the month, and nothing more
was heard of Santa Anna and his myriads. There were, of course,
bodies of mounted Mexicans hovering around to watch our movements
and to pick up stragglers, or small bodies of troops, if they
ventured too far out. These always withdrew on the approach of
any considerable number of our soldiers. After the arrival of
General Scott I was sent, as quartermaster, with a large train
of wagons, back two days' march at least, to procure forage. We
had less than a thousand men as escort, and never thought of
danger. We procured full loads for our entire train at two
plantations, which could easily have furnished as much more.

There had been great delay in obtaining the authority of
Congress for the raising of the troops asked for by the
administration. A bill was before the National Legislature from
early in the session of 1846-7, authorizing the creation of ten
additional regiments for the war to be attached to the regular
army, but it was the middle of February before it became a
law. Appointments of commissioned officers had then to be made;
men had to be enlisted, the regiments equipped and the whole
transported to Mexico. It was August before General Scott
received reinforcement sufficient to warrant an advance. His
moving column, not even now more than ten thousand strong, was
in four divisions, commanded by Generals Twiggs, Worth, Pillow
and Quitman. There was also a cavalry corps under General
Harney, composed of detachments of the 1st, 2d, and 3d
dragoons. The advance commenced on the 7th of August with
Twiggs's division in front. The remaining three divisions
followed, with an interval of a day between. The marches were
short, to make concentration easier in case of attack.

I had now been in battle with the two leading commanders
conducting armies in a foreign land. The contrast between the
two was very marked. General Taylor never wore uniform, but
dressed himself entirely for comfort. He moved about the field
in which he was operating to see through his own eyes the
situation. Often he would be without staff officers, and when
he was accompanied by them there was no prescribed order in
which they followed. He was very much given to sit his horse
side-ways--with both feet on one side--particularly on the
battlefield. General Scott was the reverse in all these
particulars. He always wore all the uniform prescribed or
allowed by law when he inspected his lines; word would be sent
to all division and brigade commanders in advance, notifying
them of the hour when the commanding general might be
expected. This was done so that all the army might be under
arms to salute their chief as he passed. On these occasions he
wore his dress uniform, cocked hat, aiguillettes, sabre and
spurs. His staff proper, besides all officers constructively on
his staff--engineers, inspectors, quartermasters, etc., that
could be spared--followed, also in uniform and in prescribed
order. Orders were prepared with great care and evidently with
the view that they should be a history of what followed.

In their modes of expressing thought, these two generals
contrasted quite as strongly as in their other
characteristics. General Scott was precise in language,
cultivated a style peculiarly his own; was proud of his
rhetoric; not averse to speaking of himself, often in the third
person, and he could bestow praise upon the person he was
talking about without the least embarrassment. Taylor was not a
conversationalist, but on paper he could put his meaning so
plainly that there could be no mistaking it. He knew how to
express what he wanted to say in the fewest well-chosen words,
but would not sacrifice meaning to the construction of
high-sounding sentences. But with their opposite
characteristics both were great and successful soldiers; both
were true, patriotic and upright in all their dealings. Both
were pleasant to serve under--Taylor was pleasant to serve
with. Scott saw more through the eyes of his staff officers
than through his own. His plans were deliberately prepared, and
fully expressed in orders. Taylor saw for himself, and gave
orders to meet the emergency without reference to how they would
read in history.



The route followed by the army from Puebla to the City of Mexico
was over Rio Frio mountain, the road leading over which, at the
highest point, is about eleven thousand feet above tide water.
The pass through this mountain might have been easily defended,
but it was not; and the advanced division reached the summit in
three days after leaving Puebla. The City of Mexico lies west
of Rio Frio mountain, on a plain backed by another mountain six
miles farther west, with others still nearer on the north and
south. Between the western base of Rio Frio and the City of
Mexico there are three lakes, Chalco and Xochimilco on the left
and Texcoco on the right, extending to the east end of the City
of Mexico. Chalco and Texcoco are divided by a narrow strip of
land over which the direct road to the city runs. Xochimilco is
also to the left of the road, but at a considerable distance
south of it, and is connected with Lake Chalco by a narrow
channel. There is a high rocky mound, called El Penon, on the
right of the road, springing up from the low flat ground
dividing the lakes. This mound was strengthened by
intrenchments at its base and summit, and rendered a direct
attack impracticable.

Scott's army was rapidly concentrated about Ayotla and other
points near the eastern end of Lake Chalco. Reconnoissances
were made up to within gun-shot of El Penon, while engineers
were seeking a route by the south side of Lake Chalco to flank
the city, and come upon it from the south and south-west. A way
was found around the lake, and by the 18th of August troops were
in St. Augustin Tlalpam, a town about eleven miles due south
from the plaza of the capital. Between St. Augustin Tlalpam and
the city lie the hacienda of San Antonio and the village of
Churubusco, and south-west of them is Contreras. All these
points, except St. Augustin Tlalpam, were intrenched and
strongly garrisoned. Contreras is situated on the side of a
mountain, near its base, where volcanic rocks are piled in great
confusion, reaching nearly to San Antonio. This made the
approach to the city from the south very difficult.

The brigade to which I was attached--Garland's, of Worth's
division--was sent to confront San Antonio, two or three miles
from St. Augustin Tlalpam, on the road to Churubusco and the
City of Mexico. The ground on which San Antonio stands is
completely in the valley, and the surface of the land is only a
little above the level of the lakes, and, except to the
south-west, it was cut up by deep ditches filled with water. To
the south-west is the Pedregal--the volcanic rock before spoken
of--over which cavalry or artillery could not be passed, and
infantry would make but poor progress if confronted by an
enemy. From the position occupied by Garland's brigade,
therefore, no movement could be made against the defences of San
Antonio except to the front, and by a narrow causeway, over
perfectly level ground, every inch of which was commanded by the
enemy's artillery and infantry. If Contreras, some three miles
west and south, should fall into our hands, troops from there
could move to the right flank of all the positions held by the
enemy between us and the city. Under these circumstances
General Scott directed the holding of the front of the enemy
without making an attack until further orders.

On the 18th of August, the day of reaching San Augustin Tlalpam,
Garland's brigade secured a position within easy range of the
advanced intrenchments of San Antonio, but where his troops were
protected by an artificial embankment that had been thrown up for
some other purpose than defense. General Scott at once set his
engineers reconnoitring the works about Contreras, and on the
19th movements were commenced to get troops into positions from
which an assault could be made upon the force occupying that
place. The Pedregal on the north and north-east, and the
mountain on the south, made the passage by either flank of the
enemy's defences difficult, for their work stood exactly between
those natural bulwarks; but a road was completed during the day
and night of the 19th, and troops were got to the north and west
of the enemy.

This affair, like that of Cerro Gordo, was an engagement in
which the officers of the engineer corps won special
distinction. In fact, in both cases, tasks which seemed
difficult at first sight were made easier for the troops that
had to execute them than they would have been on an ordinary
field. The very strength of each of these positions was, by the
skill of the engineers, converted into a defence for the
assaulting parties while securing their positions for final
attack. All the troops with General Scott in the valley of
Mexico, except a part of the division of General Quitman at San
Augustin Tlalpam and the brigade of Garland (Worth's division)
at San Antonio, were engaged at the battle of Contreras, or were
on their way, in obedience to the orders of their chief, to
reinforce those who were engaged. The assault was made on the
morning of the 20th, and in less than half an hour from the
sound of the advance the position was in our hands, with many
prisoners and large quantities of ordnance and other stores. The
brigade commanded by General Riley was from its position the most
conspicuous in the final assault, but all did well, volunteers
and regulars.

From the point occupied by Garland's brigade we could see the
progress made at Contreras and the movement of troops toward the
flank and rear of the enemy opposing us. The Mexicans all the
way back to the city could see the same thing, and their conduct
showed plainly that they did not enjoy the sight. We moved out
at once, and found them gone from our immediate front. Clarke's
brigade of Worth's division now moved west over the point of the
Pedregal, and after having passed to the north sufficiently to
clear San Antonio, turned east and got on the causeway leading
to Churubusco and the City of Mexico. When he approached
Churubusco his left, under Colonel Hoffman, attacked a
tete-de-pont at that place and brought on an engagement. About
an hour after, Garland was ordered to advance directly along the
causeway, and got up in time to take part in the engagement. San
Antonio was found evacuated, the evacuation having probably taken
place immediately upon the enemy seeing the stars and stripes
waving over Contreras.

The troops that had been engaged at Contreras, and even then on
their way to that battle-field, were moved by a causeway west
of, and parallel to the one by way of San Antonio and
Churubusco. It was expected by the commanding general that
these troops would move north sufficiently far to flank the
enemy out of his position at Churubusco, before turning east to
reach the San Antonio road, but they did not succeed in this,
and Churubusco proved to be about the severest battle fought in
the valley of Mexico. General Scott coming upon the
battle-field about this juncture, ordered two brigades, under
Shields, to move north and turn the right of the enemy. This
Shields did, but not without hard fighting and heavy loss. The
enemy finally gave way, leaving in our hands prisoners,
artillery and small arms. The balance of the causeway held by
the enemy, up to the very gates of the city, fell in like
manner. I recollect at this place that some of the gunners who
had stood their ground, were deserters from General Taylor's
army on the Rio Grande.

Both the strategy and tactics displayed by General Scott in
these various engagements of the 20th of August, 1847, were
faultless as I look upon them now, after the lapse of so many
years. As before stated, the work of the engineer officers who
made the reconnoissances and led the different commands to their
destinations, was so perfect that the chief was able to give his
orders to his various subordinates with all the precision he
could use on an ordinary march. I mean, up to the points from
which the attack was to commence. After that point is reached
the enemy often induces a change of orders not before
contemplated. The enemy outside the city outnumbered our
soldiery quite three to one, but they had become so demoralized
by the succession of defeats this day, that the City of Mexico
could have been entered without much further bloodshed. In
fact, Captain Philip Kearney--afterwards a general in the war of
the rebellion--rode with a squadron of cavalry to the very gates
of the city, and would no doubt have entered with his little
force, only at that point he was badly wounded, as were several
of his officers. He had not heard the call for a halt.

General Franklin Pierce had joined the army in Mexico, at
Puebla, a short time before the advance upon the capital
commenced. He had consequently not been in any of the
engagements of the war up to the battle of Contreras. By an
unfortunate fall of his horse on the afternoon of the 19th he
was painfully injured. The next day, when his brigade, with the
other troops engaged on the same field, was ordered against the
flank and rear of the enemy guarding the different points of the
road from San Augustin Tlalpam to the city, General Pierce
attempted to accompany them. He was not sufficiently recovered
to do so, and fainted. This circumstance gave rise to
exceedingly unfair and unjust criticisms of him when he became a
candidate for the Presidency. Whatever General Pierce's
qualifications may have been for the Presidency, he was a
gentleman and a man of courage. I was not a supporter of him
politically, but I knew him more intimately than I did any other
of the volunteer generals.

General Scott abstained from entering the city at this time,
because Mr. Nicholas P. Trist, the commissioner on the part of
the United States to negotiate a treaty of peace with Mexico,
was with the army, and either he or General Scott
thought--probably both of them--that a treaty would be more
possible while the Mexican government was in possession of the
capital than if it was scattered and the capital in the hands of
an invader. Be this as it may, we did not enter at that time.
The army took up positions along the slopes of the mountains
south of the city, as far west as Tacubaya. Negotiations were
at once entered into with Santa Anna, who was then practically
THE GOVERNMENT and the immediate commander of all the troops
engaged in defence of the country. A truce was signed which
denied to either party the right to strengthen its position, or
to receive reinforcements during the continuance of the
armistices, but authorized General Scott to draw supplies for
his army from the city in the meantime.

Negotiations were commenced at once and were kept up vigorously
between Mr. Trist and the commissioners appointed on the part of
Mexico, until the 2d of September. At that time Mr. Trist handed
in his ultimatum. Texas was to be given up absolutely by Mexico,
and New Mexico and California ceded to the United States for a
stipulated sum to be afterwards determined. I do not suppose
Mr. Trist had any discretion whatever in regard to boundaries.
The war was one of conquest, in the interest of an institution,
and the probabilities are that private instructions were for the
acquisition of territory out of which new States might be
carved. At all events the Mexicans felt so outraged at the
terms proposed that they commenced preparations for defence,
without giving notice of the termination of the armistice. The
terms of the truce had been violated before, when teams had been
sent into the city to bring out supplies for the army. The first
train entering the city was very severely threatened by a mob.
This, however, was apologized for by the authorities and all
responsibility for it denied; and thereafter, to avoid exciting
the Mexican people and soldiery, our teams with their escorts
were sent in at night, when the troops were in barracks and the
citizens in bed. The circumstance was overlooked and
negotiations continued. As soon as the news reached General
Scott of the second violation of the armistice, about the 4th of
September, he wrote a vigorous note to President Santa Anna,
calling his attention to it, and, receiving an unsatisfactory
reply, declared the armistice at an end.

General Scott, with Worth's division, was now occupying
Tacubaya, a village some four miles south-west of the City of
Mexico, and extending from the base up the mountain-side for the
distance of half a mile. More than a mile west, and also a
little above the plain, stands Molino del Rey. The mill is a
long stone structure, one story high and several hundred feet in
length. At the period of which I speak General Scott supposed a
portion of the mill to be used as a foundry for the casting of
guns. This, however, proved to be a mistake. It was valuable
to the Mexicans because of the quantity of grain it contained.
The building is flat roofed, and a line of sand-bags over the
outer walls rendered the top quite a formidable defence for
infantry. Chapultepec is a mound springing up from the plain to
the height of probably three hundred feet, and almost in a direct
line between Molino del Rey and the western part of the city. It
was fortified both on the top and on the rocky and precipitous

The City of Mexico is supplied with water by two aqueducts,
resting on strong stone arches. One of these aqueducts draws
its supply of water from a mountain stream coming into it at or
near Molino del Rey, and runs north close to the west base of
Chapultepec; thence along the centre of a wide road, until it
reaches the road running east into the city by the Garita San
Cosme; from which point the aqueduct and road both run east to
the city. The second aqueduct starts from the east base of
Chapultepec, where it is fed by a spring, and runs north-east to
the city. This aqueduct, like the other, runs in the middle of a
broad road-way, thus leaving a space on each side. The arches
supporting the aqueduct afforded protection for advancing troops
as well as to those engaged defensively. At points on the San
Cosme road parapets were thrown across, with an embrasure for a
single piece of artillery in each. At the point where both road
and aqueduct turn at right angles from north to east, there was
not only one of these parapets supplied by one gun and infantry
supports, but the houses to the north of the San Cosme road,
facing south and commanding a view of the road back to
Chapultepec, were covered with infantry, protected by parapets
made of sandbags. The roads leading to garitas (the gates) San
Cosme and Belen, by which these aqueducts enter the city, were
strongly intrenched. Deep, wide ditches, filled with water,
lined the sides of both roads. Such were the defences of the
City of Mexico in September, 1847, on the routes over which
General Scott entered.

Prior to the Mexican war General Scott had been very partial to
General Worth--indeed he continued so up to the close of
hostilities--but, for some reason, Worth had become estranged
from his chief. Scott evidently took this coldness somewhat to
heart. He did not retaliate, however, but on the contrary
showed every disposition to appease his subordinate. It was
understood at the time that he gave Worth authority to plan and
execute the battle of Molino del Rey without dictation or
interference from any one, for the very purpose of restoring
their former relations. The effort failed, and the two generals
remained ever after cold and indifferent towards each other, if
not actually hostile.

The battle of Molino del Rey was fought on the 8th of
September. The night of the 7th, Worth sent for his brigade and
regimental commanders, with their staffs, to come to his quarters
to receive instructions for the morrow. These orders
contemplated a movement up to within striking distance of the
Mills before daylight. The engineers had reconnoitred the
ground as well as possible, and had acquired all the information
necessary to base proper orders both for approach and attack.

By daylight on the morning of the 8th, the troops to be engaged
at Molino were all at the places designated. The ground in
front of the Mills, to the south, was commanded by the artillery
from the summit of Chapultepec as well as by the lighter
batteries at hand; but a charge was made, and soon all was
over. Worth's troops entered the Mills by every door, and the
enemy beat a hasty retreat back to Chapultepec. Had this
victory been followed up promptly, no doubt Americans and
Mexicans would have gone over the defences of Chapultepec so
near together that the place would have fallen into our hands
without further loss. The defenders of the works could not have
fired upon us without endangering their own men. This was not
done, and five days later more valuable lives were sacrificed to
carry works which had been so nearly in our possession on the
8th. I do not criticise the failure to capture Chapultepec at
this time. The result that followed the first assault could not
possibly have been foreseen, and to profit by the unexpected
advantage, the commanding general must have been on the spot and
given the necessary instructions at the moment, or the troops
must have kept on without orders. It is always, however, in
order to follow a retreating foe, unless stopped or otherwise
directed. The loss on our side at Molino del Rey was severe for
the numbers engaged. It was especially so among commissioned

I was with the earliest of the troops to enter the Mills. In
passing through to the north side, looking towards Chapultepec,
I happened to notice that there were armed Mexicans still on top
of the building, only a few feet from many of our men. Not
seeing any stairway or ladder reaching to the top of the
building, I took a few soldiers, and had a cart that happened to
be standing near brought up, and, placing the shafts against the
wall and chocking the wheels so that the cart could not back,
used the shafts as a sort of ladder extending to within three or
four feet of the top. By this I climbed to the roof of the
building, followed by a few men, but found a private soldier had
preceded me by some other way. There were still quite a number
of Mexicans on the roof, among them a major and five or six
officers of lower grades, who had not succeeded in getting away
before our troops occupied the building. They still had their
arms, while the soldier before mentioned was walking as sentry,
guarding the prisoners he had SURROUNDED, all by himself. I
halted the sentinel, received the swords from the commissioned
officers, and proceeded, with the assistance of the soldiers now
with me, to disable the muskets by striking them against the edge
of the wall, and throw them to the ground below.

Molino del Rey was now captured, and the troops engaged, with
the exception of an appropriate guard over the captured position
and property, were marched back to their quarters in Tacubaya.
The engagement did not last many minutes, but the killed and
wounded were numerous for the number of troops engaged.

During the night of the 11th batteries were established which
could play upon the fortifications of Chapultepec. The
bombardment commenced early on the morning of the 12th, but
there was no further engagement during this day than that of the
artillery. General Scott assigned the capture of Chapultepec to
General Pillow, but did not leave the details to his judgment.
Two assaulting columns, two hundred and fifty men each, composed
of volunteers for the occasion, were formed. They were commanded
by Captains McKinzie and Casey respectively. The assault was
successful, but bloody.

In later years, if not at the time, the battles of Molino del
Rey and Chapultepec have seemed to me to have been wholly
unnecessary. When the assaults upon the garitas of San Cosme
and Belen were determined upon, the road running east to the
former gate could have been reached easily, without an
engagement, by moving along south of the Mills until west of
them sufficiently far to be out of range, thence north to the
road above mentioned; or, if desirable to keep the two attacking
columns nearer together, the troops could have been turned east
so as to come on the aqueduct road out of range of the guns from
Chapultepec. In like manner, the troops designated to act
against Belen could have kept east of Chapultepec, out of range,
and come on to the aqueduct, also out of range of Chapultepec.
Molino del Rey and Chapultepec would both have been necessarily
evacuated if this course had been pursued, for they would have
been turned.

General Quitman, a volunteer from the State of Mississippi, who
stood well with the army both as a soldier and as a man,
commanded the column acting against Belen. General Worth
commanded the column against San Cosme. When Chapultepec fell
the advance commenced along the two aqueduct roads. I was on
the road to San Cosme, and witnessed most that took place on
that route. When opposition was encountered our troops
sheltered themselves by keeping under the arches supporting the
aqueduct, advancing an arch at a time. We encountered no
serious obstruction until within gun-shot of the point where the
road we were on intersects that running east to the city, the
point where the aqueduct turns at a right angle. I have
described the defences of this position before. There were but
three commissioned officers besides myself, that I can now call
to mind, with the advance when the above position was reached.
One of these officers was a Lieutenant Semmes, of the Marine
Corps. I think Captain Gore, and Lieutenant Judah, of the 4th
infantry, were the others. Our progress was stopped for the
time by the single piece of artillery at the angle of the roads
and the infantry occupying the house-tops back from it.

West of the road from where we were, stood a house occupying the
south-west angle made by the San Cosme road and the road we were
moving upon. A stone wall ran from the house along each of
these roads for a considerable distance and thence back until it
joined, enclosing quite a yard about the house. I watched my
opportunity and skipped across the road and behind the south
wall. Proceeding cautiously to the west corner of the
enclosure, I peeped around and seeing nobody, continued, still
cautiously, until the road running east and west was reached. I
then returned to the troops, and called for volunteers. All that
were close to me, or that heard me, about a dozen, offered their
services. Commanding them to carry their arms at a trail, I
watched our opportunity and got them across the road and under
cover of the wall beyond, before the enemy had a shot at us. Our
men under cover of the arches kept a close watch on the
intrenchments that crossed our path and the house-tops beyond,
and whenever a head showed itself above the parapets they would
fire at it. Our crossing was thus made practicable without loss.

When we reached a safe position I instructed my little command
again to carry their arms at a trail, not to fire at the enemy
until they were ordered, and to move very cautiously following
me until the San Cosme road was reached; we would then be on the
flank of the men serving the gun on the road, and with no
obstruction between us and them. When we reached the south-west
corner of the enclosure before described, I saw some United
States troops pushing north through a shallow ditch near by, who
had come up since my reconnaissance. This was the company of
Captain Horace Brooks, of the artillery, acting as infantry. I
explained to Brooks briefly what I had discovered and what I was
about to do. He said, as I knew the ground and he did not, I
might go on and he would follow. As soon as we got on the road
leading to the city the troops serving the gun on the parapet
retreated, and those on the house-tops near by followed; our men
went after them in such close pursuit--the troops we had left
under the arches joining--that a second line across the road,
about half-way between the first and the garita, was carried. No
reinforcements had yet come up except Brooks's company, and the
position we had taken was too advanced to be held by so small a
force. It was given up, but retaken later in the day, with some

Worth's command gradually advanced to the front now open to
it. Later in the day in reconnoitring I found a church off to
the south of the road, which looked to me as if the belfry would
command the ground back of the garita San Cosme. I got an
officer of the voltigeurs, with a mountain howitzer and men to
work it, to go with me. The road being in possession of the
enemy, we had to take the field to the south to reach the
church. This took us over several ditches breast deep in water
and grown up with water plants. These ditches, however, were
not over eight or ten feet in width. The howitzer was taken to
pieces and carried by the men to its destination. When I
knocked for admission a priest came to the door who, while
extremely polite, declined to admit us. With the little Spanish
then at my command, I explained to him that he might save
property by opening the door, and he certainly would save
himself from becoming a prisoner, for a time at least; and
besides, I intended to go in whether he consented or not. He
began to see his duty in the same light that I did, and opened
the door, though he did not look as if it gave him special
pleasure to do so. The gun was carried to the belfry and put
together. We were not more than two or three hundred yards from
San Cosme. The shots from our little gun dropped in upon the
enemy and created great confusion. Why they did not send out a
small party and capture us, I do not know. We had no infantry
or other defences besides our one gun.

The effect of this gun upon the troops about the gate of the
city was so marked that General Worth saw it from his position.
(*3) He was so pleased that he sent a staff officer, Lieutenant
Pemberton--later Lieutenant-General commanding the defences of
Vicksburg--to bring me to him. He expressed his gratification
at the services the howitzer in the church steeple was doing,
saying that every shot was effective, and ordered a captain of
voltigeurs to report to me with another howitzer to be placed
along with the one already rendering so much service. I could
not tell the General that there was not room enough in the
steeple for another gun, because he probably would have looked
upon such a statement as a contradiction from a second
lieutenant. I took the captain with me, but did not use his gun.

The night of the 13th of September was spent by the troops under
General Worth in the houses near San Cosme, and in line
confronting the general line of the enemy across to Belen. The
troops that I was with were in the houses north of the road
leading into the city, and were engaged during the night in
cutting passage-ways from one house to another towards the
town. During the night Santa Anna, with his army--except the
deserters--left the city. He liberated all the convicts
confined in the town, hoping, no doubt, that they would inflict
upon us some injury before daylight; but several hours after
Santa Anna was out of the way, the city authorities sent a
delegation to General Scott to ask--if not demand--an armistice,
respecting church property, the rights of citizens and the
supremacy of the city government in the management of municipal
affairs. General Scott declined to trammel himself with
conditions, but gave assurances that those who chose to remain
within our lines would be protected so long as they behaved
themselves properly.

General Quitman had advanced along his line very successfully on
the 13th, so that at night his command occupied nearly the same
position at Belen that Worth's troops did about San Cosme. After
the interview above related between General Scott and the city
council, orders were issued for the cautious entry of both
columns in the morning. The troops under Worth were to stop at
the Alameda, a park near the west end of the city. Quitman was
to go directly to the Plaza, and take possession of the
Palace--a mass of buildings on the east side in which Congress
has its sessions, the national courts are held, the public
offices are all located, the President resides, and much room is
left for museums, receptions, etc. This is the building
generally designated as the "Halls of the Montezumas."



On entering the city the troops were fired upon by the released
convicts, and possibly by deserters and hostile citizens. The
streets were deserted, and the place presented the appearance of
a "city of the dead," except for this firing by unseen persons
from house-tops, windows, and around corners. In this firing
the lieutenant-colonel of my regiment, Garland, was badly
wounded, Lieutenant Sidney Smith, of the 4th infantry, was also
wounded mortally. He died a few days after, and by his death I
was promoted to the grade of first lieutenant.(*4) I had gone
into the battle of Palo Alto in May, 1846, a second lieutenant,
and I entered the city of Mexico sixteen months later with the
same rank, after having been in all the engagements possible for
any one man and in a regiment that lost more officers during the
war than it ever had present at any one engagement. My regiment
lost four commissioned officers, all senior to me, by steamboat
explosions during the Mexican war. The Mexicans were not so
discriminating. They sometimes picked off my juniors.

General Scott soon followed the troops into the city, in
state. I wonder that he was not fired upon, but I believe he
was not; at all events he was not hurt. He took quarters at
first in the "Halls of the Montezumas," and from there issued
his wise and discreet orders for the government of a conquered
city, and for suppressing the hostile acts of liberated convicts
already spoken of--orders which challenge the respect of all who
study them. Lawlessness was soon suppressed, and the City of
Mexico settled down into a quiet, law-abiding place. The people
began to make their appearance upon the streets without fear of
the invaders. Shortly afterwards the bulk of the troops were
sent from the city to the villages at the foot of the mountains,
four or five miles to the south and south-west.

Whether General Scott approved of the Mexican war and the manner
in which it was brought about, I have no means of knowing. His
orders to troops indicate only a soldierly spirit, with probably
a little regard for the perpetuation of his own fame. On the
other hand, General Taylor's, I think, indicate that he
considered the administration accountable for the war, and felt
no responsibility resting on himself further than for the
faithful performance of his duties. Both generals deserve the
commendations of their countrymen and to live in the grateful
memory of this people to the latest generation.

Earlier in this narrative I have stated that the plain, reached
after passing the mountains east of Perote, extends to the
cities of Puebla and Mexico. The route travelled by the army
before reaching Puebla, goes over a pass in a spur of mountain
coming up from the south. This pass is very susceptible of
defence by a smaller against a larger force. Again, the highest
point of the road-bed between Vera Cruz and the City of Mexico is
over Rio Frio mountain, which also might have been successfully
defended by an inferior against a superior force. But by moving
north of the mountains, and about thirty miles north of Puebla,
both of these passes would have been avoided. The road from
Perote to the City of Mexico, by this latter route, is as level
as the prairies in our West. Arriving due north from Puebla,
troops could have been detached to take possession of that
place, and then proceeding west with the rest of the army no
mountain would have been encountered before reaching the City of
Mexico. It is true this road would have brought troops in by
Guadalupe--a town, church and detached spur of mountain about
two miles north of the capital, all bearing the same general
name--and at this point Lake Texcoco comes near to the mountain,
which was fortified both at the base and on the sides: but
troops could have passed north of the mountain and come in only
a few miles to the north-west, and so flanked the position, as
they actually did on the south.

It has always seemed to me that this northern route to the City
of Mexico, would have been the better one to have taken. But my
later experience has taught me two lessons: first, that things
are seen plainer after the events have occurred; second, that
the most confident critics are generally those who know the
least about the matter criticised. I know just enough about the
Mexican war to approve heartily of most of the generalship, but
to differ with a little of it. It is natural that an important
city like Puebla should not have been passed with contempt; it
may be natural that the direct road to it should have been
taken; but it could have been passed, its evacuation insured and
possession acquired without danger of encountering the enemy in
intricate mountain defiles. In this same way the City of Mexico
could have been approached without any danger of opposition,
except in the open field.

But General Scott's successes are an answer to all criticism. He
invaded a populous country, penetrating two hundred and sixty
miles into the interior, with a force at no time equal to
one-half of that opposed to him; he was without a base; the
enemy was always intrenched, always on the defensive; yet he won
every battle, he captured the capital, and conquered the
government. Credit is due to the troops engaged, it is true,
but the plans and the strategy were the general's.

I had now made marches and been in battle under both General
Scott and General Taylor. The former divided his force of
10,500 men into four columns, starting a day apart, in moving
from Puebla to the capital of the nation, when it was known that
an army more than twice as large as his own stood ready to resist
his coming. The road was broad and the country open except in
crossing the Rio Frio mountain. General Taylor pursued the same
course in marching toward an enemy. He moved even in smaller
bodies. I never thought at the time to doubt the infallibility
of these two generals in all matters pertaining to their
profession. I supposed they moved in small bodies because more
men could not be passed over a single road on the same day with
their artillery and necessary trains. Later I found the fallacy
of this belief. The rebellion, which followed as a sequence to
the Mexican war, never could have been suppressed if larger
bodies of men could not have been moved at the same time than
was the custom under Scott and Taylor.

The victories in Mexico were, in every instance, over vastly
superior numbers. There were two reasons for this. Both
General Scott and General Taylor had such armies as are not
often got together. At the battles of Palo Alto and
Resaca-de-la-Palma, General Taylor had a small army, but it was
composed exclusively of regular troops, under the best of drill
and discipline. Every officer, from the highest to the lowest,
was educated in his profession, not at West Point necessarily,
but in the camp, in garrison, and many of them in Indian wars.
The rank and file were probably inferior, as material out of
which to make an army, to the volunteers that participated in
all the later battles of the war; but they were brave men, and
then drill and discipline brought out all there was in them. A
better army, man for man, probably never faced an enemy than the
one commanded by General Taylor in the earliest two engagements
of the Mexican war. The volunteers who followed were of better
material, but without drill or discipline at the start. They
were associated with so many disciplined men and professionally
educated officers, that when they went into engagements it was
with a confidence they would not have felt otherwise. They
became soldiers themselves almost at once. All these conditions
we would enjoy again in case of war.

The Mexican army of that day was hardly an organization. The
private soldier was picked up from the lower class of the
inhabitants when wanted; his consent was not asked; he was
poorly clothed, worse fed, and seldom paid. He was turned
adrift when no longer wanted. The officers of the lower grades
were but little superior to the men. With all this I have seen
as brave stands made by some of these men as I have ever seen
made by soldiers. Now Mexico has a standing army larger than
that of the United States. They have a military school modelled
after West Point. Their officers are educated and, no doubt,
generally brave. The Mexican war of 1846-8 would be an
impossibility in this generation.

The Mexicans have shown a patriotism which it would be well if
we would imitate in part, but with more regard to truth. They
celebrate the anniversaries of Chapultepec and Molino del Rey as
of very great victories. The anniversaries are recognized as
national holidays. At these two battles, while the United
States troops were victorious, it was at very great sacrifice of
life compared with what the Mexicans suffered. The Mexicans, as
on many other occasions, stood up as well as any troops ever
did. The trouble seemed to be the lack of experience among the
officers, which led them after a certain time to simply quit,
without being particularly whipped, but because they had fought
enough. Their authorities of the present day grow enthusiastic
over their theme when telling of these victories, and speak with
pride of the large sum of money they forced us to pay in the
end. With us, now twenty years after the close of the most
stupendous war ever known, we have writers--who profess devotion
to the nation--engaged in trying to prove that the Union forces
were not victorious; practically, they say, we were slashed
around from Donelson to Vicksburg and to Chattanooga; and in the
East from Gettysburg to Appomattox, when the physical rebellion
gave out from sheer exhaustion. There is no difference in the
amount of romance in the two stories.

I would not have the anniversaries of our victories celebrated,
nor those of our defeats made fast days and spent in humiliation
and prayer; but I would like to see truthful history written.
Such history will do full credit to the courage, endurance and
soldierly ability of the American citizen, no matter what
section of the country he hailed from, or in what ranks he
fought. The justice of the cause which in the end prevailed,
will, I doubt not, come to be acknowledged by every citizen of
the land, in time. For the present, and so long as there are
living witnesses of the great war of sections, there will be
people who will not be consoled for the loss of a cause which
they believed to be holy. As time passes, people, even of the
South, will begin to wonder how it was possible that their
ancestors ever fought for or justified institutions which
acknowledged the right of property in man.

After the fall of the capital and the dispersal of the
government of Mexico, it looked very much as if military
occupation of the country for a long time might be necessary.
General Scott at once began the preparation of orders,
regulations and laws in view of this contingency. He
contemplated making the country pay all the expenses of the
occupation, without the army becoming a perceptible burden upon
the people. His plan was to levy a direct tax upon the separate
states, and collect, at the ports left open to trade, a duty on
all imports. From the beginning of the war private property had
not been taken, either for the use of the army or of individuals,
without full compensation. This policy was to be pursued. There
were not troops enough in the valley of Mexico to occupy many
points, but now that there was no organized army of the enemy of
any size, reinforcements could be got from the Rio Grande, and
there were also new volunteers arriving from time to time, all
by way of Vera Cruz. Military possession was taken of
Cuernavaca, fifty miles south of the City of Mexico; of Toluca,
nearly as far west, and of Pachuca, a mining town of great
importance, some sixty miles to the north-east. Vera Cruz,
Jalapa, Orizaba, and Puebla were already in our possession.

Meanwhile the Mexican government had departed in the person of
Santa Anna, and it looked doubtful for a time whether the United
States commissioner, Mr. Trist, would find anybody to negotiate
with. A temporary government, however, was soon established at
Queretaro, and Trist began negotiations for a conclusion of the
war. Before terms were finally agreed upon he was ordered back
to Washington, but General Scott prevailed upon him to remain,
as an arrangement had been so nearly reached, and the
administration must approve his acts if he succeeded in making
such a treaty as had been contemplated in his instructions. The
treaty was finally signed the 2d of February, 1848, and accepted
by the government at Washington. It is that known as the
"Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo," and secured to the United States
the Rio Grande as the boundary of Texas, and the whole territory
then included in New Mexico and Upper California, for the sum of

Soon after entering the city of Mexico, the opposition of
Generals Pillow, Worth and Colonel Duncan to General Scott
became very marked. Scott claimed that they had demanded of the
President his removal. I do not know whether this is so or not,
but I do know of their unconcealed hostility to their chief. At
last he placed them in arrest, and preferred charges against them
of insubordination and disrespect. This act brought on a crisis
in the career of the general commanding. He had asserted from
the beginning that the administration was hostile to him; that
it had failed in its promises of men and war material; that the
President himself had shown duplicity if not treachery in the
endeavor to procure the appointment of Benton: and the
administration now gave open evidence of its enmity. About the
middle of February orders came convening a court of inquiry,
composed of Brevet Brigadier-General Towson, the
paymaster-general of the army, Brigadier-General Cushing and
Colonel Belknap, to inquire into the conduct of the accused and
the accuser, and shortly afterwards orders were received from
Washington, relieving Scott of the command of the army in the
field and assigning Major-General William O. Butler of Kentucky
to the place. This order also released Pillow, Worth and Duncan
from arrest.

If a change was to be made the selection of General Butler was
agreeable to every one concerned, so far as I remember to have
heard expressions on the subject. There were many who regarded
the treatment of General Scott as harsh and unjust. It is quite
possible that the vanity of the General had led him to say and do
things that afforded a plausible pretext to the administration
for doing just what it did and what it had wanted to do from the
start. The court tried the accuser quite as much as the
accused. It was adjourned before completing its labors, to meet
in Frederick, Maryland. General Scott left the country, and
never after had more than the nominal command of the army until
early in 1861. He certainly was not sustained in his efforts to
maintain discipline in high places.

The efforts to kill off politically the two successful generals,
made them both candidates for the Presidency. General Taylor was
nominated in 1848, and was elected. Four years later General
Scott received the nomination but was badly beaten, and the
party nominating him died with his defeat.(*5)



The treaty of peace between the two countries was signed by the
commissioners of each side early in February, 1848. It took a
considerable time for it to reach Washington, receive the
approval of the administration, and be finally ratified by the
Senate. It was naturally supposed by the army that there would
be no more fighting, and officers and men were of course anxious
to get home, but knowing there must be delay they contented
themselves as best they could. Every Sunday there was a bull
fight for the amusement of those who would pay their fifty
cents. I attended one of them--just one--not wishing to leave
the country without having witnessed the national sport. The
sight to me was sickening. I could not see how human beings
could enjoy the sufferings of beasts, and often of men, as they
seemed to do on these occasions.

At these sports there are usually from four to six bulls
sacrificed. The audience occupies seats around the ring in
which the exhibition is given, each seat but the foremost rising
higher than the one in front, so that every one can get a full
view of the sport. When all is ready a bull is turned into the
ring. Three or four men come in, mounted on the merest
skeletons of horses blind or blind-folded and so weak that they
could not make a sudden turn with their riders without danger of
falling down. The men are armed with spears having a point as
sharp as a needle. Other men enter the arena on foot, armed
with red flags and explosives about the size of a musket
cartridge. To each of these explosives is fastened a barbed
needle which serves the purpose of attaching them to the bull by
running the needle into the skin. Before the animal is turned
loose a lot of these explosives are attached to him. The pain
from the pricking of the skin by the needles is exasperating;
but when the explosions of the cartridges commence the animal
becomes frantic. As he makes a lunge towards one horseman,
another runs a spear into him. He turns towards his last
tormentor when a man on foot holds out a red flag; the bull
rushes for this and is allowed to take it on his horns. The
flag drops and covers the eyes of the animal so that he is at a
loss what to do; it is jerked from him and the torment is
renewed. When the animal is worked into an uncontrollable
frenzy, the horsemen withdraw, and the matadores--literally
murderers--enter, armed with knives having blades twelve or
eighteen inches long, and sharp. The trick is to dodge an
attack from the animal and stab him to the heart as he passes.
If these efforts fail the bull is finally lassoed, held fast and
killed by driving a knife blade into the spinal column just back
of the horns. He is then dragged out by horses or mules,
another is let into the ring, and the same performance is

On the occasion when I was present one of the bulls was not
turned aside by the attacks in the rear, the presentations of
the red flag, etc., etc., but kept right on, and placing his
horns under the flanks of a horse threw him and his rider to the
ground with great force. The horse was killed and the rider lay
prostrate as if dead. The bull was then lassoed and killed in
the manner above described. Men came in and carried the dead
man off in a litter. When the slaughtered bull and horse were
dragged out, a fresh bull was turned into the ring. Conspicuous
among the spectators was the man who had been carried out on a
litter but a few minutes before. He was only dead so far as
that performance went; but the corpse was so lively that it
could not forego the chance of witnessing the discomfiture of
some of his brethren who might not be so fortunate. There was a
feeling of disgust manifested by the audience to find that he had
come to life again. I confess that I felt sorry to see the
cruelty to the bull and the horse. I did not stay for the
conclusion of the performance; but while I did stay, there was
not a bull killed in the prescribed way.

Bull fights are now prohibited in the Federal District--
embracing a territory around the City of Mexico, somewhat larger
than the District of Columbia--and they are not an institution in
any part of the country. During one of my recent visits to
Mexico, bull fights were got up in my honor at Puebla and at
Pachuca. I was not notified in advance so as to be able to
decline and thus prevent the performance; but in both cases I
civilly declined to attend.

Another amusement of the people of Mexico of that day, and one
which nearly all indulged in, male and female, old and young,
priest and layman, was Monte playing. Regular feast weeks were
held every year at what was then known as St. Augustin Tlalpam,
eleven miles out of town. There were dealers to suit every
class and condition of people. In many of the booths
tlackos--the copper coin of the country, four of them making six
and a quarter cents of our money--were piled up in great
quantities, with some silver, to accommodate the people who
could not bet more than a few pennies at a time. In other
booths silver formed the bulk of the capital of the bank, with a
few doubloons to be changed if there should be a run of luck
against the bank. In some there was no coin except gold. Here
the rich were said to bet away their entire estates in a single
day. All this is stopped now.

For myself, I was kept somewhat busy during the winter of
1847-8. My regiment was stationed in Tacubaya. I was
regimental quartermaster and commissary. General Scott had been
unable to get clothing for the troops from the North. The men
were becoming--well, they needed clothing. Material had to be
purchased, such as could be obtained, and people employed to
make it up into "Yankee uniforms." A quartermaster in the city
was designated to attend to this special duty; but clothing was
so much needed that it was seized as fast as made up. A
regiment was glad to get a dozen suits at a time. I had to look
after this matter for the 4th infantry. Then our regimental fund
had run down and some of the musicians in the band had been
without their extra pay for a number of months.

The regimental bands at that day were kept up partly by pay from
the government, and partly by pay from the regimental fund. There
was authority of law for enlisting a certain number of men as
musicians. So many could receive the pay of non-commissioned
officers of the various grades, and the remainder the pay of
privates. This would not secure a band leader, nor good players
on certain instruments. In garrison there are various ways of
keeping up a regimental fund sufficient to give extra pay to
musicians, establish libraries and ten-pin alleys, subscribe to
magazines and furnish many extra comforts to the men. The best
device for supplying the fund is to issue bread to the soldiers
instead of flour. The ration used to be eighteen ounces per day
of either flour or bread; and one hundred pounds of flour will
make one hundred and forty pounds of bread. This saving was
purchased by the commissary for the benefit of the fund. In the
emergency the 4th infantry was laboring under, I rented a bakery
in the city, hired bakers--Mexicans--bought fuel and whatever
was necessary, and I also got a contract from the chief
commissary of the army for baking a large amount of hard
bread. In two months I made more money for the fund than my pay
amounted to during the entire war. While stationed at Monterey I
had relieved the post fund in the same way. There, however, was
no profit except in the saving of flour by converting it into

In the spring of 1848 a party of officers obtained leave to
visit Popocatapetl, the highest volcano in America, and to take
an escort. I went with the party, many of whom afterwards
occupied conspicuous positions before the country. Of those who
"went south," and attained high rank, there was Lieutenant
Richard Anderson, who commanded a corps at Spottsylvania;
Captain Sibley, a major-general, and, after the war, for a
number of years in the employ of the Khedive of Egypt; Captain
George Crittenden, a rebel general; S. B. Buckner, who


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