Page:Notes of the Mexican war 1846-47-48.djvu/421

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some of the wild pine forests in our western part of Pennsylvania. We passed a little stream called Rio Frio (Cold river), and I think it is well named, for I find it awful cold, ice and ice crystals hanging over the cliffs of the hills. We also passed a fortified bridge, put there by Gen. Santa Anna, to show fight, but like all the rest of his fortifications and breastworks along the road, he blew them up and vamosed for the city.

We finally went into camp at Venta de Rio Frio; here eight companies of the Fifth Ohio Regiment, under Col. William Irwin, were stationed as a garrison, to keep an eye on the numerous bands of desperados and guerillas which have for some time set all laws and its officers at defiance. They seem to have comfortable quarters, having shanties and houses built for them to live in; but they don't like this place on account of its sudden changes of temperature, which makes it very unhealthy. They say that they have not been here a month and have already lost ten men, suffering from colds and diarrhœa.

Sunday, December 19, 1847.—This morning we left camp early, owing to a long day's march before us. We traveled up hill until near noon, when we arrived on the summit of Rio Frio, which is the highest and coldest point on the National road. Here the beautiful plains of Puebla and city of Mexico separate a chain of mountains running across to Popocatepetl, which divides the two valleys. Popocatepeque is so-called from the smoke which used to continually ascend from its top, for popoca, in Aztec language, signifies smoke, and tepeque a mountain. Historic writers say that this mountain, in 1540, broke forth in such a manner that the country all around was terrified therewith, for it vomited not only a black smoke, but also horrible flames of fire, which sometimes being blown downwards burnt the maiz (wheat) and corn in the fields, and the ashes thereof flying as far as the ancient city of Cholula, and burnt the best part of the city to the ground. The inhabitants endeavored by flight to secure themselves in some other place, with the intention never to return to Cholula