Notes of the Mexican war 1846-47-48/Chapter 10
Saturday, February 26, 1848.—This morning we got a mail from the city, and I received one letter from a schoolmate of mine.
At noon a party of us started for a place called Indian Town, and settled altogether with the original Aztecs, and mixed races. The villa has the appearances of poverty, built up with huts and a few Indian temples, where they worship in the original Indian style.
They say that Cortez, or his priests, never came that way to inspire the new religion among them, simply because they had no gold to pay for it, nor any to steal from them.
There are several opinions concerning these Indians, who were the first settlers of the new world, though no positive facts points them out. There are theories, not without weight of circumstantial evidence, that the lost tribes of Israel were the founders of the cities whose ruins strew Mexico andCentral America; that, in fact, they were among the oldest inhabitants of our hemisphere. All the tribes of Indians bearing the strongest marks of Asiatic origin, and are identified with the Israelites by the following religious rites:—Their belief is in one God, their computation of time by their ceremonies of the new moon, their division of the year into four seasons, their erection of a temple, having an ark of covenant, and also in their erection of altars; their division of the nation into tribes, with a chief or general sachem at their head; their laws of sacrifices, ablutions, marriage ceremonies in war and peace; prohibition of eating certain things, traditions, history, character, appearance, affinity of the language to the Hebrew, and finally by the everlasting covenant of heirship, exhibited in a perpetual transmission of its seal in the flesh; a custom only of late relinquished; and their abstaining from eating swine's flesh. These signs show that they are extracted from the Israelites or Jews.
This is my humble opinion of these poor degraded Indians, and I believe that they are the original lost tribe of Israel.
Sunday, February 27, 1848.—This morning there was a great cheering and hurrahing in and about our quarters, on account of the news by the late mail—the news being that we, or all the old volunteer forces, would be soon recalled (in a pig's eye!). There are not enough troops in Mexico to make any more recalls with safety.
In the afternoon we formed, and then marched to the field opposite to the Convent of San Angel, and were here inspected by Lieut.-Col. Black, and, after staying a few hours, we returned to quarters.
In the evening, Corp. Roland C. Malone, who had been lingering with the diarrhœa for same time, got his discharge, and will go home with the next down train to Vera Cruz. Malone has been a good soldier, and his departure is much regretted by our company to which he belonged.
Monday, February 28, 1848.—This morning all hands were busy in cleaning up their muskets and belts, brightening the brass plates and blacking the cartridge-boxes and shoes, so as to come out tip-top on inspection; for there is a great deal of rivalry between the companies.
This evening at dress-parade it was read out that —— ——, of Company C, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, would be confined at the Castle of Chapultepec for four months, to wear a ball and chain to his leg and an iron collar around his neck, and forfeit all his pay during the four months—all for biting Sergt. Joseph Foust's nose nearly off. This is the same party who, at Jalapa City, November 22, 1847, was sentenced to the Castle of San Juan d'Ulloa, and, by the persuasion of Capt. Small, was released; but the Captain is not here to plead his cause, so he will have to go to the calaboose.
Tuesday, February 29, 1848.—This morning, at 10 o'clock, we were marched to the field and inspected, and mustered into the United States service by Capt. Joseph Hooker, Inspector General of the army. The Massachusetts regiment was mustered first, then the South Carolina, then the Second Pennsylvania, and then ours—the First Pennsylvania, and the New Yorkers last. So, after we were all mustered in, we left for our quarters—all pleased with the appearance.
Wednesday, March 1, 1848.—This morning there was a considerable stir in the city of Mexico on the arrival of Gen. Lane, Maj. Polk, and Col. Jack Hays, who have been out scouting for several days. They had a little battle at a small town named Sicquotlapan, about one hundred and twenty miles from here. The guerillas were about three hundred strong, commanded by that notorious Padre Jarauta. In the fight our men had only one man wounded, while the enemy had over fifty killed and wounded, and about thirty taken prisoners; among them were Col. Montaina and his brother, a Major, and four Irish deserters from our army. The old padre again made his escape to fight again.
In the evening a train from Vera Cruz arrived.
Thursday, March 2, 1848.—This morning there was a small mail brought out from the city to our quarters. I received one letter from my old friend Charles Worrell, Esq.
At noon Col. Hays' Rangers came out from the city to their quarters; each one carried a Mexican lance as a prize of the late fight with Jarauta. Some of them made out well, having large rolls of linen and black velvets.
Friday, March 3, 1848.—This morning it is reported that a treaty was concluded at Guadaloupa Hidalgo by the Peace Commissioners, which, of course, is much doubted by us.
Saturday, March 4, 1848.—This morning there is no news astir. At noon orders came for a detail of five men from our company to guard the train to San Antonia for straw. In the evening seven companies of our regiment received orders to march for Vera Cruz. The companies detailed are A, D, E, F, H, I and K, while companies B, C, G were ordered to remain to take care of the diarrhœa blues. At night Company A, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, presented their Captain with a splendid sword. The band of the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers was present and played on the occasion, which of course made it very lively.
Sunday, March 5, 1848.—This morning the companies who received marching orders are busy in packing up their things to march to-morrow. At noon Lieut.-Col. Black went to the city of Mexico to see Gen. Patterson if he could get the whole regiment to go on the march, but the answer Col. Black got was that the three companies will have to remain to take care of the quarters and the sick. So our hopes of going altogether on the march are dashed. This evening the wagons came out from the city to our quarters to get them loaded with tents and cooking utensils, so as to be ready to start in the morning.
Monday, March 6, 1848.—This morning, long before daylight, the reveille beat, and all the companies going were preparing for their long march. So at daylight the seven companies, under our gallant Lieut.-Col. Samuel W. Black, started for the city of Mexico, from thence to Vera Cruz. This has caused much dissatisfaction among the companies remaining here, for we were all-anxious to be with our regiment and would like to go along with it to Vera Cruz. Corp. Malone goes with them, on his way home.
Tuesday, March 7, 1848.—This morning our company moved our quarters to the rooms that the other companies had left; so the forenoon was spent in fixing our beds or bunks.
To-day one of our prisoners made his escape from the guard-house, but was again caught this evening.
Wednesday, March 8, 1848,—This morning the whole volunteer brigade were ordered out to the field back of the convent, to be reviewed by Gen. Worth. The affair was splendid, and Gen. Worth spoke very highly of the appearance and drilling of the men. After the review Gen. Worth with his staff rode with Col. Wynkoop to his quarters and there took dinner.
This evening I had a severe attack of the diarrhœa for the first time.
Thursday, March 9, 1848.—This morning I went to our Dr. Bunting for some good pure brandy for the diarrhœa, which I think will do me good. This afternoon is the first anniversary of the landing of the American army under Major-Gen. Winfield Scott below Vera Cruz. This event was one of the most brilliant and important of the many memorable actions which distinguished our gallant little army in this unparalleled campaign, with a force of twelve thousand troops, which the old world would have deemed inadequate to so vast an undertaking. Yes, to-day one year ago Gen. Scott, then our commander, disembarked, and sat down before a city surrounded and enclosed by formidable walls twenty-five feet high, and defended by one of the strongest castles in the world, as well as by a series of forts and batteries around the whole city, which seemed to defy the assaults of any army that might have been brought against them. But these strong defences yielded up in twenty days to the skill and courage of the United States army; and when the news of its fall was spread abroad, the nation celebrated the triumph with such demonstrations as bespoke its appreciation of the gallantry of our troops and the magnitude of our achievements, and while the people and presses of Europe reluctantly confessed that the success of our army had placed us among the foremost powers of the earth; but the gallant commander who planned that expedition, and landed his troops without the loss of a single soldier or an accident, is now a prisoner in the capital which his own valor had won. Shame! shame! on the heads of our Departments at Washington.
Friday, March 10, 1848.—This morning it was rumored at our quarters that there was another mail arrived from Vera Cruz last night.
This evening, as our Second Sergt., Joseph Foust, was returning from the city of Mexico, he was lassoed by a guerilla; but, fortunately, it did not take its proper hold, and so he made his escape by drawing his sword on the greaser. He was very much frightened.
In the evening some of our men made up a theatrical performance. The plays were Damon and Pythias and The Fall of the Alamo. It was performed by Corp. Peter Ahl and John C. Craig. They played it well.
Saturday, March 11, 1848.—This morning there is great excitement concerning the news from San Luis Potosi. The Indians are making great havoc among the Mexicans on the frontier. Gen. Paredas is at the head of the Mexican army, and is making great threats towards the American army if we should attempt to march on to Queretaro City.
Performance to-night by Ahl and Craig.
Sunday, March 12, 1848.—This morning there seems to be some fear of Brig.-Gen. N. Towson and Col. Conrad F. Jackson, who both had left Vera Cruz some time ago, and nothing has been heard from them; it causes a little excitement among our officers.
This afternoon there was a large merchant train came in from Real del Monte, loaded with silver from the mines, a good deal was in solid bars. This evening was spent in tall performances. Corp. Ahl, acting as on a skirmish; John G. Craig, dreams of sweet home; the house was crowded to excess.
Monday, March 13, 1848.—This morning still no news from the missing Gen. Towson and Col. Jackson. It will be remembered that Gen. Towson is one of the Judges or Commissioners to try Gen. Scott, and this keeps Gen. Scott so long here with us.
Tuesday, March 14, 1848.—This morning is cold, and the mountains around here are all covered with a fresh coat of snow. At noon another mail came to our quarters. I received several letters. This afternoon one of Co. B shot an armadillo at Contreras. This is an odd-looking animal, and something of the kind I have never seen.
Wednesday, March 15, 1848.—This morning it is still cold and windy, more so than common.
In the afternoon there was another quarrel sprung up between some of our regiment and the New Yorkers over at the polque tub haciendas, which resulted in a regular fight, and before it was quelled there was a great many bloody noses and black eyes.
Thursday, March 16, 1848.—This morning the sun again made its appearance and the day turned out remarkably fine and warm. Some of our soldiers expected to get paid off today but were disappointed. It is reported this evening that we will be paid off to-morrow; so this put the boys in high spirits again.
Friday, March 17, 1848.—This morning the glorious news came from Lieut. Haines' quarters for us to come to his ofifice and sign the pay-roll, each private soldier receiving fourteen dollars,—two months' pay. So now the men have money again and in the evening they called a meeting to take into consideration the getting up of a supper. Lieut. Joseph M. Hall, of Co. C, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, was called to the chair and afterwards made President, and Sergt. Peter Ahl, Vice-President, and privates Corson, Welsh, Watson and others were appointed to make the necessary arrangements for the supper and ball.
Saturday, March 18, 1848.—This morning the committee of arrangements went to the city of Mexico for the purpose of purchasing liquors, turkeys, chickens and vegetables for the grand supper, also engaged twenty senoritas and coaches to bring them from the city. Mr. John R. Schultz, of Co. C, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, was appointed chief cook, bottle and dishwasher.
Sunday, March 19, 1848.—This morning, Theodore Watson, one of the committee, arrived from the city, stating that he had everything in the city ready to send out the moment it is wanted.
To-day's papers are full about peace, but I place no confidence in the report.
Monday, March 20, 1848.—This morning everything is in readiness for the grand supper, which comes off to-night. In the evening, at 8 o'clock, the parties sat down to the table, including twenty as beautiful senoritas as the sun ever shone upon or graced the floor of a ball-room, and they, as well ourselves, did ample justice to the good things on the table. After supper was over the cloth was removed; then songs, stories, toasts and speeches enlivened the board and kept up a continuous roar of laughter, after which we adjourned to the large ball-room, which was magnificently decorated. It was built expressly for an occasion of this kind, and lighted up by three splendid chandeliers. The band belonging to the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, composed of sixteen brass instruments—which sent forth their sweet music—together with the graceful motions of those dancing, made it appear a perfect paradise.
Tuesday, March 21, 1848.—This morning some of our fellows who danced so much last night could hardly get up on account of soreness and stiffness.
In the afternoon friend Welsh and myself went to Orchard Grove, and remained there until evening, Mr. Welsh playing the accordeon to pass the time. Wednesday, March 22d, 1848.—This morning, at 10 o'clock, we marched to the field opposite the convento, or nunnery, where we found the whole Volunteer Brigade formed. We fell into line and went through various field movements—all under the command of Col. Wynkoop, who is trying to get promoted to a brigadier-generalship. Shortly afterwards, Maj.-Gen. Patterson made his appearance on the field, and reviewed the brigade. He was accompanied by a good many regular officers, and they all praised our field movements and drilling, after which we returned to our quarters.
This evening there seemed to be a little excitement in our quarters about the extra expenses of the late supper and ball; so a committee was appointed to make all things right.
Thursday, March 23, 1848.—This morning the committee appointed to inquire into the extra expenses of our late supper reported that there has been a great many glasses, bottles and dishes broken at the supper, and the committee of arrangements held themselves responsible for all lost and damaged articles; therefore, an order should be drawn on the overflush and pay the extra charges, which was agreed to. This evening, on dress parade, orders were read to us that the United States Congress had passed a bill to deduct one dollar per month from our clothing money. The reading of this bill caused a good deal of excitement, that this is what we get for fighting the bloody Mexicans. The bill was got up and advocated by General Lewis Cass, so-called hero of Hull's surrender; but this is the biggest surrender and blunder that he ever made; and mark me, the honorable gentleman will yet suffer by this very act, and so he did. He never was elected President.
Friday, March 24, 1848.—This morning there is great excitement in the whole volunteer division about Congress passing a bill deducting one dollar per month from our clothing. Thus, in place of raising our wages, as we all expected, they lowered them. Some of our men are swearing vengeance, that they will march on to Washington and run the bayonet in old Lewis Cass. In the evening, after dark, Company G, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, headed by their Sergeant, Joseph L. Parker, made a Paddy of Gen. Lewis Cass, extended a rope across the street, and hung the old veteran of Hull's surrender in effigy. The old gentleman being very heavy, the rope broke several times; but at last the company succeeded in getting him up, when a great huzzaing burst forth from the crowds standing around looking on. Some officers, touched by their politics, ordered it to be cut down, but nary a time, the boys had him in his just position. They left him hanging until late at night, when a large fire was built right under him, after which he was lowered down, and poor Lewis Cass was consumed to smoke and ashes in a foreign land, and mocked and hooted at. "Give us that dollar, you sad, you have taken from us; you have sucked the United States out of enough without stealing our clothing money." There was also a committee appointed to raise a collection to present Mr. Cass with a leather medal, and also nominate him for the next office as dog-catcher, or some other office that meets with the approbation and feelings of the volunteers.
Saturday, March 25, 1848—This morning the city papers have in that Gen. Valencia (captured some time ago by Col. Wynkoop) died last night of apoplegia (apoplexy). His death has caused a gloom and great mourning among the gentle portion of the community. At San Angel all the church bells tolled in sorrow at his death. Gen. Valencia was no doubt a brave, gallant and skilful officer, and it is a well-known fact that if Gen. Santa Anna, with his twelve thousand troops who were in reserve, had supported Gen. Valencia at the battle of Contreras (according to the Mexican programme), our army would not so easy have gotten into the city of Mexico. But, fortunately for our side, there was no unity among the Mexican Generals; they were jealous of each other in the whole campaign. Gen. Valencia was engaged in every battle fought in the valley of Mexico, and has proven himself a brave, daring and most excellent and gallant officer. Peace to his ashes. In the afternoon large parties of Mexicans came from the city of Mexico, and visited the battle-ground of Contreras, the field of operation where Gen. Valencia commanded during the battle of August 19 and 20, 1847.
Sunday, March 26, 1848.—This morning, being Sunday, a big bill is out about the Plaza de Toras. So a party of five got permission from Lieut. Haines to go to the city, and to Plaza de Toras. We started early, and took our time to it. We went by the way of Churubusco Convento, Miscoac, Tacubaya, Chapultepec and El Molina del Rey, from here we visited the Alameda Park, and some of the public buildings in the city. After which we went to the Plaza de Toras, and stayed until out, and then took the stage and left for San Angel.
Monday, March 27, 1848.—This morning I did not feel so well on account of our long walk yesterday, being still weak from the late effect of the diarrhœa. So I mostly spent the day in the orchard grove, which is a pleasant place to resort to on a hot day.
Tuesday, March 28, 1848.—This morning Col. Francis M. Wynkoop, with a squadron of dragoons, left the city for the silver mines of Real del Monte and Pachuca, where the Ninth Infantry, under Col. Withers, is now stationed. They will be absent several days, what their object or intentions are is not for me to know, but I expect it is to view the mines, as Col. Wynkoop comes from the coal mines, and is anxious to learn the silver mining.
Wednesday, March 29, 1848.—To-day is the anniversary of the surrender of the city of Vera Cruz and the Castle of San Juan de Ulloa, the former surrounded with an immense wall mounted with batteries and strong fortifications, unquestionably unapproachable. The latter was the great renowned fortress of San Juan de Ulloa, a second Gibraltar; and it was the first grand victory of our army, and the fall of Vera Cruz was celebrated throughout the whole United States as one of the grandest events of the present times. This afternoon there was considerable excitement at San Angel and the city of Mexico by the rumors that Col. Wynkoop and his party had a big fight with a large force of lancers and guerillas on the road between the city of Mexico and Pachuca, and reports have it that Col. Wynkoop was dangerously wounded, but these are all rumors, and I believe very little of it.
In the evening there was a private express came from Vera Cruz. It did not stop at the city, but went on to Queretaro City. So none of us knew its contents, but it is believed to be the treaty signed from Washington.
Thursday, March 30, 1848.—This morning the city papers have it that a small mail arrived from Vera Cruz. The news to-day is that our Government has ratified the peace proposition of the Mexicans, with a slight amendment, and is now ready for the Mexican Government to act upon it. I hope it is true.
Friday March 31, 1848.—This morning the mail came out from the city to our quarters. I received one letter, stating that there is considerable excitement in the States about the superseding of Gen. Scott, after he had conquered the Mexicans.
This afternoon several of us started, with our blankets, for the polque grove, to write letters. I wrote one to my friend, John Robinson, giving a description of the great bull-fights last Sunday, as follows:—
|San Angel, Mexico|
|March 16, 1848.|
John Robinson, Esq.
Dear Friend:—I feel extremely happy to state that I received your letter a few days ago, stating that you and all inquiring friends were well. You also stated in your letter that you have often read and heard of the bull-fights in Mexico, and that I should give you a small account of these ancient sports of Mexico, which I will now answer the best I can. Last Sunday was a beautiful day, so a small party of us got permission from Lieut. Haines to go to the city of Mexico and visit the bull-fight in the Plaza de Toros. We started early and went by the way of Churubusco, and examined all the breastworks and fortifications, and, through the politeness of the old priest, we were admitted, and passed through the old church, or convento—which was well fortified during the battle—and saw where one of our cannon-balls—an eighteen pounder—went just along the side of the altar, carrying away some of the fancy fixtures; the interior of the church suffered very severely from our artillery. We then went on, and passed through Villeta de Miscoac, the general depot of Gen. Scott's army during the battles of Chapultepec and San Cosmo gates. Here we took a good drink of polque, and then went on to Tacubaya, the headquarters of Gen. Scott during the above battles. After looking around awhile, we left for the Castle of Chapultepec, and examined its defences and the damages done by our artillery on the 12th and 13th of September last. After spending an hour, we left for the boiling springs, and took a good bath, after which we went to Molino del Rey, or King's Mill. This place is at the foot of Chapultepec.
There is a fine grove of trees from the castle to Molino Del Rey. It was once a strong fortress, and strongly garrisoned by the Mexicans during the battle: and it was here where Gen. Worth was defeated and lost nearly one-half of his men. It was here where the Mexicans had a foundry casting cannons and making other arms during the armistice or military convention, and it was here where Gen. Scott first saw Gen. Santa Anna violating the armistice. Afterwards these fortresses were captured, after which Gen. Scott ordered them to be blown up; so there is nothing now remaining except the bare walls and plenty of ruins.
From here we went to the Plaza de Toros. I have been in here several times before, but with no very agreeable impressions. But time hung heavily without books; and, as the boy said of the skinned eels, I was getting used to the sport. We arrived a little too early, and thereby had a fine chance to see what kind of people were our companions. They were like the English drink called "all sorts," made up of representatives from every class, from the poor Iepero, who, like the observationist, observes in the daytime what he can steal at night. There were priests, ladies and gentlemen of the highest class, commoners and cargadors (loafers), and ladrones, which latter class you will please to understand are numerous hordes of robbers to be met with in every part of the magnanimous republic of Mexico, and almost every one had a revolver under his coat. The Plaza de Toros is built like a circus; is of immense capacity, capable of seating from eight to ten thousand persons; and so far across that you can with difficulty recognize an intimate acquaintance, even by a well-known dress.
On last Sunday it was thronged. The day was one of the many favorite or fete days, and the people were dressed in their best finery, as if for a fair. It was a great day for the Plaza de Toros too, and we soon learned that there were to be some extra sports, several fine bulls having been procured from distant haciendas especially for the occasion.
At 3 o'clock, p.m., four horsemen and six picadors, or actors, came in the ring, waiting for the trumpet signal from their judges. The butchers on foot were very fancifully dressed in embroidered velvet jackets and ornamented pants buckling at the knee, parti-colored hose and shoes, and caps trimmed with silver and gold. Each wore a sash around his waist, and held in his hands a scarf of red, yellow or blue flag with which to tantalize the bulls. The horsemen were similarly dressed, though not so richly, and held long pikes with which they goad the toros (bulls), and, when attacked, defend themselves and horses from their fury.
There were two clowns, also, the stupidest creatures that ever played the fool before an audience. Their entire performances consisted in tossing up oranges and catching them on their heads when they fell down, and bellowing in imitation of the toros (bulls), and playing disgusting tricks upon each other. The trumpet is at length sounded, and in rushed a large brown bull, snorting and plunging about, mad with pain from the torture he had previously received. In a moment he was assailed by the horsemen, and several sharp encounters occurred. One man particularly more expert than the others, got his pike in the animal's neck, and actually held him off for a moment or two. The crowd cheered loudly, and he seemed in the height of his glory, when, by a sudden movement, the bull threw up the lance, and pitched into his adversary. The horse and rider were tossed into the air, and tumbled in the dust. The poor horse was terribly gored, and the picador or actor under him; and by great exertions the others succeeded in attracting the bull towards them, and the crushed cavalier was borne from the ring. The horse was dragged out by mules dead. Next came the cruel torturing that-seems to so much delight the Spaniard. The picadors, armed with bandorillas, approached him on all sides, waving their scarfs and shouting at him all manner of defiance.
After having sufficiently bewildered the noble animal one of the most expert approached him directly in front, holding in each hand a bandorilla. The bull pawed the earth for a few moments, and then plunged at him with almost inconceivable dexterity. The man turned to one side and plunged both into his neck, and others followed; and in a short time the panting bull was completely decorated with the fancy colored cut paper that is wound around the barb, an instrument of torture; but, still more cruel than this, a sort of rocket, that ignites with the force given in driving it home, was stuck into his neck, and they blazed and scorched him until it ended with an explosion, blackening and lacerating the flesh, while the creature plunged and bellowed fearfully amid the plaudits of the crowd; while he was suffering with pain, and mad as a thousand furies, one of the picadors endeavored to fasten a rosette upon his forehead. The bull rushed forward, and the man slipped. The sagacious animal caught him on one of his horns; and, running straight for the side of the ring, dashed the poor fellow against the stout wall with tremendous force. A loud shriek arose from the spectators, and the man was finally rescued and borne off. He had a leg broken, and was otherwise badly injured. Our party, who sat together, applauded the bull, and so did many others, for his part in the programme.
The last scene in this act was the killing of the bull. A matadore (murderer) with, a scarf on one arm and a straight sword, after playing around until sure of his mark, made a charge, and killed the animal at one blow. The applause that followed his success entirely dispelled all thoughts of the poor wounded picador.
The next bull brought in was a young one, and he could not be made to show fight. The crowd whistled and hooted, pelting him with oranges, and calling out vaca, vaca, otro, otro, toro (cow, cow, another bull). One of the horsemen, who had not before taken any part, drove the toro (bull) around the ring, and threw him several times to the ground, to the great delight of the crowd. This they did by getting the bull at full speed, catching the tail in one hand and throwing one foot over the hand, then the horse was urged faster, and by a sudden wheel the bull was tumbled; sometimes clear over endways, throwing a complete somersault. This bull having proved (like good many of the Mexicans) a coward, was turned out of the ring and hooted at, while going out.
There was an Indian band, and a very good one it was, playing; and after the second bull had been disposed of, there was a short intermission. Our party were seated in the first tier, among a party of ten or twelve who seemed to take great interest in the performances. While the band was playing, one of the picadors, a very handsome young man of perhaps twentyfive, came over smiling, and spoke with the ladies and gentlemen; one whom I saw at once had reasons for the interest she had exhibited whenever he was in harm's way. In Spanish she spoke to him, saying, "I wish you had not undertaken this performance, Lorenzo," with a slight quiver of her lips. "Papa is well nigh killed, and I fear you may meet with the same fate." "Guadaloupa," said the young picador, "I am not so clumsy as to lose my feet, like papa. You know I was never touched yet, and there will be such merry sports with a wild black bull we have here, as I would not miss for my commission;" and he curled his silken moustache with a confidence that drew a smile of womanly pride from the dama (lady); albeit there was a fearful doubt betrayed in her moist eyes. "Never fear for me; you shall see what pranks I shall play with toro negro, black bull. Why, I have wagered a dozen of burgales," (which means an ancient coin of gold,) "with Don Pedro de Avilla that I will leap upon his toros back;" and away he went laughing.
"Dios mio" (mine God), exclaimed the trembling lady, as she saw the fierce wild bull run into the ring. "I wish I had not come to the Plaza de Toros. "Why so?" asked I. "Lorenzo is famed for his dexterity; and now that he has the assurance of winning his wager, and the encouragement of your bright black eyes and prayers, he cannot fail to win." "Oh, there is no such picador in all Mexico as he (Lorenzo) is. But I feel something here (putting her hand upon her heart) heavy and distrustful—something I never felt before; a great fear seems to have caught my heart with fingers of iron, and it is full of sad foreboding. That bull is as fierce as a demonio (demon), and, see, his horns are as sharp as the point of a lance," and so they were. In these days of degeneracy in the bull ring, the horns of the toro (bull) are generally sawed off at the point, so as to make them less dangerous in case of accident. But the bull Lorenzo was to encounter had not been so used. It was said by a Mexican seated close by us that it was because he could not be caught. At this the trumpet sounded, and the encounter commenced. The horsemen fought shy at first, and dared not come up to the scratch, dealing the bull side favors, but not daring to confront him. In a few seconds, however, he had tumbled one into the dust, and a fine horse was taken out of the ring dragging his entrails after him. The picadors then took their turn, and I noticed that two more had been added to their number; one an Indian, a bold-looking fellow he was, who bid fair to rival the best of them. They succeeded in fastening several bandorillas in his teros (neck), and one rocket; and the Indian caught off a rosette which had been placed between the bull's eyes. The noble animal was then the very embodiment of fury. He instantly rushed at one and another with terrible force, sometimes falling on his knees when they suddenly sprang aside. There was a short pause, and Lorenzo, walking over to where several cavaliers were seated, and bowing, exclaimed, "Now for my wager." I looked at the dama (lady) beside me. She was pale as the picture of the Virgin, whose name she bore, in the cathedral.
Again the picadors commenced their play of torture, again were the bandorillas and rockets fastened in his tremendous fat neck, again he plunged, roaring, around the ring, fighting blindly at one and another in the confusion and clamor. All at once, the Indian, placing himself in front of the bull, shouted defiance. The animal made a plunge, and the Indian, placing his left foot between his horns, sprang clear over him. At this, the Plaza de Toros was filled with bravos and shouting that lasted for several minutes.
It now came Lorenzo's turn. He faced the bull and waved his cap. At this I again looked at the Dama Gaudaloupa. Her face was hidden in her hands, and her whole frame shook like the leaves of the aspen. A cry of horror rose from the crowd. I instantly turned, and saw the ill-fated Lorenzo dangling upon one of the toro's horns, and in an instant more he was sent high in the air, and his inanimate body fell heavily on the horns of the furious beast, who dashed it upon the ground and trampled upon it. There was one wild, piercing shriek—such as I never heard before, nor do I wish to hear again—that rent the air and hushed the clamorous crowd like magic. Poor Gaudaloupa! her happiness, her hope, her all but life had been lost with the wager for the ancient coins!
You may think it strange; the performance, or fete, went on, but the fair Dama Gaudaloupa left, weeping, and we soon followed her out, having seen enough of the ancient sport of Spain in the Plaza de Toros for one day, and I think that it will be the last time that I shall visit this rodadura tierra templado (rolling table-land). It is a kind of sport that no American cares about seeing more than once; at the same time, I have been in the Plaza de Toros several times since. I hope you will excuse me for writing you such a lengthy letter, for my object was to give you an account of the bull-fights of Mexico for one day only. I remain yours, &c., J. J. O.
Three Locks, five miles above Lwwistown, Pa.
Saturday, April 1, 1848.—This morning being the 1st of April, most of the soldiers were up early, trying to fool one another. I came it on two of our boys; one I sent to hunt the pan and eggs, and the other I sent to the doctor's quickly, before he went to the city. I had one or two invitations to take dinner, but I most respectfully declined the generous offer.
This evening the sky was darkened with black clouds, and in a short time the rain descended from the heavens in torrents for several hours.
Sunday, April 2, 1884.—This morning the treaty of peace came from Vera Cruz, under an escort of dragoons. This raised considerable excitement in the city of Mexico, among both the officers and citizens, for fear of its ratification when apprehended. The mail came up by this escort, but our three companies remaining here received no letters, for the other seven companies were mean enough to keep the whole mail back on account of their letters.
It is rumored that our seven companies are at Jalapa City, and that Lieut.-Col. Black is Governor of the said city. Also that Gen. Santa Anna had resigned the Presidency and commandery of his army, and that he now resides at his summer residence, Hacienda El Encero, and that Col. Hughes paid Gen. Santa Anna a visit, and offered him protection. Monday, April 3, 1848.—This morning most of our men could be seen in groups talking about the ratification of the peace proposition, and that the prospect of our going home is cheerful.
In the afternoon there was a Mexican funeral at San Angel, and it passed our quarters; and, directly opposite, one of the carriers of the dead corpse spied a claco, and he really stopped the procession to pick it up. After which they went on, and the man who found the cent was much rejoiced.
Tuesday, April 4, 1848.—This morning there is no news from Queretaro City concerning the treaty of peace.
This afternoon there was a Mexican child buried just opposite our quarters. The funeral was grand. The child was laid in the coffin, and it was decorated most beautifully with natural flowers, costly velvets and gold lace. Just before the procession moved the band played a beautiful air. After which it was taken from the house, and the procession then started off, with the band playing as they moved on. There were two women, who strewed flowers over the ground they passed, and some twenty little boys in front of the corpse bareheaded, crying and carrying lighted candles. It was carried to Churubusco Church.
This evening I have got another slight attack of the diarrhœa.
Wednesday, April 5, 1848.—This morning there is considerable excitement in the city of Mexico on account of a murder and a robbery, which was committed last night in one of the large merchant houses, next to the Bella Union Hotel; others have it that it was committed in a regular gambling house, that the banker was killed and his bank robbed of several hundred thousand dollars in doubloons. And that Lieut. Isaac P. Hare and Adjt. Benjamin F. Button, both belonging to the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, and others are the guilty parties of the murder and robbery. Lieut. Hare was wounded in the arm, and was immediately arrested and locked up, but Adjt. Button, and others have fled to the mountains. At noon the Third Dragoons passed San Angel in search of Dutton and some other officers concerned in the bloody and outrageous deeds.
It is reported to-night that Gen. Scott is ordered to return to the United States as a private citizen, there to undergo a court-martial for ending the war too soon.
Thursday, April 6, 1848.—This morning several other officers who were concerned in the robbing and murdering of the banker were caught in the outskirts of the city, but Adjt. Dutton is still at large. A small party started in search of him away back to a place called Indian Town, but could see or hear nothing of him.
This afternoon we had a terrible hailstorm, accompanied by heavy thundering and lightning and raining most powerfully. The roads were filled with water to overflowing—looking like creeks.
Friday, April 7, 1848.—This morning it is still raining, making everything very damp and unpleasant for us diarrhœa blues. It continued nearly all day, and those who were not on duty were glad to stay in their quarters.
This evening it is rumored that Gen. Scott left the city yesterday on his way to the United States.
Saturday, April 8, 1848.—This morning I feel considerably better and am able to walk about with more ease. At noon it cleared off beautifully. It is also rumored that Adjt. Dutton has given himself up in the city of Mexico; he wasn't out of the city,
Sunday, April 9, 1848.—This morning one year ago we took up our march for the interior of Mexico. At noon I saw in the city papers that the Mexican Congress has a quorum—all but two, and it is the opinion of all good citizens that the peace proposition will be accepted. This being Easter Sunday, it is kept as a holyday, and some are indulging in egg-nogg pretty freely.This afternoon, Gen. Marshall and several other officers, accompanied by a squad of dragoons, paid a visit to the
battle-fields of San Antonio and Contreras. This evening it is rumored that France has revolutionized.
Monday, April 10, 1848.—This morning is very pleasant; the late rain has purified the atmosphere. At noon a party started to visit the surrounding battle-fields, and wanted me to go along; but I was afraid to go on account of my weakness. This evening it is rumored that our ministers have arrived from the United States with the olive-branch of peace, and are on their way to Queretaro City.
Tuesday, April 11, 1848.—This morning it is rumored that the United States Senate has passed the ten regiment bill. I expect, about the time the war is over, there will be plenty of soldiers on their way to Mexico, who, after their return home, will be as much thought of as us old veterans who came out on the first call in 1846.
This evening the report is that Col. Black, with the seven companies of our regiment, was encamped at the National bridge on their way to this city.
Wednesday, April 12, 1848.—This morning orders were issued for all the sick and wounded belonging to the Volunteer division to leave San Angel for the city of Mexico; and from there they will be taken to the general hospital at the city of Jalapa, which is considered the healthiest place in all Mexico.
To-day the court-martial commenced in San Angel for the trial of all criminal cases which may be brought before them.
Thursday, April 13, 1848.—This morning it is reported that Don Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, once President of the Republic of Mexico, and Commander-in-Chief of its army, embarked from Antigua on the fifth instant for Jamaica. On leaving his dear native land, he published a flaming long address to his gallant scattered army and countrymen, pointing to his distinguished services that he had rendered to his country, and most particularly to his wounds which he received while in defence of his beloved country's honor; and for which he is now compelled to leave his native land, never to return to his birthplace again. And in conclusion he consigned them (the Mexicans) to the care and keeping of Almighty God and Jesus Christ his Son. Thus, poor Santa Anna is again compelled to leave his country, dismayed and broken-hearted.
This evening, as Col. Ward Burnett, Colonel of the New York Regiment, and Major Bowman, of the First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, were returning from the city of Mexico to San Angel, they were fired upon by a party of guerillas. Our officers succeeded in capturing several of the guilty parties, and brought them to San Angel, and there put them in the guard-house to await their trial. If justice was done to these highway murderers and robbers, they ought to be shot, in place of putting them in the guard-house; or any Mexican who attempts to take the precious life of a soldier in time (as we are now) of peace. If putting them in the guardhouse is to be all the punishment they are to have, the assassinations will be carried on with more vigor than ever.
The revolution in France has caused some little excitement amongst both the officers and soldiers, and are talking about getting up a meeting.
Friday, April 14, 1848.—This morning the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers were paid off. So, of course, they had plenty of cash and plenty to drink, and some found the way into the guard-house for being beastly drunk. In the evening there was a mass meeting in the city of Mexico among the officers in favor of the revolution in France. Gen. Joseph Lane was called to the chair, and he made a telling speech in regard of the revolution and the free France. The utmost enthusiasm prevailed through the whole meeting. The news is now that the great Republic of France has carried the throne.
Saturday, April 15, 1848.—This morning we received the gratifying intelligence that the seven companies belonging to our regiment were at El Penon, and that they will be here in a few hours. So at noon the advance came in, and took up their quarters in the convento, opposite the Sociedal del Progress. So, on the strength of their arrival, we had some news of incident, marching, etc.; also informed that our late Corp. Roland C. Malone, who was discharged and on his way home, received by accident a shot through the hand by one of our soldiers. Our seven companies look more like Indians or leperos than American soldiers. They are all in good spirits.
Sunday, April 16, 1848.—This morning there was a detail of five men from each company to clear out the quarters for the coming seven companies. It was quite a job, and kept the men busy until noon. The companies just arrived gave themselves a good scrubbing, as they nearly all looked like so many wild Indians. Some had caps on, some straw hats, some Mexican military hats, and some had nothing on their heads. In the evening the seven companies moved from the convent to their former old quarters. The boys speak higly and very complimentary of Col. Black.
Monday, April 17, 1848.—This morning I noticed that our new comers were very busy in fixing up their quarters, muskets, equipments, etc. To-day the city papers speak very flattering of Col. Black as a disciplinarian and worthy commander of an expedition. In the evening our officers, and the ones just arrived, had a jubilee, toasts, incidents and complimentary speeches were made. Peace stock again took a rise away up, and all the talk is about a speedy peace, and about us soon going home. I must confess things are beginning to look very encouraging and prosperous.
After the lights were put out, Corp. Peter Ahl started a conundrum.
"Why is a Mexican like an oil can?" All guessed, but none could answer. Give it up. "Because he is a greaser." [Laughter.]
Tuesday, April 18, 1848.—To day is the first anniversary of the battle of Cerro Gordo—the second triumphant victory of Gen. Scott's army, after the capture and surrender of Vera Cruz, in Mexico, and it was, without doubt, one of the most brilliant victories for the United States army. It broke the backbone of this war, and its results opened up the National Road to our gallant little army—the way to the halls of the Montezumas. Yes, my readers, to-day one year ago about ten thousand American troops, fatigued and exhausted from long marching, were engaged in this terrible attack on that strong and well-fortified position, with some fifteen thousand Mexican troops, well armed, equipped and commanded by their great chieftain. Gen. Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna, besides other generals whose fame stood high in military ranks.
Thus, the fifteen thousand Mexican troops which, according to the calculations usually made in such cases, should have been equal to four times the number of our forces, or about seventy-five thousand men. Yet our little army was brilliantly successful, carrying the strongly-fortified position by assault, and the enemy were utterly routed and hotly pursued in all directions—Gen. Santa Anna leaving behind him nearly four thousand prisoners, with five of the best generals in his army, over forty-three pieces of bronze artillery, over five thousand stand of arms, with no end of ammunition and materials of war—all captured in this single battle of Cerro Gordo. The disaster of Gen. Santa Anna and his army was complete. Thus winning this glorious victory against extraordinary odds, the American people cannot too often testify their gratitude to the gallant spirits who added such trophies and renown to their national glory.
But it pains me to mention that up to this date our Congress and Government have never thanked our army for this brilliant achievement, and still more grievous to own that the gallant hero. Gen. Scott, who led us into that memorable field, is now a prisoner—dragged from us to make room for another soldier, but no better one. Yes, he has already left us; he will return to the United States, from which he has been absent for one year and a half, and it is painful to reflect that he returns home, after his brilliant and unsurpassed achievement, under the circumstances which he does.
He has given the gallant little army which he led possession of the imperial city of the Aztec; in fact, it may well be said the whole Republic of Mexico. As the prospects now are, there will be peace, and all soon return home. What a grand reception will not the great Captain of the age, the Second Conqueror of the Republic of Mexico, meet with upon his landing at New Orleans, and as he progresses on his way to Washington City, and there stands before his accusers! Gen. Worth will go out of office with his fair fame smirched and dimmed. I believe his fame will grow brighter at every step of the investigation; it cannot be otherwise, and the day is not remote when even his few revilers and enemies in the White House will acknowledge the lofty pre-eminence of the Conqueror of Mexico. Such was the treatment of the Second Conqueror of Mexico, and, as I said before, in place of our Government trying to dishonor or disgrace him (Scott) he will gain more friends from the masses of the people who know his merits.
A wreath bind—
"Yes, there or wherever in story or song
His name shall be sounded in praise,
Grateful memory still shall the echo prolong,
And his statue of honor shall raise.
On no nobler brow can the American rest
Than the brow of our glorious General Winfield Scott."
Wednesday, April 19, 1848.—This morning is very disagreeable; raining and blowing until 10 o'clock a.m., when it cleared off. The peace news to-day is quite unfavorable; in place of looking brighter and brighter, it looks darker. The city papers again compliment the First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers for their quick march to and from Vera Cruz, saying that the Pennsylvania boys may well be called the marching regiment of the United States service. This evening Col. Jack Hayes with his command arrived from Puebla City, they being out scouting and hunting up guerillas.
Thursday, April 20, 1848.—This morning Alburtus Welsh, Zach. Taylor and myself went to the city in a coach which is now running again. It was Holy Thursday, which is a great day amongst the Mexicans. At every corner we came to, the streets were arched over with bowers made of green. Under these arches the Mexicans offered for sale ice cream and other refreshments. The holydays and festivals are conducted here a good deal like those at home, with all kinds of amusements and eatables. It has the effect of bringing all classes of people together. At home most of our poor people are clad equal with the rich, but here in this country I can see no change in the poor classes. They have the one dress (that is, what is of it) constantly on, and I don't believe that they ever change; keep it on until entirely worn out.
As I stated before, at these holydays or festivals all classes of people congregate, and I can count five different classes. First, are the real white foreigners, who are mostly very wealthy; second, are a class of whites, and are the living descendants of the Spaniards, they are sometimes called Creoles; third, are those who call themselves white, and are partly mixed; fourth, are the Indians and leperos, who sometimes lives in huts, villages, and outskirts of all towns in Mexico; fifth, are the Mestizos or mixed Indian, who look like some of our mixed negroes in the South, called mulattos; but of all the classes of men is the leperos, who are the most miserable set of living beings you ever heard tell of, they are the remnants of the Comanche tribe of Indians, and go through the streets-of cities with only a blanket wrapped around them. The leperos, it will be remembered, were that portion of the mob of Mexico, which fired on our troops, and which has since had a hand in most of the assassinations of our soldiers.Nobody can tell the poor lepero's occupation. God only knows how he lives, or what he lives on. He has almost as little need of the tailor as Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden. His skin drinks the sun at every pore, and an edict to require the Ieperos to wear breeches would extinguish the race. A lepero in a whole pair of breeches would be no longer a lepero, for one want creates another. The lepero is emphatically the child of nature, the shining sun, the murmuring breeze, the smiling face of nature is his birthright and his property. Other men have houses, haciendas and lands. The world belongs to the lepero. He has no master. He knows no law. He eats when he is hungry, drinks when he is thirsty and sleeps where and when he is sleepy. Other men rest from their labors. The lepero works when he is tired of laziness. His work, however, never lasts more than an hour, seldom more than ten or fifteen minutes, just long enough to provide for the few and small wants of the day. He carries a traveller's trunk to his lodgings, does anything that comes under his hand, picking pockets included, and holds out his hands for charity. The chief visible occupation of the lepero is to amuse himself; and the city of Mexico, in time of peace, does not lack cheap amusement. There are military reviews, religious processions and music, which the lepero loves to listen to; dances, bull-fights, horse races and churches, to which the leperos is strongly attached, and is a pretty steady frequenter, for the lepero loves to hear a good sermon preached. The lepero has no political opinions; you may say what you please in his presence of his country, or curse its rulers. He cares not whether you abuse Gen. Santa Anna, Gen. Bustamenta Herrera, or Paredes, or how much, provided you say nothing derogatory to the Virgin of Guadaloupa you are safe; but the moment you touch that point look out for the knife. In the day time the lepero is as harmless as any living being that walks under God's sun. He will attack no one in daylight, and is afraid of drunkards, and particularly drunken soldiers, but at night the lepero fears no one, and particularly the drunken soldier; they are the first ones the lepero goes for, plunging the knife or dagger in the back of
his man, goes through his pockets, and if he don't find much leaves him lay wounded, but if he has any kind of a prize, or large amount of money about him, he kills him and puts him out of the way. They are seldom ever caught, and few are ever punished for crimes committed, thinking there would be no use.
There have been several rumors of late of insurrections amongst the Indians. Should these Indians rebel against the Mexican Government, it wouldn't, at the present time, be long before peace would come. The Indians have a strong feeling against the old Spanish rule. They were the original inhabitants of this country; the true scions and representatives of the proud Aztec race. The blood of the lamented Montezumas still flows in their veins, and theirs is the lineage of kings. The conquest stripped them of their power and consequence, and from being master they became servants and slaves. Hence it is that the Indians of Mexico look upon the Spaniards with very much the same feeling with which the Spaniards or Mexicans look upon the Americans.
With the aid of the Indians at this time, it wouldn't take long to strike the government of Mexico from existence. So, if the treaty is not approved, war between the nations should be renewed. The Indians of the country will act an insignificant part in this contest. They have it in their power to inflict punishment on the Spanish-Mexicans, and the descendants of conquered Aztec will regain their country and empire, which they lost by treachery in the days of Montezumas.
Friday, April 21, 1848.—This morning one of the Massachusetts Volunteers was buried. When the funeral passed the office of the guard-house, the guard turned out and presented arms. The court-martial is still sitting at San Angel. The case of Capt. Loeser is now before the court. Capt. Loeser, of the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, is to be courtmartialed for being present at the time his regiment, the Second Pennsylvania, rotten-egged one of the Massachusetts officers who undertook to buck-and-gag one of the guards. Yesterday afternoon Lieut.-Col. Loomis entered the city of Mexico from Vera Cruz. He brings a large train, accompanied by two hundred and fifty pack mules; also, Capt. Shoover's battery comes with the train.
Saturday, April 22, 1848.—To-day is the first anniversary of the surrender of the castle of Perote, the second Gibraltar.
Sunday, April 23, 1848.—This morning it is reported that the ten regiment bill has passed both houses and received the President's signature, and is now a law; and that the whole Volunteer division will be recalled from the United States service.
This evening, on dress parade, orders were read to us that Capt. Loeser, of the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, would be suspended from his rank of command for two months, and to forfeit all his pay and allowances during that time, for being present at a mutinous meeting in regard to the Massachusetts officers who wanted to buck and gag one of the guard for a trifling offence, and for this act some of the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers rotten-egged the Massachusetts officer in the presence of Capt. Loeser, who was held accountable for not suppressing it—in fact, Capt. Loeser (who hails from Reading, Pa.,) urging them to do it. (So he ought.)
Monday, April 24, 1848.—This morning it is currently reported that the Mexicans have a quorum at Queretaro.
This afternoon we were visited by a very hard rain, accompanied by thundering and lighting.
Tuesday, April 25, 1848.—This morning the peace stock is again in the field, and Lieut.-Col. Black told me that he thought we would be on our way home in about one month's time. He gave it as his own opinion.
Wednesday, April 26, 1848.—-This morning peace is again in our quarters. I am told that there is heavy betting in the city in its favor.
Thursday April 27, 1848.—This morning I paid a visit to Churubusco. Here is the National Guard-house, now guarded and occupied by us as a guard-house, and is nearly full of Mexican greasers for various crimes. Amongst them I saw the one that shot at Col. Ward Burnett and Major F. L. Bowman several evenings ago. I saw some of the largest and finest squirrels running through this section of country.
Friday, April 28, 1848.—This morning is beautiful; the heavy rains of the past week, accompanied as they were with extraordinary discharges of electricity, have had the effect of cooling the air, and brought out a good many of the black-eyed senoritas, promenading around the orchard groves.
On dress parade orders were read that we will be mustered in the United States service to-morrow.
Saturday, April 29, 1848.—This morning most of our soldiers are busy in cleaning up, to be ready to be mustered in the United States service again.
At noon word came to our quarters that the mustering is postponed until to-morrow.
To-day we drew clothing for the whole regiment, and every company received their letters to put on their caps. So this evening the whole regiment appeared on dress parade with the letter of their respective companies.
To-night it is rumored that Gens. Paredes, Almonta and Bustamente had marched with an army of five thousand troops upon the Mexican Government at Queretaro City, and broken up the Congress. If this is true, the armistice is broken, and hostilities will soon commence again.
Poor Mexico! there seems to be evil-minded of both parties, for every cause has its traitors. Speaking of Gen. Bustamente puts me in mind of part of his history. In 1841 Gen. Bustamente effected a loan of $1,200,000. He received for it $200,000 cash, and one million in paper credits of the government, which were selling at the time in market for nine cents on the dollar. So hard pressed at that time was the government that it sold the coining privilege of Guanajuato for fourteen years, receiving therefor $71,000 cash, when they were offered $400,000 if they would take it in yearly instalments of $25,000. Thus, Bustamente had entirely stripped the country of almost every element of wealth upon which he could lay hands; and this is what he is after now—the money bag.
To-day I have the headache, which is as painful and unpleasant a complaint as the toothache, which I am seldom rid of.
Sunday April 30, 1848.—This morning, at 10 o'clock, we were formed into line and marched to the old parade-ground, and there mustered into the United States service by Lieut.-Col. Abercrombie. Company after company were mustered, after which they returned to their quarters. The wounded and diarrhœa blues fell in on the left and answered to their names when called. Our regiment, as usual, was highly praised by the Inspector-General. This evening the report of Gens. Paredes, Bustamente and Almonta about the breaking up of Congress is contradicted and all false.
Monday, May 1, 1848.—This morning, at 9 o'clock, we were formed in front of our quarters, after which we marched to the parade-ground, where we met the New York, Massachusetts South Carolina and Pennsylvania Regiments, also the splendid light battery, under the command of Lieut. French, of the Third Artillery; after which we were all put in our proper positions. We were then reviewed by Gens. Patterson and Worth and our American Commissioners, Messrs. Sevier and Clifford, accompanied by Col.—now Gen.—Riley, Major Leonard and about twenty other officers. When the brigade was in proper position, Gens. Patterson and Worth and other officers advanced, when the band struck up the reveille. At this the Generals uncovered, and then proceeded to the right of the brigade, and passed along the line to review. As they passed, the music of each regiment struck up "Hail to the Chief," while the Light Battery was firing blank cartridges and manœuvring. After the review was over, we were then taken through the field movements, such as close and open column, eschelon and oblique movements. We formed squares, and when our regiment formed the square, the Messrs. Sevier and Clifford rode in the centre; after which we formed a solid square around them, and then we charged bayonets. After we had deployed square, Mr. Sevier rode up to Gen. Patterson and said, "General, I was in the solid square." "Yes," replied the General, "and you would, in case of danger, be safe amongst those boys!" [Laughter.] At this the regiment turned out and came to a "present arms" as they passed, after which they left for the city of Mexico. At the same time Lieut. French's battery was on the road firing a salute as the officers passed, after which we marched to the front of our quarters, and then dismissed—every soldier saying he hoped that that would be the last field drill in Mexico.
In the evening, Col. Dominguez's Spy Company passed our quarters; they are out on scouting duty.
Tuesday, May 2, 1848.—This morning the city papers have in a very flattering account of the volunteer review yesterday, saying that we look more like old regulars than volunteers.
In the evening we received news that the Mexican Congress have a quorum, and that a diligence left the city this morning with two senators for the seat of government at Queretaro.
Wednesday, May 3, 1848.—This morning the news is very exciting, on account of the city papers being full of peace.
The express which came in last night from Queretaro states that there is now a quorum in both branches, and that they are all anxious for the arrival of our peace commissioners, Messrs. Sevier and Clifford. Also, rumors have it that Gen. Almonta has declared to support the present government of Mexico, and not heading any revolution movement, and that Gen. Paredes has asked for his passport to leave the country. The Mexican papers are out strong against him for trying to injure the Republic of Mexico. Old padre Jarauta, is at San Louis Potosi, but doing nothing on either side.
In the evening we received news that the advance guard of the train going down to Vera Cruz charged upon a party of often United States soldiers (Irish deserters), and captured five of them and all their horses. One deserter was killed, and the other four took to the ravine and made their escape. Thursday, May 4, 1848.—This morning the city papers are again full of peace. That a quorum of the members of the two branches of the Mexican Congress at Queretaro has at last been formed, and that this body is now in session ready to proceed to the discharge of its legislative duties.
It is believed that the majority of the members are in favor of ratifying the treaty of peace. It also speaks in praise of the American guards for their heroic and daring courage in charging and capturing these Irish-American deserters; capturing all their arms, which consisted of sabres, carbines, pistols and American rifles. The guard that captured these men belonged to the mounted rifle company of Capt. Long, all commanded by Lieut. Lilly. Good for Lilly.
To-day one of Capt. Binder's men, of the First Pennsylvania Volunteers, named Schiches, was drowned in a small millpond near our quarters; how it happened no one seemed to know. His company buried him this evening.
Friday, May 5, 1848.—This morning our regiment received a very large mail; but, as usual, I received but one letter. Wait until I get back again, I will have them all arrested, court-martialed, bucked and gagged for violating their promises. The letters received by our men mostly all speak of the removal of Gen. Scott, and expecting us to come home soon.
This afternoon a report came from the city stating that on Saturday last the diligence, running between this city and Puebla, was fired upon from both sides of the road by the guerillas near Cordova; one of our guards, who was on top of the stage, was shot in the head, fell off killed; others were slightly wounded. The robbers on the road, between this and Puebla, are increasing, they are covered by rascals and ladrones, and some of tem will yet he caught, and will swing from a tree before they are much older.
This evening Joseph C. Taylor and myself took a walk to Churubusco. This place, before Conqueror Cortez's time, was qalfed Huitzilapuchco, and was at that time a good tamano (sized) city, but now under the civilized Mexican government. It contains one church, convento, and an out-house.
Saturday, May 6, 1848.—This morning the news from Queretaro is not so encouraging. It states that there is a party in the Mexican Congress rallying under the name of Pureza (Purity), who are doing everything in their power to prevent the union of Congress, and had also determined at their meetings, or caucuses, that whenever the treaty should be brought up in Chamber of Deputies they would withdraw or resign for the purpose of preventing a quorum. Is it possible that any Mexicans can be found so degraded and corrupt as to resort to such a mean course? If the Puros are determined to withdraw from their seats for the purpose of preventing a quorum, and to prevent the treaty from being passed they will be marked men for some time to come. The mass of the people are in favor of peace all the time, but Pena y Pena, who is, I believe. President of the Senate, says that they must hold their seats and serve the Government or lose their rights of citizenship. Good for Pena y Pena. They must come and remain and perform the high duties which they were chosen to perform. Let our prayers be that the Moderados and Puros, between wealth and poverty, may put their heads and minds together and support the legal Government, which is for peace; and the storm, which is now brewing at Queretaro, may die an everlasting death, and peace and harmony prevail.
Sunday, May 7, 1848.—This morning we had a company inspection at our quarters, inspected by our genial first Lieut. Aquilla Haines, who gave us a little taffy for neat appearance.
At noon Gen. Robert Patterson paid a visit to our villa, San Angel, going through all the different quarters and hospitals, examining their quarters, and encouraging the sick and wounded soldiers, by telling them to keep their courage up, that we all will soon be on our way home, as the peace prospect looks very encouraging—that it is believed that there are only eighteen or twenty advocates of war. We are all anxiously awaiting for that highly interesting news from Queretaro which will be watched with great interest on both sides; and we hope there will be nothing like an explosion. If so, if the Puros, the anti-peace and annexation party, are determined upon mischief, they should be made to feel and understand that eighteen or twenty, who style themselves as legislators, have not the power to set aside the popular will of the people, and render all legislation a perfect nullity. As I said before, these men will be marked, and branded cowards.
I learn to-day that the guerillas, who fired upon the diligence from Puebla on Saturday last week at Cordova, were captured at Chalco by a detachment of Col. William Irvine, Fifth Ohio Volunteers, camped at Rio Frio. They were seven in number, and are now in safe custody. Upon one of them being brought out to receive a few shots, his own brother came forward and confessed the whole matter. The soldier who accompanied the diligence as a guard was shot dead, as stated, and his musket was found at Chalco. We hope these murderers and plunderers will receive the punishment which is due them; they have, without a doubt, been at the bottom of most of the recent robberies between this and Puebla City.
The diligence from Puebla came in last evening without being attacked; the driver and guard did not even see a ladrone. The robbers who have so long infested that road are now in close confinement at Rio Frio; also, the four Mexicans recently taken to Rio Frio, on a charge of murdering and mutilating two American soldiers, have been tried, and three of them found guilty, to be hung. Unless the Commander-in-Chief, Gen. William O. Butler, should interpose, they must suffer death. A priest and thirteen others have been arrested in the neighborhood of Guadaloupa on a charge of prompting desertions from our army. Yesterday they were brought before Major Gait, and, after undergoing an examination, the cases were referred to a council of war. They are now all in confinement at the palace. The priest gave his name as Pasqual Pastrato, but his real name is Antonio Triate.
Later news from Queretaro confirms the statement that a quorum was present in both Chambers, viz., 73 Deputies and 22 Senators were organized in due form. So the story circulated by the treacherous disorganizers against peace appears to be absolutely false. The opposition of the puros, whose deputies first refused to assemble at Queretaro, was of a short duration. They soon learned that it was impossible, the way things looked, to prevent the dismemberment of Mexico. So there is some recuperative energy in the bosom of Mexico yet, though her future seems dark and dubious; yet there are many breaks in the clouds, and many inducements for her wise and good to hope and struggle on. So our hopes of Mexico and peace prospect are better, but it behooves the present government to be on the alert. The courage and energy of the President and his Cabinet thus far, we may add, has excited in our army nothing short of our admiration.
Monday, May 8, 1848.—This morning, as one of our officers was riding along, with two gentle-looking Mexicans, on the road leading to Cuyoacan, one of these gentle Mexicans snatched his (the officer's) six-shooter from its holster, and shot him through the leg and slightly wounded the horse in the side, at which the horse became frightened and ran off, carrying his rider safely to the city of Mexico. The two pretended gentle Mexicans made their escape.
This is a lovely May morning; the sky overhead is like a magnificent blue vault. Friend Alburtus Welsh and myself took a walk to the orange grove. Here the air is full of the perfume of flowers; the birds are flying around and among the trees and in the warm sun, singing. The whole put me in mind of the many Mays I spent in Lancaster County.
This evening San Angel was thrown into a state of excitement on account of one of the Massachusetts soldiers murdering his wife. Jealousy was supposed to be the cause of the rash act. The murderer made his escape, but a guard is now in pursuit of him to bring him to justice for his cowardly act. The parties are both Irish, and he has been jealous of his wife ever since they were encamped at the Villa of San Angel. Tuesday, May 9, 1848.—This morning, the man who killed his wife last evening was arrested near San Angel, and put in the guard-house to await his trial for murder.
This evening I am informed by one of the New Yorkers that Alexander S. Forbes, of New York City, arrived in the city of Mexico. He is appointed Special Commissioner by the authorities of New York City for the purpose of taking up the dead bodies of the gallant officers, Lieut.-Col. Charles Baxter, Capts. James Barclay and Pearson, Lieuts. Charles F. Gallagher and Chandler—all belonging to the New York regiment of volunteers. They were mostly all young officers, who sacrificed their lives in Mexico upon the altar of patriotism and devotion to their country's flag. They will be taken to New York City, and there buried with great military honors. Nothing is said about taking up the bodies of poor privates who fell and—like the officers—offered up their lives for their country's cause—the men who saw war in all its horrors on the march, in camp and on the battle-fields, the hardship and trying labors of military life devolved on them, the luxuries of a camp they never knew, the attractions of society in a foreign country, such as was found in Mexico, they never enjoyed; public notices of their gallantry were seldom given, they were cut down in the discharge of their duty—either by disease or by bullets; they are left to remain where they fell on the field of their triumphant fame.
Wednesday, May 10, 1848.—This morning several of us went to the city. We went by the way of Cuyoacan, and stopped at a place called The Ranchos, where we got something to eat. It will not be out of place to note the bill of fare in these ranchos, and how coffee is prepared in these diggings. The coffee is burned, or rather roasted. When wanted for use, a little is placed on a flat stone and rolled with another stone somewhat resembling in shape an old-fashioned rollingpin. With these implements the coffee is powdered very fine, after which it is put into a kettle of boiling water. When it begins to boil, a little sugar raised in this part of the country is poured into it. After boiling four or five minutes, it is ready to drink, and better coffee I never tasted. The charge is a malgo, or five cents, a cup; if you drink leche (milk) the price is ten cents. Spirituous liquors are found at almost every rancho. The charges for drinks are the same as for coffee. Boiled rice, green corn and bread of a tolerable quality may be enumerated among the eatables to be obtained on the passage; jerked beef may be obtained also, but it is not fit for a white man to eat, unless he be on the point of starvation. A breakfast can be served up in good style. It consists of omelette, boiled eggs, beefsteak, fried plantains, chopped beef, bread and coffee. Dinner is composed of fowls, game, soup, oranges and bananas. Started for San Angel all right.
Thursday, May 11, 1848.—This morning I visited the guardhouse. Here I saw the Massachusetts Volunteer who killed his wife a few days ago, in the plaza of San Angel; his name is Patrick Duffy. He told me that the officers of his regiment dare not court-martial him, unless they tell the truth and shame the devil. So there must be something behind the biomba (screen) which won't do to bring to light, for fear of hurting somebody high in rank. No doubt there are some very strange circumstances connected with the affair; time will tell the tale.
I saw in last Monday's Weekly Star, for the United States, that the Mexican Government at Queretaro has yielded several points of etiquette which they had previously held to, and one of them the admission into their new capital of an American escort of sixty men with the Commissioners, whom they are looking for to come daily; so things begin to look cheerful. We are watching their action with keen eye, for from there must either come a great deal of glory or sadness. Pray let us have the great hurrah. Also that the City Council of Mexico have appropriated fifty dollars to the San Patricio prisoners, and it calls upon its compatriots to go and do likewise. These men have done some service to the Mexican Government by deserting from our army and joining that of the nemy, and why should the Mexicans be so backward in administering to their support; they, like the rest of the deserters, should all be hung.
Mr. Leverty, thie Canadian Frenchman, who was with Lieuts. Dutton and Hare, in the robbery and murder some time ago, is to be tried before the Mexican court.
Friday, May 12, 1848.—This morning there is no news stirring, but at noon there was an exciting rumor brought out from the city, saying that the city of New Orleans has been sunk by an earthquake; that there has been a tremendous loss of life and property. This is truly very alarming news, and many think that it may be too true, but I have my doubts about all those wild rumors; they are mostly thrown out for speculation. I see by the papers that Gen. Scott, our gallant old commander, arrived at Vera Cruz on the 1st inst., and embarked on board the brig "Petersburg" and sailed for New York, from whence he will proceed directly to his residence at Elizabethtown, N. J.
Saturday, May 13, 1848.—This morning is my birthday, having been born on the 13th of May, 1825, which makes me twenty-three years of age. The news from Queretaro is encouraging; the peace men say that they will have eighty deputies in attendance, sixty-five of whom are advocates of peace, and fifteen only upon whom Gen. Almonte relies for opposition to the treaty. This is the extent of the influence against the general views of order and patriotism which prevail in both Chambers.
Sunday, May 14, 1848.—This morning the report of New Orleans being sunk and destroyed is contradicted—good news. At noon the volunteer brigade encamped at Molino del Rey moved their quarters to San Antonio—a more comfortable and healthier place and far better water. They passed our quarters. I thought they were the hardest and roughest-looking soldiers I ever saw—none regularly uniformed and looked like raw militiamen.
This evening the report of Gen. Paredes having asked for his passport to leave the country is confirmed. The country is well rid of such heroes. Every one who knows his history knows that he is nothing but a plotter and a disorganizer in all the political movements in this country. He is justly hated by a large majority of his countrymen. He is politically a dead cock in the pit and buried. Most every sensible Mexican in the country would have lent his hand to dig his grave. He, like his good old friend Gen. Santa Anna, has left his country for his country's good; and I don't think that there will ever rise a party in Mexico to recall either one of these two ex-generals. Still, their absence will leave two parties in opposition to the regeneration and progress of Mexico. The everlasting clergy, the priest, nuns and all the paid officials belonging to that Holy Catholic Church and the army; the extravagant and unmanly opposition of the puros. The army, continually losing ground during the late years, has at length lost all respect and consideration of the people. The rude blow of the present war has shaken many scales from the Mexican eyes. The obstinacy of the so-called clergy is growing every day more conspicuous and contemptible; her whole history (as frequently mentioned) is full of outrages, forbearance and corruption. Turn which way you will, the fact forever meets us in the face that education is the only clue by which the embroiled snarl of Mexican chaos can be unravelled into order and law.
Monday, May 15, 1848.—This morning a large force of Mexican cavalry and lancers came in from Queretaro City with despatches, but we could not learn their contents, but it was supposed that it was the acting President's, Penia y Penia, message to be put in type for to-morrow's paper. At noon a large train of empty wagons went to the city of Tuluco, where Gen. Cadwalader's brigade is encamped. Several of our men went along to see the town. Also a very large train went to San Antonio, where the Tennesseeans, Kentuckians, and other volunteers, are now quartered. It was time that this brigade had changed their quarters from Molino del Rey, for it was very unhealthy, they were dying off like so many sheep. To-day is the anniversary of the surrender of the city of Puebla. This evening Jim Sawyer, who is one of the working lights and runners of the Hibernia Engine Co., No. 1, of Philadelphia, and expects to run with the machine soon again, called to see us. He says that the peace proposition will surely pass.
Tuesday, May 16, 1848.—This morning the paper contains Penia y Penia's message, and it is a most ably gotten up document, in fact it is the best document that I have read since I have been in Mexico, or even in the United States, and shows that the President of the Republic of Mexico is a scholar as well as a statesman. He plainly shows in his able written message his determination to make peace, and says that if there is any member of Congress that resigns his seat during this present session that member, or members, shall lose their rights of citizenship, and be heavily fined. He calls upon the members to take a vote soon.
Wednesday May 17, 1848.—This morning the papers contain the conclusion of Penia y Penia's Message, and Senor Rosa, a Senator, made a very eloquent speech, before the opening of Congress, in regard to the present and fearful condition of the republic of Mexico, strongly advocating peace, if honorably obtained; if not, there are fifty thousand Mexicans who are yet unwhipped (cheers); but winds up, let us make peace if possible.
In the afternoon the cartridges were gathered in from the different companies, and handed over to the Ordnance Department. This is done to keep the soldiers from shooting cattle on our way down to Vera Cruz; but the cartridges were not all returned.
In the evening we received news that Don Manuel De La Penia y Penia was elected President over Gen. Herrera by eleven to four votes—close running. I suppose these are the four that threatened to resign their seats in Congress when the peace proposition was to be brought up, as Gen. Herrera was the war candidate. This vote puts the peace proposition on a fair basis, and may as well be called approved. Thursday, May 18, 1848.—This morning blank cartridges were served to our company and, I believe, to all the companies in the volunteer division. At noon we were ordered to march out to the parade-ground to have a drill with blank cartridges; but, owing to the heavy rain just coming up, it was postponed until to-morrow.
This evening it is rumored that Lieuts. Isaac P. Hare and Benj. F. Button, both of the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, will be hung in the citadel or arsenal yard, city of Mexico, on the twenty-fifth of this month. This news has caused considerable excitement at San Angel and in the city, and particularly among the victim's friends, who are talking about getting up a petition, to be signed, for a pardon, they having both been brave and gallant officers.
Friday, May 19, 1848.—This morning, rumors that peace has passed the House. In the afternoon we marched out to the field to drill. During the firing of blank cartridges by the regiment, one of Capt. Binder's (Co. E) men shot away his ramrod, and came near shooting a Iepero, after which we marched back to our quarters.
Saturday, May 20, 1848.—This morning, by accident, the quarters of Co. A, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, were nearly destroyed by the explosion of some cartridges (about twenty-five pounds of powder). Two of the company were dangerously wounded and burned; their names are Sergt. Clark Bruton and Private Mason; they are not expected to live.
I forgot to note that on dress parade last evening the death sentence of Lieut. Hare and Adjt. Button was read. They are to be hung on the 25th inst.
In the evening the two unfortunate men who were so badly burned were taken to the hospital; they are not expected to live long, being burned almost to a crisp.
Sunday, May 21, 1848.—This morning there is no news and nothing doing; so a party of us went to the Orchard Groves.
At noon an extra paper came out from the city saying that the peace proposition had passed the House by a majority of fifty-one to thirty-five. This raised the peace stock, and six cheers were given for peace and three for Penia y Penia, for his determination and stand he took in favor of peace.
Monday, May 22, 1848.—This morning all the talk is about the peace.
At noon our company got paired off. I did not draw my money in consequence of us going home soon,
Tuesday, May 23, 1848.—This morning myself and three others got permission from our Lieut. Haines to go to the city to purchase several curiosidades (curiosities) to take home. We went by the way of Tacubaya Road. On our way we noticed several of our men digging up some of the deserters who were hung in September last. The ropes were still around their necks. They are to cut their heads off, and then boil the meat off and take their skulls to the United States. Arrived at Tacubaya about 10 o'clock. Here is Gen. Worth's encampment. This town, before Cortez's time, was called Tlapan. It was a strong and large city, and it was by this route Cortez first retreated. It was afterwards, like nearly all the Mexican cities, destroyed by the order of Cortez. It seems that almost every Mexican we meet either on the road or in this city we could read the brand of peace in his smiling face—shaking hands with such good feeling and saying "Silencia, Americanos''. The streets were thronged; crowds of aged matrons and charming senoritas were seen wending their way through the population. Yet it is not the stirring multitude which characterizes our Atlantic cities; there is the absence of bustling business and rattling of wagons and carts, shrieking of whistles, etc.
Being thirsty, we entered the gate of a large and beautiful casa (or a gentleman's hacienda). Here a beautiful fountain stood in the centre of the square; a cup being attached to it, we took a drink. At this, the Don (Mr.) of the casa came out on the piazza, and saluted us by saying, "Silencia, Americanos" called us up into his well-adorned sitting-room, and gave each of us a drink of wine in honor of peace, which we, of course, drank with great relish. His family and a daughter, who was like a dream of poetry, that may not be written or told—exceedingly beautiful—drank with us, at the same time saying, "Mucho bellos, valentias Americanos. After talking, and taking several drinks between times, he took and showed us his large library. Some books are over three hundred years old, mostly histories of Mexico and Spain. He has a history called "The Rulers of Mexico," which is over three hundred years old, and I took the liberty of noting down several important paragraphs. I have read many histories, but never came across such rare and important facts as I did here, and being old and rare histories, I shall note them in this book, which will be interesting to all my readers.
Montezuma was the ninth ruler of the Mexican empire. He was born in the year 1476. He was a man of great wealth, nobility, and liberality. He had a large and extensive acquaintance in all parts of Mexico, and enjoyed the greatest popularity among all classes of people. He was an eloquent off-hand speaker, with a powerful voice. He was also a zealous promoter of all the improvements about the city of Mexico, which is enough to make any ruler popular.
He excelled all others, and manifested his splendor. His house for all sorts of living creatures on earth or in sea, and many other things might serve for a sufficient testimony, for in it he kept sea fishes in salt water, river fishes in fresh water, and all kinds of wild beasts in peculiar places were kept in great avaries, surrounded with golden rails.
His palace was, in fact, one of the finest in the country. It was situated near the Temple Cue which, being built of stone, in form like a serpent, of large size, with magnificent apartments for their priest to lodge in, their cherished idol, called Viztlipuctli, or lord of the humble, so that Montezuma may be close to worship his devil idol god Viztlipuctli, who was a wooden image in the shape of a man sitting on a blue seat in a triumphant chair, at each end of which was placed a staff with a serpent's head upon it; he was called by the Mexicans, "the great God and Saviour of all souls," and really believed him to be the God from heaven, and some of the real natives believe so to the present day. Here is where the heathen, in his blindness, bowed down to wood and stone.
Montezuma was chosen king on the death of his father in 1502, utterly against his will; but the masses of the people demanded him as a ruler, and by hard persuasion at last accepted it. Before his election he held the position of High Priest of Mexico. He was crowned with more high honors and greater pomp than any other ruler of Mexico since.
He appointed several earls who were next to the king in rank of power. They were commanders over his army called atlacolccalcatlas, which means princes of the throne; they were at the head of lancers, a weapon much used among the Mexicans to the present time. They are mostly distinguished men, and wear marks as valiant and gallant men. King Montezuma and his son-in-law, Guatamzin, stand carved on a rock in the order of the Mexican eagle.
On Montezuma's inauguration day thousands of people came to the city of Mexico; even his enemies came from far off, in large numbers, with treasures for presents to Montezuma; in fact, the city was so thronged that even standing room on the streets, balconies, windows, and tops of all the houses were filled with spectators. No king in Mexico ever went to the throne in such great pomp and splendor. He was congratulated in a speech from Lord of Tescuco, in the following manner:
Speech of Lord Tescuco.
The great happiness, most noble Montezuma, which is befallen this realm by your election may easily be conjectured from the general joy, none besides yourself being able to undergo an office in the management whereof so much prudence is required. It is a most certain testimony that God loves Mexico, that he has given its inhabitants understanding to make such a choice. Who can doubt it but that you, who have expatiated through the heavens, and conversed with Viztlipuctli, may easily govern us mortals on earth; who can despair, but that the virtue enclosed within your heart will extend to the widows and orphans. Therefore, rejoice, O Mexico. The heavens have granted us a prince without vice; merciful, and not a violater of the laws; agreeable, not despising common conversation; and you, O King, let not this great present occasion any alteration in your so long-known virtues. The crown breeds care for the public good. The troubles thereof must extend over the whole realm, and every one in the realm. (Great applause.)
Montezuma listened to the speech, and would willingly have answered the same, but could not utter a word for tears which gushed from his eyes.
It was not long afterward the whole Mexican empire was under Montezuma's jurisdiction, and by his valor and great popularity was successful in all his wars; and in the few years of his reign, and before the Conqueror Cortez came to Mexico, subdued and conquered over a hundred cities and towns to his dominion; with the exception of the neighboring country of Tlascallian, mentioned elsewhere, whose inhabitants were famous for their valor and strength. They would never, receive or obey any laws from King Montezuma. Montezuma strictly maintained the laws of his country which were made, until he arrived at the highest top or ground, top heavy; and the appearance of a comet in 1512 (mentioned elsewhere) caused great excitement in Mexico, which comet foretold the misfortune that will befall the country. During Montezuma's reign, he captured thousands of prisoners yearly; and history tells us that he sacrificed commonly, one year to another, twenty thousand men, and some years, on an extraordinary occasion, not less than fifty thousand souls.
Thus it seems that the Mexicans carried out the ancient religious traditions of the Phœnicians, for history tells us that Baal—who was, after his death, formed into an idol and worshipped as a devil-god—was the first who sacrificed his son to heaven; and in this tradition probably originated the revolting custom of human sacrifices to this deity. It was at the city of Carthage that over two hundred of the healthiest children of the most influential and wealthiest citizens were sacrificed at one time. In time of war prisoners also were sacrificed in the same manner, which practice was continued until the defeat of the Carthagenians by the Romans, where a solemn curse was pronounced upon the spot where once rose the city of Dido—which city was built by a lady named Dido, a daughter of the king of Tyre, who was driven away from that city by the cruelty and avarice of her brother, named Pygmalion. It was built in the year 878 B.C., or one hundred and twenty-five years before the foundation of Rome was laid.
After the fall of Carthage it is supposed that most of its wealthiest people fled in ships then lying in their harbor, sailed away and settled somewhere in South America and Mexico, and from them originated the sacrifice of human lives.
After Montezuma had reigned some sixteen or seventeen years his troubles commenced; he received news from his princes of a large fleet, loaded with men hostile to his kingdom, and that munitions of war were being landed near the island of Sacrificios. He called his princes and councillors together to take some action to prevent their intrusion on the city of Mexico.
Cortez arrived in the valley of Mexico in the early part of October, 1519. Here King Montezuma met Cortez at Tlapisahua; and, after they had several interviews in regard to the Spaniards wanting to occupy the city of Mexico, King Montezuma and nearly all his tribe strongly protested against letting Cortez or any of his followers enter the city of Mexico. Finally, by persevering and making great promises, the Spaniard succeeded in getting into the city of Mexico November 8, 1519. This generous kindness, bestowed upon Cortez by King Montezuma, made the Mexicans jealous, and losing confidence in Montezuma as a ruler. The Spaniards and Mexicans finally got to street-fighting. This enraged Cortez so that on June 27, 1520, he made an assault on the city of Mexico, and made King Montezuma a prisoner in his own castle. This kind of treatment and betrayal to their king much enraged the Mexicans, and caused constant fighting with the Spaniards.
During the imprisonment and death of King Montezuma his brother, Quetlavana, or Cutlahua, was elected king, and his cousin, or King Montezuma's son-in-law, Guatamzin, was appointed chief of the army. They were both great and fearless warriors, and were bitter against the Spaniards and all their followers. He went to work cautiously and raised a large army. During all this time the fighting in the streets and elsewhere got more fierce.
Montezuma was called upon to go to a small window for the purpose of speaking to his subjects to pacify them; but the noise, confusion, and cry of death to all Spaniards and traitors and clamor was so great that he could not be heard. He then went to a larger window; and, as he was looking out and about to address his people to cease fighting and retreat to their homes, he was unfortunately shot with an arrow, and soon afterwards hit with a stone on the temple. He refused all food and medical attendance to his wounds, and died in three days after he was wounded, which was on the 30th day of June, 1520, and was forty-four years of age.
This shows that King Montezuma must have ruled Mexico eighteen years instead of fourteen, as some writers have it.
The death of Montezuma fully aroused the spirit of all classes of Mexicans; even the weak-kneed Mexicans (so-called) who favored the Spaniards all along rallied to the standard of King Cutlahua and Chief Guatamzin, and swore by their god, Viztlipuctli, to avenge the death of King Montezuma, and passed resolutions of determination of vengeance, and crush out all the Spaniards and their sympathizers in Mexico. The Mexicans had recruited a large army, well armed with bows and arrows, and mounted lancers attacked the Spaniards at all quarters with yells and cry, "death to all Spaniards and traitors." Finally the Spaniards were repulsed from the city; and during their retreat, which lasted for several days, they (Spaniards) met with great loss of men and arms, and completed their retreat on the tenth day of July, 1520, at midnight, which the Spaniards in Mexico call the doleful night to this day, and the Mexicans celebrate it every year as a day of feast and jubilee.
Fernando Cortez, with his routed army, retreated to his sure friends of Tlascallia (a class of people who lived free among themselves, refusing to be subject to the king of Mexico, with whom they were continually at war); and when Cortez had conquered the Tlascallians they made friends with the Spaniards, and afterward assisted Cortez to conquer the kingdom of Montezuma, without whose help he surely could never have conquered the Mexicans.
King Cutlahua, the successor of Montezuma, reigned but a short time when he died of small-pox, which disease was brought into Mexico by the Spaniards.
Guatamzin, Montezuma's son-in-law, chief of the Mexican army, a brave, gallant, and popular officer among his people, was chosen king or emperor of Mexico.
Fernando Cortez, while encamped at Tlascallia, went to work and recruited and strengthened his army to over two hundred thousand strong—Spaniards, Tlascallians, and other hostile tribes. The Spaniards were well armed with firearms, and the Tlascallians, who were friendly to the Spaniards and hostile to the kingdom of Montezuma, were armed with bows, arrows, and lancers.
After everything was ready, Cortez marched his large army towards the city of Mexico; arrived in the valley in the middle of May, 1521, with the determination to take the city, cost what it will; made a bold and daring attack on it both by land and the surrounding lakes; succeeded in a short time in cutting off all supplies of provision and communication from the city; and after a siege of three months or more, Cortez at last resolved to take the city by storm, which was executed on Tuesday, the 13th day of August, 1521 (a little over one year from the time of Cortez's first retreat from Mexico). Defeated the Mexicans, taking Emperor Guatamzin, his sister, wife and family prisoners; took them with him, closely guarded, into the city, demanded of Guatamzin all the gold, treasures and riches belonging to Montezuma, when some one informed Cortez that it was all thrown into the lakes. For this Guatamzin and others were put to torture; and still refusing to tell where the rich treasure was, were put on burning coals, and burned the King severely. The city of Mexico was first sacked, and then burnt to the ground. It was afterwards rebuilt nearly on the same spot, where it now stands. Before Guatamzin was taken prisoner, he ordered his flying princes to throw all his treasures into the lakes, and for this, as already stated, was put to the torture. So the treasury is lost to this day, although many expensive searches have been made to find it.
Wednesday, May 24, 1848.—This morning I took breakfast with Capt. Naylor's company, Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, who are quartered in the halls of the Montezumas (or the capital of Mexico), where I lodged last night. So, if anybody asks me whether I have been to or seen the halls of the Montezumas, I can say, "Yes; I slept in it one night."
At 10 o'clock, a.m., I visited the beautiful and charming Alameda Park, where the richness, beauty and chivalry daily meet. Mexico is not an industrial city; its streets or thoroughfares are ever thronged from early dawn until dark, yet the city is a great display of wealth, and apparently no scarcity of the precious metals; but, in the absence of prominent resources or striking indications of busy traffic, you inquire:—Whence comes it? You look in vain for those stirring marts where the mercantile operations of a city concentrate and are pursued on a great and expensive scale, but none of those gigantic work-houses and merchant palaces, which I often witness in Philadelphia and elsewhere, are seen here. There are no confusing dins from the rumbling wheels of loaded drays and wagons and the clanking noise of busy workshops or the hoarse and harsh whistling of the steam-pipes and the dashing and speedy locomotive.
In the afternoon I started for San Angel, where I found my comrades on dress-parade, and orders being read to them to hold themselves ready for a speedy march to Vera Cruz. Cheer after cheer rent the air.
Just before we left the city we saw our commissioners, accompanied by about forty civilians and staff-officers and a large escort of cavalry, leave the city of Mexico for Queretaro, with the peace proposition.
Thursday, May 25, 1848.—This morning myself and five others got permission from our Lieut. Haines to go to the city of Mexico with the expectation of seeing Lieuts. Hare and Button hung, but when we got to the city we were informed that they both had been reprieved on account of the treaty of peace being signed. So we were spared witnessing such an unpleasant sight. But they are to be kept in confinement and under guard until we arrive at New Orleans. In the evening we left for San Angel.
Friday, May 26, 1848.—This morning there is great excitement, in and about camp, in regard to the glorious news from Queretaro City. That the treaty of peace had passed the Senate by a majority of eleven to four, having previously passed the House by a vote of fifty-one to thirty-five; and that it, having been signed by the President, Penia y Penia, is now a fact. Nine cheers were given for peace, six for Penia y Penia, President of the Republic of Mexico, and so on.
This afternoon there was an election for Lieutenant in Co. A, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. Sergts. Blakely, and Morton were the candidates. The ballot resulted in the choice of Sergt. Blakely. There was also an election in Co. H, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, for Lieutenant. Sergts. Bowers and Porter were the candidates, and after a sharp contest it resulted in the choice of Sergt. Porter. So in consequence of the treaty of peace, and of the election in the two companies, there was a little spree amongst the successful candidates and their friends, but there was no disturbance of any account, and everybody is in high glee. To-night peace, peace, is the cry.
Saturday, May 27, 1848.—This morning the soldiers are much rejoiced over the peace and the early prospect of going home. There are officers in the city of Mexico trying to raise companies to go to Yucatan.
This evening it is reported that our glorious and triumphant flag is to be hauled down to-morrow, and the Mexican flag, defeated in every battle fought, hoisted in its place.
To-day several of our companies dug up their dead comrades, intending to take them home. Among the dead I noticed was Mr. Peter McKeever, Co. D, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, who died some time ago.
Late this evening nearly all the companies had a regular fandango (dance), and collected the bands of the different regiments and started out serenading the different good officers, and some few prominent Mexicans, and kept it up until midnight—cheering, singing songs, telling stories and other joyful actions. Peace—peace has come! God bless it!
Sunday, May 28, 1848.—This morning orders came to our quarters to collect all the extra arms, muskets, etc., and send them to the city; from there they will be sent to Vera Cruz. Every soldier is now getting in readiness to march at a moment's notice. They are gathered in groups, singing our national songs, and cite, "We Are Coming Home." This evening the news from Queretaro City is, that our commissioners have reached that city, and are about to exchange treaties. When that is accomplished then the whole city is to be illuminated with candles and rockets. Monday, May 29, 1848.—This morning the news from Queretaro City is, that the treaties have been fairly exchanged agreeable to both commissioners. So there was another regular shouting, cheering and hallooing among the soldiers for nearly the whole day—being so much rejoiced in consequence of the conclusion of the treaty of peace; they also are singing that favorite song, "We Are Coming Home."
This afternoon orders were read for us to march to-morrow morning at 8 o'clock. Cheers rent the air, singing, etc.Having given several sketches of the history of Mexico, I think it will be acceptable to my numerous readers to give a small history of the rulers of Mexico from the Aztecs to Montezuma.
- Some of these very pieces are now on the Capitol Hill, Harrisburg, Pa.