The army is about to have a taste of real victory, to win a war, to overcome the entire enemy in the field. It is soon to cross into a foreign territory, meet superior numbers, bear gross hardships and stick to its colors. It is going to go continuously forward and not be turned spasmodically backward. It will press the foe through cactus, swamp and mountain passes into the very gates of the hostile capital and then take the city. It will return as a conqueror to safeguard the remaining wilderness of the nation. It will prove to the world that the American soldier, trained, disciplined, and well led is the acme of bravery and hardihood.
1845 In the year before the Mexican War, the army consisted of 8 regiments of infantry, 2 of dragoons and 4 of artillery, 3 general officers, the corps of engineers, the corps of topographical engineers and the following departments: adjutant general; quartermaster general, inspector general; commissary; medical; pay; purchasing; and ordnance. The whole represented a paper strength of 8,613 men and an actual strength by the end of the year of 5,300. The army's effective force was less than at any time since 1808, though the population since that time had doubled.
These troops were occupying more than 100 posts. The artillery was largely on the Atlantic coast. The infantry and cavalry together occupied the broad line of the Great Lakes and the western frontier outlined by the Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, and Red rivers. The main posts in the west were Fort Snelling, near St. Paul, Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis, Fort Leavenworth, in western Kansas, and Fort Jesup, in western Louisiana.
p197 Winfield Scott was the major general in chief and the two brigadiers were Gaines and Wool. Taylor was colonel of the Sixth Infantry, Twiggs of the First, and Kearny of the Second Dragoons. One of the colonels, Walbach, was 82 years of age, such senility being due to the lack of provision for the proper retirement of officers.a The officers of the lower units, however, were the great compensating factor of the coming war. Grant, Thomas, Reynolds, Hancock, Lee, McClellan, McDowell, Meade, Beauregard, Hooker, J. E. Johnston, Longstreet and Jackson were in the service. And many who had resigned in the period surrounding 1836 were about to come back to the colors as volunteers, notably Jefferson Davis.
The Military Academy furnished nearly the whole quota of these trained young men. Approximately 500 graduates were already with the colors. A similar number were in civil life, many of whom came into the service with the state troops in the course of the war.
In contrast to the excellent results that were going to be obtained from having these skilled officers, were the debates in Congress which tended toward the abolition of West Point. A feeling that there was being raised up a sort of aristocracy by that institution led the unacquainted into the belief that it should be abolished.
Three times this cavil had nearly plucked the hen that laid the golden eggs. Secretary of War Eustis, just before the conflict of 1812, had tried to wreck West Point by open attack. At the close of the same war Colonel Swift had had to borrow $65,000 from a private individual in order to keep the school running, because Congress refused to appropriate the current expenses. And now the Academy lay in the throes of political hatred and ignorant juggling.
1845 Luckily the only setback that came of all this controversy was the reduction of pay of each cadet to $24 per month. Twice the Academy had been saved by the prospect of war and once by the intervention of a private individual.
While the cradle of the army was being disturbed, the higher officers were looking after technical betterment.
1845 General Scott's regulations entitled, Instructions for Field Artillery, Horse and Foot, appeared. The Secretary of War in issuing it p198enunciated a new rule. He bound not only the regulars but the military also to the use of no other "exercises and maneuvers." This was a great step toward uniformity. The "school of the battery" prescribed complete movements by hand and by horse, and covered every possible contingency with which the battery might find itself confronted in action. For detachments of from 2 to 9 men in serving the piece, the duties were precisely described and each man numbered. The firing1 was explained with great care. The pieces of the field artillery were the 6‑pounder gun and the 24‑pounder howitzer, both of bronze.
For regular infantry the muskets and rifles were being rapidly provided with percussion locks for caps, so that two motions of the manual — opening and closing the pan — were eliminated. In the main, however, the army all through the coming war had to be provided with the old flintlock musket, p199because a lack of appropriation had prevented a sufficiency of rifles. Since 1839, the superintendency of construction of muskets by regular officers, instead of civilians, had reduced the cost per weapon from $17.44 to $11.02 and saved the government over $70,000. By such thrift more rifles could be purchased, but there were yet not enough. Captain J. T. Cairns in a work called the Recruit, described the nomenclature of the "Fusil, Musket or Firelock" and gave elementary instructions for their use, including "Right shoulder shift — arms." 1845 The bayonet with a clasp, which permitted the separation of that weapon from the firearm, was largely distributed to regular troops.
1845 Political feeling over the coming conflict had caused the concentration at Fort Jesup, of the Third Infantry, 8 companies of the Fourth Infantry and 7 companies of the Second Dragoons, all under command of Brevet Brigadier General Taylor. This force, then thought to be large, was the actual beginning of the "Army of Occupation."
1845 Texas now being annexed, Taylor was ordered to some port where he could readily embark for the Texas frontier. Accordingly he proceeded with his troops to New Orleans. Under later orders he moved by boat to Aransas Bay, Texas. July
1845 With poor craft he was finally able to land at St. Joseph's Island a force of about 1,200. These men he took by boat through the mouth of the Rio Grande and thence •25 miles further up the river to Corpus Christi.
Due to the inactivity of the enemy he was left undisturbed. But he did not improve his time by gaining information of the country and possible hostile forces or by training his troops. He seemed to be pleased to wait for the Mexicans and trust to chance.
He was, however, blest with a number of trained junior officers who took a pride in their companies. In spite of the neglect of the higher command, the young captains and lieutenants molded by Thayer's systems, gave care and lent precision to the smaller units. Besides, Taylor, although he little realized the fact, could have well been thankful for his two daughters. Through them he luckily possessed two sons-in‑law who afterwards built the career that steered him toward the p200White House. Bliss, his adjutant, as brilliant and educated an officer as the service held, headed off much mismanagement and wrote the reports that went back home. Jefferson Davis, the colonel of a Mississippi regiment in the greatest battles in which his father-in‑law was engaged or rather disengaged, was the principal factor in turning the brave old gentleman's vacant leadership into victory. So Taylor, who chatted pleasantly with the soldier one minute and ignorantly sacrificed his life the next, was protected in the office and on the battlefield by domestic attachment.
1845 Finally 7 companies of the Seventh Infantry, the remainder of the Fort Jesup troops, 2 volunteer artillery companies from New Orleans and a small force Texas Rangers joined him.
Then throughout the fall and most of the winter, while Taylor sat inanimate, other troops were leaving bare the frontiers of the country to assemble at Corpus Christi. The Seventh and Eighth Infantry came from Florida; the Fifth from the northwest; the Fourth from Jefferson Barracks, Missouri; the Third from Fort Jesup; the Second Dragoons from Mississippi and Texas; and 10 companies of the First Artillery and 4 of the Third Artillery from Florida. Most of the artillery acted as infantry but apparently 2 companies were retained as field artillery. Some Texas Rangers and New Orleans field artillery brought his entire strength up to 3,900 men.
Taylor's camp was far short of comfortable. The canvas was little more than mosquito bar. The "norther" would one minute pour frigid water through the sievelike tents and a torrid sun would steam the occupants the next. Wood was collected with the greatest difficulty so that camp fires, except for cooking, were impossible. The drinking water was brackish. There was little or no amusement. Sickness abounded and spirits were low.
Nor was the monotony and discomfort relieved by maneuvers or any expedient to keep the command busy. Taylor did not know much of the art of war, did not believe in teaching it, and did not understand even how to maneuver his regiments. Naturally all the evils that flow from idleness overtook his troops.
The question of brevet rank and his settlement of the affair p201did not better the unity of his little army. It seems that the list of colonels at this time was badly confused. Some officers held a brevet rank higher than their regular rank, while others held simply the latter. Twiggs on the list of colonels was senior to Worth. But Worth was also a brevet brigadier general. Each claimed that he was the senior and would command in Taylor's absence. Scott in Washington decided in favor of brevet rank in conformity to the law. As a consequence Worth was given command in preference to Twiggs, who had throughout the lower grades been senior to Worth, and who had never had the chance to win brevet honors on the battlefield. But Taylor, after the decision was made, called a review in which he gave Twiggs the seniority over Worth. When Taylor saw that he could not carry out this order without trouble, he countermanded the review. He thus showed himself not only unwilling to comply with orders, but also incapable of causing others to do so. It logically followed that this little force came to lack confidence in their chief. Had it not been for the effort of the junior officers to overcome such demoralization, all traces of discipline would have vanished.
So Taylor sat and waited for the Mexicans without exploring his surroundings, finding out about the enemy's intentions or improving the small American command.
1846 When instruction from higher authority told him that he should encamp at some favorable point along the Rio Grande, he was unprepared for a march anywhere. Feb. 24
1846 But then and then only did he begin to find out something of the roads and towns that lay about him, a matter which delayed him three weeks. March 8
1846 Then he delayed himself another two weeks before he was finally on the road to Matamoras.
The march was an excursion welcomed by the troops. Those who were not too sick to go, had the relief of activity and a change of scene. The weather was fair. Except for the tarantulas, rattlesnakes, and centipedes, the camps along the way were novelties of strange objects and animals. Dress in his thick, blue-cloth uniform, and carrying a heavy knapsack, blanket, musket and cartridge box, the soldier underwent unexpected physical torture under the burning sun. Thirst in the "alkali" dust raised by the tramp of the men, was suffocating
p202and difficult to quench with saline water.
1846 Ultimately the column came out through the chaparral on to the Rio Grande, across which lay the towers of Matamoras.
At this camp, as at Corpus Christi, was assembled the largest regular force collected since the Revolution. The numbers were a little less than 3,000. Although Taylor issued peaceful letters to the Mexicans, he planted four 18‑pounders in command of the city
1846 and began the erection of a bastioned redoubt, called Fort Brown.2 This fortress was poorly placed in a salient of the river so that it could be easily enfiladed by the enemy. E. Kirby Smith in his diary gives an account of these days:
"This morning we found the enemy had been busy during the night erecting breastworks and planting cannon opposite to us. What will be the result of all this I can only conjecture. We certainly ought not with so small a force be left here to face the whole Mexican nation. General Ampudia with more than three thousand veterans will, it is said, in a few days reach Matamoras.
1846 "We have been as busy as a light infantry company on drill ever since we arrived eleven days ago. Such a night as last night I have never known in all my soldiering.
"The arms were put in forming order and the men sat or stood about in miserable groups, without any possibility of sleeping, and at reveille this morning our whole brigade was marched to the works, it being our detail on a large fortification, which we are constructing as rapidly as possible. . . . We are here neither in a state of peace nor war. Our pickets and patrols have exchanged some shots, and several deserters have been killed in attempting to cross the river."
The first hostilities occurred with the crossing of the river by the Mexican General Torrejon with about 1,600 cavalry. General Taylor had ignored the advice of Marcy, the Secretary of War, to get some hard-riding Texans for use as scouts. Indeed he had been content with only that information which
p203came into the limits of the camp. Accidentally hearing of the Mexican movement, he sent Captain Thornton with about 60 dragoons to reconnoiter. Naturally under such a slipshod view of the enemy, the captain soon found himself hemmed in by the Mexican command.
1846 Though he tried to cut his way out, he soon saw the hopelessness of his task after several of his men were killed or wounded, and was compelled to surrender. This was the incident that caused the declaration of war.
Even after this affair, Taylor took no aggressive action or precautions. He was not even aware of the Mexican main column which was coming over the river right under his very nose. When, through no effort of his own, he finally understood that the enemy was already between him and his base,
1846 he at once retreated to Point Isabel, leaving the Seventh Infantry and Bragg's battery at Fort Brown.
After provisioning his troops, he returned toward Matamoras with about 2,200 men, having obtained 200 at Point Isabel. Hampering himself by taking the wagon train with him against the advice of his officers, he moved out slowly. Oxen hitched to the ammunition wagons did not quicken the progress.
Neither were the spirits of the men raised by such delay. The blue-coated soldier at night bivouacked in the dust without complaint but with an anxiety to meet the enemy. Lying down in his fatigue uniform with its colored trimmings he arose after a night of discomfort to face whatever might be in store further toward the Rio Grande.
1846 At Palo Alto the Americans came in sight of the Mexican Army. Between chaparral and marshes the two lines were drawn up opposite each other, the enemy being astride the road to Fort Brown. Taylor's artillery, better handled than the Mexican heavy pieces, was so effective that it cut great swaths in the enemy's lines while they were forming. An attempt to turn the Americans' right by a superior force of Mexican cavalry was met by a hollow square of the Fifth Infantry. Then the grass was set on fire by the powder wads from the shells, so that a dense smoke screen kept the two armies from seeing each other well. In this haze, the disciplined American leaders, though getting few directions from Taylor, promptly p204and of their own accord, met the Mexican attempt to encircle the left. Ringgold's and Duncan's batteries seemed to move quickly and instinctively to the place where they were most needed. Though our troops were on the defensive, the fire of our artillery was deadly in spite of the smoke. But there was not enough remaining daylight for either side to have a decision. However, darkness came down with about seven times greater loss to the Mexicans than to the Americans.
1846 In the morning Taylor's little army, ready to renew the battle, was surprised to see the enemy's column disappearing through the chaparral toward Matamoras. But the Americans could not pursue and follow up their advantage with more than several hundred men, because most of the troops had to be used in fortifying the encumbering wagon train before it could be left behind.
1846 •About 8 miles to the north of Matamoras, the Mexicans took up a position which made it difficult for American artillery to operate and be effective. Behind an old river channel which crossed the road at right angles, Arista, the Mexican general, placed his entire command. The bed, or Resaca de Guerrero,3 was full of ponds and mud and in many places impassable. The Americans, all told about 1,700, came upon the Mexican artillery planted in the road and almost immediately thereafter there was collision. The dense growth of mesquite and cactus made it impossible for one company to see another. Men losing touch with their comrades had to spend their energies in hacking through nature in order to find the enemy. The mass gave place to the individual. A general was little more than a subaltern. An officer led the troops immediately around him. But discipline and training told as the Americans beat their way forward through the thick undergrowth and amid the hottest fire of shrapnel and bullets. Sinking in the mud, floundering through swamps, the American right, accidentally finding its way around the Mexican flank, pressed the enemy who fought desperately. The vigor of the assault, more than the plan of it, dismayed the enemy who gave way more and more until a panic seized the whole force. Many were captured, but Taylor's forces could p205not pursue because they were scattered and exhausted. At that, only about 4,000 of the Mexicans succeeded in crossing the river, where many were drowned in their flight.
Taylor, instead of reorganizing his army and pressing his advantage, proceeded to Fort Brown, where the beleaguered garrison was relieved of its strain.
1846 While Taylor was thus inert along the Rio Grande, back in Washington Congress was declaring war and gorging the military establishment with much that could not give results for many months, and more that was wholly worthless. Now that the clash of arms was upon us, it was ready to organize a sufficient army. General Scott's previous sound advice to have a modest 24,000 men, to train them in camps at home and to put them in the field at Vera Cruz, had been ignored. Though such a method would have saved hundreds of lives and thousands of dollars, Scott's idea was regarded by the legislators as far fetched. Justin Smith says in The War with Mexico that "for an elect body our Congress fell below all reasonable expectations."
1846 After the fashion of a foolish virgin it now permitted the President to call out 50,000 volunteers4 "for twelve months" or "for the war." The military were to serve only 6 months. The short enlistment again was to defeat efficiency and be expensive.
The regular army, on the other hand, was to have its companies raised from 64 to 100 privates during hostilities. Since the period of enlistment was to be for 5 years, recruits for the regular army were hard to obtain in competition with the volunteers and militia, whose short terms were attractive. But in this legislation Congress heeded Scott and authorized, though too late for adequate fulfillment, a very good, economical force. Had such a thing been done 2 years previously, thousands of three-months men who had been called out by Gaines and Taylor from Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas, would not have had to undergo useless marching and p206the ravages of disease in reaching Taylor's rendezvous. There they remained too short a time to be little more than embarrassing.
1846 Congress also added to the permanent establishment, "a company of sappers, miners and pontoniers" of 100 men who were to be a part of, and stationed with, the corps of engineers at West Point.
1846 A ten‑company regiment of mounted riflemen was created in order to establish military stations on the route to Oregon and to take the place of regular troops called to the front. Though the officers were mostly political appointees, the regiment was the beginning of the Third Cavalry.
While these laws were being made, Taylor, instead of making short work of the demoralized enemy, contented himself with sending to Point Isabel for planks and mortars and in making a trip there himself. For eight days he was inactive, much to the disgust of his skilled subordinates.
1846 His enemy was finally so much encouraged by his silence that Arista requested a suspension of hostilities. Although Taylor disapproved such action, he gave permission for the Mexican army to retire, provided it gave up its property. Arista did not directly reply to this proposition but shortly afterward left the city at Taylor's approach. The latter marched in amid the friendly greetings of the natives, whom he treated with great consideration. But Arista, nevertheless, had made his escape with his soldiers and all the munitions he could carry.
While Taylor was resting in his oasis in the desert, Matamoras, an expedition was being fitted out farther to the north at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Colonel Kearny, the commander and colonel of the First Dragoons, was ordered to take possession peacefully or by force of northwestern Mexico. At the stockade of the Fort, which then consisted of a square of wooden buildings with blockhouses, was collected about 1,600 men: the First Dragoons, the First Missouri Mounted Volunteers (Colonel Doniphan), 1 company and 1 battery of artillery under command of Major Clark, 2 companies of volunteer infantry, the Leclede Rangers and 15 Delaware and Shawnee Indians.
1846 Kearny, without waiting to organize all his troops, sent them off by sections. The regular dragoons were the first to go. Then came Doniphan's regiment, and so on. Those in advance had to break their way through the roughest of country. After passing over unwooded areas where cooking was largely impossible, where the water was brackish, the way uphill, the mosquitos and buffalo gnats scurrilous, the food scarce and scurvy prevalent, the whole command finally found itself on the Arkansas near Bent's Fort. July 29
1846 So great were the sufferings that some died and many were driven into delirium. And again Valley Forge had a competitor in the way of soldierly grit. The march, however, seasoned the raw troops and Kearny's strictness brought discipline.
While Taylor and Kearny with their meager thousands were trying to conquer Mexico, Congress was slowly realizing that its attention to the army had been superficial.
1846 At this late date, it created an additional major general and two more brigadiers for the war. It gave to a volunteer company an elastic strength of 64 to 100 privates and another second lieutenant. Seeing that it had asked of the recruit more than could reasonably be expected, it gave to every volunteer soldier $3.50 per month as a clothing allowance, and 75 cents as subsistence and forage allowance for every •twenty miles of journey to the place of rendezvous.
Then realizing that the most vital matters had been overlooked, it allowed the President during the war to organize the forces into brigades and divisions and to appoint such general officers as he saw fit. It required a brigade to consist of 3 regiments; and a division, of at least 2 brigades. The irony of this last enactment is apparent when we know that such organization had had to be made by the commanders in the field long before the intelligence of the nice little law reached them.
As an instance of the hurry into which all departments of the army were plunged by the nearsightedness in times of peace, the Ordnance Department had to issue in the first year of the war:
Eighteen- and 24‑pounder siege cannon, 8‑inch siege howitzers, 8‑ and 10‑inch siege mortars, coehorns, 6‑ and 12‑pounder p208bronze field cannon, 12‑ and 24‑pounder bronze field howitzers, 12‑pounder mountain howitzers, caissons, traveling forges, battery wagons, artillery harness, 20,000 rounds of siege artillery ammunition, 3,000 rounds of field artillery ammunition, 60,000 rounds of 8‑ and 10‑inch mortar shells, 1,000 cannon balls, 400,000 pounds of black powder, 1,300 war rockets, 24,000 muskets, 3,000 rifles, 2,000 carbines, 1,000 pistols, 2,000 sabers, 2,000 noncommissioned officers' and musicians' short swords, 12,000,000 cartridges, 400,000 flints and 1,000,000 percussion caps.
Horses, too, had to be supplied in greater numbers. Taylor found that the artillery, which had had little chance to practice, needed two more animals to draw each filled caisson.
As for Taylor's army, it was living at Matamoras as best it could. Outside of the slight pursuit of Arista, which netted a few prisoners, and the search through the town for concealed munitions and supplies, there was no military activity save an expedition of a small force under Colonel Wilson, to Reynosa, •60 miles away. Taylor spent most of his effort on keeping supplied from the base at Point Isabel.
The volunteers who had been called by Gaines and Taylor were beginning to pour in, such influx creating a need for more supplies and spreading an infection of lawlessness. The new so‑called troops were eager for excitement and resentful of restraint. Stretched in small camps from Point Isabel to Matamoras, they lacked control and supervision. Most of them were three-month men who would not stay for twelve months. They had marched through bad country under generally unskilled officers, many of whom could not drill a squad. Some, indeed, had been absent from their companies on the march, weeks at a time. One brigadier general came in a light buggy in which he proposed to make the campaign. The officers, as a rule, had been elected as in previous wars so that most of them knew not what to do. Some generals like Pillow hindered more than they helped the progress of discipline. Five months at least of hard drill was necessary to prepare such troops for action. They would neither stay nor submit, and Taylor did
p209not insist on their training. Meade said these volunteers were one costly mass of ignorance, confusion and insubordination. Trained regular officers in the lower grades found themselves outranked by former juniors who had been dismissed from the army for incapacity or misconduct.
1846 About 20,000 men were finally collected, a large proportion of whom had to be sent home almost immediately with great expense and no help to the government.
Taylor in this situation decided to go west to Camargo. With the urge in the States for action, he had to do something. His untutored mind would not admit of skill or prevision. So he went up the river, not knowing the conditions of the town he was going to occupy, nor even having any idea of its strategic importance, because it had none. The troops suffered intensely with the heat and thirst. The discouraged volunteers, knowing nothing of care for their health, were sick to the extent of a third of their number. The First Tennessee, for example, was reduced from 1,040 to 500 men fit for duty. In addition, frogs, ants, scorpions, tarantulas, centipedes and mosquitos disturbed the soldier's comfort.
1846 When Camargo was occupied it was found to be a small town that had been inundated by the spring freshets. Since it had no supplies of its own, provisions had to come from Point Isabel. Now that the troops were •over a hundred miles farther from the coast than they were at Matamoras, the only result of this movement was an added difficulty of transportation.
While Taylor thus sat in useless and trying Camargo, Kearny, near Bent's Fort, was reënforced by a regiment and battalion of Missouri volunteers. Having sent a message to Santa Fe showing the uselessness of resistance and the protective quality of his mission,
1846 he left his camp for the long march to that place over what is now the route of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. The way was through high ranges of mountains, over buttes and ridges and along the valleys. The rations were so scarce that flour, water and salt pork were the main diet. Aug. 15
1846 Taking over by tact and force the village of Las Vegas, on the way, he crept on with his troops to San Miguel. Aug. 18
1846 There, when the mayor wavered, Kearny assured him p210that he had captured his town. Treating the people and crops with consideration, he pressed on •twenty-eight miles toward Santa Fe, knowing that a large force of Mexicans was barring his path. On approaching his goal, after leaving the artillery on a commanding hill, Aug. 19
1846 he learned that the Mexican force had fled south. Among the little adobe huts without floors, Aug. 22
1846 Kearny raised the Stars and Stripes and pronounced Santa Fe under government of the United States. It was there that the Pueblo Indians came in and submitted. Then Kearny issued a proclamation of assurance of a free government and began the erection of Fort Marcy to defend the town. So far a great country had been taken with no bloodshed.
While Kearny was occupying Santa Fe, Taylor was making ready for an advance southwest toward Saltillo. Instead of employing a good secret service as Scott had advised, Taylor as usual went forward trusting to developments. Again his movement was intended to give an answer to the public cry for action rather than to be effective.
Cerralvo, •sixty miles away, was the first objective.
1846 Worth, with the Second Division of regulars, moved out first. F. Smith with the Second Brigade of mixed troops, Twiggs with the First Division of regulars and Butler with the "Field Division" of volunteers, followed. Sept. 5
1846 Finally headquarters left, and the whole army of about 15,000 was on the move. The march was over stony ground and through thorny bushes. Heat and thirst wrought such distress that starts in the march were made as early as three o'clock in the morning. Aug. 25
1846 At length the advance troops came into the beautiful town of Cerralvo. It had plenty of springs, the houses were of stone and supplies abundant. Sept. 15
1846 Finally all of Taylor's command except the Texas volunteers and those who had been sent further west, were concentrated in the town.
A squadron of the Second Dragoons accompanied by Captain McCulloch's Texas Rangers set out in the van for Monterey. The rangers carrying heavy rifles, powderhorns, Bowie knives and Colt's revolvers, and dressed in irregular uniforms, were in appearance not much unlike the Revolutionary volunteers. The march now being through fertile fields and high p211hills, the spirit of the command rose. About a thousand Mexican cavalry hovering in front lent zest to the progress.
1846 When the main body arrived at Marín, Taylor learned that at Monterey there would be possibly decided opposition. But the army of 3,080 regulars and 3,150 volunteers went eagerly forward.
1846 As they approached Monterey they were greeted by fire from the well-fortified stone city situated on rather higher ground. To reduce this stronghold the Americans had only 4 field batteries, a 24‑pound howitzer and one 10‑inch mortar. Reconnoitering parties set out and discovered that the western end of the city was vulnerable in flank. Mansfield's prisoners confirmed the assumption that night.
The Americans having confidence after Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma that they could overcome a superior force, were in no mood to be thwarted. Worth with about 2,000 men advanced to the right of the city in order to turn Independence Hill and occupy the Saltillo highway, which was the only avenue of retreat southward for the Mexicans. Advancing •about seven miles through thick country and having his rangers stampeded by Mexican cavalry, he was stopped by darkness and a heavy storm.
1846 The next day he moved forward only to meet a charge of Mexican cavalry. With the aid of Duncan's battery the enemy was driven back on the town. Then the column spent the rest of the day in charging Federation Ridge and in taking three forts. At nightfall about 500 men, mostly regulars, were sent forward to Independence Hill, the main flank position.
In the meantime at the eastern end of the city, Taylor had not been meeting with as good results. He had evidently looked upon the capture of this stronghold much as he viewed a brush with the Seminoles in Florida. Have seemed to have little plan or method. He sent Garland forward with the following directions:
"Colonel lead the head of your column off to the left, keeping well out of reach of the enemy's shot, but if you think (or you find) you can take any of them little Forts down there with p212the bay'net you better do it — but consult with Major Mansfield, you'll find him down there."
This queer bit of haziness was a sample of Taylor's mental grip of the situation. Though Garland's mission expressed in such an equivocal order was not overly intelligible, he advanced through fields and thickets and crooked streets in the face of withering fire. The artillery could not do much execution and the units by such misdirection were separated. But before noon, at a crucial moment, when the engagement at the eastern part of the city seemed to be lost, Colonel Jefferson Davis led a charge that took the principal outlying fortress. Even so, the First Ohio farther to the right had to retreat with heavy loss.
On the western side of the town, Worth's troops under Colonel Childs, who had led his men to the foot of Independence Hill, had crouched at the base all night in the rain and cold.
1846 In the early morning they quietly crawled toward the summit. At dawn, with a rush and sharp fighting, they took the crest and sent the garrison fleeing.
Taylor's troops far on the other side of the city saw the tide of Americans rise higher and higher and the Stars and Stripes finally wave over Independence Hill.
1846 But during this day Taylor did nothing beyond shifting a few details from the captured redoubt. Neither did he coöperate with Worth or send him any word. Worth realized he must depend on himself. Expecting fire from the commanding positions around him, he disposed his troops (now numbering about 1,000) in the valley, so as to ward off counterattacks. Without coöperation he had taken three redoubts and a commanding fort and had cut the line of communications of the enemy. But he was left alone to work out his own salvation.
1846 The next morning Quitman who was occupying the captured works on the east side of the town started an attack from house to house on his own initiative. He heard Worth's cannon, which had been dragged to the top of Independence Hill, firing with effect. Little by little Quitman's scattered men closed in. Worth now feeling from the firing heard from Quitman's troops that a general engagement was taking place, started toward the town. Leaving a force to guard the Saltillo highway, he had p213his men with pickaxes, crowbars and shells with fuses, work from house to house. At noon both sides, weary of the struggle, rested. Taylor, doing no more than the work of a corporal, walked about under severe fire. Night fell with the Mexicans cooped in the Plaza.
1846 When the morning came, the Ohio volunteers who had taken the place of Quitman's troops, prepared to renew hostilities when a bugle in front sounded a parley. Ampudia was proposing an armistice. After much haggling, it was agreed that all public property and the city be turned over to the Americans within a week. The individual arms and ammunition were to be retained by the enemy, who was to retire behind a line through Lenaresº and Rinconada Pass. So Taylor let the Mexicans, who had suffered little loss, go practically as they had come, apparently little concerned as to whether they might fight the Americans another day. He even went so far as to accede to an armistice.
While Taylor was recuperating from his losses at Monterey, while his Texas troops were being discharged because they wanted to go home and while the Second Infantry was arriving to reënforce him,
1846 General Kearny, back in Santa Fe was starting his journey through an unknown wilderness westward. Cutting roads through cover over which there was as yet no trail, his effective dragoons, still in shabby clothing and on short rations, pressed toward the Pacific. Oct. 6
1846 When well on their way the troops met Kit Carson who told how Fremont and Commodore Stockton had already made an attempt to seize California. Such news gave impetus to the weary, half‑fed soldiers. Leaving Major Sumner with a portion of his command to hold New Mexico and sending back Colonel Cooke to get the Mormon battalion at Santa Fe, Kearny pushed on with only two companies.
In the meantime, General Wool at San Antonio was trying to get into shape volunteers raised in Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Mississippi whom he had brought to that point.
1846 From there some 1,400 men, including a small portion of the Second Dragoons, set out for the march south. It was a dispirited and unsoldierly force, but insubordination and lawlessness were harshly met by the strict discipline of General p214Wool. Due to him the volunteer was made to regard the rights of the Mexican civilian. Oct. 8
1846 At length this turbulent command came to the Rio Grande opposite the Presidio.
While this column was breaking its way through cactus, and picking up what food it could, General Taylor at Monterey did not enjoy the success of a victor.
1846 Sickness, desertion, and the short enlistment had reduced his command to less than 12,000 effectives. Bandits, hanging on his long line of communications, caused many men to be detached. And the ill‑advised armistice brought criticism upon him.
Everything was at a standstill. The government at this late date of the war had come to no definite plan of campaign. The three independent commands of Kearny, Wool and Taylor were expending exertion and blood in merely driving the unhurt Mexican armies away from the border settlements. No decision could result from the unstrategic dents hammered at random in the edges of the enemy's great territory. While the troops were being wasted by disease and hardship, the authorities at Washington were closing their ears to the Vera Cruz plan suggested by Scott, which was going to strike at the heart of things and end the war quickly. In contrast, the United States soldiers were scattered in ineffectiveness.
Doniphan's command made a fourth separate force.
1846 Having reduced the Eutaws to submission and subdued the Navajoes among the snows in the mountains, this officer was preparing to concentrate his forces south of Santa Fe at Valverde. His 800 men, mounted and armed with rifles, hated restraint and were eager for any excitement.
Taylor was now forced to notify the Mexicans that the armistice must terminate. With such a change in the situation, he was in the predicament of casting about for activity. Disregarding the advice of the Secretary of War and placing still further distance between his army and its base,
1846 he set out west for Saltillo, the capital of Coahuila. Marching over the high tablelands of temperate verdure, Nov. 16
1846 the troops came to their destination. The town was hilly, consisting mostly of adobe huts, and was not inviting from the standpoint of supplies or comfort. Leaving Worth in command, Taylor went back to Monterey.
Meanwhile, General Wool, without instructions from Taylor, had continued south with his ragged and poorly fed volunteers.
1846 Having without opposition taken Monclava,º •about 60 miles north of Saltillo, Wool had had time during the armistice to drill and discipline his men. Nov. 24
1846 He then set out for Parras, where he received orders from Worth to join the Saltillo forces. Dec. 17
1846 Within two hours Wool was on his way, so complete was his reconnaissance and his state of readiness.
While Worth and Wool were trying to effect a junction in the west against the rumored attack by Santa Anna, Taylor at Monterey was splitting his command so as to send part east toward Tampico.
Dec. 13, 14
1846 Accordingly Twiggs with the First Division of regulars and Quitman with some Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee volunteers set out for Victoria, •200 miles toward the east coast.
Shortly afterward Patterson at Matamoras started, at the direction of the Secretary of War (who had not taken the pains to notify Taylor), directly south for the same place.
1846 Patterson's treatment of some 1,500 Illinois and Tennessee volunteers under him showed his ignorance of the military profession. His men went hungry time and again when there was abundant food about them. Many of them through neglect died of exhaustion. And they, generally, cordially hated him for his lordly severity.
The end of the first year of the war found Quitman at Victoria, Wool at Agua (near Saltillo), Worth at Saltillo, Patterson en route to Victoria5 and Butler at Monterey. Doniphan was at El Brazito near El Paso with 500 men. Kearny had reached San Diego, California, and Cooke was marching to Kearny's assistance. The first year of the war closed with these scattered columns spending their vigor and blood in indecisiveness.
What Cooke and Kearny had done can be seen from Cooke's order issued to his battalion after the march:
1847 "The lieutenant colonel commanding congratulates the battalion on their safe arrival on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, p216and the conclusion of their march of •over two thousand miles. History may be searched in vain for an equal march of infantry. Half of it has been through a wilderness where nothing but savages and wild beasts are found or deserts where for want of water, there is no living creature. There, with almost hopeless labour, we have dug deep wells, which the future traveler will enjoy. Without a guide who had traversed them we have ventured into trackless tablelands where water was not found for several marches. With crowbar and pick and axe in hand we have worked our way over mountains which seemed to defy aught save the wild goat and hewed a passage through a chasm of living rock more narrow than our wagons. To bring these first wagons to the Pacific we have preserved the strength of our mules by herding them over large tracts, which you have laboriously guarded without loss. The garrison of four presidios of Sonora concentrated within the walls Tucson gave us no pause. We drove them out with artillery, but our intercourse with the citizens was unmarked by a single act of injustice. Thus, marching, half naked and half fed, living upon wild animals, we have discovered and made a road of great value to our country."
The remainder of the war with the exception of Buena Vista belongs to Scott. After trying to euchre both Scott and Taylor into false positions, the administration, not valuing the science of war and viewing Scott as a "visionary," finally, having nothing better to offer, had to adopt the Vera Cruz plan. Scott knew that there was only one way to gain a speedy peace. It was to strike at the heart and center of the hostile country with the largest force obtainable.
1847 Having arrived at Camargo, he found he could not get in touch with Taylor. He, therefore, requisitioned from Taylor's force about 4,000 regular infantry under Worth, 4,000 volunteer infantry, 5,000 regular dragoons, 500 volunteer dragoons and 2 field batteries.
1847 Returning to Point Isabel, he personally planned with skill, foresight, and dispatch the details for launching his campaign. His masterful mind went thoroughly into the business of providing everything from supplies to boats. Northers, rains and p217scarcity of sailors hindered him, but he overcame his obstacles with tireless energy. Even the fact that Taylor was apparently avoiding him did not swerve him from his single purpose.
Taylor had indeed defiantly disobeyed the instructions of the President and Scott for a personal interview between the general in chief and himself. He had gone so far west toward Saltillo that touch with Scott was impossible. The answer may be found in the announcement by Taylor to Senator Crittenden that he was a candidate for the Presidency.
While politics were pushing the pawns of war into haphazard gambits, legislation strove all too late to put in the field more good troops.
1847 It now increased the regular establishment by 1 regiment of dragoons and 9 regiments of infantry. One of the infantry regiments was to be composed of "voltigeurs and foot-riflemen and be provided with a rocket and mountain howitzer battery." Enlistment was for the war only. An additional major, on account of the scarcity of field officers for campaign, was to be promoted in each regiment. Each honorably discharged man of all the forces was to receive a bonus of •160 acres, if he had served for twelve months, and •40 acres, if he had served for less time.
At length Scott set sail for Tampico with the First and Second Pennsylvania, a part of the Louisiana regiment, and the South Carolina, New York and Mississippi contingents.
1847 Twiggs with his regulars followed. For the next days and weeks the scarcity of transports delayed the remainder.
While Scott was busy preparing to drive his fateful wedge into the vitals of Mexico, activity in the west near Saltillo drew Taylor's forces together for conflict.
1847 The main camp had been surprised and had retreated to Buena Vista beyond Saltillo. Twenty thousand Mexicans were approaching. Had they come on with a charge, nothing could have saved the American army. Wool had selected the position and had been left in command by Taylor, who had gone back to Saltillo to prepare that place for defense. As it was, the Mexicans drove back Marshall's troops from the top of the mountain. Night gave the first phase of the battle to the enemy.
1847 Next morning the Mexican army in force came through the pass. Marshall, who had reascended the mountain, was nearly p218outflanked by Ampudia, when Washington's battery began to have a telling effect. In the center, Colonel Bowles of the Second Indiana and 4 companies of Arkansas mounted riflemen fled before the Mexican onslaught. The Kentucky and Arkansas dragoons on the mountain, being cut off, also withdrew in panic. Although Bragg, Sherman and O'Brien trained their guns on the Mexicans against great odds, the way to the American's rear lay open.
Taylor then appeared on the scene. Though his brave attitude gave confidence, he uttered few directions, which were poor. The initiative of his trained subordinates came into play in spite of the absence of orders. Davis with his Mississippians and Bowles with the remaining Indianians charged and repulsed Ampudia's cavalry. To Davis especially belongs the credit for stemming the tide. At the head of his Mississippians he fought with dash and daring. Although he had to be carried from the field severely wounded, he had been the main factor in turning defeat into possible victory.6
Taylor, without knowing the size of a large force of Mexicans in front, ordered Hardin to charge it. Bissell, McKee and Thomas joined in the attack, but the forces were too overwhelming. Hardin, McKee and Henry Clay perished while standing to the last. But Bragg and Sherman galloped from another part of the field with their tired batteries, and some of the Indiana and Mississippi regiments charged the enemy's flank and rear. Finally, the fire of the batteries became so hot for the Mexicans that they retreated.
The queer battle was over, and so was the day. That night Taylor feared for the fate of his army. He had lost 673 officers and men and about 1,600 had skulked in the rear or deserted. But during the darkness Santa Anna drew off south.
What remained of the American army of the north was then spread out to guard the long line of communications from Agua to the coast. Thus ended the activities of Taylor's command.
1847 In the east Scott, having collected all his troops by boat at Lobos Island, took strenuous measures to keep smallpox from spreading and to drill his command. Studying the situation, he came to the conclusion that the fortified town of Vera Cruz should be invested from the rear, instead of being frontally assaulted, with the resultant heavy loss to his men.
At this late date in the second year of the war when his campaign was already launched, Congress was busy with enactments that could not benefit him for many months.
1847 It voted 2 more major generals and 3 more brigadiers to the army. It authorized the organization of the forces into divisions and brigades as before. It gave to each artillery regiment 2 more companies and the authority to have 2 light batteries. It increased the pay and ordnance departments. Having made the mistake of the short enlistment, it attempted to rectify that error by offering $12 bounty to every soldier in Mexico who would reënlist for the war. It recognized distinguished services of the noncommissioned officer by the reward of a brevet of the "lowest grade of rank," and those of a private with a certificate of merit, which carried with it the extra pay of $2 per month.
Before this seeming generosity of the lawmakers could be made known to Scott,
1847 he had landed 10,000 men without mishap at Sacrificios Island. March 13
1847 Through the surf and over the dunes his troops went inland and formed Camp Washington in a semi-circular line around the rear of Vera Cruz. They built fortifications and brought up artillery from the fleet for the bombardment. Most of the work had to be done at night and in silence.
1847 At last when the positions were satisfactory to Scott he summoned the town to surrender. When the refusal came, the guns from the fleet and on land opened fire. March 26
1847 Within four days the occupants of the damaged city, hungry and terror stricken, capitulated. Scott's army having lost less than twenty killed, marched into Vera Cruz. He had saved his men, in spite of the urgent impatience of some of his juniors, who wanted to assault the place.
But the glory of this victory was lost in the mind of Scott when he realized what was before him. At his back was an averse administration, that had given him less than the troops p220he had asked for. Yellow fever would soon be attacking the coast towns. Supplies and vehicles of every kind had to be collected soon for his march up through the •8,000‑foot mountains over which there was one road to the City of Mexico. Only 180 out of the 800 wagons had arrived, and the mules and horses were correspondingly short.
1847 Finally leaving the First Infantry to guard Vera Cruz he sent Twiggs' division (2,600 men) forward toward Jalapa. Patterson next day followed. Although Scott did not believe that a large force was in his front, he wisely acted as though it were and he himself set out on the march, followed by Worth's division.
At Cerro Gordo, Twiggs was held up by fire from a strong position across his path. When General Scott arrived he gave a very clear and comprehensive order for the attack, after gaining information through Captain Robert E. Lee and other officers whom he had sent out on reconnaissance. The action was to be a turning movement against the enemy's rear by Twiggs, supported by Shields' and Pillow's divisions. Even the pursuit was provided for in Scott's directions. The troops advanced through the thickest of tropical undergrowth.
1847 Twiggs's regulars took Independence Hill with difficulty and loss, and Shields and Riley went on to Cerro Gordo. The Mexican batteries in front fell under Pillow's and Tower's troops. With minor mishaps that were to be expected the heights were taken. Though Pillow's actions and some of Shields' volunteers were criticizable, the execution of the plan moved along with force and dispatch, and what Mexicans could get away fled in panic toward Jalapa. Worth's division pursued. Altogether, thousands of prisoners, 40 cannons, and 4,000 stands of arms were taken.
1847 Scott then moved the troops over the road to Jalapa which had been cleared by Worth.
There dire problems confronted him. Indeed, in many ways his predicament resembled the trying hours of Washington during the darkest part of the Revolution. Money was scarce. The government had not sent any. Seven regiments and 2 companies of volunteers would go home because their enlistments were expiring and nothing in the midst of this campaign could p221stir their patriotism to remain. The government in its usual calm at home paid and provided for the soldier sparingly. The commander in the field was left to scrabble. Out of 1 contingent of 3,700 men only 1 company remained. Scott was assured the recruits were soon to come. But even if they did, they would be worthless until after five months' training. And then, after a long delay, they did not come. His force was reduced to 7,000 in the face of 20,000 Mexicans. Here he was, in a hostile country, poorly provisioned, and without strength. And to cap all, the President was scheming at home to supersede him by Benton, who was ignorant of the art of war.
But Scott moved his advance troops on towards Puebla in spite of his difficulties and by overcoming many of them. Not over 4,000 privates were able to move forward.
1847 Worth started the movement. Fortunately that city made only a show of opposition as it was approached by Worth and Quitman, who entered it. Scott, in the meantime, was organizing his rear and supplies before moving up. May 20
1847 When he arrived in the town, he at once started the drilling, the engineer training and the preparation of maps for the interior. It was difficult work with the morale of the men naturally below par. They had been paid for only two months out of the eight. Since Scott had little cash and the Mexicans knew his condition, prices rose prohibitively. But by clever and clean methods, he restored financial equilibrium and caused the city to offer him a place for the upbuilding of his forces.
With six weeks of steady drill and good treatment of the inhabitants, on whom he was absolutely dependent for most of his supplies and for the chance to occupy Puebla, he slowly emerged by his own efforts with a force of fair quality but poor quantity.
1847 Cadwalader and McIntosh ultimately arrived with 1,100 men and $250,000 in coin. The recruits also came. Major General Pillow,7 having done his usual delaying and demoralizing work, arrived with 2,000 men. Aug. 6
1847 Finally General Pierce brought 2,500 more.
Scott now had about 10,900 effective men. Of the regular troops all the infantry regiments except the First (which had p222to be at Vera Cruz), the main portions of the three dragoon regiments, the Second, Third, Fourth artillery, a light artillery battalion, and a howitzer and rocket battalion, were present. The new Ninth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth and the Voltigeur regiments of infantry together with the equivalent of about 3½ regiments of volunteers from New York, South Carolinian Pennsylvania swelled the numbers, and 300 marines made the sum total. As can be plainly seen the large proportion was made up of fairly trained and disciplined troops.
As soon as it was possible Scott, in spite of his handicaps, ordered the advance.
1847 Twiggs, Quitman, Worth, and Pillow, in the order named and one day's march apart, set out for the heart of Mexico. Aug. 7
1847 Passing higher up the mountains the little army now of about 10,700 men, trudged onward until it was •about that many feet above sea level. It met many hindrances, among which were 13,000 trees felled as barricades, which it pushed aside. At length it came to the valley of Mexico City.
Here Scott had to decide which of the four roads he would take toward his final objective. Pushing Captain Robert E. Lee, Beauregard and Worth's brigade ahead to reconnoiter,b he found out the lay of the country and decided to approach the capital by the western gate.
1847 Then he ordered a force of engineers and Pillow's troops to build a road over the pedregal8 toward Churubusco. Although he did not yet desire a general engagement, Pillow seemed to know better. That political general attacked a powerful force of Mexicans, who routed the Americans. Scott then coming on the scene, saw that San Geronimo was the key to the situation. He sent Shields with his brigade to support Smith, who had already gone in the direction of that place. The troops sat and shivered in a storm all night. In the morning they were awakened early so as to go quietly toward their goal and take it with the bayonet. Aug. 20
1847 Lee, in the meantime, had by superhuman effort carried to Scott complete information as to the whereabouts of his troops. The commander was then able to assemble more men as a reserve, and the battle of Contreras was begun. In seventeen minutes p223San Geronimo with all its strength was taken. The Mexicans' loss was about 1,700 against that of 100 Americans.
Although the distance was now short to the city of Mexico, Scott knew he could not leave his baggage and Quitman's brigade exposed in rear. So he ordered Worth to clear San Antonio of the enemy. But when Stevens found that the Mexicans were already retreating, he determined to attack them in flight. In the pursuit, the troops came upon the masked and heavily fortified bridgehead of Churubusco. There they were held up for some time because of the unexpected strength of the position. But Scott's handling of a turning movement in the rear caused the defenders to give way after a hard struggle, and Churubusco fell. The enemy was pursued almost to the city goes. The loss to the Mexicans was about 10,000; to the Americans about 950. It was a stubborn battle, but the courage that comes with competent leaders and superior training had counted.
1847 Scott now did one of the most loyal and self-sacrificing things ever done by any man in high position. Although the way to the city now lay open, he forsook the personal glory of capturing the capital of the enemy's country because he felt wisely that such action would not so quickly "conquer a peace." The political conditions were such that a successful assault would mean only a postponement of a permanent settlement and the unnecessary sacrifice of many soldiers.
That night he caused Worth to occupy Tacubaya; Twiggs, San Angel; Pillow, Mixcoac; and Quitman, San Augustin. During the next few days Scott was waited upon by the Mexicans who proposed a cessation of hostilities.
1847 Accordingly an armistice was agreed upon with the express purpose of negotiating a peace. Two weeks were wasted in talk, while Santa Anna was violating the stipulations of the agreement. Sept. 7
1847 When his duplicity was discovered, hostilities had to be renewed.
1847 Worth in the early morning was sent against Molino del Rey, where the troops encountered a very hot fire from the forts. Stopped, tossed back, leaders shot down, the gallant men returned again, not to be denied. The King's Mill was the first to fall and then Casa Mata after much loss and sharp fighting. But the victory from a fruitful standpoint was barren. Though p224the Mexican losses were heavier than those of the United States troops, the captured arsenal contained nothing of value and did not further the entrance into the city.
1847 At a council in which the engineer officers, Lee and Beauregard, argued the various merits of positions and suggested the next move, Scott decided to attack the western gate — Chapultepec.
1847 An artillery duel between the large pieces in the enemy's fort and our intrenched batteries opened the fight. All day the cannonade continued, not without effect on both sides, but altogether the garrison of Chapultepec suffered more than our troops.
1847 Scott took the next day for attack. Pillow was to hit in front, Quitman and Worth on the two flanks and Smith in rear. Artillery again opened the fight. The infantry, advanced at eight o'clock, drove in the outlying troops. The fort, a very well-built stronghold, remained to be captured. On the lines went, but when they came to the ditch the scaling ladders did not arrive. The men lay down under galling fire and merely held their own, because nothing could be done in reply to the enemy's guns. But the waiting moments were terrible. At last the ladders came, and the soldiers, withheld from their prize for so long, climbed up the sides, were knocked down, scrambled up again and finally crowded over the walls. Some rough hand-to‑hand work and Chapultepec was taken.
Quitman met resistance from a small redoubt which he overcame. Worth was held up at one entrance to the city proper, but, by ingeniously mounting guns on roofs, he drove the Mexicans before him. The gates of and San Cosme were similarly taken, and the Mexican capital lay limp before the army.
1847 The next day the victorious troops marched into the city, Santa Anna having fled.
The war was not over, but the fighting had ended. Scott appointed Quitman as governor of the city and proceeded at once to reorganize his forces and his long line of supplies.
He had conducted a brilliant campaign with little or no error. With minimum loss of life and time he had marched through the vital territory of a hostile population. Even so, he p225had been hindered more by the administration at home than the enemy in front.
The volunteers with scarcely any training had been of little help. Most historians have been very hard on them. R. M. Johnston says:
"With officers not competent to maintain discipline, let alone handling their men in action, they made of the Stars and Stripes an emblem of pillage, destruction and outrage. They were 'dreaded like death in every village in Mexico.' They 'fled in every action in which they have been engaged.' At Monterey, volunteer regiments bolted. At Buena Vista, it was only the Mexican turning movement that swept many of them back to their stations. General Pillow begged for a single company of regulars at Cerro Gordo, to prevent a whole brigade from stampeding."
Their lack of training is attested to by many statistics. For example their rate of sickness was three times as great as that of the old regiments. But they themselves were not to blame. Whether patriotism or adventure had been their main motive, they nevertheless underwent hardship voluntarily for their country. They had been jockeyed into a false position by an obtuse and wily control of military affairs. There were not enough trained men on hand, so that the volunteer had to be used, abused and sacrificed.
Training was the thing that the government had ignored. By force of circumstances, rather than by foresight, the army in Mexico consisted largely of trained junior officers with regulars, and trained senior officers with volunteers. Few of the regulars in high command were scientifically skillful in gaining a victory with the least loss, because they were the outcome of stagnant handling in the previous thirty years. Scott stood preëminent and alone. He had pulled himself up by his own boot straps. His clear vision at home and his brilliant work in the field, rank him, in quality, second to no leader of our history. He realized fully conditions and situations and sacrificed his own personal ambition for the peace of the nation. Wherever tribute was due, he gave it without a tinge of meaner p226feelings. Though not himself a graduate of the Military Academy, he bore no resentment to the West Pointer. He unhesitatingly said at the close of the war:
"I give it as my fixed opinion that but for our graduated cadets the war between the United States and Mexico might, and probably would have lasted some four or five years, with, in its first half, more defeats than victories falling to our share; whereas in less than two campaigns we conquered a great country and a peace without the loss of a single battle or skirmish."
In other fields of this war it must not be forgotten that Stockton,9 Kearny and Fremont took California, Wool marched with difficult troops south from San Antonio to Taylor and was now in command of that long line which held northern Mexico. Doniphan, too, had beaten with his 800 men 1,000 Mexicans at Brazito, routed 1,200 at Sacramento, taken and held the capital of Chihuahua for two months, crushed a fierce band of Comanches at Paso, coupled up with General Wool and embarked for the United States in the summer of 1847, thus completing a victorious march of •3,500 miles in fifteen months.
If training had shone during hostilities, it was to count more than ever in the occupation of a conquered country. Each of the main cities along Taylor's and Scott's routes had to be ruled justly by a military governor. The rowdy soldier had to be severely punished side by side with the Mexican robber.
In Mexico City Scott's troops, due to necessary distribution and losses, numbered less than 60,000. For three months after the capture, not a single reënforcement provided for by the late laws of Congress had arrived.
1847 It was not until the end of the year that any reënforcements set foot in the capital. The numbers were finally swelled to 11,000 on paper and 8,000 fit for duty. It was then possible to have sufficient men to occupy the mining towns, and to repel attacks in the outlying districts, such as Jalapa. The efforts of Scott and Wool both tended toward the establishment of firm discipline and peaceful relations with the Mexicans.
It was, however, an uphill task. Physically and mentally the soldiers were in a sorry state. Then the government sent the volunteers into a foreign country to wage war, with the injunction that they furnish their own clothing, it had asked a very impossible favor. Poorly paid and much tattered, the state troops had a hard time to be decent in appearance.
1848 It was not until very late as usual that Congress passed a law to furnish clothing to volunteers in the same manner as to regulars.
Altogether, this stay in a foreign country was naturally distasteful to the troops. The excitement of action had simmered down to the most trying routine. During virtual peace these men were undergoing the discomforts of campaign. What was the hitch, the technicality, that was keeping them from their homes in the states? They had finished what they came out to do. They had done their part. What was the matter with the slow wheels of state?
1848 The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo had ended hostilities. Why was this occupation among a people, who spoke a different language and did not understand our ways, dragging on so long? Fighting, disease, driving off bandits from supply trains, obeying and enforcing a stringent martial law, and constant drills and parades did not offer much recreation.
It is not surprising that desertion, gambling, drunkenness, theft and worse crimes abounded. A host of bootleggers, blacklegs and thimbleriggers offered ready inducements on all sides. Scott stated in one of his reports:
"The same intolerable work at general head-quarters is to be perpetually renewed, or all the credit of this army for moral conduct, as well as gallantry and prowess in the field, will be utterly lost by new arrivals, and there is no hope of bringing up to the proper standard distant posts and detachments."
The only activities of this time were confined to northern Mexico. Colonel Price, who was military governor of New Mexico, got wind of an uprising in Chihuahua.
1848 Marching with great speed from El Paso he arrived at Santa Cruz. March 9
1848 Having blockaded the town, and having received reënforcements, he forthwith attacked the place. March 16
1848 After fighting his way through p228barricaded streets and executing some rather quick and rough work he was successful. This episode completely ended all armed controversy until peace was actually declared.
However, there arose in the main army near Mexico City an internal strife that lowered morale distinctly. Scott placed in arrest, and preferred charges against, Pillow, Worth, and Duncan, one of whom at least was a political spy of the President. The Chief Executive had been averse to Scott's success, because Scott, being a Whig, ought not to become too popular. The actions of the three accused officers were insubordinate. But the President, believing their versions, ignoring his general in chief, and making up his mind at a great distance from the scene of ruction, peremptorily relieved Scott and restored the three officers to command with their highest brevet rank. After having been the prime factor of victory over Mexico, Scott was called home in disgrace.
Robert E. Lee said that now that he had performed his task he was "turned out as an old horse to die."c
1848 So Scott took his leave of an army who trusted in him and loved him as a whole, and Major General Butler, a Democrat, was left in command.
Soon thereafter began the general preparation of the army for leaving Mexico.
1848 General Worth's Division was the last to quit the capital. In the main plaza the troops were drawn up, each country's colors were saluted and the United States flag gave place to that of the Mexican. Then began the long descent to Vera Cruz. It was a glad body of weary men who finally entered the lowlands of the coast, where they did not wait long in that fever district. July 22
1848 Five companies of the First Artillery were the last to go just eighteen days after July 4
1848 peace had been formally declared by the President of the United States.
The newly created regiments had already left for the States. They were to be mustered out at the following places: the Third Dragoons at Jefferson Barracks, the Ninth Infantry at Fort Adams, the Tenth and Eleventh at Fort Hamilton, the Twelfth and Fourteenth at New Orleans, the Thirteenth at Mobile, the Fifteenth at Cincinnati, the Sixteenth at Newport Barracks and the Voltigeurs at Fort McHenry.
The remaining regular army, after the reduction due to legislation, was scattered in reduced numbers over a wide field. p229The First and Second Artillery were rendezvoused at Governor's Island and the Third and Fourth at Fortress Monroe. The First, Second, Third and Fourth Infantry under Twiggs were concentrated at Pass Christian, Louisiana. The Fifth Infantry went to Arkansas and Indian territories, and building Forts Gibson, Smith, Washita and Towson. The Mounted Rifles, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Infantry went to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, under command of General Kearny. Eight companies of artillery and 3 companies of the First, and 7 of the Second Dragoons, were stationed on the United States side of the Rio Grande.
1848 Congress now acted wisely in allowing officers of the regular establishment to hold the rank they had attained in the war, by being carried as additional numbers in their grades and by being assigned to their old units. The major who had been added to each regiment was retained, as were many of the staff, together with the 2 companies in each of the artillery regiments. The number of privates in each organization was fixed at 50 for the dragoons, 64 for the mounted rifles and 42 for artillery and infantry. The relatives of each enlisted man who died in the service were voted three months' pay.
Long marches by some of the regular regiments were immediately entailed, because of the acquisition from the war of •960,000 square miles of territory, including the present states of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and California. Now that this vast country had been gained by the army's successes, it was to be made safe by the army's efforts. A long overland march by 2 companies each of the First and Second Dragoons was made along the Rio Grande, through El Paso, over the Gila and finally into California. The Mounted Rifles likewise, on account of the disturbances in Oregon, where some volunteers had murdered Indians in return for a massacre of missionaries, made its march over rugged country to that territory.
1848 A company of the Third Artillery set sail for California around Cape Horn.
The year 1848 passed out with troops scattered over the old and new territory of the United States. The army had to strive for restoration under the handicap of demoralizing reduction. Many of the light batteries had to be dismounted and most of p230the organizations were reduced. The actual strength of the army was little over 8,000.
1848‑49 When gold was discovered in California, soldiers deserted for the El Dorado by the wholesale. Captains in the west found themselves in some cases without a single soldier in their companies. The small army became still smaller every day. But the remainder and those that could be recruited, as they began to be stationed in the new western territory, helped as they could the "prairie schooner" and the "forty-niner" across wild tracts of unexplored country.
The Mounted Rifles or Third Dragoons made a long march of •2500 miles from Fort Leavenworth toward Oregon. But for Fort Laramie and Fort Kearny, there was not a house between Fort Leavenworth and the Columbia River. The column plodded through trackless wastes, oftentimes without wood, water or grass.
1849 The Fifth Infantry lost in one month 46 men by the scourge of cholera that was so prevalent with the emigrant trains. In addition to sickness and hardship, units were split and sent over long distances. May to
1849 For instance, 4 companies of the Fifth marched from Fort Leavenworth to Santa Fe and 6 companies from northern Texas to El Paso. From these places they then made successful expeditions against the Navajo and Apache Indians. Likewise the Fourth Artillery and 2 companies of the First were sent from Fortress Monroe to Fort Pickens and Pensacola, Florida, where they were kept busy constructing roads and keeping the Seminoles in leash. Other regiments were similarly distributed.
Several internal changes at this time affected the army.
1849 The office of Judge-Advocate was created. Heretofore his duties had been performed by the detail of an officer of the line. The position now became the life work of an officer who could devote himself to legal study. A captain of the army could be selected and given the brevet rank and pay of a major of cavalry. 1849 As for drill and training, Cooper's Regulations for the Militia brought new developments in drill. Soldiers were formed into squads for recruit drill and mounted troops for the first time marched and wheeled by "fours."
At this time the army went seriously to work in garrisoning
p231the new territory in order to make it habitable. Little by little nearly all of the troops were occupying tiny posts over the prairies so as to be ready to push back the Indian before the civilian occupant. The small parties of "forty-niners," singularly vulnerable to pillage and outrage, had given the savage confidence and lust for further attacks. To offset such incursions wherever they might appear, it was necessary to have many strongholds.
1850 The First Infantry, for instance, garrisoned in the southwest, Forts Merrill, McIntosh, Duncan and Ringgold Barracks. Other regiments built and garrisoned more. April 12
1850 In one engagement with the Indians the First alone lost 8 men killed and wounded.
The pitiful attempt to have a small force everywhere at once caused long journeys of immense hardship and waste of time in movement.
1850 The Seventh Infantry, for example, was sent from Florida to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, thence to the Little Arkansas River, Oct.
1850 back to Fort Leavenworth and then distributed over the Arkansas frontier, all in less than six months.
1850 Congress, seeing finally that it was difficult for the army to be in two places at once and that atrocities could not be checked with the number of troops on hand, gave voice to an excellent piece of legislation. It made the enlistment period five years and allowed the President to recruit each company up to 74 men. Thus, without the addition of a single officer, the army could be increased in cases of necessity by 4,488 men.
Congress had been made to have a change of heart in another direction. The war had proved the merits of the Military Academy.
1850 Several minor acts showed the confidence of the legislative body in that institution. The professors of engineering, philosophy, mathematics, ethics and chemistry were given a flat rate of pay of $2,000 and the professors of drawing and French each $1,500. The Superintendent was to receive no less than the highest-paid professor.
For the army in general, Congress for the first time recognized foreign service in its pay provisions.
1850 Those officers serving in the far countries of Oregon and California were to receive $2 a day extra and the enlisted men were to have their pay doubled.
While Congress was busy making these unusually constructive military laws, the Yuma Indian was particularly zealous in molesting immigrants. The country in the vicinity of the Gila was wild and unexplored and the Yumas were exceptionally treacherous. After some difficulty the site of Fort Yuma was established,
1850‑51 which gave opportunity for General Smith, commanding the Pacific Division, to send a boat to the head of the Gulf of California. Lieutenant George H. Derby10 of the topographical engineers was designated to make a reconnaissance of the country from the Gulf to the Fort, in order to establish a route from San Francisco. For •150 miles this officer penetrated this region and mapped the way to the fort.
1851 In a similar manner, Captain Sitgreaves,d1 with 50 men, went from Zuni westward until he reached the Colorado, whose course he followed to Fort Yuma. Encountering the hostile Mojaves and Yumas, he made overtures of friendship and kept on his way. Though the journey was rugged and full of hardship, especially from the intense heat, he learned much of the customs of these tribes in addition to making a survey.
To offer havens for the traveler and settler and to have safe places in case of attack in force, many forts had to be erected. Major Heintzelman's troops built Fort Yuma. Other units of the army established Fort Kearny at Grand Island on the Platte River, Fort Laramie in Wyoming, Fort Bridger in Utah, and Fort Hall in Idaho, constituting the main chain of forts which protected the western routes of travel. Besides these garrisons, approximately seventy smaller ones dotted the plains. To construct a fort the soldiers were halted at a likely spot and given tools and the open country. With incredible swiftness and ingenuity they built barracks, officers' quarters, storehouses, guardhouses, headquarters and even the stockade barrier with its blockhouses. So in addition to being required to face the savage, these pioneer soldiers had to build their own shelter or be without any.
1851 Away in these remote places, driving off Indians and constructing strongholds, the troops never lost their punctiliousness. p233The adherence to a prescribed uniform intimates this quality of self-respect and discipline. The difference in grades was indicated by the buttons on the coat. The major-general's buttons were placed in double rows and in groups of threes, the brigadiers' in twos, and the field officers' without grouping. The company officers had but a single row. The coat was lengthened for enlisted men to halfway between the hip and the knee. The shoulder strap was worn by officers whenever the epaulet was omitted. The shape of the strap and the insignia upon it were the same as persisted down to the beginning of the World War. The present‑day chevrons were similarly adopted for the noncommissioned officer. The "cloak" overcoat with frogs of black silk came into vogue.
The French bell tent was prescribed for use of enlisted men in the field. Just why mustaches were allowed to be worn only by cavalry regiments is not quite clear.
As an outgrowth of economy, changes of station and equipment were quite demoralizing.
1851 All the light batteries, except Bragg's of the Third and Taylor's of the First, were dismounted. The Third Dragoons returned from the Mexican frontier to the States, all the horses and most of the men being transferred to the First Dragoons. June
1851 The Fifth Infantry relieved the Seventh in Texas and built Fort Belknap on the Red Fork of the Brazos River. June 18
1851 A detachment of the Third Dragoons in taking horses overland to California met the Rogue River Indians whom they repulsed at the cost of the loss of an officer and several men. Some of the regiments had traversed the entire country during the year. July 16
1851 The Third Dragoons, after having gone from one ocean to the other, had to recruit at Jefferson Barracks and reorganize for the third time in five years, on account of casualties.
Great attention was given at this time to heavy and mountain artillery as one of the reactions of the war. Drill regulations issued at War Department direction, covered the service of such pieces as the 8‑ and 10‑inch and 24‑pounder howitzers, 8‑ and 10‑inch siege mortars, the coehorn mortar, the 10‑ and 13‑inch seacoast mortars, the stone mortar, the 8‑inch columbiad and guns of various calibers. Of the carriages there were the siege, barbette, casemate, flank casemate and columbiad. All p234cannoneers were required to be instructed in the School of the Piece, Field Artillery, before undertaking heavy artillery. As to purpose and use, heavy artillery was classified into siege, garrison and seacoast. The mountain artillery consisted of a 12‑pounder howitzer which, with its carriage and ammunition, was packed upon three mules.
At no time during this period did surveys and expeditions against marauding Indians cease.
1852 Company K of the Third Infantry overcame a band of Apaches with the loss of three men killed, and made a successful expedition against the tribes along the Gila River. June 6
1852 Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Craig was shot and killed by two deserters while in command of a survey of the international boundary line of Mexico. Captain Marcy of the Fifth Infantry, with his company, and Captain G. B. McClellan, corps of engineers, explored the Red River from the mouth of Cache Creek to the river's source. May
1852 They made peace with the Mojaves and found many valuable mineral specimens such as copper and gypsum.
1852 Some of the journeys of the troops were very costly. Eight companies of the Fourth Infantry left New York Harbor for a change of station on the Pacific Coast. The travel was by water, except across Panama. The railroad over the isthmus being at this time incomplete, the regiment had to march a great part of the way. Cholera and fever overtook them. Before they reached San Francisco 107 had died of disease.
In the east, confidence in the Military Academy was again expressed by the Congress.
1852 The pay of professors and assistant professors was raised as an evidence of the appreciation of instruction imparted at that institution. Sept. 1
1852 And the Secretary of War did not lower its standard by appointing as superintendent, Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee.
1853 In the west, Captain Wright of the Oregon volunteers almost overturned the work of such expeditions as Marcy's by inviting some of the marauding Rogue River Indians in Oregon to have a feast and make a treaty. When they had gathered under his supposed protection, he and his troops opened fire on the defenseless savages and killed all but ten of them.
Such a proceeding naturally caused an uprising among these Indians who made war on the isolated settlers by burning the p235crops and murdering the innocent whites. The army in that vicinity finally succeeded in subduing the tribe.
1853 The troops in the service were distributed over a wide territory. The Fourth Artillery was represented at Fort Independence in and on the Rio Grande; the Second Infantry was spread from Goose Lake, Oregon, to Yuma, Arizona; the Fourth Infantry was at Vancouver Barracks, Washington; and most of the First Artillery was in Florida. The remainder of the army was scattered widely between these extremes.
While the meager army was trying to cover so much territory,
1853 the Military Academy was thrown into confusion by the abrupt change of the course of study from five to four years. The Secretary of War, against the advice of the faculty of that institution, made this decision and caused the reconstruction of the curriculum after the term had begun. This action disturbed temporarily the Academy's efficiency.
In the journeys of the army in this period, disasters in travel were more common than in later times when the railroad was better developed, hygiene more understood and the ocean steamer more trustworthy. The greater part of the Third Artillery embarked at New York to go to California by way of Cape Horn. Off Cape Hatteras the vessel became unmanageable in a storm, her machinery was disabled, her sails were blown away, her deck was stripped and she sprang a leak. For days she was tossed about without any aid reaching her.
1853 Finally a Boston bark, Kilby, succeeded in getting off 108 passengers, but the hawser that held the boats together parted in the operation. The vessels were so separated that the troop ship could not again be found. Dec. 31
1853 Finally it was sighted by the British ship, Three Bells. The survivors were taken to New York and Liverpool. From exposure and drowning over 200 of the 600 aboard perished.e
The next year, some of the survivors of this regiment went overland to California straight across the continent, while the other part sailed successfully in the course it had undertaken before.
1854 Notable among the explorations of this year was one which Lieutenant Whipple, topographical engineer, conducted along the 35th parallel in search of a railroad route west. His ascent p236of the Colorado River in connecting with 'd2 previous survey was one of peril and hardship. The result of his efforts proved to be highly beneficial to later transit.
Patrolling the west was a constant duty of the army during these years. The Third Infantry made three expeditions against the Apaches in Arizona where it lost several officers and men. The Third Dragoons were similarly engaged in addition to being constantly on the move between Leavenworth and Laramie.
1854 The Second Infantry went from Carlisle Barracks overland and down the Ohio by boat to Leavenworth, where it was spread out along the Missouri.
Realizing the value of the soldier and what he was doing for the country Congress raised the pay of the enlisted man by $4 a month.
1854 In addition, it gave its first recognition to pay for length of service. The soldier's second enlistment gave him an increase of $2 a month over his regular pay and each successive enlistment for five years $1.
1854 The need of a rifle in the hazards in the western service, which not only developed the Indian fighter but made the hunter indispensable, caused more conversions of old weapons by the Ordnance Department than ever before. Besides making the Revolutionary musket capable of using a cap instead of the flint, the arsenals changed the barrel by brazing a lining in the tube so that the bore could be rifled. The department also standardized the caliber at .58.
1855 The model 1855 rifle based upon the above gun was made to use the "hollow base conical bullet" developed by Captain Minie.f Besides, a lug was placed near the muzzle of the piece so as to hold the saber or the socket rapier bayonet. This rifle was about •about four feet two inches in length and weighed •about ten pounds.
1855 Cooper's and Macomb's Tactics gave instructions as to the care of the rifle, in addition to giving evolutions for infantry, artillery and cavalry. The manual showed minutely how the soldier could make his own ammunition by melting down lead, molding the balls, smoothing the bullets off by rolling them in a barrel and wrapping the cartridges. In addition to having merely ball cartridges, the soldier could use buckshot or ball with buckshot.
p237 1855 Hardee's Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics, although apparently not conflicting with Cooper's and Macomb's, showed at this date striking similarities to Steuben's and yet marked differences. In "the position of the soldier" the heels were "on the same line and as near each other as the conformation of the man" would permit and the eyes were fixed straight to the front, "striking the ground about the distance of fifteen paces." There were four kinds of cadence and step: common time, quick time, debt quick time and the run. The first was 90 steps to the minute and •28 inches in length; the second, 110 steps to the minute and 28 inches in length; the third, 165 steps to the minute and •33 inches in length; and the last, a fast run. The manual of loading was accomplished in "nine times" and fifteen motions as follows:
|1.||Load. One time and one motion.|
|2.||Handle Cartridge. One time and one motion.|
|3.||Tear Cartridge. One time and one motion.|
|4.||Charge Cartridge. One time and one motion.|
|5.||Draw rammer. One time and three motions.|
|6.||Ram cartridge. One time and one motion.|
|7.||Return rammer. One time and three motions.|
|8.||Prime.11 One time and two motions.|
|9.||Shoulder arms. One time and two motions.|
The actual firing was executed in three times and five motions.
|1.||Ready. One time and three motions.|
|2.||Aim. One time and one motion.|
|3.||Fire. One time and one motion.|
When the recruit became expert in this long exercise, he could be made to load in "four times" and fire as fast as three rounds in a minute.
Realizing the work the army was doing technically and its impossible task of dealing with the Indians successfully in so vast a territory as the United States now occupied,
1855 Congress p238added 2 infantry and 2 cavalry regiments to the service, thus making 10 all told of the former and 5 of the latter. The officers of the newly created regiments were to be selected so that the field officers and one‑half of the company officers of the old regiments would fill the new vacancies. The remainder were to come for civil life. The paper strength of the army now rose to 12,698 men, and the Ninth and Tenth Infantry and Fourth and Fifth Cavalry came into being.
It is interesting to note among the changes of uniform that the cap which had been in vogue in one form or another for almost fifty years, now gave place to the hat of black felt, especially for the new regiments.
1855 The new headgear was looped up on the right side and fastened with an eagle. Black feathers ornamented the left side, three for field officers, two for company officers and one for enlisted men.
The far west continued to call portions of the army into play in quelling Indian uprisings. The Fourth Infantry in eastern Washington and Oregon had trouble in subduing many tribes under the leadership of the Chieftain Kamiarkin. In Oregon the regular troops were embarrassed by a massacre of Indians on the part of some volunteers who shot down nineteen unarmed savages in cold blood. The effect of such an affair was to cause the reactionary murder of many innocent settlers.
1855 Portions of the First Cavalry and Fourth Artillery had a hard encounter with the Brule Indians at the battle of the Blue Water. The Third Artillery had many engagements with the Klamath, Puget Sound, and Rogue River Indians, which actions entailed marches over long distances and the loss of many soldiers.
1855‑56 In addition to the Indian troubles the newly created territory of Kansas was torn with factions and outraged over the question of slavery. So acute and so partisan was the strife that the volunteers, who invariably took sides, could do little or nothing. Finally Governor Geary had to call for federal troops to restore some sort of order. Accordingly Colonel Cooke led the Fourth Artillery, acting as cavalry, from Leavenworth. This show of force caused the warring militias to disperse without bloodshed and Kansas was quickly brought to a state of quiescence, many lives being saved by the army's movement.
The newly organized Ninth Infantry arrived on the Pacific coast, having gone by way of Panama,
1856 and shortly afterward got into action in an expedition to Fort Walla Walla, Washington. There it met Indians near the Cascades, dispersed them, and made the ringleaders prisoners. March
1856 Later it captured 500 of the hostiles near the Wenache River.
The work of the army this year consisted in reorganization, training and fighting. The First Artillery had successful actions in Florida and Texas.
One company each from the 4 artillery regiments was dismounted and together garrisoned Fortress Monroe to reëstablish the Artillery School of Practice.
1856 The Third Infantry, marching in one month •over 500 miles, was busy in the southwest with the Gila and Mogollan Apaches. The Second Cavalry was drilling at Fort Riley, Kansas. March,
1856 The Third Artillery finally routed the Rogue River Indians in Oregon, burned their village and decisively defeated them so that they sued for peace. The Sixth Infantry was at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Dec.
1856 Most of the Fourth Artillery found itself at Fort Brooke, Florida, where the Seminoles again were beginning to give trouble.
So much action in the field caused the uniform to be made more suitable to the needs of the soldier in the wilds. The long baggy trousers, the lower collar, the loose coat and comfortable hat gave more freedom of movement than was possible in 1812. The leather belt worn with the sash was more practicable in holding the sword. The shoulder strap was beginning to usurp the place of the epaulet.
1857 And simple knots and braid designated rank on the overcoat. A general had five braids and a double knot, a colonel five braids and a single knot, a lieutenant colonel four braids and a single knot and so on down through the grades.
1857 Confidence in the army's efforts was again expressed when legislation raised the pay of cadets from $24 to $30 per month. Besides, civilian dependence on the army's explorations was asserting itself in many ways. 1857 Lieutenant J. C. Ives, for instance, at the direction of the War Department organized an expedition to find the navigability of the Colorado River and the practicability of routes for supplies. The work was carried p240on in the presence of hostile Indian tribes and covered several hundred miles. Its value was to manifest itself later in opening up roads and railroads.
Indian troubles again took the army into many untenanted regions.
1857 The Fourth Artillery, after having serious trouble with the Seminoles, especially at Big Cypress, was sent west and distributed through Utah and Nebraska. The Third Infantry was involved in the southwest with the Apaches in the Mogollan Mountains and along the Gila River. The Second Dragoons was so busy between Utah and Texas with its insufficient force that it was kept on the move most of the time. The newly created Tenth Infantry after clashing with the Sioux in Minnesota moved to Fort Kearny, Nebraska. The Sixth Infantry and First Cavalry went from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Kearny, meeting and defeating a large body of Cheyennes on the way. The first of the new cavalry regiments12 had a severe engagement with the Cheyennes near the north fork of the Solomon River. In these engagements many of the men were wounded and killed with arrows; and with pistol, Allen's revolver and rifle balls. Many small surveying and exploring parties, notably those accompanied by troops furnished by General Clarke in command of the Department of the Pacific, kept up their valuable and trying labors through Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.
1857 It was in this year that the Sharp's breechloading rifle, using a cap, was invented. Although it did not come into use with the troops until several years later, it was the beginning of modern improvement in firearms, was to be the most efficient small weapon of the Civil War, and was to give rise to the name, "Sharpshooter." On the other hand, the Colt revolving rifle which was about the same time issued from that factory, was not destined to play so great a part. The soldiers did not like it because of the large powder escape at the breech and the tremendous kick when several charges exploded at once. But the production of the weapon shows the attempt at this early time to have a rifle that would shoot without the necessity for reloading at every shot.
The largest expedition of this year was the one against the Mormons. This sect isolated near Salt Lake City refused to obey the laws of the United States.
1857 Accordingly the Fifth and Tenth Infantry and two batteries of artillery marched from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to subdue them. The Second Dragoons was to follow. As soon as the Utah country was approached, bands of harassing Mormons burned and captured supply trains and drove of the cattle. All forage in front of the advancing force was destroyed. The men and animals grew hungry, and the cold became insufferable. Nov. 3
1857 When Colonel Albert Sidney Johnstonº took command and was reënforced by the Second Dragoons, he did all a leader could do, but he could not get supplies. His force was a ship at sea with no port for coaling and provisioning. Over the desolated region the progress had to be very slow, sometimes only •three miles a day. The hostile Mormons would sell nothing, nor was there a chance to find anything in this remote region in winter. Since the troops were in such sunrise Colonel Johnston ordered Captain Marcy to make his way overland with 40 enlisted men to Fort Massachusetts, New Mexico, the nearest place where supplies could be had. The march of this small detachment through deep snows, near hostile savages and in terrible storms was fraught with frightful hardships. Horses, mules, oxen and men died of cold and disease. Finally a remnant of tattered and emaciated soldiers who had largely subsisted on the carcasses of dead horses and mules, came to Fort Massachusetts with such odd appearance and such ailing bodies that they were with difficulty recognized by the troops at that place. Fifty‑one days had been occupied in the march. In the meantime, the troops in Utah had been reënforced by parts of the Sixth and Second Infantry and Mounted Rifles, and had reached Fort Bridger which they found burned by the Mormons. The plight of Colonel Johnston's command was scarcely less severe than that which had confronted Marcy. In tents during zero weather and far removed from Philadelphia, the command in Utah had to do for itself. But it was a disciplined lot that went to work building and hauling wood, water and its few supplies by hand in the frigid climate. There was no civilization which the soldier could reach or from which he could gain help. And p242civilization paid small attention to these hardships which were endured almost without complaint. June 10
1858 After Captain Marcy returned, the Mormon city was entered without bloodshed.
During this movement of Johnston's troops, two minor laws made changes in the mil establishment.
1858 The Texas border being still in an unsettled state, a new regiment of Texas mounted volunteers was allowed to be enlisted for 18 months. Because they were to furnish their own horses and horse equipments, all below the rank of major were allowed 40 cents a day extra pay. June 12
1858 Legislation also gave the Superintendent of the Military Academy the local rank and pay of a colonel of engineers and the commandant of cadets that of lieutenant colonel. April 5
1859 The course of instruction of the institution was changed, by order of the Secretary of War, back to years.
Not only with the Mormon expedition was the army occupied. Other regiments in isolated places were having their troubles. The Navajoes had 6 engagements with the Third Infantry. The Pacific Slope Indians were signally defeated in 3 battles near Spokane River by the Third Artillery.
1858 When an outlaw band of Cortinas attacked and blockaded Brownsville, Texas, the Third Artillery with other troops drove them off. The Sixth Infantry made a march overland from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to the Pacific coast.
The wide dispersion of the regiments during this decade is evidenced by the posts which the Fourth Infantry had garrisoned and in the main built. Forts Vancouver, Reading, Humboldt, Dalles, Steilacoom, Jones, Boise, Lane, Yamhill, Orford, Townshend,º Hoskins, Walla Walla, Crook, Terwaw, Cascade,º Simcoe, Gaston, Chehalis, Yuma and Mohave — extending from British Columbia to Mexico, are forgotten names of the past. But they were in these times active and necessary havens for the settler.
In occupying so wide a space activities sometimes had to go beyond national protection and become international. War was in sight with Great Britain for the fifth time in the army's history, when the Hudson Bay Company attempted to enforce its law on American citizens occupying Vancouver Island. Captain George E. Pickett was ordered with his company and one gun to occupy San Juan Island and resist the force brought
p243to bear upon that point. When it took months to get word of the trouble to Washington and months to get back instructions, General Harney had to act on his own initiative.
1859 Accordingly he had the small contingent under Captain Pickett take up a defensive position on San Juan. Several British ships with overpowering troops and armament tried to convince Pickett of his error, but the American officer with his one gun stood his ground and stated to the ships' commander plainly that he was prepared to resist all encroachments. For some time this audacious little force of regulars held the British at bay. Finally General Scott was enabled to settle the differences by engineering a joint occupation.
So closed the scene of action just before the maelstrom of the Civil War. A trained army had wrested a peace in a short time, and prevented the loss of men and money entailed by a long war. It had made possible the acquisition of a third of the present United States. It had gone further. It had made the territories capable of occupancy. It had piloted the traveler in safety, built roads, protected the mails, opened river routes, kept the savages in leash and surveyed the routes of our present railroads east and west. It had held the trail through hunger, thirst, disease, wounds, disaster, and the untold suffering that cannot be explained to one who has never experienced such things, in such places, with such scant conveniences. The march left its wolf-cleaned skeletons, the fight left its gaping arrow wounds, the suffering left its shortened lives and civilization pressed in on all sides to gloat over a rich and beautiful country.
1 22. "Firing. No. 4 stands in line with the knob of the cascable, covering No. 2. At the command Load, he steps to his right, takes the portfire stock out of its socket with his right hand, takes hold of the lighted end of the slow match from under the apron of the box, and, blowing it, lights the portfire; he then steps back to his place outside the wheel; holding the portfire stock firmly in the right hand, finger nails to the front, the portfire stock touching the wheel and the portfire inside of it.
"When the piece is not provided with a slow match box, the linstock is used. In this case, as soon as the piece is unlimbered, No. 4 steps in and takes the linstock from its socket, steps back again, and plants it in his rear, facing to his right and stepping off with his right foot for that purpose. He then draws back his foot and faces to the front. He lights the portfire by facing and stepping off in the same way.
"At the command Fire, he raises his hand slowly, clear of the wheel, turning the back of the hand to the front, brings the portfire rather in front of the vent and fires. As soon as the gun is fired he lowers the portfire slowly. When a lock is used he takes the lanyard in his right hand, moves to the rear so far as to keep the lanyard slack, but capable of being stretched without altering his position, which is to be clear of the wheel. Should the tube or cap fail to explode the charge, the gunner immediately commands, 'Don't advance, the tube or cap's failed'; upon which No. 2 steps inside the wheel close to the axletree; No. 3 advances outside the opposite wheel and gives his priming wire to No. 2, who pricks the cartridge; he then gives him a tube or cap which he fires, and both resume their posts. No. 4 is answerable that the slow match is kept burning.
"At the command Cease Firing, No. 4 shifts the portfire stock into his left hand, cuts off the lighted end of the portfire, and places the stock in its socket; if a linstock is used he puts that up also. When using a lock he coils the lanyard round the neck of the cascable, or unhooks it and carries it in his hand, as the mode of attaching it to the lock may require."
2 Afterwards Brownsville.
3 The battle was called Resaca de la Palma.
4 The volunteers had to furnish their own clothes, horses and horse equipment. For such "use and risk" the donor was to receive 40 cents a day, in addition to the pay of a regular soldier.
5 Taylor was personally nearing Victoria to join Quitman.
6 For his heroic work, Jefferson Davis was offered the office of a regular brigadier general instead of the ordinary brevet. He, however, declined the position in the regular army.
7 A general by virtue of having been a law partner of the President.
9 Naval Officer.
10 Nom de plume, John Phoenix, author of "Phoenixiana" and other sketches, the first American humorist.
11 If Maynard's primer was used, leading could be done in "eight times."
12 Known now as the Fourth Cavalry.
a Bvt. Brig.‑General John Baptiste DeBarth Walbach (1766‑1857), whom Cullum, in his Campaigns and Engineers of the War of 1812-'15 credits with saving the artillery at the Battle of Chrysler's Field. He turned 82 only in 1848; he did not serve in the Mexican campaign.
A reminder can only be in order here that old age per se does not unfit one for military service or leadership: the great Byzantine general Narses may come to mind, whose greatest battles were won when he was in his mid-seventies; his last victory came when he was about 86.
d1 d2 The text as printed has "Litgreaves" each time; our author seems to have picked up this mistake from Helen Saunders Wright's Our United States Army, published in 1917, just a few years before the first edition of Ganoe's work. She makes it three times (pp113, 114, 129) but that shouldn't have excused Ganoe from checking it in 1924, and certainly in the revised edition of 1942 reproduced here.
Moral: writers, don't trust secondary sources — or at least, check them constantly. Failure to do so is one of the commonest causes of the propagation of errors.
e The wreck of the San Francisco is still today one of the worst maritime disasters in American history. A thorough contemporary account of it, with reports by survivors, is given in The New York Times, Jan. 16, 1854.
f Claude-Etienne Minié: of the French Army, not the United States Army.
Images with borders lead to more information.
The thicker the border, the more information. (Details here.)
History of the United States Army
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY
if its URL has a total of one *asterisk.
If the URL has two **asterisks,
the item is copyright someone else, and used by permission or fair use.
If the URL has none the item is © Bill Thayer.
See my copyright page for details and contact information.
Page updated: 20 May 16