Notes of the Mexican war 1846-47-48/Chapter 3
Sunday, April 18, 1847. — This morning all soldiers were up bright and early, and in fact it looked more like preparing to go on a Fourth of July spree than going into the field of battle.
Some were still writing letters, while others were eating and drinking, and some whistling, and some boasting and talking loud of what they intended to do.
About 6 o'clock, a. m., the drums began to beat their merry old tunes. Company after company marched into line to their respective places.Our Adjutant, Alexander Brown, with a clear and distinct voice gave the words, "Attention! Shoulder arms!" After addressing the regiment, he saluted the Colonel, and informed him that the regiment was formed. Col. Francis M. Wynkoop then drew his sword and stepped to the front, looking with his keen eyes from one end of the regiment to the other, gave the command, "By the left flank, left face, forward! March!" (The left being in the front.) Then started for the field where bloody work is to be done. After marching about four miles up the National Road, we came to a halt at a cluster of deserted huts or ranches.
Here, by looking back, we had a fine view of our camp at Plan del Rio, and could plainly see some of our camp-fires still burning, also a splendid view of the snow-tops of Orazaba Mountain. Here we halted about one hour and a half, awaiting the arrival of Gen. Robert Patterson. Finally Gen. Patterson came riding up in front of our regiment, and made the following remarks:—
"Good morning, men! I am glad to see you all. You are now about to take your line of position, and to charge and storm the enemy's batteries and heights, and the honor of Pennsylvania, the good old Keystone State, is now in your hands, and I know, and can safely say, it could not be in better hands.
"And, again, I am sure that you all will do your duty, not only as Pennsylvanians, but as soldiers of the United States Army." At this our soldiers bursted forth with tremendous cheering. "Again, follow your commander, Col. Francis M. Wynkoop, who is willing, able and capable of leading you on in the midst of battle."
Six cheers were then given for Maj.-Gen. Robert Patterson, which made the hills of Cerro Gordo echo. He then put on his hat and said "Good-bye, my brave men. I expect to hear good news from you."
Col. Wynkoop answered, "You shall, and should I, Gen. Patterson, be wanted, you will find me with you in the midst of the battle." Cheers were then given which rent the air and made the hills all around echo.
Gen. Patterson then rode off to the Tennessee regiments, and also made appropriate remarks suitable for the occasion, and to stir up their patriotism.
Just as we were about to start for our position, four or five wounded soldiers, riflemen, belonging to Gen. Twiggs' division, accompanied by their comrades in arms, came walking slowly down the new road, and as they passed us, remarked, "Oh, fellows! The Mexicans are on the hill strongly fortified, and are awaiting for you; look out!" Never shall I forget the looks of these gallant men. Some had their arms shot off, others shattered by shot and bullets, hung powerless, while a stream of their precious blood poured from their severed arteries, flooding their sides. Never, never, shall I forget this horrid sight, and I assure you it was not very encouraging to those soldiers who were just going into the field of battle; but such is war.
I understand these soldiers were wounded early last evening in storming a hill opposite Cerro Gordo.
Orders now came from Gen. Winfield Scott that the heights of Cerro Gordo must be stormed all at once and taken without further delay.
We moved and passed through the chaparral, moving with the left division in front. The First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Col. Wynkoop commanding, in front, supported by the First Tennessee Volunteers, Col. W. B. Campbell commanding; the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Lieut.-Col. John W. Geary commanding; supported by the Second Regiment Tennessee Volunteers, commanded by Col. W. T. Haskell. In this way we moved on with the utmost caution, climbing up the hill which is both steep and rough and rocky, covered in some places with miles of trees, shrub and chaparral, which bears clusters of thorns sharp as a needle.
As already stated, we filed to the left, to assault the enemy's line of batteries and entrenchment to the right, in the rear of the National Road, with nothing to protect our men except the steepness of the hill and trees.
After we had reached the position assigned to us, Gen. Pillow ordered our division to halt, with positive orders not to move or fire until further orders were given from either him or Gen. Patterson.From here is a fine view of the valley below, which was literally covered with wild flowers, and in some places, lilies were forcing their way up between rocks where one would think nothing could grow.
|BATTLE OF CERRO GORDO APRIL 4, 1847|
|General Patterson's Division||Telegraph hill|
Shortly afterward, a blundering mistake was made on the part of Col. Haskell; before any firing was heard from Gen. Twiggs' division on our right. Col. Haskell orders a charge on the enemy's batteries, followed by the Tennessee regiment and one company (Capt. Charles Naylor), Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. They charged up the hill with a yell, but before reaching the batteries were repulsed with considerable loss. Col. W. J. Haskell in the retreat lost his old hat, which caused a good deal of merriment among the soldiers.
The Mexicans by this blunder were aroused, and were not long in discovering our position. Their reveille was plainly heard summoning their soldiers to arms. They sent out skirmishing parties, and of course, they were not long before they discovered some of our soldiers; after which, they returned, and the Mexicans soon opened a tremendous firing of heavy artillery with round shot, hurling a terrible storm of grape, canister and rockets through the trees, cutting the twigs and young limbs as a hail storm cuts the ripened grain. It caused for a short time, confusion and tumult. It was enough to try the staunchest nerves; sometimes a volley of musketry would be fired, but being out of range, the bullets fell short, and of course did no harm.
By this time, Brig.-Gen. Gideon Johnston Pillow, (I am giving you his title and name in full), was seen going down the hill in our rear, and was no more seen or heard from until the engagement was all over.
Here we were left standing in front of the enemy's thundering artillery, with the rattling of grape, canister, rockets and the bursting of shells, cutting the limbs of trees down over our heads, and almost rooting up the ground beneath our feet; men shot down right and left, awaiting with patience for orders from our commanding generals to charge upon these breastworks, but none comes.
The Mexicans could be heard yelling and shouting "Bravo! Bravo! De la Mexicano!" No doubt supposing that they had checked us from charging on them; but we were anxiously waiting for orders from Gen. Patterson to charge on the enemy. During this perilous and dangerous position, we could hear Gen. Twiggs' division on our right shouting and cheering, and the firing of heavy artillery and musketry, firing volley after volley, and the sharp cracks of the rifles.
Our regiment, and in fact, the whole division, began to get impatient and excited in not getting orders from our generals to charge. Col. Wynkoop, a braver and more gallant officer never drew a sword, sent a messenger after Gens. Patterson and Pillow, to receive orders to charge on the batteries in our front, but the messengers soon returned without finding either Patterson or Pillow.
He again sent another, he returned with the same result. He then sent another, who made inquiries of the whereabouts of either Gens. Patterson or Pillow, but none could tell; he returned and reported the same to Col. Wynkoop.
Fortunately the Mexicans were either bad gunners or they could not depress their cannons enough to have effect on our men. Had they been good gunners, or depressed their pieces enough, there would have been few left to tell the tale of the battle of Cerro Gordo.
Col. Wynkoop began to get tired waiting for orders. Was about to order a charge on the batteries, when some soldier hallooed out that a white flag was waving from the Mexican batteries, the batteries we were about to storm. We all thought it was a joke, that it could not be possible that they have surrendered up their strong batteries and entrenchments, but the ceasing of firing all around put some truth in the report, and finally an aide came to Col. Wynkoop, confirmed the report, and ordered Col. Wynkoop to countermarch his regiment to the National Road. There was much dissatisfaction among both the officers and soldiers for not getting orders to charge, left standing to receive a plunging fire in our front. All the fault of our Generals in failing to give us orders, and failing to carry out the pledges they made to us previous to starting for the battle-field. The question now is asked, where was Gens. Patterson and Pillow during this heavy firing? They were not where they promised to be, nor could the three messengers sent by Col. Wynkoop find them. So where was Gens. Patterson and Pillow?* Echo answers, Where?
On our way to the National Road I saw some horrible sights—the wounded dying, and some dead, but I learn that there was only one belonging to our regiment, D. K. Morrison, that was killed, but many wounded. Among them was John Sheldon, belonging to our company (C). Alburtus Welsh, myself, and others, made a bearer out of poles to carry him to the National Road. Here we put him carefully into a hospital wagon, where some were already in a dying state.
Mr. Sheldon received a grape-shot wound through the ankle-bone. On his way down he complained pitifully of his wound, and fears that he will have to lose his foot or leg.
After we had all arrived from the battle-field we formed into line along the National Road and waited until Gen. Twigg's division arrived from the field with the Mexican prisoners. Here we witnessed another sorrowful scene. The wounded brought down from Gen. Twigg's division—some with arms and legs off, others with part of their faces shot off, and otherwise badly mangled. While these poor unfortunate crippled soldiers were passing by I overheard some of our men making remarks, "It was sweet to die for our country's cause, and an honor to those who sacrificed their limbs and gave their blood in defending our glorious country's flag, and that it is an honor to them and friends to rejoice in their sacrifices." I admit there is honor in the way these gallant young men have lost their limbs, their bodies disfigured and their blood spilt; and our country should well reward them for their sacrifices and suffering, but I don't think that there can be much rejoicing of anyone in losing their limbs, or having their bodies disfigured, like I saw some to-day.
I, if God's will, prefer my body and limbs as God made them, and do without the honor and rejoicing of lost limbs and blood. When Gen. Twggs, with the head of his division, arrived, was heartily cheered by our regiment. They brought with them, as already stated, the 3,000 (some have it 5,000) Mexican prisoners, and some officers high in rank. Amongst them was Gen. La Vega, who commanded the division and batteries that we were to charge upon. They reported that Gen. Vasquezea, a gallant Mexican officer, was killed behind his battery, and that our gallant old friend, Gen. Santa Anna, and Gens. Camaliza and Almonta, with about 10,000 troops, had retreated and fled in all directions just before Gen. Twiggs stormed the telegraph hill. Gen. Twiggs' division also captured Gen. Santa Anna's field carriage, containing drawers under the seats, filled with papers, plans and maps and his field service, a splendid mounted saddle and several wooden or cork legs, and, the best of all, over $60,000 in specie, portion of which Gen. Santa Anna made a levy and had assessed on the citizens of Jalapa on his way to Cerro Gordo; and to the carriage was harnessed three splendid black mules. The fourth mule and Gen. Santa Anna were so hotly pursued by Col. Harney's dragoons that he (Gen. Santa Anna) was compelled to cut him loose and make his escape from the field by taking what they call a blind road. The capturing of the specie caused much rejoicing amongst our victorious soldiers, and the prospect of soon getting paid off by the captured cash.
The prisoners were marched down to our Camp Plan del Rio, there formed into line, stacked their muskets and cartridge boxes, after which they were dismissed on parole of honor, and not to take up arms again, unless exchanged, as long as the two nations are at war with each other. After the defeat of the Mexicans, Gen. Scott sent Col. William S. Harney in hot pursuit of Gen. Santa Anna and his scattered and flying army, but I doubt whether Col. Harney will overtake Gen. Santa Anna, as I have been informed that he had over a half-hour start on him, and he, of course, being well acquainted with the country and all the by-roads, has all the chances of not getting caught even on a mule. Col. Harney has orders not to stop until the spires of Jalapa City appear in sight. I also learn that Col. Harney is followed with some infantry and artillery under the command of Gen. Robert Patterson. This is the first we heard of him since he left us on the National Road, making his patriotic war speeches. Following a confused and retreating army is better than to be in the midst of battle and promising the men to lead them into the conflict.
I learn the result of our grand victory to-day was the capturing of forty-three heavy and light bronze artillery, and over six thousand stand of arms, and any quantity of ammunition and provisions. Some of the musket boxes have never been opened. These muskets, as well as most of the heavy artillery, are ordered to be destroyed as we have not the means and force enough to take them with us.
This evening it is reported that Brig.-Gen. Jams Shields was shot through the lungs while carrying an order to Gen. Scott. It is feared he will not get over it. He is a brave, gallant and very kind officer; is well liked and admired by all his men.
A little before dark Gen. Santa Anna's carriage (which I was informed was captured by Capt. Justus McKinstry of Scott's staff, and the Second United States Infantry) was hauled up in front of Gen. Scott's headquarters to be unloaded of the specie, it being in little bags marked $100. The soldiers were standing around the carriage (which is after the model of Napoleon's field carriage) anxiously awaiting for an opportunity to steal a bag of specie. While one of the men (detailed) was carrying in a bag on his shoulder a man sneakingly slips up behind him with an open knife and gives it a rip, and, of course, away went the specie on the ground. Then you should have seen the scrambling and rushing. It was really laughable to see the scene. The largest, strongest and the roughest men were the most fortunate in getting some of Gen. Santa Anna's specie.The noise and wrangling brought Adjt.-Gen. H. L. Scott to the door. Seeing the disorder, and soldiers charging on the
wrong battery, ordered the guard to charge upon the men and drive them from the carriage. This naturally caused a murmur, much growling and loud talk. When presently Gen. Scott himself came to the door, and inquired what was the matter? Some answered the cause; he laughed, saying, "Well, let the boys have what is on the ground; for they fought and worked hard all day, and they deserve all they can get." This caused laughter, and a cheer for Gen. Scott, but from this time there was no more specie bags cut open. Some of our men got from twenty to thirty dollars, while others got nothing but sore hands, shins, and other bruises.
In our engagement to-day some of our men made some very narrow escapes. Some had the butt of their muskets shot off, out of their hands. Myself had the top of my bayonet shot off, while others had their canteens carried from their sides, one had his cartridge box carried clean from the belt, while Sergt. Joseph Faust, of our company, had his sword scabbard shot from his side.
On our way down from the battle-field it was reported that our Brig.-Gen. Pillow was wounded, but I put no faith in that report; knowing that he left us when the firing first opened, and, like some others, could not be seen or found anywhere near us. But I hear now that the report is true that the General was wounded with a musket bullet. The bullet fell short of us where we were standing. Gen. Pillow when the fire first began was in our rear, in fact so far that Col. Wynkoop's orderly could not find him. Now, I ask where was Gen. Pillow, and where did he run to when the fire first opened from the enemy's batteries? Echo answers, Where?
After cena (supper) several of us went over to the Tennesseeans' camp. They were just burying their dead comrades, namely:—Second Tennesseeans, Lieuts., F. B. Allen, C. G. Gill and B. F. Nelson; Sergts., H. L. Byrnirn, F. Willis and W. F. Brown; Corporals, W. O. Shebling and Franklin Elkin; Privates, Samuel Floyd, W. England, G. W Keeny and C. A. Sampson. R. L. Bohanan, J. N. Gunter, T. Griflin, R. Keirman, K. Price, M. M. Durham, A. Hatton and S. W. Landerdal of the First Tennesseeans. These men were unfortunately killed in the blundering charge on the batteries at Cerro Gordo. Those who have escaped that dreadful carnage are cursing and condemning every bone in Brig.-Gen. Pillow's body, and some even boast and seemed to know how Gen. Pillow was wounded, and that it was a pity that the ball didn't kill him for his cowardly and inhuman act on our poor and much exhusted soldiers on our march from Vera Cruz to Plan del Rio. The Tennesseeans don't seem to think much of Gen. Robert Patterson. They think, like a good many others, that he is braver before going into the battle than in the midst of the battle. That he made the same war speech to them as he did to us Pennisylvanians before the battle began. They, like ourselves, have not seen him since he left us on the National Road.
To-night everything seems to be very quiet. Silence reigned throughout the whole camp, broken only by the step of the sentinel. The soldiers, as well as the officers, are all tired, and will soundly sleep over the glorious victory of the battle of Cerro Gordo, April 18, 1847. Thus on Cerro Gordo Heights, a short, but fierce, day's work was done. And thus our brave old Gen. Scott another battle won, and our glorious banner still triumphantly waves over everlasting glory unto Cerro Gordo's dead.
Since the above has been written a great deal has been said, as well as written, about Gen. Robert Patterson's action and cowardice at the battle of Cerro Gordo. The author of this book has no animosity, or is no partisan of Gen. Patterson, nor do I wish to harm a hair on his veteran grey head, now in his eighty-second year, and all I have to say is that I have nothing to add to or detract from the above. They were taken down on the spot. But I will say this for the General, and I will say it boldly without fear or favor from either side, that there is not a better man living to-day to take charge or command a set of men than Gen. Robert Patterson. He not only goes to the Quartermaster and makes inquiry whether such or such regiment or division, or whatever they may be, have received or drawn their rations, but goes himself to their camps and makes inquiry among the soldiers themselves whether they have been properly provided for, and if not he would immediately send for his Quartermasters, reprimanding and telling them that they must get rations for his soldiers, let it come from where it may and cost what it will. The soldiers must and shall be fed. Also examine their quarters, and see for himself whether they are comfortable and clean. And paid particular attention to the sick and wounded soldiers, to see that they were well and properly provided with comfortable quarters, and supplied with skilful doctors, and with a medicine chest.
But in time of an engagement with the enemy he either is afraid of taking his command into battle, for fear of getting some of his men killed, or his ambition for fame and courage fails him.
These are my own humble, private opinions of Gen. Patterson. The notes taken are the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And I call upon all my readers to read it thoughtfully, and weigh it carefully; after which they can judge for themselves whether my notes are true or not.
Again it is officially reported that the Volunteer Brigade, commanded by Gen. Pillow, was repulsed at the battle of Cerro Gordo. I deny this report most emphatically, first there were no orders given for a charge upon the enemy's battery. Therefore, there could not have been a repulse. I now appeal (and I will prove it by statements from other sources), and call upon all the soldiers who served in that gallant volunteer division and brigade whether I am not correct in my statement, when I say that we were not repulsed. The only charge that was made upon the enemy's batteries (and it was done in a big and blundering mistake) was by Col. Haskell, of the Second Tennesseean, and Capt. Charles Naylor, of the Second Pennsylvania Volunteers. They charged upon the enemy's works without receiving any orders, either from Gens. Patterson or Pillow. Charged upon the batteries with about two hundred men with a yell, and no doubt, in full confidence in capturing these batteries, guarded and protected by over three thousand Mexicans, well drilled, equipped and disciplined. Charged on through chaparrals until they came to an open field, and within about seventy yards of the enemy's batteries, when a crashing fire of cannons, pouring grape, canister and musketry upon our men, killing eighteen or twenty of Col. Haskell's men, besides twice that many wounded. Hearing no signal or bugle charge. Col. Haskell was compelled to fall back to his old position. These were the only parties of volunteers that charged, and were defeated with the above losses. It was Col. Haskell's own fault; he having charged upon the enemy's batteries without orders, either from Gens. Patterson or Pillow, and Col. Haskell should be court-martialed for disobeying orders. He is responsible for the loss of the gallant young men who fell in front of the battery.
The following is a statement by an eye-witness, published in the American Star, at Jalapa, Mexico, April 29, 1847.
know from Gen. Pillow when he should make the charge, and was ordered distinctly to take his ground and remain there until he received the signal, or an order from Gen. Pillow through an officer. The signal was to be a single bugle note. He took the position designated. Our right extending into the low brushwood, skirting the chaparrals, was not distant from the enemy's batteries more than seventy-five yards, when a crashing fire of musketry, canister and grape was opened upon us whilst filing into place; and the only reason by which I explain the fact that our loss was only twelve men wounded, and of these but two mortal, was the elevation of the enemy's cannons, the grape almost entirely passed over our heads. The men had received orders not to fire, and not a trigger was pulled. In this position we remained two hours; our men glaring upon the faces of the enemy, and not permitted to move. We received neither the signal nor the orders to charge, and were compelled to stand there like stones, cursing and impatient. I know that Col. Wynkoop sent several officers to ask whether he might not charge, and every man in the regiment knows that all the officers, from the Colonel down, were chafing at the delay. The first intimation we received was an order to retire, and when we reached the ranch at the main road we there learned, for the first time, that Col. Haskell had charged and been repulsed. Our regiment obeyed orders to the letter. The Generals will, I am sure, testify to that fact. It was the last to leave its position, remained firm under the fire, and did not (as some might suppose from the statement in your paper) retreat; perhaps had we charged we might also have been repulsed, but, as that privilege was denied us, we think it unjust to imagine for us such an event.
By an officer who was there.
Also a statement from the Second Tennesseeans stating that they thought that the word of charge was given when Col. Haskell's command dashed with loud cheers into the space in front of the entrenchments, but, unfortunately, the entire siurface of the ground for three hundred yards being covered with chaparral, which was suffered to remain where it was cut down, formed an insurmountable obstacle to a rapid advance. By this time six or seven guns, with eighteen hundred muskets, opened on them with grape and canister, when they had to retreat.
Monday, April 19, 1847.—This morning there was a detail of ten men from each company of our regiment, to take down the cannons from the heights of Cerro Gordo; the same battery Gen. Twiggs planted on the night of the 17th inst. It, of course, was my lot to be one of the detailed. We started, and after arriving at Gen. Twiggs' field of operation, we were struck with astonishment how our men ever got this heavy artillery up this steep hill, in fact so steep that we were several times obliged to take hold of the branches of trees and bushes to pull ourselves up.
After arriving on the battle-field, we had the pleasure of witnessing an unsightly scene. The Mexican wounded were strewn all over the field; some with their arms and legs off, some shot almost in two and still gasping, some with their entrails hanging out, screaming with pain and agony, begging for a gota de aquas (a drop of water); we gave them water out of our canteens, and eased them of their misery all we could. Some of the dead had their heads shot off and whole sides ripped open, and others were mutilated in the most ghastly manner. It would puzzle the best artist in the world to paint the picture in its true light, or as we saw it. We saw the paroled Mexicans hunting up their dead and wounded comrades; to some of the dead they gave a decent burial, and the wounded they took proper care of; others of the dead they gathered in heaps and burned. The wounded were taken up and put in the ambulance wagon and taken to the hospital. In one place we saw no less than fifteen dead Mexicans laying all in one pile. Thus it is plainly to be seen that the twenty-four pounder played havoc among the enemy.
We also saw the body of the gallant Mexican Gen. Vasquazes. He was shot through the head. He was lying exposed to the hot sun, and was bloated up in an awful state; and, I regret to state, that some of our moral soldiers, who, after the battle of yesterday were sent out to bring in our dead and wounded soldiers, not only rifled his pockets, but took off his boots and all his mountings. In fact nearly all the dead Mexicans had their pockets turned inside out, to see whether they had anything in them. This thieving operation on the dead seems to be the custom among all victorious parties. It's singular that all the dead Mexicans are bloated up and turn black as soon as they are dead, this is on account of the Mexicans eating so much pepper.
After a couple of hours of hard work, we succeeded in getting the artillery down to the Second battery where we left it. The day being extremely hot and sultry, and having given our water and something to the wounded Mexicans, we of course were much exhausted from thirst, wanting something to eat and rest.
On our way back to camp, we visited the Mexican batteries that the Volunteer division, under the command of Gens. Patterson and Pillow, were to charge upon yesterday, we found them well constructed and mounted batteries; they commanded the whole sway of the surrounding hill, and no doubt had the Volunteer divisions charged upon these batteries there would not have been so many left to tell the tale of the battle of Cerro Gordo. These batteries were guarded and commanded by one of the best, bravest and most skilful officers in the Mexican army. Gen. La Vega.
There was also well constructed batteries in the rear of the front battery, called the reserve battery; that is, after the first one is captured or abandoned, they could fall back to the rear one. After examining both of these batteries, we all came to the conclusion that they were well planned. After we had seen and done all that could be done, we returned to camp, where we were informed that our actual strength, or number of soldiers engaged in the battle of Cerro Gordo, was about 8,500 men; and our loss in the two days' fight is 34 officers and 400 men, in all, 434 killed and wounded. There being 65 killed out-right in accomplishing this second grand victory of our army in Mexico.
The Mexican loss was about 300 killed and about 200 wounded. Thus counting the number of forces against us, the obstacles of art and nature that opposed our forces all over, the American army with skill and valor triumphed over a confident enemy with superior numbers and extraordinary difficulties, in which action was an assault on a carefully fortified position, and which, contrary to the expectation of the confident enemy, was a complete and decisive victory.
In the evening, most of our sick and wounded were sent with a train back to Vera Cruz, there to be discharged and sent to their homes.
On dress parade, orders were read to us, stating that we would march to-morrow toward Jalapa City.
To-night most all our men took a good washing in the Plan del Rio, after which we laid down to take a sleep.
Tuesday, April 20, 1847.—This morning the advance started about 4 o'clock, and when they got to where we left the artillery stand, they stopped to drag them out on the National Road, and there left them for the horses to be attached to, and to be taken with our division.
Our division left camp at 5 o'clock, a.m., leaving the balance—sick and wounded soldiers—in the charge of the Second Tennessee Regiment, much to their entire dissatisfaction. They, of course, wanted to march with the main army, and not to be left behind.
We are now marching a little further into Gen. Santa Anna's country, and when we passed the regular Mexican camp, we saw enough cannons, ammunition, provisions, clothing and other material of war, to equip our whole army; yet Old Santa Anna is always complaining to his government of being scant in clothing, provisions, etc.
All along the National Road, as far as we went, was strewed with dead Mexicans and horses. They, refusing to surrender, were cut down by Col. Wm. S. Harney's dragoons while in hot pursuit of Gen. Santa Anna and his flying cavalry on the 18th instant.
Our march to-day being a short one, only fourteen miles, we arrived in camp sooner than usual. This encampment is called El Encero, the summer hacienda of Gen. Santa Anna, but I am afraid he will not have the opportunity of spending his summer here this season, or as long as these infernal Yankees keep following him up. It is a splendid place; excellent water, and plenty of good beef. The sceneries and views around here are beautiful.
Wednesday, April 21, 1847.—This morning we left El Encero for Jalapa City. I see the further we march into the interior the more beautiful the country gets; in fact, we passed some of the finest plantations or farms that I have ever seen. Their dwellings, or haciendas, are mostly two story high, with court yards and fountains in the centre, and surrounded with many varieties of views, such as orange groves and other fruit trees.
Before we entered Jalapa the air was filled with sweet fragrance of orange trees, making the entry of Jalapa more like the Garden of Eden—according to scriptures—than anything I can compare it with.
We arrived at the outskirts of the city about 11 o'clock, a.m., halting for a short time while our officers, or Quartermaster, went to the city to find out our quartering place. They soon returned, and we then marched through the city of Jalapa, and passing out to the northern end of the city, we went into camp on the open field without any tents. It is about three miles from Jalapa, along the National Road. This National Road runs from Vera Cruz to the capital of Mexico, and nearly all its bridges were constructed by Don Jose Iturrigaray, Lieutenant-General of the Spanish army, in 1803 and 1804. It passed through many historical and romantic scenes, tales in song or story, in weal or woe, as indeed the history of the entire route in works have often been written. Gen. Iturrigaray, after the completion of his work, was imprisoned and heavily fined for forgery and other treasonable acts, and died a miserable wretch.
The historic mountain, Orazaba, or Citlatepetle, which means the Mountain of the Star, is, or looks, close by. It is 17,907 feet high, ninety-eight feet higher than Popocatepetl.In passing through Jalapa to-day, I was astonished to see how neat and clean everything looked, in and around the city.
not only the streets and houses, but the citizens, themselves, looked to me quite different from those we have seen at Vera Cruz and on our way here.
The population of Jalapa is about eight or nine thousand. Our quarters are as comfortable as we can expect without our tents. Most of our men can be seen making and putting up shanties. Here we have plenty of good water, and the promise from our Quartermaster of beef every day.
In passing through Jalapa, some of our men hid themselves in the city, and returned to camp this evening, telling high yarns and jokes they had with the senoritas.
To-day is the three hundred and twenty-eighth anniversary of the landing of Conqueror Cortez's forces in Mexico. He landed near where Vera Cruz now stands, and a more miserable and poorer spot is not to be found in all Mexico; it being Good Friday, April 21, 1519. The second conquerors of Mexico are now on their way to the city of Mexico.
Thursday, April 22, 1847.—This morning is kind of cold, raining and drizzly, which had the effect of some of our men trying to make their way to the city, and hunt better quarters. Having no tents we are exposed to all kinds of weather. A strong guard was ordered to be placed around our camp to keep the soldiers from going out.
At 10 o'clock, a.m., ten men were taken in alphabetical style, accompanied by a non-commissioned officer, with the privilege to go to the city of Jalapa with strict instructions to take nothing except what was paid for.
At noon orders were issued for every soldier to brighten his belt and musket, and clean his clothing; but the men say, What is the use of cleaning our clothing as long as we are compelled to lay out in the rain and mud. "We want our tents, oh, Israel!"
The peak of Orazaba, the snow-capped mountain, an eminence above Jalapa, looks as though one was within a stone's throw of it, when it is reckoned to be about forty miles from this place. This evening the weather is getting extremely cold, which makes everything uncomfortable for the soldiers, who have to sleep out in the open air all night.
Friday, April 23, 1847.—This morning the reveille beat at 6 o'clock, when the soldiers jumped and sprang on their feet and formed in company line to answer the roll-call. After breakfast we had company drills, marching around, and musket exercises.
In the afternoon we had dress-parade, when every soldier is expected to look the best and behave the best.
To-day there were only two soldiers from each company allowed to go to the city on account of the parade.
This afternoon Gen. Quitman's brigade arrived in camp. It consisted of the two Tennessee regiments, Georgia regiment, South Carolina regiment, and about two hundred and fifty mounted Tennessee riflemen, commanded by Col. J. E. Thomas; also three companies belonging to the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, who were, you remember, left back at the island of Lobos with the small-pox, they having fully recovered, except some bear marks of that disease. There was much rejoicing and hand-shaking going on among the rest of the regiments here.
This evening my friend and mess-mate, Mr. Simon Schaffer, who has been lingering in delicate health for some time, was taken to the city, and there put in the hospital, from which institution I fear he will never come out alive. He seems to be in very low spirits. I bid him good-bye for the present, promising him that I would call to see him soon.
Late this evening I learned that Col. W. B. Roberts, of the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, is very ill, and if we don't soon get our tents or better quarters, one-half our division will be laid up sick.
Saturday, April 24, 1847.—This morning, for the first, we received news from Gen. Worth's division, which is now in our advance. It was brought down last evening from Perote by the Mexican stage. It states that the town and Castle of Perote were taken without any opposition. The enemy's force had abandoned it before Gen. Worth's division arrived. Gen. Worth is now in full possession of the town and castle, with its armament in good order. Col. Velasquez, the General superintendent, had been left behind to surrender all things in the name of the Mexican government—fifty cannons, five howitzers, three mortars, four stone mortars, together with a large number of round-shot, shells and small arms.
Gens. Morales and Landaro, who had been imprisoned by Gen. Santa Anna for surrendering and capitulating Vera Cruz, were released on the appearance of our troops. The two South Carolina volunteers and an American sailor, taken near Vera Cruz, were prisoners in the castle, and, of course, were released by our troops. They were almost starved to death. Midshipman Robert C Rogers, of the United States brig Somers, was not found in the castle. Reports have it that the Mexicans removed him from Perote to Puebla the same day that the battle commenced at Cerro Gordo. Also, a rumor from the city of Mexico, saying that Gen. Santa Anna, with five other generals are putting the capital in a state of defence, building strong fortifications around the city and passes on the road.
Rain, rain, nothing but rain, making everything feel disagreeable. When will we have sunshine? Yet, for all this, the men feel jubilant (gosozo) at the capture of the famous Castle of Perote, where, for many years, many of our best citizens and soldiers have been imprisoned, and now has the honor of holding to the breeze the American flag. We all feel placentero (jolly).
Sunday April 25, 1847.—This morning, or in fact all last night, was very cold and rainy, and those who had no shelter got soaking wet, and could be seen hugging up around the camp fires drying their blankets and clothing, and talking about the hard weather, exposure, suffering, &c.
At noon John Newman, Louis Bymaster and myself carried shingles and boards from a deserted ranch, and built ourselves a small shanty To-day. Sunday, is the best day for marketing in Mexico, the market people are mostly all old women. We had a good little market outside of our encampment, and everything was reasonable, considering the number of people that was in it. Also a good little reading paper made its appearance in our camp, it is published in Jalapa, and is called the American Star, by the same enterprising citizens that published the American Eagle at Vera Cruz. So you can see that those enterprising Yankees, Messrs. Jewell, Peoples and Branard, are determined to follow up the army, and publish the news, as we go along, in English. It gives Gen. Scott's report of the battle of Cerro Gordo, and a list of the killed and wounded. Speaking in the highest terms of the heroic conduct of the soldiers at the battle of Cerro Gordo. Also states that Col. Thomas Childs, of the Third Artillery, who at the battle of Cerro Gordo drove the enemy, after a severe conflict, from their position, is appointed Military Governor of Jalapa. In the hands of Col. Childs the interests of the citizens of Jalapa, as well as that of the United States, will be looked to, and justice impartially administered.
To-night we have a roof over our heads.
Monday, April 26, 1847.—This morning after drill a squad of us got permission to visit Jalapa. We passed the Second Pennsylvania Volunteers' headquarters, where we saw Col. W. B. Roberts at his post. So he could not have been so sick as reported. In fact he looks more like being disheartened than sick. We weren't long when we arrived in the city, and we were much pleased and delighted to meet with such a clever and intelligent class of people. We really did not think that there were such people in Mexico, judging from those we have seen before. There does not seem to be much business done here, but what is done is carried on in a fair Yankee style, and whilst passing through the principal business streets we imagine ourselves in some thriving Yankee town. The senoritas are what may be called here beautiful. Their features can't be beat for pleasantness. They are decidedly pretty, and there's not a man who will say aught to the contrary; also in their habits, we mean, of course, the upper teen; their skin is, of course, darker than our fair damsels, but their pleasing features and pleasant countenances puts that all out of our minds. They approximate nearer to American refinement. It may well be said Jalapa (which derives its name from a plant which grows numerously and beautifully in this section of the country) is noted for the beauty of its females, nothing can be said of them but what is to their advantage.
The poorer class keep themselves cleaner than those whom we have seen at Vera Cruz, or on our way here. Their young muchachos (boys) are equal to our poor in the United States, but they generally are not so well dressed, and don't seem to have much to do; there being no manufactories here. The American Star says Jalapa is the prettiest town, it has the handsomest buildings, loveliest gardens and most delicious fruits of all others taken together; in fact it seems that it is peopled with a race distinct from those we have encountered elsewhere. Taking Jalapa all in all, we were highly pleased with what we have seen, and its people, and cannot conceive that there is any difference of opinion on that subject among the American soldiers. I also stopped at the hospital to see Mr. Simon Schaffer. He was much pleased at seeing me. He looks, and says that he feels bad, and has no hopes of ever recovering. I stayed and talked with him for nearly one hour; telling him to keep up his courage, and all would be well. He was much affected, and tears were rolling down his thin cheeks, when I bid him good-bye.
In the evening we started for our camp.
Tuesday, April 27, 1847.—This morning, after a cold night's rest, our soldiers were busy in tearing down deserted ranches, and building themselves shanties to sleep under. Some could be seen bringing in shingles, others poles and boards; some were digging holes to plant the posts; some with saws, hammers and hatchets. All for to keep out of the cold rain and damp night air, which is very unhealthy at this time. In the afternoon a large train from Vera Cruz arrived in our camp, bringing a large mail for our army, but, as usual, none for Jake. This train is loaded with provisions and ammunition for our division; it also brings the wounded soldiers who were left at Plan del Rio after the battle of Cerro Gordo, and it gives me pleasure to say that all of our gallant soldiers are doing as well as could be expected. They report that a good many of our wounded died at Plan del Rio. The boys who got letters from home speak in the highest terms of our army in capturing Vera Cruz. What will they say or write when they hear of the great victory over Gen. Santa Anna, at the battle of Cerro Gordo.
Wednesday, April 28, 1847.—This morning I don't see much of any importance going on, except that several New Yorkers were put in the guard-house for robbing a ranch and breaking and destroying all the things in it, also for disorderly and un-soldier-like conduct in camp. In fact, nearly all the New Yorkers have acted very badly and disorderly for some time. Fighting among themselves is a common occurrence; they think nothing of forming a ring and trying one another's muscles, and beating one another like so many brutes.
At noon, a report came that two American soldiers were killed a day or two ago, near Puento Nacional, the unfortunate men were unarmed, and the ruffians pounced upon them without fear. Americans on the road in Mexico have no business traveling without arms.
Thursday, April 29, 1847.—This morning several parties started out after pollitos, carne, etc., and on the way, they fell in with a party of rancheros or guerillas, who are lurking around the country for the purpose of kidnapping our men who venture beyond the camp. The result was, that our men had a fight with the guerillas and several of our men were killed; after which, they returned to camp, and reported the above facts, which caused a good deal of excitement in their respective companies and regiments. In the afternoon we were visited by an awful thunder storm, and never did I see it lightning sharper; it blew a perfect gale. It blew down some of the ranches, and nearly unroofed all the houses, blowing the boards and shingles high in the air, and for miles around. We, our mess, had to hold on to our shanty to keep it from blowing down. It stood it nobly against the howling storm, not budging an inch. We have had pelting rain and storm almost every day since our encampment; in fact, such soaking ones too, that I declare we almost forget how it looks when it is fair. No other news except that we are beginning to get tired of this camp, which is now styled, and somebody had a hand-board out "Camp Misery."
To-night the wind blows from the snow-top covered mountain Orazaba. It blows about our faces and ears as keen as a whistle, and you can hear some of the fellows cry out, "shut the door!" "Confound this wind, it's blowing in a fellow's face." "Shut up, there's no use quarrelling about the wind or the weather." Laughter, etc.
Friday, April 30, 1847.—This morning it commenced raining again, and continued all day, making it very disagreeable for our soldiers, and particularly for those whose shanties blew down in yesterday afternoon's storm. In fact, some of our men are almost drowned out, and more particularly those who were in caves, they being dug down about a foot below the surface of the earth. Some were so sound asleep that they could hardly be wakened up, the water almost running into their mouths. Our shanty being high and level the water does us no harm. Our men are now clamoring and awaiting for our Quartermaster to bring our tents from Vera Cruz.
At 10 o'clock, a.m., a company of the Fourth Illinois Regiment (Col. E. D. Baker's) started out after beef, also to hunt up the guerillas, who killed several of their men yesterday. They started off with a cheer, and promised to bring in no prisoners. So, look out guerillas!
At noon several companies of the Ten-Regiment Bill (so called) came into camp. There are some Pennsylvanians among this bill, but I don't think that they are with this lot of to-day's arrival.
In the evening the Illinois company that went out after came and the guerillas, returned without bringing in any dead guerillas, but brought with them two dead soldiers that were killed yesterday. They were buried, wrapped up in their blankets, with all the honors of war, on a small hill opposite our camp.
To-night there is a rumor in our camp that the Mexican Congress, after the defeat of Gen. Santa Anna at the battle of Cerro Gordo, passed a series of resolutions, threatening vengeance and war to the knife, and to the last extremity. "War without pity and death" will be the motto of our brave Mexican soldiers, determined to die before yielding an inch of Mexican soil to the Yankee invaders.
We have heard of this kind of bragging and boasting of what they intended to do before, and, as a fellow said, we are beginning to get used to their boasting.
We are all anxious to meet Gen. Santa Anna's army in their threatening and determination to push the war on. We are also anxiously awaiting for the word of command to go forward and meet the Mexicans wherever and whenever it suits them to give us battle. The sooner we get orders to march toward their much boasted and admired capital of Mexico, the better we will be satisfied, for our men would sooner fight the enemy than be lying here in this camp of misery.
To-night is chilly, and rain beating down on our shanties.
Saturday, May 1, 1847.—This morning we were mustered into the United States service for the third time, and, of course, it was naturally supposed that we would all get paid off, as we have not yet received one ciento (cent) since we are in the United States army.
After our muster we were dismissed, and I am sorry to say that not a word was said about pay, so we were all sadly disappointed. At noon about one hundred soldiers, belonging to Col. Farris Forman's Third Illinois Regiment, and several of the First New York Regiment started out on a beef hunt.
I see by the papers that General Jose Marion Solas has issued a proclamation calling upon his fellow-citizens, by saying that he has obtained permission from his government to raise a Guerilla Corps, with which to attack and destroy the Yankee's invading army in every manner imaginable. "War without pity" and "death" will be the motto of the guerilla warfare of vengeance. Therefore, I invite all my fellow citizens, especially my brave subordinates, to rally around my (Solas) standard and enroll themselves for immediate action. (Signed) Solas.
This kind of warfare is looked upon by all civilized people as an outrage on humanity. It seems that everytime the regular army of Mexico gets defeated and routed by our forces, one or more of the Mexican leaders will commence this mode ofTo-day two more soldiers, belonging to the Third Illinois Regiment, and one belonging to the New York Regiment, were killed by the guerillas, while out scouting beyond the line of our camp; had these slain men obeyed orders and stayed in camp they would have been living men yet, they go out in small squads, three or four men, and the first they know they are surrounded by a band of guerillas, who are constantly on the watch for these small bodies in an ambush, pounce upon them and kill them if they can. Strong bodies the guerillas will not attempt to attack. Oh! no, that is not in their line . Ah! it will be the most sorrowful time that Mexico has ever known, and devastation and dismay will overspread the land if this kind of warfare is allowed to go on. It would have been our duty to massacre the five thousand prisoners taken at Vera Cruz, and the three thousand or more taken at the battle of Cerro Gordo; and for the sake of humanity we, for the interest of this unfortunate country and its people, hope that Gen. Jose Marion Solas will meet with little success in his diabolical undertaking.
of business. They must be some of Gen. Solas' recruits practicing the guerilla warfare. They will get enough of this kind of warfare, if not stopped soon. The murdering of these three soldiers has again caused a great deal of excitement among the two Illinois Regiments, and Col. Forman, of the Third Illinois, has even went so far as to ask permission to take his regiment and follow these murdering guerillas until they are captured and hung, but the request was not granted, on account of our forces being too small to venture far from camp.
In the evening I again heard a good deal of grumbling and complaining among our soldiers of our long delay in this unhealthy camp without shelter or comforts of life. Men are seen going from one quarter to another making inquiry about the cause of this long delay, and the officers say it is on account of Gen. Scott awaiting for more re-enforcements and the necessary supplies and transportation for an advancing army, also that there being a number of regiments whose time will soon expire, which will weaken the army considerably, and the general conversation among the expired men is that not one will re-enlist in the United States army. They having got entirely disgusted with the campaign in Mexico (not with Gen. Scott, but the way our government is carrying on the war with Mexico, they having failed to prosecute the war according to our first instruction. So hurry up, you men who sit at Washington and send on the number of soldiers [50,000] you promised us).
To-night, on account of suffering and privation our soldiers have to endure, we have adopted the name of this camp miseria (misery) of Mexico.
Sunday, May 2, 1847.—This morning there was a detail of five or six men from each company to guard a train of about fifty wagons to Vera Cruz and back. They go down to bring up provisions and ammunition for the army. I wanted to go, but the detail was already made out when I first heard of it. It is now over eight weeks since Gen. Scott landed at Vera Cruz. Since that we have taken about eight thousand prisoners, among them were ten Generals, two cities, two famous castles (San Juan de Ulloa and Perote), over five hundred pieces of cannon and ten thousand stand of arms, besides this we have pursued the enemy with such vigor that Gen. Santa Anna's army is scattered to the winds, and their great General wandering in and around the mountains of Orazaba. Yet the Mexicans still cry "war to the knife and knife to the hilt."
In the afternoon a party of the Illinois Volunteers started out in pursuit of guerillas to avenge the death of their lost comrades. I wish them many successes in their revengeful undertaking, but I am afraid the Illinois boys are not strong enough.
Later in the afternoon they returned to camp, and sorry to say, with a similar fate. Two of their men were lassoed around their necks and dragged on the ground for some distance at full speed. After which the guerillas killed them with their vanallos (huntsman's spear). It seems from the little that I can learn that the Illinois men were at a spring filling their canteens with water, when suddenly these lanza (lancers) sprang from behind an ambush and lassoed two of their men before they saw any danger, and made off with them before they could get to their muskets to fire.
This outrage has caused another great excitement among the Illinois boys, and the Third and Fourth Illinois Regiments were about getting ready to go in pursuit of the guerillas, but Gen. Pillow heard of it, when he instantly stopped them, and issued orders that no soldier or party of soldiers be allowed to leave camp, unless they have a written order from him (Gen. Pillow), that this straggling, carousing out from camp must and shall be stopped, that it has caused us more lives than we lost in battles.
In the evening these men were buried, wrapped up in their blankets, with all the honors of war, on the same plot of ground where the others are buried. The funeral was attended and followed by most all of our officers and regiments. So much for straggling outside of our pickets. Our men to-night are cursing our Quartermaster for not sending our tents. They were left at Vera Cruz on account of the Quartermaster not having wagons and teams ready in time to bring them along on our march hither to camp.
To-night Lieut-Col. J. E. Thomas' Tennessee Cavalry are out on a scouting expedition.
Monday, May 3, 1847.—This morning orders were read to us to hold ourselves in readiness to march at a moment's notice on toward the capital of Mexico. After the men were dismissed, cheers and clapping of hands were given, so much rejoiced at the prospect of leaving this camp of misery.
At noon the Cameron Guards, hailing from Harrisburg, Pa., belonging to the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, marched up in front of Col. Wm. B. Roberts' tent, and told the Colonel that they wanted something to eat. The Colonel answered them by saying that he had nothing to give them. At this moment they made a rush on the Mexican huckster women, who have their stands throughout the camp, selling' their things to the officers and soldiers, that is to those who have money left, and took nearly all the poor Mexican women had, and such a scrambling and rushing I never saw before. It beat the scrambling for Santa Anna's silver at Plan del Rio. The Officer of the Day tried to stop them from plundering the women, but all of no use. He might just as well attempt to stop thundering as to stop hungry mouths from being fed when there is something to eat. After they had plundered from the hucksters all they had they went to work and cleared the huckster women out of "Camp Misery." The eatables taken were then handed around from one to the other in the fellowship of good will. There was a marvelous wagging of jaws, and a volume of voices that much reminded one of the buzzing in a church fair—fearing of being heard by the commanding officers, The officers of the company will have to pay the Mexican women for all the damages these soldiers committed.
It is rumored this afternoon that our officer discovered a military store-house in Jalapa, belonging to the enemy, filled with uniforms, over eight hundred coats, over two hundred and fifty woolen overalls, one hundred and twenty jackets, twelve shirts, two hundred and twenty-five pair of boots, ten great coats, one hundred and seventy-five cloth socks, two hundred uniform coats unfinished, and about one thousand five hundred knapsacks, each of which contained some article of clothing, many of which are new. These uniforms must have been calculated for Gen. Solas' guerilla corps.
Tuesday, May 4, 1847.—This morning Gen. Scott sent out the Surgeon-General for the purpose of examining our camp, and the condition of the soldiers. He was accompanied by several other doctors. They examined our quarters thoroughly, and they were not long in finding that our camp was really a camp we styled and named, "Camp Misery."
They reported to Gen. Scott the condition we were in, and the unhealthiness of the camp, and that the sooner the soldiers were removed the better it will be for the troops who are camped here.
Today John O'Brien (mostly going by the name of Pat), of Co. D, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, was arrested for robbing a Catholic priest of his heavy gold chain attached to a heavy gold cross, and a splendid gold watch. Pat was defended by Lieut.-Col. Black and Capt. W. F. Small. They are both able lawyers, and if anybody can clear Pat, they can.
This afternoon Mr. R. Brown, of our company, was taken to Jalapa hospital. Three more men died to-day, and were buried this evening, which creates a melancholy feeling among the soldiers.
Wednesday, May 5, 1847.—This morning it is reported that Lieut. Raphael Semmes, late commander of the United States brig Somers, had arrived in Jalapa City with despatches and communications to Gen. Scott and to the Mexican Government. The object of the mission of Lieut. Semmes, is to release his brother officer, passed midshipman Robert C. Rogers, also of the United States brig Somers; the report demands of Gen. Scott, to send a strong escort of cavalry to go to the city of Mexico and there demand the release of Mr. Rogers, but the General told Lieut. Semmes, that it would be impossible for him, Semmes, to attempt to go to the capital of Mexico with such a force, as the roads were lined with rancheros and guerillas, (a band of outlaws who show no respect to flags or to any person belonging to the United States,) also, that at the present time, he. Gen. Scott, could neither spare cavalry, artillery or infantry to guide any commissioner to the capital, until the arrival of re-enforcements from the United States, as there were numbers of regiments whose time now expired, which will still weaken his forces. So Commissioner Semmes did not get to go to the capital of Mexico and see what the Mexicans were doing with midshipman Rogers.
It will be remembered, that Rogers, with a party of seamen were captured during the early blockading of Vera Cruz. He was reconnoitering near the castle of San Juan de Ulloa at night, when he came across a Mexican brig-of-war named the Creole, which he blew up with all on board, and in trying to make his escape was captured. He and his men were of course accused of destroying the Creole, to which Rogers confessed and said that he was one of the party. Being captured in his United States uniform, he called upon the United States Government to protect him in his lawful right as a prisoner. It is now reported, that Rogers, who was at Puebla City, was removed to the city of Mexico.
At noon I heard a great shouting and cheering among the Tennessee, Illinois, Alabama and other regiments, and I went down supposing that they had heard some good news, when they told me that they were ordered to be discharged from the United States service, and would leave for sweet home tomorrow. Oh! didn't I wish myself to be one of them.
This evening two of the mounted Tennesseeans died and were buried at the same place With the rest. It is raining to-night. Thursday, May 6, 1847.—This morning is a glorious one to the discharged volunteers. We went to their camp and gave them a hearty shake of the hand and bid them good luck and safe return to their homes. Telling us that they deeply regreted to leave us almost in the midst of the enemy's country, that they would like to be with us and march on to the capital of Mexico, but the United States Government had fooled and bamboozled them so often, that they have no faith in it; and seeing no sign of the Government prosecuting the war with vigor, and seeing no re-enforcements arriving, they began to think that the Government is in no hurry to crush this war. The contractors have not made enough money, and the quartermasters have not robbed the poor soldiers enough of their rations. That they were told at Tampico, (when ordered to join Gen. Scott's army,) that Gen. Scott's army will be 50,000 strong, and that the enemy was to be crushed to the ground and peace would soon follow. I believe every word these men said; the Government has belied in refusing to strengthen our army. And I hear that Gen. Scott is quite dissatisfied at the way the Government is treating him, in not fulfilling the agreement made previous to his leaving the United States.
No ordnance, no ammunition, no stores, no wagons and teams, and worst of all, scarcely any soldiers fit to march further into the interior of Mexico.
About 8 o'clock, a.m., the reveille was called, when I counted the following regiments who were about leaving us, the First and Second Tennessee, the Third and Fourth Illinois, Georgia and Alabama regiments, Col. William's Fourth Kentucky regiment, and Lieut.-Col. J. E. Thomas' Tennessee Cavalry regiment, in all eight regiments, besides several independent companies. When they started off, they gave us remaining troops three hearty cheers, and bade good-bye to "Camp Misery."
Gen. Robert Patterson goes down with them on his way home to recruit his health and strength, and I hope his courage also. Some of his friends shook hands, wishing him a safe journey to his family. Brig.-Gen. Gideon J. Pillow, also goes with them home, (providing the Tennesseans do not shoot him,) to explain to his fellow citizens where he was when the enemy first opened fire on our brigade at the battle of Cerro Gordo, and how he became wounded in the arm by a musket bullet away down the hill in our rear.
They take with them a large train of empty wagons to Vera Cruz, there to be loaded with provisions and ammunition for our army. As they passed out of camp, we gave them three hearty cheers, to which they responded with a will. Good-bye! they are fast disappearing out of sight when our men fell back to their quarters.
At noon we were informed that our brigade is now placed under the command of Gen. Quitman, a fighting general, who, if wanted, can be found without sending half a dozen messengers after him.
At 2 o'clock, p.m., the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers left camp for Jalapa, to form the garrison. Col. Wynkoop, of our regiment had the offer, but he declined, as he preferred to be with his regiment and with the main army marching on to the capital of Mexico.
This evening, two of the South Carolinans were buried with all the honors of war. I learn to-night, that our friend (Pat) John O'Brien, was acquitted of the charge of robbing the old priest. Mr. O'Brien had men to swear, that he, O'Brien, was not the man that had robbed him; that when the robbery was committed, he, Pat O'Brien, was quietly lying in his camp sick, (in a pig's eye,) for during the trial, Capt. Small had the stolen watch in his pocket as his fee to defend Pat O'Brien. A good and heavy swearing company, D, First Pennsylvania Volunteers. Pat and his friends are in high glee over his acquittal. He can sin again and ask the priest to forgive his sins.
I hear a rumor to-night, that we will leave for Puebla city soon. We all hope that the rumor may prove true. There is also a rumor in Jalapa, that there was a bill introduced into Congress, to make the Hon. Thomas H. Benton, a Lieutenant General of the United States Army, over Gen. Winfield Scott; should this bill pass, and become a law. Gen. Scott will immediately resign and return home, and explain to the people the way he has been treated since he landed his little army near Vera Cruz, Mexico.
The much talked of firing in the rear of Gen. Scott's army has commenced. In fact, it has been working and brewing ever since our army left Vera Cruz. This kind of business and quarreling about who should command the army now so victoriously marching on toward the capital, has put a damper on the peace prospects. No wonder Gen. Santa Anna is determined to die sooner than treat with the government of the United States, and to restrict any power to make peace, and if made by any unauthorized person, it shall be null and void.
Friday, May 7, 1847.—This morning, sure enough, the rumors of last evening, that we would leave "Camp Misery," is true. About 9 o'clock, a.m., the drums began to beat. The soldiers all seemed pleased to get away from this camp, and hurried into line to answer roll-call. After a few complimentary remarks from our Captain, W. F. Small, a command came from Col. Wynkoop; "Forward! March!" And off we went with no regret and without weeping eyes. Our march was nearly all up hill, over a rough road and country. We went through the noted pass La Hoya (The Hollow), which is about eight miles in length, and is one mass of rocks and lava stones. Here the Mexicans had the pass fortified to stop our advancing army; but when Col. Harney's dragoons appeared in sight, they deserted it and left the heavy cannons lay and took the small ones with them. Gen. Worth, who was then in our advance, had not the means of transportation to take artillery, and was, therefore, obliged to spike and knock the ends off, and then roll them off the road for the army and wagons to pass. We examined the position, and in my humble opinion, La Hoya is far the worst pass, and a stronger position than Cerro Gordo. We marched on and went into camp at a small town called Las Vegas. Here our regiment quartered in a church. There is good spring water here, and some fruit trees, such as figs, bananas, oranges, etc.
This is truly a strange country, for not a wagon or carriage (except government wagons) have we met on our march. Even in Vera Cruz, not a four or even a two-wheeled vehicle could be seen. Everything is brought into town on packed donkeys, or jack-asses (as we call them), and on the poor Indian's back, packed and loaded like his brother, the ass, burdened down with charcoal, vegetables, etc. This is sometimes brought many miles to market, and particularly about Vera Cruz, for nothing grows there but bluffs of sand.
Saturday, May 8, 1847.—This morning at daylight we started on our march over what was at one time a macadamized road, but now very rough. We arrived at the town of Perote about 4 o'clock, p.m. After a half hour's rest, we were ordered to march into the Castle of Perote. Here we are to be stationed as a garrison for the present time. The New York, South Carolina and other regiments marched beyond the town of Perote, where they encamped for the night; but most of the officers remained in town.
In the evening some of the officers visited and examined Castle Perote, and all pronounced it a strong fort.
The snow-top mountains of Orazaba and Cofrado de Perote are in full view from here.
As already stated, the road we passed over to-day was so rough that many of our wagons were broken down and upset, and we were late getting into camp. Every company is selecting and fixing up their quarters, and they are the best we have had since we left the ships.
Gen. Worth captured this castle April 22, last. He, with his whole division, left this morning for Puebla—that is if Gen. Santa Anna don't stop him before he gets there. It was reported to-night that Gen. Santa Anna had over six thousand men entrenched on this side of Puebla, and is going to dispute our march further.
Sunday, May 9, 1847.—This morning a party of soldiers and myself paid a visit to the town of Perote, and I must say that we were sadly disappointed, for we found it no great place. Very little business is carried on here, and a very slim market for Sunday, probably the buhonero senorito (peddler ladies) are afraid to bring their produce to market, fearing us Yankees would insult or not pay them. We find here (like all other villages) plenty of priests, monks, and some of the most ignorant and miserable creatures that walk under God's sun. Most of them have scarcely enough clothing to hide their nakedness. Many wear what is called sandals, which consist of a piece of leather or skin tied with a string around their heel, instep and big toe. Many wear nothing on their feet. The ladies wear no bonnets, nothing but a scarf or a small shawl over their devoted heads.
At 10 o'clock, a.m., Gen. Quitman's division left Perote for the city of Puebla. I pitied some of Gen. Quitman's men, for they seemed to be much worn out and fatigued. They hardly could keep up on the last day's march, on account of sore feet and diarrhœa, and being unaccustomed to marching. We also went to church, and I was astonished to see it so handsomely decorated; some very fine and costly paintings hung on the walls.
In the afternoon we returned to our quarters, at the Castle of San Carlos.
Monday, May 10, 1847.—This morning orders were issued for dress parade and squad drill every morning and afternoon.
To-day a company of the Second United States Dragoons arrived in the town of Perote. They are to remain here and watch the guerillas until Capt. Walker's mounted Texan Rangers arrive from Vera Cruz. This afternoon I took a walk around, and visited different companies' quarters. They all speak in the highest praise of their elegant quarters, and are wondering how long Uncle Sam will let them remain here.
Tuesday May 11, 1847.—This morning, sure enough, commenced reveille; squad drill at 8 o'clock, company drill at 4 o'clock, p.m., dress-parade at 6 o'clock, p.m. We are now acting and drilling under the regular Scott tactics. It is healthy exercise, and gives the men an appetite.
This evening it is again rumored (and it seems to come from good authority) that Gen. Santa Anna, with about six thousand men, is strongly entrenched at a small town called Amozoquco, about ten miles on this side of Puebla. Santa Anna boasts that he is going to give Gen. Scott some trouble before he (Scott) gets much further into his (Santa Anna's) country. I don't think there will be any danger to prevent our side from coming out victorious. As Gen. Worth, who is now in our advance, has got, I think, three batteries, commanded by Col. Duncan, Capt. Steptoes and Bonneville, well supplied with grape, canister, shell and round shots, and about three thousand infantry and six hundred dragoons, under Col. W. S. Harney, who would sooner fight than eat.
Nothing else of importance transpired to-day.
Wednesday, May 12, 1847.—This morning, as usual, nothing but drilling, with no encouragement on my part, having the toothache, which is one of the most painful complaints that a person can have. There are people who would willingly give a large sum of money to anyone who should discover a speedy and certain cure for it.
This evening I had a talk with Don Jose, Assistant Superintendent of the Castle de Perote. He tells me that this castle is now used for the temporary storage of valuable property previous to its shipment from Vera Cruz; and also as a place of safety for military and political prisoners, of which I will write more hereafter. Don Jose is a full-blooded Mexican, and when Gen. Worth captured the castle, or, in fact, previous to its capture, all the troops, and most of the prisoners fled, but Don Jose remained at his post, and still holds his old position, with strict orders not to leave the castle without orders from the commanding officer of the castle.
In the evening some of our men went to Col. Black's headquarters, making inquiry about Gen. Worth's division, whether there was any news; but Col. Black answered that he had no news yet, but expected some every day. [Cheers.]
Later in the evening it commenced to get cold, bleak, and windy; rain and sleet in the air—just like a fickle November furnishes both to perfection in the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania—making the men wrap themselves up in their blankets and hang around the camp-fire.
Thursday May 13, 1847.—This morning Capt. Ayres, with a company of artillerymen, arrived and took up quarters in the Perote Castle of San Carlos. They are to be stationed here to command artillery in the castle. They also brought with them some of the First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, who were left in the Jalapa hospital sick.
Capt. Ayres reports that Gen. Scott will arrive at the Castle of Perote about Monday next on his way to the city of Puebla to join the advance of his army. He also states that it was reported in Jalapa previous to his leaving, that Mr. Nicholas P. Trist, Commissioner appointed from the United States Government, is on his way to negotiate with the Mexican government to make peace. How are you peace—peace in a pig's eye.
The weather today is beautiful, and it reminds me of our May at home.
At noon there was a detail of two men from each company to guard a way train to Jalapa for provisions.
This evening it is reported that Gen. Santa Anna has resigned the presidency of Mexico. This is not believed by the citizens. Friday, May 14, 1847.—This morning Capt. Ayres very unexpectedly left the Castle of San Carlos with his command to join Gen. Worth's division. His command is composed of all diarrhœa blues, belonging to the different regiments of Gen. Worth's division. They were left at the Jalapa hospital, and he is now taking them to join their respective commands, Capt. Ayres' company, is now with Gen. Worth's division and he is on his way to take command of it again. It will be remembered that Capt. Ayres was the first one that planted the flag of our country at Monterey.
About 10 o'clock, a.m., an express arrived from Jalapa, with orders from Gen. Scott to detail three companies of the First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers to garrison Jalapa along with the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. So, at noon, Cos. A, G and I left for that place under the command of Maj. Francis L. Bowman.
In the evening the water commenced running very slowly from the fountains. Col. Wynkoop, now Governor of the castle, sent word to the Alcalde of Perote that if he did not send the water on he would be obliged to send some few bombs from the castle into the city of Perote; and it was not long afterward when we had plenty of water.
Saturday, May 15, 1847.—This morning one of the artillerymen was assaulted by a party of Mexicans, one caught hold of his horse, while the others stoned and stabbed him in the back; he, however, made good his escape to the castle; he reported the same, after which a guard was sent to the town and was there joined and headed by the Alcalde, and searched every crack, corner and house until they found the parties, the would-be assassins. They were brought to the castle and put into a dark cell, there to await trial; otherwise everything was quiet.
Sunday, May 16, 1847.—This morning our company was notified to mount guard at 10 o'clock, a.m., but owing to a deficient number we were excused from duty to-day, and Co. F took our place. So a squad of us paid a visit to the town and to the church, and beheld the wonders, and looked at the old priest performing. After church is over, the market commences; to-day has been the largest market jet.
This afternoon Gov. Wynkoop and staff paid a visit to the town to see how things were going on. After which they returned to the castle. No news from either front or rear.
Monday, May 17, 1847.—This morning at 10 o'clock, we mounted guard for the first time since we were in the castle, and it seems curious to me; also the day seems long while on post, my post being at the flag-staff. While on guard, my old friend, Daniel M. Dull, of McVeytown, Pennsylvania, came to me with a letter from my friend, Samuel Horning, also of the same town; the letter he had just received from the post office; knowing that it belonged to me, he lifted it for me. This is actually the first letter I received since I've been in the United States army, and it was welcome you may depend; the news being also very good from home. All well. No further news to-day. No news from Gen. Worth.
Tuesday, May 18, 1847.—This morning after we were released from guard duty, a traveler arrived in the castle, stating that Gen. Scott was coming; so the artillerymen were ordered to stand by the cannons to fire a salute in honor of their old chief Col. Wynkoop and staff went out to meet him, but soon returned, saying it is a humbug.
This afternoon the Mexican prisoners who attempted to assassinate the artilleryman, swept the main plaza of the castle.
This has been the coldest day I have experienced since I have been in Mexico; the Orazaba and other surrounding hills are all covered with snow. The Mexicans are saying mucho frio hambre (very cold man.) No news from Gen. Worth.
Wednesday, May 19, 1847.—-This morning it commenced raining and snowing and continued all day. This evening it blew up very cold.
Thursday, May 20, 1847.—This morning at 10 o'clock the court-martial sat, and the trial of those Mexicans who attempted to assassinate the artilleryman, came up first, and after a short setting, the Court acquitted nine, and the tenth confessed his guilt, and was sentenced to receive sixty lashes on his bare back in the main plaza of Perote, on the 29th of this month. This fellow is young, wild, stout and handsome, and has a fair looking wife with one child. His wife brings his meals to him regularly, and always brings the child along, which is a fine little baby. She takes it very hard, and would like to see him out. She says that when the deed was done he was drunk, and she did not believe that her husband was the guilty man. After he receives his lashes he is to be confined in the castle until the end of the present war with Mexico.
Report to-night that the guerillas captured Gen, Worth's messenger with his despatches. This is the reason we have heard no news.
Friday, May 21, 1847,—This morning the mail coach came in town, stating that they were robbed at the town of Tepegahualco, but, fortunately, it contained no Americans in it at the time, only a Frenchman and his family; they having Gen. Worth's despatches of the capture of Puebla, and for having these despatches the guerillas took from them all they had with them, and barely spared their lives. The town of Tepegahualco is notorious for the guerillas, and seems to be their headquarters. Our next excursion will be in that direction, and God help them if we ever get hold of them,
Saturday, May 22, 1847,—This morning two companies (F and H) of our regiment, accompanied by Col. Wynkoop, went in pursuit of the guerillas, who are said to be near here, at a small town named Cruz Blanco (White Cross). And after a whole day's scouting they returned this evening without finding or seeing anything of them.
It is rumored this evening that Mr. Nicholas P, Trist, an Envoy or a Commissioner of the United States, arrived at Jalapa with despatches to certain persons in the city of Mexico, Thus it seems that our government is anxious to make peace at any price. This is strange; does our government really think that the Mexicans will negotiate and make peace, when there is only a handful of individuals in their country? All bosh. Our officials at Washington must either be crazy or they don't know what they are doing, and this is only another fire in the rear, and for the purpose of prolonging the war.
Gen. Scott received Mr. Trist very coolly, and informed him that the only way that peace can be accomplished is for the United States Government to send him (Gen. Scott) re-enforcements, that he may then march on to the halls of Montezumas, and not before then will the Mexican Government be ready to make peace. In fact the soldiers don't want peace until the halls of Montezumas are stormed and taken. Let our government send the re-enforcements promised to Gen. Scott, and we will soon march on, and not stop until the capital of Mexico is taken. Then let us say peace, peace! And, mark me, this will have to be done. Gen. Scott is ready and anxious to march on to the capital, but is waiting in Jalapa for re-enforcements. Oh! in behalf of my fellow soldiers, I ask why don't you send on troops, that we may accomplish what we came for, to conquer the Mexicans, and then seek for peace? Oh! in that name is music.
The weather still keeps cold.
Sunday, May 23, 1847.—This morning our company was detailed to bury one of Co. I's men of our regiment; this is owing to the dead man's company being absent on duty at Jalapa.
This soldier was left here in the hospital sick when his company went to Jalapa. He, however, soon recovered, and attached himself to our company. He was well and hearty a few days ago, and yesterday he died very suddenly of heart disease. We buried him with all the honors of war, which was all that was left for us to do. The flag of the First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers was the pall for his coffin.
There is a good deal of talk among our men about the idea of our government constantly clamoring about peace, when it is a well-known fact that the Mexican Congress passed a law to listen to no peace propositions, and to carry on the war which the government of the United States is waging against the Mexican government. They, the enemy, having declared to preserve and defend their country with all the energy which the country demands.
This evening there is a report from Gen. Worth's division, that while on his way to Puebla, he had a little fight with some of Gen. Santa Anna's cavalry, about two thousand strong, at a small town called Amozoquco, about ten miles from Puebla on the National Road. After Col. Duncan and Maj. Bonneville, of Capt. Steptoes' battery, got into position they commenced to fire, and the way our fellows poured the grape, canister and shell in and among them was a caution, killing over eighty Mexicans, besides wounding many; our loss was two killed and a few wounded. The victory was complete, and the enemy fled in all directions.
After the enemy's defeat Gen. Worth marched on to the city of Puebla, and entered it without any opposition from the enemy or its citizens, without the firing of a gun. He marched into the main plaza, stationed his artillery in the centre, and the soldiers laid down with their fire-arms as independently and unconcerned and slept as if there was no enemy in the country.
Friends, think of it, an army, a little over four thousand, marching into a city with a population of seventy-five or eighty thousand, without firing a gun! Why it even astonishes the Mexicans here at Perote. The Mexicans say, " Mucho bueno! Mucho valentons!" (Very brave and gallant).
This news has caused a little excitement among the Mexicans, and inspired new life into our soldiers, and they are laughing heartily at the idea of our government wanting to make peace, with such glorious victories and prospects of conquering the Mexicans.
"A little nonsense now and then
Is relished by some of the wisest men."
At 10 o'clock, a.m., I was relieved from guard duty four hours, but had to remain in and about the guard-house all day and night.
About 11 o'clock, a.m., a courier came to the Castle of Perote, stating that Gen. Scott with a large train is coming. When he came in sight the cannons sent forth their peals of thunder, and when he arrived our regiment was out on parade, bearing the flag of our State. He uncovered and acknowledged the corn, remarking that he feels proud to see the First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers in such a good state of health, and complimented Col. Wynkoop highly for our neat and cleanly appearance, after which he entered the Castle of Perote, took a walk around and all over the castle, examining the artillery and heavy cannons, remarking that this is truly a very strong fort, and it surprised him that the Mexicans should have surrendered it without a battle. After he had examined and seen all, he returned to the town of Perote, where he took up his quarters for the day and night.
Several of our soldiers who were left back at Jalapa hospital, having so far recovered that they were able to do duty, have joined their respective companies; and from them I learned the sad news of the death of John Sheldon and Simon Schaffer, both belonging to our company. Mr. Sheldon was wounded at the battle of Cerro Gordo, and died of his wounds on May 6th, and my esteemed friend and messmate, Simon Schaffer, died May 13, 1847.
Mr. Schaffer hailed from Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, Pa., and joined our company on our way to Pittsburgh, Pa. Hailing from the same county in which I lived, and spent the majority of my boyhood days, on that account we became more familiar and more intimately attached to each other. We were chums, in camp we slept together, and on our march we marched together, and slept under one blanket, divided our crackers, and often drank out of one canteen and our coffee out of one cup. How often did we talk about the good people of Lancaster County, of their beautiful farms, their ways, habits, festivals and fairs. But he is now gone, no more on earth will we hear his clarion voice answer roll-call. No more will his well-built form be seen in our ranks. He has passed from us in this tierres calientes, far from his garden country home in the northern clime, with no mother's prayers or hand to fan or cool his fevered brow, or to wipe the sweat from his downcast face. No sister's gentle voice to whisper words of encouragement and love. No father to strengthen him in the dying hour. No kind friends were at his bedside to watch over him and attend to his necessary wants. There was something very peculiar about Mr. Schaffer. After we left Vera Cruz, and way out of sight of the ships that brought us from the United States to the shores of Mexico, he became melancholy and very low spirited, and fretted. He would frequently speak of being in this hostile country where every man, woman and child is thirsting for his life's blood, and that it would be almost impossible for him to escape death in this country—Mexico. I told him that I admitted that we were in a strange and hostile land, and that many chances of life are constantly against us, and that many dangerous and threatening clouds may hang around us, but to pass them all and trust in the future, and to cast those delusions and troublesome thoughts from his mind. That I feared nothing except our Maker above us, and that I left nothing behind but what I expect to see again. After talking to him in this way he would then pick up courage, go off and attend to his duties singing, whistling, chatting and laughing, but the vision of the early scenes of his childhood, and the peculiar circumstances and threatening danger before him would soon come back to his mind again.
Previous to our regiment leaving "Camp Misery," for the interior of Mexico, he was put in the Jalapa hospital, he being too ill from diarrhœa to march with us. I called to see him, to bid him good-bye, he gave me a hearty shake with both of his trembling hands, and with tears in his eyes said "Good-bye, friend Jacob, you and I have had many a sociable and friendly talk together, and many a happy hour have we passed with pleasant enjoyment, but this I fear will be the last time you will ever see me alive." I told him to have no such fears, but to trust and hope, and all will be well; and to throw such fear from his mind. But all to no use. And whatever it was that troubled him so much about home, I will let the people of Elizabethtown explain.
He was a good and true hearted man, faithful and obedient and was well liked and esteemed by his comrades-in-arms. He did, or wished, no earthly being any harm, and I am fully convinced, that he died a true Christian, for he was deeply imbued with a religious sense of right. Thus the noble life is put out in the flower of its youth. He was a good companion, and I feel his loss with a sorrow which words cannot express. He fell beneath death's ruthless hand, a victim to that dreadful disease called "diarrhœa."
No Winter there. No shades of night,
Profane those mansions blest,
Here in these foreign fields of light
The weary are at rest.
No tombstone there to point out to the traveler passing by,
Whose ashes in those silent graves do lie.
Tuesday, May 25, 1847.—This morning after almorzar, (breakfast,) Gen. Twiggs' division and a large train consisting of over four hundred wagons and over two hundred pack mules, arrived in Perote city. Among them I noticed Col. Harney and his regiment of dragoons, and Capt. Samuel H. Walker, the Texan Ranger, with two companies of mounted riflemen, mounted on fine and spirited horses. They are all fine, strong, healthy and good looking men, nearly every one measured over six feet; they took up their quarters in the Castle Perote, and through their conversation I learn that they are to remain with us to keep the National Road open between this castle and the city of Jalapa. So guerillas, robadors, (robbers,) take warning from this out, for the renowned Capt. Samuel H. Walker, takes no prisoners.
This evening we had pollito (chicken) for supper.
Wednesday, May 26, 1847.—This morning, Gen. Winfield Scott and staff, left with Gen. David E. Twiggs' division for the city of Puebla. They take with them the whole wagon train; the pack mules are left here for the present; the heavy siege train accompanies this division. A party of us soldiers went out on the main road to see them off, and cheered Gen. Scott as he passed; and told him not to leave us here long to garrison, as we were all anxious to be with the main army, and in the grand picture of the battles to be fought in the Valley of Mexico. His answer was, "to be of good cheer, there will be enough of fighting for us all before the war is over." (Cheers.)
In the afternoon, Capt. Samuel H. Walker, the celebrated Texan Ranger, with his two companies of mounted riflemen, and Col. William S. Harney's dragoons, left the Castle Perote for the town of Perote, placed there as a garrison to keep an eye on the guerillas, robbers and blanket greasers—a class of people who watch in the day-time who they can kill, and what they can steal at night.
In the evening we were paid off, two and a-half month's pay. Each soldier received $17.50. Oh! what a big pile to fight these bloody Mexicans. However, having spent all our money before we left New Orleans, we all felt ourselves rich, and it was not long afterward some went on a regular spree, and finally lodged in the guard-house for disorderly conduct.
In the evening our mess had a cherry pudding for supper, which has been the first since we left the States.
Thursday, May 27, 1847.—This morning a train left Perote for Jalapa, and was escorted by Capt. Walker and his company. Mr. Kerns "our sutler" having sold out his stock to Daniel M. Dull, goes down with this train on his way home, having seen enough of Mexico. To-day one of the regulars and one of Col. Harney's men died, and were buried this evening.
To-night the guard-house is full, and the cry is, "Still they come! All borracho!" (Drunk.)
Friday, May 28, 1847.—This morning there was a detail of five men from each company to go to Col. Wynkoop, and there report—for what we did not know, but the Sergeant Major said it was to go somewhere to sweep up and around the castle. This made the men rave and curse, telling Col. Wynkoop plainly that they would not sweep up the streets, as they did not enlist to sweep, and if the United States could not afford to hire its sweepers, they would pay it themselves out of their scanty means, sooner than to be slaves or scavengers. The Colonel sent them away laughing.
Saturday, May 29, 1847.—This morning two companies were called out to escort the Mexican prisoner, who was convicted for attempting to assassinate one of our artillerymen, to the main plaza of Perote. When we arrived at the plaza we found it crowded with greasers and some of the most notorious, cruel and remorseless ruffians in the country, and it was rumored that they would make a break through the guard and release their comrade in arms; but their courage failed them. Four muskets were stacked in the middle of the plaza, and the prisoner's hands and feet were tied up to them, and the drummer, called Yorkey, of Co. H, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, came forward with a strong rat-tan and gave him thirty lashes on his bare back. At first he did not seem to mind it much, taking it very easy, until he received about fifteen, when he began to get restless and bent double at every stroke, and groaned with the utmost shrieks. His back was literally cut open. He was to have sixty, but Adjutant Brown thought thirty was enough, and Yorkey, also being satisfied, as he was beginning to get tired lashing. He was afterwards relieved from his painful position, escorted back to the castle, and here to remain in confinement until the war is over. The doctor put something on his rare back to keep him from getting cold. Sunday, May 30, 1847.—This morning a non-commissioned officer was put into the guard-house for passing soldiers on spurious passes.
This afternoon one of the regular soldiers was buried. He was left here in the hospital when the division he belonged to left for Puebla.
There is to be an election for a Lieutenant in our company to-morrow.
Monday, May 31, 1847.—This morning there is a company election for Second Lieutenant. After a close vote it resulted in the choice of Sergeant Joseph M. Hall, over Oscar F. Bentson, our Orderly-Sergeant, and one of the best drilled noncommissioned officers in the First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.
In the evening the victorious party had a tall spree on egg-nogg at the expense of the successful candidate. They kept it up until midnight—singing and dancing.
Tuesday, June 1, 1847.—This morning at 10 o'clock our company was detailed to go on guard. I was fortunate enough to get a good post.
Wednesday, June 2, 1847.—This morning after I was released from guard duty, I returned to my bunk for the purpose of taking a nap, but I had scarcely laid down when Thomas Bruster, a member of our company, who laid right alongside of me, gave a sudden shriek or groan, after which he died. He was an honorable and upright man, an active member of our company, and his sudden death has cast a gloom over his circle of friends.
Mr. Bruster was beloved in his company with a love surpassing that between brothers. He was a genial gentleman, a brave soldier, faithful to his comrades, obedient to his superior in rank, and a few days before his demise, for his modest and unassuming manners, was appointed Sergeant in place of Sergeant J. M. Hall, who was promoted to Lieutenant.
At 2 o'clock, p.m., our company and Capt. Scott's company (H) escorted his remains to the silent tomb. At the grave Capt. W. F. Small made a few appropriate remarks, touching upon the deceased's character, that it was perfect, that he was a good husband and an affectionate father; he was a devoted son and brother, and a gallant soldier; he died suddenly, far away from his family and early associates.
Mr. Bruster hails from the city of Philadelphia, Northern Liberty District.
The peaks of Orazaba and Brother de Perote are both covered with snow.
Thursday, June 3, 1847.—This morning Col. Wynkoop and several companies of Col. Harney's dragoons, accompanied by the alcalde of Perote, went in pursuit of some guerillas, reported to be between here and Jalapa, they (the guerillas) having again robbed the mail-coach yesterday. Some spies informed the alcalde where they were quartered, and if Col. Wynkoop with his dragoons comes across any of them I would not give much for their red jackets.
In the afternoon I went to Perote and had the pleasure of looking on at a fandango dance, the most favorite dance among the middle-class of people, and particularly among the Spaniards, by whom it was first introduced into Mexico. No festival, whether religious, political, or civil, would be complete unless they had a fandango. It is danced to the music of the violin, tambourine and cymbals.
On the eve of a saint's day, during Christmas week, and on all saint's days, the fandango flourishes in and out of doors, in the huts of the poor and in the streets, after which some one goes around to collect a few clacos (cents), which is mostly given to the priests for masses for the souls in purgatory.
Friday, June 4, 1847—This morning, about 3 o'clock. Col. Wynkoop's party returned from the guerilla hunt. When the sentinel first heard the approaching of horses, he, without asking "Who comes there," fired his gun, and that alarmed and raised the whole garrison of the Castle of Perote, and the drawbridge was instantly hauled up, and the bells ringing, all men were ordered upon the rampart to be ready for any emergency and to welcome our enemy. It was soon discovered that in place of it being the enemy, it was Col. Wynkoop's party returning from their scouting tour. Col. Wynkoop reports that they chased up several bands of guerillas, but could not catch them on account of their horses being fresh. They fled to the mountains like deers to their hiding-places.
To-day one of Co. K's men, of our regiment, died of brain fever. He was followed to his grave by his company, and buried with the usual honors.
Saturday, June 5, 1847.—This morning Gens. La Vega and Harrea, accompanied by several of our officers, came into the castle, where they will remain on parole of honor until further orders.
In the afternoon they, with Col. Wynkoop and others, went around and visited the different quarters and cells. Gen. Harrea pointed out and showed to our men where the Texas Rangers, including Capt. Samuel H. Walker, were imprisoned and confined, and how and when they made their escape and fled to the mountains.
It seems that the prisoners, at midnight, dug up the stone floor, and then dug through under the stone-wall foundation. In that way they escaped from their cells. They disarmed the guard and made a rush to the outer court, where over one hundred Mexicans were guarding some arms. The escaped prisoners took two pieces each, attacked the guard, defeating them and making them retreat into the castle, the prisoners fled to the mountains for safety.
During the imprisonment of Capt. Walker, the Mexicans planted a large flag-pole, in which the prisoners had to assist. Before raising the pole Capt. Samuel H. Walker put a ten-cent piece on the bottom of the flag-pole, at the same time telling the Mexicans agua el querer pero sede te Americanos bandera ondo ola per soley estas castillus, meaning that he will yet see the American banner wave over this castle. To this the Mexicans all took a hearty laugh, saying, "No, no; that it was impossible." At that time there was no sign of war between the two nations. I have been told that since Capt. Walker has arrived he has dug under the flag-pole and taken from under it the very same ten-cent piece placed there by his own hands, thus proving his heroic words and imprisonment to be true.
Gen. Harrea was governor of the castle when Capt. Walker and his gallant band of Texas Rangers made their escape. Gen. La Vega is a remarkably fine and bold looking officer; but in Gen. Harrea there is something in his countenance that I do not like; there seems to be a good deal of savage Creole blood running through his veins.
Sunday, June 6, 1847.—This morning, unexpectedly, we were ordered to report to Col. Wynkoop's quarters for the purpose of going out skirmishing. So, at 2 o'clock, p.m., we left, led by Col. Wynkoop and a company of Col. Harney's dragoons.
We kept marching until we came to a town called Tepegahualco, about ten miles from Perote Castle. This town is the headquarters of those notorious ruffians and guerillas. We surrounded the town, which is built of lodo (mud) houses, but the lancers and guerillas got wind of our coming and succeeded in making their escape before we arrived; but we captured a lot of military clothing, arms and ammunition. After an hour's rest we started back for Perote, where we arrived in the evening a little fatigued.
Monday, June 7, 1847—Este manana (this morning) a train of some three hundred wagons started for Vera Cruz. It came from Puebla late last night. There were seven men, belonging to our company, who got their discharge yesterday, going down with this train on their way home. Capt. R. K. Scott, of Co. H, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, goes with this train home to recruit for the regiment. This train, I notice, takes a great many sick and wounded soldiers to Vera Cruz, and there to embark for New Orleans and thence to their sweet homes.
This evening it was rumored that orders were received by our officers from Gen. Scott for the six companies of the First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, who are stationed here, to move, or be prepared to move, on to the city of Puebla by the next coming train from Vera Cruz. We hope the rumor may prove true, for we are all getting tired of hunting and fighting nothing but guerillas.
Many of our men have an attack of diarrhœa, a disease which if not strictly attended to will prove fatal. This is mostly the men's own fault in not taking proper care of themselves; they eat too much fruit and green vegetables.
Tuesday, June 8, 1847.—Este manana received orders to hold ourselves in readiness to march for Puebla by the returning train from Vera Cruz.
This order caused a good deal of merriment and joy among the men, and our prayers are that it may speedily come.
In the afternoon one of Capt. Walker's riflemen was buried near the castle. He was followed by his horse and company, besides many of our regiment to his resting-place. At the grave Lieut. Thomas Claiborn, of the same company, read a chapter from the Bible, after which he spoke in the highest praise of the deceased as a gallant soldier, a true Christian, a faithful companion and a true friend to all his comrades.
His death was caused by exposure and cold contracted while out skirmishing and in pursuit of guerillas.
His brother, who belongs to the same company, and who, of course, was at his funeral, was grieved at the idea of leaving his brother under the sod of a foreign country. He marked his grave with a nice little head board.
In the evening two men from the hospital were buried near the same grave. These men's companies are with Gen. Worth's division, now at Puebla, and, as the saying is, they died in the hospital among strangers, and strangers buried them without any honors. Oh! My prayers shall forever be that I may not be left to die in the hospital, or among strangers.
This is enough for this day, so buenas noches (good-night).Wednesday, June 9, 1847.—This morning, after drill was over, Peter Ahl, Alburtus Welch, Don Jose and myself took a
walk through and all around the Castle of Perote, and thoroughly examined all the departments, and we must confess that this is a modern and strongly fortified castle. We were told that it is the strongest fort in all Mexico, with the exception of the Castle of San Juan de Ulloa, at Vera Cruz.
This "Castle Prison," as it is called by the Mexicans, is more, as already mentioned, for a political rival. A State conspirator, a troublesome prisoner of war and the vilest felon unhung, of every grade of society, from the very highest to the very lowest, from the man of rank to the filthiest vagabond in the country, has, at different times, its representative here in this castle. And could the stones of this gloomy structured castle speak, the dark and cruel deeds and tales of human suffering which they might reveal would make common humanity shrink aghast.
This castle is a grand, but gloomy, pile of the best stonemasonry, situated in a beautiful level valley between two mountains, and about one mile from the town of Perote. Through this town runs the National Road, and the stages, carrying passengers and the mail, stop over-night here.
The Castle of Perote was built in 1768. It was first called the Castle of San Carlos de Perote, but now mostly goes by the name of Castle Perote; it was the central depot between Vera Cruz and Puebla to store valuable property when it was in danger of being seized by thieves and other outlaws hanging around Vera Cruz.
It is built of what is called here volcanic scorix, which has been so hardened by the fusion as to be almost impervious to steel. The walls are over eight feet thick, and about sixty feet in height from the bottom of the great moat to the ramparts.
This moat, which extends entirely around the great structure, with its angular bastions, is some twenty feet in depth by two hundred feet in width; and though ordinarily kept dry (while we are here), it is so connected with subterranean waterworks, that it can be flooded in a few minutes. On the outer side of the moat is a massive stone wall, and beyond this again is a formidable chevaux-de-frise and a dry ditch; including this ditch the entire works cover about twenty-five acres of land. Upon the ramparts, which are seventy feet in width and extend the entire circumference of the building, are mounted from ninety to one hundred pieces of heavy artillery, some of which I noticed to be the largest in the world, and we wondered how they ever got them from Vera Cruz. All these batteries have full sweep all around this neighborhood.
When this castle was surrendered to Gen. Scott's army it contained fifty-five cannons and seven mortars, both bronze and iron, over twelve thousand cannon balls, fourteen thousand bombs and hand grenades, and over five hundred muskets.
There is also a draw-bridge, leading into the main entrance, over the ditch; so, in case of an unexpected attack on this fort by assault, it can be drawn up in a short time, which, of course, would prevent the assaulting party from getting into the castle.
If the Americans had such a fort and in such a position, no nation in the world would be able to take it from us, unless by starvation. It is considered by engineers to be one of the best constructed castles in the world, and it is surprising that the Mexicans surrendered it up without any opposition. During the occupation by the Mexicans there was, at all times, a sentinel constantly pacing to and fro, day and night, constantly on the watch for robbers.
The flat roof, upon which the cannons rest, is of solid masonry, about fifteen feet in thickness, which is supported by successive arches, seventy feet long by twenty feet wide. The interior of these arches constitute the work-shops, store-rooms and cells for the prisoners. They are entered only from the inside through a massive door, which has a narrow grating over the top. When the door of the cell is closed, the only light and air which can reach it, must either come in through the grating mentioned, or through the loop-hole at the far end, it being some two feet square on the inner side of the wall, and gradually narrowing down to an aperture of some four or five inches by twelve on the outside. Directly over the great moat, fronting these cells or arches, at a distance of sixty feet, is an interior range of square buildings two stories high, in which the officers and soldiers of the garrison are quartered; also, in many cases their wives and families live in this castle. The inner range is the centre court, or plaza, five hundred feet square, well paved, and used for military drills, parades, and executions if there is any. In fact, the castle is almost a town by itself, and originally cost Spain many years of hard labor, and besides many millions of dollars to build it to its perfection.
In this very castle our present gallant Capt. Samuel H. Walker, and many other distinguished Texas Rangers, captured by Gen. Santa Anna, and marched hundreds of miles, receiving treatment which killed several of their comrades on the way, were imprisoned in one of these cold, dark and dismal cells of these dens of a tyrant.
They were not only imprisoned, as prisoners of war should be treated, but loaded down with irons, and degraded to the lowest menial employment, with a chain weighing twenty pounds, and only some three or four feet in length, linked by the ankle to one of their companions in misery.
They were compelled, with others, to remove the filth and offal from the castle every morning in hand-barrows, and after that work was done they had to pack in stones and sand to repave the fortification for a distance of something like a mile, being all the time closely and well guarded by a file of Mexican soldiers on either side of the gang, and treated with indignity and abuse.
At 6 o'clock, p.m., they were all locked up in their dark cells, there to remain until 6 o'clock in the morning, passing the night without beds, only the cold flag-stone floor, with no covering but worn-out, filthy and ragged clothing and a few miserable blankets which they had among themselves when captured.
Thus, they have passed many restless nights of misery; sometimes caused by cold, rheumatism, cramps, colic, and all such-like sufferings of the companions to whom they were chained to. Thus they passed in misery, days, weeks and months with scarcely a ray of hope.
Capt. Walker also informed us that the only mitigation of their suffering being in the removal of their heavy chains at night, which they had effected in various ways, but principally by bribing the blacksmith to put in leaden rivets blackened with charcoal, so that the prisoners could remove them at their pleasure. Their food during their imprisonment was scant and poor, and this, together with hard work, loss of rest, exposure, anxiety of mind and improper treatment, carried some to the hospital, and some to the grave, without a coffin. But this is nothing, as all our soldiers, including officers, that have been killed or have died in the hospital, have been buried in the same manner.
During all this confinement and misery, they at last adopted some plan to make their escape from the Castle, by cutting a hole through the wall at night, and in this way they made good their escape to the mountains, from thence to the United States, where Capt. Walker again raised a company of rangers and joined the United States forces. He is now with us, stationed at the town of Perote, striking terror to the hearts of the guerillas; he would dearly love to have a dash at his bosom friend Gen-Santa Anna, and pay him his compliments. This is about all I can write about the Castle San Carlos, de Perote.
To-day our company was detailed to go on guard, but I got off by a diarrhœa blue volunteering to go on in my place, providing I write him a letter, and some other little business.
To-day two soldiers were buried from the hospital.
Thursday, June 10, 1847.—This morning there was target firing by a company belonging to the Third Artillery regiment, under the command of Capt. Taylor, who is stationed here for the purpose of taking charge of the cannons. It was the first regular artillery drill I ever saw, and I liked their movements and way of drilling first rate. While walking around the ramparts, I heard the clattering of horses' hoofs and the rattling of scabbards; it was Capt. Walker's company going on drill; they dashed out on the road, back of the Castle, on a level piece of ground, there they drilled for over an hour. They were under the command of Lieut. Thomas Claiborn.
Lieut. Claiborn is a tall, slim and noble looking officer, a splendid horseman, of very good discipline, and takes great pains in drilling his company. Capt. Walker, I am told, is not so much of a drilled officer; but, for leading a charge, or following the retreating enemy, there is no braver or daring officer in the United States Army, than Capt. Samuel H. Walker.
This afternoon there was an election held in Co. D, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, for Second-Lieutenantship, Sergt. Logan and private Edward Carroll were the two candidates; after much wrangling on both sides, it resulted in favor of Edward Carroll, which caused some surprise among Sergt. Logan's friends, and much rejoicing among Edward Carroll's friends. I am well acquainted with Mr. Carroll, and a better and nobler man is not in the regiment; and I, myself, feel much rejoiced over his triumphant election. He is a soldier, and knows the soldiers' wants. The kind of man the soldiers want for officers.
To-day two members of our regiment died; they were buried this evening with the usual honors. Thus we go, two, three and four every day.
Friday, June 11, 1847.—This morning we were ordered to leave the Castle and go to the town of Perote, as a garrison. Six companies of the regiment went, the rest still remain in the Castle.
In the afternoon a small train arrived from Jalapa, bringing back the three companies belonging to our regiment. They took up quarters with us in town.
In the evening Capt William F. Binder's company were out target-firing. Made some good hits. We are now under the command of Lieut.-Col. Black, and we are all well pleased with the change, as he is a tip-top fellow. Nothing new. Saturday, June 12, 1847.—This morning all hands are busy in fixing up our quarters. After which I took a walk around and examined the building that we are now quartered in, and I find it was once a Mexican hospital, which was full (after the battle of Cerro Gordo) of wounded Mexican soldiers.
Our quarters are good, better than I expected when we first entered them.
At noon another one of Capt. Walker's mounted riflemen was buried. The deceased belonging to Harrisburg, Pa.; and, out of respect, our whole company attended his funeral. His (Walker's) men were mounted on their horses fully equipped, and after the usual ceremony we went to our quarters talking about how fast our men were dying.
Sunday, June 13, 1847.—This morning we could not go to the plaza unless we had a pass from our Captains, countersigned by the Adjutant himself, but the soldiers would not stand any such proceedings. So we jumped the walls and managed to get out.
In the evening we had a dress-parade. Col. Black in command, and, as usual, full of jokes and fun. Oh! when will we get orders to march?
Monday, June 14, 1847.—This morning blew up a tremendous storm, and an awful whirlwind, which is common in this section of the country; and at the suburbs of the town it unroofed several ranches, tore up small trees and filled the air with clouds of dust. Shingles and other rubbish, which came under its way, passed through the southern part of the town, and flew among the mountains. Never did I see it blow and hail harder; it made a noise equal to five hundred teams of horses coming on a rough road.
This afternoon I formed an acquaintance with a young man named Fry, belonging to Co. E. He is very much of a gentleman, and is intimately acquainted with Mr. George Stiefel, a baker, an uncle of mine living in Philadelphia. He tells me that he worked for him a short time before he left for Mexico. Tuesday, June 15, 1847—This morning there is not much news stirring.
At noon there was an election in Co. I, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, for First Lieutenant, Assistant Acting Adjt. I. Walden and Sergt. Minor were the respective candidates. After the polls were closed the votes were counted, and the result was that Sergt. Minor was elected by a big majority. Lieut. Walden is not much liked in the regiment. He is a kind of stuck-up sort of fellow, which the soldiers don't like; although he has a good knowledge of military affairs. Yet, with all that, he did not receive one-third of his company's votes. Mr. Minor is every inch a gentleman, a soldier and scholar, having graduated and practiced law at the Wilkesbarre, Pa., bar.
This evening Christopher Hill and Joseph Cample were appointed Corporals of our company, with much dissatisfaction to the company, for they never did much duty, and particularly when the hour of danger was at hand; in fact, I never saw Cample doing any duty.
Wednesday, June 16, 1847.—This morning Capt. Walker, with his company, went out scouting. He hastened to the spot where it was reported that the guerillas were quartered, and sure enough this afternoon returned bringing in some forty or fifty mustangs as a prize. Capt. Walker reports that a large force is on the road between here and Vera Cruz or National Bridge, awaiting for the up train, which is on its way from Vera Cruz.
To-night I was put on picket-guard; and took me out over one mile from town; had a strong guard on the ramparts or top of our quarters, in case of an attack. Capt. Walker's men are out on the main road as picket-guards. Our spies say that we are to be attacked for sure to-night at 12 o'clock. If this is the case, I don't know why I had to be put out beyond the town. What chances have I for my life?
Thursday, June 17, 1847.—This morning I was released from guard-duty. The Mexicans did not attack us last night. At noon we received information that a large party of guerillas and lancers well armed with pistols, carbines, daggers and lassoes, were in our rear, and advancing; also there was a party of guerillas at La Hoya Pass waiting to attack the coming train, which I am told is loaded with specie for the army. I also heard that recruiting was going on in town. Co. D, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, was detailed to go out scouting. They broke open several houses where recruiting had been carried on, finding arms and other munition of war, also several fine horses saddled and fully equipped, ready to start off. They succeeded in taking three prisoners, and the very men who tried a few days ago to bribe Sergt. J. R. Reynolds, of Co. D, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, offering him a Captaincy commission at their rendezvous; but he respectfully declined the promotion, and would sooner serve his time out in the cause of his own adopted country.
Rumors of another attack to-night.
Friday, June 18, 1847.—This morning we were positively assured that the Mexicans would attack the town and Castle of Perote. So everything was got in readiness for the attack. The Castle's big cannons were placed to play through the streets of Perote. Capt. Walker had his men ready, as well as his own horse bridled and saddled ready for action, or any emergency that he might be called on to perform. We are all ready, willing and very anxious to receive them and give them a warm reception (caliente recepcious).
Col. Wynkoop is getting uneasy in his strong castle. He sent an order to Lieut.-Col. Black to move five companies to the Castle, which order was cheerfully obeyed.
No attack to-night. All our plans and hopes were dashed. No enemy coming near us. All quiet.
Saturday, June 19, 1847.—This morning Cos. B, C, F and K, First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, received orders to go out scouting. So at 5 o'clock we started on our way. Capt. Walker's companies went toward the Castle, and took a by-road passing around the town, and was seen on full trot on the National Road. We moved on very cautiously, looking through some of the chaparrals to see whether we could find some guerillas, but not a yellow-copper did we see.
At noon we arrived at Las Vegas; here we halted, expecting that we would put up for the balance of the day and night; having marched hard, and over a rough road, but Col. Wynkoop said that he would push on until he met the coming train, if he had to go to Jalapa. To this Capt. Walker made answer, "Why, Colonel, your men will kill my horses in marching any further." There was quite a time among the men, and one-half of the soldiers went into a church, and swore by all the Gods on high that they would go no further this day or night; and neither we did.
Sunday, June 20, 1847.—Battle of Las Vegas. This morning at 2 o'clock we left Las Vegas, and had not gone more than one mile before the Mexican picket guards challenged Capt. Walker, who was in the advance at the time. Capt. Walker, being well learned in the Mexican language, some twenty words passed between them. The Mexicans wanted to know if we were Republicanos de Mexicanos, etc. They, of course, thought it was a re-enforcement for them, as they were expecting some.Capt. Walker kept on talking with the Mexicans until we arrived. We took our position on the left side of the road, after which Capt. Walker ordered his men to prepare to charge. Order "Mount!" was given, and while getting into position for action the horses became excited and seemed to know that something was going to be done, for they could hardly be managed, panting and snorting all the time. When the order was given, "Ready! Charge!" off they went with about fifty men with the awfulest rattling and cracking of horses' feet, and jangling of swords and scabbards, and yelling drove the strong sentinels from their breastworks, but not without first receiving several volleys of musketry from the enemy.
When we heard the firing, we hastened and followed Capt. Walker until we arrived at their rendezvous, which consisted of several ranches, breastworks and camp-fires still burning.
On our way we overtook one of Capt. Walker's men, whose horse was shot from under him, and himself slightly wounded. He also said that the Captain's horse stumbled and fell.
Not knowing the strength and position of the Mexicans, we were ordered to halt and lay down upon our arms and await till daylight.
The morning at length dawned, when Capt. Walker and some of his men went out to hunt the Captain's horse, when suddenly they came across about a dozen Mexicans hidden in the brush. They were sent to our headquarters. They stated that the Mexicans have retreated to the other side of Las Vegas, and there entrenched with two pieces of artillery, and about two hundred cavalrymen.
The Captain says that when his horse stumbled and fell he thought that he was wounded, and being anxious to be with his men he left his horse lay and followed, running after his company until the charge was accomplished.
Soon after daylight, the Mexicans could be seen in large numbers on a hill, marching down and joining the National Road, about half a mile from their breastwork above Las Vegas. Col. Wynkoop, not knowing their strength or their position, did not venture to follow them, fearing that the enemy would make a flank movement and cut off his retreat; yet the soldiers were holloaing out "Let us charge!" "Let us charge on them." " To h——l with the flank movement." "Let us drive them to thunder." Our Colonel ordered us to lay down for a short time, thinking that the enemy would come out from behind their second breastworks, but they could not be coaxed out.
Col. Wynkoop now thought, that the Mexicans have been re-enforced, and thought that it would be advisable to fall back to Las Vegas, on an open field, and in that way draw the enemy on from their breastworks, and then give Capt. Walker who is now occupying a hill behind a cluster of wild pines, a chance to charge. While we were moving our position, we saw the Mexican cavalry, which was not visible before, occupying a hill to our left, following us all the way, but took good care to keep up on the hill. We were now ordered to halt, and were placed across a large hill some twenty feet apart to skirmish. However, we were not out long skirmishing, before we saw Capt. Walker's men riding as fast as their horses could go, toward Las Vegas. At this time the bugle sounded the signal, which was to get together. Col. Wynkoop now ordered us to fall into line quickly; after which, we hastened back to Las Vegas, (or near,) where we were in the morning, to support Capt, Walker's mounted riflemen.
We marched on till we reached La Hoya Pass. Seeing no enemy, we stopped and rested for a while, for we were much exhausted from the want of something to eat and rest; in fact, we are out-done, being on our feet for twenty-four hours. Hearing no firing, or seeing nothing of the enemy anywhere, we thought that we could rest ourselves and take a little snooze, when all of a sudden, the report of musketry was heard ahead. We instantly jumped to our feet, and formed in double-quick time, and started toward the firing. We had not gone far, when we heard the report of artillery in our advance. The cry was, the battle was now begun, work must now be done. We marched on and soon found Capt. Walker and his men closely engaged with the enemy, in superior numbers. We now fell to the left side of the road, and soon became desperately engaged with the Mexicans, but we crowded on them too strong, and they fell back across the road to the right on a field. Seeing that the enemy were giving away, Capt. Walker with his company charged on the Mexicans. We followed, shouting and cheering loud enough to scare five thousand Mexicans. Volley after volley were fired upon them, and of course the Mexicans returned it. They still kept retreating. Capt. Walker fearing they would work their way off too fast, ordered a charge again on the Mexicans, following them, and did not stop until he had put them to flight. The enemy are completely routed, leaving over one hundred wounded Mexicans lying on the victorious field near Las Vegas.
After this was accomplished we were ordered to march back to the National Road, where we met the Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, under the command of Lieut.-Col. John W. Geary (Col. Roberts having died at Jalapa). They are now attached to Brig.-Gen. George Cadwalader's division. We heartily cheered one another. We joined and followed them to the brow of a steep hill. Here we again saw more Mexicans. The dragoons, who were with Gen. Cadwalader, dismounted, and Col. Thomas Childs, of the United States Army, took command of them, and followed the Mexicans down the hill to the opposite side of the ravine.
The firing was kept up on both sides very briskly for a while, and never did we see the Mexicans act so bravely and stubborn as they did to-day. They stood right up before you and fought like so many tigers. Our riflemen made nearly every ball tell, and laid many out treso (stiff"). Several of our men were badly wounded. The enemy has now fully retreated; and word was sent for us to fall back to the National Road and proceed on our march.
In this fight we captured several small Mexican flags; one was a guerilla's flag, on which were the words "No Quarters," with a black cross to it, and a skull and cross-bones. This is what we call a highwayman's flag of murder and robbery.
After a little rest we again marched back to Las Vegas with our booty, which consisted of turkeys, chickens, pigeons and many other articles too numerous to mention.
When we arrived in Las Vegas there wasn't a single person to be found in the whole town. No doubt they heard of the defeat of the Mexicans, which frightened them, and for fear of being harmed they fled to other parts less hot. We noticed that the Mexicans had the upper part of the town well fortified for an attack on our army, or on our trains from Vera Cruz; to rob, plunder and murder our rear guards, or those poor, unfortunate souls who may happen to give out. But they failed in their dastardly design by being driven from their positions and destroyed. This is the only way to break up their gangs of desperadoes, ladrones, etc., by destroying their headquarters and burn the town, which was the case of Las Vegas, more than one half the town being burnt (around the fortification), and would have burnt it all down, had it not been for Gen. Cadwalader, who prevented the men from further destruction of private property.
I regret to mention that Gen, George Cadwalader of Philadelphia, Pa., made use of some very hard names, which was entirely out of place for a man of his standing, rank, or position, to make use of, and none but a drunkard or loafer would be guilty of making use of such language to his fellow-man. The whole was out of place as well as uncalled for. The men have been out for several days and nights, marching and skirmishing in the rain-storms and on the muddy roads and fields to keep open the National Road for Gen. Cadwalader and his division to pass on without opposition to him.
This was all done without a murmur, with patriotism and an empty stomach, scarcely anything to eat, or rest. We now claim that we should be received with a better reception than to be called hard names, cursed and sworn at like running mad-dogs, all because we happened to take a chicken or two from a deserted ranche.
Soldiers who have to fight their enemy in the enemy's country will never go hungry as long as there are any chickens about. And we warn Gen. Cadwalader never to call the Pennsylvania Volunteers S——s of b——s and other vulgar names unfit to hear. A good many of the Philadelphians always thought a great deal of "Cady," but they now say they are done with him.
We marched on and camped at Res Trio (Head River). Our mess took possession of an old distillery. It rained hard all evening and night.
- Since died, August 9, 1881, aged 90.