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Full text of "The Mexican War diary of George B. McClellan"

(From a daguerreotype taken in 1846, just before leaving for the front) 

LIEUT. MCCLELLAN, His FATHER AND His BROTHER ARTHUR. 



THE MEXICAN WAR DIARY 
OF GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 



EDITED BY 

WILLIAM STARR MYERS, Ph.D., 

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF HI8TORT AND POLITICS 
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY 



PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS 
PRINCETON 

LONDON: HUMPHREY MILFORD 

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 

1917 



Copyright, 1917, by 
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS 

Published April, 1917 




PREFACE 

During the past four or five years I have been 
preparing a life of General McClellan in which 
I plan especially to stress the political influences 
behind the military operations of the first two 
years of the Civil War. The main source for my 
study has been the large collection of "McClellan 
Papers" in the Library of Congress at Washing 
ton, most of which hitherto never has been pub 
lished. In this collection is the manuscript 
Mexican War diary and by the courteous per 
mission and kind cooperation of General Mc- 
Clellan s son, Professor George B. McClellan of 
Princeton University, I have been able to make 
the following copy. I desire to thank Professor 
McClellan for other valuable help, including 
the use of the daguerreotype from which the 
accompanying frontispiece was made. My thanks 
also are due Professor Dana C. Munro for his 
timely advice and valued assistance in the prep 
aration of the manuscript for the press. The 
map is reproduced from the "Life and Letters 
of General George Gordon Meade," with the 
kind permission of the publishers, Charles Scrib- 
ner s Sons. 



iv PREFACE 

It has seemed to me that this diary should 
prove to be of special value at the present time, 
for it throws additional light upon the failure of 
our time honored "volunteer system" and fore 
casts its utter futility as an adequate defense in 
a time of national crisis or danger. 

WM. STARR MYERS. 
Princeton, N. J. 
January 3, 1917. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Lieut. McClellan, His Father and His 

Brother Arthur 

From a daguerreotype taken in 1846, 
just before leaving for the front 

Frontispiece 

War Map opp. p. 6 

First Page of the Mexican War Diary 

in an Old Blankbook 
Facsimile reproduction of McClel- 

lan s manuscript opp. p. 40 

Church at Camargo, Seen from the 
Palace 

Facsimile reproduction of a sketch 

by McClellan opp. p. 70 



INTRODUCTION 

George Brinton McClellan was born in Phila 
delphia, Pa., on December 3, 1826. He died 
in Orange, X. J., on October 29, 1885. His 
life covered barely fifty-nine years, his services 
of national prominence only eighteen months, but 
during this time he experienced such extremes of 
good and ill fortune, of success and of failure, as 
seldom have fallen to the lot of one man. 

While still a small boy McClellan entered a 
school in Philadelphia which was conducted by 
Mr. Sears Cook Walker, a graduate of Harvard, 
and remained there for four years. He later was 
a pupil in the preparatory school of the Univer 
sity of Pennsylvania, under the charge of Dr. 
Samuel Crawford. McClellan at the same time 
received private tuition in Greek and Latin from 
a German teacher named Scheffer and entered 
the University itself in 1840. He remained there 
as a student for only two years, for in 1842 he 
received an appointment to the United States 
Military Academy at West Point. 

McClellan graduated from West Point second 
in his class in the summer of 1846 and was com- 



2 : MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

missioned a brevet second lieutenant of engineers. 
On July 9 Colonel Joseph G. Totten, Chief of 
Engineers, ordered McClellan to "repair to West 
Point" for duty with the company of engineers 
then being organized by Captain A. J. Swift and 
Lieutenant Gustavus W. Smith. The Mexican 
War had begun during the preceding May and 
the young graduate of West Point was filled 
with delight at the new opportunity for winning 
reputation and rank in his chosen profession. 
The company of engineers was ordered to Mexico 
and left for the front during the month of Sep 
tember. 

The diary that follows begins with the depart 
ure from West Point and continues the narrative 
of McClellan s experiences through the battle of 
Cerro Gordo in April, 1847. It ends at this 
point, except for a line or two jotted down later 
on in moments of impatience or ennui. 

To the student of McClellan s life this diary 
presents certain striking contrasts in character 
between the youthful soldier, not yet twenty 
years of age, and the general or politician of fif 
teen or twenty years later. At this time Mc 
Clellan was by nature happy-go-lucky, joyous, 
carefree, and almost irresponsible. In after 
years he became extremely serious, deeply and 
sincerely religious, sometimes oppressed by a 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 3 

sense of duty. And yet at this early age we can 
plainly discern many of the traits that stand out 
so prominently in his mature life. He was in 
a way one of the worst subordinates and best 
superiors that ever lived. As a subordinate he 
was restless, critical, often ill at ease. He seemed 
to have the proverbial "chip" always on his 
shoulder and knew that his commanding officers 
would go out of their way to knock it off ; or else 
he imagined it, which amounted to the same thing. 
As a commanding officer he always was thought 
ful, considerate and deeply sympathetic with his 
men, and they knew this and loved him for it. 

These same traits perhaps will explain much 
of the friction during the early years of the Civil 
War between McClellan and Lincoln and also 
the devotion that reached almost to adoration 
which the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac 
showed for their beloved commander. And Mc 
Clellan had many intimate friends, friends of 
high character, who stood by him through thick 
and thin until the very day of his death. This 
relationship could not have continued strong to 
the last had he not in some measure deserved it. 
His integrity, his inherent truthfulness and sense 
of honor, stood out predominant. 

McClellan could write. In fact his pen was 
too ready and in later years it often led him into 



4 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

difficulties. He had a keen sense of humor, 
though it was tempered by too much self-confi 
dence and at times was tinged with conceit. He 
was proud, ambitious and deeply sensitive. All 
this appears in the diary, and it will be seen that 
this little book offers a key to the explanation of 
much that followed. 

McClellan took a prominent and brilliant part, 
for so young a man, in the later events of Scott s 
campaign which ended in the capture of the 
City of Mexico. He showed himself to be 
able, brave and extremely skilful. He was pro 
moted to the rank of brevet first lieutenant, 
August 20, "for gallant and meritorious conduct 
in the battles of Contreras and Cherubusco," 
and brevet captain on September 13 for his 
services at Chapultepec. He was brevetted in 
addition for Molino del Hey on September 8, 
and the nomination was confirmed by Congress, 
but he declined the honor on the ground that he 
had not taken part in that battle, while this brevet 
"would also cause him to rank above his com 
manding officer Lieut. G. W. Smith who was 
present at every action where he was and com 
manded him." (Ms. letter from McClellan to 
General R. Jones, Adj. Gen. U. S. A., dated 
"Washington City, August 1848." McClellan 
Papers, Library of Congress, Vol. I.) 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 5 

The diary gives a vivid picture of Mexico, 
the land and its people. Furthermore, there is 
a fine description of the life of the soldiers on the 
march, of the siege of Vera Cruz, and of the ill 
behavior and lack of discipline of the volunteer 
forces. The notes will show that General George 
Gordon Meade, later the Union commander at 
Gettysburg, also was a lieutenant in Taylor s 
army, and his estimate of the volunteers agrees 
in every particular with that mentioned above. 

McClellan s career has been the subject of end 
less controversy, often pursued with such acri 
mony and gross unfairness that its memory 
rankles today in the minds of many. Further 
more, upon the outcome of this controversy have 
depended the reputations of many prominent 
men, for if McClellan should be proved to have 
been in the wrong the mantle of greatness still 
might rest upon the shoulders of certain politi 
cians and generals hitherto adjudged to be 
"great." On the other hand, if McClellan was 
in the right, and the present writer believes that 
in large part he was, then he was a victim of envy 
and downright falsehood. His name should now 
be cleared of all unjust accusations, and also 
history should reverse its judgment of many of 
his opponents. 

WM. STARR MYERS. 



MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 
GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 

1846-1847 

We left West Point on the 24th of September 
1846 for General Taylor s army in Mexico- 
Company "A" Engineers 1 consisted of Captain 
[A. J.] Swift, Lieutenant G. W. Smith, 2 myself 
and 71 rank and file. On Saturday the 26th we 
sailed from the Narrows bound to Brazos de 
Santiago [Texas] where we were so fortunate 
as to arrive in 14 days. We had a very pleasant 
passage, on the whole. Felt very much the want 

1 In a letter to his brother "Tom" dated West Point, 
September 22, 1846, McClellan wrote: "We start with 
about 75 men the best Company (so Gen l. Scott and Col. 
Totten both say) in the service. All Americans all young 
all intelligent all anxious, very eager for the campaign 
and above all, well drilled. If the Lord and Santa Anna 
will only condescend to give us a chance I ll be most 
confoundedly mistaken if we don t thrash them some ." 
(McClellan Papers, Vol. I.) 

2 Gustavus W. Smith was one of McClellan s most inti 
mate friends and was known by him by the nickname of 
"Legs." He was born in Scott Co., Kentucky, on January 
1, 1822. He died in New York on June 23, 1896. Smith 
graduated from West Point in 1842. He entered the Con 
federate Army in 1861 and distinguished himself in the 
Peninsular Campaign fighting against his old friend at the 
battles of Seven Pines and Fair Oaks. 



8 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

of ice, and claret. At one time could only eat 
raw tomatoes. 

The result of my experience with respect to the 
transportation of troops by sea is, 

In the first place see that the part of the vessel 
destined to receive them is thoroughly policed, 
washed and well scraped out before the vessel 
sails; then let a strong police party be detailed 
every day, so that the part between decks may 
always be well washed out and smell well. Wind- 
sails are very necessary. The acting commissary 
of subsistence should see for himself exactly what 
is put on board for the use of the troops and 
should cause a written requisition to be made 
upon him for the quantity used from day to day 
or week to week. He should have a reliable and 
intelligent sergeant at his disposal. Care should 
be taken that good cooking arrangements are 
provided. Mush appeared to be a favorite and 
agreeable food for the men at sea. The muskets 
should be inspected every day, when the weather 
permits, as also the quarters. Men must be re 
quired to wear their worst clothes (working over 
alls, etc.) on board. Care should be taken that 
camp equipage and all articles necessary for im 
mediate use of troops when landed are so stowed 
that they can be got at at once. 

Brazos is probably the very worst port that 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 9 

could be found on the whole American coast. 
We are encamped on an island which is nothing 
more than a sand bar, perfectly barren, utterly 
destitute of any sign of vegetation. It is about 
six miles long and one-half mile broad. We are 
placed about one hundred yards from the sea, 
a row of sand hills some twenty feet high inter 
vening. Whenever a strong breeze blows the 
sand flies along in perfect clouds, filling your 
tent, eyes and everything else. To dry ink you 
have merely to dip your paper in the sand. The 
only good thing about the place is the bathing in 
the surf. The water which we drink is obtained 
by digging a hole large enough to contain a bar 
rel. In this is placed a bottomless barrel in which 
the water collects. You must dig until you find 
water, then "work-in" the barrel until it is well 
down. This water is very bad. It is brackish 
and unhealthy. The island is often overflowed 
to the depth of one or two feet. To reach this 
interesting spot, one is taken from the vessel in 
a steamboat and taken over a bar on which the 
water is six feet deep, and where the surf breaks 
with the greatest violence. It is often impossible 
to communicate with the vessels outside for ten 
days or two weeks at a time. 

We have been here since Monday afternoon 
and it is now Friday. We expect to march for 



10 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

the mouth of the Rio Grande tomorrow morning 
at break of day thence by steamboat to Mata- 
moros where we will remain until our arrange 
ments for the pontoon train are complete. We 
received when we arrived the news of the battle 
of Monterey. Three officers who were present 
dined with us today Nichols of the 2nd Artil 
lery, Captain Smith (brother of G. W. Smith) 
formerly Captain of Louisiana Volunteers now 
an amateur, Captain Crump of the Mississippi 
Volunteers fine fellows all. Saw Bailie Peyton 
and some others pass our encampment this morn 
ing from Monterey. I am now writing in the 
guard tent (I go on guard every other day). 
Immediately in front are sand hills, same on the 
right, same in the rear, sandy plain on the left. 
To the left of the sand hills in front are a number 
of wagons parked, to the left of them a pound 
containing about 200 mules, to the left and in 
front of that about fifty sloops, schooners, brigs 
and steamboats; to the left of that and three 
miles from us may be seen Point Isabel. 

Camp opposite Camargo, 3 November 15th, 

3 A town of some three thousand inhabitants, situated 
on the river San Juan about three miles above its junction 
with the Rio Grande. It is about one hundred miles by 
land from Matamoros. (See Life and Letters of General 
George Gordon Meade, Vol. I, pages 109 and 119.) 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 11 

1846. We marched from Brazos to the mouth 
of the Rio Grande and on arriving there found 
ourselves without tents, provisions or working 
utensils, a cold Norther blowing all the time. 
We, however, procured what we needed from the 
Quarter Master and made the men comfortable 
until the arrival of Captain Swift with the wag 
ons, who reached the mouth late in the afternoon, 
whilst we got there about 10 A. M. Thanks to 
Churchill s kindness G. W. Smith and myself 
got along very well. We left in the Corvette 
the next morning (Sunday) for Matamoros, 
where we arrived at about 5 P. M. The Rio 
Grande is a very narrow, muddy stream. The 
channel is very uncertain, changing from day to 
day. The banks are covered with the mesquite 
trees, canes, cabbage trees, etc. The ranches are 
rather sparse, but some of them are very prettily 
situated. They all consist of miserable huts built 
of mesquite logs and canes placed upright the 
interstices filled with mud. The roofs are 
thatched, either with canes or the leaves of the 
cabbage tree (a species of palmetto). Cotton 
appears to grow quite plentifully on the banks, 
but is not cultivated at all. The Mexicans ap 
pear to cultivate nothing whatever but a little 
Indian corn (maize). They are certainly the 
laziest people in existence living in a rich and 



12 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

fertile country (the banks of the river at least) 
they are content to roll in the mud, eat their hor 
rible beef and tortillas and dance all night at 
their fandangos. This appears to be the charac 
ter of the Mexicans as far as I have seen, but 
they will probably improve as we proceed further 
in the country. 

Matamoros is situated about a quarter mile 
from the river. Some of the houses on the prin 
cipal streets are of stone, there is one near the 
Plaza built in the American style with three 
stories and garrets. All the rest are regular Mex 
ican. On the Plaza is an unfinished cathedral, 
commenced on a grand scale, but unfinished from 
a want of funds. The great majority of the 
houses are of log. The place is quite American 
ized by our army and the usual train of sutlers, 
etc., etc., you can get almost everything you 
want there. We were encamped near the landing. 
I rode over to Resaca and Palo Alto, but as there 
is just now a prospect of our returning to Mata 
moros, before moving on Tampico, I shall write 
no description of the fields until I have visited 
them again. After being sick for nearly two 
weeks in Matamoros I left with the company for 
Camargo on the "Whiteville," where we arrived 
two weeks ago tomorrow, and I have been in 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAX 13 

Hospital Quarters ever since until day before 
yesterday. 4 

Xow I am in camp, the wind blowing the dust 
in such perfect clouds that it is perfectly horrible 
one can hardly live through it. My quarters 
in Camargo were the Palace of Don Jesus, the 
brother of the Alcalde [Mayor of the town] he 
(the Don) having absquatatated [sic]. The main 
body of the Palace (!) is one storied. It consists 
of two rooms the smaller one occupied by Dr. 
Turner, the other by "Legs" and myself (to 
gether with Jimmie Stuart for a part of the 
time) . The floor is of hard earth, the walls white, 
and very fancifully decorated with paintings 
the roof flat and painted green an inscription 
on it showing that "Se acabo [This house was fin 
ished] esta casa eutiaso [this word is not Span 
ish] Dio[s] &c. &c. 1829." Altogether it was 

4 A letter from McClellan to his mother, dated "Camp 
off Camargo, Mex.," November 11, 1816, tells her that when 
he arrived at Matamoros he was taken sick almost imme 
diately. He remained sick for two weeks while there and 
"whilst on the steamboat thence to Camargo" . . . "When 
we got here I went into hospital quarters whence I emerged 
yesterday., so that I have had almost a month s sickness, 
but now am perfectly well." He adds, "I would not have 
missed coming here for the world, now that I am w r ell and 
recovering my strength, I commence to enjoy the novelty 
of the affair, and shall have enough to tell you when I re 
turn, to fill a dozen books." (McClellan Papers, Vol. I.) 



14 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

quite a recherche establishment. Jimmie Stuart 
came down to take care of me when I first got 
there, and after doing so with his usual kindness 
was unfortunately taken with a fever, and had to 
stay there anyhow. 5 

We are to accompany General Patterson 6 to 
Tampico. I hope and suppose that we will have 
a fight there, then join General Taylor, then hey 
for San Luis [Potosi] and another fight. 

December 5th [1846]. Mouth of the Rio 

5 Later on McClellan wrote in the diary on a page other 
wise blank: 

"On the 18th June, 1851, at five in the afternoon died 
Jimmie Stuart, my best and oldest friend. He was mor 
tally wounded the day before by an arrow, whilst gallantly 
leading a charge against a party of hostile Indians. He 
is buried at Camp Stuart about twenty-five miles south 
of Rogue s River [Oregon?], near the main road, and not 
far from the base of the Cishion (?) Mountains. His grave 
is between two oaks, on the left side of the road, going 
south, with J. S. cut in the bark of the largest of the oaks." 

6 Robert Patterson, born at Cappagh, County Tyrone, 
Ireland, on January 12, 1792, died at Philadelphia, Pa., 
on August 7, 1881. Came to America early in life and 
became a prominent merchant and Democratic politician 
in Philadelphia. Served both in the War of 1812 and in 
the Mexican War and in 1861 was mustered into the service 
as a major general. He commanded the troops in the 
Shenandoah Valley and was outwitted by General Joseph 
E. Johnston who slipped away in time to join Beauregard 
and rout the Union forces under McDowell at the first 
battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861. Patterson was re 
tired from the army the same month. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 15 

Grande. After getting up quite an excitement 
about a fight at Tampico etc., we were completely 
floored by the news that the navy had taken it 
without firing a single gun 7 the place having 
been abandoned by the Mexican troops, who are 
doubtless being concentrated at San Luis Potosi 
in anticipation of a grand attack on the place 
ah! if we only fool them by taking Vera Cruz 
and its castle, and then march on the capital 
we would have them completely. After a great 
many orders and counter orders we have at length 
arrived thus far on our way to Tampico. We 
left Camargo on Sunday evening last (Novem 
ber 29th) in the corvette, with Generals Patter 
son and Pillow 8 and a number of other officers 
(among them Captain Hunter 2nd Dragoons, 
Major Abercrombie, Captain Winship, Seth 

7 Tampico was captured November 14, 1846. 

8 Gideon J. Pillow was born in Williamson Co., Ten 
nessee, on June 8, 1806. He died in Lee Co., Arkansas, 
on October 6, 1878. Pillow was a prominent Tennessee 
politician and was active in securing the presidential nomi 
nation for his intimate friend James K. Polk. In 1846 
he was commissioned a brigadier general by Polk and 
went to the front in command of the Tennessee volunteers. 
In 1861 he became a brigadier general in the Confederate 
Army and is famous for having deserted his forces at Fort 
Donelson on February 15, 1862, leaving them to be sur 
rendered to Grant the next day by his subordinate, General 
Simon B. Buckner. Also see Autobiography of Lieut. - 
Gen. Scott, Vol. II, pages 116-417. 



16 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

Williams, 9 and about a thousand volunteers). 
We had decidedly a bad passage running on 
sand bars very often being blown up against 
a bank by the wind breaking the rudder twice, 
etc., etc. We left General P[atterson], Captain 
Swift and many others at Matamoros. The Gen 
eral started with the intention of going to Tam- 
pico by sea all the troops ( except the Tennessee 
cavalry) were to go by sea, but at Reinosa an 
express overtook us ordering the General to pro 
ceed by land with all the troops except this com 
pany, which is to go by sea ( !). Captain Swift 
remained at Matamoros on account of his health. 
I was perfectly disgusted coming down the 
river. I found that every confounded Voluntario 
in the "Continental Army" ranked me to be 
ranked and put aside for a soldier of yesterday, 
a miserable thing with buttons on it, that knows 
nothing whatever, is indeed too hard a case. I 
have pretty much made up my mind that if I 
cannot increase my rank in this war, I shall re 
sign shortly after the close of it. I cannot stand 
the idea of being a Second Lieutenant all my life. 
I have learned some valuable lessons in this war. 

9 Later a brigadier general in the Union Army. He 
was adjutant general on McClellan s staff and closely con 
nected with him while in command of the Army of the 
Potomac. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 17 

I am (I hope and believe) pretty well cured of 
castle building. I came down here with high 
hopes, with pleasing anticipations of distinction, 
of being in hard fought battles and acquiring a 
name and reputation as a stepping stone to a 
still greater eminence in some future and greater 
war. I felt that if I could have a chance I could 
do something; but what has been the result the 
real state of the case? The first thing that greeted 
my ears upon arriving off Brazos was the news 
of the battle of Monterey 10 the place of all 
others where this Company and its officers would 
have had an ample field for distinction. There 
was a grand miss, but, thank heaven, it could not 
possibly have been avoided by us. Well, since 
then we have been dodging about waiting a 
week here two weeks there for the pontoon 
train a month in the dirt somewhere else doing 
nothing half the company sick have been sick 
myself for more than a month and a half and 
here we are going to Tampico. What will be the 
next thing it is impossible to guess at. We mat/ 
go to San Luis we may go to Vera Cruz we 
may go home from Tampico we may see a 
fight, or a dozen of them or we may not see a 
shot fired. I have made up my mind to act the 

10 The city was captured on September 2-1, 1816, after 
three days fighting. 



18 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

philosopher to take things as they come and 
not worry my head about the future to try to 
get perfectly well and above all things to see 
as much fun as I can "scare up" in the country. 

I have seen more suffering since I came out 
here than I could have imagined to exist. It is 
really awful. I allude to the sufferings of the 
Volunteers. They literally die like dogs. Were 
it all known in the States, there would be no more 
hue and cry against the Army, all would be will 
ing to have so large a regular army that we could 
dispense entirely with the volunteer system. The 
suffering among the Regulars is comparatively 
trifling, for their officers know their duty and 
take good care of the men. 11 

II "The people are very polite to the regulars . . . but 
they hate the volunteers as they do old scratch himself. 
. . . You never hear of a Mexican being murdered by a 
regular or a regular by a Mexican. The volunteers carry 
on in a most shameful and disgraceful manner; they think 
nothing of robbing and killing the Mexicans." Letter to 
mother, dated "Camp off Camargo, Mex.," November 14, 
1846. (McClellan Papers, Vol. I.) 

"I believe with fifteen thousand regulars, we could go 
to the City of Mexico, but with thirty thousand volunteers 
the whole nature and policy of the war will be changed. 
Already are the injurious influences of their presence per 
ceptible, and you will hear any Mexican in the street 
descanting on the good conduct of the tropas de ligna, as 
they call us, and the dread of the volontarios. And with 
reason, they (the volunteers) have killed five or six inno- 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 19 

I have also come to the conclusion that the 
Quartermaster s Department is most wofully 
conducted never trust anything to that Depart 
ment which you can do for yourself. If you need 
horses for your trains, etc., carry them with you. 
As to provisions (for private use) get as much 

cent people walking in the streets, for no other object than 
their own amusement; to-be-sure, they are always drunk, 
and are in a measure irresponsible for their conduct. They 
rob and steal the cattle and corn of the poor farmers, and 
in fact act more like a body of hostile Indians than of 
civilized whites. Their own officers have no command or 
control over them, and the General has given up in despair 
any hope of keeping them in order. The consequence is 
they are exciting a feeling among the people which will 
induce them to rise en masse to obstruct our progress, and 
if, when we reach the mountains, we have to fight the people 
as well as the soldiers, the game will be up with us. I have 
some hope, however, that when we leave this place, which 
has become a mass of grog-shops and gambling-houses, 
and march to meet the enemy, the absence of liquor, and 
the fear of the enemy, may induce a little order among 
them and bring them to a better state of discipline." Letter 
of George G. Meade, dated Matamoros, July 9, 1816. 
(Life and Letters of General George Gordon Meade, Vol. I, 
pages 109-110.) Meade wrote further, from Camargo, 
August 13, 1846: "Already have they in almost every vol 
unteer regiment reported one-third their number sick, and 
in many cases one-half the whole regiment, and I fear the 
mortality will be terrible among them, for their utter ig 
norance of the proper mode of taking care of themselves. 
The large number of sick is a dead weight upon us, taking 
away so many men as hospital attendants, requiring quar 
ters, etc., and if taken sick on the march, requiring trans- 



20 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

as possible from the Commissaries you get 
things from them at one-half the price you pay 
sutlers. Smith has ridden over to Brazos de 
Santiago to endeavor to make arrangements for 
our immediate transportation to Tampico. Cap 
tain Hunter went with him on my mare. They 
return in the morning. Whilst at Camargo, 
Smith had a discussion with General Patterson 
about his (General Patterson s) right to order 
us when en route to join General Taylor, under 

portation in wagons or on litters." (Same, page 121.) 
Also from Monterey, December 2, 1846: "The volunteers 
have been creating disturbances,, which have at last aroused 
the old General [Taylor] so much that he has ordered one 
regiment, the First Kentucky foot, to march to the rear, as 
they have disgraced themselves and their State. . . . The 
volunteers cannot take any care of themselves ; the hospitals 
are crowded with them, they die like sheep; they waste 
their provisions, requiring twice as much to supply them 
as regulars do. They plunder the poor inhabitants of 
everything they can lay their hands on, and shoot them 
when they remonstrate, and if one of their number happens 
to get into a drunken brawl and is killed, they run over 
the country, killing all the poor innocent people they find 
in their way, to avenge, as they say, the murder of their 
brother. This is a true picture, and the cause is the utter 
incapacity of their officers to control them or command 
respect." (Same, pages 161-162.) 

For further testimony of the same character see Luther 
Giddings, Sketches of the Campaign in Northern Mexico, 
pages 81-85; William Jay, Review of the Mexican War, 
pages 214-222; J. J. Oswandel, Notes on the Mexican 
War, page 114. Also see postea, page 37. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 21 

orders from Head Quarters at Washington. The 
General was obliged to succumb and admit the 
truth of the principle "That an officer of En 
gineers is not subject to the orders of every su 
perior officer, but only to those of his immediate 
chief, and that General (or other high officer) 
to whom he may be ordered to report for duty." 

There goes Gerber with his tattoo so I must 
stop for the present. 

December 6th [1846]. Go it Weathercocks! 
Received an order from Major McCall 1 - this 
morning to go back to Matamoros, as we are to 
march to Tampico, via Victoria, with the column 
under General Patterson. 13 Smith is away at 

r - George A. McCall was born in Philadelphia, Pa., on 
March 16, 1802, and died there on February 25, 1868. He 
graduated from West Point in 1822. McCall was made 
a brigadier general in 1861 and placed in command of the 
Pennsylvania Reserves. He distinguished himself in the 
Peninsular Campaign under the command of McClellan 
at the battles of Mechanicsville, Gaines s Mill and Frazier s 
Farm. 

13 Meade, in a letter dated "Monterey, November 10, 
1816," wrote in explanation of this move as follows: "The 
cabinet at Washington,, profiting by the history of the Aulic 
Council, is manoeuvering his (Taylor s) troops for him, 
and at Washington., entirely independent of his wishes and 
views, organizing expeditions for Tampico, even going so 
far as to designate the troops and their commanders. To- 
be-sure, it is well understood how this is done, by the 



22 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

Brazos and if the order had been one day and 
a half later we would have been off to Tampico 
by sea. Have fine sea bathing here. It is blow 
ing very hard from the south east, so much so 
as to raise the sand too much for comfort entirely. 
Bee and Ward at the Brazos coming over this 
morning will at least have an opportunity of 
giving Georgie that letter of Madame Scott s! 

mighty engine of political influence, that curse of our coun 
try, which forces party politics into everything. 

"General Patterson and others are good Democrats ; they 
are indignant that General Taylor should have left them in 
the rear when he carried more troops than he could feed. 
They complain at Washington, and forthwith General Pat 
terson and Co. are directed to proceed against Tampico, 
and General Patterson informed before his commanding 
general knows anything about it. Well may we be grateful 
that we are at war with Mexico ! Were it any other power, 
our gross follies would have been punished severely be 
fore now. 

"General Taylor, of course, has to succumb, and the 
Tampico expedition is to be immediately prosecuted. Gen 
eral Patterson goes from Camargo. . . . He marches direct 
to Tampico. General Taylor, however, does not design 
that he shall have it in his power, from ignorance or other 
causes, to fail; therefore he will leave here with a column 
of some two thousand men and artillery, light and heavy, 
and will join General Patterson before he reaches Tampico, 
when both columns united, and under General Taylor s 
command, will operate against the town, in conjunction 
with the navy, if the latter have it in its power to do any 
thing." (Life and Letters of G. G. Meade, Vol. I, page 
152.) 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 23 

I feel pleased at the idea of going by land we 
will have a march to talk about, and may very 
probably have a fight on the way. I firmly be 
lieve that we will have a brush before reaching 
Tampico. Unfortunately the whole column is 
Voluntario. 

January 2nd, 1847. Rancho Padillo, on Soto 
la Marina river. I "firmly believed" we would 
have a brush! the devil I did! and a pretty 
fool I was to think I d have such good luck as 
that. I ve given it up entirely. But I was right 
in the other the whole column is Voluntario 
and a pretty column it is too. To go on with 
our affairs. We reached Matamoros on the 8th 
[December] and encamped on the river bank 
just below the Mexican batteries. Smith went 
down to the mouth [of the river] again to select 
tools for the march, leaving me in command. 
After various orders and counter orders we were 
finally (December 21st) directed to appear upon 
the Plaza as early as possible in order to march 
to El Moquete, where General Pillow was en 
camped with the 3rd and 4th Illinois Volunteers. 
"Mind, Mr. Smith" said the old Mustang 14 the 
night before, "mind and appear as early as possi 
ble, so that you may not delay us" all this with 
that air of dignity and importance so peculiarly 

14 i. e.. General Patterson. 



24 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

characteristic of Mustangs; well we got up at 
daybreak and reached the Plaza a little after 
seven, immediately reported ourselves ready to 
start and were informed that we should wait for 
the guide who was momentarily expected. We 
were to march in advance, then the wagon train, 
then Gibson with his artillery (a twelve pounder 
field piece and twenty-four pounder howitzer) 
was to bring up the rear. 

I waited and waited in the hot sun on the 
Plaza, watched the men gorging themselves with 
oranges, sausages etc., them took to swearing by 
way of consolation. When I had succeeded in 
working myself into a happy frame of mind 
(about one o clock) old Abercrombie 15 ordered 
Gibson to start in advance and our company to 
bring up the rear. I wont attempt to describe 
the beauties of forming a rearguard of a wagon 
train. Suffice it to say that the men straggled 
a great deal, some got rather drunk, all very 
tired. We reached the banks of El Arroyo Tigre 
about 8 o clock (two hours after dark) and then 
encamped as we best could. 

I rode on in advance of the company to see 
El Tigre and found Gibson amusing himself by 
endeavoring to curse a team (a caisson) across 
the river, which (the caisson, not the river well, 

15 Aide to General Patterson. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 25 

both were, after all) had got mired in the middle. 
I rode back and met the company about one mile 
from the camp ground, struggling along tired 
to death and straining their eyes to see water 
through the darkness. I consoled them somewhat 
by telling them that it was not more than a mile 
to the water, but they soon found that a mile on 
foot was a great deal longer than a mile on horse 
back. However, we got there at last, pitched our 
camp, and soon forgot all our troubles in sound 
sleep. 

I rode in advance next morning through the 
long wagon train to find a new ford. We crossed 
and encamped with General Pillow s Brigade. 
Went down to Major Harris (4th Illinois) tent, 
where I had a fine drink of brandy and the un 
speakable satisfaction of seeing a democratic Vol 
unteer Captain (in his shirt sleeves) sit, with 
the greatest unconcern, on a tent peg for at least 
an hour. Gibson and I then went to Winship s 
tent where we found G. W. [Smith] and an 
invitation to dine with General Pillow. 

During dinner it began to rain like bricks. 
We adjourned to Winship s tent, and the sight 
we presented would have amused an hermit. The 
water [was] about an inch deep in the tent, and 
we four sitting on the bed passing around a tum 
bler continually replenished from that old keg 



26 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

of commissary whiskey oh lord! how it did fly 
round! and we were as happy a set of soldiers 
as ever lived "in spite of wind and weather." 
"Whoa Winship," says Gibson, "that s too 
strong" so he drank it all to keep us from being 
injured. Well, we amused ourselves in this way 
until dark then we waded back to our respective 
domiciles (is a tent a domicile?) having pre 
viously seen old Patt make his grand entree in 
the midst of a hard rain he in Dr. Wright s 16 
covered wagon (looking for all the world like an 
old Quaker farmer going to market), his escort 
and staff dripping with the rain. We wondered 
why they looked so dismal and thought that it 
had not been such a horrid bad day after all! 

This evening G. W. [Smith] and myself had 
a grand cursing match over an order from the 
"stable" requiring a detail from our camp to 
pitch and unpitch the General s tents etc. How 
ever, we sent them just about the meanest detail 
that they ever saw. At this place our large army 
was divided into two columns. We moved at 
the head of the first column. General Pillow 
came on one day after us. 

We started about 7.30 a bright sunny morn 
ing. Nothing of interest this day the men im 
proved in their marching. We encamped about 

16 Surgeon on General Patterson s staff. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 27 

three o clock at Guijano, where there were two 
ponds of very good water. We had a beautiful 
spot for our encampment, and a most delightful 
moonlight evening. There is one house hut 
rather at this place. From Matamoros to this 
place the road is excellent requiring no repairs- 
chaparral generally thick on road side one or 
two small prairies road would be boggy in wet 
weather. From Matamoros to Moquete [is] 
about ten miles, from El Moquete to El Guijano 
about ten miles. 

On the next day (December 24th) we marched 
to Santa Teresa, a distance of 27 miles. It was 
on this march that we (i. e. Songo 17 ) made the 
"raise" on General Patterson s birds. He sent 
us four for supper. We ate as many as we could 
and had five left for breakfast fully equal to the 
loaves and fishes this. We stopped for nearly 
an hour at Salina a pond of rather bad water 
about half way to Santa Teresa what a rush 
the Voluntaries made for the water! When we 
arrived we found the mustang crowd taking their 
lunch. 18 As Songo had just then made one of 

17 A Mexican servant. 

ls George C. Furber, in his Twelve Months Volunteer; 
or Journal of a Private in the Campaign in Mexico, gives 
in chapters VIII and IX (pages 275-393) a lively account 
of this same march, in which he took part,, from Matamoros 
to Victoria and Tampico. He describes many of the events 



28 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

his periodical disappearances we were left with 
out any thing to eat for some time, but at last we 
descried him caracoling across the prairie on 
his graceful charger. The mustangs did not have 
the politeness to ask us to partake of their lunch, 
but when Songo did come our brandy was better 
than theirs anyhow. At Santa Teresa the water 
was very bad being obtained from a tancho. I 
bluffed off a volunteer regiment some 100 yards 
from our camp. As the Lieutenant Colonel of 
this same regiment (3rd Illinois) was marching 
them along by the flank he gave the command 

noted by McClellan, but from the standpoint of an en 
thusiastic and self-confident member of the volunteer forces. 
The contemptuous sting in McClellan s frequent refer 
ences to "mustangs" can be appreciated from the following. 
Says Furber (page 376) : "The mustang cavalry a de 
scription of force unknown to the army regulations . . . 
accompanied us from Victoria. It was composed of num 
bers from the three regiments of infantry. Any one that 
could raise the means to buy a long-eared burro (jackass), 
or a mule, or old Mexican horse, or any such conveyance, 
immediately entered the mustang cavalry. Such animals 
could be bought for from three to five dollars. Some of 
the riders had procured Mexican saddles, with their horse 
hair housings and bridles also; while some had bridles, but 
no saddles; others had saddles without bridles; while 
others, again, had neither. Here was a soldier large as 
life, with his musket in his hand, on a little jackass, with 
out saddle or bridle, and so small that the rider had to lift 
his feet from the ground; the little burro jogged along 
with him, occasionally stopping to gather a bite of grass." 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 29 

"by file left march!" to bring it on the color 
line. The leading file turned at about an angle 
of 30 degrees. "Holloa there" says the Colonel 
"you man there, you dont know how to file." 
"The h 1 I dont" yells the man "d n you, I ve 
been marching all day, and I guess I m tired." 

Road good passes principally through prairie 

at Salina wood scarce in immediate vicinity of 

the water, plenty about three quarters of a mile 

from it. Wood not very plenty at Santa Teresa 

enough however. 

December 25th. We started at sunrise, and 
it was a sunrise well worthy of the day. A cloud 
obscured the sun at first, but it seemed a cloud 
of the brightest, purest gold, and the whole east 
was tinged with a hue which would defy the art 
of man to imitate. It was one of those scenes 
which occur but once in many years, and which 
elevate us for a moment above the common range 
of our thoughts. In an instant I thought of my 
whole life, of the happy Christmas days of my 
childhood, of my mother, of the very few others 
I love how happy Arthur and Mary 19 must 
have been at that moment with their Christmas 
gifts! When I was a child as they are now 
I little thought that I should ever spend a Christ 
mas day upon the march, in Mexico. The time 

19 McClellan s small brother and sister. 



30 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

may come hereafter when I shall spend Christ 
mas in a way little anticipated by me on this 
Christmas day. God grant that my troubles may 
be as few and my thoughts as pleasant as they 
were then ! 

I rode off into the prairie followed by Songo 
and in the excitement of chasing some rabbits 
managed to lose the column. I at length found 
my way back, and was told that I had created 
quite an excitement. When I was first seen in 
the distance they did not know whether I was 
a Mexican or a white man. Patt, finally con 
cluded that I must be a straggling "Tennessee 
horse," gave the Colonel a blowing up for allow 
ing his men to leave the column, and directed him 
to send out a guard to apprehend the "vagrom 
man." Just about that time Smith found out 
what was going on, discovered who it was and 
rectified the mistake. 

Passed Chiltipine about 11 A. M. sent Songo 
to buy eggs and milk. After we had passed about 
a mile beyond the Ranche [Rancho, a hut], I 
heard a peculiar neigh which I recognized as 
Jim s and loud laughing from the volunteers. 
I turned around and saw Jim "streaking it 
against time" for the mare head up, eyes start 
ing and neighing at every jump, minus Songo. 
I rode back to see what had become of the "faith- 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 31 

ful Jumbo," Jim following like a little puppy 
dog. It appeared that Jim had thrown his "fidus 
Achates." When we stopped at Chiltipine Dr. 
Weight gave us a drink of first rate brandy. 

At Chiltipine (or very near there) we left the 
road and took a prairie path to the left. The 
grass was so high that we found ourselves at 
about 1 P. M. out of sight of the train and artil 
lery. Pat became very much agitated and or 
dered a halt, glasses were put in requisition 
(brandy and spy) but no train could be discov 
ered. Pat became highly excited and imagined 
all kinds of accidents. At last some artillery 
was discovered. Pat s excitement reached its 
highest pitch, for he took it into his head that 
they were Mexicans. "Good G d, Mr. Smith! 
Take your glass take your glass those are our 
artillery or something worse! I fear they have 
been cut off." However, it turned out to be Gib 
son, and Pat s countenance changed suddenly 
from a "Bluntish," blueish, ghastly white to a 
silly grin. 

At last we reached our camp at a dirty, muddy 
lake ornamented by a dead jackass. Pat en 
sconced himself in the best place with Tennessee 
horse as a guard, put Gibson "in battery" on the 
road, with us on his left flank a large interval 
between us and the Tennessee horse a similar 



32 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

one between Gibson and the Illinois foot. Gib 
son had orders to defend the road. How he was 
to be informed of the approach of the enemy 
"this deponent knoweth not," such a thing as a 
picket was not thought of. I suppose Pat 
thought the guns old enough to speak for them 
selves. 

For our Christmas dinner we had a beefsteak 
and some fried mush. Not quite so good as tur 
key and mince pies, but we enjoyed it as much 
as the cits at home did their crack dinners. We 
finished a bottle of the Captain s best sherry in 
a marvellous short time. Songo looked as if he 
thought we ought to be fuddled, but we were too 
old soldiers for that. After dinner we started 
off "to see Seth Williams," but saw the mustangs 
at their feed and "huevosed" the ranche. By the 
bye, we thought that ordinary politeness would 
have induced old Pat to have given us an invita 
tion to dine, but we spent our time more pleas 
antly than we would have done there. We went 
from Pat s to Colonel Thomas s, and returned 
thence to Gibson, whom we found in a very good 
humor, and whose Volunteer Sub-Lieutenant 
(W ) was most gloriously and unroariously 
[sic] corned. He yelled like a true Mohawk, 
and swore that "little Jane" somebody had the 
prettiest foot and hand in all Tennessee. He 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 33 

set the men a most splendid example of good 
conduct and quietness, but what can you expect 
from a Volunteer? One of his ideas was first 
rate "Just imagine old Patt being attacked by 
the Mexicans, and running over here in his shirt 
tail breaking thro the pond with old Aber- 
crombie after him. The d d old fox put us here 
where he thought the enemy would get us. Sup 
pose they should come in on the other side? 
D n him we d see him streaking over here, with 
old McCall and Abercrombie after, their shirt 
tails flying, by G d." 

December 26th. Marched 20 miles to San 
Fernando where we arrived a little after sunset. 
Road level until we arrived within about 5 miles 
of San Fernando, when it became rocky and hilly 
but always practicable. About 4 miles from San 
Fernando we reached the summit of a hill from 
which we beheld a basin of hills extending for 
miles and miles not unlike the hills between the 
Hudson and Connecticut opposite West Point. 
About two miles from San Fernando are some 
wells of pretty good water the men were very 
thirsty Gerber offered a volunteer half a dollar 
for a canteen full of water. My little mare drank 
until I thought she would kill herself. The 
Alcalde and his escort met General Patterson 
at this place. He was all bows, smiles and polite- 



34 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

ness. Murphy of whom more anon had the honor 
of taking San Fernando by storm. He was the 
first to enter it, mounted on his gallant steed. 
We first saw San Fernando as we arrived at the 
summit of a high hill, the last rays of the sun 
shining on its white houses, and the dome of the 
"Cathedral 3 gave it a beautiful appearance. It 
was a jewel in the midst of these uninhabited and 
desert hills. We encamped in a hollow below the 
town had a small eggnog and dreamed of a hard 
piece of work we had to commence on the mor 
row. Manana [tomorrow morning] por la 
manana. 

December 27th. We had our horses saddled 
at reveille and before sunrise were upon the 
banks of El Rio de San Fernando a clear, cold 
and rapid mountain stream, about 40 yards wide 
and two and a half feet deep bottom of hard 
gravel. We crossed the stream and found our 
selves the first American soldiers who had been 
on the further bank. The approaches to the 
stream from the town required some repairs, 
nothing very bad it was horrible on the other 
side. As we again crossed the stream we halted 
to enjoy the beautiful view the first rays of the 
sun gave an air of beauty and freshness to the 
scene that neither pen nor pencil can describe. 

With a detail of 200 men and our own 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 35 

company we finished our work before dinner. 
Walked up into the town in the afternoon. On 
this day General Pillow overtook us. He had 
a difficulty with a volunteer officer who mutinied, 
drew a revolver on the General, etc., etc. The 
General put him in charge of the guard his regi 
ment remonstrated, mutinied, etc., and the matter 
was finally settled by the officer making an 
apology. 

December 28th. Crossed the stream before 
sunrise under orders to move on with the Ten 
nessee horse one day in advance of the column 
in order to repair a very bad ford at the next 
watering place Las Chomeras. Very tiresome 
and fatiguing march of about 22 miles. Road 
pretty good, requiring a few repairs here and 
there. Water rather brackish. Very pretty en 
campment. Stream about 20 yards wide and 18 
inches deep. No bread and hardly any meat for 
supper. 

December 29th. Finished the necessaiy re 
pairs about 12 noon. We partook of some kid 
and claret with Colonel Thomas. While there 
General Patterson arrived and crossed the 
stream, encamping on the other side. Waded 
over the stream to see the Generals were or 
dered to move on in advance next morning with 
two companies of horse and 100 infantry. 



36 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

December 30th. Started soon after daybreak 
minus the infantry who were not ready. Joined 
advanced guard, where Selby raised a grand 
scare about some Indians who were lying in am 
bush at a ravine called "los tres palos" in order 
to attack us. When we reached the ravine the 
guard halted and I rode on to examine it and 
look for the Indians I found a bad ravine but 
no Indians. 

On this same day the Major commanding the 
rear guard (Waterhouse, of the Tennessee Cav 
alry) was told by a wagonmaster that the ad 
vanced guard was in action with the Mexicans. 
The men, in the rear guard, immediately imag 
ined that they could distinguish the sound of 
cannon and musketry. The cavalry threw off 
their saddle bags and set off at a gallop the 
infantry jerked off their knapsacks and put out 
Major and all deserted their posts on the bare 
report of a wagonmaster that the advance was 
engaged. A beautiful commentary this on the 
"citizen soldiery." Had we really been attacked 
by 500 resolute men we must inevitably have been 
defeated, although our column consisted of 1700 
for the road was narrow some men would 
have rushed one way, some another all would 
have been confusion and all, from the General 
down to the dirtiest rascal of the filthy crew, 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 37 

would have been scared out of their wits (if they 
ever had any). 

Our 100 infantry dodged off before we had 
done much work, and our own men did every 
thing. We reached Encinal about 4 P. M. after 
a march of about 17 miles, and almost incessant 
labor at repairs. It was on this day that General 
Patterson sent back Brigadier General Pillow 
to tell Second Lieutenant Smith to cut down a 
tree around which it was impossible to go!! 

December 31st. We left Encinal at daybreak 
and arrived at about 2 P. M. at Santander, o 
Jimenez. Road good for about ten miles when 
we found ourselves on the brow of a hill, some 
8,50 feet above the vast plain, in the midst of 
which was the little town of Santander. No other 
indication of life was to be seen than its white 
houses. The descent was very steep, the road 
bad from the foot of the hill to Santander. We 
had a slight stampede here, some one imagined 
that he saw an armed troop approaching (which 
turned out to be the Alcalde and his suite ) . We 
passed the town, crossed the river and encamped. 
Songo got 19 eggs and we had a "bust." Colonel 
Thomas turned out some whiskey to Gibson for 
an eggnog before he arrived the eggnog was 
gone. I have some indistinct ideas of my last 
sensible moments being spent in kneeling on my 



38 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

bed, and making an extra eggnog on the old 
mess chest. I dont recollect whether I drank it 
or not, but as the pitcher was empty the next 
morning, I rather fancy that I must have done so, 
January 1st, 1847. Woke up and found the 
ridge pole off at one end. I rather suspect that 
G. W. [Smith] must have done it by endeavor 
ing to see the old year out perhaps the new one 
came in via our tent, and did the damage in its 
passage. We began the new year by starting 
on the wrong road. After invading about two 
miles of the enemies country we were overtaken 
by an officer at full gallop, who informed us that 
the column had taken another road and that we 
must make our way to the front as we best could. 
Smith had been informed the preceding day by 
Winship (General Pillow s Adjutant General) 
that the road we took was the right one to Vic 
toria. We quickly discovered the magnitude of 
our mistake, for we got amongst the Volunteers, 
and the lord deliver us from ever getting into 
such a scrape again. Falstaff s company were 
regulars in comparison with these fellows most 
of them without coats; some would have looked 
much better without any pants than with the 
parts of pants they wore; all had torn and dirty 
shirts uncombed heads unwashed faces they 
were dirt and filth from top to toe. Such march- 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 39 

ing! They were marching by the flank, yet the 
road was not wide enough to hold them and it 
was with the greatest difficulty that you could 
get by all hollowing, cursing, yelling like so 
many incarnate fiends no attention or respect 
paid to the commands of their officers, whom they 
would curse as quickly as they would look at 
them. They literally straggled along for miles. 

In making a short cut through the chaparral 
we came upon a detachment of mounted Volun 
teers, amongst whom the famous Murphy, captor 
of two cities, stood out predominant. He was 
mounted on the "crittur" he had "drawn" i. e. 
stolen in the bushes. The beast was frisky and 
full of life at first, but by dint of loading him 
down with knapsacks and muskets he had tamed 
him pretty well. Imagine an Irishman some six 
feet, two inches high, seated on the "hindmost 
slope of the rump" of a jackass about the size 
of an ordinary Newfoundland dog, his legs ex 
tended along its sides, and the front part of the 
beast loaded down with knapsacks etc. Murphy 
steered the animal with his legs, every once and 
a while administering a friendly kick on the head, 
by way of reminding him that he was thar. 

When we crossed the San Fernando I saw a 
Mexican endeavoring to make two little jackasses 
cross. He was unable to do so and finallv sold 



40 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

them to a Volunteer for fifty cents ; the Volunteer 
got them over safely. After regaling ourselves 
with a view of Murphy we considered ourselves 
fully repaid for the extra distance we had 
marched. At last we gained our place at the 
head of the column and arrived at Marquesoto 
about 12 noon, without further incident except 
that General Pillow appropriated one of our big 
buckets to the purpose of obtaining water from 
the well. We had a very pretty ground for our 
encampment and had a fine eggnog that night, 
with Winship to help us drink it. From Santan- 
der to Marquesoto about ten miles. 

January 2nd. Started before daylight, Cap 
tain Snead s Company in advance. Road very 
rough, covered with loose stones could not im 
prove it with the means at our command. Pat 
thought we might have done it but hang Pat s 
opinion. Saw for the first time the beautiful 
flower of the Spanish bayonet a pyramid, about 
two and a half or three feet high, composed of 
hundreds of white blossoms. Pat immediately 
began to talk about "SevSpov* this and "Sci/Spoi/" 
that and the "Se*>Spa" in his conservatory. San 
Antonio is the place where Iturbide 20 was taken 

20 Agustin de Iturbide was born in Spain on September 
27, 1783, the son of a Spanish noble. He entered the army 
and attained a high and responsible position in the Spanish 




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Facsimile reproduction of McClel an s manuscript. 

FIRST PAGE OF THE MEXICAN WAR DIARY. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 41 

as Arista s map says. . . . It is a large yellow 
house looking quite modern in the wilderness. 

The crossing at the stream was very bad, and 
required a great deal of work. Major McCall 
thought it would take two days in two days we 
were at Victoria. The stream is a branch of the 
Soto la Marina and is called San Antonio. It 
is a clear cold stream the banks lined with 
cypress trees the first I ever saw. Pat (after 
ringing in to the owner of the ranch for a dinner) 
ensconced himself in the roots of a large cypress 
and with a countenance expressing mingled emo 
tions of fear, anxiety, impatience and disgust 
watched the progress of the work yelled at 
every one who rode into the water etc., etc. 

January 3rd. We started before daylight and 
succeeded in getting clear of the volunteer camp 

administration of Mexico. In 1821 he advocated the cele 
brated "Plan of Iguala," in which it was proposed that 
Mexico should become independent under the rule of a 
member of the Spanish royal family. Ferdinand VII re 
garded the movement as a rebellion,, and Iturbide himself 
was proclaimed emperor as Agustin I in May, 1822, and 
crowned the following July. 

A rebellion immediately broke out against his authority 
under the lead of Santa Anna, who proclaimed a republic 
at Vera Cruz. Iturbide was forced to abdicate in March, 
1823, and went to Europe. He returned to Mexico the fol 
lowing year but was arrested and shot at Padilla on July 
19, 1824. 



42 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

by dint of great exertions. After marching about 
five miles through a fertile river bottom we 
reached the main branch of the Soto la Marina, 
a most beautiful stream of the clearest, coldest, 
most rapid water I ever saw about sixty yards 
wide and three feet deep. Sohgo had some trou 
ble in crossing without being washed off "Jim." 

Padilla is situated on the banks of this stream 
an old town rapidly going to ruin with a 
quaint old Cathedral built probably 200 years 
ago, if not more. After marching about twelve 
miles more we reached the stream of La Corona, 
another branch of La Marina, similar in its char 
acter to the others. After working for about 
an hour on the banks we encamped on the further 
side. The Tennessee horse gave our men a "lift" 
over both the last streams some of the Sappers 21 
had evidently never been mounted before. 

January 4th. Very early we started for Vic 
toria and had to work our way through the 
camp of the Illinois regiments which was placed 
along the road. At last we cleared them and 
found ourselves marching by moonlight through 
a beautiful grove of pecan trees. I know nothing 
more pleasant than this moonlight marching, 
everything is so beautiful and quiet. Every few 

21 Sappers, soldiers employed in the building of fortifi 
cations, field works, etc. (Century Diet.) 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 43 

moments a breath of warm air would strike our 
faces reminding us that we were almost beneath 
the Tropic. After we had marched for about 
four hours we heard a little more yelling than 
usual among the Volunteers. Smith turned his 
horse to go and have it stopped when who should 
we see but the General and his staff in the midst 
of the yelling. We concluded that they must be 
yelling too, so we let them alone. This is but 
one instance of the many that occurred when 
these Mustang Generals were actually afraid to 
exert their authority upon the Volunteers. 
Their popularity would be endangered. I have 
seen enough on this march to convince me that 
Volunteers and Volunteer Generals wont do. I 
have repeatedly seen a Second Lieutenant of the 
regular army exercise more authority over the 
Volunteers officers and privates than a Mus 
tang General. 

The road this day was very good and after a 
march of about seventeen miles we reached Vic 
toria. The Volunteers had out their flags, etc. 
those that had uniforms put them on, especially 
the commandant of the advanced guard. Picks 
and shovels were put up Generals halted and 
collected their staffs, and in they went in grand 
procession evidently endeavoring to create the 
impression that they had marched in this way all 



44 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

the way the few regular officers along laughing 
enough to kill themselves. 

General [John A.] Quitman came out to meet 
General Patterson but old Zach [Taylor], who 
arrived with his regulars about an hour before 
we did, stayed at home like a sensible man. 22 We 
made fools of ourselves (not we either, for I was 
laughing like a wise man all the time) by riding 
through the streets to General Quitman s quar 
ters where we had wine and fruit. Then we rode 
down to the camp ground a miserable stony 
field we in one corner of it, the "Continental 
Army" all over the rest of it. We at last got 
settled. About dark started over to General 
Taylor s camp. Before I had gone 200 yards 
I met the very person I was going to see need 

1 "General Taylor never wore uniform, but dressed 
himself entirely for comfort. He moved about the field 
in which he was operating to see through his own eyes the 
situation. Often he would be without staff officers, and 
when he was accompanied by them there was no prescribed 
order in which they followed. He was very much given 
to sit his horse sideways with both feet on one side 
particularly on the battlefield. . . . Taylor was not a con 
versationalist, but on paper he could put his meaning so 
plainly that there could be no mistaking it. He knew how 
to express what he wanted to say in the fewest well chosen 
words, but would not sacrifice meaning to the construction 
of high sounding sentences." U. S. Grant, Memoirs, 
Vol. I, pages 138-139. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 45 

not say how glad I was to meet him after a two 
months absence. 

This reminds me that when at Matamoros 
a day or two before we started on the march we 
received the news of poor Norton s death. I had 
written a letter to him the day before which was 
in my portfolio when I heard of his death. The 
noble fellow met his death on board the Atlantic, 
which was lost in Long Island Sound near Xew 
London on the 27th November 1846. Captain 
Cullum and Lieutenant C. S. Stewart were both 
on board, and both escaped. Xorton exerted 
himself to the last to save the helpless women and 
children around him but in accordance with the 
strange presentiment that had been hanging over 
him for some time, he lost his own life. He was 
buried at West Point which will seem to me 
a different place without him. 

One night when at Victoria I was returning 
from General Taylor s camp and was halted 
about 150 yards from our Company by a Volun 
teer sentinel. As I had not the countersign I 
told him who I was. He said I should not go 
by him. I told him "Confound you I wont stay 
out here all night." Said he "You had no busi 
ness to go out of camp." Said I "Stop talking, 
you scoundrel, and call the Corporal of the 
Guard." "I ain t got no orders to call for the 



46 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

Corporal and wont do it you may, though, if 
you want." "What s the number of your post?" 
"Dont know." "Where s the Guard tent?" "Dont 
know." As I was debating whether to make a 
rush for it, or to seek some softer hearted speci 
men of patriotism, another sentinel called out to 
me "Come this way, Sir!" It appeared that the 
first fellow s post extended to one side of the 
road, and the last one s met it there. "Come this 
way, Sir" said he, "Just pass around this bush 
and go in." "Hurrah for you" said I, "you re 
a trump, and that other fellow is a good for noth 
ing blaguard." 

Left Victoria January 13th and arrived at 
Tampico on the 23rd. Wednesday January 13th. 
From Victoria to Santa Rosa four leagues. Road 
not very hilly, but had to be cut through thick 
brush; two very bad wet arroyos [gulches] were 
bridged. Santa Rosa a miserable ranche could 
only get a half dozen eggs and a little pig in the 
whole concern good water in the stream. 

[January] 14th. Started before daylight and 
before going 200 yards we landed in a lake the 
road, or path, passed directly through it, and 
during the rest of the day it was necessary to 
cut the road through thick brush no cart had 
ever been there before. Bridged two wet arroyos 
and encamped about sunset by a little stream. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 47 

Just as enough water had been procured the 
stream was turned off probably by the Mex 
icans. We had a stampede this day. Rode on 
about six miles with the guide. Country a per 
fect wilderness not a ranche between Santa 
Rosa and Fordleone. 

[January] 15th. Started early, road cut 
through a mesquit[e] forest, many gullies, two 
bad arroyos before reaching El Pastor. Here 
General Twiggs 23 caught us, about 11 A. M., 
army encamped, but we went on. I worked the 
road for about five miles, and started back at 4 

23 David E. Twiggs was born in Richmond Co., Georgia, 
in 1790. He served in the war of 1812, and in the Mex 
ican War became a brigade and division commander under 
General Scott. In February, 1861, he was in command 
of the Department of Texas, but surrendered his forces, 
with the military stores under his charge, to the Confed 
erates. On March 1, 1861, Joseph Holt, Secretary of War, 
issued "General Order No. 5" as follows, "By the direc 
tion of the President of the United States, it is ordered that 
Brig. Gen. David E. Twiggs, major-general by brevet, be, 
and is hereby, dismissed from the Army of the United 
States, for his treachery to the flag of his country, in hav 
ing surrendered, on the 18th of February, 1861, on the de 
mand of the authorities of Texas, the military posts and 
other property of the United States in his department and 
under his charge." (Official Records, War of the Rebellion, 
Series /, Vol. I, page 597.) 

Twiggs was appointed a major general in the Confed 
erate Army, and died at Augusta, Georgia, on September 
15, 1862. 



48 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

[o clock]. Smith and Guy de L 24 rode on 

about ten miles. Road better but very stony. 

"Couldn t come the cactus" over Guy de L 

this day. He (G. de L.) shot five partridges at 
a shot which made us a fine supper. 

[January] 16th. Reveille at 3 started at 4 
arrived at end of preceding day s work just at 
daybreak. Road very stony in many places- 
swore like a trooper all day arrived at Arroyo 
Albaquila about 11 [A. M.]. Twiggs came up 
and helped us wonderfully by his swearing got 
over in good time cussed our way over another 
mile and a half then encamped by the same 
stream water very good. 

[January] 17th. Started before daybreak- 
road quite good prairie land arrived at Ford- 
leone or Ferlon at about half after ten. Fine 
large stream of excellent water good ford- 
gravelly bottom gentle banks. 11 miles. 

[January] 18th. Reveille at 3. Started long 
before daybreak eyes almost whipped out of my 
head in the dark by the branches. Crossed the 
Rio Persas again at a quarter before seven 

24 "The correspondent of the Spirit of the Times/ G. de 
L., is Captain [Guy] Henry, of the Third Infantry, a 
classmate of mine at West Point, a very good fellow, and 
I notice his recent productions since our march from 
Camargo have been quite spirited." Meade, Life and Let 
ters, Vol. I, pages 167-168. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 49 

road rather stony in some places, but generally 
good. Great many palmetto trees beautiful 
level country, covered with palmettos and cattle. 
"Struck" a bottle of aguardiente, or sugar cane 
rum. Made a fine lunch out of cold chicken and 
rum toddy had another toddy when we arrived 
at our journey s end. Water from a stream, 
but bad. . . . Rode on about three miles and 
found the road pretty good. 

[January] 19th. On comparing notes at 
reveille found that the rum and polonay had made 
us all sick. 2 Started at 5, road pretty good. 
Much open land, fine pasture great deal of cat 
tle. Reached Alamitos at about 9 A. M. fine 
hacienda [farm] good water, in a stream. Had 
a bottle of champagne for lunch thanks to Gen 
eral Smith. From this place to Tampico, the 
principal labor consisted in making a practicable 
wagon road across the numerous arroyos most 
of them dry at the time we passed: the banks 



25 



"McClellan s sobriquet in Mexico, among his intimate 
friends, was Polance (sugar). On the march, when [he] 
first arrived, he insisted upon eating a lot of the sugar 
arranged on even cobs and persuading his companions to 
eat it too. He was always fond of sweet things. They all 
became ill in consequence, and he more than any of them. 
After that they addressed him as Polance for he kept say 
ing. Why it s Polance, the best sugar it can t hurt any 
one ." (Note in writing of McClellan s daughter, McClel- 
lan Papers, Vol. 108.) 



50 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

very steep. Altamira is a pretty little town, one 
march from Tampico. The road between them 
passes through a very magnificent forest of live 
oaks. We encamped three miles from Tampico 
for about four days, and then moved into quar 
ters in the town the quarters so well known as 
"The Bullhead Tavam." 

Tampico is a delightful place 26 we passed a 
very pleasant time there, and left it with regret. 
We found the Artillery regiments encamped 
around the city. Many of the officers came out 
to meet us near Altamira. Champagne suppers 
were the order of the day (night I should say) 
for a long time. From Victoria to Tampico we 
were detached with Guy Henry s company of 
the 3rd and Gantt s of the 7th Henry messed 
with us. When within about four days march 
of Tampico we saw in front of us Mount Bernal, 
which is shaped like a splendid dome. 

26 Tampico is a delightful place, having fine cafes, and 
all the luxuries of a somewhat civilized town. ... I find 
the place much larger than I expected, and really quite 
delightful. There is a large foreign population of mer 
chants, and in consequence the town has all such comforts 
as good restaurants, excellent shops, where everything can 
be purchased, and is in fact quite as much of a place as 
New Orleans. It is inaccessible, owing to a bar, having 
only eight feet of water, and as this is the season of 
Northers, already many wrecks have taken place." Meade, 
Life and Letters, Vol. I, pages 175 and 177. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 51 

We left Tampico 27 at daylight on the 24th 
February [1847] on board a little schooner called 
the Orator a fast sailer, but with very inferior 
accommodations. I really felt sorry to leave the 
old "Bullhead Tavarn" where I had passed so 
many pleasant moments. The view of the fine 
city of Tampico as we sailed down the river was 
beautiful. Its delightful rides, its beautiful 
rivers, its lagoons and pleasant Cafe will ever be 
present to my mind. Some of the happiest hours 
of my life were passed in this same city Santa 
Anna de Tamaulipas. 

On arriving at Lobos 28 we found that we had 

27 "You can form no idea of the pleasure it gave us to 
meet the regulars after having been so long with the cursed 
volunteers. ... I am tired of Tampico for I like to be in 
motion. You have no idea of the charm and excitement 
of a march I could live such a life for years and years 
without becoming tired of it. There is a great deal of 
hardship but we have our own fun. If we have to get 
up, and start long before daybreak we make up for it, 
when we gather around the campfires at night you never 
saw such a merry set as we are no care, no trouble we 
criticize the Generals laugh and swear at the mustangs 
and volunteers, smoke our cigars and drink our brandy, 
when we have any go without when we have none." (Let 
ter to Mother dated Tampico, February 4, 1847. (Mc- 
Clellan Papers, Vol. I.) 

28 The Isle of Lobos is "a lovely little spot, formed en 
tirely of coral, about two miles in circumference, twelve 
miles from the Mexican shore, sixty from Tampico, and 



52 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

arrived a day in advance of the "Army of the 
Rhine," which had started a day before us. Lobos 
is a small island formed by a coral reef about 
18 or 20 miles from the shore, forming under its 
lee a safe but not very pleasant anchorage. I 
went on shore but found nothing remarkable. 
Some 60 vessels were there when we started. At 
last the order was given to sail for Point Anton 
Lizardo. We sailed next but one after the gen 
erals and arrived before any of them except 
Twiggs. We ran on the reef under the lee of 
Salmadina Island, were immediately taken off 
by the navy boats which put us on shore where 
we were very kindly received by the Rocketeers. 
It was a great relief to get rid of that confounded 
red and white flag "send a boat with an officer" 
and the disagreeable duty of reporting to the 
General en Gefe every morning. A French 

one hundred and thirty from Vera Cruz." N. C. Brooks, 
History of the Mexican War, page 295. 

It was at the Isle of Lobos that General Scott organized 
his army. The regulars were divided into two brigades, 
commanded by Generals William J. Worth and David E. 
Twiggs respectively. General Robert Patterson com 
manded the division of volunteers which was composed of 
the three brigades of Generals Gideon J. Pillow, John A. 
Quitman and James Shields. All told, Scott s army num 
bered over 12,000 men. J. B. McMaster, History of the 
People of the United States, Vol. VII, page 506; James 
Schouler, History of the United States, Vol. V, page 42. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 53 

sailor of the Orator undertook to pilot us and 
carried us on a reef of what he called Sacrificios 29 
but what turned out to be Anton Lizardo. 

On the morning of the 9th of March we were 
removed from the Orator to the steamer Edith, 
and after three or four hours spent in transfer 
ring the troops to the vessels of war and steamers, 
we got under weigh and sailed for Sacrificios. At 
half past one we were in full view of the town 
[Vera Cruz] and castle, with which we soon were 
to be very intimately acquainted. 

Shortly after anchoring the preparations for 
landing commenced, and the 1st (Worth s) 30 
Brigade was formed in tow of the "Princeton" 
in two long lines of surf boats bayonets fixed 
and colors flying. At last all was ready, but just 
before the order was given to cast off a shot 
whistled over our heads. "Here it comes" thought 
everybody, "now we will catch it." When the 
order was given the boats cast off and forming 
in three parallel lines pulled for the shore, not 

:9 The island of Sacrificios^ three miles south of Vera 
Cruz. 

30 William J. Worth was born in Hudson, X. Y., on 
March 1, 1794. He fought in the War of 1812 and in the 
Seminole War in 1841. During the Mexican War he par 
ticipated in the campaigns of Generals Taylor and Scott 
and later he commanded in Texas. He died at San An 
tonio, Texas, on Mav 17, 1849. 



54 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

a word was said everyone expected to hear and 
feel their batteries open every instant. Still we 
pulled on and on until at last when the first 
boats struck the shore those behind, in the fleet, 
raised that same cheer which has echoed on all 
our battlefields we took it up and such cheering 
I never expect to hear again except on the field 
of battle. 

Without waiting for the boats to strike the 
men jumped in up to their middles in the water 
and the battalions formed on their colors in an 
instant our company was the right of the re 
serve under [Lieut.-] Colonel Belton. Our com 
pany and the 3rd Artillery ascended the sand 
hills and saw nothing. We slept in the sand- 
wet to the middle. In the middle of the night 
we were awakened by musketry a skirmish be 
tween some pickets. The next morning we were 
sent to unload and reload the "red iron boat"- 
after which we resumed our position and took our 
place in the line of investment. Before we com 
menced the investment, the whole army was 
drawn up on the beach. We took up our posi 
tion on a line of sand hills about two miles from 
the town. The Mexicans amused themselves by 
firing shot and shells at us all of which (with 
one exception) fell short. 

The sun was most intensely hot, and there was 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 55 

not a particle of vegetation on the sand hills which 
we occupied. Captain Swift found himself un 
able to stand it, and at about half past twelve 
gave up the command to G. W. Smith and went 
on board the "Massachusetts" that same after 
noon. He did not resume the command, but re 
turned to the United States. He died in New 
Orleans on the 24th of April. 

About one we were ordered to open a road to 
Malibran (a ruined monastery at the head of 
the lagoon ) . The Mohawks had been skirmish 
ing around there, but, as I was afterward in 
formed by some of their officers, that they fired 
more on each other than on the Mexicans. After 
cutting the road to Malibran we continued it as 
far as the railroad a party of Volunteers doing 
the work and some 25 of our men acting as a 
guard. When we arrived at the railroad, we 
found it and the chaparral occupied by the Mex 
icans. Our men had a skirmish with t hem- 
charged the chaparral and drove them out of it. 

We returned to Malibran and bivouacked on 
the wet grass without fires hardly anything to 
eat wet and cold. Got up in the morning and 
resumed our work on the road from the railroad 
to the "high bare sand hill" occupied by the 
Pennsylvanians the night before. The work was 
very tedious, tiresome and difficult the hill verv 



56 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

high and steep and the work not at all facili 
tated by the shells and shot that continually fell 
all around us. At last we cut our way to the 
summit tired to death. A M - rifleman was 
killed this morning by a 24 pound shot on top 
of the hill. Lieutenant Colonel Dickenson and 
some few Volunteers were wounded by esco- 
pette 31 balls. 

I was sent up in the morning to find the best 
path for our road and just as I got up to the top 
of the hill the bullets commenced whistling like 
hail around me. Some Lancers 32 were firing at 
the Volunteers who were veiy much confused 
and did riot behave well. Taylor s Battery and 
the rest of Twiggs s Division moved over the hill 
towards their position on the left of the line. 
Worth s Division (or Brigade as it was then 
called) occupied the right of the investment, the 
Mohawks under Patterson the centre, and 
Twiggs the left. After resting our men at Mali- 
bran, we moved back to our old position with the 
3rd Artillery, where we bivouacked. 

I had observed on the preceding day the posi 
tion of the aqueduct supplying the city with 

31 Escopette, a carbine or short rifle, especially a form 
used by the Spanish Americans (Century Diet. ). 

32 Light cavalry armed with lances, or long spears, vary 
ing from $1/2 to 11 feet in length (Century Diet.). 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 57 

water. I told Lieutenant Beauregard 38 next 
morning what I had seen. He reported it to 
Colonel [Joseph G.] Totten [Chief of Engi 
neers] and Smith and myself were ordered to 
cut off the water, Foster remaining at home. We 
took a party, cut off the water, Smith exploded 
a humbug of Gid Pillow s and we started on a 
reconnoitring expedition of our own. I stopped 
to kill a "slow deer" and Smith went on. I then 
followed him with three men and overtook him 
a little this side of the cemetery. We went on 
to within 900 yards of the city and at least a mile 
and a half in advance of the line of investment- 
ascertained the general formation of the ground 
and where to reconnoitre. We returned after 
dark, Foster much troubled as to what had be 
come of us. It was upon reporting to Colonel 
Totten on this night (12th) that he said that I 

33 Pierre G. T. Beauregard, later a prominent Confed 
erate General, was born in New Orleans on May 28, 1818. 
He graduated from West Point in 1838. Died at New 
Orleans on February 20, 1893. 

Beauregard was appointed a brigadier general in the 
Confederate Army in 1861 and bombarded and captured 
Fort Sumter in April of the same year. He commanded 
at the first battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, and fol 
lowing it was promoted to the rank of general. He took 
part in the battle of Shiloh in April, 1862, commanded at 
Charleston, S. C., from 1862 to 1864, and in Virginia in 
the latter year. 



58 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

and G. W. [Smith] were the only officers who 
had as yet given him any information of value- 
that we had done more than all the rest, etc., etc. 
All forgotten with the words as they left his 
mouth vide his official report of the siege. G. 
W. and myself will never forget how we passed 
this blessed night (new fashioned dance). 

On the next day Foster was sent after our bag 
gage and camp equipage. I was ordered to move 
the company and pitch the tents on a spot on the 
extreme right. Smith went out with Major 
[John L.] Smith to where we had been the night 
before, but went no further toward the city than 
we had been. 

[March 14th]. The next day Foster was de 
tailed to assist Major Smith and Beauregard in 
measuring a base line etc. on the sand hills. 
G. W. and myself went to the lime kiln in the 
morning, where we saw Captain [John R.] Vin- 
ton, Van Vliet, Laing, Rodgers and Wilcox 
(Cadmus) took a good look at the town and its 
defences and determined to go along the ridge 
by the cemetery that night and to go nearer the 
city. While at the lime kiln an order was re 
ceived from General Worth informing Captain 
Vinton that the enemy s picquets would be driven 
in that day and that he (Captain Vinton) must 
not attempt to support them as there were 
strong reserves. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 59 

We returned to camp, got our dinner and 
started again being a little fearful that our 
picquets would be so far advanced as to interfere 
with our operations. But we found them about 
150 yards in advance of the line of investment, 
stooping, whispering, and acting as if they ex 
pected to be fired upon every moment whilst 
we had been a mile and a half in advance of their 
position with a dozen men. They were at first 
disposed to dissuade us from going on as being 
too dangerous etc. We went on though, accom 
panied by Captain Walker of the 6th. The Cap 
tain left us before we got to the cemetery. I 
took one man (Sergeant Starr) and went down 
to reconnoitre it in order to ascertain whether 
it was occupied by the enemy, whilst G. W. 
[Smith] went on to examine a hill which covered 
the valley from Santiago and the Castle to some 
extent. I went down to the cemetery (finding 
a good road) went around it and got in it satis 
fying myself that it was not occupied. I rejoined 
G. W. and together we went on very near the 
town. We returned late, being the only officers 
of any corps who had gone as far as, much less 
beyond the cemetery. 

[March] 15th. The next day we were ordered 
to cut an infantry road as far as the cemetery. 
We found that one had been cut before we got 



60 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

out by Captain Johnson as far as the old grave 
yard. We cut one completely concealed from 
view from there to the hollow immediately op 
posite the cemetery. Captain Walker s company 
was behind the cemetery. Whilst there one of 
his sentinels reported the approach of some 
Lancers. They stopped at a house about 30 
yards from the other side of the cemetery and 
came no farther. On the strength of the ap 
proach of these 15 or 20 Lancers a report got 
back to camp that the advanced picquets had been 
attacked by a strong force of Mexicans so on 
our return we met nearly the whole division 
marching out to drive them back litters for the 
ff to be wounded" and all. It was a glorious stam 
pede well worthy of Bold Billy Jenkins. 

[March] 16th. The next day we went out 
[and] met Major Scott who went with G. W. 
to [the] position afterward occupied by the six 
gun battery whilst I had a hole made through 
the cemetery wall and broke into the chapel- 
hoping to be able to reach the dome, and ascertain 
from that place the direction of the streets. I 
could not we rather get up to the dome, so we 
left the cemetery, determining to push on toward 
the town. G. W. found a very fine position for 
a battery about 450 yards from Santiago and 
enfilading the principal street. We met Colonel 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 61 

Totten and Captain [R. E.] Lee 34 showed them 
the place they were very much pleased with it. 

We came out with the Company ( Captain Lee, 
Smith, Foster and myself) that evening, arrived 
at the place after dark, and Captain Lee, Smith 
and Foster went in to lay out a battery leaving 
me, in command of the Company, in the road. 
When on our return we were passing by the old 
grave yard a sharp fire of musketry commenced 
one of our pickets had been fired upon. 

The next day (17th) we cut a path to the 
position of this battery (in perspective). As we 
returned they discovered us and opened a fire of 
24 pound shot upon us which enfiladed our path 
beautifully. They fired too high and hit no one. 
We reached at length a sheltered position where 
we remained until the firing ceased the balls 
striking one side of the hill we being snugly 
ensconced on the other. 

On the next day (18th) the position of the 
batteries was definitely fixed. In the afternoon 
I w r as ordered by Colonel Totten to arrange at 
the Engineers Depot (on the beach) tools for 

34 Robert E. Lee, later the celebrated Confederate Gen 
eral-in-Chief and McClellan s main adversary. He was 
born at Stratford, Westmoreland Co., Virginia^ on Jan 
uary 19, 1807., and died at Lexington., Virginia,, on October 
12/1870. 



62 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

a working party of 200 men and be ready to 
conduct it as soon as it was dark to the proper 
position. The working party (3rd Artillery, 
Marines, and 5th Infantry all under Colonel 
Belton) did not arrive until long after dark 
and it was quite late when we arrived at the posi 
tion for the batteries. I was placed in charge of 
Mortar Battery No. 1 G. W. in charge of No. 
2 a parallel was also made across the little val 
ley. Each of these batteries was for three mor 
tars. No. 1 was formed by cutting away the side 
of a hill, so that we had merely to form the epaul- 
ments 35 and bring the terreplein 36 down to the 
proper level the hill sheltering us from the 
direct fire of the Castle and Santiago. So also 
with No. 2 which was made in the gorge where 
the road to the cemetery crossed the ridge on left 
of valley. 

The tools for [the] working party were ar 
ranged on the beach in parallel rows of tools for 
20 men each and about four feet apart, so that 
they might take up the least possible space. Each 
man was provided with a shovel and either a pick, 

35 Epaulment, the mass of earth or other material which 
protects the guns in a battery both in front and on either 
flank (Century Diet.). 

36 Terre-plein,, the top, platform or horizontal surface of 
a rampart,, on which the cannon are placed (Century Diet.). 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 63 

axe, or hatchets (about 140 picks and mattocks). 
The party was conducted in one rank, by the 
right flank. The men were well covered by day 
light. 

[March] 19th. Mason, Foster, and I think 
[I. I.] Stevens, relieved Captain Lee, Beaure- 
gard, Smith and myself at 3 A. M. During the 
day they continued the excavation of the two 
batteries and the short parallel across the valley. 
The enemy kept up a hot fire during the fore 
noon but injured no one. During the evening of 
this day Smith laid out and commenced the par 
allel leading from No. 1 to the position after 
ward occupied by the 24 pounder battery. The 
work was difficult on account of the denseness 
of the chaparral and the small number of work 
men. The parapet was made shot proof (or 
sufficiently so to answer the purpose of covering 
the morning relief) by daybreak. The enemy 
fired grape etc. for a short time, but not suffi 
ciently well aimed or long enough kept up to 
impede the progress of the work. The battery 
known as the Naval Battery was commenced on 
this same night. The enemy were kept in entire 
ignorance of the construction of this battery until 
the very night before it opened, and then they 
only discovered that something was being done 
there they did not know what. The Mexican 



64 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

Chief Engineer told Colonel Totten of this fact 
after the capitulation. 

[March] 20th. The construction of the par 
allel and of the mortar batteries Nos. 1 and 2 
was carried on during this day. By 3 P. M., 
when Mason and myself went out there the 
parallel was finished the excavation of the two 
batteries completed the sandbag traverses in 
No. 2 finished those in No. 1 very nearly so. 
We were to lay out and excavate the positions 
for the two magazines of each battery, to com 
mence Mortar Battery No. 3 (for four mortars) , 
lay the platforms and place the magazine frames 
which were to be brought out at night fall. By 
the direction of Mason, I had the positions of the 
magazines prepared and laid out before dark. 
Colonel Totten came out and directed me to lay 
out No. 3. I also laid out the boyau 37 leading 
from 1 to 2. Mason took charge of the maga 
zines 1 and 2 and directed me to take charge of 
No. 3. I employed four sets of men on the bat 
tery at the same time one set throwing the earth 
from the rear of the parallel upon the berm 38 - 

37 Boyau, a ditch covered with a parapet, serving as 
a means of communication between two trenches, especially 
between the first and third parallels. Also called a zigzag 
or an approach {Century Diet.). 

38 Berm, a narrow level space at the outside foot of 
a parapet, to retain material which otherwise might fall 
from the slope into the ditch (Standard Diet.). 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 65 

a second on the berm disposing of this earth 
thrown on the berm a third set working at the 
rear of the battery, excavating toward the front, 
these threw the earth so as to form slight epaul- 
ments, and in rear. A fourth set were employed 
in making the excavations for the magazines. A 
very violent Norther arose which obliged me to 
employ the first and second sets in front of the 
battery they excavating a ditch. 

At daylight the parapet was shot proof and 
the battery required about one hour s digging to 
finish it. Owing to some mistake the platforms 
and magazine frames did not arrive until very 
late and but little progress was made as far as 
they were concerned. Had they arrived in time 
all three batteries could have opened on the after 
noon of the 21st. The construction of the battery 
on the left of the railroad [was] still progress 
ing. They fired rockets etc. at us during the 
early part of the night. 

[March] 21st. During this day not very much 
was done some progress was made with the six 
gun battery magazines, platforms, etc. 

[March] 22nd. Not being aware of a change 
in the detail I went out at 3 A. M. Found the 
magazines of No. 2 finished, the small magazines 
of No. 1 the same. Took charge of large maga 
zine of No. 1 whilst Mason was engaged with 



66 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

those of No. 3. About 8 [o clock] was informed 
of change of detail, went to camp and was re 
quested by Colonel Totten to go out to the 
trenches "extra" and give all the assistance in 
my power, since the General wished to send in 
a summons to the town at 2 P. M. and open upon 
them if they refused to surrender. I went out 
and was chiefly occupied during the day in cover 
ing the magazine of No. 1 with earth. This was 
done under fire of Santiago and adjacent bastion, 
which batteries having a clear view of my work 
ing party made some pretty shots at us striking 
the earth on the magazine once in a while, but 
injuring no one. At 2 P. M. we were ready to 
open with three mortars in No. 1 three in No. 2 
one in No. 3. seven in all. 

The flag was carried in by Captain Johnston, 
the enemy ceased firing when they saw it. Col 
onel Bankhead 39 informed the Commandants of 
Batteries 1 and 3 that the discharge of a mortar 
from No. 2 would be the signal to open from all 
the mortars. The flag had hardly commenced 
its return from the town when a few spiteful 
shots from Santiago at my party on the maga 
zine told us plainly enough what the reply had 
been. Probably half an hour elapsed before a 

39 Colonel Bankhead was the Chief of Artillery at the 
siege of Vera Cruz. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 67 

report from No. 2 gave us the first official intima 
tion that General Morales 40 had bid defiance to 
us, and invited us to do our worst. 

The command "Fire!" had scarcely been given 
when a perfect storm of iron burst upon us 
every gun and mortar in Vera Cruz and San 
Juan, that could be brought to bear, hurled its 
contents around us the air swarmed with them 
and it seemed a miracle that not one of the 
hundreds they fired fell into the crowded mass 
that filled the trenches. The recruits looked 
rather blue in the gills when the splinters of shells 
fell around them, but the veterans cracked their 
jokes and talked about Palo Alto and Monterey. 
When it was nearly dark I went to the left with 
Mason and passed on toward the town where 
we could observe our shells the effect was su 
perb. The enemy s fire began to slacken toward 
night, until at last it ceased altogether ours, 
though, kept steadily on, never ceasing never 
tiring. 

Immediately after dark I took a working party 
and repaired all the damage done to the parapets 
by the enemy s fire, besides increasing the thick 
ness of the earth on the magazines of No. 1. 

40 General Juan Morales was the Mexican commander at 
Vera Cruz. 



68 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

Captain Vinton was killed a short time before 
dark near Battery No. 3 by a spent shell two 
men were wounded by fragments of shells near 
No. 1. Shortly after dark, three more mortars 
were put in Battery No. 3 making 10 mortars 
in all. Captain [John] Saunders was employed 
upon the 6 gun battery (24 pounders). He 
revetted 41 it with one thickness of sand bags, all 
of which fell down next morning. I brought out 
from the Engineer Depot the platforms for this 
battery during the night the magazine frame 
was brought out next day. The battery on the 
left of the railroad [was] still progressing, under 
the charge of Captain [R. E.] Lee, [Lieut. Z. 
B.] Tower and [G. W.] Smith who relieved 
each other. 

[March] 23rd. Firing continued from our 
mortars steadily fire of enemy by no means so 
warm as when we opened on the day before. Our 
mortar platforms were much injured by the fir 
ing already. The 24 pounder battery had to be 
re-revetted entirely terreplein levelled. During 
this day and night the magazine was excavated, 
and the frame put up. Two traverses made 
the positions of platforms and embrasures deter 
mined. Two platforms laid and the guns run in 

41 Revet, to face, as an embankment, with masonry or 
other material (Century Diet.). 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 69 

the embrasures for them being partly cut. One 
other gun was run to the rear of the battery. 

[March] 24th. On duty with Captain Saun- 
ders again could get no directions so I had the 
two partly cut embrasures marked with sand bags 
and dirt, and set a party at work to cover the 
magazine with earth as soon as it w^as finished. 
During this day the traverses 42 were finished, the 
platforms laid, the magazine entirely finished, 
and a large number of sand bags filled for the 
revetments of the embrasures. The "Xaval Bat 
tery" opened today, their fire was fine music for 
us, but they did not keep it up very long. The 
crash of the eight inch shells as they broke their 
way through the houses and burst in them was 
very pretty. The "Greasers" had had it all in their 
own way but we were gradually opening on 
them now. Remained out all night to take charge 
of two embrasures. The Alabama Volunteers, 
who formed the working party, did not come 
until it was rather late we set them at work to 
cut down and level the top of parapet thicken 
ing it opposite the third and fourth guns. Then 
laid out the embrasures and put seven men in 
each. Foster had charge of two, Coppee of two, 

42 Traverse, an earthen mask,, similar to a parapet, 
thrown across the covered way of a permanent work to pro 
tect it from the effects of an enfilading fire (Century Diet.). 



70 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

and I of two. Mine were the only ones finished 
at daylight the Volunteers gave out and could 
hardly be induced to work at all. 

[March] 25th. Mason and Stevens relieved 
Beauregard and Foster but I remained. I had 
the raw hides put on and with a large party of 
Volunteers opened the other embrasures. This 
was done in broad daylight, in full view of the 
town yet they had not fired more than three 
or four shots when I finished and took in the 
men. The battery then opened. We then gave 
it to Mexicans about as hotly as they wished. 
We had ten mortars three 68s, three 32s, four 
24s, and two eight-inch howitzers playing upon 
them as fast as they could load and fire. Captain 
Anderson, 3rd Artillery, fired on this morning 
thirty shells in thirty minutes from his battery 
of three mortars (No. 1). 

As I went to our camp I stopped at Colonel 
Totten s tent to inform him of the state of af 
fairs he directed me to step in and report to 
General Scott. I found him writing a despatch. 
He seemed to be very much delighted and showed 
me the last words he had written which were "in 
defatigable Engineers." Then we were needed 
and remembered the instant the pressing neces 
sity passed away we were forgotten. The echo 
of the last hostile gun at Vera Cruz had not died 



$ IP 




Facsimile reproduction of a pencil sketch by McClellan. 

CHURCH AT CAMARGO, SKEX FROM THE PALACE. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 71 

away before it was forgotten by the Commander 
in Chief that such a thing existed as an Engineer 
Company. 43 

The superiority of our fire was now very ap 
parent. I went out again at 3 P. M. met Ma 
son carrying a large goblet he had found in a 
deserted ranch. Found Captain Lee engaged in 
the construction of a new mortar battery for four 
mortars, immediately to the left of No. 1 in the 
parallel. There was a complete cessation of fir 
ing a flag having passed in relation to the con 
suls, I think. The platforms of this battery were 
laid, but not spiked down. A traverse was made 

40 General Scott "always wore all the uniform prescribed 
or allowed by law when he inspected his lines; word would 
be sent to all division and brigade commanders in advance, 
notifying them of the hour when the commanding general 
might be expected. This was done so that all the army 
might be under arms to salute their chief as he passed. 
On these occasions he wore his dress uniform, cocked hat, 
aiguillettes, sabre and spurs. His staff proper, besides all 
officers constructively on his staff engineers, inspectors, 
quartermasters, etc., that could be spared followed, also 
in uniform and in prescribed order. Orders were prepared 
with great care and evidently with the view that they should 
be a history of what followed. . . . General Scott was pre 
cise in language, cultivated a style peculiarly his own; was 
proud of his rhetoric; not averse to speaking of himself, 
often in the third person, and he could bestow praise upon 
the person he was talking about without the least embar 
rassment." U. S. Grant, Memoirs, Vol. I, pages 138-139. 



72 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

in boyau between Nos. 1 and 2, just in front of 
the entrance of the large magazine of No. 1, it 
being intended to run a boyau from behind this 
traverse to the left of the new battery. I laid 
out a boyau connecting Stevens s communications 
with the short "parallel" of No. 2, then Captain 
Lee explained his wishes in relation to the new 
battery and left me in charge of it. I thickened 
the parapet from a ditch in front inclined the 
superior slope upward, left the berm, made the 
traverses, had the platforms spiked, etc. The 
mortars were brought up and placed in the bat 
tery that night. Captain Saunders sent me to 
repair the embrasures of the 24 pounder battery 
doing nothing himself. He then sent me to 
excavate the boyau I had laid out. 

About 11.30 the discharge of a few rockets 
by our rocketeers caused a stampede amongst 
the Mexicans they fired escopettes and muskets 
from all parts of their walls. Our mortars re 
opened about 1.30 with the greatest vigor some 
times there were six shells in the air at the same 
time. A violent Norther commenced about 1 
o clock making the trenches very disagreeable. 
About three quarters of an hour, or an hour after 
we reopened we heard a bugle sound in town. At 
first we thought it a bravado then reveille, then 
a parley so we stopped firing to await the re- 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 73 

suit. Nothing more was heard, so in about half 
an hour we reopened with great warmth. At 
length another chi-wang-a-wang was heard which 
turned out to be a parley. During the day the 
terms of surrender of the town of Vera Cruz 44 
and castle of San Juan de Ulua were agreed 
upon, and on 29th of March, 1847 the garrison 
marched out with drums beating, colors flying 
and laid down their arms on the plain between 
the lagoon and the city. . . . muskets were 
stacked and a number of escopettes. . . . pieces 
of artillery were found in the town and ... in 
the castle. 

After the surrender of Vera Cruz we moved 
our encampment first to the beach, then to a 
position on the plain between our batteries and 
the city. Foster was detached on duty with the 
other Engineers to survey the town and castle. 
Smith and myself were to superintend the land 
ing of the pontoon and engineers trains, and to 
collect them at the Engineer Depot. Between 
the Quartermasters and Naval Officers this was 
hardly done when we left. I dismantled the bat 
teries, magazines etc. then amused myself until 
we left, with the chills and fever. 

J[immie] S[tuart] being too sick to go on 

14 Vera Cruz at that time was a city of about 15^000 in 
habitants. 



74 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

with his regiment came over to our camp and 
stayed with us. Instead of being sent on in our 
proper position, at the head of Twiggs s Division, 
we were kept back and finally allowed to start 
on the same day that Worth started 45 we re 
ceived no orders to move, merely a permission. 
Our teams (6) were the worst I ever saw they 
had just been lassooed as they swam ashore, and 
neither they nor their teamsters had ever seen 
a wagon before. We left Vera Cruz on the 13th 
[April]. By dint of applying some of the 
knowledge I had acquired under Guy Henry s 
parental care, I succeeded in getting four teams 
to Ve[r]gara (Twiggs s headquarters during the 
siege). As Smith and Foster did not come up 
I rode back to see what was the matter and found 
that they had arrived at a point opposite the 
middle of the city, broken down two sets of 
teams, got one teamster s arm and hand badly 
kicked and the devil to pay in general. At last 
they got on, and by leaving half the loads by the 
roadside we managed by hard swearing to get 
to within one half mile of El Rio Medio by dark. 
The road so far was horrible, being hilly and 

45 On the advance of Scott s army from Vera Cruz, 
Twiggs led the way, followed a day later by Patterson, and 
five days later still by Worth. J. B. McMaster, History 
of the People of the United States, Vol. VII, page 507. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 75 

very sandy. Our mules were so weak and miser 
able that the men actually had to push the wag 
ons along, and it was easy to see that our march 
was to be very severe upon all concerned. Gen 
eral Worth and his staff passed us as we were 
busily engaged in "cussing" a team up a hill 
we then learned for the first time that Santa 
Anna was at Cerro Gordo with a large force. 
AVhen we encamped this night everybody was 
tired to death, and the only event worthy of rec 
ollection was the thrashing that a certain lazy 
nigger "Isaac" received from his frisky "bos." 

On the [14th] we made an early start and after 
"persuading" the mules up the hill beyond Rio 
Medio we got along without very much trouble 
until we arrived at Santa Fe. Here the wagons 
were unloaded and leaving me with about ten 
men Smith and Foster went back after the loads 
left at Ve[r]gara. Jimmie [Stuart] and I struck 
up an acquaintance with the Alcalde a very nice 
sort of a man. I found a couple of cavalry bar 
racks etc. We amused ourselves chatting with 
the Alcalde all day who tried hard to stampede 
us with guerilla tales etc. Captain Hughes came 
up late in the afternoon, Smith arrived after dark, 
having left the wagons with the ordnance people 
about half a mile behind. While G. W. [Smith] 
was at supper, Jimmie, who had been amusing 



76 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

himself by playing monte with the Rancheros, 
came back and amused us by an account of a 
muy poquito muchachito [a very little boy] about 
four years old playing monte and smoking paros 
[puroSj or cigars]. 

Foster came up at last, and we all turned in. 
Santa Fe is a poor little affair no water, but 
rather a fine view of a large extent of rolling 
country. 

On the 15th I started back after the wagons 
before daybreak "unwashed and uncombed." 
After a vast amount of swearing at "Seven Bot 
tles," of whom more anon, I got all the wagons 
up to Santa Fe set the men to work at loading 
the wagons got my breakfast, and at last we 
started. Country at first a rolling prairie 
finally more broken and woody. We passed some 
of the most magnificent forests I ever saw- 
trees covered with most beautiful flowers the 
fields also the villages were completely deserted. 
About the middle of the day we stopped at a 
stream to rest. While taking our lunch under 
the bridge an old stupid Dutch teamster brought 
down his mules to water and finally proceeded 
to water himself. He drank seven (!) claret 
bottles full of water and at length finding that 
process too slow he took to his bucket! We went 
on and overtook the ordnance fellows at . 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 77 

Had a good supper and a fine sleep, although 
they did try to stampede us about Lancers etc. 
but they could not do it. 

Started early on the 16th [April] country 
remarkably broken even mountainous. We 
passed several very long hills, at which it was 
necessary to treble our poor little teams. Met 
Simon Buckner 40 with a beef party. Arrived 
at Puerto National just before Worth s Division 
left it (about 2 P. M.) . Saw all the fellows and 
made our preparations to start at twelve at night. 
Took a fine bath in the clear mountain stream, 
and then dinner. After dinner we went to see 
Santana s Hacienda found a little boy in it who 
was frightened to death at the Barbarians. A 
real [a small coin, about 12J cents] soon quieted 
him. 

The bridge has a curved axis it is a beautiful 
piece of architecture. It would be impossible to 
cross it were the heights around properly de- 

46 Simon B. Buckner was born in Kentucky on April 1, 
1823, and died January 8, 1914. He graduated from West 
Point in 1844. During the Civil War he was first a brigadier 
general, and later a lieutenant general in the Confederate 
Army. He stood by his troops and surrendered Fort Donel- 
son to General Grant on February 16, 1862. After the 
war he became Governor of Kentucky and was the candi 
date for Vice-President on the Gold Democratic ticket in 
1896. 



78 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

fended and the bridge itself occupied. The 
bridge and heights might all be turned by enter 
prising light infantry, for the stream is fordable. 
From the nature of the ground it would be im 
possible for artillery or cavalry to turn it with 
out great trouble and labor. 

Reveille at 11.30 started at quarter past 
twelve of course no undressing. S[tuart] 
"thought as he was already dressed there could 
be no hurry." Night pitch dark. About an 
hour before daybreak found in the road a saddle 
(American) and a pool of blood some poor 
devil of a straggler from Worth s Division prob 
ably murdered. After ascending the hill just 
beyond this spot, G. W. [Smith], J. S[tuart] 
and myself laid down in the road to sleep that 
half hour s sleep just before going into battle 
was the sweetest I ever enjoyed. Passed in the 
course of the morning a great many stragglers 
from Worth s Division they had lagged behind 
in the night march. About two miles from Plan 
del Rio we were sitting in a ranche waiting for 
the wagons, when a wagon master came gallop 
ing by saying that the Lancers had cut off the 
train. The escort of dragoons was about 800 
yards nearer Plan del Rio than we. We gal 
loped back the escort not far behind and found 
that our wagons were safe, but that the Lancers 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 79 

had cut off a few of the stragglers whom we had 
passed. 

Suddenly a turn of the road displayed Plan 
del Rio 47 at our feet the little valley filled with 
troops, horses, artillery, wagons, etc. We ar 
rived at about 10.30 A. M. found the Engineers 
and took a lunch with them. G. W. S[mith] 
and myself then rode out to Twiggs s position 
with Captain Lee we arrived just in time to 
see the ball open [i. e., the battle of Cerro 
Gordo]. Saw old Twiggs, who wondered 
"Where the devil did you two boys come from?" 
and started back to bring up the company. On 
the way back a round shot came about as near 
my head as would be regarded agreeable in civil 
life and then missed enfilading the 2nd Infantry 
about a foot and a half. When we got back to 
El Plan, I was ordered to join [Lieut. Z. B.] 
Tower with ten men to go with Gid Pillow and 
the Mohawks. 48 Did my best that afternoon to 

47 About sixty miles from Vera Cruz, and about thirty 
from Jalapa. J. S. Jenkins,, History of the War with Mex 
ico, page 270. 

48 General Pillow s brigade consisted of four regiments 
of infantry, 1st Tennessee (Colonel Campbell),, 2nd Ten 
nessee (Colonel Haskell), 1st Pennsylvania (Colonel Wyn- 
koop) and 2nd Pennsylvania (Colonel Roberts) ; also a 
detachment of Tennessee Horse and a company of Ken 
tucky Volunteers under Captain Williams. R. Semmes, 
Service Afloat and Ashore, page 179. 



80 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

find out where we were to go in the morning but 
none of them would tell me anything about it. 
G. W. left me ten of the best men in the com 
pany, and took Foster and the rest with him to 
report to General Twiggs. It seemed to be a 
mutual thought that the chances all were that 
we would not meet again! The idea of being 
killed by or among a parcel of Volunteers was 
anything but pleasant. 

Got up before daybreak woke up the men- 
had the mare fed and saddled drank some cof 
fee distributed tools to my party and was ready 
for battle long before our dear Mohawks had 
their breakfasts. Also gave some tools to the 
Volunteers. My men had hatchets, axes and 
billhooks the Volunteers [had] axes, sap-forks 
and billhooks. At length all was ready and much 
to my surprise we marched straight up the road 
toward Jalapa. So little did I know of our 
point of attack I only knew that we were to 
attack either their right or front, and that we 
would as surely be whipped for it was a Volun 
teer Brigade. I led off with my detachment, 
and after passing the greater part of Worth s 
Division which was formed in column of pla 
toons in the road we turned off to the left, 
nearly opposite the point where Twiggs turned 
to the right. Tower directed me to place my men 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 81 

on the path inclining most to the left. I did so 
and rested my men, whilst waiting for the Vol 
unteers who were a long distance behind. At 
length General Pillow came up, and seeing my 
men, directed that they should be placed on the 
path inclining to the right. 

Lieutenant Tower made some remark about 
changing the route, and also that we would be 
more apt to be seen when crossing some ravine 
if we went to the right. I remember distinctly 
that the impression made upon me by the con 
versation was that General Pillow had against 
the opinion of Lieutenant Tower changed the 
route to be followed in order to attain the point 
of attack. I had no idea of the importance of 
the change and that it could lead to a different 
point of attack. I afterward found that the 
different paths led to very different parts of the 
enemy s position, the one we actually followed 
bringing us in a very exposed manner against 
the front of the works, whilst if we had taken the 
one advised by Lieutenant Tower we should have 
turned the right of their works and have been 
but little exposed to their fire. 

The fault of the erroneous selection was Gen 
eral Pillow s, except that Lieutenant Tower 
should, as the senior Engineer with the column, 
have taken a firm stand and have forced General 



82 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

Pillow to have pursued the proper path. It was 
certainly a fine opportunity for him to show what 
stuff he was made of but unfortunately he did 
not take advantage of it at all. 

We at length moved off by the flank. My de 
tachment [was] at the head, and during the 
movement at all events before the firing against 
us commenced we heard the musketry of the 
attack of Twiggs s Division upon the Telegraph 
Hill. 49 

After moving about two-thirds of a mile from 
the main road we reached a certain crest border 
ing upon a ravine, whence a strong picket of 
Mexicans was observed. Tower advised General 
Pillow to incline his Brigade well to the right 
in order to cross the ravine lower down and out 
of view. The General directed Colonel [Francis 
M.] Wynkoop 50 to countermarch file twice to 
the right and move upon a certain dead tree as 
his point of direction (Colonel Campbell s [1st] 

49 "The Cerro Gordo, or Big Hill, called by the Mexicans 
in their dispatches, El Telegrafo, is an immense hill, of a 
conical form, rising! to the height of near a thousand feet. 
It stands ... at the head of the pass, to which it gives 
its name, and formed the extreme left (our right) of the 
fortifications of the enemy." Semmes, op. cit., pages 176- 
177. 

50 He commanded the 1st Regiment of Pennsylvania Vol 
unteers. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 83 

Tennessee Regiment to support him) . He was 
then to form his men for the attack and charge 
upon hearing a concerted signal from the rest of 
the Brigade. Colonel [William T.] Haskell 51 
at once commenced forming his Regiment in a 
column of platoon, the flank of the column to 
ward the work. His men having straggled a 
great deal this arrangement was attended with 
some difficulty the men being literally shoved 
into their places one by one. Hardly two pla 
toons were formed when General Pillow shouted 
out at the top of his voice "Why the H 1 dont 
Colonel Wynkoop file to the right?" I may here 
observe that we had heard very distinctly the 
commands of the Mexican officers in their works. 
This yell of the General s was at once followed 
by the blast of a Mexican bugle and within three 
minutes after that their fire opened upon us. 
The General may have shouted this before a 
single platoon of Haskell s was formed but the 
interval must have been very short, because 
Wynkoop s Regiment had not reached its desti 
nation and had not formed there when the firing 
commenced. 

When the Mexican fire opened Haskell s Regi 
ment became at once "confusion worse con 
founded." Some of the men rushed toward the 

51 He commanded the 2nd Tennessee Volunteers. 



84 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

works, many broke to the rear, very many imme 
diately took cover behind the rocks, etc. I at 
once asked General Pillow for orders to proceed 
"somewhere" with my detachment for I had as 
yet received no orders or directions from anyone 
and was utterly ignorant of the ground. While 
talking with the General who was squatting 
down with his back to the work he was wounded 
in the arm, upon which his aide, Lieutenant 
Rains, appeared from somewhere in the vicinity 
and they together went off to the rear, on the 
run. I then went in amongst the Tennesseeans 
and found at once that it was useless to attempt 
doing anything there, as that Regiment (Has- 
kell s) was utterly broken and dispersed and the 
Pennsylvania Regiment, which was to support 
them, had kept so well in reserve that they could 
not be found. I then went over to the other side 
of the ravine the firing had by this time nearly 
if not altogether ceased. 

Upon arriving there I found Campbell s Regi 
ment in pretty good order and in good spirits, the 
Pennsylvania Regiment (Wynkoop s) in most 
horrible confusion. Campbell was moving on 
toward the work, and I at once advised General 
Pillow to halt him until some order could be 
restored to the other Regiments. He took my 
advice and directed me to give the order to Camp- 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 85 

bell, which I did. I thought that it was by no 
means certain that Campbell alone could carry 
the works and that if he were checked or repulsed 
all was lost, for there was not a company formed 
to support him. Besides, although his Regiment 
was moving on well, they were not then under 
fire, nor had they been under any fire, to speak 
of, that day so I doubted the steadiness of their 
movements when their advance should have 
brought them in sight and under the fire of, the 
Mexicans. 

Colonel Haskell came up without his cap about 
this time and a very warm conversation ensued 
between him and General Pillow the General 
accusing him of misconduct and deserting his 
troops, the Colonel repelling his assertions and 
stating that his Regiment was cut to pieces. I 
at once, without saying a word to either the Gen 
eral or the Colonel, called to my party and 
directed them to beat the bushes for "2nd Ten- 
nesseeans" and to bring all they could find to 
where we were. They soon returned with quite 
a number. 

In the course of conversation I told General 
Pillow that I did not think that he could carry 
the works without some Regulars. He assented 
and directed me to go at once in search of Gen 
eral Scott and ask him, from him (Pillow) for 



86 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

a detachment of Regulars whatever number he 
could spare, saying that he would make no move 
ment until my return. I immediately ran down 
to the road where I expected to find General 
Scott and Worth s Division and there found that 
the General had gone on. I jumped on my mare 
and galloped around by Twiggs s road and at 
length found the General about half way up the 
ridge over which Worth s Division passed to 
reach the Jalapa road the rear of Worth s 
Division was then crossing. I told the General 
my message and he directed me to say to General 
Pillow that he had no Regulars to spare, that the 
last of Worth s Division was then passing over, 
that Santa Anna had fallen back with all his 
army, except about 5000 men, toward Jalapa, 
that he expected to fight another battle with 
Santa Anna at once, and that he thought it prob 
able that the 5000 men cut off would surrender- 
finally that General Pillow might attack again, 
or not, just as he pleased. He evidently was not 
much surprised and not much "put out" that 
Pillow was thrashed, and attached no importance 
to his future movements. 

With this reply I returned, and could not for 
a long time, find any of the valiant Brigade. I 
at length found Wynkoop s Regiment. He told 
me that white flags were flying on the work and 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 87 

that one or two had come down toward his posi 
tion but that as he did not know what they 
meant, could not raise a white handkerchief in 
the crowd, and had no one who could speak 
Spanish, he had held no communication with 
them. I told him what they meant and said that 
when I had seen General Pillow I would return 
and go to meet them. As I left he asked me if 
I could not give him an order to charge I said 
"No" then said he "Tell General Pillow that 
if I dont get an order to charge in half an hour, 
I ll be d d if I dont charge anyhow"- this after 
I had told him that the white flag meant a sur 
render ! ! ! 

I at length found General Pillow some distance 
in rear and reported. Castor came up a moment 
or two afterward and told General Pillow that 
he had been sent to inform him that the Mexicans 
had surrendered on which I took my men down 
the road and directing them to come on and re 
join the company as soon as possible I galloped 
on to overtake it. During my conversation with 
General Scott he mentioned that he had seen the 
charge of Twiggs s Division and spoke of it as 
the most beautiful sight that he had ever wit 
nessed. He said everything in praise of his "ras 
cally Regulars." 

With reference to the operations of Twiggs s 



88 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

Division. During the afternoon of the 17th 
[April] the hill opposite to and commanded by 
the Telegraph Hill was carried by Harney s 
([Persifer F.] Smith s) Brigade and the enemy 
pursued partly up the Telegraph Hill by the 
Rifles and 1st Artillery. They were, however, 
recalled to the hill first mentioned, which was 
occupied in force. 

During the night one twenty-four pounder, 
one twelve pounder and a twenty-four pound 
howitzer were with great difficulty hauled up and 
put in position behind a slight epaulment. There 
were also a couple of the Mountain Howitzers 
and some Rocketeers. Shields s 52 Brigade of Vol 
unteers were somewhere in the vicinity to sup 
port and were employed to man the drag ropes 
used to haul up the pieces. It may be well to 
mention that they were more than once "stam 
peded" while engaged in this by the mere dis 
charge of a piece no ball coming near them. 
Another detachment of New York Volunteers 

52 James Shields was born in County Tyrone, Ireland, 
in 1810. After the Mexican War he was United States 
Senator (Democrat) from Illinois during the years 1849- 
1855, and from Minnesota in 1858-1859. He was one of 
the "political generals" in the Union Army who were de 
cisively defeated by "Stonewall" Jackson during the cele 
brated "Valley Campaign" of May and June, 1862. Shields 
died in Ottumwa, Iowa, on June 1, 1879. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 89 

was engaged during the afternoon and night of 
the 17th in hauling an eight inch howitzer along 
the crest on the other side of the "Rio" in order 
to take an enfilade or reverse fire upon the Mex 
ican works. Taylor s Battery was with Twiggs, 
Dunean came around with Worth Steptoe was 
with Twiggs. The cavalry and rest of the artil 
lery were in the Jalapa road ready to advance 
in pursuit. 

Harney was directed to storm the hill, Reilly 
to cut off the retreat of the Mexicans by the 
Jalapa road Worth to support. The affair of 
the 18th was opened, on our side, by the fire of 
our artillery. The 24 pounder was badly served 
and did little or no real damage. At length 
Harney charged over the valley with the 1st Ar 
tillery, 3rd and 7th Infantry, the Rifles being 
thrown out to cover his left. He carried the hill 
in gallant style. Reilly allowed himself to deviate 
from his proper path and instead of pushing 
straight on for the Jalapa road, he amused him 
self by skirmishing to his right and left so that 
he did not accomplish the purpose for which he 
was sent, that is, he did not cut off Santa Anna s 
retreat. 

In the meantime Shields was sent around still 
further to our right, to turn the Mexican left. 
He finally came out in front of certain batteries, 



90 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

charged them but was repulsed completely and 
himself badly wounded. About this time Harney 
carried the Telegraph Hill and that command 
ing these last batteries, one or two discharges 
from its summit with the captured pieces at once 
cleared them. Upon that the Volunteers right 
gallantly charged and carried them at the point 
of the bayonet, there not being a soul in the bat 
tery at this time. 

Twiggs at least a part of his Division- 
moved on at once in pursuit. The Cavalry soon 
followed, but the Mexicans had gained a long 
start and made the best use of their legs so that 
not very many were killed or taken in the pur 
suit. Twiggs and the Cavalry also the Volun 
teers halted at Encero. Worth remained at Plan 
del Rio and Cerro Gordo. I myself overtook 
my company at Encero where we bivouacked that 
night and felt right proud that we had won 
that day a glorious victory. 

On the morning of the 19th we marched from 
Encero to Jalapa, about twelve miles, at the head 
of Twiggs s Division. We entered Jalapa about 
11.30 A. M., our company being the first Amer 
ican infantry to set foot in that city. It rained 
quite violently during the greater part of the 
march, which prevented me from enjoying fully 
the beauty of the scenery, especially as I had to 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 91 

foot it. It was really delightful, upon entering 
Jalapa, to see gentlemen and ladies, at least per 
sons dressed and appearing as such. The white 
faces of the ladies struck us as being exceedingly 
beautiful they formed so pleasing a contrast to 
the black and brown complexions of the Indians 
and negroes who had for so long been the only 
human beings to greet our sight. The Jalapinos 
appeared perfectly indifferent about us, mani 
festing neither pleasure nor sorrow at our ap 
proach. Our march from Encero and entrance 
into Jalapa was entirely undisturbed not a shot 
being fired or soldiers seen. Of course not the 
slightest excess was committed by any of the 
Regulars. We at first marched to the Cuartel 
[Barracks] where we remained some few hours, 
until at last we were ordered to a posada [sleep 
ing place] on the Plaza. 

I was very much pleased with the appearance 
of Jalapa and its inhabitants. The women were 
generally pretty, the gentlemen well dressed. 
They carried to a great extent the custom of fill 
ing the balconies with flowers, which gave a very 
pleasant appearance to the streets. Soon after 
we had established ourselves at the posada we 
were astonished by a great commotion in the 
streets, which was ascertained to be caused by the 
arrival of the Cerro Gordo prisoners, who had 



92 MEXICAN WAR DIARY OF 

all been released on parole, and of course fought 
us again upon the first opportunity. They were 
marching back to Puebla and Mexico, organized 
in regiments, etc. merely being deprived of their 
arms. The disgust in the Division at this release 
was most intense, we felt poorly repaid for our 
exertions by the release of these scoundrels, who, 
we felt sure, would to a man break their parole. 
They passed the night in the streets around the 
Plaza and in the morning robbed all the poor 
market women in the vicinity. 53 

We had no beds that night our baggage not 
being up were lucky enough to get some frijoles 
and chocolate for supper breakfast ditto. 
Worth s Division came up about one o clock on 
the 20th and we were ordered on at the head of 
it, to leave Jalapa at 3.30 of the same day. 



City of Mexico, 54 opposite Alameda, Novem- 

53 The American forces present at the battle of Cerro 
Gordo, both in action and in reserve, were about 8,500 men. 
The Mexicans were estimated at 12,000 or more. The 
American losses in the two days fighting were S3 officers 
and 398 men, a total of 431, of whom 63 were killed. The 
enemy losses were estimated at 1,000 to 1,200, in addition 
to five generals and 3,000 men who were captured. Gen 
eral Scott s official report dated "Jalapa, April 23, 1847" 
(Senate Docs. 30th Congress, 1st Session, No. 1, pages 
263-264). 

54 The City of Mexico was surrendered to General Scott s 
victorious army on September 14, 1847. 



GEORGE B. McCLELLAN 93 

ber 3rd, 1847. G. W. thinks that a captain will 
be sent out to command the Company, and that 
he (G. W.) will be relieved by the 1st March, 
1848. Me. thinks that no captain will come and 
that the unfortunate "duet" wont get out under 
a year, or longer. Quien Sabe? 

April 15th, Post Office Captain hasn t "ar- 
rivo" duet still here year most half out and 
a in t off yet!! P 

September 22nd, 1849 West Point, N. Y. 
Me. thinks that he s booked for an infernally 
monotonous life for the remainder of his natural 
existence and wishes he were back again in No. 2 
Calle San Francisco. 

August 25th, 1852 Solitary and alone on the 
"Columbus" for New Orleans. 

December 25th, 1852 Solitary and alone at 
Indianola [Texas]! Heavens! What a Christ 
mas! 

55 McClellan left the City of Mexico on May 28, 1818, 
and reached West Point, N. Y., on June 22 following. 



INDEX 

Altamira, 50. 

Anton Lizardo, Point, 52, 53. 

Bankhead, Col., 66. 

Beauregard, Lieut. P. G. T., 57, 63, 70. 

Belton, Lieut-Col., 54, 62. 

Brazos de Santiago (Texas), 7, 8-9. 

Brooks, N. C., quoted, 51 (note). 

Buckner, Simon B., 77 (and note). 

Camargo, 10-11, 13. 
Campbell, Col., 82, 84-85. 
Cerro Gordo, battle of, 79-90. 
Chiltipine, 30-34. 
Crawford, Dr. Samuel, 1. 

Encero, 90, 91. 
Encinal, 37. 

Fordleone, 47, 48. 

Foster, Lieut. J. G., 57, 58, 61, 63, 69, 70, 74, 75, 80. 

Furber, George C., quoted, 27 (note). 

Grant, U. S., quoted, 44 (note), 71 (note). 
Guijano, 27. 

Harney, 88-90. 

Haskell, Col. William T., 83-84, 85. 

Henry, Capt. Guy, 48, 50, 74. 

Iturbide, Agustin de, 40. 
Jalapa, 90-92. 

Lee, Capt. R. E., 61, 63, 68, 71, 72, 79. 
Lobos, Isle of, 51. 

McCall, George A., 21, 33, 41. 



96 INDEX 

McClellan, George B., birth and education, 1; commissioned, 2; 
promotion, 4; leaves for Mexico, 7; at Camargo and Matamoras, 
10-14, 23-24; march to Victoria, 24-43; at Victoria, 43-46; march 
to Tampico, 46-50; at Lobos, 51; at Vera Cruz, 53-73; march 
to Cerro Gordo, 74-79; battle of Cerro Gordo, 80-90; march to 
Jalapa, 90-93; at Mexico City, 92-93. 

McMaster, J. B., quoted, 52 (note), 74 (note). 

Malibran, 55, 56. 

Marquesoto, 40. 

Mason, Lieut. J. L., 63, 64, 65-66, 67, 70. 

Matamoros, 10, 11, 12, 23. 

Meade, George G., 5, quoted, 18 (note), 22 (note), 48 (note). 

Moquete, 23, 27. 

Murphy, 34, 39. 

Padilla, 42. 

Patterson, Gen. Robert, 14, 15, 16, 20-21, 22 (note), 23-24, 26, 27, 

30, 31-32, 33, 35, 37, 40, 41, 43, 56. 

Pillow, Gen. Gideon J., 15, 23, 25, 26, 35, 37, 52 (note), 79, 81-87. 
Plan del Rio, 78-79. 
Puerto Nacional, 77. 

Quitman, Gen. John A., 44, 52 (note). 

Rancho Padillo, 23. 
Reilly, 89. 

San Fernando, 33-34. 

Santa Fe, 75-76. 

Santander, 37. 

Santa Rosa, 46. 

Santa Teresa, 27-28, 29. 

Saunders, Capt. John, 68, 69, 72. 

Scott, Gen. Winfield, 52 (note), 70, 71 (note), 86, 87. 

Semmes, R., quoted, 79 (note), 82 (note). 

Shields, Gen. James, 52 (note), 88, 89, 90. 

Smith, Lieut. Gustavus W., 2, 4, 7, 11, 20-21, 23, 25, 26, 31, 36, 

38, 55, 57, 58, 59, 60-62, 63, 68, 74, 75, 78, 80, 93. 
Smith, Major John L., 58. 
"Songo," 27-28, 30, 37, 42. 
Stevens, Lieut. I. I., 63, 70, 72. 



INDEX 97 

Stuart, "Jimmie," 14, 73-74, 75-76, 78. 
Swift, Capt. A. J., 2, 7, 11, 16, 55. 

Tamaulipas, 51. 

Tampico, 50-51. 

Taylor, Gen. Zachary, 22 (note), 44. 

Totten, Col. Joseph G., 2, 57-58, 61-62, 64, 66, 70. 

Tower, Lieut. Z. B., 67, 78-81. 

Twiggs, Gen. David E., 47, 48, 52, 56, 74, 79, 80, 82, 87-90. 

Vera Cruz, siege of, 53-73. 

Vergera, 74,75. 

Victoria, 43-46. 

Vinton, Capt. John R., 58, 68. 

Volunteers, 16, 18, 28-29, 36, 38-39, 43, 80. 

Walker, Sears Cook, 1. 

"VVaterhouse, Major, 36. 

Williams, Seth, 15-16, 32. 

Worth, Gen. W T illiam J., 52 (note), 53, 56, 58, 74, 75, 77, 78, 80, 

86, 89, 90, 92. 
Wynkoop, Col. Francis M., 82, 84, 86-87. 



(J) 



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