History of the War between Mexico and the United States with a preliminary view of its origin

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History of the War between Mexico and the United States with a preliminary view of its origin

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CHAPTER The Battle

of Resaca de la Palma

VII.

—Defence of Fort Brown—

The Great Western.

Wlien the sun rose on the morning of the 9th a mist of mingled smoke and vapor hung over the

battle field of

were perceived retreating by

Palo

Mexicans

Alto, but, as the haze lifted from the levels, the

their left flank, in order, per-

haps, to gain a more advantageous position on the road in

which they might

resist

our progress towards Matamoros.

This movement inspirited our troops, who, craving the terest of a

new

position,

yesterday on the same

were loath

field.

Accordingly General Taylor

ordered the supply train to be parked at

its

position and left

under the guard of two twelve-pounders and the

fatal eigh-

teens which had done such signal service on the 8th.

wounded men and Isabel,

officers

in-

to repeat the battle of

were next despatched

The

to Point

and we then moved across the Llano Burro towards

the edge of the dense chapparal which extends for a dis-

tance of seven miles to the Rio Grande. nies of the artillery;

first

and a

The

light

compa-

brigade under Captain Smith, of the second select

detachment of light troops,

all

com-

manded by Captain McCall, were thrown forward into the thickets to feel the enemy and ascertain the position he finally took.

In our advance

we

crossed the ground occupied by the

Mexicans on the 8th where

their line

had been mowed by our

HISTORY OF THE

172 artillery.

WAR BETWEEN

Shattered limbs, riven skulls, slain and

men,

horses, dying

military accoutrements,

wounded

gun stocks and

bayonets lay strewn around, the terrible evidences of war

and havoc.

As

our

men

pressed on they encountered, at

every step, appeals to their humanity, from the famished and

remnants of the Mexican army whose wounds did

thirsty

not permit them to advance with their compatriots

;

may be

maimed

recorded to the honor of the troops, that our

enemies were in no instance officers

left

About

it

without succor, and that

and men vied with each other

and despatching them

but

wants

in relieving their

to our hospitals.

three o'clock in the afternoon a report

was

sent

from the scouts that the enemy were again in position on the road, which they held with at least two. pieces of artillery.

The command was immediately put in motion, and, about after, came up with Captain McCall. The field of Palo Alto was an open plain, well adapted

an hour

for the fair fight of a pitched battle, but

Resaca de la Palma, which we now approached, possessed altogether different features.

The

position

judiciously seized

was

naturally strong,

by the Mexicans.

and had been

The matted masses

of chapparal, sprinkled in spots with small patches of prairie,

formed an almost impassable barrier on both sides of the road along which

de

la

Palma,

or.

we were

forced to advance.

Ravine of the Palm,

fifty

The Resaca

yards wide and

nearly breast high, crosses the road at right angles, and

then bends, at both ends, in the shape of a horse shoe.

The

low portions of the gully are generally filled with water, forming long and winding ponds through the prairie, whilst, in the rainy season, these pools unite across the ridge

which

forms the road and flow off towards the Rio Grande.

Along

the banks of this ravine the thickets of chapparal, nour-

ished by the neighboring water,

grow more densely than

MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES.

173

elsewhere, and, at the period of the battle, formed a solid wall penetrated only by the highway.

was along

It

the edges of this hollow that the Mexicans,

by Arista and Ampudia, had posted themselves

led

lines,

— one

in

two

under the front declivity, and the other en-

trenched behind the copse of chapparal which shielded the

bank and

in the rear.

left

teries

In the centre of each

of the road, a battery

were disposed so as

line,

on the right

was placed, whilst

other bat-

to assail us in flank.

In this

strongly fortified position, supported by infantry, cavalry and

ordnance,

several

thousand Mexicans stood around the

curving limits of the ravine, ready to rake us with their rible cross-fires as w^e

ter-

advanced by the road between the

horns of the crescent.* It will

be perceived,, from

this description, that the char-

was essentially changed from the affair Almost entrenched as were the Mexicans be-

acter of the action

of the 8th.

hind the ravine and chapparal, they

now

stood on the de-

fensive resolutely awaiting our assault, whilst, at Palo Alto,

they had assumed an offensive attitude, aiming either to capture or destroy our army.

In the passage of our troops between Matamoros and Point Isabel, the practiced eye of our military

marked the value of it

had been already supposed

to resist our

men

often re-

this ravine as a point of strength;

that

when

the

enemy

march, they would avail themselves of

Hence

and

halted, it

for a

was not unknown to General Taylor, and he promptly prepared a combined attack of infantry, artillery and cavalry- by which he might succeed in driving the American army like a wedge, battle ground.

this excellent position

through the narrow but only aperture that admitted to our fort. *

Army

on the Rio Grande,

p. 93,

and see plan of the

battle.

its transit

WAR BETWEEN

HISTORY OF THE

174

Accordingly, as soon as Captain McCall received his orders, in the earlier part of the

day, he advanced with his

men, and directed Captain C. F. Smith, of the second with the light company of the

tillery,

to the right of the road, whilst

first

he proceeded on the

of

rangers

was despatched

ar-

move

left

with

Walker and a small

a detachment of artillery and infantry. force

brigade, to

make

to

a

hazardous

reconnoissance of the road in front, while Lieutenant Plesanton, with a few of the second dragoons, marched in rear

of the columns of infantry. After following the

trail

of the

enemy

for

about two miles

and a half across the Llano Burro, and learning from Walker that the road

was

McCall pushed the rangers

clear,

into the

chapparal, within supporting distance, and soon dislodged

some

parties of

On

Mexicans.

reaching the open ground

near Resaca, the head of his column received three rounds of canister from a

masked

battery,

which forced

take cover, after killing one private and geants.

They

his

men

wounding two

to

ser-

rapidly rallied however, and Captain Smith's

detachment being brought

to the left of the road,

posed to attack by a flank movement, what,

it

at the

was promoment,

was supposed to be only the rear guard of the retiring army. But after a q\iick examination of the field by Dobbins and McCoun, who discovered large bodies of Mexicans in motion on our left, while the road, in front, was held by lancers, McCall resolved to despatch three dragoons to the

commander in chief wdth the news and await his arrival. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon that General Taylor came up with the skirmishers and received an exact report of the enemy's position.

upon the Major's

fall,

Lieutenant Ridgely, who,

had succeeded

to the

command

of

Ringgold's battery, was immediately ordered to advance on the highway, while the

fifth

infantry

and one wing of the

MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES.

175

fourth were thrown into the chapparal with McCall's

mand on other

the

left, at

wing of the

same time

the

fourth entered the thicket on the right with

Smith's detachment.

These corps were employed

to cover

the batter}^, to act as skirmishers, and engage the

The

can infantry.

and bloody,

com-

that the third and the

and

Mexi-

general, spirited

enemy's infantry gave way be-

for although the

fore the steady fire

became

action, at once

resistless progress of

our own, yet

was still in position to check our advance by means of the fatal pieces which commanded the pass through

his artillery

the ravine.

This was the moment, however, when the centre was destined to be penetrated and broken stated,

had been ordered

— Ridgely,

cautiously for a short distance, he descried the four hundred

as has been

to the road, and, after

yards in advance.

advancing

enemy about

Pressing onward until

within perfect range of his guns he began to play upon the foe with

deadly discharges.

were not

to

be repulsed.

But the

Mexicans

resolute

Returning shot for shot, their

grape surged through our battery in eveiy direction, yet without repulsing the intrepid Ridgely, who, as soon as the

opposing

fire

slackened, limbered up and

moved

rapidly for-

ward, never unlimbering unless he perceived the enemy front or found

hung upon

from the

his flank.

jaws of the Mexican discharges of canister

fire

of their infantry that they

During

this fierce

in

still

advance into the

crescent, he frequently threw into

it

when not over one hundred yards

from the opposing batteries and their support. After hail,

hammering

the centre for

some time with

this iron

and keeping the wings of the Mexicans engaged with

movement with dragoons was planned onslaught. May, with his powerful corps, was

the other troops, a for the final

directed to report to the general,

and immediately received

HISTORY OF THE

176

WAR BETWEEN

orders from Taylor to charge the enemy's battery.

Thrid-

ding the mazes of the chapparal and of the road with his dense squadron he came up with Ridgely, and halting a mo-

ment while

that gallant soldier

poured a volley

enemy, which was answered by a shower he dashed

at the

head of

the midst of the cloud of

ished Mexicans.

As

his troopers, like lightning

from

smoke, over the guns of the aston-

the dragoons rushed at

gleaming swords, along the road, the their pieces

into the

of rattling grape,

full tilt,

artillerists

The

and cheered them on.

with

leaped upon

infantiy in the

chapparal took up the shout, and before the combined thunder of cannon, huzzas, and galloping cavaliy had died away.

May and

his troopers

had charged through the seven oppos-

ing pieces, and rose again on the heights in rear of the ravine.

Graham, Winship and Pleasanton led the move-

ment on the

left

of the road, whilst the captain, with Inge,

Stevens and Sackett, bore

off to the right.

But, after gain-

ing the elevation, only six dragoons could be rallied, and

with these

May

charged back upon the gunners

regained their pieces, drove them

brave

La Vega who

off,

who had

and took prisoner the

stood to his unwavering artillery during

the heat of the dreadful onslaught.

Meanwhile Ridgely, followed the charge at

as soon as

May had

passed him,

a gallop, only halting on the edge of

the ravine where he found three pieces of deserted artillery.

Here the Mexican infantry poured a distance of not more than rate

valry

into

him a

galling

and murderous struggle ensued,

for the

charge of ca-

had not been promptly sustained by the

consequence of the difficulty

it

fire at

paces, and a most despe-

fifty

infantiy in

experienced in struggling

It was about this time was encountered by May who in-

through the masses of chapparal. that the eighth regiment

formed Colonel Belknap of the exploit which had been ren-

MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES.

177

dered almost unavailing for want of supporting infantry.

Belknap promptly ordered the regiment with a part of the

fifth,

whence,

it

to

form on the road

was impetuously charged

This admirable assault was executed

on the enemy's guns.

with the greatest celerity; the battery was secured; the fantry sprang across the ravine amidst a sheet of

and

front

right,

fire

in-

from

and drove the supporting column before

it,

destroying in vast numbers the troops that pertinaciously

headlong from the

resisted until forced

gomery with

into the chapparal

from

Mont-

fatal hollow.

pursued the Mexicans vigorously

his regiment

on the opposite side of the Resaca

their rapid flight, further attempts

were

until

utterly useless.

Thus was the centre of the enemy's lines completely The task would be endless were I to recount the valiant deeds of the American and Mexican wings in the It was a short thickets on the right and left of the road.

broken.

but severe onset, disputed on both sides, with an intrepidity that resembled rather the bitterness of a personal conflict

than a regular

The

battle.

nature of the ground

among

the

groves was such as to forbid any thing but close quarters

and the use of the bayonet,

men

knife, or sword.

Officers

and

fought side by side, supporting more than leading each

other

upon the opposing ranks.

Bayonets were crossed,

swords clashed, stalwart arms held foes

at bay,

and Ameri-

can and Mexican rolled side by side on the blood stained earth. I

have dwelt upon the action in the centre because

trolled the road, dispersed the foe effort

would be invidious

vidual hardihood and

drama were

fearless

was not unlike

con-

and won the day; but the

v/ere I to relate instances of indi-

skill,

when

all

the valiant actors in the

and unfaltering.

The charge

of

May

the assault at Waterloo of Ponsonby's victo-

rious cavalry, supported

23

it

by Vandeleur's

light horse,

upon the



HISTORY OF THE

178

WAR BETWEEN

twenty- four pieces of D'Erlon's battery; in regard to which

Napoleon was heard

"How

to exclaim, in the heat of the battle,

terribly those

gray horsemen fight!"

Frenchmen opposed

conflict,

But

in that

the Anglo-saxons, and Mil-

haud's steel clad curiassiers, charging Ponsonby's brigade after

it

had carried the guns and attacked even a

of artillery and lancers, readily overcame

the

third line

exhausted

troopers and slew their gallant leader.

At Resaca de la Palma, however the result was different. The artillery battalion, which, with the exception of the flank companies, had been ordered to guard the train on the morning of the 9th, was

emy

;

and the

now

ordered up to pursue the routed en-

third infantry, Ker's dragoons

battery followed the

Mexicans rapidly

and Duncan's Shout-

to the river.

ing, singing, almost frantic with delight at their eminent suc-

men

cess, our

became a

suit

The

rushed after the flying Mexicans. perfect rout as they pressed on to the

the Rio Grande, and numbers of the

attempting the passage of the

fatal

pur-

banks of

enemy were drowned in stream. The pursuing

corps encamped near the Rio Grande, while the remainder of the army rested for the night on the field of battle.

want of a ponton

across the river on the night of the 9th

ment had ful

The

train* prevented us from following the foe

failed to provide

;

but, as the govern-

General Taylor with that use-

equipage, notwithstanding his frequent warnings of

need, he nihilate

was deprived of the first chance the Mexican army and to seize

ammunition collected ever, of Arista's * In

May

in

Matamoros.

camp and

1846, after these

battles,

authorising the organization of a niers.

The war department had

its

in this all

The

war

its

to an-

the arms and capture,

how-

equipage was a recompense

an act of Congress was finally passed

company of

sappers, miners and ponto-

not the right to form such a corps pre-

vious to this enactment.

I



MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES.

men who had

for our

chief had gone into the

fought so bravely. The Mexican campaign with every comfort around

him, and was evidently unprepared for defeat

La Palma, tles

for, at

the

moment

fires filled

from which he had doubtless designed after our capture.

other uses

men

to

Resaca de

with viands

make

The food however was

a savory

destined to

and, after a communication with the fort which

;

enemy during both

held out staunchly against the

our

at

of our victory, his camp-ket-

were found simmering over the

meal

179

sat

down

to enjoy the repast

contests,

which the Mexicans

had cooked. Unable as we were

to secure the best results of victory,

from the cause already narrated, these battles were, never-

We

theless, of great importance.

had achieved success

in

more than two

to

the face of brave foes outnumbering us

one, and had conquered an army of Mexican veterans, per-

equipped and appointed.

fectly

In the battle of Palo Alto

our force, engaged, had been one hundred and seventy-seven oflicers,

two thousand one hundred and eleven men, or an

aggregate of two thousand two hundred and eighty-eight in the action of field

Resaca de

la

Palma we brought

one hundred and seventy-three

sand and forty nine men,

or,

officers

;

into the

and two thou-

an aggregate of two thousand

two hundred and twenty-two, while the actual number engaged with the enemy did not exceed seventeen hundred. In the

first

affair

we had

nine killed, forty-four wounded*

and two missing; but in the second, our loss was three cers

and

thirty-six

Lieutenant Inge

with

May

;

fell

offi-

men

killed,

at the

head of his platoon while charging

and seventy-one wounded.

Lieutenants Cochrane and Chadburne likewise *

Page and Ringgold died subsequently

met

WAR BETWEEN

HISTORY OF THE

180

their death in the thickest of the fight

Payne and Mcintosh

ant Colonels

and Hooe

;

while Lieuten-

Captains Montgomery

;

and Lieutenants Fowler, Dobbins, Gates, Jor-

;

dan, Selden, Maclay, Burbank and Morris, were

on the

field

wounded

of Resaca de la Palma.

The Mexican army, under Arista and Ampudia, amounted thousand men, having been strongly reinforced

to at least six

with cavalry and infantry after the battle of the 8th; and is

highly probable that the whole of this force

it

was opposed

In one of his despatches,

to us in their choice position.

still

had under

arms four thousand troops exclusive of numerous

auxiliaries,

after

the battles, Arista confesses that he

and that he ninety-eight

and sixteen

lost in the affair at ;

commissioned saca de

la

and

five

fifty-six

and

officers

Palma, six

men were

slain

missing officers

officers

missing,

;

—while

—making number

officers

officers

and

Re-

fifty-four

and two hundred

and one hundred and

a total loss of seven hundred

Eight pieces of

standards, a great

in the battle of

and one hundred and

twenty-three

;

wounded, and three

fifty-five.

officers,

Palo Alto four



eleven officers and one hundred men killed men wounded, and twenty-six privates and non-

artillery, several colors

and

of prisoners, including fourteen

and a large quantity of camp equipage, muskets,

small arms, mules, horses, pack-saddles, subsistence, personal

baggage, and private as well as regimental papers,

our hands.

The

fell

into

plan of campaign, as alleged to have been

developed by Arista's port-folio, was based upon the "reconquest of the forces

were

lost

province," into which the Mexican

have been pushed as soon as our army -was

to

demolished on the Rio Grande. to secure the fruits of victory

was arranged into

that

the field,

If

by

it

should be necessary

further military efforts,

ample reinforcements were

to

it

be brought

and subsequently that President Paredes,

!

MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES. march an army of occupation

himself, should

and bear

his conquering

181

into

Texas

Sabine

eagles to the

After this narrative of our actions in the field let us recur for a

up

moment

to the gallant garrison

in the fort since the

gard to whose fate the

When May

to

which had been shut

beginning of the month, and in

liveliest

anxiety

the commander-in-chief departed on the 1st of

open the

line of

communication with Point Isabel,

prevent an attack upon the depot, and, fort

re-

was experienced.

finally, to

with subsistence and munitions, the

field

The

capable of defence, was not completed.

succor the

work, though events of the

few preceding days had denoted a resolution on the part of the Mexicans to

us immediately, and warned our

assail

small garrison to prepare for the labor of ditching

was resumed; but defences

were

emergencies.

all

Accordingly

and embanking on the unfinished

front

neither the draw-bridge nor the interior

.yet

commenced, and

to

all

these works,

Mansfield, with his engineers and detachments of infantry,

devoted themselves unceasingly during the whole of the

bombardment, which began

on Sunday, the

at day-break,

3d of May.

The Mexicans had been engaged

for

some time

erecting

fortifications along the river front of their town opposite

our

field

tion.

work, and by

They commenced

tar battery called

La

knowledge of

their attack

oflficer

his

of artillery,

fire

fort

and mor-

who

manifested a

four mortars, and the remainder

sant shower of shot and shells the

from the

profession during the conflict.

— and eight-pounders, —poured

Nine pieces of ordnance, six

time had prepared them for ac-

redonda, which they had placed under

the orders of a French perfect

this

;

into our

works an inces-

but our batteries returned

so effectually, that in thirty minutes.

La redonda was

!

WAR BETWEEN

HISTORY OF THE

182 abandoned.

fortification to another

Passing from this

lower

down, the enemy again opened upon us from Lafortina de lajlecha, as well as from intermediate batteries and a tar in their vicinity.

It

mor-

soon became evident that our six-

pounders produced no serious

effects in

consequence of the

distance; and, desiring to husband his resources for greater

emergencies, Major tirely

Brown

on our side of the

ordered the firing to cease en-

The

river.

with only one hundred and

garrison had been left

rounds of ammunition for

fifty

each eighteen-pounder while the six-pounders were as badly provided

The

guns

silence of our

foe, disheartened

our

men

in

the presence of an assailing

for

an instant, but they immedi-

on the

ately betook themselves energetically to their task

defences, though the enemy's shells exploded in every di-

On

rection about them.

sumed

the 4th the

Mexicans again

re-

the fight and continued their vollies until midnight.

At nine o'clock on

that evening irregular discharges of

musketry were heard

in

our rear apparently extending a

mile up the river, and continuing until near the termination

of the cannonade. to his

arms

all

Every

night long,

soldier in the fort therefore stood

manning each

battery and point

of defence in expectation of an assault from the forces that

had crossed the thickets.

river

and

filled

the adjacent plains and

But the anxious night passed without an attack

at close quarters, and, at day-light,

again commenced their

fire

sound of war was gratifying

to the

were

forts,

with an intervening

river,

against the muzzles of our guns

re-commenced,

batteries.

Mexicans, but

its

The con-

from behind the walls and parapets of their

flicts

safer

on the 5th, the enemy

from the distant

it

!

than in dangerous charges

As soon

as the

was immediately returned by

cannonade a few dis-

charges from the eighteen-pounders and six-pounder-howit-

MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES. zer;

183

and the voice of our guns once more exhilarated the

men, though

were

their shots

Both

ineffectual.

batteries

ceased firing simultaneously, and our indefatigable soldiers

again set to work on the defences, completed the ramparts,

and made rapid progress and traverse

in the construction of a

bomb-proof

in rear of the postern.

These were anxious days and hours

for a garrison short

enemy equipped with every probably surrounded by superior

of ammunition, assailed by an species of deadly missile,

numbers concealed on the

left

bank of the

river,

and yet

forced to labor on the very fortifications which were to keep off the foe.

Day and

During

all this

time, however, no one desponded.

night they toiled incessantly on the works amid the

shower of shot and bombs, nor was a sound of sorrow heard within the

little fort

wounded by

until its

brave commander

a shell, on the 6th of

kept up during

all this

May.

day; mounted

mortally

fell,

The game was

men were

seen along

the prairie, while infantry were noticed creeping through the thickets

;

but a few rounds of canister, from Bragg's battery,

dispersed the assailants.

About four o'clock of this day a white flag was observed at some old buildings in the rear of our work, and a parley was sounded by the enemy. Two officers were soon descried approaching us, and an equal number were despatched by Captain Hawkins, (who had succeeded Major Brown the

and

command fifty

Arista

in

of the fort,) to meet them within two hundred

yards of our lines.

was delivered by

A communication from

the herald, and the

General

Mexicans were

requested to retire a short distance and await the reply.

In this document Arista declared that our

rounded by forces adequate to division,

encamped

off all succors that

in the

its

fort

capture, while a

was

sur-

numerous

neighborhood, was able to keep

might be expected.

He

alleged that his

WAR BETWEEN

HISTORY OF THE

184

respect for humanity urged sible the disasters of

him

much as possummoned our

to mitigate as

war, and he therefore

garrison to surrender, in order to avoid by capitulation, the entire destruction of the

command.

This mingled mission

of humanity and revenge

demanded

the immediate notice of

our troops, and, accordingly, a brief council was held in

which

was unanimously resolved

it

thropic proposal.

Hawkins,

at

teous but firm reply, and the

by a storm of shot and

ceipt

to decline the philan-

once despatched his cour-

enemy acknowledged its rewhich was literally show-

shell

ered into the works. It

would be but repeating a narrative of one day's scene?

were we

to detail the events of the 7th, 8th

The bravado contained in

its

effort to

in Arista's

and 9th of May,

despatch, had

intimidate us; nevertheless

failed

we were com-

pelled to undergo the severest task that a soldier can suffer in passive non-resistance, whilst the to

bury our

fort

enemy, from

afar, strove

Bombs

under the weight of their projectiles.

and shot were, however, unavailing. equal to our perfect protection

;

and

The

defences proved

continued to work

all

cheerfully in the trenches until the distant sounds of battle

were heard booming from Palo Alto and Resaca.

was

dispelled,

and hope ripened

Anxiety

into certainty as the can-

nonade grew louder and drew nearer the

river, until, at last,

on the evening of the ninth, the Mexican squadrons raced past the fort and received the reserved shot of the eighteens

which poured

As

groups. thickets

their

masses of grape among the flying

our pursuing forces rushed out from behind the

and beheld the American

flag

still

aloft in the

works,

they sent forth a cheer which was answered by the rejoicing garrison,

and the valley of the Rio Grande reverberated with

the exultation of delight.

and succored

Victory and

relief;

friends, enlivened every heart,

a routed foe

and even the

MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES.

185

moment

foremost and bitterest in pursuit halted a

to ex-

change congratulations upon the events of the glorious day.

Thus

the separate forces of the United States were again

brought together; and

name from

its



Fort Brown, which now received who died on the 9th, was



the brave Major

found to have

lost

wounded during

but two by death and

the whole

Every war produces

its

only fourteen

bombardment. singular characters

ence or example are not without their due

whose

effect

troops, and, at the conclusion of these chapters,

so stained with blood and battle, sketch, even

which

are

not be useless to

upon the grave page of history, the deeds of a

woman whose trials

may

it

influ-

upon the

courageous

spirit

bore her through

all

the

of this bombardment, but whose masculine hardihood

was softened by

Woman

the gentleness of a female heart.

has every where her sphere of power over the rougher sex, but the

women

of a

camp must possess

qualities to

which

their tender sisters of the saloon are utter strangers.

Some

years ago, in the far west, a good soldier joined

one of our regiments, with his lofty figure

as her

husband

Unwilling

to

to a place in the

abandon her

this industrious

at

upon

liege lord

whom

his enlistment,

are allowed to

company, and are required

to

wash

draw

rations

for the soldiers

The "Great officers. was she known in the

a price regulated by a council of

Western," army,





for

by

arrived' at

this

soubriquet

Corpus Christi with her husband, and up

to the period of our departure for the all

much

entitled her as

ranks of the gallant seventh.

female was immediately employed as one of

the laundresses, three of in each

and gaunt wife, whose

tall

and stalwart frame almost

Rio Grande performed

her appropriate duties, keeping, in addition, a

for the

younger 24

officers of the regiment.

When

"mess" the

army

HISTORY OF THE WAR BETWEEN

186

advanced, the women, with

some exceptions, were de-

spatched by sea to Point Isabel, while a few procured ponies to follow the soldiers in their tedious march.

band of the Great Western was sent to the Brazos,

The

hus-

in one of the transports

but his hardy spouse did not deign to accom-

pany him in this comfortable mode of transit, declaring that " the boys of her mess must have some one to take care of

them on

Accordingly, having pur-

march."

their toilsome

chased a cart and loaded

it

with luggage, cooking utensils,

and supplies, she mounted behind her donkey with whip

in

handj and displayed during the wearisome advance, qualities

which the best teamster

might have envied.

in the train

Throughout the whole journey she kept her boarders well provided with

rations; and,

excellent

when her brigade

reached the banks of the Colorado she was one of the

who

offered

to cross

in the face

first

of the resisting enemy.

After calmly surveying the scene, which has been described

remarked, with great coolness, that

in another chapter, she

"if the general would give her a stout pair of tongs she

would wade the that dared

When

show

river

and whip every scoundrel Mexican

his face

on the opposite side!"

Taylor marched to Point Isabel on the 1st of May,

the Great

Western was of course

enth infantry.

left

remained, she moved, at once into the

was soon

behind with the sev-

Together with the eight or ten fort,

women who

where her mess

re-established in a tent near the centre of the

The enemy's fire began on the 3d, as she was commencing her preparations for breakfast, and the women

works.

were, of course, immediately deposited for safety in the

almost vacant magazines.

honor that they were not

But idle

it

may be

recorded to their

during the siege.

Nobly did

they ply their needles in preparing sand bags from the soldiers'

and

officers' tents, to

strengthen the works and protect the

AND THE UNITED STATES,

(MEXICO

artillerists

187

whilst serving at their guns; yet, the Great

sew or

tern, declining either to

continued her labors over the discharge of the

first

gun

all

Mexican

the shot from the

open

in the

fire

were

Wes-

magazine,

to nestle in the air.

After the

at their posts,

answering

forts;

when

and,

the hour for

breakfast arrived, none expected the luxury that awaited thera.

Nevertheless the mess was as well attended as

nothing but a morning

drill,

if

with blank cartridges, had oc-

curred, and, in addition, a large supply of delicious coffee

awaited the thirsty,

who had but to come and partake, withTo some of the artillerists who

out distinction of rank.

were unable

by

belle of fire

may readily be

believed,

Orleans, ever met a more gracious reception.

of the artillery

the dinner hour,

savory

beverage was carried

to leave their guns, the

this excellent female; and, as

soup

was kept up almost

when

no

The

incessantly until near

Western again provided a

the Great

which she distributed

the

to

men

without

charge.

Thus did she continue

to fulfil her duties

during the seven

days that the enemy kept up an incessant cannonade and

bombardment.

She was ever

meals were always ready the best that the

camp

for

woman

;

When

the despatches, sent

men wrote

and among them

this

to their

courageous

found time to communicate with her husband

had not been despatched from the depot In this document she expressed her ability of the

garrison to sustain

the absence of her spouse.

her

General Taylor on the even-

ing of the 4th, a number of officers and friends at Point Isabel

at her post;

proper hour, and always of

afforded.

by Walker, were made up

be found

to

at the

To

full

itself,

to Fort

who

Brown.

confidence in the

and only regretted

supply his place, however,

she applied, early in the action, for a musket and ammunition

which she placed

in security, expressing her determina-

HISTORY OP THE WAR BETWEEN

188

tion to have full satisfaction

whenever the enemy dared

approach within range of her piece.

and our indomitable heroine must reflection that she nobly

to

This they never did, rest

contented with the

performed her duty, and will long

be remembered by the besieged garrison of Fort Brown. Note.

—The reader who desires to verify the accounts of the actions nar-

rated in the

two

last chapters, will find all the authentic

papers upon which

they are founded, in the national documents relative to the

war

published

during the two sessions of the twenty-ninth congress. It

will be observed that the

name of General Worth does

not occur in the

account of these recent transactions on the Rio Grande. soldier at

had

left

Corpus Christi

in

command

of the

first

brigade consisting of one

lery battalion and the eighth regiment of infantry.

the Rio

This excellent

Florida in September, 1845, and was early on the ground

Grande have been recounted

in the

preceding chapters

after nis arrival he received the mortifying intelligence that

superceded ment.

in

artil-

His march and acts on ;

but soon

he had been

rank by an arrangement announced from the war departit due to himself as an officer to demonstrate

He, therefore, deemed

his sensibility

by resigning

at once, especially as

he was convinced that

there would be no engagement between the armies, and that the

be concluded by despatches and bulletins instead of arms.

war would

Nevertheless

American camp with regret, (tendering his services " out cf command,) and travelled v/ith despatch to Washington. On arriving there he learned that hostilities had actually

he

left the

authority," to the general in

commenced and waiving all his personal feeling, he immediately withdrew his resignation, with a request for permission to return forthwith to the command of the troops from which he was separated, by army orders, in April, 1846. His wish was granted by the secretary of war as soon as it was made known on the 9th of May, and Worth hastened back to Mexi;

co,

where

his

bravery and

skill

were subsequently so conspicuous.

Niles's Register, vol. 70, p. 313.

3l