Notes of the Mexican war 1846-47-48/Chapter 9
Saturday, January 8, 1848.—This morning Peter McKeever, of Co. D, was buried by his company, back of the guard-house. They marked his grave on a head-board. This being the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans, most of our officers went to the city frolicing, and no doubt some good speeches were made. Many of them went over to the polque tub to drink polque, and also making fancy and patriotic speeches.
To-night we witnessed a magnificent sight. It was that of an eruption of one of the adjoining mountains. Owing to the darkness of the night we could not tell whether it was from the volcanic Popocatepetl or Iscotafelt. The throwing up of immense amount of red hot lava, then running down the west side with blue and green lights, making a rumbling noise like so many running horses on a plank road. The whole was a beautiful sight and it was closely watched by all the soldiers. The scene will long be remembered. During the eruption the air smelt strong of sulphur.
At dusk a party of Mexicans opposite our quarters had a dance, fandango, after which the hat went around for clacos. They danced what is called the regular Spanish National dance.
Sunday, January 9, 1848.—This morning a party of us got permission from Lieut. Haines to go to the city for the purpose of going to the Plaza de Toros, which is the popular place of amusement in the city. We started, arrived in the city, paid our admittance fee, seated ourselves and looked on; and it was really a curiosity to see the actors, or picadors, go through their performance. They were on horseback, and provided with a banderillos, some with a long spear, others with a small dart like a javelin, ornamented with ribbons, and intended to jade and infuriate the animals. The bulls were fine looking, with dilating horns, nostrils and wicked eyes. The picadors attacked them and hurled these banderillos at them. After being tantalized, turned upon the horse and destroyed him in a most horrible manner. After which the picador procured a fresh one, when the combat was renewed. The vast amphitheatre was filled with an anxious, eager crowd. After it was over we went out, and walked about the city, making inquiries when we were likely to leave for Queretaro City, but were unable to find out anything, except that our government at Washington was much harrassing Gen. Scott's movement, in not sending forward troops.
Gen. Scott is now placed in the same position as he was before he left the city of Puebla for this city.
I see by the official report that the whole strength of our army is 14,964; out of this number we only have 11,162 fit for duty; the rest are sick with the diarrhœa, measles, etc. Think of it, a little over 11,000 men fit for duty in a hostile country. No wonder Gen. Scott is constantly finding fault with the cabinet officers at Washington.
"Come Jimmy Polk and Billy Marcy send forward those troops you promised us long ago, so we can go on and take posession of this whole country."
In the evening we left for San Angel. Nothing happened to us on the road. We met several ladrones, but they said nothing to us, nor we to them.
Monday January 10, 1848.—This morning most of our soldiers were kicking up a fuss, on account of the little rations we were getting. In fact, never have we been so scarce of rations as we are at the present time, and particularly when we are so regularly quartered, when in regular quarters we always had plenty to eat; if it was not one thing it was another. So some went to Lieut.-Col. Black and complained about our shortness in grub. The bread we got for the day was all eaten up in one meal, and we must go without anything to eat, except those that have a little cash. They will, of course, purchase bread.
To-day David Sullivan was shot at Tacubaya for desertion. He belonged to the regulars.
This evening Col. Wynkoop and his party returned without finding old Santa Anna or anything else.
Tuesday, January 11, 1848.—This morning there is still growling about the shortness of our rations. At noon news came to our quarters that several dragoon companies and Col. Manuel Dominguez's spy company, came into the city of Mexico, bringing a small mail, exclusively for Gen. Scott and other high officers. So, of course, privates and corporals need not apply. I heard that Col. Dominguez had several fights with the Mexican troops, between this city and Puebla. One fight was near Rio Trio, where he charged with seventy men on a Mexican force of over two hundred cavalry, and after a battle was victorious, putting the Mexicans to flight by routing them, and succeeded in capturing a number of officers, among them are Gen. Minion and Gen. Terrojoir and several colonels, numbering in all five offices and forty-two lancers and two American deserters, all of which Col. Dominguez took back to Puebla, and there handed them over to our old friend Gov. Childs, commanding officer of that city. Col. Dominguez said that this was one of the most successful fights he yet had. He was highly complimented by Gen. Scott for his success.
In the afternoon a party of us spent our time in writing letters among the polque bushes, and, for the first time, I witnessed the process of making polque. The Mexican makes an incision in the stalk and bores the heart out. The sap or fluid runs into the cup where the heart was cut out, and from here it is pumped out by a guard and then taken to the mill for that purpose, and goes through several processes, after which it becomes fit for use, and a power of it is used; it is the favorite drink amongst all the Mexican people, and I see some of our Yankees are becoming used to it.
In the evening Col. Jack Hays, with his Texan Rangers, went out in full strength, for what purpose I could not learn, as they keep all their expeditions very secret, but I suppose they are going in search of the old priest, Jarauta, who is lurking around these diggings.
Wednesday, January 12, 1848.—This morning most all our soldiers are wondering where Col. Hays went to. At noon one of Co. H, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers named Smith Townly died, his disease was fever, and died quite unexpected.
This afternoon several United States Quartermasters and a few Mexicans, owners of properties, visited our quarters and examined them, for the Mexicans have laid in heavy damages, done by us soldiers. I expect they want more than the whole property is worth; they will no doubt be paid.
Thursday, January 13, 1848.—This morning a party of us soldiers got permission from our officers to go to the city. After arriving in the city, we first visited San Cosme, or Custom House; the gates of Belen; the citadel or Arsenal; the aqueduct which leads from Chapultepec to the city; the Alameda Park, and other public buildings around the city, and the famous Castle of Chapultepec, with its surroundings bearing many marks of the numerous revolutions of years gone by, and scars of the conflict of 1847. The walls are spotted with cannon-balls and bullet dents, everywhere.
Having viewed all the relics of, in and around the castle, we then went on the battlement walls which overlooks the broad valley of Mexico. The view from this height is one of great extent and beauty, surrounded by the historic and lofty mountains. Looking southward we could plainly see our quarters, San Angel, the battle-fields of Contreras, San Antonio, Churubusco and Cuyoacan, all surrounded by nature's beautiful pictures. Ruins are plenty and visible, all overgrown with wild flowers, bushes and creeping vines which gives a melancholy-and picturesque air to the scene.
Polque plants and cactus literally covered the ground, and around and below can be seen the venerable cypress groves, said to have shaded the tribes of the Montezumas.
Eastward runs the great aqueduct of San Cosme and Belen, along which our gallant little army of six thousand fought their way in the city, and pursued the flying army of Gen. Santa Anna. Here we can see gardens with the rarest of flowers and plants; the ruby humming birds darting here and there on the flowers; fountains; the Aztec baths; caves, etc., all now sadly decayed.
The Castle is two hundred and fifty feet above the plains of Mexico. No ruler could wish for a fairer spot than the lofty hill of Chapultepec. The cypress trees (mentioned above), are planted in regular rows and are magnificent, they no doubt shaded the tents of the Aztecs from the hot summer sun.
The chief of all the forest trees is the tree of Montezuma, which has a mean circumference of forty-five feet, and towers far above the groves of which it is the acknowledged monarch.
There are different authorities as to when and who first built this castle; the theory is, that it was built by King Autcolt, Montezumas' father. It was built as a resort and lookout place for the rulers of Mexico. It is built of porphyry, marble and hard sand-stone, on a high rock.We left the castle, and on our return, we passed along the Paso through the garita (gate) piedad (piety), where the Mexicans made the last bold stand in defending their city, but all no go, our American steel was too sharp for them; we returned and on our way, we stopped at the polque tub and had a good drink of the same. Here we saw five or six pig-skins tied up lying in the hot sun, the pig-skins looked like so many fresh dressed hogs' carcasses.
Returned to our quarters, and just in time for dress parade, and in time to save our reputation as truthful and obedient soldiers.
To-day I mailed the following letter:
|San Angel, near the City of Mexico|
|January 13, 1848.|
To Henry Strunk.
Dear Friend:—It is with pleasure I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well, and I know you all will be rejoiced when you receive this letter from one of your old schoolmates, now so far away from home, battling for our old flag, the Stars and Stripes, in this tierra calientes.
From the present surroundings no one would believe that war or hostility had ever been raging between our soldiers and the Mexicans. We associate together and have many a social talk and party together, yet at the same time we are drilling and preparing for more war and to do bloody work. Although a large number of us are quite contented with what we have done, yet at the same time we are willing to go on so long as necessity requires it and our country demands it; but I regret to state that our present Congress, now sitting in Washington, is not giving us soldiers much credit for our toilsome marches and glorious victories fought in this country. In place of legislating for the benefit of us soldiers in Mexico, they are wrangling about something else of no consequence whatever. They should cast their deliberations on those few brave hearts who first entered this hostile country of the Aztecs, with our brave Commander-in-Chief, Gen. Winfield Scott, and those who stood by the glorious Stars and Stripes until they were strongly and triumphantly planted upon the halls of Montezumas. But we have reason to believe that our Congress will not forget us in the future, as we have done the work assigned to us so far, to suit the wishes of our employers, and are willing to go wherever our employers see fit to send us. The Congress of the Republic of Mexico is at present seated at Queretaro City, and the news from that city is warlike and very boisterous, and it is said that the heads of the Mexican government are bragging, saying that there are fifty thousand Mexicans in this country who have not been licked and never will be licked. Thus the Mexican Congress themselves acknowledge that the gallant little band that landed at Vera Cruz in March last, has whipped all the Mexicans with the exception of fifty thousand. This ought to be satisfactory enough of what Gen. Scotts army has done, and as soon as re-enforcements arrive from the United States, we will march on to those fifty thousand unwhipped Mexicans and whip them too. You no doubt, like a great many others, have heard and read a good deal about Mexico, and particularly about the city of Mexico.
It is truly the most interesting city in this country. It fills a brilliant page in the history of that incomparable conquest of Cortez.
After its capture by the Spaniards, it was the residence of the viceroys of New Spain (as it was then called), and it is now the residence of its President, Congress and Supreme Court.
On approaching the city you behold one of the finest and most admirable views that can be brought before a human eye to see and it will never be forgotten by anyone that ever entered. it No book's opinions of correspondence of tourists, that I ever read, can describe its romantic and magnificent sceneries. The beautiful valley expands as far as the eye can reach Rich table-lands, with cultivated fields, and the city with its innumerable white domes and steeples. The snowclad volcanos Popocatepetl and Iscotafelt, a little distance to the left, with all its grandeur and extent, is indescribable.
Mexico (the Tennochtitlan of the old Mexicans), was formerly surrounded by lakes, and was a dirty, low and unhealthy city, more than half covered with water, mud and other unmentionables. The Spaniards drained and laid it out in squares and regular streets; built it up solid with neat, clean houses; two and three stories high. Many of them are fine mansions, with beautiful murmuring fountains, adorned with jete de eau, sparkling in the bright sun like brilliants.
The grand Catholic cathedral—a monument of art, a model of architecture, in a Roman style. On the corner is set in the stone calendar of the ancient Aztec, together with the baptistry.
The city is supplied with good and never-failing water, conducted in by an aqueduct from the Castle of Chapultepec, which fortress, on the 13th of September last, was stormed and captured by our gallant little army.
Cortez, in 1521, previous to capturing the city of Mexico, cut and partly destroyed this aqueduct. After which he rebuilt it more substantially and perfect.
The conquest of Mexico by Cortez has cost the Mexicans hundreds of thousands of lives. They were driven into their temple by droves, after which it was set on fire and all therein were burnt up alive.
The conquest has done one good thing—it has put an end to the annual sacrifice of twenty thousand to twenty-five thousand human beings, whose hearts were torn out by the barbarous Aztec priests on the piedra stone or sacrificial block, which is still preserved and placed in the museum of this city.
The Mexicans are celebrated for their fine leather work, the silver ornamental manufacture, their silk embroidery, gold and handsome jewelry. They are the most daring horsemen on this continent; they are in full national riding dress and trapping, and seated on a $400 to $500 silver-mounted saddle on a full blooded Mexican mustang.
Mexico is a great place for all kinds of people and amusements. In fact, it is spoken of as being one of the best show places known with the number of its population, which is about two hundred thousand. There are, I think, seven theatres, including the Plaza d'Toro (Bull Pit). The principal theatres are the National, Santa Anna, some call it. The second theatre in size is the Iturbide. This theatre is devoted to opera comique. The National seats three thousand, with a parquet, four circles and a gallery. They are lighted with some kind of oil, gas not having been introduced in this country.
I have read a great deal about Mexico, but I never read or heard of such temples and such fountains. What an Eden is this? To see such palaces, such portals, such Alameda parks and a host of other things, and how little it is appreciated by the thousands who daily behold and enjoy its beauties. Governed by good men and inhabited by an educated people, it would be the garden of the earth; but, at the same time, of all this richness staring you in the face, I would particularly request all new comers from the United States to fill their pockets with good gold and silver, and a good supply of it, for we are suffering awfully, and in particular us privates and corporals.
I see that Mr. Bensley's circus company has been augmented by a ballet and pantomime corps. It is pleasant place for passing an afternoon or evening for those who are in the city. The bull fights on Sundays are the best of the season; Plaza de Toros is crowded, animals furious, matadores ditto, bulls second best. I was at this place of amusement on Sunday last. It is over four hundred feet in diameter, with an area of three hundred feet, and sitting and standing room for from eight to ten thousand spectators. The assailants are called picadores, and are on horseback, provided with a spear.
How odd it is and how odd it looks to see Mexicans and American soldiers mingling together in the streets and Alameda Passo, each observing every courtesy towards the other; that is amongst the respectable class; ladrones and leperos our men don't associate with. In fact it seems strange how quickly the people have forgotten their former queer notions in regard to our barbarians towards one another. It is strange, indeed, but such is the fact. As I mentioned in my former letters, that when we first came into this country it was impossible to get acquainted with the ladies, but now they go to the theatre, circus, balls and other places of amusement and pleasurable time-killing, their faces gracing the occasion. No city under the starry tent of the Supreme General furnishes such a variety of beldadz, beauty, as the city of Mexico, and it would be a sin were the dear angels to hide their bright eyes and sweet lips from so many gallant admirers of their sex as are to be found in the American army.
There is an abundance of game, such as snipe, partridges, pheasants, pigeons, wild ducks and many other birds; of fish there is very little in the market, and are very high in prices during Lent; what there is of them are caught in the surrounding lakes of the city.
The closing of all the liquor stores at 6 o'clock in the evening (as ordered by Gen. Scott), has already had an admirable effect. The order was absolutely necessary to prevent the midnight assassination of our soldiers, an occurrence by-the-by that was getting to be entirely too frequent. No Mexican, I believe, however inclined, will attempt to take the life of an American soldier when sober, for most all the men that have been assassinated have been beastly drunk.
I have written a great deal longer letter than I first intended, but I shall now come to a close by saying that I am pretty well tired of soldiering. Yours, &c., J. J. O.
H. Strunk, Three Locks, Five miles above Lewistown, Pa.
Friday, January 14, 1848.—This morning there was a complete mutiny at our quarters among the soldiers, all on account of not getting enough to eat. Finally a Mexican came along with a mula (mule), loaded with oranges and bread. At him our fellows made a regular charge and took all the poor Mexican had in his two panniers. The Mexican (or poor Indian as I was told he was), went to Gen. Cushing's quarters and complained of the outrage the soldiers had committed. So Gen. Gushing, who is a good-hearted fellow and has plenty of money, but knows very little of soldier tactics, put his hand in his pocket and pulled out twelve dollars and paid the Mexican for his oranges and bread, and at the same time telling him never to come by that way again with a load of bread; if he did he, the Mexican, would have to abide by the consequences.
At noon a report came to San Angel that Col. Jack Hays had returned with his detatchment of Rangers from an expedition in search of guerilla priest Jarauta. He had several skirmishes with the guerillas without the loss of any of his men, but killed and wounded from eight to ten of the guerillas, and believes that the old priest Jarauta was amongst the wounded. It would be really a blessing if this old priest thief was out of the way.
In the evening Col. Black received a note from Gen. (now Gov.) Butler in the city, to send a guard of several men on the road, to watch some of our soldiers, who intended to go down with the train to Vera Cruz, which is announced to leave to-morrow morning. This is a great insult to our men. I don't believe that there is a man in our regiment that would attempt to desert from his flag or leave us dishonorably, even if he could. The train will be accompanied by a squadron of dragoons and a howitzer battery, formerly attached to Gen. Riley's brigade.
|San Angel, near the City of Mexico|
|January 14, 1848.|
Harry Grabill, Earlville, Lancaster County, Pa.,
Dear Sir:—As the train which was announced to start some time since, will positively leave for Vera Cruz to-morrow, I thought I would write you a few lines before starting, although I can gather but little new news of any interest which can be relied upon.
It is now nearly eight years since I left Lancaster county, which I have always admired and esteemed the dearest spot to me on God's earth. I like so much to call up the past, and brighten my memory of the many pleasant and happy days I have passed in Lancaster city and county.
The first recollection of scenes and events in this world, were the spires and the ringing of church bells on the Sabbath day, in Lancaster.
Even now, after the lapse of years that I have passed, I feel just as much interested in the progress of the city and county, and the prosperity of the people, as I did when I was one of you. Oh, how well do I recollect the scenes that I passed through at that time.
I am not going to write anything about the battles fought and won, nor of our victorious marches, as I gave you them in my first letter, which I think you did not receive, for I learned since, that the train containing my letter as well as many others was robbed by the guerillas.
At present we are encamped at San Angel, a small village, outside of the city of Mexico, but we know not what moment we will get orders to march.
Madame Rumor with her thousand tongued instrument, is continually busy, sometimes bringing pleasure and joy to the bosom of the soldier, and then again suffering him to revel in his own gloomy reflections of disappointment.
You can perceive by this letter, that we have not as yet taken up our line of march to Queretaro City, nor do we know (as I stated before), when we will be called upon to do so.
The destination of the soldiers in time of war is very uncertain; we may receive an order one day and have it countermanded the next, the same as was the case with us before Gen. Scott left the city of Puebla for the city of Mexico; we were ordered to march with the main army on to the capital, but was countermanded the next morning, leaving part of our regiment at Puebla as a garrison; afterwards we were engaged partly with Gen. Santa Anna's army and the thieving guerillas, for over fifty days and nights. The Mexicans claimed to be a Republic Government, but it is no Government of any progress or advancement; its history is full of war and bloodshed, superstition and arrogance, revolution upon revolution, and anarchy holds sway. There is constant discord among the people, and are only happy when their land is drenched with human blood.
The city of Mexico is built in the great fertile valley of Mexico, and the regularity, breadth and cleanliness of the streets, and the extent of the squares and public buildings; I have never seen any in the United States to compare with them.
There are several other buildings, such as convents and private palaces, which are beautiful.
The Academy of Fine Arts, or the National Museum, which was founded by Charles V in 1551, is of great extent, and a magnificent building. It contains many rare curiosities and relics of the ancient Toltec, Aztec, etc. In the court-yard stands the quadrangle statue of Charles V. It is the work of Don Tolso, a native Mexican. It was the first equestrian statue cast in Mexico. It was cast in the city of Mexico in 1803, and was first put in the main plaza, in front of the cathedral, and from there to the museum building. It is one of the finest statues I have ever seen.
The Alameda Park is one the best resorting places I ever saw. It was, in 1593, enlarged and beautifully embellished with fountains, and surrounded with statues of liberty. The whole park is enclosed by a well-built wall of about ten feet high.
I have no doubt you have read and, at the same time, wondered how our gallant little army, of nine thousand men, could descend into this valley, break through a line of almost impregnable batteries, and, in all the battles fought in this valley, defeat an enemy from thirty to thirty-five thousand strong. We took more than one hundred cannons, and over four thousand prisoners, and planted the glorious star-spangled banner on its capitol; where, since the conquest of Fernando Cortez, no strange flag had ever waved on this place; and, I believe, as Gen. Scott said, that the war of masses have ended with the capturing of the city of Mexico.
In fact Gen. Santa Anna is himself a fugitive, and knows not where to go for safety, as there are constantly scouting parties sent out in pursuit of him; but, so far, has escaped the vigilancia (vigilance) of our pursuing officers.
As I stated before the Congress of the Republic of Mexico has fled to Queretero City, which lies north of this city on the Zacatecas Road, where they expect to reassemble; and, no doubt, elect a new President in the place of Santa Anna, and then either peace will be declared or else the war carried on with more vigor, and not stop until the whole country of Mexico surrenders up her authority to the United States.
Gen. Scott has done a good act by imposing a heavy fine upon all gambling hells and shops. A circumstance which will considerably thin the ranks of the army followers, who have been swelling about in fine broad-cloth, purchased with the hard-earned money of the poor soldiers, who are mostly enticed to go into these hells to get rid of their money. They are what we might call the ladrones, a rascally class of beings; and the soldiers can do much better without them. The soldiers does the fighting and guarding of these thieves, and the black legs does the plundering. But thank fortune they are taking the hint, or the tax is too heavy, for they are vamosing as fast as they can get off by the trains, and a good thing it is for them they do.
Besides this, Gen. Scott has already levied a tax upon the different States here in Mexico, and has commenced disposing his soldiers all over the country to occupy the mining districts.
This war must either soon be brought to a close or else it will be pushed to the greatest extremity.We are now employed in drilling in various ways once a day, which gives the soldiers a good appetite. In fact, too much so; for we cannot get half enough to eat. There is very little
sickness of any serious nature, considering our number, among us. We have learned fatigue, and are used to hardships of the severest kinds. Yet we may all feel the effects of it in after years, if we live that long.
There are now two parties in Mexico, one party are the Paras (Purity), headed by Don Valentine Gomaz Fairs, a popular man among the middle class, and late Vice-President under Gen. Santa Anna.
The other party is called Moderados, headed and influenced by the Roman Catholic Church; which, according to the language of an eminent writer, is the sworn foe to religious liberty, ecclesiastical or political.
Mexico is no doubt one of the best places for an American to feel proud of his nationality, for he sees a deploring contrast between the two nationalities. America is a progressive country,—a land of education, science, art, civilization and enlightenment. This poor, priest-ridden Mexico, with all her natural beauty, her ancient and historic volcanic mountains, and romantic valleys and lakes,—country that is in itself like a dream of terrestial beauty, but so hidden away from the benefits of progress and enlightenment by just such people as mentioned. Oh, when will she awaken and rub the mist from her eyes? But there is a future for Mexico that is illumined by the fair hope of great possibilities.
I will now come to a close by saying that this is the second letter I have written to you, but I have received no answer in return. In fact I have written many letters to my relatives and friends since I have been in the army, and received only a few in return, which makes me feel rather uneasy; but I hope the next mail will relieve me. Give my respects to all inquiring friends and accept the same yourself.
Yours, &c., J. J. O.
Saturday, January 15, 1848.—This morning I went to the city to see the train off; it started soon after I arrived for the city of Vera Cruz. This train is guarded by the Voltiguers' regiment and the howitzer battery, all under the command of Lieut.-Col. Colwell, of the Voltiguers. This train takes a number of discharged soldiers down, on their way home. AIso a large mail accompanies this train, which I hope will arrive safe at their respective stations. The American Circus Co., of Messrs. Kelly & Hamlin, formerly Binsley's, so well and favorably known to the American army, leaves with this train for Vera Cruz. They have been traveling with our army for a long time. It is their intention to proceed to South America, and of course their departure will be regretted by all of our soldiers.
At noon I returned to our quarters. In the evening I noticed a party going down the road to watch for a loaded mula, but none came along, so they had to come back without any prize. While in the city I learned that Lieut.-Col. D. H. Miles, with thirteen hundred men, was attacked at Santa Fe, on this side of Vera Cruz. One of Col. Miles' dragoon companies was all cut up and three packed mules driven away or captured, and it was expected that the guerillas would make another attack upon him at Cerro Gordo. Col. Hughes, at Jalapa City, is ordered by Gen. Marshall to co-operate with Miles at Cerro Gordo. This is the worst defeat we have had yet.
Sunday, January 16, 1848.—This morning several members of our company went out and plundered a few deserted ranches, and brought to quarters tables, chairs and all kinds of household and kitchen furniture. However, it was not long before the Officer of the Guard went around to all the companies' quarters, and those comrades who were caught with any of the stolen articles, the officer had them put right into the guard-house. So it was a poor speculation after all. Our fellows succeeded in hiding their plunder in a little room and locked it up, so they escaped from going into the guard-house.
In the evening there is a rumor, and I hope it may be true, that we will get paid off to-morrow or next day. It is rumored to-night that Gen. Santa Anna is lurking around a small town called Tehuacan, near Puebla City. Monday, January 17, 1848.—This morning Lieut. Aquilla Haines, and Orderly-Sergt. Thomas Zeigle and Alburtus Welsh, left for the city of Mexico to draw the company's (C), money, but Lieut. Haines returned, stating that they did not get the money, on account of a mistake in the clothing account; and that Sergt. Zeigle and Alburtus Welsh, staid in the city to rectify the mistake. So we are all disappointed in not getting our rocks. But some five or six companies of our regiment got paid off to-day, so they are in high glee.
It is rumored, and I believe it is true, that there is not twenty thousand troops at Queretaro City. As reported, not more than four or five thousand, and that nearly the whole of Gen. Santa Anna's army have disbanded and deserted in despair, leaving nothing but fragments, such as guerillas and highway robbers, about two thousand strong, and wandering in different directions, without a magazine or a military chest, and living by robbing.
Tuesday, January 18, 1848.—This morning all our men are looking with eager eyes for Sergt. Zeigle and Alburtus Welsh.
Finally, at noon, they arrived with the money-bag, and soon all got paid off. So we were all flush again.
Mr. Welsh told me, that an expedition under Gen. Joe Lane, left the city of Mexico this morning at nine o'clock, in search of Gen. Santa Anna and the guerilla priest, Jarauta.
The expedition is composed of Col. Jack Hays' mounted rangers and Col. Dominguez's spy company; Maj. Polk goes with Gen. Lane as an aide. They are also after Gen. Paredas, who is in the villa of Tulancingo. They will be absent several weeks. They take or go by Orazaba and Tlasculla roads.
This evening the Mexican papers stated, that San Louis Potose, has declared against the present Government of Mexico, and that Gen. Santa Anna is on the point of resigning the Chief Magistracy and Commander-in-Chief of his scattered army, and is trying to make his escape to neutral Guatamala. He has to hurry up before Gen. Lane gets hold of him or it will be too late to resign. But I think he smells the mice, and that is the reason he wants to resign. Poor Santa, will have to leave his own dear native home again.
To-night there are all sorts of fun at our quarters, singing, dancing and gambling. This is the fruits of getting paid off, and in a few days some of our men will be as poor as ever.
Wednesday, January 19, 1848.—This morning nearly our whole regiment went to the city to get rid of their little hard earned money.
At noon I went over to Cuyoacan, which before Cortez's time contained about six thousand houses; now it is nothing but a neat little village and plenty of ruins, all done by the sword and torches of Fernando Cortez, who professed to come with his Catholic priests to inspire new religion in this country, but which afterwards turned out to be nothing else but plunder and destruction of the Mexicans' property, who refused to submit to bow to their cross or give up their gold. It is also the place where prominent citizens rescued and executed a man for alleging that the water would some day drown the city of Mexico, which afterwards, in 1446, proved true, by the surrounding lakes of Tezeuco, Chalco and Xochimilco beginning to swell into a tide which upset some of the houses. A voice was heard in the night, crying on the waters, "Children, your ruin is at hand, whither shall I carry you that you may not be lost." It was here where Conquerer Cortez celebrated his victory over the Mexicans by a grand festival. It was here where King or Emperor Guatimozin and the Cacique or Mayor of Tacubaya, (a bosom friend of the Emperor,) were put to the torture on burning coals of fire for refusing to reveal the lost treasury. The Emperor met his punishment with a smile, saying "How faithful these Spaniards are carrying out their promises to their captives." His companion, the Cacique, died upon the bed of burning coals. Emperor Guatimozin and some of his highest officers were afterwards hung on a limb of a tree, while on their way as prisoners to Honduras. Here, like in all other towns or cities, is an inborn of flowers. In fact Mexico is the greatest flower market in the world; all the year round the gardens bring forth brilliant blossoms. All historians who speak of the Mexicans, speak of their love of flowers as one of their principal characteristics. Nor has this trait diminished in the present generation from the days before the robber and cruel conquerer Cortez. All through these merciless times, when the Mexicans bore the heavy yoke under their violent masters, the Spaniards remained faithful to their love of flowers.
After walking around among the regulars who are encamped here, we left for San Angel, satisfied at having seen one of the ancient towns of Mexico.
I am informed this evening, that Gen. Scott presented to the First and Second Regiments Pennsylvania Volunteers, two silk State flags. To the First, for their' brilliant and heroic conduct during the long siege of Puebla City. To the Second, for gallant achievement at the gates of the city of Mexico. They were made by the ladies in the city; the eagles are worked in needle-work. They are splendid flags and cost seven hundred and fifty dollars a piece.
Thursday, January 20, 1848.—This morning an express came in from the coming train from Vera Cruz, stating that the train would be here in a few days; also that the express rider was chased and fired upon several times by the guerillas.
This evening, on dress-parade, orders were read for the commanding officer of each company, not to let their soldiers go to the city, which caused laughter.
Friday, January 21, 1848.—This morning as usual, and in spite of the strict orders issued last evening, nearly one-half of our regiment went to the city. In fact the business is so brisk that a company has started a new line of coaches, and instead of having mules attached to the stage, they have four splendid and spirited American and Mexican horses, with American drivers. They were well loaded with Uncle Sam's living freight, started off in American style, full gallop, and kept at it as far as I could see. This afternoon, Gen. Thomas Marshall's train arrived in the city of Mexico, bringing over three thousand troops and a large train and mail from Vera Cruz. The General says that Col. D. H. Miles will be here in a few days with thirteen hundred troops, and the largest train that ever left Vera Cruz. The report of meeting with a disastrous defeat or repulse at Santa Fe, is all a hoax. Col. Miles, having fallen back one mile to a well posted position, and in doing so was compelled to leave two wagons sticking in the road behind him, which of course fell into the hands of the Mexicans, which caused a great huzza in the enemy's ranks.
In the evening I noticed most all of our regiment who went to the city this morning are returning home in time for dress parade. Some of the men were well loaded with luxurious vegetables, and some showed up a little tipsy.
Saturday, January 22, 1848.—This morning again nearly half of our regiment, rigged up fit to kill, preparing for the grand masquerade ball, which is to take place to-night at the Teatra de Nacional (or Santa Anna), in the city.
At noon I noticed some of our officers were going to the city, and by their appearance it looks as if they also were going to the masquerade ball, which are as numerous here as they are at New Orleans.
This afternoon, John Newman and myself went into the manzan pomor (apple yard) and were surprised to see the manzan (apple) so near ripe. They are not as large as our apples in the States.
This evening there was a slim dress-parade on account of our men attending the masquerade ball.
Sunday, January 21, 1848.—This day being Sunday, John Newman, Henry Rosco, of our company, and myself got permission from Lieut. Aquilla Haines to go to the city. We, of course, took the new American line of coaches. I seated myself on top with the driver, with whom I had a pleasant chat. He is an American, and hails from New York. He came to Mexico about ten years ago with a lot of Troy, N. Y., coaches. He has been driving stages through the different directions from this city to Toluca; and, before the war, drove to Puebla City, and back. He tells me that his coach has been robbed more than fifty times, and that he never was hurt, except once; that time he refused to stop, when the robbers fired, and then he was wounded in the arm. One passenger was killed, because he refused to give up his cash.
After the stage was filled, and the fare (twenty-five cents) collected, the driver was ordered to go; and off we went at a full gallop for about one mile, when he pulled in his horses, and went on at a slow trot.
The scene through the valley we passed was beautiful with polque groves. Shrubs were chiefly of the cactus order, and the creeping vines tangled the thicket over the little stream. After we arrived in the Plaza de la Constitucion we went straight to the grand cathedral, which is the mother church of all Mexico. It is capable of holding over twenty-five thousand people. The dimensions of the cathedral is as follows:—From the north to the south is four hundred and twenty-six feet, from the east to the west is nearly five hundred feet; the height of the roof is one hundred and seventy-five feet. It was finished in 1667, and cost over $2,000,000.
On the west side of the corner is walled in the original Aztec calendar. It was cut off a block of basalt, weighing over twenty-five tons. Its diameter is nearly seven feet. It has been in this wall since August 13, 1790, a memorable day in Mexico, and it is supposed to date back as far as 1279. It is divided into three hundred and sixty-five days, with an interpolation of thirteen days for each cycle of fifty-two years. The stone is almost a perfect square in form.
Inside the highest altar, raised from the elevated platform, exhibits a profusion of candlesticks, crosses, and other idol ornaments of gold and silver.What St. Peter's is to Rome, what St. Paul's is to London, what Notre Dame is to Paris, the cathedral is to Mexico. It is the most popular resort of the Catholic faith that there is in this country.
|Catholic Cathedral||Constitucion Monument||National Palace|
|PLAZA DE LA CONSTITUCION, CITY OF MEXICO|
The other altar is surrounded with six large golden candlesticks, over four feet high; six large golden branches, with vases of the same size; four smaller candlesticks of gold, sixteen inches high; two golden censors, two golden utensils to sprinkle holy water, one golden cross, set with very precious stones, with pedestal and front pieces, also set with precious stones. The weight of the altar service is nearly five hundred pounds, and its value not less than $200,000.
It is also crowned by an image of the Virgin or of the Ascension. It is of solid gold, adorned with rich jewels. It is valued, including jewels, at from $35,000 to $40,000. The image of Conception is of solid silver, and is worth $625. The silver lamp in front of the priest is gilded with pure gold; it is magnificent; it has fifty-four burners; its height is twenty two feet; its circumference thirty feet, and is suspended by an iron chain and bolt. The lamp and fixtures is valued at $120. The silver service of the cathedral are twelve chandeliers, twelve incense-boxes, twelve large branches, each seven feet high; seventy-two silver cups and incense burners, ninety-six silver candlesticks, with their number of branches; three silver statues, one large silver closet, handsomely engraved for the deposit of holy things; two lamp stands, with each four clusters of branches; two large standard candlesticks, twenty silver candlesticks, besides a perfect wilderness of columns, statues, shrines and fonts, in the aisles of the church.
The robes and other garments of the priesthood are of the richest and most costly description. They with the silver service of the church were the gifts of the Emperor Charles V, of Spain. After a hasty inspection of the interior, the rich paintings on the walls, and other curiosities in the church, we left, and at 3 o'clock, p.m., went to see the bull fights, which is the custom in this country, to go from church to a place of amusement. What a great religion to inspire among the heathen people. Here in the Plaza de Toros we saw a novel sight, of which some day when I have more time, I will write a description thereof. After it was all over, we returned to San Angel, much pleased at the sights we saw at Plaza de Toros. No dress-parade this evening. Had we known this before we left the city we would not have come to San Angel so soon; we would have had a little more sport with the senoritas.
Late this evening our men had nearly all returned from the city, and those who were at the grand masquerade ball speak of it in the highest praise as a grand success.
Monday January 24, 1848.—This morning I noticed that there is not so much of a rush for the city as there has been. I guess the finances are running short amongst some of the boys. In fact I know of some who hadn't any money the second day after they were paid off. All, all lost at the gambling tables, etc.
At noon, Lieut.-Col. D. H. Miles arrived in the city of Mexico with the largest train that ever came in at any one time. His brigade consists of over thirteen hundred men, mostly regulars; it also brings a large mail. I received several letters; one from my old master, Henry Grabill, of Lancaster, Pa., and I assure you I was much gratified in receiving a letter from that section of the country.
In the afternoon, friend Geo. Nightlinger and myself paid a visit to the once fortress of Churubusco. Here is where a bloody battle was fought, on the 20th of August last, when the gallant Col. P. M. Butler, of the South Carolina regiment, and many other noble soldiers were killed. We also visited Tet due Pont (bridge head), which was strongly erected on the main road, in front of the bridge, over Churubusco river or creek. Next we visited the convent church close by, which was strongly fortified; the wall of the church being pierced with two ranges of musketry. From here we went to San Pablo, where a company of one hundred Irish-American deserters from our army, and commanded by that notorious Col. Thomas Reily, also a deserter from our army. Here they made one of the most daring and desperate defences than at any other place that our army ever came in contact with. The deserters were mostly all artillerymen, and handled their pieces well and fought like so many bulldogs. They several times tore down the white flag when hoisted by the real Mexicans, they knowing our way of drilling, which caused many of our soldiers to fall and kiss the dust. They were all captured, and our men were so enraged with madness that, had it not been for our officers, every deserter would have been bayoneted or shot dead upon the spot. They were taken to San Angel by the Third United States Infantry, and in a few days after the arrival at the above place, the deserters were tried by court martial, of which Col. Bennett Riley, of the Second United States Infantry, and at that time in command of the Second Brigade, Second Division, was president. The finding of the court was, that all who had deserted before the war with Mexico, should be flogged and branded with the letter D on the right cheek, and all those who deserted after the war should be hanged. On September 10th, the sentence of the court was carried out by the hanging of eight deserters and the flogging of Col. Riley and the rest.
The eight were hanged in a field opposite the convent, or near the place where they were captured. They were conveyed to their place of execution in four wagons, two in each wagon, with ropes around their necks, and their hands pinioned on their backs. They were driven under the cross-timber, erected for that special occasion. A detail from the rifle regiment guarded them and tied the ropes to the cross-timber. At a signal the drum beat, the teams started and left the eight deserters dangling in the air until they were dead.
Next came the deserters. Col. Riley having deserted before the declaration of war, received fifty, some say sixty lashes; the rest got from fifty to twenty-five lashes. The flogging was done by two Mexicans with mule whips. The other thirty two deserters were hanged September 13th, at Miscoac. We returned to San Angel.
Tuesday, January 25, 1848.—This morning there is a rumor at San Angel that a move of part of our army is anticipated soon. The first move will be to Zacatecas, and from thence to San Luis de Potosi, for the purpose of opening commerce between Tampico and Zacatecas, which is about four hundred miles from here. This will be a long march; but this is only a rumor. But a move will be made soon, unless there is some probability of peace which is at present much talked about.
The last train from Vera Cruz brought us some recruits for the First and Second Regiments Pennsylvania Volunteers, also for the New York Regiment. They are fine, hardy looking men. We got only two for our company.
Wednesday, January 26, 1848.—This morning, a paper called the North America, published in the city of Mexico, contained an article stating that the South Carolina Regiment (what is left of them) would be disbanded forthwith from the United States army. This news caused a great deal of dissatisfaction among other volunteer regiments, who served in the army as long as they did, and did as much service.
This afternoon there is a rumor that the Peace Commissioners have met and are considering Mr. N. P. Trist's propositions in regard to peace. Some doubt this rumor, but there must be something of that kind going on, from the fact of our remaining at a stand still so long. I hope it may be true and give us an opportunity of going home.
To-day Col. Clark with his Second Brigade left for Cueruavaco, about forty-five miles south from here, on the Acapulco road. I think it is to guard a silver mine and collect the duty on bars. Gen. Cushing to-day stopped the stage and put all the high privates out of the diligence and let the officers remain in. This action has caused quite a fuss.
Thursday January 27, 1848.—This morning the peace news is great, and quite current, and every soldier that comes in from the city has something to tell of what he heard for a fact; and all about the peace proposition. The cry is peace, peace; but there is no peace. There is also a rumor that Gen. Lane and his party had a fight near Orazaba, and succeeded in capturing Gen. Santa Anna; but I myself much doubt the story, for Gen. Santa Anna is too sharp a general to be caught so easy. In the evening Gen. Cushing rode past the quarters, and nearly all the soldiers mocked and hooted at him for stopping the stage, and putting all except the officers out.
Friday, January 28, 1848.—This morning the peace prospect is up to blood-heat. At noon a blind Mexican boy came to our quarters, and played on the harp. It was delightful music, and well played. He played all the national airs of both nations. He played Gen. Santa Anna's favorite march, which is a splendid piece of music. Amongst the many pieces was Gen. Santa Anna's retreat after the battle of Cerro Gordo, to which he sang a song. Santa Anna's famous Chico Vestido (Little Pantaloons), which is really laughable, wound up with "Yankee Doodle," for which he received many picayunes, and went away rejoicing.
Saturday, January 29, 1848.—This morning it is reported that our peace commissioners have sent an express with despatches to our Government at Washington with the olive branch, and also that we would be on our way home by the beginning of May. I really begin to think that there is something going on in Denmark; the city papers are full of peace.
Sunday, January 30, 1848.—This morning most of our soldiers were busy in fixing themselves up for the masquerade ball, which comes off to-night at the Nacional Theatre; and as there will be no privates admitted, they borrowed some clothing from the Mexicans, and got officers' suits. The stopping of privates going to these places has caused a great deal of a fuss amongst our men, all through Gen. Cushing's orders.
Monday, January 31, 1848.—This morning Gen. Gushing has stopped the stage-coach from running between San Angel and the city of Mexico. This is done to keep the soldiers from going to the city; but this will not stop them, for they can go around our line and slip the sentinel, who don't care who goes to the city. This has caused another excitement among the boys. At noon it was told that some of our regiment and the New Yorkers had stolen Gen. Cushing's horse last night from the quarters of the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.
This evening an advertisement was out, "Strayed or stolen a Mexican mustang, belonging to the volunteer division. Any person or persons giving such information as will lead to his recovery will be entitled to a ride to the city and back."
Everyone that read this went away with a hearty laugh, saying it was a pity that they didn't steal the General. The cry is, "Who stole the horse?"
Tuesday, February 1, 1848.—This morning most every soldier is cursing Gen. Cushing for stopping the diligence.
At noon several of the South Carolinaians and New Yorkers were arrested for being concerned in putting away Gen. Cushing's horse.
The city papers to-day are full of peace, and Lieut.-Col. S. W. Black told us that we would be on our way home in less than two months.
Wednesday, February 2, 1848.—This morning Alburtus Welsh and myself went over to Miscoac, a small village, about three miles from San Angel, and about the same distance from the city. Here is where Col. W. S. Harney hung the balance of the thirty-two Irish-American deserters, who were captured at Churubusco. They were executed on the 13th of September, the day the battle of Chapultepec was fought. As soon as the Castle fell, and our flag triumphantly swung over its strong fortress, Col. Harney told the deserters to cast their eyes toward the Castle of Chapultepec, and once more look upon our glorious flag that they had deserted. After which they were all hung on crosses already erected.
In an outskirt of the town we found the regulars were quartered, and everything around their quarters was neat and clean, and are kept very strict in discipline.In walking around I was surprised to see the following piece of poetry posted up against a tree, which sentiments, I believe, are mostly true, as follows:—
Come all Yankee soldiers, give ear to my song,
It is a short ditty, it will not keep you long;
It is of no use to fret, on account of our luck,
We can laugh, drink, and sing yet in spite of the buck.
Sergeant buck him and gag him, our officers cry,
For each triffling offence which they happen to spy,
Till with bucking and gagging of Dick, Tom, Pat and Bill,
Faith, the Mexican's ranks they have helped to fill.
The treatment they give us, as all of us know,
Is bucking and gagging for whipping the foe;
They buck and gag us for malice or spite.
But they are glad to release us when going to fight.
A poor soldier tied up in the hot sun or rain.
With a gag in his mouth till he is tortured with pain,
Why I'm blessed if the eagle, we wear on our flag.
In its claws couldn't carry a buck and a gag.
After copying the above piece of poetry, or song, we left for San Angel. In front of our quarters our company was formed into line, when one of our members took a drawing of our company and quarters. The intention is to have it lithographed in Philadelphia, Pa.
This evening the whole conversation is about peace, and that we all would be on our way home before long.
Thursday, February 3, 1848.—This morning the whole talk is about peace, peace. At noon news came from the city stating that the peace project has been signed by Mr. Trist and the Mexican Commissioners at Guadaloupa yesterday, and that Mr. Trist is now on his way to Washington; and if our Government accepts it, we will be on our way home in two months, for it takes some time to go and come from Washington. I now believe that we will have no more fighting in this country. Friday, February 4, 1848.—This morning, as usual, the talk is all about peace, and no doubt that it will be accepted by our Government. Woe to the senator that will vote against it. There is a report, but I place no confidence in it, that two junior officers of our army demand the recall of Gen. Winfield Scott from his army in Mexico, which report is causing a little excitement amongst the officers and soldiers. In the evening it rained very hard. This is the first rain since we are at San Angel, nearly two months, yet the Churubusco River did not show any signs of getting lower; but of course it mostly all comes from the mountains, which are covered with snow the whole year around,
|San Angel, Mexico|
|February 4, 1848.|
My Most Worthy Friend, Samuel Horning:—I feel extremely happy in stating that I received your long-looked for letter a few days ago, stating that you and your family were all well.
We arrived in the city of Mexico on the 20th December last, under command of Gen. William O. Butler, whom I came with from the city of Puebla. The city of Mexico is one of the many cities you and myself often read about in the geography and histories, and it is truly a great place. There has been great rumors in and about the city of Mexico in reference to peace. Some have it that peace is made; others have it that peace commissioners have gone on to Washington city; and thus we have it up and down every day—peace and war alternately. But believe nothing you hear from this city at the present time on this peace subject, for I assure you no one, unless it is General Scott or Nicholas P. Trist, knows anything more about it than the man in the moon; and these two gentlemen are exceedingly cautious in everything relating to the movements in the army, and everything connected with it. The nearest that I can come to the present state of affairs is from a Mexican paper, published at Queretaro City, which informs us that there has been no treaty concluded; but he adds, the whole subject rests with the United States Government. The Government of Mexico is willing to make a treaty on a fair scale, and are prepared to go to work, and they think that they are strong enough to sustain it.
I find many of the most influential men in the republic of Mexico, who have heretofore been violently opposed to the making of peace, are now advocating a treaty strongly. The persons who formerly belonged to the government are perfectly prostrate. Their influence is actually nothing on either side of the scale.
The Mexican Congress has not yet met at Queretaro City, at the latest date from there, but it was expected there would be a full meeting by the 20th of March next. Then, and not until then will we hear what will be done. The Mexicans must make peace or else our troops will invade this whole country and drive the Mexican Congress into the Pacific Ocean. But then, when will this war cease, is a question often asked, but no definite answer can fairly be given; but my humble and no account opinion is, that many more men must be sacrificed and many more widows and orphans made before this war is ended.
Now, as regards to business which is carried on here, and of which you made particular inquiry in regard to its appearances and prospects. In the first place there is no such bright and cheering prospects of continuance of business as there is in Philadelphia or New Orleans cities. There are no bales, boxes, crates, casks, cases, packages, large or small, of every variety, crowding the pavements along the whole business through fares. There is no such harsh sound of the packer's hammer, and the bustle and confusion attending a delivery of numberless packages of goods. There is no such calling off and charging of articles purchased; no hurrying of clerks and assistants of every kind, in the getting out and bundling up of goods to have them ready to send away. There is no such loud cries of the employers to the employed, to make all haste, and there is no such rattling of heavy articles as they pour in at the front door. There is no such scenes in all this city of the Aztecs as they are in our cities in the United States.
But again, the city of Mexico in its prominent aspects is a striking and attractive capital. Its architecture, and particularly in its churches and public edifices, cannot fail to impress the stranger. Its beautiful and spacious streets; its open plaza, flanked on one side by the Cathedral, on the other side by the ample proportioned palace or halls of the Montezumas; its beautiful and charming Alameda Park, with its shady and flowered avenues and winding walks, together with its far reaching smoothly graded passo, where beauty and chivalry daily meet, vieing with each other in richness of display and genuine courtesy, are all most inviting and imposing.
There are in our camp and in the city of Mexico a great many blacklegs from New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia and other cities. Faro tables are plenty enough and seem to be thronged with customers. The billiard saloons are here, too, and roulette tables are plenty enough, and everything in fact to carry on the damning vice of gambling. The shops in the towns and cities are mostly kept by women, and I entertain myself sometimes when in town in walking around and dropping into these shops ogling pretty black-eyed senoritas. I don't wish for you to understand by me saying dropping into these gambling hells, that I take an interest in playing these damning vices. Nay, not at all, for I never did attempt to play more than once, and that time the blacklegs broke me in less than twenty minutes, after which I left in disgust and swore that I would sin no more, nor follow this kind of business. But enough of this, and I will come to a close by saying that we have fine and healthy quarters, in full view of the volcanic mountains.
If words were balls and gas were powder,
I pledge the price of my bandanna
That I would sooner be home, eating buckwheat cakes and sausage,
Than fighting General Anton Lopez de Santa Anna.
Yours, &c., J. J. O.
McVeytown, Mifflin county, Pa. Saturday, February 5, 1848.—Last night's rain had the effect of cooling and purifying the atmosphere to a temperature that is perfectly delightful; and, no doubt, will bring great relief to those who have been afflicted with the mumps and measles, but the most of our men are complaining of the erysipelas.
No news of peace to-day. "What has become of it?" Answer, "Why, it is on its way to Washington."
This afternoon one of our members took another drawing of our quarters at San Angel. His intention is to have it lithographed in Philadelphia, Pa.
Sunday, February 6, 1848.—This morning Gen. Lane and his party came back from their expedition to Orazaba, and reported that they did not see anything of Gen. Santa Anna; although they were only two hours behind him, and would have captured him had not a Mexican carried the news in Lane's advance, telling Santa Anna that the Yankees were after him, and for him to fly for safety, which Santa Anna did, and nothing has been heard of old Santa since.
Gen. Lane was also after Gen. Paredes, who was in the villa (town) of Tulancingo. They were in hot pursuit of Gen. Paredes. Their horses fell down and died in the road leading to Tulancingo, ridden to death; but they did not capture Gen. Paredes, but his brother; they say, it was one of the most rapid and fatiguing marches of the war. Gen. Lane, on his return, went by the way of Tlascalla, once the ancient capital of the Tlascallaian tribe, where he was informed that the banner of Cortez, the renowned conquerer of the Aztecs, was at the Palace of Tlascalla. When they arrived at Tlascalla City they were told that the Cortez banner, which was the first Spanish banner that ever waved in this country, was safely deposited in a church on top of a high hill. Gen. Lane started for the temple, and had the relic in his hand, and was about to bring it with him as a trophy of the present war, but the Mayor, or Alcalda, of Tlascalla, and the priests of the churches in town, plead and begged for Gen. Lane not to take it from the Villa Tlascalla, as it was here where Fernando Cortez placed it for safety, and has remained here during all the revolutions of Mexico without being disturbed. So the banner was left in its ancient palace.
The Tlascallaians, mentioned above, are a part of the people who split from the original Mexicans. They took a dislike in warding the city of Tenustitun, now Mexico. They made the divisions, or wards, to suit a certain class of political people, which occasioned a great dislike and dissatisfaction among a people called Papolucans, or Tepeacans; they being entirely dissatisfied with the proceedings deserted the city. They marched along the lake and arrived and settled themseves in a rich and fertile valley called Tlascalla, and chose the Tlascallaians for their rulers, protectionists, and entertained bitter and hostile feelings against their own countrymen, who wrong them so much. They afterwards got to be a people of great power, and were much feared by the Mexicans. They also were great man-eaters, and not only eat the flesh of their enemies, but hung it up to be dried, and sold the same as dried beef
The city of Tlascalla was considerable enlarged, and powerful city, and it was their capital.
Monday, February 7, 1848.—This morning the city papers issued an extra, stating that James K. Polk, President of the United States, had recalled Major-General Winfield Scott, and Generals Worth, Pillow, and Colonel James Duncan, to undergo a court-martial. These proceedings have created a great deal of excitement amongst the Mexican rulers, and in particular amongst our own troops, who call it a high-handed, outrageous and shameful to drag Gen. Scott from his high command and make him a prisoner in the very capital which his own generalship and valor had won. You could hear some soldiers say, if Gen. Scott is to be withdrawn from us, they will not march another step towards the enemy. Gen. Scott was our general first, and shall be to the last; and that this has all been done through a political and jealous feeling at the heads of our Government to check his (Gen. Scott's) glorious and fair fame. Tuesday, February 8, 1848.—This morning all the talk is changed from peace to and about the removal of Gen. Scott. In fact, I should not be surprised to hear the Mexicans cry more war than peace, for they generally were much afraid of Gen. Scott, for they know full well that when he comes the Mexicans must give way. If there should be any more war, I wouldn't be surprised that the American army will be defeated, for the soldiers have not the same enthusiasm, trusty and confident feelings as they had under Gen. Scott. In the evening some of the volunteers are holding meetings to express their feeling and sympathy, and are raising contributions to present James K. Polk with a leather medal.
Wednesday, February 9, 1848.—This morning I partly spent my time in writing letters, so as to have them ready for the next train. The city papers are full about the removal of Gen. Scott from his high command, and dragging him from his gallant little army, as a prisoner, which he so well commanded. At noon a party of us got permission to go to San Antonio, San Augustine and Contreras. The roads which pass through these villages are generally kind of marshy and rough, covered with pedrigal or lava stone broken roughly, but San Antonio lays on a little hill, and has all the command for defences. During the fight, the Mexicans had seven batteries, mounted with twenty-one cannons and strong breastwork for their infantry. The battle was fought and victoriously won August 19 and 20, 1847. Next we visited San Augustine, another village well situated to oppose an army. From here we went to Contreras. Here a battle was fought on the 20th of August, the same day or evening that San Augustine was fought. The total strength of our army engaged in this battle was four thousand five hundred soldiers, against the Mexican force of seven thousand, under the command of Gen. Valencia, and backed by Gen. Santa Anna in person with twelve thousand troops, making nineteen thousand troops of the enemy in the field against four thousand five hundred Americans; and, as a fellow says, the battle was fought and triumphantly won, killing over seven hundred of the Mexicans; eight hundred prisoners, including four generals and nearly one hundred other officers; besides many colors and twenty-two pieces of brass artillery, thousands of small arms and any quantity of ammunition, and nearly eight hundred pack mules and horses, all captured at this battle; and now, for doing all this work, our Government goes to work, and removes Gen. Scott. Shame!
Thursday, February 10, 1848.—This morning the talk is still about the superseding of Gen. Scott, and about the capabilities of his successor, Gen. W. O. Butler.
At noon several of us paid a visit to Ventade village, Cuyoacan. Here is where Gen. Scott was met by the Mexicans with a proposition of an armistice, which was at first rejected; but Gen. Scott reconsidered it and said if we can make peace or come to any kind of treaty, well and good, that too much blood has already been shed in this war. But they could not agree, so the fight went on.
The regulars here are more grieved about the removal of Gen. Scott than the volunteers. They are more attached to and idolized Gen. Scott more than any other soldier in the army. They say they don't like Gen. Butler, simply because that he is no regular soldier, and is nothing but some old banished politician. They want the man that they started with and led them from Vera Cruz to this city, with so small a force and such signal success. Give us Gen. Scott, our old commander.
Friday February 11, 1848—This morning a court-martial set in San Angel to try several of the members of the New York and South Carolina regiments for stealing Gen. Cushing's horse, some two weeks ago. They are not exactly to be tried for stealing the horse, but they were on guard at the same time the horse was stolen and are accused of aiding in taking him away, I believe this to be the fact myself, but of course I will not say so.
Saturday, February 12, 1848.—This morning one of Co. G, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, named Thomas Karr, was sent to the Castle of Chapultepec for striking some petty officer in the city. He is to be confined during the war, forfeit all his pay and allowance due him, and to be dishonorably discharged at the termination of this war, and also to wear a ball and chain weighing twenty pounds, and his head shaved close. This has been the hardest sentence of a volunteer that I ever heard tell of It has created a great sensation and murmuring among the volunteers.
Sunday, February 13, 1848.—This morning the general talk or conversation among the men is about the removal of Gen. Scott and the severe sentence of the poor old man, Thomas Karr.
At noon John Kritser, of our company, and James A. Sawyer, of Co. H, both printers and working on the American Star, called to see us, and by their appearance and genteel looks the printing business must agree with them, for they both looked remarkable well. Mr. Kritser said the report of the removal of Gen. Scott was true.
Monday, February 14, 1848.—This morning I went to the city and partook of a good dinner at the Socida del Progress, after which I took a walk around the city and visited the National Palace, of which Capt. Charles Naylor, of the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, is now Governor. From here I went to Tacubaya and visited the Archiepiscopal Palace of Mexico. Here is where Gen. Scott made his headquarters during the battles around and in the city of Mexico Tacubaya, before the Conqueror Cortez's time, was a large and powerful city; it is a fine city yet. Here is where the people prophesied, before ever hearing of Cortez coming, that a strange people were coming to destroy their government and to take possession of the Mexican Dominion, and for making this assertion King Montezumas put them all to death. The prophecy afterwards proved to become true by the Conqueror Cortez subduing their government.
This place is guarded by the regulars, and like their brother soldiers at Cuyoacan are much mortified at the stain cast upon our old hero. They asked me who Gen. Butler is and where does he came from. I could not answer.
In the evening I left for San Angel, all safe and sound.
Tuesday, February 15, 1848.—This morning it is reported that Gen. Scott has received no communication from either the President or Secretary Marcy in regard to his (Gen. Scott's) removal. All he knows is from what is published in the newspapers, and it is hoped that the reports of the removal may yet turn out to be false. But, as the fellow said, where there is smoke there is fire, and seeing that the President and his Secretary, William L. Marcy, have been firing into Gen. Scott's rear ever since he left Vera Cruz, and failing in having Gen. Scott and his little army either killed or driven back into the Gulf of Mexico, the likelihood of his removal may be too true, to make room for another General, but not a better one.
Gen. Andrew Jackson, though seldom wrong, was not very mealy mouthed in his language towards those who crossed his path of duty. The people supported and justified him, and so the people will justify Gen. Scott.
At noon we had some tall performance by Sergt. Zeigle and Corp. Peter Ahl, of First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.
Wednesday, February 16, 1848.—-This morning a party started out scouting on their own hook, they had not gone far before they came upon the dead body of a United States soldier, which turned out to be Mr. Barkley, of Co. B, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, who has been missing from his quarters for several days. They brought him along, and turned him over to his company. After which they buried him.
To-day the court-martial is sitting, and the most important case was that of a deserter of the Massachusetts regiment. They found him guilty, with the sentence that he be drummed out of the United States service to-morrow. The only thing that saved him from being shot was that he proved that he, the prisoner, had been harshly dealt with by some of his petty officers, and that he would not take up arms against his brother soldiers of the United States. Thursday, February 17, 1848.—This morning it is rumored that Gen. Cadwallader is surrounded, at Toluco, by Gen. Alvezes, with eight thousand troops. But I think this is all moonshine. I don't believe that there are eight thousand Mexican troops in all Mexico.
At noon the Massachusetts soldier, who was sentenced yesterday, was drummed out of the United States service for desertion. He was taken from the guard-house and placed in front of the drummer and fifer, and a file of soldiers on each side. After which, they started off playing the Rogue's March until they came to the outer picket-guards, when they halted with the music; and left him go to wander wherever he wished to go.
Friday, February 18, 1848.'—This morning it is rumored that the President of the United States has disapproved the charges brought against Gens. Worth, Pillow and Col. Duncan, by Gen. Scott; and has restored them to their respective positions, and that Gen. Scott is to go before the Court of Inquiry, at Puebla, to answer the charge for daring to enforce discipline in his army against certain of his subordinate officers. This is what some might call an impartial trial, discharging the subordinate party without trial, and trying the Commander. This has again caused a great deal of excitement among the soldiers.
At noon Joseph L. Parker, Orderly Sergeant, of Co. G, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, came to our quarters. He is direct from Philadelphia, having had leave on a furlough. He went from Jalapa City. Sergt. Parker gives us glorious news from old Pennsylvania; and, particular, from Philadelphia. He came in company with ten others from Vera Cruz.
Saturday, February 19, 1848.—This morning we have the official report of Gen. Scott relieved from command of the army, and devolving the whole command to Major-General William O. Butler, a volunteer general; also the releasing of Generals Worth and Cerro Gordo Pillow, and Col. Duncan from arrest, and restoring them to their command. Thus, Gen. Scott is to be tried for doing his duty by his junior officers in the very scene of his noblest exploits, and made to stand there before the world the target for the low hate and cunning of intriguants whom his favor had warmed into existence, and whose malice, otherwise impotent, Government patronage has supplied with a sting; but, as a writer says, when it comes to that point, that Brevet-Major-General William J. Worth can rise before a court-martial in the city of Puebla, or in the United States, and hurl in the teeth of Gen. Scott the approval of his conduct by the Cabinet or Government, and the condemnation of his commander-in-chief, it passes the bounds of human patience, and makes us really sick at heart; but they that would have sacrificed Gen. Taylor on the plains of Buena Vista and our own army in this valley of Mexico, are capable, too, of thrusting the dagger of revenge in the hero's heart; but the people's hearts are not yet so seared and dried up by the fires of party passion; their perceptions have not become so blunted, or their patriotism cooled down to the zero point, that they can look on such scenes as are now presented in this city of Mexico and the United States, and not feel that a gross indignity has been offered to the national glory, and the far-famed name of the successful general.
At noon it was very windy, the dust flying in all directions, so that we can hardly see the objects before us.
Sunday, February 20, 1848.—This morning is very pleasant, and a good many went over to the polque cuba (tub), drinking polque and talking about the releasing of Gen. Scott, and the capability of Gen. Butler. At noon several officers who have been in the city stated that they shook hands with Gen. Scott, saying that they regretted that he so soon should be recalled. Gen. Scott said that there is nothing in this wide world that he regretted more than to leave his gallant little army whom he had the honor to command during this victorious campaign in Mexico, and would like to be permitted to return with his soldiers to the United States. He said— "Think of it that I am a prisoner in the very capital which I and my gallant little army had won. I am now in the attitude of a criminal on trial in a hostile capital captured by the genius and the gallantry of our little army.
Monday, February 21, 1848.—This morning we were ordered to get percussion cap muskets, our former ones being old Harper's Ferry flint muskets. What this is for and what it means we are all anxious to know; probably getting ready to march on towards the enemy; time will tell. Probably it is on account of a rumor that the clergy and nearly all the members of the holy Catholic Church are not in favor of relinquishing any of the Mexican territory. So the peace prospect does not look so well, and the removal of Gen. Scott makes them still more stubborn and headstrong.
The religious element of this country is having a strong tendency to maintain the fast-rooted bigotry of their spiritual power. Their religion, linked to their moneyed influence, has already enabled them to overturn all the efforts of the liberal-minded, progressive party, or the peace and order party, who have, however, nobly clung to the task of overthrowing this curse upon their body politic. In 1833, the combinations of the progressionists had somewhat trammelled the priests and clergy, but they, by bloody revolutions, upset the presidents, who followed each other in quick succession, and were enabled through the aid of Gen. Santa Anna, whom they had won over to their party, to shake themselves almost entirely free from any state influence. By this the bishops held sole control over all ecclesiastical property, becoming the great bankers of this country, effecting loans, taking mortgages upon all kinds of property, and acting in all respects like immense commercial and moneyed corporations.
Tuesday, February 22, 1848.—This being the birth-day of Gen. George Washington, the father of our country, so the best of wines and liquors will be freely drank, and talk about old times and the Twenty-second we spent at home and how we spent the present one; also about the soldier's life in time of war and peace. Songs were sung and all kinds of amusement were performed. We had plenty of everything, oranges, bananas, etc.
In the evening. Co. H, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers had a fine supper at the officers' quarters. Col. Black was in attendance, and to give all soldiers a good chance, there was no dress-parade. Co. A, of the same regiment, had a supper at the Cataract House.
Wednesday, February 23, 1848.—This morning some of our soldiers looked as if they had indulged too much in that good whisky and wine.
At noon I informed my friend, Alburtus Welsh, of our company, who was on guard at the time, that I would stand guard for him; providing he would make me a drawing of the Castle of Chapultepec, to which he cheerfully consented, and was glad of the relief from guard.
To-day I am on guard for the first time since my promotion to the Corporalship. Oh! I tell you the time seemed very long to me, not being used to going on guard. Strange to say, when I was a high private in the front rank, I used to like to go on guard; in fact, many a time I used to volunteer my services to go on guard in the place of one who complained of being too sick. But now I wouldn't exchange if they would give me $5.00 extra per month.
Thursday, February 24, 1848.—This morning I was relieved from guard-duty; and, I assure you, I was not sorry for it; for the time seemed awful long to me, and I don't think I will ever stand guard again.
Mr. Welsh has just finished making me a capital drawing of the Castle of Chapultepec.
To-day is the twenty-seventh Mexican anniversary of freeing themselves from the Spanish yoke of rule. Their plan of government and constitution was declared at a small villa called Iguala, near Cordova, February 24, 1821.
Their constitution was to form a progressive and liberal form of government, but contained one element, which was more potent than all the others combined, and indicated not only the secret control which the church possessed in the revolutionary movement of the country, but its determination to carry its power into every department of state, and to virtually rule the country at all hazard.
The plan and constitution of Iguala was first the Mexican's notion, of its independence of the nation, and of every other, even on its own continent.
Second, its religion shall be the Catholic, which all its inhabitants profess; and nothing else will be tolerated.
Third, they shall all be united, without any distinction between Americans, Europeans, etc.
Twelfth, an army shall be formed for the support of the Catholic religion, independence and union, guaranteeing these three principles; and, therefore, it shall be called the Army of the Three Guarantees.
So soon the army, which bore these principles upon their banners, marched on, meeting with little opposition, and entered the capital of Mexico, September 27, 1821.
A Junta (a meeting) was called, in which Augustine Iturbide was proclaimed President of the Republic of Mexico.
The country now breathed a moment freely after its long struggle of eleven years of internecine strife, which had finally culminated in independence, and the establishing of a junta, free from foreign control.
Don Augustine Iturbide, whose name I have frequently alluded to, is a native Mexican, and of the pure Aztec blood, and was very popular among the native tribes.
During the revolution of Hidalgo he commanded a detachment of royal troops, and was one of the leading spirits that defeated the revolutionists. But the outrageous treatment, the murdering of thousands of innocent men, women and children in cold blood, caused Iturbide to vacilar (waver) from the royalist cause. He joined the Mestizos, a mixed race; and, as soon as he saw a chance, he espoused the insurgent cause.
So long as Ferdinando, King of Spain, had opposed the popular, liberal party in Spain the Mexican clergy clung to his cause, with the hope of a reaction to the old system; but when the news reached them of his adoption of the liberal constitution they immediately threw their whole influence into the cause of the insurgents in an attempt to establish a separate government, with the idea of inviting the bigoted Ferdinando to cross the Atlantic Ocean and accept the crown.
About this time Augustine Iturbide came prominently into notice, and before the people, although of Aztec Indian blood. He has, since 1814, been swayed entirely by the church party, and had thus figured in various positions in command of a small detachment of regular forces. He had carried on an unsparing warfare against the insurgents; as, for instance, of his cruelty, he (Iturbide) stated in one of his despatches to the viceroy in 1814, that he, in honor of the day of Good Friday, had just ordered three hundred excommunicated wretches to be shot.
This boasting and cruel order Iturbide afterwards deeply regretted, and gave liberally to the suffering poor.
Upon the clergy changing sides, Augustine Iturbide became one of their strongest adherents, and while in command of a small force on the western coast, in 1820, where he had been sent to proclaim the absolute authority of the King, here he espoused the insurgent cause, headed the force, and, being very popular, the people flocked to his standard, and, as already stated, marched on to the city of Mexico.
Thus, the insurgent revolutionary movement was entirely successful, as most all the movements for the overthrow of any established government have been in Mexico when the clergy, or more in plain words, the Catholic priests, have directed the revolutionists.
"Oh, when shall the millennium come! When shall peace and goodwill prevail through this land of Mexico?" Answer, "Not until liberty of conscience and religion is allowed, and the Bible, the text-book, be permitted in the hands of the people." From 1833 revolution after revolution followed in quick succession, each eating into the revenue of the Church: one party trying to grasp at a portion of the Church property, that they might rid their country of its curse; the opposition, aided by the funds of the clergy, waging a war to retain the property intact. During the government of Ferrias and Barrigan, fruitless attempts were made to confiscate the Church property to pay the debt, although eminently superior in financial resources, still found itself to hold the ascendancy in the face of the innovatory influences of 19th century progress, and the advancing civilization which, from the United States, was constantly infringing upon its border.
Friday, February 25, 1848.—This morning everything is as quiet as if their never had been any war in this rodadura tierra templado. Since the above has been noted, I fell in possession of Gen. Scott's letter to the Secretary of War, Hon. William L. Marcy, stating his grievance and treatment received from the heads of our Government, from the time he left for the seat of war until his removal. It being part of the history of the Mexican War, I deem it admissible and proper to note it as such in my journal, as follows:
Mexico, February 24, 1848.
Sir:—On the 18th instant I received your two letters of the 13th ultimo, and immediately issued the General Order No. 59 (a copy enclosed), devolving the command of the army in Mexico upon Major-Gen. Butler. As the officers detailed for the court of inquiry, before which I am ordered to appear as a criminal, are not known to have arrived in the country, I avail myself of a moment's leisure to recall some of the neglects, disappointments, injuries and rebukes which have been inflicted upon me by the War Department since my departure from Washington, November 23d, 1846.
To me the business of recrimination, however provoked, has ever been painful. In this summary I shall, therefore, indulge in no wantonness of language, but confine myself to naked historical facts, leaving conclusions to men of sense and candor.
In the hurry of preparation for Mexico (only four days were allowed me at Washington, when twenty might have been most advantageously employed in the great bureaux—those of the chief engineers, chief of ordnance, chief quartermasters and chief commissary of subsistence), I handed to you a written request that one of three of our accomplished captains therein mentioned might be appointed assistant adjutant-general, with the rank of major, for duty with me in the field; and there was a vacancy at the time for one. My request has never been attended to, and thus I have had no officer of the adjutant-general department with me in the campaign. Can another instance be cited of denying to a general-in-chief in the field, at the head of a large army, or even a small one, the selection of his chief of staff—that is, the chief in the department of orders and correspondence.
Early in the following January I asked that a general court martial might be appointed, on the part of the President, for the trial of two officers (named by me) for conduct each had committed that endangered, in a high degree, the success of the impending campaign; and I specially referred to the anomalous and fatal act of Congress (May 29, 1830) which prohibited me, as the accuser or prosecutor, from ordering the court for the trial of the cases. My application has never been noticed. This neglect alone ought early to have admonished me that I had no hope of support at Washington in any attempt I might make (against certain officers) to maintain necessary discipline in the army I was about to lead into the field.
I left Washington highly flattered with the confidence and kindness the President had just shown me, in many long personal interviews on military matters. For more than two months my expression of gratitude were daily and fervent, nor were they much less emphatic toward the head of the War Department. Proceeding with zeal and confidence in my most hazardous duties, I learned, January 27, 1847, at the Brazos San Jago, that an attempt was on foot to create a Lieutenant-General to take command in the field over me. Shocked and distressed, I allowed of no relaxation in my efforts to serve my country, and resolved that for the short time I was likely to remain in command to be
True as the dial to the sun,
Although it be not shined upon.
A still greater outrage soon followed. Failing to obtain an act for the citizens' Lieutenant-General, a bill was pressed upon Congress to authorize the placing of a junior Major-General (just appointed the same individual), in command over all the old Major Generals then in front of the enemy. I will not here trust myself to add a soldier's comment upon those attempts, but I may thank God that He did not allow them, or subsequent injuries to break down entirely the spirit and abilities (such as they are) with which He had endowed me.
Foreseeing at Washington, that from the great demands of commerce at the moment, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to take up perhaps at any price a sufficient number of vessels at New Orleans and Mobile to transport the regiments of my expedition from the Rio Grande frontier to Vera Cruz. I endeavored to impress upon the War Department the necessity of sending out from the northern and eastern ports a certain number of large ships in ballast, in order that the expedition might not be delayed, and in view of the fixed fact, the return of the vomito at Vera Cruz, in the spring of the year, a delay of a few weeks was likely to prove a total defeat.
In a paper transmitted to me, headed Memorandum for the Quartermaster-General, marked War Department, December 15, 1846, and signed by the Secretary, which I received January 8, 1847, it is said, independently of this number of transports for troops and ordnance stores (from the north), there will be required, say five ships for the transportation of the (surf) boats now being prepared, besides which ten vessels must be taken up and sent out in ballast (for troops), unless stores can be put on board to make up the number (40) required by the commanding General. The date of this memorandum is December 15th, more than three weeks after my requisition and departure from Washington, and not one of the ten vessels in ballast, or with stores (leaving room for troops), have I heard of up to this day, relying upon them confidently. The embarkation was delayed in whole or in part at the Brazos and Tampico, from the 15th of January to the 9th of March, leaving, it was feared, not half the time needed for the reduction of Vera Cruz and its castles before the return of the yellow fever. But half the surf-boats came at all, and of the siege train and ordnance stores, only about one-half had arrived when the Mexican flags were replaced by those of the United States on those formidable places. We succeeded at last in reaching the point of attack, in the midst of frightful northern, by means in great part of trading craft, small and hazardous, picked up accidently at the Brazos and Tampico; and when the army got ashore, its science and valor had to supply all deficiencies in heavy guns, mortars and ordnance.
The first letter that I received from the department after entering the captured city, contained an elaborate rebuke (dated February 22d), for having ordered Col. Harney, of Second Dragoons, to remain in the command of the cavalry with Maj.-Gen. Taylor, so as to leave Maj. Summer, of the same regiment, the senior of that arm in my expedition. There was no great difference in the number of cavalry companies with the armies.
This rebuke was written with a complacency that argued the highest professional experience in such matters, and could not have been more confident in its tone if dictated to the greenest general of the recent appointments. Yet, without the power of selecting commanders of particular corps, no general-in-chief would venture to take upon himself the conduct of a critical campaign. Such selections were always made by the father of his country, and the principal general under him. So in the campaign of 1814, I myself sent away, against their wishes, three senior field officers of as many regiments, who were infirm, uninstructed and inefficient, in favor of three juniors, and with the subsequent approbation of Major-Gen. Brown on his joining me, and the head of the War Department. Both were well acquainted with the customs of war in like cases at home and abroad, and without that energy on my part, it is highly probable that no American citizen would ever have cited the battle of Niagara without a sigh for his country. I am happy, however, that, before a word had been received from the Department, and indeed before it could have had any knowledge of the question, I had decided to take with me the frank and gallant colonel; and hope soon to learn that he and very many other officers have been rewarded with brevets for highly distinguished services in the campaign that followed. It was in reference to the same rebuke that, in acknowledging your communication, I said, from Vera Cruz, April 5th, I might very well controvert the military principles so confidently laid down by the Department (in the letter of the 22d February), but believing that the practice of the United States army, in the two wars with Great Britain, would have no weight in particular case, I waive further reply, having at the moment no leisure and no inclination for controversy.
Alluding to the heavy disappointments in respect to transports, siege-train and ordnance stones, then already experienced, I wrote to the Department from Lobos, February 28. Perhaps no expedition was ever so unaccountably delayed, by no want of foresight, arrangement or energy on my part, as I dare affirm, and under circumstances the most critical to this entire army; for everybody relied upon, and knew from the first as well as I knew, it would be fatal to us to attempt military operations on this coast after probably the first week in April; and here we are at the end of February. Nevertheless, this army is in heart; and, crippled as I am in the means required and promised, I shall go forward, and expect to take Vera Cruz and its castle in time to escape, by pursuing the enemy, the pestilence of the coast.
The city and castle of Vera Cruz were captured March 29th, and with about one-fourth of the necessary means for a road train. The retreat, in pursuit of the enemy, was vigorously commenced April 8th.
The battle of Cerro Gordo soon followed, and we occupied Jalapa and Perote, where we were obliged to wait for supplies from Vera Cruz; in those positions I was made to write under another cruel disappointment.
In my four memorials to the Department, on the further prosecution of the war against Mexico, written at Washington, and dated respectively, October 27th, November 12th, 16th and 21st, it was only intimated to me on the night of November 18th, that I might prepare myself for the field. Papers in which I demonstrated that Vera Cruz was the true base of operations, and that the enemy's capital could not, probably, be reached from the Rio Grande. I estimated that after taking that great seaport, about twenty thousand men might be needed; first, to beat in the field, and in passes, any accumulated forces in the way; second, to garrison many important points in the rear, to secure a free communication with Vera Cruz; third, to make distant detachments, in order to gather in, without long halts, necessary subsistence; and that force, I supposed, including volunteers, and aided by land and money bounties, might be raised in time by adding ten or twelve new regiments of regulars, and filling up the ranks of the old.
A bill was introduced for raising ten additional regular regiments, and I certainly do not mean to charge the Department with the whole delay in passing the bill through Congress. But it was passed February 11, 1847; and under it, early in April, some few thousand men had been raised and organized. My distress may be conceived by any soldier, on learning, at Jalapa, April 27th, that the whole of that force had been sent, under Brig.-Gen. Cadwalader, to Rio Grande frontier. In my letter to the Department, written the day after, I said I had expected that detachments of the new regiments would, as you had promised me, begin to arrive in this month, and continue to follow, perhaps, in June. How many volunteers will re-engage under the Act approved March 3d? I know not; probably but few. Hence, the greatest of my disappointments was caused by sending the new troops to the Rio Grande. For, besides their keeping the road in our present rear open for many weeks by marches in successive detachments, I had intended, as I advanced, to leave strong garrisons in this place (Jalapa), Perote and Puebla, and to keep at the head of the movement a force equal to any probable opposition. It may now depend on the number of the old volunteers who may re-engage, and the number of new troops that may arrive from the Brazos in time; as, also, in some degree, upon the advance of Maj.-Gen. Taylor, whether I shall find this army in strength to leave the garrisons, and to occupy the capital.
I may add that only about fifty individuals of old volunteers re-engaged under the provision of the Act of March 3d; that the remainder were discharged May 4th; that Maj.-Gen. Taylor made no movement in advance of Saltillo, and that the new regulars, including Gen. Cadwalader's brigade, only began to come up with me at Puebla, in July, but not in sufficient numbers till August 6th. The next day the army commenced its advance upon the capital, with a little more than ten thousand effective men. It is not extravagant to say that if Brig. Gen. Cadwalader's force had not been diverted from me to the Rio Grande; where he was made lose, without any benefit to Maj.-Gen. Taylor, much precious time, I might easily have taken this in the month of June, and at one-fifth of the loss sustained in August and September. The enemy availed himself of my forced delay at Puebla, to collect, to treble, to organize and discipline his forces. As, also, to erect numerous and powerful defences with batteries; nearly all those extraordinary preparations for our reception were made after the middle of June, and it is known that the news of the victory of Buena Vista reached Washington in time to countermand Gen. Cadwalader's orders for the Rio Grande. Before his departure from New Orleans two rifle companies, with him, received the countermand there and joined me.
I know that I had the misfortune to give offence early to the department by expressing myself to the same effect, from Jalapa, May 6th; in a report of that date I said the subject of that order (No. 135, old Volunteer), has given me long and deep solicitude, to part with so large and so respectable portion of this army in the middle of a country, which, though broken in its power, is not yet disposed to sue for peace, to provide for the return home of seven regiments from this interior position, at a time when I find it quite difficult to provide transportation and supplies for the operating forces which remain. And all this without any prospect of succor or re-enforcement, in perhaps the next seven months, beyond some three hundred recruits—present novelties utterly unknown to any invading army before, with the addition of ten or twelve thousand new levies in April and May, asked for, and until very recently expected, or even with the addition of two or three thousand new troops destined for the army; but suddenly by the orders of the War Department, diverted to the Rio Grande frontier. I might, notwithstanding the unavoidable discharge of the old volunteers, seven regiments and two independent companies, advance with confidence upon the enemy's capital. I shall nevertheless advance, but whether beyond Puebla will depend on intervening information and reflection. The general panic given to the enemy at the battle of Cerro Gordo still remaining, I think it probable that we shall go to Mexico; or, if the enemy recover from that, we must renew the consternation by another blow.
Thus, like Cortez, finding myself isolated and abandoned, and again like him, always afraid that the next ship or messenger might recall or further cripple me, I resolved no longer to depend on Vera Cruz or home, but to render my little army a self-sustaining machine, as I informed everybody, including the head of the War Department, and advance to Puebla.
It was in reference to the foregoing serious causes of complaint, and others to be found in my reports at large, particularly in respect to money for the disbursing staff officers, clothing, and M. Trist, Commissioner, that I concluded my report from Puebla, June 4th, in these words:
Considering the many cruel disappointments and mortification I have been made to feel since I left Washington, and the total want of support or sympathy on the part of the War Department which I have so long experienced, I beg to be recalled from this army the moment it may be safe for any person to embark at Vera Cruz, which I suppose will be early in November, probably all field operations will be over long before that time.
But my next report (July 25th), from Puebla, has no doubt in the end been deemed more unpardonable by the department in that paper. After speaking of the happy change in my relations, both official and private with Mr. Trist, I continued:
Since about the 26th ultimo (June), our intercourse has been frequent and cordial, and I found him (Mr. Trist) able, discreet, courteous and amiable. At home it so chanced that we had had but the slightest possible acquaintance with each other, hence more or less of reciprocal, and of the existence of his feelings towards me I knew (by private letters) before we met that at least a part of the Cabinet had a full intimation.Still the pronounced misunderstanding between Mr. Trist and myself could not have occurred but for other circumstances. 1, His being obliged to send forward your letter of April 14th, instead of delivering it in person with the explanatory papers which he desired to communicate; 2, His bad health in May and June, which I am happy to say has now become good; and 3, The extreme mystification into which your letter and particularly an interlineation unavoidably threw me.
So far as I am concerned, I am perfectly willing that all I have heretofore written to the department about Mr. Trist should be suppressed. I make this declaration as due to my present esteem for that gentleman, but ask no favor and desire none at the hands of the department. Justice to myself, however tardy, I shall take care to have done. I do not acknowledge the justice of either of your rebukes contained in the letter of May 31st, in relation to Mr. Trist and the prisoners at Cerro Gordo, and that I do not here triumphantly vindicate myself, is not from the want of will, means or ability, but time. The first letter (dated February 22d,) received from you at Vera Cruz, contained a censure, and I am now rebuked for the unavoidable—nay ruse.
If it had not been unavoidable, release on parole of the prisoners taken at Cerro Gordo, even before one word of commendation from the government has reached this army, on account of its gallant conduct in the capture of those prisoners (no such commendation has yet been received, February, 1848). So in regular progression I may, should the same army gallantly bear me into the city of Mexico, in the next six or seven weeks, which is probable, if we are not arrested by peace or a truce, look to be dismissed from the service of my country. You will perceive that I am aware, as I have long been, of the dangers which hang over me at home, but I too, am a citizen of the United States, and well know the obligations imposed under all circumstances by an enlightened patriotism.
In respect to money, I beg again to report that the Chief Commissary (Capt. Grayson,) of this army has not received a dollar from the United States since we landed at Vera Cruz, March 9, 1847. He now owes more than two hundred thousand dollars, and is obliged to purchase on credit, at great disadvantages. The Chief Quartermaster (Capt. Irwin) has received perhaps sixty thousand dollars, and labors under like incumbrances. Both have sold drafts to small amounts and borrowed largely of the pay department, which has received about half the money estimated for. Consequently the troops have some four months pay due them. Our poverty, or the neglect of the disbursing departments at home has been made known, to our shame, in the papers of the capital here, through a letter from Lieut.-Col. Hunt, that was found on the person of the special messenger from Washington.
The army is also suffering greatly from the want of necessary clothing, including blankets and greatcoats. The new troops (those who have last arrived), as destitute as the others, were first told that they would find abundant supplies at New Orleans, next at Vera Cruz and finally here; whereas we now have perhaps a thousand hands engaged in making shoes and (out of bad materials and at high cost) pantaloons. These articles, about three thousand pairs of each, are absolutely necessary to cover the nakedness of the troops.
February 28, 1847, off Lobos.—I wrote to Brig.-Gen. Brooke to direct the Quartermaster at New Orleans to send to me large supplies of clothing. March 16 and 23.—Gen. Brooke replied that the Quartermaster at New Orleans had neither clothing nor shoes, and that he was fearful that, unless they had been sent out to you direct, you will be much disappointed. Some small quantity of clothing, perhaps one-fifth of our wants, came to Vera Cruz from some quarters, and followed us to Jalapa and this place. I must here specially remark that this report. No. 30, though forwarded the night of its date (July 25), seems to have miscarried, perceiving about November 27 that it was not acknowledged by the Department. I caused a duplicate to be made, signed it, and sent it off by the same conveyance with my despatch No. 36, and the charges against Brevet-Major-Gen. Worth, Gen. Pillow and Brevet-Col. Duncan, together with the appeal against me of the former. All these papers are acknowledged by the Department in the same letter, January 13, that recalls me.
It was that budget of papers that caused the blow of power, so long suspended, to fall on a devoted head. The three arrested officers and he who had endeavored to enforce necessary discipline against them, are all to be placed together before the same court—the innocent and the guilty, the accuser and the the accused. The judge and his prisoners are dealt with alike. Most impartial justice. But there is a discrimination with a vengeance. While the parties are on trial, if the appealer is to be tried at all, which seems doubtful, two are restored to their corps, one of them with his brevet rank, and I am deprived of mine. There can be but one step more in the same direction. Throw the rules and articles of war into the fire, and leave all ranks in the army free to engage in denunciations and a general scramble for precedence, authority and executive favor. The pronunciamiento on the part of my factious juniors is most triumphant.
My recall—under the circumstances a severe punishment before trial, but to be followed by a trial here that may run into the autumn, and on matters I am but partially permitted to know by the Department and my accusers—is very ingeniously placed on two grounds:—1. My own request, meaning that of June 4 (quoted above, and there was no other before the Department), which had been previously (July 12) acknowledged and rebukingly declined; 2. The arrest of Brevet-Major-Gen. Worth for writing to the Department, under the pretext and form of an appeal, an open letter, to be sent through me, in which I was grossly and falsely accused of malice and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman, in the matter of the General Order No. 349, on the subject of puffing letters for the newspapers at home.
On the second point, the letter from the Department of January 13 is more than ingenious; it is elaborate, subtle and profound—a professional dissertation, with the rare merit of teaching principles, until now wholly unknown to military codes and treatises, and of course to all mere soldiers, however great their experience in the field.
I have not in this place time to do more than hint at the fatal consequences of the novel doctrine in question. According to the department, any factious junior may at his pleasure, in the midst of the enemy, using the pretext and form of an appeal, against his commander, insult and outrage him to the greatest extent, though he be the General-in-Chief and charged with the conduct of the most critical operations, and that commander may not arrest the incipient mutineer until he shall have first laid down his own authority and submitted himself to a trial, or wait at least until a distant period of leisure for a judicial examination of the appeal. And this is precisely the case under consideration. The department, in its eagerness to condemn me, could not take time to learn of the experienced that the General-in-Chief, who once submits to an outrage from a junior, must lay his account to suffer the like from all the vicious under him at least, down to a rank that may be supposed without influence in high quarters beyond the army. But this would not be the whole mischief to the public service. Even the great mass of the spirited, intelligent and well affected among his brothers in arms would soon reduce such a commander to utter imbecility, by holding him in just scorn and contempt for his recreancy to himself and country. And are discipline and efficiency of no value in the field?
But it was not my request of June 4th, nor report No. 30, (of July 25th,) so largely quoted from above, nor yet the appeal of one pronunciado, that has at length brought down upon me this visitation, so clearly predicted. That appeal, no doubt, had its merits. Considering it came from an erratic brother—a deserter from the other extreme—who, having just made his peace with the true faith, was bound to signalize apostacy by acceptable denunciations of one for whom up to Vera Cruz he had professed (and not without cause) the highest obligations. It was there he learned from me that I was doomed at Washington, and straightway the apostate began to seek through a quarrel the means of turning that knowledge to his own benefit. No, there was (recently) still another element associated in the work, kept as far as practicable out of the letter of recall. Influence proceeding from the other arrested general, who is quite willing that it should generally be understood (and who shall gainsay his significant acquiescence), that all rewards and punishments in this army were from the first to follow his recommendations. This, the more powerful of the pronunciados against No. 349 well knew at the time, as I soon knew that he was justly obnoxious, not only to the animadversion of that order, but to other censures of yet a much graver character.
In respect to this General the letter of recall observes parenthetically, but with an acumen worthy of more than a hasty notice, that some of my specifications of his misconduct are hardly consistent with your official reports and commendations.
Seemingly, this is a most just rebuke; but, while waiting for the trials, I will here briefly state that, unfortunately, I followed that General's own reports, written and oral; that my confidence, lent him in advance, had been but very slightly shaken, as early as the first week in October, 1847; that up to that time, from our entrance into this city, I had been at the desk, shut out from personal intercourse with my brother officers, and that it was not till after that confinement that facts, conducts and motives began to pour in on me.
A word, as to the fifth article of war, I can truly say that, in this and other communications, I have not designed the slightest disrespect to the Commander-in-Chief of the army and navy of the United States. No doubt he, like myself, and all others, may fall into mistakes as to particular men; and I cannot, having myself been behind the curtain, admit the legal fiction that all acts of a Secretary are the acts of the President; yet, in my defensive statements, I have offered no wanton discourtesy to the head of the War Department; although that functionary is not in the enumeration of the above mentioned article.
Closing my correspondence with the Department, until after the approaching trial, I have the honor to remain, respectfully, your most obedient servant,
Hon. William L. Marcy,
Secretary of War.