Short URL for this page:
p50 May 1st — The Army marches today at 3 o'clock and the General confidently expects a battle. I shall leave this journal in my chest with Capt. Hawkins, 7th Infantry, to be sent, in case I fall, to my wife, but I have no misgivings of evil and hope yet to record many more pages for her perusal. My life and hers are in the hands of God and to his keeping only I would commit them. He knows our destiny p51 and he only can preserve us. I go to meet the enemy with my feelings all schooled to do my duty regardless of personal consequences and if I fall my Mattie will be assured that amid the din of battle as long as my mind retained its consciousness, I thought of her and breathed a prayer for her preservation. Since my marriage there has never been a moment when my feelings were in the slightest possible degree estranged from her. I have been faithful to her in every respect and she shall have the gratification of knowing from my own hand that although I may leave her penniless, in looking back through my whole life I defy the world to point to a blemish upon my honor. At 2 o'clock today the Army marched for Point Isabel, leaving the 7th Infantry, Land'sa and Bragg's companies of artillery and the sick and baggage of the Army at the Fort. We made a forced march of •18 miles, halting at 12 o'clock at night. Saw no signs of the enemy.
May 2d — Resumed the march this morning and reached Point Isabel at 12 M. Last night we slept on the ground without fire, water or blankets and feel today very much fatigued and hungry, having had no coffee since yesterday morning and very little of anything else. At this place we found oranges and lemons and everything refreshing except good water.
May 3d — At 5 o'clock this morning a heavy cannonading was heard in the direction of Matamoras p52 which has been kept up nearly the whole day. The General has sent May'sb squadron and Capt. Walker'sc command to communicate with the Fort and bring intelligence from Major Brown.d The Army here is in great excitement and eager to go to the relief of our brave commander in the Fort. I received two letters today from my dear Mattie and my promotion. I am ordered to relieve Johnson in command of Company I, to which I am promoted.
May 4th — May returned the morning having waited until daylight for Walker's return from the Fort and hearing nothing from him, he started back lest the enemy, whom he discovered in his neighborhood in force, should surround him and cut off his retreat. His squadron was mistaken for the advance guard of the Mexican army and our troops were marched to give battle, but soon discovered the mistake and marched back again.
May 5th — Walker returned during last night bringing an official report from Major Brown. They had sustained very slight injury to the Fort and the loss of only one man, but had silenced one of the enemy's batteries and dismounted one or two of his heaviest guns. They had thrown into our Fort upwards of 1500 shots and shells and were still throwing them incessantly. We continue to hear the cannonading, which is the best proof that the Fort has not fallen. Major Brown is saving his ammunition for the assault. He writes in the best p53 spirits. I have written Mattie of this attack. It will be very distressing to her but it is better for her to know the worst from me than to read the exaggerated accounts that will be given of it in the newspapers.
May 6th — Walker has gone out to reconnoiter the enemy's position again. On his way down he found him in great force at General Worth'se Camp (as it is called) immediately on our route back. We expect a hard fight on our return. God be with us.
May 7th — Walker reports the enemy withdrawn and nowhere to be seen. We march at 3 o'clock this afternoon. I received two more letters from my darling Mattie yesterday and a box of cakes, lemons, books, letter paper, etc. All the officers I could find in camp have been to my tent to help me discuss these things, and I have plenty left for the march.
May 8th — The Army marched out •six miles last night and bivouacked. Today at General Worth's Camp about 12 or 1 o'clock a report was received from the advance guard that the enemy was in position in our front. The General halted until the train came up and then moved on •a mile, when we came in sight of the Mexican army deployed in line of battle about a mile in front of us and immediately across our road. The General determined at once p54 to give battle and halted the Army for the purpose of watering the men and animals. Every man was made to go to the pond, half of each regiment at a time, and fill his canteen. In half an hour we moved on which and deployed in line of battle in front of the chaparral which skirts the pond. The advance was now sounded and the line moved on with perfect steadiness in the following order. 5th Infantry — Ringgold's artillery — 3d Infantry — 6th Infantry — two 18 pounders — Childs' Battalion — Duncan's artillery and the 8th Infantry on the extreme left. The two squadrons of cavalry were stationed, Ker'sf in the rear with the train and May's about 200 yards in advance of our line to mark the position at which the General intended to open his batteries. The enemy's line was drawn up in fine style in our front, its two flanks resting on woods, and woods in its rear. Before we reached May's position their batteries opened upon us and poured in a heavy fire. Our line advanced under it without the slightest confusion up to the position indicated for it to halt. Duncan's and Ringgold's batteries were then thrown forward on the left and right and commenced a terrific fire upon the enemy and immediately after the 18 pounders in our center opened also. A terrible cannonading was kept up for near an hour from both sides. Our infantry drawn up in one line was exposed to it and suffered smartly on the left where the 8th Infantry was in column of divisions and Childs' Battalion in square. The 3d, 4th and 5th p55 Infantry, being deployed in line of battle, suffered comparatively but little. The enemy's cavalry on their left flank was played upon by Ringgold's battery, on our right, with fine effect and moved off with a battery of artillery to turn our right flank and gain our rear. This demonstration was met by the 5th Infantry being thrown out to check their advance and the 3d Infantry to support it. The 5th gained a position partially concealed by a sparse growth of chaparral and formed square to receive the shock of the enemy's cavalry. They dashed up towards it, but a well-directed fire from the front of the square opposed to them unhorsed about 25 of them and checked their advance. By this time Lieut. Ridgely with two pieces of Ringgold's Battery had gained a favorable position to play upon them and poured in so destructive a fire that they were thrown into confusion and forced to retire with their artillery which was just being planted against our flank when Ridgely opened his fire upon them. In the meantime, Ringgold with the other two pieces had advanced and occupied the ground abandoned by their left flank and raked their cavalry as they returned, which forced them to take position farther to their right. General Taylorg now ordered an oblique change of front to sustain Ringgold and take the enemy in flank. This forced the enemy into a corresponding change of front, during which maneuver the firing was suspended on both sides, but reopened with unabated fury when it was completed. During the p56 operations above described of a portion of our right wing against their cavalry, the other parts of both armies continued engaged, i.e., the batteries, with terrific effect upon the enemy. After the change of front, Duncan moved rapidly to a position not over 300 yards from the enemy's right flank which he gained unperceived under cover of a dense volume of smoke that rolled up from the burning prairie and opened so unexpected and destructive a fire upon it that their ranks were broken and hundreds of them mowed down and the whole right wing of their army thrown into the utmost confusion. This closed the day and the enemy left the field. Our Army then moved forward and encamped upon their original line of battle. Their loss was 320 killed and upwards of 400 wounded, and more than 200 horses killed. Ours was 10 killed and 33 wounded. The gallant Ringgold received a mortal wound just at sunset and Capt. Page of the 4th Infantry was also horribly wounded, having the whole of his lower jaw carried away.h General Taylor, being encumbered with a train of more than 200 wagons, loaded with subsistence, forage and ammunition, had to detach two regiments of Infantry (the 5th and 3d) and Ker's squadron, for its protection, which prevented him from completing by a charge the rout of the enemy. The enemy committed a fatal error in opening his fire upon our line at so great a distance as 700 yards. His force was three times ours — 6000 to 2000 — which enabled him to engage us hand to p57 hand. The maneuvers of our corps were made with great coolness and precision and the management of our batteries was so skilful and prompt that the enemy could not penetrate the designs of their gallant commanders before he felt the terrible effects of their unerring fire. The foregoing is a faithful account of the battle of the Palo Alto. My position was such during the whole day as to enable me to see with distinctness what took place on both sides. The action lasted five hours. My company marched on guard after we encamped.
May 9th — The morning shortly after daylight the enemy's forces were seen moving in front of the chaparral into which they retired last night. General Taylor called a council of war upon the presentation of Col. Twiggsi that the commanders of corps generally were in favor of intrenching our camp where it was and awaiting reinforcements. It leaked out after the council broke up that 7 out of 10 were in favor of this suggestion of inaction. Col. McIntosh,j Capt. Morris and Duncan to their praise be it spoken were in favor of fighting again. The General sided with them. His mind was doubtless made up beforehand. Orders were immediately given to intrench the train, and the two 18 pounders, with two 12s and a small detachment of artillerymen sufficient to man them were left with the teamsters for its defense. The army now moved forward to fell the enemy who by this time had disappeared into the chaparral. A reconnaissance p58 of about two hours satisfied the General they had retreated upon the road we were compelled to pursue. Dispositions were now made to advance. Capt. McCall with two hundred light troops was sent in advance with Capt. May's squadron to gain intelligence and report to the General. The main body moved forward in one column. After advancing •three miles a report was sent back from the advance that the enemy was in position in our front and seemed prepared for battle. The General directed Lieut. Dobbinsk to go forward with a party of McCall's men and draw the enemy fire with a view to ascertain the position of his batteries, while the main body followed close after him. In half an hour Dobbins was saluted with a shower of grapeshot which wounded him and two sergeants of the 3d Infantry and killed an artillery private. The 8th and 5th Infantries were immediately deployed on the left and perpendicular to the road and the 3d and 4th in the same way on the right, while Ridgely's Battery was ordered to advance on the road and open upon the enemy. In a few minutes the 5th and 8th were engaged with the enemy's infantry while their batteries on both sides of the road continued to pour into the chaparral a deadly fire of grape and canister. Our artillery had no effect upon them and the General ordered May to charge their position and drive the cannoneers from their guns. This was executed with brilliant courage and May brought back General Vega prisoner. The 5th Infantry followed p59 his charge and secured their batteries on this right, keeping up with the 8th a desperate conflict with their infantry. In the meantime the 3d and 4th Infantry continued to advance, but owing to the impenetrable nature of the thicket the companies became separated and only detachments such as the officers could pick up at hand were brought into action. These, however, did good service, driving the enemy from their guns and entrenchments on the right of the road and piling up their bodies about them. Our artillery now began to have its effect upon them and they commenced giving back. After wandering through the thicket in the hottest of the fire for some time, I succeeded in finding my way out and gained the road, where I met Col. Garlandl who told me the 3d was deployed to the right. I pushed on with 12 men of my company, all I could keep together in the thicket, and soon was informed by Eaton and Bliss, whom I met successively, that the 3d was in the action ahead, to the right of the road. I now moved forward in double-quick, passing under the enemy's fire for the distance of 50 yards along the road, crossed the ravine on which they were entrenched and gaining the rising ground on the other side untouched, was just in time to render important service to a detachment of the 4th under Lieuts. Anger,m Ritchien and Hays whom I found retiring before a large body of lancers. I united their party to my 12 men and taking a good position in a clear space on the left of the road poured in a galling fire upon p60 the lancers as they came up, and killing three drove the rest back on the road. They rallied and returned; my fire checked their advance but three of them went by to rescue a piece of artillery in the hands of a few of our men near the river. They were opposed there and driven back and as they passed my command left two of their number to swell the list of dead. At this time Ridgely's Battery came up and a single discharge upon their cavalry threw it into confusion and the troops on either side of the road having driven back their infantry a deafening shout of triumph went up from the whole of our men which struck such terror into the Mexican ranks that they fled in all directions. The pursuit now commenced and on we went, Dragoons, Artillery and Infantry in one mass at full run, yelling at every step, which was kept up for •three miles, until we reached the Rio Grande and found that the enemy had crossed to the other side, some in boats, some by swimming, while the greater portion kept up the river, as we afterward learned, and crossed some miles above. Never was there a more complete rout or brilliant victory. Our loss was considerable — but nothing like that of the Mexicans, the road and adjacent thickets are filled with their dead. I cannot give particulars as they would fill a volume. Lieuts. Inge,o Cochranep and Chadbourne fell gallantly in the action. My escape was miraculous. It appears like a dream to me. From the river we returned p61 and slept on the battle ground. We have captured all the supplies of the Mexican army including 8 pieces of artillery, upwards of 1000 stand of small arms, all their ammunitions, about 20 wagon loads of it, and all their pack mules, 600 or 700 in number, the personal baggage of all their officers, and what is more valuable than all the rest, Arista's portfolio, containing the most important information.
May 10th — We have been engaged all day in burying the dead of both armies. Wrote Mattie a hasty account of our victories this morning. My heart leaps at the joy she will experience from it. God bless and strengthen her.
May 11th — Finished the sad work of burying the dead today, and marched back to our original Camp opposite the city of Matamoras. The General has gone to Point Isabel on public business. Vega and the other prisoners will be sent to New Orleans.
May 12th and 13th — Wrote a long letter to Mattie.
May 14th — The General returned tonight. Major Graham is ordered to cut out some boats from the Mexican side.
May 15th — Graham succeeded in getting the boats. The sentinels on the other side ran off from our swimmers who were unarmed.
p62 May 16th — Another boat expedition went out this morning under Graham. My company was one that went. We marched •four miles down the river but the boats had been carried off and we returned to camp. Orders are out for a move tomorrow but no one knows where or for what purpose. We have ascertained that the Mexicans had taken the precaution before meeting us on the prairie to entrench the position in which we fought them on the 9th to fall back on in the event of disaster on the first day, and knowing as we now do its strength, and the reënforcements they received of more than 1000 veteran troops for the second battle, it is unaccountable that they were dislodged and beaten by our small force. Our strength in the second battle engaged was not over 1500 men while theirs was all of 8000 as we have since ascertained from reliable authority. The official report of our loss is 4 officers killed and 13 wounded; 48 men killed and 127 wounded. Theirs from all causes exceeds 2500 men, more than 1000 of whom were killed in action and drowned in their disgraceful passage of the Bravo. General Taylor has won for himself a name second to none since the days of Washington, in this country, except perhaps Jackson. Major Learq joined the Regiment today.
May 17th — This morning Major Lear assumed command of the regiment. I mailed a letter to Mattie. About 12 o'clock a parley was sounded from the Mexican side of the river, which, being answered, p63 a Mexican General and has aide-de‑camp came over and requested an interview with General Taylor. They were conducted to the General's tent by Major Seawell. The object of the interview was to request an armistice until a courier could go and return from the city of Mexico with the view, as stated, of settling our controversy by negotiation. This our General peremptorily refused saying that he had once offered that course to Arista, who, supposing then we were weak and an easy prey, refused it. That they had persisted in bringing on the war and that it was our province to prosecute it to an advantageous close for the United States. The Mexican then proposed to surrender the public property including arms and munitions of war if General Taylor would promise not to cross the river. The General declined this also and added that he should take Matamoras and all the public property found there for the United States and should establish his headquarters in the city. The Mexican then asked if he would respect private property and preserve the women and children from harm, to which the General replied, "Yes, and all the peaceable citizens of the city." The Mexican then offered to turn over to him an inventory of all the public property and guarantee its delivery if he would agree not to cross the river. The General said No, his mind was made up to take Matamoras and that he had received a large accession of troops from the United States and the armament necessary to reduce it, which the Mexican p64 General might communicate to Arista. That his orders were already issued to move up the river at a suitable point for crossing, that the troops would march at ½ past one o'clock, but he would wait General Arista's reply until 3. The Mexican officers then took their leave. This conference unraveled the mystery of our movement and at the appointed hour the Army marched and halted on the river •three or four miles above, at a ferry with boats, etc., for crossing. About sunset the General joined us, when we learned that Arista had made no reply to his message. The Mexicans have been crossing over to our side, returning to their homes, ever since we arrived here and they report that the Mexican army has retreated from Matamoras, taking off all their artillery. The General does not appear to relish this intelligence but does not doubt its truth.
May 18th — At an early hour the morning the troops commenced crossing. Lieut. Stevens, an amiable and talented young officer, was unfortunately drowned in attempting to swim his horse over, also one soldier of his company. About 8 o'clock a deputation of the civil authorities of Matamoras made their appearance on the Mexican side of the river and were soon crossed over. Their object was to inform General Taylor of Arista's retreat and to ask terms for the surrender of the city. The General told them he should not molest any persons or property of a private nature nor should his troops p65 commit any outrages upon their women. That he should treat them, in short, as he would American citizens. The interview lasted about two hours when the deputation took their leave. By this time the Dragoons, Ridgely's Battery, the 18 pounders and a battalion of light troops had crossed with which the General ordered Col. Twiggs to proceed to Matamoras, while he would take the remainder of the army and cross them below at the Mexican Fort Paredes. In a few minutes we were all in motion and soon reached our crossing place. Just as our regiment which was in front reached the landing Capt. Ker, who had been sent in advance of Col. Twiggs, ran up the "Stars and Stripes" upon the Mexican flagstaff in Fort Paredes where the evening before, as we marched by, the Mexican flag was flying. As it went up our regiment gave three deafening cheers which were taken up successively by those in the rear until the air was fairly rent with the glorious shout. A large number of Mexicans were standing about the Fort who at first appeared alarmed, but finding what we were at they took off their hats and cheered with us. The troops were then rapidly crossed over and marched to the plain to the north of Matamoras (immediately opposite the ground we first occupied on our side) and encamped. Much has been accomplished today for the United States.
May 19th — The morning visited Matamoras at an early hour with McLeod, who slept with me last p66 night, and got a very fine breakfast after which walked around the city. It is laid off in squares. The houses are generally of brick and strongly made. The few windows they have are without glass and protected by iron railings in front; the houses with few exceptions have flat roofs. They were not much injured by the bombardment. One house received 14 balls through it but it was only torn in the single points at which the balls struck it. The wounded men of the Mexican army, such as could not be taken off, were left here and are in large rooms on brick floors with only a cowhide to lie on. Wrote to Mattie today.
May 20th — Col. Twiggs has been making discoveries in the city today. He has found through information obtained from some Englishmen living in Matamoras the principal magazines of the Mexican army, filled with arms and munitions of war. The Colonel told me the property he found could not have cost the Mexican Government less than $50,000.r My company is detailed for guard in town tonight. Col. Garland left yesterday with 250 mounted men in pursuit of the enemy.
May 21st — Had then a fatiguing tour of duty. Disarmed a Mexican or soº who were cavorting about the streets with drawn swords. Last night Lieut. Deas (4th Artillery) came out from a billiard room close by the barracks at which my company p67 was stationed and laid himself down in his shirt sleeves to sleep in the "Plaza" upon the bare ground. I went up to him and found he was very drunk, but with the assistance of Lieut. Churchill got him to the trees where I was staying (immediately in front of and •about 40 feet from the barracks) and laid him down on my great coat where he slept until midnight, then awoke, got up and insisted on leaving. I sent a corporal with him to the camp of the 5th Infantry and turned him over to his brother. He is evidently crazy. General Taylor refused to recognize him as an officer since his arrival here, and declined General Arista's offer to exchange him. Col. Twiggs has made further discoveries today, viz.: 1000 bushels of corn and 10 or 12 wagon loads of tobacco and segars. The corn is to be turned in to the Quartermaster's Department, and the segars distributed among the troops. He also found a large quantity of playing cards. Both these and tobacco are in Mexico a Government monopoly and therefore legitimate plunder for us. The Colonel had a talk with the Prefect the morning and frightened the poor devil out of his wits. We heard from Col. Garland today. The report is he has had a skirmish with a party of Arista's troops and killed a man and woman and took 12 prisoners. The Mexicans fled at the first fire and Garland went in pursuit of Arista who was •about nine miles ahead of him. We shall look for an express tomorrow.
p68 May 22d — Nothing new today. The segars were distributed to the troops this afternoon. Every man has enough to keep him smoking two months. Wrote to Mattie today. Col. Garland returned this afternoon bringing with him 20 prisoners (instead of 12 as reported yesterday) and a wagon load of arms and camp equipage. He did not overtake General Arista within the distance to which his instructions restricted his advance, but thinks he might have done so in another day's march.
May 23d — Studied Spanish for several hours in the forenoon, then fell asleep. Had a visit from McLeod who was very entertaining. His views touching the political and military operations requisite to bring the contest with Mexico to a speedy, advantageous, and honorable termination are in my judgment very sound and I hope may be adopted by the Government. He has given them in full to Mr. Yell (in Congress) who it is known has the ear of the President to as great an extent as any man in Washington. This afternoon strolled with Bush Johnson through Matamoras. On our return to camp got permission from a Mexican gentleman to walk through his garden. We found in it many pretty flowers and a great quantity of shrubbery and fruit trees. The lemons and citron trees are hanging full of fruit. I gathered a beautiful bouquet which I should be delighted to send to Mattie, but there is no opportunity. On our return found a letter from her of the 16th May. She had heard p69 of our battle through Mrs. McLeod and appeared to be in perfect ecstasies about the part I played in the action of the 9th. McLeod made a very flattering report, and I fear rather an exaggerated one, of my conduct. I did my duty and rendered very important service but it does not appear to have been appreciated in its true light by the officers charged with reporting it and I doubt if my name is mentioned in the General's official dispatch. After supper I walked over to the General's tent. He is going to Camargo as soon as he can get off from here; he remarked that he should send the steamboat, expected here tomorrow, to see how far up the river is navigable and after her return move off without delay. He does not expect another gun will be fired unless we advance upon Monterrey. McLeod has a plan in his head of editing a paper in Matamoras for a time. It is very popular in the Army and I hope will succeed. By judicious management nothing would be easier than to separate all the northern provinces from Mexico, and a well-conducted paper would contribute largely to such a result. A Court Martial of 13 members is in session in Fort Brown for the trial of officers. Capts. Duanes and Merrill of the 5th and Lieuts. Graham, 4th, and Henshawt, 7th Infantry, are named in the order as prisoners to be tried; there may be others.
May 24th — Col. Wilsonu with four companies of the 1st and General Smithv with 1000 Louisiana volunteers p70 arrived today from Bonita where they crossed the river. A thousand more Louisianians will be here tomorrow. They are encamped on the other side. Had an introduction today to two Senoras by one of General Smith's aides who speaks Spanish. They alluded to my not speaking Spanish and I compensated for my inability to entertain them by extravagant compliments which were well received and swallowed. There is a Fandango in town tonight to which the officers are invited. I have been better employed at home than I could have been there. Before we leave Matamoras I intend to see a Fandango and all the other oddities of this half-civilized people. Engaged this morning for a Mexican boy who is to come to me tomorrow at $4.00 a month.w I want him to get the pronunciation of the language, and if he please me will retain him as a servant.
May 25th — Wrote to Mattie today. John Sanders joined our mess. Thorntonx arrived from Point Isabel as a witness on Hardee's Court of Inquiry and is staying with me. He brought a "Picayune" of the 17th in which are published several accounts of our battles. One of them is evidently written by Capt. E. K. S.,y 5th Infantry, and he claimed all the glory of the 9th for May's squadron and the 5th. He will be handled without gloves if I am not mistaken. General Worth is ordered back and is doubtless by this time at Point Isabel. The President refused to accept his resignation, as the papers p71 state. Whether he comes back as a Brigadier is not stated. Volunteers are still arriving at the Point, and it is rumored that immense preparations are making by the Government to prosecute the war against Mexico ($10,000,000z and 50,000 men).
May 26th — Passed the morning in lounging on my bed and talking with Thornton about his case. After dinner Major aa called. He is an aide-de‑camp to Major General Lewisab of the Louisiana militia and is here under orders from the Governor, but with what object I do not know. Not in connection however with the Louisiana troops who have arrived under General Smith. The Major is a very warm friend of Thornton's and is going to publish a plain matter-of‑fact statement of it in the New Orleans "Picayune" to the end that the country may know with what unjust rigor he has been treated by General Taylor. In the afternoon Thornton, Guy Henryac and myself walked up to town and from there crossed over the river to call on General Smith and staff. We found them enjoying as much comfort as possible in their shirt sleeves. Stayed 20 minutes and then returned to camp. Capt. Barragan of the Mexican army died of his wounds this morning. He is said to have behaved very gallantly in both actions.
May 27th — General Worth arrived this morning. He applied on learning, while in Washington, of the capture of Thornton's command, for the withdrawal p72 of his resignation and for orders to return immediately to the theater of war, which was granted; and he comes back as he left, a Colonel and not a Brigadier General. I called on him this afternoon with John Sanders and found him quite sick and exhausted from the fatigue of his journey and doubtless feels the humiliation of his position. It is unpleasant to see so gallant a spirit subdued, but he has only himself to blame. A meager mail was received today and a very important one, supposed to contain the President's instructions to General Taylor relative to the measures to be pursued against Mexico, lost by the express who got drunk on the way up from Point Isabel. Congress declared war on the 13th inst., almost unanimously, and Mexico on the 23d of May. It remains to be seen whether it will be carried on by us vigorously and as becomes a great and powerful nation or whether the means of the country are to be frittered away in a state of inglorious inaction under the absurd expectation that Mexico will sue for peace. Received a letter from Brentad of the 18th inst., very late. He says the people of Henderson are filled with patriotic fire. A lieutenant colonel of Mexican artillery was found today in his uniform in the streets and taken up by our city patrol. The fellow had gone rather too deep into his cups and his boldness got the better of his discretion. He is now a prisoner at our guard house and will be disposed of tomorrow. There are doubtless many of the Mexican officers concealed in Matamoras, p73 possibly as spies left by Arista to watch our movements.
May 28th — Remained all day in my tent. Wrote to Brent and part of a letter to my angel wife. In the forenoon had a visit from Lieut. Emmet Hoe of the Navy. He was on a frolic and was therefore less interesting than he might have been. However he is a man of brilliant intellect and a natural orator which was sufficiently evidenced by his eloquent declamation. He is a cousin of Thornton's and George Ward of Florida,ae two of my best friends. He told me that he passed winter before last in Florida with Ward and that he knew me well from reputation at that time and that any man ought to be proud of the reputation I had left there. This smacks wonderfully of egotism, but it is not so. I only put it down to gratify Mattie, who I know loves to hear everything said in my praise. My good friends there and elsewhere have greatly exaggerated my worth, but it would be absurd for me to attempt to controvert them. Hoe and Thornton left for Point Isabel this afternoon. The last mail was received today. It contained important dispatches for the General. Among them was an order to break up three companies of each regiment, distribute the men among the remaining seven and send the officers of the companies broken up to the United States to recruit. The officers of the 3d are to go to Newport, Kentucky. In a state of peace I should sigh for an opportunity to pass p74 the summer with Mattie in our beloved Kentucky, but under existing circumstances if a choice should be offered me, I should certainly remain here. I am determined if possible to see this war to its end and I should be recreant to every feeling that should actuate a soldier and a patriot were I voluntarily to withdraw myself from the contest. General Taylor is to make the selection of the companies to be broken up in all the regiments and we understand it will be done tomorrow. We have no idea what rule will govern the selection and therefore cannot guess who will go from the 3d. McLennanaf has been promoted to the 7th and has made a joint application with Van Bokelen,º recently promoted from that regiment to the 3d, for a transfer in which I sincerely hope he may succeed for he is a first-rate officer and his wife is a dear, sweet little document, and a warm friend of Mattie's. Mrs. Van B. from all accounts is made of different elements. Received tonight Mattie's letter of the 17th by Mr. Ballingerag who writes me from Point Isabel that he has a package for me which he hope to deliver in person in a few days. How I do hope it is Mattie's miniature. Bibb received a very satisfactory letter night from his affianced. Their misunderstanding is all settled and they are again on the firm footing of mutual love, which existed previously to his coming to Texas.
May 29th — This day has passed almost without incident. McLeod read me his interesting article and I p75 do not think I ever heard a better. He is bound to revolutionize this country. The selection of officers for recruiting service has been made and sent to the General for approval but is not known in the regiment.
May 30th — Well, "The grand agony is over." The General has upset Major Lear's detail of the four senior Captains and made one of his own. Companies A, B, E and G are to be broken up and their officers, Lieuts. Smith, Gordon, Shepherd, Johns, Jordan, Van Bokelenº and Bee, to go on recruiting service. Lieut. Williamson is transferred much against his inclination from E to D and remains here.ah McLennan is transferred to E and goes. Wrote to Mattie today, also to Thornton and Mr. Ballinger at Point Isabel. We had a terrific storm this forenoon, wind, rain, thunder and lightning. Several tents were blown down and those which resisted the fury of the storm afforded but little shelter from the rain. The Army is treated shamefully with regard to tents. There is unpardonable neglect somewhere.
May 31st — The distribution of the men of the broken‑up companies took place yesterday. The six remaining here are now 62 strong including sick and absentees. Capt. Morris and Bainbridge are ordered to assume command of their companies. Went with Craigai into town this morning. On our return met three Mexican soldiers who were p76 wounded in the arm and carried them in slings. We gave them two bits apiece for which they were very thankful. One of them spoke English and told us that they were very poorly fed in the hospital — a little bread and soup being all they received. He said they were tired of fighting against us. That it was useless and their Government took no care of them when they were wounded. There is a reverend gentleman in the volunteers from Louisiana, Captain Stewart.aj I heard tonight that he preached an excellent sermon this morning in the camp of the 1st Brigade and said he wished the General to grant him but one favor after the campaign is over, viz.: permit him to hold a Camp Meeting. He is quite fierce for a battle.
a There is no officer by the name of Land in Heitman's Register.
b 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)
c 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)
d Jacob Brown: born in Massachusetts, appointed from the Army. Private and sergeant in the 11th Infantry 3 Aug 1812 to April 1814; ensign in the 11th Infantry 15 Apr 1814; Third Lieutenant 1 May 1814; Second Lieutenant 1 Sep 1814; transferred to artillery 17 May 1815; Regimental Quartermaster 16 Apr to 1 Jun 1821; First Lieutenant 18 Aug 1819; Captain 7 Apr 1825; Major in the 7th Infantry 27 Feb 1843. Died 9 May 1846 of wounds received 6 May 1846 in the defense of the fort now known as Ft. Brown, Tex.
e 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)
f 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)
g 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)
h John Page: born in Maine, appointed from Massachusetts. Second Lieutenant in the 8th Infantry 13 Feb 1818; First Lieutenant 1 Jan 1819; transferred to the 4th Infantry 1 Jun 1821; Captain 30 Apr 1831; Brevet Captain 1 Jan 1829 for 10 years faithful service in one grade. Died 12 Jul 1846 of wounds received 8 May 1846 in the battle of Palo Alto, Tex. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)
i 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)
j James Simmons McIntosh: born in Georgia, appointed from Georgia. Second Lieutenant in the Rifles 13 Nov 1812; First Lieutenant 31 Dec 1813; honorably discharged 15 Jun 1815; reinstated 2 Dec 1815; Captain 8 Mar 1817; transferred to the Ordnance 11 Sep 1818; transferred to the 4th Infantry 1 Jun 1821; Major in the 7th Infantry 21 Sep 1836; Lieutenant-Colonel in the 5th Infantry 1 Jul 1839; Brevet Major 8 Mar 1827 for 10 years faithful service in one grade and Colonel 9 May 1846 for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, Tex. Died 26 Sep 1847 of wounds received 8 Sep 1847 in the battle of Molino del Rey, Mex. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)
k 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)
l 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)
m There is no officer by the name of Anger in Heitman's Register.
o As printed, his name is given as Nege: an unlikely name and one not recorded in Heitman's Register. The editor transcribes his name correctly, however, in Maj. Barbour's letter to his wife of May 12th, q.v.
p Richard E. Cochrane: born in Delaware, appointed from Delaware. Second Lieutenant in the 4th Infantry 18 Sep 1838; First Lieutenant 31 Dec 1842. Killed 9 May 1846 at the battle of Resaca de la Palma, Tex. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)
q William W. Lear: born in Maryland, appointed from the Army. Private, Corporal, and Sergeant in the Light Dragoons 18 May 1812 to 15 Jun 1815 and in the 4th Infantry to March, 1818; Second Lieutenant in the 4th Infantry 13 Feb 1818; First Lieutenant 24 Feb 1818; Captain 1 May 1824; Major in the 3d Infantry 14 Jun 1842; Brevet Major 1 May 1834 for 10 years faithful service in one grade. Died 31 Oct 1846 of wounds received 21 Sep 1846 in the attack on the city of Monterey, Mex. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)
r Equivalent in 2015 to about $1,100,000.
s Heitman's Register lists no officer serving in 1846 by the name of Duane.
t John C. Henshaw: born in New York, appointed from New York. Second Lieutenant in the 7th Infantry 1 Jul 1839; First Lieutenant 21 Jul 1844; Captain 3 Mar 1847; Brevet Major 20 Aug 1847 for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, Mex.; dismissed 9 Jan 1856. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)
u Henry Wilson: born in Pennsylvania, appointed from Pennsylvania. Ensign in the 32d Infantry 17 May 1813; Second Lieutenant 19 Apr 1814; honorably discharged 15 Jun 1815; reinstated 2 Dec 1815 in the 4th Infantry; First Lieutenant 31 Dec 1816; Regimental Adjutant 7 Sep 1816 to 20 Apr 1819; Captain 20 Apr 1819; Major in the 3d Infantry 1 Nov 1838; Lieutenant-Colonel in the 1st Infantry 14 Jun 1842; Colonel in the 7th Infantry 11 Jun 1851; Brevet Major 20 Apr 1829 for 10 years faithful service in one grade and Colonel 23 Sep 1846 for gallant and meritorious conduct in the several conflicts at Monterey, Mex.; resigned 25 Feb 1861. Died 21 Feb 1872. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)
v Persifor Frazer Smith: born in Pennsylvania, appointed from Louisiana. Colonel in the Louisiana Volunteers 2 Feb 1836; honorably mustered out 13 May 1836; Brigadier General in the Louisiana Volunteers 15 May 1846; Colonel in the Mounted Rifles 27 May 1846; Brigadier General 30 Dec 1856; Brevet Brigadier General 23 Sep 1846 for gallant and meritorious conduct in the several conflicts at Monterey, Mex. and Major General 20 Aug 1847 for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, Mex. Died 17 May 1858. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)
w Equivalent in 2015 to about $88 a month.
x 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)
y The only Military Academy graduate serving in the Mexican War and bearing those initials Edmund Kirby Smith; he was in the 5th Infantry and was at Palo Alto and Resaca, but was not a Captain; and, according to Cullum's Register, would only be breveted Captain in August 1847, more than a year later than this diary entry.
If E. K. S. was not a West Point graduate, there must be other possibilities. I have not combed thru the 87 pages of the letter S in Heitman's Register.
z Equivalent in 2015 to about $220,000,000.
aa Charles A. Labuzan, of a prominent Louisiana family, was an officer not in the United States Army but in the Louisiana Militia; in the War between the States, he would be a Confederate general.
ab John Lawson Lewis: never served with the United States Army, but with the Louisiana Militia for many years. For his term as Mayor of New Orleans (including a brief biographical sketch), see J. S. Kendall, History of New Orleans, Chapter XI, "The Lewis and Waterman Administrations"; for his later career in the Militia including his rôle during the brief independence of Louisiana in 1861, see (passim) Chapters XIII and XIV.
ae George Taliaferro Ward, Florida planter and politician; he would be killed as a Colonel in the Confederate Army at the battle of Williamsburg.
af There is no officer by the name of McLennan in Heitman's Register (and no graduate by that name in Cullum's Register until 1928): a mystery, since the diary makes it quite clear he was an officer in the 3d Infantry being transferred to the 7th.
ag There is no officer by the name of Ballinger in Heitman's Register; very likely a civilian.
ah Cullum's Register lists him as having gone on Recruiting Service.
ai Louis S. Craig: born in Virginia, appointed from Virginia. Second Lieutenant in the 2d Dragoons 14 Oct 1837; transferred to the 3d Infantry 1 Aug 1838; First Lieutenant 1 Jun 1840; Captain 18 Jun 1846; Brevet Major 23 Sep 1846 for gallant and meritorious conduct in the several conflicts at Monterey, Mex. and Lieutenant-Colonel 20 Aug 1947 for gallant and meritorious service in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, Mex. Killed 6 Jun 1852 by deserters. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)
aj Heitman's Register lists no United States Army officer serving in the Louisiana Volunteers by the name of Stewart. He was surely, or had been, a member of the Louisiana Militia.
Images with borders lead to more information.
The thicker the border, the more information. (Details here.)
Philip Barbour's Journal
History of West Point
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: 18 May 15