Notes of the Mexican war 1846-47-48/Introduction


NMW1946 D016 J Jacob Oswandel.jpg

J. Jacob Oswandel





When the United States Government first declared war against the republic of Mexico, Pennsylvania was called upon to furnish two regiments of soldiers.

Francis R. Shunk. then Governor of Pennsylvania, issued his proclamation calling upon the militia and citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to rally to the support of our national honor and to sustain the flag of our beloved country, which was then trailed and trampled in the dust on our frontier.

The time when this proclamation was issued, the author of this book was then living above Lewistown, Mifflin county, Pa., following boating in the capacity of bowsman on the canal boat "Mary," of McVeytown, of the same county, carrying freight and running between Hollidaysburg and Philadelphia.

We were on our last trip, it being in the early part of the cold month of December, 1846, the boats having hard work to contend with in breaking the ice.

We arrived at Harrisburg about the 9th of December; here we were met by Mr. Daniel M. Dull, the proprietor of our boat, who informed us that Adjutant-General George W. Bowman had chartered the boat to take a company of soldiers to Hollidaysburg, Pa.; the company of soldiers who happened to come on our boat were the Monroe Guards, of Philadelphia, Capt. William F. Small, commanding.

Having always had the inclination of either going into the United States Navy, or joining the United States Army, and particularly since the war and struggle with Mexico, the desired opportunities were now before me.

Having passed the age of twenty-one, I had already started out into life for myself, being thus young and healthy, and naturally ambitious for new enterprises and excitement, and had nothing to confine myself to any particular locality.

The world was before me, nothing to leave behind me, except parents, brothers, sisters and friends. I concluded to follow that inclination by enlisting in Capt. William F. Small's Co. C, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, to serve during the war with Mexico unless sooner discharged.

Our regiment was, fortunately, attached to Gen. Scott's army, who dared to invade the soil of the Montezumas and teach an arrogant foe the bloody lessons of war, and dictate to over six millions of people the terms of the Treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo.

After the close of that war we returned home with impaired health—many without friends and relatives; shattered with a disease, contracted in a strange country and a hot climate, which, in a few years after the war, had taken from their homes more than one-half of those who returned.

Some of our comrades have been fitly rewarded, by a grateful people, to the highest position in the gift of our people.

Gens. Zachariah Taylor, Frank Pierce and Ulysess S. Grant have been elected to the Presidency of the United States. Others, who, probably, were less ambitious, have found in the pursuit of private life a congenial occupation, and content with the reputation of their past deeds, desire to be known as citizens of good report and as veterans of the Mexican War.

The soldiers who fought through fire and blood from Vera Cruz to the capital of Mexico—a distance of nearly three hundred miles, which had to be fought foot by foot until the towers of the halls of Montezumas were stormed and taken, without a single retreat or defeat—have a just cause to be proud of their participation in that eventful struggle; and by their valor they subdued an insolent foe and greatly widened the area of nearly three hundred and sixty-four million acres of land to the government which called them to its assistance.

During this triumphant and memorable campaign, the author of this book kept a journal, and noted down every day's proceedings, from the first day of his enlistment until his honorable discharge in the city of Philadelphia, July 29, 1848.

Many a thing may have been written in this book, which young men will eventually do, which at this advanced age of sixty looks foolish, but it is, as far as my observation, all true.

It also gives me pleasure to mention (and my friends will so testify) that I never failed to answer to my name at rollcall (except ten days while lying sick at Pueblo City with diarrhœa and cold, &c.).

NOTE.—The long delay in presenting to the public this work was for the want of finances, and I thank God that he has spared my life to have raised sufficient funds to publish this book. Yours,