Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant, Volume One
Ulysses S. Grant

Part 2 out of 6

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

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

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 population.



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

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

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

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

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

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 sides.

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 officers.

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 loss.

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

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

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 $15,000,000.

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 renewed.

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 bread.

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 surrendered Fort
Donelson; and Mansfield Lovell, who commanded at New Orleans before that
city fell into the hands of the National troops. Of those who remained
on our side there were Captain Andrew Porter, Lieutenant C. P. Stone and
Lieutenant Z. B. Tower. There were quite a number of other officers,
whose names I cannot recollect.

At a little village (Ozumba) near the base of Popocatapetl, where we
purposed to commence the ascent, we procured guides and two pack mules
with forage for our horses. High up on the mountain there was a
deserted house of one room, called the Vaqueria, which had been occupied
years before by men in charge of cattle ranging on the mountain. The
pasturage up there was very fine when we saw it, and there were still
some cattle, descendants of the former domestic herd, which had now
become wild. It was possible to go on horseback as far as the Vaqueria,
though the road was somewhat hazardous in places. Sometimes it was very
narrow with a yawning precipice on one side, hundreds of feet down to a
roaring mountain torrent below, and almost perpendicular walls on the
other side. At one of these places one of our mules loaded with two
sacks of barley, one on each side, the two about as big as he was,
struck his load against the mountain-side and was precipitated to the
bottom. The descent was steep but not perpendicular. The mule rolled
over and over until the bottom was reached, and we supposed of course
the poor animal was dashed to pieces. What was our surprise, not long
after we had gone into bivouac, to see the lost mule, cargo and owner
coming up the ascent. The load had protected the animal from serious
injury; and his owner had gone after him and found a way back to the
path leading up to the hut where we were to stay.

The night at the Vaqueria was one of the most unpleasant I ever knew.
It was very cold and the rain fell in torrents. A little higher up the
rain ceased and snow began. The wind blew with great velocity. The
log-cabin we were in had lost the roof entirely on one side, and on the
other it was hardly better then a sieve. There was little or no sleep
that night. As soon as it was light the next morning, we started to
make the ascent to the summit. The wind continued to blow with violence
and the weather was still cloudy, but there was neither rain nor snow.
The clouds, however, concealed from our view the country below us,
except at times a momentary glimpse could be got through a clear space
between them. The wind carried the loose snow around the mountain-sides
in such volumes as to make it almost impossible to stand up against it.
We labored on and on, until it became evident that the top could not be
reached before night, if at all in such a storm, and we concluded to
return. The descent was easy and rapid, though dangerous, until we got
below the snow line. At the cabin we mounted our horses, and by night
were at Ozumba.

The fatigues of the day and the loss of sleep the night before drove us
to bed early. Our beds consisted of a place on the dirt-floor with a
blanket under us. Soon all were asleep; but long before morning first
one and then another of our party began to cry out with excruciating
pain in the eyes. Not one escaped it. By morning the eyes of half the
party were so swollen that they were entirely closed. The others
suffered pain equally. The feeling was about what might be expected
from the prick of a sharp needle at a white heat. We remained in
quarters until the afternoon bathing our eyes in cold water. This
relieved us very much, and before night the pain had entirely left. The
swelling, however, continued, and about half the party still had their
eyes entirely closed; but we concluded to make a start back, those who
could see a little leading the horses of those who could not see at all.
We moved back to the village of Ameca Ameca, some six miles, and stopped
again for the night. The next morning all were entirely well and free
from pain. The weather was clear and Popocatapetl stood out in all its
beauty, the top looking as if not a mile away, and inviting us to
return. About half the party were anxious to try the ascent again, and
concluded to do so. The remainder--I was with the remainder--concluded
that we had got all the pleasure there was to be had out of mountain
climbing, and that we would visit the great caves of Mexico, some ninety
miles from where we then were, on the road to Acapulco.

The party that ascended the mountain the second time succeeded in
reaching the crater at the top, with but little of the labor they
encountered in their first attempt. Three of them--Anderson, Stone and
Buckner--wrote accounts of their journey, which were published at the
time. I made no notes of this excursion, and have read nothing about it
since, but it seems to me that I can see the whole of it as vividly as
if it were but yesterday. I have been back at Ameca Ameca, and the
village beyond, twice in the last five years. The scene had not changed
materially from my recollection of it.

The party which I was with moved south down the valley to the town of
Cuantla, some forty miles from Ameca Ameca. The latter stands on the
plain at the foot of Popocatapetl, at an elevation of about eight
thousand feet above tide water. The slope down is gradual as the
traveller moves south, but one would not judge that, in going to
Cuantla, descent enough had been made to occasion a material change in
the climate and productions of the soil; but such is the case. In the
morning we left a temperate climate where the cereals and fruits are
those common to the United States, we halted in the evening in a
tropical climate where the orange and banana, the coffee and the
sugar-cane were flourishing. We had been travelling, apparently,
on a plain all day, but in the direction of the flow of water.

Soon after the capture of the City of Mexico an armistice had been
agreed to, designating the limits beyond which troops of the respective
armies were not to go during its continuance. Our party knew nothing
about these limits. As we approached Cuantla bugles sounded the
assembly, and soldiers rushed from the guard-house in the edge of the
town towards us. Our party halted, and I tied a white pocket
handkerchief to a stick and, using it as a flag of truce, proceeded on
to the town. Captains Sibley and Porter followed a few hundred yards
behind. I was detained at the guard-house until a messenger could be
dispatched to the quarters of the commanding general, who authorized
that I should be conducted to him. I had been with the general but a
few minutes when the two officers following announced themselves. The
Mexican general reminded us that it was a violation of the truce for us
to be there. However, as we had no special authority from our own
commanding general, and as we knew nothing about the terms of the truce,
we were permitted to occupy a vacant house outside the guard for the
night, with the promise of a guide to put us on the road to Cuernavaca
the next morning.

Cuernavaca is a town west of Guantla. The country through which we
passed, between these two towns, is tropical in climate and productions
and rich in scenery. At one point, about half-way between the two
places, the road goes over a low pass in the mountains in which there is
a very quaint old town, the inhabitants of which at that day were nearly
all full-blooded Indians. Very few of them even spoke Spanish. The
houses were built of stone and generally only one story high. The
streets were narrow, and had probably been paved before Cortez visited
the country. They had not been graded, but the paving had been done on
the natural surface. We had with us one vehicle, a cart, which was
probably the first wheeled vehicle that had ever passed through that

On a hill overlooking this town stands the tomb of an ancient king; and
it was understood that the inhabitants venerated this tomb very highly,
as well as the memory of the ruler who was supposed to be buried in it.
We ascended the mountain and surveyed the tomb; but it showed no
particular marks of architectural taste, mechanical skill or advanced
civilization. The next day we went into Cuernavaca.

After a day's rest at Cuernavaca our party set out again on the journey
to the great caves of Mexico. We had proceeded but a few miles when we
were stopped, as before, by a guard and notified that the terms of the
existing armistice did not permit us to go further in that direction.
Upon convincing the guard that we were a mere party of pleasure seekers
desirous of visiting the great natural curiosities of the country which
we expected soon to leave, we were conducted to a large hacienda near
by, and directed to remain there until the commanding general of that
department could be communicated with and his decision obtained as to
whether we should be permitted to pursue our journey. The guard
promised to send a messenger at once, and expected a reply by night. At
night there was no response from the commanding general, but the captain
of the guard was sure he would have a reply by morning. Again in the
morning there was no reply. The second evening the same thing happened,
and finally we learned that the guard had sent no message or messenger
to the department commander. We determined therefore to go on unless
stopped by a force sufficient to compel obedience.

After a few hours' travel we came to a town where a scene similar to the
one at Cuantia occurred. The commanding officer sent a guide to conduct
our party around the village and to put us upon our road again. This
was the last interruption: that night we rested at a large coffee
plantation, some eight miles from the cave we were on the way to visit.
It must have been a Saturday night; the peons had been paid off, and
spent part of the night in gambling away their scanty week's earnings.
Their coin was principally copper, and I do not believe there was a man
among them who had received as much as twenty-five cents in money. They
were as much excited, however, as if they had been staking thousands. I
recollect one poor fellow, who had lost his last tlacko, pulled off his
shirt and, in the most excited manner, put that up on the turn of a
card. Monte was the game played, the place out of doors, near the
window of the room occupied by the officers of our party.

The next morning we were at the mouth of the cave at an early hour,
provided with guides, candles and rockets. We explored to a distance of
about three miles from the entrance, and found a succession of chambers
of great dimensions and of great beauty when lit up with our rockets.
Stalactites and stalagmites of all sizes were discovered. Some of the
former were many feet in diameter and extended from ceiling to floor;
some of the latter were but a few feet high from the floor; but the
formation is going on constantly, and many centuries hence these
stalagmites will extend to the ceiling and become complete columns. The
stalagmites were all a little concave, and the cavities were filled with
water. The water percolates through the roof, a drop at a time--often
the drops several minutes apart--and more or less charged with mineral
matter. Evaporation goes on slowly, leaving the mineral behind. This
in time makes the immense columns, many of them thousands of tons in
weight, which serve to support the roofs over the vast chambers. I
recollect that at one point in the cave one of these columns is of such
huge proportions that there is only a narrow passage left on either side
of it. Some of our party became satisfied with their explorations
before we had reached the point to which the guides were accustomed to
take explorers, and started back without guides. Coming to the large
column spoken of, they followed it entirely around, and commenced
retracing their steps into the bowels of the mountain, without being
aware of the fact. When the rest of us had completed our explorations,
we started out with our guides, but had not gone far before we saw the
torches of an approaching party. We could not conceive who these could
be, for all of us had come in together, and there were none but
ourselves at the entrance when we started in. Very soon we found it was
our friends. It took them some time to conceive how they had got where
they were. They were sure they had kept straight on for the mouth of
the cave, and had gone about far enough to have reached it.



My experience in the Mexican war was of great advantage to me
afterwards. Besides the many practical lessons it taught, the war
brought nearly all the officers of the regular army together so as to
make them personally acquainted. It also brought them in contact with
volunteers, many of whom served in the war of the rebellion afterwards.
Then, in my particular case, I had been at West Point at about the right
time to meet most of the graduates who were of a suitable age at the
breaking out of the rebellion to be trusted with large commands.
Graduating in 1843, I was at the military academy from one to four years
with all cadets who graduated between 1840 and 1846--seven classes.
These classes embraced more than fifty officers who afterwards became
generals on one side or the other in the rebellion, many of them holding
high commands. All the older officers, who became conspicuous in the
rebellion, I had also served with and known in Mexico: Lee, J. E.
Johnston, A. S. Johnston, Holmes, Hebert and a number of others on the
Confederate side; McCall, Mansfield, Phil. Kearney and others on the
National side. The acquaintance thus formed was of immense service to
me in the war of the rebellion--I mean what I learned of the characters
of those to whom I was afterwards opposed. I do not pretend to say that
all movements, or even many of them, were made with special reference to
the characteristics of the commander against whom they were directed.
But my appreciation of my enemies was certainly affected by this
knowledge. The natural disposition of most people is to clothe a
commander of a large army whom they do not know, with almost superhuman
abilities. A large part of the National army, for instance, and most of
the press of the country, clothed General Lee with just such qualities,
but I had known him personally, and knew that he was mortal; and it was
just as well that I felt this.

The treaty of peace was at last ratified, and the evacuation of Mexico
by United States troops was ordered. Early in June the troops in the
City of Mexico began to move out. Many of them, including the brigade
to which I belonged, were assembled at Jalapa, above the vomito, to
await the arrival of transports at Vera Cruz: but with all this
precaution my regiment and others were in camp on the sand beach in a
July sun, for about a week before embarking, while the fever raged with
great virulence in Vera Cruz, not two miles away. I can call to mind
only one person, an officer, who died of the disease. My regiment was
sent to Pascagoula, Mississippi, to spend the summer. As soon as it was
settled in camp I obtained a leave of absence for four months and
proceeded to St. Louis. On the 22d of August, 1848, I was married to
Miss Julia Dent, the lady of whom I have before spoken. We visited my
parents and relations in Ohio, and, at the end of my leave, proceeded to
my post at Sackett's Harbor, New York. In April following I was ordered
to Detroit, Michigan, where two years were spent with but few important

The present constitution of the State of Michigan was ratified during
this time. By the terms of one of its provisions, all citizens of the
United States residing within the State at the time of the ratification
became citizens of Michigan also. During my stay in Detroit there was an
election for city officers. Mr. Zachariah Chandler was the candidate of
the Whigs for the office of Mayor, and was elected, although the city
was then reckoned democratic. All the officers stationed there at the
time who offered their votes were permitted to cast them. I did not
offer mine, however, as I did not wish to consider myself a citizen of
Michigan. This was Mr. Chandler's first entry into politics, a career
he followed ever after with great success, and in which he died enjoying
the friendship, esteem and love of his countrymen.

In the spring of 1851 the garrison at Detroit was transferred to
Sackett's Harbor, and in the following spring the entire 4th infantry
was ordered to the Pacific Coast. It was decided that Mrs. Grant should
visit my parents at first for a few months, and then remain with her own
family at their St. Louis home until an opportunity offered of sending
for her. In the month of April the regiment was assembled at Governor's
Island, New York Harbor, and on the 5th of July eight companies sailed
for Aspinwall. We numbered a little over seven hundred persons,
including the families of officers and soldiers. Passage was secured
for us on the old steamer Ohio, commanded at the time by Captain
Schenck, of the navy. It had not been determined, until a day or two
before starting, that the 4th infantry should go by the Ohio;
consequently, a complement of passengers had already been secured. The
addition of over seven hundred to this list crowded the steamer most
uncomfortably, especially for the tropics in July.

In eight days Aspinwall was reached. At that time the streets of the
town were eight or ten inches under water, and foot passengers passed
from place to place on raised foot-walks. July is at the height of the
wet season, on the Isthmus. At intervals the rain would pour down in
streams, followed in not many minutes by a blazing, tropical summer's
sun. These alternate changes, from rain to sunshine, were continuous in
the afternoons. I wondered how any person could live many months in
Aspinwall, and wondered still more why any one tried.

In the summer of 1852 the Panama railroad was completed only to the
point where it now crosses the Chagres River. From there passengers
were carried by boats to Gorgona, at which place they took mules for
Panama, some twenty-five miles further. Those who travelled over the
Isthmus in those days will remember that boats on the Chagres River were
propelled by natives not inconveniently burdened with clothing. These
boats carried thirty to forty passengers each. The crews consisted of
six men to a boat, armed with long poles. There were planks wide enough
for a man to walk on conveniently, running along the sides of each boat
from end to end. The men would start from the bow, place one end of
their poles against the river bottom, brace their shoulders against the
other end, and then walk to the stern as rapidly as they could. In this
way from a mile to a mile and a half an hour could be made, against the
current of the river.

I, as regimental quartermaster, had charge of the public property and
had also to look after the transportation. A contract had been entered
into with the steamship company in New York for the transportation of
the regiment to California, including the Isthmus transit. A certain
amount of baggage was allowed per man, and saddle animals were to be
furnished to commissioned officers and to all disabled persons. The
regiment, with the exception of one company left as guards to the public
property--camp and garrison equipage principally--and the soldiers with
families, took boats, propelled as above described, for Gorgona. From
this place they marched to Panama, and were soon comfortably on the
steamer anchored in the bay, some three or four miles from the town. I,
with one company of troops and all the soldiers with families, all the
tents, mess chests and camp kettles, was sent to Cruces, a town a few
miles higher up the Chagres River than Gorgona. There I found an
impecunious American who had taken the contract to furnish
transportation for the regiment at a stipulated price per hundred pounds
for the freight and so much for each saddle animal. But when we reached
Cruces there was not a mule, either for pack or saddle, in the place.
The contractor promised that the animals should be on hand in the
morning. In the morning he said that they were on the way from some
imaginary place, and would arrive in the course of the day. This went
on until I saw that he could not procure the animals at all at the price
he had promised to furnish them for. The unusual number of passengers
that had come over on the steamer, and the large amount of freight to
pack, had created an unprecedented demand for mules. Some of the
passengers paid as high as forty dollars for the use of a mule to ride
twenty-five miles, when the mule would not have sold for ten dollars in
that market at other times. Meanwhile the cholera had broken out, and
men were dying every hour. To diminish the food for the disease, I
permitted the company detailed with me to proceed to Panama. The
captain and the doctors accompanied the men, and I was left alone with
the sick and the soldiers who had families. The regiment at Panama was
also affected with the disease; but there were better accommodations for
the well on the steamer, and a hospital, for those taken with the
disease, on an old hulk anchored a mile off. There were also hospital
tents on shore on the island of Flamingo, which stands in the bay.

I was about a week at Cruces before transportation began to come in.
About one-third of the people with me died, either at Cruces or on the
way to Panama. There was no agent of the transportation company at
Cruces to consult, or to take the responsibility of procuring
transportation at a price which would secure it. I therefore myself
dismissed the contractor and made a new contract with a native, at more
than double the original price. Thus we finally reached Panama. The
steamer, however, could not proceed until the cholera abated, and the
regiment was detained still longer. Altogether, on the Isthmus and on
the Pacific side, we were delayed six weeks. About one-seventh of those
who left New York harbor with the 4th infantry on the 5th of July, now
lie buried on the Isthmus of Panama or on Flamingo island in Panama Bay.

One amusing circumstance occurred while we were lying at anchor in
Panama Bay. In the regiment there was a Lieutenant Slaughter who was
very liable to sea-sickness. It almost made him sick to see the wave of
a table-cloth when the servants were spreading it. Soon after his
graduation, Slaughter was ordered to California and took passage by a
sailing vessel going around Cape Horn. The vessel was seven months
making the voyage, and Slaughter was sick every moment of the time,
never more so than while lying at anchor after reaching his place of
destination. On landing in California he found orders which had come by
the Isthmus, notifying him of a mistake in his assignment; he should
have been ordered to the northern lakes. He started back by the Isthmus
route and was sick all the way. But when he arrived at the East he was
again ordered to California, this time definitely, and at this date was
making his third trip. He was as sick as ever, and had been so for more
than a month while lying at anchor in the bay. I remember him well,
seated with his elbows on the table in front of him, his chin between
his hands, and looking the picture of despair. At last he broke out, "I
wish I had taken my father's advice; he wanted me to go into the navy;
if I had done so, I should not have had to go to sea so much." Poor
Slaughter! it was his last sea voyage. He was killed by Indians in

By the last of August the cholera had so abated that it was deemed safe
to start. The disease did not break out again on the way to California,
and we reached San Francisco early in September.



San Francisco at that day was a lively place. Gold, or placer digging
as it was called, was at its height. Steamers plied daily between San
Francisco and both Stockton and Sacramento. Passengers and gold from the
southern mines came by the Stockton boat; from the northern mines by
Sacramento. In the evening when these boats arrived, Long Wharf--there
was but one wharf in San Francisco in 1852--was alive with people
crowding to meet the miners as they came down to sell their "dust" and
to "have a time." Of these some were runners for hotels, boarding
houses or restaurants; others belonged to a class of impecunious
adventurers, of good manners and good presence, who were ever on the
alert to make the acquaintance of people with some ready means, in the
hope of being asked to take a meal at a restaurant. Many were young men
of good family, good education and gentlemanly instincts. Their parents
had been able to support them during their minority, and to give them
good educations, but not to maintain them afterwards. From 1849 to 1853
there was a rush of people to the Pacific coast, of the class described.
All thought that fortunes were to be picked up, without effort, in the
gold fields on the Pacific. Some realized more than their most sanguine
expectations; but for one such there were hundreds disappointed, many of
whom now fill unknown graves; others died wrecks of their former selves,
and many, without a vicious instinct, became criminals and outcasts.
Many of the real scenes in early California life exceed in strangeness


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