Short URL for this page:

[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail: Bill Thayer 
[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]

This webpage reproduces part of the
Philip N. Barbour

G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1936

This text has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

of Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Philip Norbourne Barbour

 p25  April 1st — Two Mexican Officers came over today with the two Dragoon prisoners and delivered them up with all their equipment to General Taylor.​a They were conducted to the General's tent by the Officer who received them and had every opportunity of seeing our position and judging of our numbers. It is reported today that the Mexican force has been reënforced, making 3300 regular troops. Took a ride this morning opposite to their work at the other end of the city. The river there is not so wide as at this point and I could see very distinctly across. The work is a square redoubt of  p26 earth with two 6 pounders and a 26 pound howitzer mounted in it. They are throwing up today another defense about ¼ mile below the ferry. We are doing nothing, and they have spies in our Camp every day who take them all the information they want. Comment is unnecessary. An enterprising General might have cut us to pieces any night since our arrival here. However, I do not mean to censure General Taylor for he must have information that we know nothing about.

April 2d — I have been on fatigue duty all day making fascines for the battery to be created tomorrow. The President's order settling, agreeably to General Jackson's decision of 1829, the Brevet and Staff question was received today and has created quite a sensation in camp. General Worth,​b from all accounts, is very indignant about it, and the report is current, and I believe true, that he has resigned his commission in the Army. Nous verrons. Another sand work has been commenced by the Mexicans and considerably forwarded. Its position is a little below that thrown up yesterday and commands the stretch of the river in front of our Camp. They have been flourishing trumpets and beating drums all day and appear to have had a gay time of it, judging from the busy scene presented to us. I listened with much delight to the exquisite music of one of their fine bands. It surpassed anything I have ever heard from a military band. How much I wish my Mattie could have  p27 enjoyed it with me. I doubt not she would have preferred it even to the Lanterbagerº or Paradise Waltz performed by the band of the 3d. It is reported today that the Mexican numbers have been increased to 5000 men. Never was there so queer a state of things. I hear a bell tolling in Matamoras now. What can it be for at this hour (9 o'clock P.M.)? Their church bells have been tolled half a dozen different times before today. Perhaps it is a Thanksgiving day with them. They are evidently in a mighty stir about something. Received a letter today from Brant on business, will answer it by next express.

April 3d — It is true that General Worth has resigned — also that Colonel Cross​c has requested to be relieved from duty with this Army, both growing out of the President's order on the Staff and Brevet question. Saw two Mexican regiments of infantry this afternoon. They marched well; each with its colors and band. There was an interesting ceremony over the river this afternoon, which was witnessed by some of our Officers standing on the bank. It consisted of the field work they have just thrown up. A Priest, draped in his robes, walked up on the parapet, and after a due share of mummery, scattered the holy water all over the work while the men engaged on it knelt down. I understand this is custom with them. In the present case a very well for them to invoke protection of their feeble defenses from a higher Power, for if they  p28 provoke a fire from our 18 pound battery it will not be in the power of their guns to prevent the destruction of everything they have done. Our first battery was commenced today. Finished a letter to my dear Mattie tonight and shall send it to Point Isabel tomorrow by Mr. Irvine.

April 4th — We have lost about 30 men from the whole Army by desertion to the enemy. One of them I understand came back last night and reports that he was offered his choice to serve in the army against us or be sent off to the mines. He relished neither, so came back. Several slaves belonging to Officers have left their masters and gone over to Matamoras. Capt. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Gatlin and Lieuts. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Bragg and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Gantt have each lost a boy. If we are located on this border we shall have to employ white servants. Evening. This afternoon I was sure an engagement had taken place between our pickets and those of the enemy. I was walking with Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Bibb on the bank of the river and all at once I heard in rapid succession two reports of muskets from one of our pickets below the ferry. We looked in that direction and saw the men composing it moving rapidly down the river and firing as fast as they could load. In a moment the picket next below it commenced firing and immediately after the Dragoon picket ¼ of a mile farther down also fired. Some one called out, "They are firing from the other side," and we hastened back to Camp to join our companies. We had not gone  p29 far before we heard the assembly sounded by the trumpets of the 1st Brigade and almost simultaneously with it three cheers from the 8th Infantry, the nearest regiment to the fighting. We hastened on and found all the troops under arms and the Light Artillery battery of the 1st Brigade manned. In a short time the cause of the firing was reported. It was at a man attempting to desert to the enemy, and the recreant met with his just fate, — he was killed by a Corporal of the first picket and sank beneath the waters of the Rio Grande when within a few feet of the opposite shore. It is thought that several of the shots fired took effect on him. The Mexican troops were drawn up under arms and their batteryies all manned. There appeared to be a great sensation among them. Their picket stationed at the ferry abandoned their post on hearing the firing and ran like a "scared dog" to the main body. Our bands are all out on the river bank this evening.

April 5th — About 1 o'clock this morning we were awakened by firing on the river in front of our Camp. It proceeded from the picket guard stationed there firing at a man of the 7th Infantry attempting to desert. The poor devil was killed and sank. The morning our regiment was detached to escort the train returning from Point Isabel through the chaparral. We marched about four miles out, met the train and accompanied it  p30 in. On our return found the camp considerably excited by the report of a soldier of the 8th sent over to Matamoras yesterday by General Worth as a spy. He played his part well — pretended to be a deserter and was permitted to go at large in the city which enabled him to gather a good deal of valuable information. He reports their strength at about 3500 — 1000 of which is cavalry. They have two mortars and about 25 field pieces, none of them larger than 9 pounders. Ampudia is expected tomorrow with 3500 men which will make their force 7000 strong. If all this be true, and the Mexican General is not forbidden by his instructions to attack us, we may expect an engagement in a few days. Tonight there has been more firing on the river, supposed to be at another deserter. General Worth's spy reports that Mejia offered him a commission of Captain if he would raise a company of deserters from our Army to join theirs. He also reports that four out of the number who have deserted from our Camp were drowned in attempting to cross the river. Our heavy guns, 18 pounders, came up today and will soon be in position. We had mail today but it was an old one and brought no news. It is a remarkable fact that no light can be seen in Matamoras from our side at night, neither do their pickets have fires as ours do. The city has been as still as death all day. The calm may betoken a storm. Let it come, the sooner the better.

 p31  April 6th — On guard today. Wrote a short letter to Mattie. Rained in the forenoon.

April 7th — Hard rain this afternoon. Yes, I should think so. It made me stop short in my journal and poured down in such torrents that everything in the tent is saturated. It was accompanied by a very violent wind which prostrated a great many tents, mine among the number.

April 8th — Wrote to Mattie today. Another man (a Dragoon) was shot by the picket guard while attempting to desert to the enemy. It is reported that a Dragoon deserter was executed in Matamoras yesterday as a spy. Capt. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Thompson, 5th Infantry, resigned today.

April 9th — Our Brigade worked today upon the entrenchment. Mexican flag has been at half mast all day which has given rise to various conjectures. Some think one of their great men has died and others that it is a religious observance, this being the end of Lent, which I think probable.​d Tonight the General has received some important papers from Matamoras. We are all agog to know what they are. General Worth left this morning accompanied by his staff and half a dozen other officers and an escort from Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Duncan's Company. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Larkin Smith goes with him to the United States, the other officers only as far as Point Isabel. His resigning at this time is considered by nearly the whole army as a false step which he can never  p32 recover and, should we have an engagement, will dim forever the luster he has thrown around his name.

April 10th — The papers received by the General last night were the Proclamations of Ampudia issued at Saltillo and Monterey on the 27th of March and 2d of April respectively, both published in a Mexican newspaper in Matamoras called the "Eagle of the North." The proclamations are very similar in style and tone to that of Mejia delivered to General Taylor at the Colorado. Ampudia declares that he is advancing with two Brigades to chastise us, etc. Colonel Cross rode out this morning and has not yet returned (tattoo). Serious apprehensions are entertained for his safety, and General Taylor has had minute guns fired to guide him to camp, if he should only be lost, besides sending an officer of Dragoons with a strong detachment to look for him.

April 11th — There was an unusual beating of drums and blowing of trumpets in Matamoras about 10 o'clock last night. Probably in honor of the arrival of Ampudia who was expected yesterday. This morning they fired a salute of 21 guns. Col. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Hitchcock left this morning on 60 days leave for the recovery of his health which is so shattered that if he had remained longer in this climate he must have died. I sent by him a hurried letter to my Mattie with the proclamations of Ampudia  p33 and an article copied from the "Eagle of the North" of the 8th inst., published in Matamoras. Lieuts. Brooke​e of the 5th and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.McClelland of the 3d Infantry have resigned, also Lieut. Root​f of the 5th (which should have been noticed in my journal on the 9th). A large detachment of Dragoons under Capt. May​g was sent out this morning to look for Col. Cross. It is feared that he has been killed or taken prisoner. Capt. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Morris has offered me the detail for Recruiting Lieutenant if my promotion fails. Evening. Capt. May returned late this afternoon reporting that he had traced Col. Cross to an upper crossing of the river and that he has no doubt of his now being a prisoner in Matamoras. I strolled down the bank of the river this evening before sunset and saw General Ampudia, as we all suppose, attended by a numerous staff and a bodyguard of lancers, all mounted. The guards he passed all turned out and saluted him and the citizens did him reverence as he passed by, uncovering their heads and some of them bowing almost to the earth. He appeared to be taking a rapid survey of the Mexican entrenchments and our position, with the relation of both to the river. It is to be hoped that he will not prove recreant to his own avowed determination of driving us from this soil, at least the attempt to do it (for its accomplishment, he will find a much more difficult task than issuing high sounding proclamations). He is a fine looking man, at a distance, of a soldierly bearing, and appears not to have passed the  p34 fullest vigor of manhood. On his left breast he wore a decoration, said to have been given to him in honor of his services against the Texans who were captured at Mier: probably for the decimation of that unfortunate band and the execution, in cold blood, of a tenth of their number. It is reported that General Worth, deceived by the firing this morning in Matamoras, has informed the General of his intention to return forthwith and remain until the fighting shall have ceased, but he will learn from Col. Hitchcock the harmlessness of those guns and probably go on.

April 12th — Worked hard all day on the entrenchment. No tidings yet of Col. Cross. We all fear he is murdered. At 3 o'clock this afternoon two Mexican Officers dressed in full uniform came to the opposite side of the ferry and sounded a parley, which being reported to the General, he sent Capt. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Bliss down to receive them. They passed through our work and we had a close view of them which did not at all increase my admiration of them as soldiers though I observed nothing in their personal bearing to excite criticism of any sort. They came on a mission from Ampudia which, we are happy to learn, is no less a matter than a formal warning to General Taylor to withdraw his forces to the east bank of the Nueces within 26º hours or the Mexican Government will consider our movement and continuance here as declaration of war.​h The General replied that he would answer the dispatch  p35 at 10 o'clock tomorrow, and the Mexican officers returned to their own side. Ampudia is said to be a good general, a brave man and a bloodthirsty fiend. He even had the sick of his army shot on his march to this frontier to get rid of transporting them, at least, such is the report. Other information received today from Matamoras by the General confirms the belief that we shall have a conflict, so that even General Taylor himself, who, until now, has been skeptical upon that point, gives it up. He has made so judicious a disposition of his force as to make it necessary for Ampudia to cross the river to fight him, and if our guns be not dismounted by his (Ampudia's) batteries, we shall not only maintain ourselves on this bank of the Bravo but beat back his army with ease if he crosses the river. I hope, if a battle is to be fought, it may be tomorrow, as I cannot distress my Mattie by giving her only the anticipation of one with all the horrors her imagination will conjure up from its results. No! I cannot write to her again until I know something definite about it. May God bless her and preserve me to relate in person all the events of this eventful period. This is a very cold night, really winter weather, a surprising fact in lat. 25° in the month of April. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Hatch is on picket tonight and I shall appropriate his blankets.

April 13th — The weather continues very cold, so much so that we are compelled to have fire coals  p36 in our tents to be comfortable. No tidings yet of Col. Cross. This has been a day of unusual excitement in camp. Our Brigade moved its Camp at 8 o'clock this morning into the entrenchment, the other Brigades having been disposed previously to cover the approaches to this work. At 10 o'clock A.M. the General, according to promise, replied to Ampudia's summons for him to retire to the east bank of the Nueces. It was a firm and dignified refusal to retreat one inch from this position. About 2 o'clock this afternoon a Dragoon patrol came in and reported the enemy crossing the river some miles below this. The 4th Infantry, Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Ringgold, Artillery and one company of Dragoons, the whole under command of Col. Garland​i, were ordered to proceed on the Point Isabel road until they should meet the train and escort it in, while Capt. Thornton​j was ordered to proceed with 60 Dragoons to the point where the enemy is crossing, to reconnoiter his position and ascertain as nearly as possible his numbers and description of force and then to join the command of Col. Garland, being told in person by the General to cut his way through any force that he might meet. "The brunt" must be up in a few days. The Mexicans have been strengthening their batteries today with all activity and we have been similarly occupied. Colonel Whistler​k was placed in arrest this morning for neglect of duty and being "tight." Col. Garland now commands our Brigade. I received a long letter this evening from Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Cary Fry, but none from  p37 my Mattie, although a mail is reported to have arrived from Galveston. There is a mistake somewhere, I know it is not her fault.

April 14th — This is my birthday. Received two letters from my darling wife this afternoon which have rendered me the happiest man in camp. The detachments under Col. Garland and Thornton returned this morning. No signs of the enemy on this side. I have been on fatigue today superintending the revetment of a face of the bastion nearest our Camp. No additional prospect of a fight. Received a note from Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.McLeod who is at Point Isabel.

April 15th — Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Coburn resigned this morning, departs tomorrow with the train. This makes my promotion sure. Chipita (the General's Mexican guide) reports, as authentic, that Arista supersedes Ampudia in command of the Mexican force and that the war is put off till June. This ends the chapter. There will not be a hostile gun fired, but we shall have to drag through a hot and tedious summer here without our families, infinitely worse than all the horrors of war. It is nonsense for our government to temporize any longer with Mexico. If I were General Taylor they should come to terms at once and not have an election as to the time of commencing the war if it be their intention to fight, and if not, they should say so and let the matter be settled. Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Deas, 4th Artillery, left  p38 his tent about midnight with the avowed intention of looking for Col. Cross and has not been seen or heard of since. The General made an official inquiry today of General Ampudia respecting Col. Cross. Wrote to Mattie and Uncle Levi tonight.

April 16th — About 12 o'clock today the General received an answer from Ampudia to his inquiry about Col. Cross. He declares that he has no knowledge of him whatever, but that should it be ascertained that he is a prisoner in any part of Mexico, he will be treated with the distinction due to his rank. Ampudia signed his letter as second in command, thus confirming the report that he has been superseded by Arista. Four Mexican Officers came over with the dispatch and, as usual, were conducted to the General's tent. They were all in full dress. Some of their uniforms were very rich. It is said that the Mexican Officers are allowed by their government great latitude in the decorations on their uniforms and that they pile it on to the full extent of their purses. One of the four who came over today, Col. Faulac, spoke English fluently. He told Lieut. George Deas​l (Adjutant of the 5th) that his brother was a prisoner of war in Matamoras and brought a letter from him. It says in the letter that he went over in the hopes of discovering some clew to the fate of Col. Cross, that he swam the river and was challenged immediately on reaching the other shore by a Mexican picket who took him prisoner and delivered  p39 him over to the officer commanding the guard. Yesterday morning this officer reported his capture and he was confined under guard but was now on parole. He is well treated, etc. He appears to take it casually, and wrote to his brother to send him over clothes and money, which he did. Col. Faulac told George Deas to give himself no uneasiness as he would see that his brother received every attention, etc. The General is very much displeased at his voluntarily placing himself in the hands of the enemy and does not feel called on to demand his release, indeed, he has no right to demand him under the circumstances. I should not be at all surprised if Mr. Polkº should strike his (Deas's) name from the rolls of the army.

April 17th — Saw some Mexican Officers pretty tight this afternoon. Understand it is payday with them. Their men each received a dollar for a month's pay, as we are informed by a Mexican. Dobbins​m and Porter​n left tonight with a party of 20 men on secret service. Supposed to be to capture or kill Falcon's band of bandits.

April 18th — Another terrific storm last night. We are all afloat. Col. Garland has decided to move the camp out of the water. A Mexican from Matamoras today reports a flare‑up over there. They had a council of war yesterday to decide whether they should fight. Nobody but Ampudia was in favor of it and it went in the negative. Ampudia  p40 left in disgust with an escort of 8 men and report of Arista being ordered to command here confirmed. His command is only temporary. Another General from Mexico is coming on to supersede him. No war till June by their own confessions and by our predictions none then or afterwards.

April 19th — Wrote last night to Mattie and sent my letter this morning by Gen. McLeod​o who has been in Camp several days. The rain last night gave us another wetting. We moved our camp this afternoon to dryer ground outside of the work. Received a paper tonight from Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.John Sanders containing a letter from Washington of the 1st inst. speaking of the effect Col. Hitchcock's letter to Black had produced there and almost threatening the Colonel with dismissal for so "virulent a sarcasm" upon a "Member of Congress." But a thousand such letters or letter writers could not effect that object. Everybody is delighted that the Colonel's letter has produced its effect and that the demagogue for whom it was intended is writhing under the lashing. By tonight's mail we have intelligence of the return of Mr. Slidell​p to the United States. A few weeks now must determine the question of peace or war with Mexico. I received another letter today from my Mattie, long, interesting and full of devoted affection. I am more than blessed in such a wife. Her letters have a singular effect upon me. I always rise from the perusal of  p41 one of them feeling as if I was purified by it. I do wonder when I shall be permitted to see her again.

April 20th — I am on guard today and have the delightful prospect before me of sitting up all night, perhaps in the rain.

April 21st — Had a fine night on guard. A picket of the first Brigade fired on some Mexicans trying to recapture one of their boats which floated to our side, and they put back. A report has reached Camp through a Sergeant and four men of Porter's party that they had an engagement on the 19th with 40 Mexicans. That their muskets wouldn't fire being all wet, that one man (Flood of the 4th) was killed and they didn't know anything of the balance. I suspect this party has shamefully abandoned Porter and that he will be lost. Col. Cross' body is reported to have been found. Yes, I am this instant informed it is his. Nothing left but the skeleton, the flesh having been torn off by wolves and vultures.

April 22d — A second detachment of Porter's party, a Corporal and three men, came in the evening and reports that Porter is probably killed. There are two men yet missing. Capt. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Larnard left this morning with Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Alvord, Ritchie​q and 50 men on a scout. The 4th Infantry furnished all the men. This afternoon a Sergeant and two privates of the command came back sick and reported they had  p42 heard firing (musketry) 10 miles from camp supposed to be Dobbins. Capt. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Graham on detachment yesterday met him and he sent the General word that he should not return until he could give an account of the enemy. Commenced a letter to Mattie tonight and felt so poetic that I sat down and wrote six stanzas such as they are. They had the effect, however, to relieve my feelings very much. It is near 12 o'clock, later than I am in the habit of sitting up by three hours.

April 23d — Today General Taylor answered Ampudia's demand sent over yesterday for the raising of the blockade of the mouth of the Rio Grande. He firmly refused it. Wonder what he'll ask next. Nothing soon, I reckon, as the General told him that unless the tone and language of his dispatch were more respectful he should not open any more of them. A Mexican was captured today, supposed to be one of Ramounº Falcon's men who murdered Col. Cross. He is kept as a prisoner. I hope if guilty will be hanged. One of the missing men of Porter's command returned the other day. Porter was killed. It is now known there were 100 Mexicans instead of 40 and that the men left without orders. Base beyond expression and deserves the highest punishment of the law. I have this moment read Mattie's letter of the 19th March by Mr. Gray. It is a charming one though of older date than three others I have received. She is quite indignant at the idea of my being over-slaughed  p43 and says she wouldn't submit tamely to any such injustice. She is right and I doubt not my promotion would be better secured by the employment of her pen than mine for women when writing from feeling use stronger and more forcible expressions than men. But I will rest awhile on what I have done.

April 24th — Buried Col. Cross' remains with military honors. Col. Twiggs​r commanded the escort consisting of eight companies of Infantry and a squadron of Dragoons. Larnard returned this morning — his search for Porter was unsuccessful. He met Dobbins who was roving about through the chaparral looking for Falcon and living on beef without salt. Larnard gave him a few crackers for himself and men. This afternoon Dobbins sent in his Sergeant and four men to report that he had found the haunt of Falcon and hoped to find his band in a few days. He asks for more provisions and five more men. General Taylor told Col. Garland to order him in forthwith, that we should probably have more work to do here soon. Last night an express arrived from Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Munroeº reporting the enemy crossing the river at Bonita below Matamoras, and tonight a Mexican has come into camp confirming that report and states also that they are crossing above in large numbers. Two squadrons of Dragoons have been sent out, one up, the other down the river, to reconnoiter. They will ascertain the facts and return tomorrow. We  p44 learned today that Deas was sent off last night to Victoria, 120 miles in the interior. Sent off a letter this morning to Mattie.

April 25th — The Dragoon detachment under Capt. Ker​s that went down the river yesterday returned this morning and reports no crossing of troops or any signs of them anywhere on the river as low down as Bonita, 25 miles from this. The other, under Thornton, is still out. There was a storm of some violence this morning of wind, rain and hail. Dobbins returned with his party. General Arista arrived yesterday afternoon in Matamoras and today sent over a communication under a flag of truce to General Taylor. I have not heard more of its purport than that it is of a warlike tone, though couched in terms of perfect courtesy, differing in this respect from Ampudia's correspondence through all of which ran a vein of bullyism and blackguardism. Arista directed his aide-de‑camp who brought the dispatch to express to General Taylor his regret at the want of courtesy which had marked the bearing of the Mexican authorities toward him since his arrival. Notwithstanding the belligerent tone of Arista's communication I cannot bring myself to believe we shall have a battle. It is necessary for the Mexican General to maintain hostile relations with us until the question is settled by the two governments or war is openly declared by one or the other. We cannot expect it to be otherwise. Mr. Hatch is drawing up a map of our  p45 position, etc., for Mattie. How happy I shall be to send it to her and how delighted she to receive it.

April 26th — This morning at reveille I saw Col. Twiggs at Col. Garland's tent, and supposing that so early a visit must be in connection with matters of importance, I went over and he informed me that Chipita, the guide who accompanied Thornton, had returned and reported an engagement between his detachment and the Mexican Army at 8 o'clock yesterday morning. The report was rapidly circulated through Camp and caused intense excitement among officers and men who all supposed from the fact that not an individual of the detachment had returned, that they must all have fallen or been taken prisoners. In this state of painful anxiety we were kept until about 12 o'clock when a wounded Dragoon was brought in by a Mexican in a cart with a note from General Torrejon, commanding the Mexican forces, to General Taylor, stating that he sent in this man for the reason that he had no flying hospital with his army and could not therefore give that attention to his wounds which they required. He also stated that the rest of the party were prisoners and should be treated with all the consideration enjoined by the usages of the most civilized nations. This Dragoon states that Capt. Thornton discovered a small party of Mexicans on the brow of a hill in the road and instantly ordered a charge which was made at full speed and carried them in a few minutes into the  p46 midst of the Mexican camp over the hill. That Thornton immediately gave orders to wheel and retire when he found himself surrounded by the whole Mexican force 2000 in number, a large portion of which was stationed in the chaparral and allowed him to pass over the hill before coming out. It was doubtless an ambuscade. The Mexicans fired and killed Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Kane and nine men and wounded two. Thornton dashed through them, himself killing one Mexican, was seen to clear a fence, or hedge, and has not been heard of since. I very much fear that he has either taken his own life or been overtaken and put to death by the Mexicans. He has often told me that he would blow his own brains out before he would surrender to the Mexicans. Capt. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Hardee and Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Mason are prisoners. This unfortunate affair begins the war — where it will end remains to be seen. General Taylor has made a re­quisition for 5000 volunteers — but it will disgrace the Army if he does not beat back enemy across the Rio Grande before their arrival. I know nothing of his plans but if he regards at all his own reputation and the wishes of the Army he will march at the earliest possible moment to destroy or drive back across the Bravo the enemy whose audacity has led him so far. We do not know the object of the Mexicans, but suppose their demonstrations to be against our depot at Point Isabel. A few days more, probably tomorrow, will develop their intentions. I wrote to Mattie this afternoon and gave her a true account of  p47 Thornton's affair. God bless and preserve her. Several letters went off by the express to Mrs. Hardee.

April 27th — Capt. Hardee and Lieut. Kane are prisoners and not Mason as the wounded man reported yesterday. Hardee made an official report to General Taylor which was brought over this morning from Matamoras by Col. Moreno (Ampudia's Adjutant General). He told Smith that Thornton and Mason died fighting gallantly. As soon as I can get Hardee's report I will embody it in this journal — it gives a different version of the affair from that recorded in my journal of yesterday. We are all anxious to avenge the death of our gallant companions who have fallen and if rumors can be credited shall have a chance in a few days — as soon as our entrenchments can be made defensible by 500 men. The General is then going with the remainder of the Army to Point Isabel for supplies and expects to meet the enemy on his march there or back. If not, he will march from here on his return to look for him and drive him back across the Rio Bravo. This must be done before the arrival of volunteers, or the Army is disgraced.

April 28th — Thornton is safe, and a prisoner of war in Matamoras. Thank God for the preservation of so noble and gallant a fellow. His official report is received, and differs in one point very materially from that of Capt. Hardee. He states that he did  p48 throw out an advanced guard and strengthened it before crossing the field in which they had the engagement and placed an Officer, Lieut. Mason, in command of it. Hardee says there was no advance or rear guard or any precautions against surprise. However, I shall, if possible, spread both of their reports on the pages of this journal and they may speak for themselves. I wrote to Thornton this morning and Capt. May sent over his trunk and servant and money to him. We heard that all the prisoners were to be sent to Mexico. Capt. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.McCall has gone tonight on secret service with two officers, Lieuts. Dobbins, 3d Infantry, and McGowan​t of the Artillery, and seventy-five men. Nobody knows their destination but we presume it is to reconnoiter the enemy's position if it can be found. I hope they may not be as unlucky as Thornton's detachment. A party of five Texans (Germans principally) came in this afternoon, as they say, from Corpus Christi and report several skirmishes they had with the Mexicans this side of the Colorado, the last of which was with a party not more than three miles from our Camp. They routed one camp and captured a new carbine and a sword with a Dragoon officer's belt. It is the Dragoon pattern but is not recognized as belonging to any of Thornton's officers. It is rumored tonight that the Mexican army has marched upon our depot. The General will leave here for Point Isabel, as is understood, on Saturday or Sunday next, the 2d or 3d of May, with all the Army except about 500 men  p49 to be left to hold our work at this place. He expects to have a battle. It is to be hoped he may, it is the only thing that will save the Army from the attacks and denunciations of demagogues, in and out of Congress. There was a continued fire of musketry in Matamoras this afternoon for more than an hour, which ceased only with nightfall, when it became too dark to fire with effect. We can't account for it. It may be a revolt.

April 29th — A report was brought to Camp this afternoon from Matamoras, by Chipita's nephew, stating that two regiments of infantry, and one of cavalry of the Mexican army had attacked Point Isabel yesterday and were cut to pieces by Major Munroe's artillery. It produced great excitement in camp. We are all of course glad to hear of a victory on our side but many of us would have preferred to gain it with this part of our force. The General told me this morning that he should march on Sunday the 3d of May to fight the enemy wherever he found him. The 7th Infantry and sick, lame and lazy with Land's​u and Bragg's artillery are to be left for the defense of our field work. Glorious times these. Capt. McCall has just come in and confirms the report of the engagement at Point Isabel. He heard the cannonading himself and met seven miles from here Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Wells of Capt. Walker's​v Company of Rangers who told him that he had a little while before met an Officer from the Point with Major Munroe's official report  p50 — that this Officer told him they had a battle this morning — that Canallesº commanded the Mexicans and had his army cut to pieces and lost all his artillery which is now in Major Munroe's possession. This Officer has not arrived here and it is feared he has been cut off. McCall saw no signs of the enemy in force, but discovered small parties of them in the chaparral. He brought in three prisoners.

April 30th — The report of the attack upon Frontone is all a lie — and a most deliberate one that ought to be punished — Capt. Walker came up this morning bringing a communication from Major Munroe. He says nothing about the Mexican army. The Mexicans have broken up Walker's Camp and killed five of his men who were left dead upon the ground. Four others are missing, supposed to be prisoners. Quintaroº was wounded in the arm. The General says we shall have a hard fight and a long one and he wants this to be impressed upon the men. Wrote to Mattie today and told her of our prospect of a battle.

Thayer's Notes:

a Zachary Taylor: born in Virginia, appointed from Kentucky. First Lieutenant in the 7th Infantry 3 May 1808; Captain 30 Nov 1810, Major in the 26th Infantry 15 May 1814; retained 17 May 1815 as Captain in the 7th Infantry which he declined and was honorably discharged 15 Jun 1815; reinstated as Major in the 3d Infantry 17 May 1816; Lieutenant-Colonel in the 4th Infantry 20 Apr 1819; transferred to the 8th Infantry 13 Aug 1819; transferred to the 1st Infantry 1 Jun 1821; transferred to the 7th Infantry 16 Aug 1821; transferred to the 1st Infantry 1 Jan 1822; Colonel 4 Apr 1832; transferred to the 6th Infantry 7 July 1843; Major General 29 Jun 1846; Brevet Major 5 Sep 1812 for gallant conduct in the defense of Ft. Harrison, Ind.; Brigadier General 25 Dec 1837 for distinguished service in the battle of Kissimmee [Okeechobee], Fla. with Seminole Indians and Major General 28 May 1846 for his gallant conduct and distinguished service in the successive victories over superior Mexican forces at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, Tex. on May 8 and 9, 1846; tendered the thanks of Congress 16 Jul 1846 "for the fortitude, skill, enterprise and courage which have distinguished the recent operations on the Rio Grande, with the presentation of a gold medal with appropriate devices and inscriptions thereon, in the name of the Republic, as a tribute to his good conduct, valor, and generosity to the vanquished;" by resolution of 2 Mar 1847 "for the fortitude, skill, enterprise, and courage which distinguished the late brilliant military operations at Monterey," and with the presentation of a gold medal "emblematical of this splendid achievement, as a testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress of his judicious and distinguished conduct on that memorable occasion," and by resolution of 9 May 1848 "for himself and the troops under his command for their valor, skill, and gallant conduct, conspicuously displayed on the 22d and 23d of February last in the battle of Buena Vista, in defeating a Mexican army of more than four times their number, consisting of chosen troops under their favorite commander, Gen. Santa Anna, with the presentation of a gold medal emblematical of this splendid achievement, as a testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress of his judicious and distinguished conduct on that memorable occasion;" resigned 31 Jan 1840; President of the United States 4 Mar 1849 until he died 9 Jul 1850. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

[decorative delimiter]

b William Jenkins Worth: born in New York, appointed from New York. First Lieutenant in the 23d Infantry 19 Mar 1813; Captain 19 Aug 1814; transferred to the 2d Infantry 17 May 1815; transferred to the 1st Artillery 1 Jun 1821; Major in the Ordnance 30 May 1832; Colonel in the 8th Infantry 7 Jul 1838; Brevet Captain 5 Jul 1814 for his gallant and distinguished conduct at the battle of Chippewa, U. C.; Major 25 Jul 1814, that being the day of the battle of Niagara in which he was distinguished by his gallantry and good conduct; Lieutenant-Colonel 25 Jul 1824 for 10 years faithful service in the grade of Brevet Major; Brigadier General 1 Mar 1842 for gallant and highly distinguished service as commander of the forces in the war against the Florida Indians and Major General 23 Sep 1846 for gallant and meritorious conduct in the several conflicts at Monterey, Mex.; presented with a sword by resolution of Congress 2 Mar 1847 in testimony of the high sense entertained of his gallantry and good conduct in the storming of Monterey, Mex. Died 7 May 1849. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

[decorative delimiter]

c Trueman Cross: born in Maryland, appointed from Maryland. Ensign in the 42d Infantry 27 Apr 1814; Second Lieutenant 1 Oct 1814; transferred to 1st Infantry 17 May 1815; First Lieutenant 2 Jan 1818; Regimental Quartermaster 1 Apr1816 to 20 Jun 1818; Captain 27 Sep 1819; Captain and Assistant Deputy Quartermaster General 16 Jun 1818; Major and Assistant Inspector General 19 Oct 1820; retained as Captain in the 1st Infantry 1 Jun 1821; transferred to the 7th Infantry 24 Sep 1821 and relinquished rank in line 4 May 1835; Major and Quartermaster 22 May 1826 Colonel and Assistant Quartermaster General 7 Jul 1838; killed 21 Apr 1846 by Mexican bandits near Ft. Brown, Tex. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

[decorative delimiter]

d April 9th was Holy Thursday and therefore not the end of Lent. Might part of the diary somehow be off by a day and the flags at half staff for Good Friday? That would also account for the trumpets late at night on the "10th" — which would have been midnight of Easter Sunday. (I'm not convinced by any of this, but it's the best explanation that comes to mind.)

[decorative delimiter]

e Robert L. Brooke: born in Pennsylvania, appointed from Pennsylvania. Second Lieutenant in the 5th Infantry 1 Jul 139; resigned 18 May 1846. Died 7 Mar 1897. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

[decorative delimiter]

f William Root: born in New York, appointed from New York. Second Lieutenant in the 5th Infantry 8 Mar 1837; First Lieutenant 3 Apr 1839; resigned 18 May 1846. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

[decorative delimiter]

g Charles Augustus May: born in the District of Columbia, appointed from the District of Columbia. Second Lieutenant in the 2d Dragoons 8 Jun 1836; First Lieutenant 15 Dec 1837; Captain 2 Feb 1841; Major in the 1st Dragoons 3 Mar 1855; transferred to 2d Dragoons 23 Oct 1855; Brevet Major 8 May 1846 for gallant and distinguished service in the battle of Palo Alto, Tex.; Lieutenant-Colonel 9 May 1846 for gallant and highly distinguished conduct at the battle of Resaca de la Palma, Tex. and Colonel 23 Feb 1847 for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battle of Buena Vista, Mex.; resigned 20 Apr 1861. Died 24 Dec 1864. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

[decorative delimiter]

h Here is the text of that dispatch, in a contemporaneous translation, as published in Messages of the President of the United States, with the correspondence, therewith communicated, between the Secretary of War and other officers of the government, on the subject of the Mexican War (Wendall and van Benthuysen, Washington, 1848):


Fourth Military Division,

To explain to you the many grounds for the just grievances felt by the Mexican nation, caused by the United States government, would be a loss of time, and an insult to your good sense; I therefore pass at once to such explanations as I consider of absolute necessity.

Your government, in an incredible manner — you will even permit me to say an extravagant one, if the usage or general rules established and received among all civilized nations are regarded — has not only insulted, but has exasperated the Mexican nation, bearing its conquering banner to the left bank of the Rio Bravo del Norte, and in this case, by explicit and definitive orders of my government, which neither can, will, nor should receive new outrages, I require you in all form, and at latest in the peremptory term of twenty-four hours, to break up your camp and retire to the other bank of the Nueces river, while our governments are regulating the pending question in relation to Texas. If you insist in remaining upon the soil of the department of Tamaulipas, it will clearly result that arms, and arms alone, must decide the question; and in that case I advise you that we accept the war to which, with so much injustice on your part, you provoke us, and that, on our part, this war shall be conducted conformably to the principles established by the most civilized nations; that is to say, that the law of nations and of war shall be the guide of my operations; trusting that on your part the same will be observed.

With this view, I tender you the considerations due to your person and respectable office.

God and Liberty!

Head-quarters at Matamoras,

2 o'clock, P.M. April 12, 1846.

Pedro de Ampudia.

Senor General-in‑Chief of the United States Army,
Don Z. Taylor.

[decorative delimiter]

i John Garland: born in Virginia, appointed from Virginia. First Lieutenant 35th Infantry 31 Mar 1813; transferred to 3d Infantry 17 May 1815; Captain 7 May 1817; Captain and Assistant Quartermaster 31 May 1826 to 10 Jul 1832; Major in the 1st Infantry 30 Oct 1836; Lieutenant-Colonel in the 4th Infantry 27 Nov 1839; Colonel in the 8th Infantry 7 May 1849; Brevet Major 7 May 1827 for 10 years faithful service in one grade; Colonel 9 May 1846 for gallant conduct in the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, Tex., and Brigadier-General 20 Aug 1847 for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, Mex. Died 5 Jun 1861. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

[decorative delimiter]

j Seth Barton Thornton: born in Virginia, appointed from Alabama. Second Lieutenant in the 2d Dragoons 8 Jun 1836; First Lieutenant 16 Nov 1837; Captain 1 Feb 1841; killed 18 Aug 1847 on a reconnaissance near San Antonio Valley of Mexico. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

[decorative delimiter]

k William Whistler: born in Maryland, appointed from the Northwest Territory. Second Lieutenant in the 1st Infantry 8 Jun 1801; First Lieutenant 4 Mar 1807; Captain 31 Dec 1812; transferred to the 3d Infantry 17 May 1815; Major in the 2d Infantry 28 Apr 1826; Lieutenant-Colonel in the 7th Infantry 21 Jul 1834; Colonel in the 4th Infantry 15 Jul 1845; retired 9 Oct 1861; Brevet Major 31 Dec 1822 for 10 years faithful service in one grade; died 4 Dec 1863. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

[decorative delimiter]

l George Deas: born in Pennsylvania, appointed from Pennsylvania. Second Lieutenant in the 5th Infantry 1 Aug 1838; First Lieutenant 17 Nov 1845; Regimental Adjutant 13 Apr 1841 to 1 Feb 1847; Captain 9 Dec 1847 and vacated line commission same date; Brevet Captain and Assistant Adjutant General 29 Dec 1848; Brevet Major and Assistant Adjutant General 13 Dec 1855; Brevet Major 20 Aug 1847 for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, Mex.; resigned 25 Feb 1861. Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant General C. S. A. war 1861 to 1865. Died 21 May 1870. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

Called George Deas in full to distinguish him from his brother, mentioned in the previous paragraph.

[decorative delimiter]

m Stephen Decatur Dobbins: born in Pennsylvania, appointed from Pennsylvania. Cadet at the Military Academy 1 Jul to 30 Sep 1830 and 1 Jul 1834 to 10 Jul 1835; Second Lieutenant in the 3d Infantry 29 Sep 1838; First Lieutenant 31 Jan 1842; Captain 16 Feb 1847; dismissed 21 Mar 1847; reinstated 24 May 1847; dismissed 1 Dec 1847. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

[decorative delimiter]

n Theodoric Henry Porter: born in the District of Columbia, appointed from Pennsylvania. Cadet at the Military Academy 1 Jul 1835 to 22 Jan 1836; Second Lieutenant in the 4th Infantry 1 Jul 1839; killed 19 Apr 1846 in action with Mexican guerrillas near the Rio Grande, Tex. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

[decorative delimiter]

o Already mentioned under Apr. 14; although a year junior to Barbour at the Military Academy, he had become a Brigadier-General and Adjutant-General in the Texas Army.

[decorative delimiter]

p John Slidell was United States special envoy to Mexico in the months preceding the outbreak of the Mexican War.

[decorative delimiter]

q By that spelling, there is no officer in Heitman's Register that he might be. He is almost certainly Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.John A. Richey; who, the reader will notice, was killed a few months later on similar duty.

[decorative delimiter]

r David Emanuel Twiggs: born in Georgia, appointed from Georgia. Captain in the 8th Infantry 12 Mar 1812; Major in the 28th Infantry 21 Sep 1814; honorably discharged 15 Jun 1815; reinstated as Captain in the 7th Infantry 2 Dec 1815 with brevet of Major from 21 Sep 1814; transferred to 1st Infantry 14 Dec 1821; Major 14 May 1825; Lieutenant-Colonel in the 4th Infantry 15 Jul 1831; Colonel in the 2d Dragoons 8 Jun 1836; Brigadier General 30 Jun 1846; Brevet Major General 23 Sep 1846 for gallant and meritorious conduct in the several conflicts at Monterey, Mex.; received by resolution of Congress of 2 Mar 1847 the presentation of a was done "in testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress of his gallantly and good conduct in storming Monterey;" dismissed 1 Mar 1861. Major General C. S. A. war 1861 to 1865. Died 15 Jul 1862. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

[decorative delimiter]

s Croghan Ker: born in Louisiana, appointed from Louisiana. Captain in the Louisiana Volunteers in the Florida War 2 Feb to 1 May 1836; Second Lieutenant in the 2d Dragoons 8 Jun 1836; First Lieutenant 6 Oct 1836; Captain 8 Mar 1840; resigned 10 Nov 1851. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

[decorative delimiter]

tAmong the officers named McGowan listed in Heitman's Register, the only possibility appears to be Samuel McGowan of South Carolina; but he is first noted as Captain and Assistant Quartermaster of Volunteers 4 Jan 1847 — later than our journal entry and with a higher rank; and the Palmetto Brigade does not seem to have fought in the northern campaign.

[decorative delimiter]

u There is no officer by the name of Land in Heitman's Register.

[decorative delimiter]

v Samuel Hamilton Walker: born in Maryland, appointed from Texas. Captain in the Texas Mounted Rangers 11 Apr 1846; Lieutenant-Colonel 24 Jun 1846; honorably mustered out 2 Oct 1846; Captain in the Mounted Rifles 27 May 1846; killed 9 Oct 1847 in the battle of Huamantla, Mex. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 18 May 15