Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

determined to construct a flying barricade. Some long timbers were found, and, with pack saddles and boxes, which served the purpose, a barricade was constructed.

“Here occurred an incident to which I have since frequently referred with pride. In breaking open a quartermaster's storehouse to get supplies for this barricade, the men found bundles of the much-prized Mexican blankets, and also of very serviceable shoes and pack saddles. The pack saddles were freely taken as good material for the proposed barricade; and one of my men, as his shoes were broken and stones had hurt his feet, asked my permission to take a pair from one of the boxes. This, of course, was freely accorded; but not one of the very valuable and much-prized Mexican blankets was taken.

“About the time that the flying barricade was completed, arrangements were made by the Texans and Mississippians to occupy houses on both sides of the street, for the purpose of more effective fire into the Grand Plaza. It having been deemed necessary to increase our force, the Mississippi sergeantmajor was sent back for some companies of the First Mississippi which had remained behind. He returned with the statenjent that the enemy was behind us, that all our troops had been withdrawn, and that orders had been three times sent to me to return. Governor Henderson, of Texas, had accompanied the Texan troops, and on submitting to him the question what we should do under the message, he realized—as was very plainthat it was safer to remain where we were than our supports having been withdrawn) to return across streets where we were liable to be fired on by artillery, and across open grounds where cavalry might be expected to attack us. But, he added, he supposed the orders came from the general-in-chief, and we were bound to obey them. So we made dispositions to retire quietly; but, in passing the first square, we found that our movement had been anticipated, and that a battery of artillery

was posted to command the street. The arrangement made by me for crossing it was that I should go first; if only one gun was fired at me, then another man should follow; and so on, another and another, until a volley should be fired, and then all of them should rush rapidly across before the guns could be reloaded. In this manner the men got across with little loss. We then made our way to the suburb, where we found that an officer of infantry, with two companies and a section of artillery, had been posted to wait for us, and, in case of emergency, to aid our retreat.

“Early next morning General Ampudia, commanding the Mexican force, sent in a flag and asked for a conference with a view to capitulation. General Taylor acceded to the proposi. tion, and appointed General Worth, Governor Henderson and myself commissioners to arrange the terms of capitulation. General Taylor received the surrender of the city of Monterey, with supplies, much needed by his army, and shelter for the wounded. The enemy gained only the privilege of retiring peacefully, a privilege which, if it had not been accorded, they had the power to take by any one of the three roads open to them. The point beyond which they should withdraw was fixed by the terms ocapitulation, and the time during which hostilities were to be suspended was determined on by the length of time necessary to refer to and receive answers from the two governments. A few days before the expiration of the time so fixed, the govern. ment of the United States disapproved of the capitulation, and ordered the truce to be immediately terminated. By this deci. sion we lost whatever credit had been given to us for generous terms in the capitulation, and hostilities were to be resumed, without any preparations having been made to enable General Taylor, even with the small force he had, to advance further into the enemy's country. General Taylor's letter to Mr. Marcy, Secretary of War, was a very good response to an unjust criticism; and in the Washington Union of that time I also pub

lished a very full explanation of the acts of the commission. ers, and of the military questions involved in the matter of capitulation in preference to continuing the siege and attack.

“General Taylor, assuming that it was intended for him to advance into the interior of Mexico, then commenced to prepare himself for such a campaign. To this end he made requi. sitions for the needful transportation, as well as munitions, including, among other supplies, large India rubber bags, in which to carry provisions for days, and which, being emptied before we reached the desert of sixty miles, would, by being filled with water, enable troops and horses to cross those désert plains. These and other details had been entered into under the expectation that the censure of the treaty of Monterey meant a march into the interior of Mexico. Another thing required was a new battery of field pieces to take the place of the old Ringgold battery, which' by long service had become honeycombed. When all these arrangements were nearly completed it was decided to send General Scott, with discretionary powers, which enabled him to take nearly all the tried troops General Taylor had, including even the engineer then employed in the construction of a fort, and the battery of new guns to replace the old ones, which were deemed no longer safe, but which, under the intrepid Captain Bragg, afterward did good service in the battle of Buena Vista.

“General Taylor, with the main body of his army went to Victoria, and there made arrangements to send them all to report to General Scott, at Vera Cruz, except the small force he considered himself entitled to as an escort on his route back to Monterey through an unfriendly people. That escort consisted of a battery of light artillery, a squadron of dragoons, and the regiment of Mississippi riflemen. With these he proceeded through Monterey and Saltillo to Agua Nueva, where he was joined by the division of General Wool, who had made the campaign of Chihuahua.

"General Santa Anna, commanding the army of Mexico, was informed of the action which had been taken in stripping General Taylor of his forces, and was also informed that he had at Saltillo only a handful of volunteers, which could be easily dispersed on the approach of an army. Thus assured, and with the prospect of recovering all the country down to the Rio Grande, Santa Anna advanced upon Agua Nueva.

“General Taylor retired to the Angostura pass, in front of the hacienda of Buena Vista, and there made his dispositions to receive the anticipated attack. As sage as he was brave, his dispositions were made as well as the small force at his command made it possible. After two days of bloody fighting, General Santa Anna retired before this little force, the greater · part of which had never before been under fire.

“The encounter with the enemy was very bloody. The Mississippians lost many of their best men, for each of whom, however, they slew several of the enemy. For, trained marksmen, they never touched the trigger without having an object through both sights; and they seldom fired without drawing blood. The infantry against whom the advance was made was driven back, but the cavalry then moved to get in the rear of the Mississippians, and this involved the necessity of falling back to where thy plain was narrow, so as to have a ravine on each flank.

“In this position the second demonstration of the enemy's cavalry was received. They were repulsed, and it was quiet in front of the Mississippians until an aide came and called from the other side of the ravine, which he could not pass, that General Taylor wanted support to come as soon as possible to the protection of the artillery on the right flank. The order was promptly obeyed at double quick, although the distance must have been nearly a mile. They found the enemy moving in three lines upon the batteries of Captain Braxton Bragg and the section of artillery commanded by George H. Thomas.

The Mississippians came up in line, their right flank opposite the first line of the advancing enemy, and at a very short range opened fire. All being sharpshooters, those toward the left of the line obliqued to the right, and at close quarters and against three long lines very few shots could have missed. At the same time the guns of Bragg and Thomas were firing grape. The effect was decisive; the infantry and artillery of the enemy immediately retired.

“At the close of the day Santa Anna bugled the retreat, as was supposed, to go into quarters, but when the next sun rose there was no enemy in our front.

“The news of this victory was received in the United States with a degree of enthusiasm proportionate to the small means with which it was achieved; and generosity was excited by the feeling that General Taylor had been treated with injustice. Thenceforward the march of Old Rough and Ready' to the White House was a foregone conclusion.

“In this battle, while advancing to meet the enemy, then pressing some of our discomfited volunteers on the left of the field of battle, I received a painful wound, which was rendered more severe in consequence of remaining in the saddle all day, although wounded early in the morning. A ball had passed through the foot, leaving in the wound broken bones and foreign matter, which the delay had made it impossible then to extract. In consequence I had to return home on crutches.

“In the meantime a Senator of Mississippi had died, and the governor had appointed me his successor. return home President Polk had also appointed ine brigadiergeneral of volunteers, an appointment which I declined on the ground that volunteers are militia, and that the constitution reserved to the State the appointment of all militia officers. This was in 1847. In January, 1848, the Mississippi legislature unanimously elected me United States Senator for the rest

Before my

« FöregåendeFortsätt »