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VOL. I. 




Copyright, 1885, 

/'All rights reserved.) 

Press of J. J. Little & Co., 
Nos. 10 to 20 Astor Place, New York. 

C . C oura-d. 3 c . 




Vol. XLVIL— 29. 


" /\ A ^^ proposes and God disposes." There are 
1 V 1 but few important events in the affairs of men 
brought about by their own choice. 

Although frequently urged by friends to write my 
memoirs I had determined never to do so, nor to 
write anything for publication. At the age of nearly 
sixty-two I received an injury from a fall, which con- 
fined me closely to the house while it did not ap- 
parently affect my general health. This made study 
a pleasant pastime. Shortly after, the rascality of a 
business partner developed itself by the announce- 
ment of a failure. This was followed soon after by 
universal depression of all securities, which seemed 
to threaten the extinction of a good part of the in- 
come still retained, and for which I am indebted to 
the kindly act of friends. At this juncture the editor 
of the Century Magazine asked me to write a few 
articles for him. I consented for the money it gave 
me ; for at that moment I was living upon borrowed 
money. The work I found congenial, and I deter- 


mined to continue it. The event is an important 
one for me, for good or evil ; I hope for the former. 

In preparing these volumes for the public, I have 
entered upon the task with the sincere desire to 
avoid doing injustice to any one, whether on the 
National or Confederate side, other than the un- 
avoidable injustice of not making mention often 
where special mention is due. There must be many- 
errors of omission in this work, because the subject 
is too large to be treated of in two volumes in such 
way as to do justice to all the officers and men en- 
gaged. There were thousands of instances, during 
the rebellion, of individual, company, regimental and 
brigade deeds of heroism which deserve special men- 
tion and are not here alluded to. The troops en- 
gaged in them will have to look to the detailed 
reports of their individual commanders for the full 
history of those deeds. 

The first volume, as well as a portion of the 
second, was written before I had reason to suppose 
I was in a critical condition of health. Later I was 
reduced almost to the point of death, and it became 
impossible for me to attend to anything for weeks. 
I have, however, somewhat regained my strength, 
and am able, often, to devote as many hours a day as 
a person should devote to such work. I would have 
more hope of satisfying the expectation of the public 
if I could have allowed myself more time. I have 


used my best efforts, with the aid of my eldest son, 
F. D. Grant, assisted by his brothers, to verify from 
the records every statement of fact given. The com- 
ments are my own, and show how I saw the matters 
treated of whether others saw them in the same light 
or not. 

With these remarks I present these volumes to 
the public, asking no favor but hoping they will meet 
the approval of the reader. 


Mount MacGregor, New York, July i, 1885. 

i 86 i 




Preface 7 

Ancestry— Birth— Boyhood 17-31 

West Point— Graduation 32-44 


Army Life— Causes of the Mexican War— Camp Salu- 
brity 45-60 


Corpus Christi— Mexican Smuggling — Spanish Rule in 

Mexico— Supplying Transportation 61-73 


Trip to Austin — Promotion to full Second-Lieuten- 
ant — Army of Occupation 74-83 


Advance of the Army — Crossing the Colorado — The 

Rio Grande 84-91 


The Mexican War— The Battle of Palo Alto— The 
Battle of Resaca de la Palma — Army of Invasion 
— General Taylor — Movement on Camargo 92-106 


Advance on Monterey— The Black Fort— The Battle 

of Monterey — Surrender of the City 107-1 18 




Political Intrigue— Buena Vista— Movement against 

Vera Cruz— Siege and Capture of Vera Cruz... . 1 19-128 


March to Jalapa— Battle of Cerro Gordo— Perote— 

Puebla— Scott and Taylor 129-1 39 


Advance on the City of Mexico— Battle of Contreras 
—Assault at Churubusco — Negotiations for Peace 
—Battle of Molino del Rey— Storming of Chapul- 
tepec— San Cosme— Evacuation of the City— Halls 
of the montezumas 140-161 


Promotion to First Lieutenant— Capture of the City 
of Mexico— The Army— Mexican Soldiers— Peace 
Negotiations 162-174 


Treaty of Peace— Mexican Bull Fights— Regimental 
Quartermaster— Trip to Popocatapetl— Trip to 
the Caves of Mexico 175-190 


Return of the Army — Marriage— Ordered to the Pa- 
cific Coast— Crossing the Isthmus— Arrival at San 
Francisco 191-199 


San Francisco— Early California Experiences— Life on 
the Pacific Coast— Promoted Captain— Flush Times 
in California 200-209 


Resignation — Private Life— Life at Galena — The Com- 
ing Crisis 210-228 




Outbreak of the Rebellion— Presiding at a Union 
Meeting — Mustering Officer of State Troops — 
Lyon at Camp Jackson — Services tendered to the 
Government 229-241 


Appointed Colonel of the 2ist Illinois — Personnel of 
the Regiment— General Logan — March to Mis- 
souri — Movement against Harris at Florida, 
Mo. — General Pope in Command — Stationed at 
Mexico, Mo 242-253 


Commissioned Brigadier-General— Command at Iron- 
ton, Mo. — Jefferson City — Cape Girardeau — Gen- 
eral Prentiss — Seizure of Paducah — Headquar- 
ters at Cairo 254-268 


General Fremont in Command — Movement against Bel- 
mont — Battle of Belmont — A narrow Escape- 
After the Battle 269-281 


General Halleck in Command— Commanding the Dis- 
trict of Cairo— Movement on Fort Henry- 
Capture of Fort Henry 282-293 


Investment of Fort Donelson— The naval Operations 
—Attack of the Enemy— Assaulting the Works 
— Surrender of the Fort 294-31 5 


Promoted Major-General of Volunteers— Unoccupied 
Territory— Advance upon Nashville— Situation 
of the Troops— Confederate Retreat— Relieved 
of the Command— Restored to the Command- 
General Smith 316-329 




The Army at Pittsburg Landing— Injured by a Fall 
—The Confederate Attack at Shiloh— The First 
Day's Fight at Shiloh— General Sherman— Condi- 
tion of the Army— Close of the First Day's 
Fight— The Second Day's Fight— Retreat and 
Defeat of the Confederates 330-352 


Struck by a Bullet— Precipitate Retreat of the Con- 
federates— Intrenchments at Shiloh — General 
Buell— General Johnston— Remarks on Shiloh 353-370 


Halleck Assumes Command in the Field — The Ad- 
vance upon Corinth— Occupation of Corinth— 
The Army Separated 371-384 


Headquarters Moved to Memphis— On the Road to 
Memphis — Escaping Jackson— Complaints and Re- 
quests — Halleck Appointed Commander-in-Chief — 
Return to Corinth — Movements of Bragg— Sur- 
render of Clarksville — The Advance upon 
Chattanooga— Sheridan Colonel of a Michigan 
Regiment 385-403 


Advance of Van Dorn and Price— Price Enters Iuka 

— Battle of Iuka 404-413 


Van Dorn's Movements— Battle of Corinth— Command 

of the Department of the Tennessee 414-421 


The Campaign against Vicksburg — Employing the 
Freedmen — Occupation of Holly Springs — Sherman 
Ordered to Memphis — Sherman's Movements down 
the Mississippi— Van Dorn Captures Holly Springs 
— Collecting Forage and Food 422 -436 




Headquarters Moved to Holly Springs — General Mc- 
Clernand in Command — Assuming Command at 
Young's Point — Operations above Vicksburg — 
Fortifications about Vicksburg — The Canal — Lake 
Providence— Operations at Yazoo Pass 437-455 

The Bayous West of the Mississippi— Criticisms of the 
Northern Press— Running the Batteries— Loss of 
the indianola — disposition of the troops 456-472 

Attack on Grand Gulf— Operations below Vicksburg. 473-484 

Capture of Port Gibson— Grierson's Raid— Occupation 
of Grand Gulf— Movement up the Big Black- 
Battle of Raymond 485-498 

Movement against Jackson— Fall of Jackson— Inter- 
cepting the Enemy— Battle of Champion's Hill... 499-521 

Battle of Black River Bridge — Crossing the Big 
Black— Investment of Vicksburg— Assaulting the 
Works 522-531 

Siege of Vicksburg 532-547 

Johnston's Movements — Fortifications at Haines' 
Bluff — Explosion of the Mine— Explosion of the 
Second Mine— Preparing for the Assault — The 
Flag of Truce — Meeting with Pemberton — 
Negotiations for Surrender— Accepting the Terms 
— Surrender of Vicksburg 548-570 

Retrospect of the Campaign— Sherman's Movements- 
Proposed Movement upon Mobile— A painful Ac- 
cident—Ordered to Report at Cairo 571-584 




Brevet Second Lieutenant U. S. Grant at the Age of 21 
Years, from an old Daguerreotype taken at Bethel, 
Clermont County, Ohio, in 1843. Engraved on Steel 

by A. H. Ritchie, N. A Frontispiece 

Fac-simile of Handwriting Dedication 

Birthplace at Point Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio. 

Etched by Wm. E. Marshall 24 

Map of Monterey and its Approaches 114 

Map of the Valley of Mexico 160 

Map of the Battle-field near Belmont 275 

Map showing the relative Positions of Fort Henry and 

Fort Donelson 289 

Map of Fort Donelson 297 

Fac-simile of General Buckner's Dispatch relating to 
Terms of Capitulation, General Grant's reply, " I pro- 
ERAL Buckner's answer accepting the Terms for the 
Surrender of Fort Donelson, all from the Original 

Documents 312 

Map of the Field of Shiloh 341 

Map of the Country about Corinth, Mississippi 375 

Map of the Battles of Iuka and Corinth 409 

Map of the Vicksburg Campaign 467 

Map— Bruinsburg. Port Gibson and Grand Gulf 479 

Map of the Country about Jackson, Mississippi 502 

Map of the Battle of Champion's Hill 514 

Map of Battle-field of Big Black River Bridge 525 

Map of the Siege of Vicksburg 539 

Map — Line of Defences Vicksburg to Haines' Bluff and 
Black River Bridge 550 

Note. — The Daguerreotype from which the frontispiece was engraved was 
furnished the publishers through the courtesy of Mr. George W. Childs. 

The fac-similes of General Buckner's dispatches at Fort Donelson are copied 
from the originals furnished the publishers through the courtesy of Mr. 
Ferdinand J. Dreer. General Grant's dispatch, "I propose to move imme- 
diately upon your works," was copied from the original document in the pos- 
session of the publishers. 







MY family is American, and has been for gen- 
erations, in all its branches, direct and col- 

Mathew Grant, the founder of the branch in 
America, of which I am a descendant, reached Dor- 
chester, Massachusetts, in May, 1630. In 1635 he 
moved to what is now Windsor, Connecticut, and 
was the surveyor for that colony for more than forty 
years. He was also, for many years of the time, 
town clerk. He was a married man when he arrived 
at Dorchester, but his children were all born in this 
country. His eldest son, Samuel, took lands on the 
east side of the Connecticut River, opposite Windsor, 
which have been held and occupied by descendants 

of his to this day. 
Vol. 1. — 2 


I am of the eighth generation from Mathew Grant, 
and seventh from Samuel. Mathew Grant's first wife 
died a few years after their settlement in Windsor, 
and he soon after married the widow Rockwell, who, 
with her first husband, had been fellow-passengers 
with him and his first wife, on the ship Mary and 
John, from Dorchester, England, in 1630. Mrs. 
Rockwell had several children by her first marriage, 
and others by her second. By intermarriage, two or 
three generations later, I am descended from both 
the wives of Mathew Grant. 

In the fifth descending generation my great grand- 
father, Noah Grant, and his younger brother, Solo- 
mon, held commissions in the English army, in 1756, 
in the war against the French and Indians. Both 
were killed that year. 

My grandfather, also named Noah, was then but 
nine years old. At the breaking out of the war of 
the Revolution, after the battles of Concord and Lex- 
ington, he went with a Connecticut company to join 
the Continental army, and was present at the battle 
of Bunker Hill. He served until the fall of York- 
town, or through the entire Revolutionary war. He 
must, however, have been on furlough part of the 
time — as I believe most of the soldiers of that period 
were — for he married in Connecticut during the war, 
had two children, and was a widower at the close. 
Soon after this he emigrated to Westmoreland 



U^l , 


•I 9 

County, Pennsylvania, and settled near the town of 
Greensburg in that county. He took with him the 
younger of his two children, Peter Grant. The 
elder, Solomon, remained with his relatives in Con- 
necticut until old enough to do for himself, when he 
emigrated to the British West Indies. 

Not long after his settlement in Pennsylvania, my 
grandfather, Captain Noah Grant, married a Miss 
Kelly, and in 1 799 he emigrated again, this time to 
Ohio, and settled where the town of Deerfield now 
stands. He had now five children, including Peter, 
a son by his first marriage. My father, Jesse R. 
Grant, was the second child — oldest son, by the 
second marriage. 

Peter Grant went early to Maysville, Kentucky, 
where he was very prosperous, married, had a family 
of nine children, and was drowned at the mouth of 
the Kanawha River, Virginia, in 1825, being at the 
time one of the wealthy men of the West. 

My grandmother Grant died in 1805, leaving 
seven children. This broke up the family. Cap- 
tain Noah Grant was not thrifty in the way of "lay- 
ing up stores on earth," and, after the death of his 
second wife, he went, with the two youngest children. 
to live with his son Peter, in Maysville. The rest 
of the family found homes in the neighborhood of 
Deerfield, my father in the family of Judge Tod, the 
father of the late Governor Tod, of Ohio. His in- 


dustry and independence of character were such, that 
I imagine his labor compensated fully for the ex- 
pense of his maintenance. 

There must have been a cordiality in his welcome 
into the Tod family, for to the day of his death he 
looked upon Judge Tod and his wife, with all the 
reverence he could have felt if they had been par- 
ents instead of benefactors. I have often heard him 
speak of Mrs. Tod as the most admirable woman 
he had ever known. He remained with the Tod 
family only a few years, until old enough to learn a 
trade. He went first, I believe, with his half- 
brother, Peter Grant, who, though not a tanner him- 
self, owned a tannery in Maysville, Kentucky. Here 
he learned his trade, and in a few years returned to 
Deerfield and worked for, and lived in the family 
of a Mr. Brown, the father of John Brown — " whose 
body lies mouldering in the grave, while his soul 
goes marching on." I have often heard my father 
speak of John Brown, particularly since the events at 
Harpers Ferry. Brown was a boy when they lived 
in the same house, but he knew him afterwards, and 
regarded him as a man of great purity of character, 
of high moral and physical courage, but a fanatic 
and extremist in whatever he advocated. It was 
certainly the act of an insane man to attempt the 
invasion of the South, and the overthrow of slavery, 
with less than twenty men. 



My father set up for himself in business, estab- 
lishing a tannery at Ravenna, the county seat of 
Portage County. In a few years he removed from 
Ravenna, and set up the same business at Point 
Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio. 

During the minority of my father, the West af- 
forded but poor facilities for the most opulent of the 
youth to acquire an education, and the majority were 
dependent, almost exclusively, upon their own exer- 
tions for whatever learning they obtained. I have 
often heard him say that his time at school was lim- 
ited to six months, when he was very young, too 
young, indeed, to learn much, or to appreciate the 
advantages of an education, and to a " quarter's 
schooling" afterwards, probably while living with 
Judge Tod. But his thirst for education was in- 
tense. He learned rapidly, and was a constant 
reader up to the day of his death — in his eightieth 
year. Books were scarce in the Western Reserve 
during his youth, but he read every book he could 
borrow in the neighborhood where he lived. This 
scarcity gave him the early habit of studying every- 
thing he read, so that when he got through with a 
book, he knew everything in it. The habit contin- 
ued through life. Even after reading the daily pa- 
pers — which he never neglected — he could give all 
the important information they contained. He made 
himself an excellent English scholar, and before he 


was twenty years of age was a constant contributor 
to Western newspapers, and was also, from that 
time until he was fifty years old, an able debater in 
the societies for this purpose, which were common in 
the West at that time. He always took an active 
part in politics, but was never a candidate for office, 
except, I believe, that he was the first Mayor of 
Georgetown. He supported Jackson for the Presi- 
dency ; but he was a Whig, a great admirer of 
Henry Clay, and never voted for any other demo- 
crat for high office after Jackson. 

My mother's family lived in Montgomery County, 
Pennsylvania, for several generations. I have little 
information about her ancestors. Her family took no 
interest in genealogy, so that my grandfather, who 
died when I was sixteen years old, knew only back 
to his grandfather. On the other side, my father 
took a great interest in the subject, and in his 
researches, he found that there was an entailed estate 
in Windsor, Connecticut, belonging to the family, 
to which his nephew, Lawson Grant — still living — 
was the heir. He was so much interested in the 
subject that he got his nephew to empower him to 
act in the matter, and in 1832 or 1833, when I was a 
boy ten or eleven years old, he went to Windsor, 
proved the title beyond dispute, and perfected the 
claim of the owners for a consideration — three thou- 
sand dollars, I think. I remember the circumstance 


14 < </? t ^<fa&s^<X 



well, and remember, too, hearing him say on his 
return that he found some widows living on the prop- 
erty, who had little or nothing beyond their homes. 
From these he refused to receive any recompense. 

My mother's father, John Simpson, moved from 
Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, to Clermont 
County, Ohio, about the year 1819, taking with him 
his four children, three daughters and one son. My 
mother, Hannah Simpson, was the third of these 
children, and was then over twenty years of age. 
Her oldest sister was at that time married, and had 
several children. She still lives in Clermont County 
at this writing, October 5th, 1884, and is over ninety 
years of age. Until her memory failed her, a few 
years ago, she thought the country ruined beyond 
recovery when the Democratic party lost control in 
i860. Her family, which was large, inherited her 
views, with the exception of one son who settled in 
Kentucky before the war. He was the only one of 
the children who entered the volunteer service to 
suppress the rebellion. 

Her brother, next of age and now past eighty- 
eight, is also still living in Clermont County, within 
a few miles of the old homestead, and is as active in 
mind as ever. He was a supporter of the Govern- 
ment during the war, and remains a firm believer, 
that national success by the Democratic party means 
irretrievable ruin. 


In June, 182 1, my father, Jesse R. Grant, married 
Hannah Simpson. I was born on the 27th of April, 
1822, at Point Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio. 
In the fall of 1823 we moved to Georgetown, the 
county seat of Brown, the adjoining county east 
This place remained my home, until at the age of 
seventeen, in 1839, I went to West Point. 

The schools, at the time of which I write, were 
very indifferent. There were no free schools, and 
none in which the scholars were classified. They 
were all supported by subscription, and a single 
teacher — who was often a man or a woman incapable 
of teaching much, even if they imparted all they 
knew — would have thirty or forty scholars, male and 
female, from the infant learning the A B C's up to 
the young lady of eighteen and the boy of twenty, 
studying the highest branches taught — the three R's, 
" Reading, 'Riting, 'Rithmetic." I never saw an 
algebra, or other mathematical work higher than the 
arithmetic, in Georgetown, until after I was ap- 
pointed to West Point. I then bought a work on 
algebra in Cincinnati ; but having no teacher it was 
Greek to me. 

My life in Georgetown was uneventful. From 
the age of five or six until seventeen, I attended the 
subscription schools of the village, except during the 
winters of 1836-7 and 1838-9. The former period 
was spent in Maysville, Kentucky, attending the 

a - 





school of Richardson and Rand ; the latter in Ripley, 
Ohio, at a private school. I was not studious in 
habit, and probably did not make progress enough 
to compensate for the outlay for board and tuition. 
At all events both winters were spent in going over 
the same old arithmetic which I knew every word of 
before, and repeating: "A noun is the name of a 
thing," which I had also heard my Georgetown 
teachers repeat, until I had come to believe it — but 
I cast no reflections upon my old teacher, Richard- 
son. He turned out bright scholars from his school, 
many of whom have filled conspicuous places in the 
service of their States. Two of my cotemporaries 
there — who, I believe, never attended any other in- 
stitution of learning — have held seats in Congress, 
and one, if not both, other high offices ; these are 
Wadsworth and Brewster. 

My father was, from my earliest recollection, in 
comfortable circumstances, considering the times, his 
place of residence, and the community in which he 
lived. Mindful of his own lack of facilities for 
acquiring an education, his greatest desire in 
maturer years was for the education of his children. 
Consequently, as stated before, I never missed a 
quarter from school from the time I was old enough 
to attend till the time of leaving home. This did 
not exempt me from labor. In my early days, every 
one labored more or less, in the region where my 


youth was spent, and more in proportion to their 
private means. It was only the very poor who were 
exempt. While my father carried on the manu- 
facture of leather and worked at the trade himself, 
he owned and tilled considerable land. I detested 
the trade, preferring almost any other labor ; but I 
was fond of agriculture, and of all employment in 
which horses were used. We had, among other 
lands, fifty acres of forest wi,thin a mile of the vil- 
lage. In the fall of the year choppers were 
employed to cut enough wood to last a twelve- 
month. When I was seven or eight years of age, I 
began hauling all the wood used in the house and 
shops. I could not load it on the wagons, of course, 
at that time, but I could drive, and the choppers 
would load, and some one at the house unload. 
When about eleven years old, I was strong enough 
to hold a plough. From that age until seventeen I 
did all the work done with horses, such as breaking 
up the land, furrowing, ploughing corn and potatoes, 
bringing in the crops when harvested, hauling all the 
wood, besides tending two or three horses, a cow 
or two, and sawing wood for stoves, etc., while still 
attending school. For this I was compensated by the 
fact that there was never any scolding or punishing 
by my parents ; no objection to rational enjoyments, 
such as fishing, going to the creek a mile away to 
swim in summer, taking a horse and visiting my 



grandparents in the adjoining county, fifteen miles 
off, skating on the ice in winter, or taking a horse 
and sleigh when there was snow on the ground. 

While still quite young I had visited Cincinnati, 
forty -five miles away, several times, alone ; also Mays- 
ville, Kentucky, often, and once Louisville. The jour- 
ney to Louisville was a big one for a boy of that day. 
I had also gone once with a two-horse carriage to 
Chilicothe, about seventy miles, with a neighbors 
family, who were removing to Toledo, Ohio, and re- 
turned alone ; and had gone once, in like manner, 
to Flat Rock, Kentucky, about seventy miles 
away. On this latter occasion I was fifteen years of 
age. While at Flat Rock, at the house of a Mr. 
Payne, whom I was visiting with his brother, a 
neighbor of ours in Georgetown, I saw a very fine 
saddle horse, which I rather coveted, and proposed 
to Mr. Payne, the owner, to trade him for one of the 
two I was driving. Payne hesitated to trade with a 
boy, but asking his brother about it, the latter told 
him that it would be all right, that I was allowed to 
do as I pleased with the horses. I was seventy 
miles from home, with a carriage to take back, and 
Mr. Payne said he did not know that his horse 
had ever had a collar on. I asked to have him 
hitched to a farm wagon and we would soon see 
whether he would work. It was soon evident that 
the horse had never worn harness before; but he 


showed no viciousness, and I expressed a confidence 
that I could manage him. A trade was at once 
struck, I receiving ten dollars difference. 

The next day Mr. Payne, of Georgetown, and 
I started on our return. We got along very 
well for a few miles, when we encountered a fero- 
cious dog that frightened the horses and made them 
run. The new animal kicked at every jump he 
made. I got the horses stopped, however, before 
any damage was done, and without running into any- 
thing. After giving them a little rest, to quiet their 
fears, we started again. That instant the new horse 
kicked, and started to run once more. The road we 
were on, struck the turnpike within half a mile of the 
point where the second runaway commenced, and 
there there was an embankment twenty or more feet 
deep on the opposite side of the pike. I got the 
horses stopped on the very brink of the precipice. 
My new horse was terribly frightened and trembled 
like an aspen ; but he was not half so badly fright- 
ened as my companion, Mr. Payne, who deserted me 
after this last experience, and took passage on a 
freight wagon for Maysville. Every time I at- 
tempted to start, my new horse would commence to 
kick. I was in quite a dilemma for a time. Once in 
Maysville I could borrow a horse from an uncle who 
lived there ; but I was more than a day's travel 
from that point. Finally I took out my bandanna — 


2 9 

the style of handkerchief in universal use then 
— and with this blindfolded my horse. In this 
way I reached Maysville safely the next day, no 
doubt much to the surprise of my friend. Here I 
borrowed a horse from my uncle, and the following 
day we proceeded on our journey. 

About half my school-days in Georgetown were 
spent at the school of John D. White, a North Car- 
olinian, and the father of Chilton White who repre- 
sented the district in Congress for one term during 
the rebellion. Mr. White was always a Democrat in 
politics, and Chilton followed his father. He had 
two older brothers — all three being school-mates of 
mine at their fathers school — who did not go the 
same way. The second brother died before the 
rebellion began ; he was a Whig, and afterwards 
a Republican. His oldest brother was a Repub- 
lican and brave soldier during the rebellion. 
Chilton is reported as having told of an earlier 
horse-trade of mine. As he told the story, there 
was a Mr. Ralston living within a few miles of 
the village, who owned a colt which I very much 
wanted. My father had offered twenty dollars for 
it, but Ralston wanted twenty-five. I was so anx- 
ious to have the colt, that after the owner left, I 
begged to be allowed to take him at the price 
demanded. My father yielded, but said twenty 
dollars was all the horse was worth, and told me to 



offer that price ; if it was not accepted I was to offer 
twenty-two and a half, and if that would not get him, 
to give the twenty-five. I at once mounted a horse 
and went for the colt. When I got to Mr. Ralston's 
house, I said to him : " Papa says I may offer you 
twenty dollars for the colt, but if you won't take that, 
I am to offer twenty-two and a half, and if you won't 
take that, to give you twenty-five." It would not 
require a Connecticut man to guess the price finally 
agreed upon. This story is nearly true. I certainly 
showed very plainly that I had come for the colt and 
meant to have him. I could not have been over 
eight years old at the time. This transaction caused 
me great heart-burning. The story got out among 
the boys of the village, and it was a long time before 
I heard the last of it. Boys enjoy the misery of 
their companions, at least village boys in that day 
did, and in later life I have found that all adults 
are not free from the peculiarity. I kept the horse 
until he was four years old, when he went blind, and 
I sold him for twenty dollars. When I went to Mays- 
ville to school, in 1836, at the age of fourteen, I 
recognized my colt as one of the blind horses work- 
ing on the tread-wheel of the ferry-boat. 

I have described enough of my early life to give, 
an impression of the whole. I did not like to work ; 
but I did as much of it, while young, as grown men 
can be hired to do in these days, and attended 



school at the same time. I had as many privileges 
as any boy in the village, and probably more than 
most of them. I have no recollection of ever having 
been punished at home, either by scolding or by the 
rod. But at school the case was different. The rod 
was freely used there, and I was not exempt from 
its influence. I can see John D. White — the school 
teacher— now, with his long beech switch always in 
his hand. It was not always the same one, either. 
Switches were brought in bundles, from a beech 
wood near the school house, by the boys for whose 
benefit they were intended. Often a whole bundle 
would be used up in a single day. I never had 
any hard feelings against my teacher, either while 
attending the school, or in later years when reflect- 
ing upon my experience. Mr. White was a kind- 
hearted man, and was much respected by the com- 
munity in which he lived. He only followed the 
universal custom of the period, and that under which 
he had received his own education. 



IN the winter of 1838-9 I was attending school at 
Ripley, only ten miles distant from Georgetown, 
but spent the Christmas holidays at home. During 
this vacation my father received a letter from the 
Honorable Thomas Morris, then United States Sen- 
ator from Ohio. When he read it he said to me, 
" Ulysses, I believe you are going to receive the ap- 
pointment." "What appointment?" I inquired. 
"To West Point; I have applied for it." "But I 
won't go," I said. He said he thought I would, and 
I thought so too, if he did. I really had no objection 
to going to West Point, except that I had a very 
exalted idea of the acquirements necessary to get 
through. I did not believe I possessed them, and could 
not bear the idea of failing. There had been four 
boys from our village, or its immediate neighborhood, 
who had been graduated from West Point, and never 
a failure of any one appointed from Georgetown, ex- 
cept in the case of the one whose place I was to take. 
He was the son of Dr. Bailey, our nearest and most 
intimate neighbor. Young Bailey had been appointed 



in 1837. Finding before the January examination fol- 
lowing, that he could not pass, he resigned and went 
to a private school, and remained there until the fol- 
lowing year, when he was reappointed. Before 
the next examination he was dismissed. Dr. Bailey 
was a proud and sensitive man, and felt the failure 
of his son so keenly that he forbade his return home. 
There were no telegraphs in those days to dissemi- 
nate news rapidly, no railroads west of the Allegha- 
nies, and but few east ; and above all, there were no 
reporters prying into other people's private affairs. 
Consequently it did not become generally known that 
there was a vacancy at West Point from our district 
until I was appointed. I presume Mrs. Bailey con- 
fided to my mother the fact that Bartlett had been 
dismissed, and that the doctor had forbidden his 
son's return home. 

The Honorable Thomas L. Hamer, one of the 
ablest men Ohio ever produced, was our member of 
Congress at the time, and had the right of nomi- 
nation. He and my father had been members of 
the same debating society (where they were gener- 
ally pitted on opposite sides), and intimate personal 
friends from their early manhood up to a few years 
before. In politics they differed. Hamer was a 
life-long Democrat, while my father was a Whig. 
They had a warm discussion, which finally became 
angry — over some act of President Jackson, the re- 

VOL. I.- -3 


moval of the deposit of public moneys, I think — after 
which they never spoke until after my appointment. 
I know both of them felt badly over this estrange- 
ment, and would have been glad at any time to 
come to a reconciliation ; but neither would make 
the advance. Under these circumstances my father 
would not write to Hamer for the appointment, but 
he wrote to Thomas Morris, United States Senator 
from Ohio, informing him that there was a vacancy 
at West Point from our district, and that he would 
be glad if I could be appointed to fill it. This let- 
ter, I presume, was turned over to Mr. Hamer, and, 
as there was no other applicant, he cheerfully ap- 
pointed me. This healed the breach between the 
two, never after reopened. 

Besides the argument used by my father in favor 
of my going to West Point — that "he thought I 
would go " — there was another very strong induce- 
ment. I had always a great desire to travel. I was 
already the best travelled boy in Georgetown, except 
the sons of one man, John Walker, who had emi- 
grated to Texas with his family, and immigrated back 
as soon as he could get the means to do so. In his 
short stay in Texas he acquired a very different 
opinion of the country from what one would form 
going there now. 

I had been east to Wheeling, Virginia, and north 
to the Western Reserve, in Ohio, west to Louis- 



ville, and south to Bourbon County, Kentucky, be- 
sides having driven or ridden pretty much over the 
whole country within fifty miles of home. Going 
to West Point would give me the opportunity of 
visiting the two great cities of the continent, Phila- 
delphia and New York. This was enough. When 
these places were visited I would have been glad to 
have had a steamboat or railroad collision, or any 
other accident happen, by which I might have re- 
ceived a temporary injury sufficient to make me 
ineligible, for a time, to enter the Academy. Nothing 
of the kind occurred, and I had to face the music. 

Georgetown has a remarkable record for a west- 
ern village. It is, and has been from its earliest ex- 
istence, a democratic town. There was probably 
no time during the rebellion when, if the opportu- 
nity could have been afforded, it would not have 
voted for Jefferson Davis for President of the United 
States, over Mr. Lincoln, or any other representa- 
tive of his party ; unless it was immediately after 
some of John Morgan's men, in his celebrated raid 
through Ohio, spent a few hours in the village. 
The rebels helped themselves to whatever they 
could find, horses, boots and shoes, especially horses, 
and many ordered meals to be prepared for them by 
the families. This was no doubt a far pleasanter duty 
for some families than it would have been to render 
a like service for Union soldiers. The line between 


the Rebel and Union element in Georgetown was so 
marked that it led to divisions even in the churches. 
There were churches in that part of Ohio where 
treason was preached regularly, and where, to secure 
membership, hostility to the government, to the war 
and to the liberation of the slaves, was far more es- 
sential than a belief in the authenticity or credibil- 
ity of the Bible. There were men in Georgetown 
who filled all the requirements for membership in 
these churches. 

Yet this far-off western village, with a population, 
including old and young, male and female, of about 
one thousand — about enough for the organization of a 
single regiment if all had been men capable of bearing 
arms — furnished the Union army four general officers 
and one colonel, West Point graduates, and nine 
generals and field officers of Volunteers, that I can 
think of. Of the graduates from West Point, all 
had citizenship elsewhere at the breaking out of the 
rebellion, except possibly General A. V. Kautz, who 
had remained in the army from his graduation. 
Two of the colonels also entered the service from 
other localities. The other seven, General Mc- 
Groierty, Colonels White, Fyffe, Loudon and Mar- 
shall, Majors King and Bailey, were all residents of 
Georgetown when the war broke out, and all of 
them, who were alive at the close, returned there. 
Major Bailey was the cadet who had preceded me 



at West Point. He was killed in West Virginia, in 
his first engagement. As far as I know, every boy 
who has entered West Point from that village since 
my time has been graduated. 

I took passage on a steamer at Ripley, Ohio, for 
Pittsburg, about the middle of May, 1839. Western 
boats at that day did not make regular trips at 
stated times, but would stop anywhere, and for any 
length of time, for passengers or freight. I have 
myself been detained two or three days at a place 
after steam was up, the gang planks, all but one, 
drawn in, and after the time advertised for starting 
had expired. On this occasion we had no vexa- 
tious delays, and in about three days Pittsburg was 
reached. From Pittsburg I chose passage by the 
canal to Harrisburg, rather than by the more expe- 
ditious stage. This gave a better opportunity of 
enjoying the fine scenery of Western Pennsylvania, 
and I had rather a dread of reaching my destination 
at all. At that time the canal was much patronized 
by travellers, and, with the comfortable packets of the 
period, no mode of conveyance could be more pleas- 
ant, when time was not an object. From Harrisburg to 
Philadelphia there was a railroad, the first I had ever 
seen, except the one on which I had just crossed 
the summit of the Alleghany Mountains, and over 
which canal boats were transported. In travelling by 
the road from Harrisburg, I thought the perfection of 


rapid transit had been reached. We travelled at 
least eighteen miles an hour, when at full speed, and 
made the whole distance averaging probably as 
much as twelve miles an hour. This seemed like 
annihilating space. I stopped five days in Philadel- 
phia, saw about every street in the city, attended the 
theatre, visited Girard College (which was then in 
course of construction), and got reprimanded from 
home afterwards, for dallying by the way so long. 
My sojourn in New York was shorter, but long 
enough to enable me to see the city very well. I 
reported at West Point on the 30th or 31st of May, 
and about two weeks later passed my examination 
for admission, without difficulty, very much to my 

A military life had no charms for me, and I had 
not the faintest idea of staying in the army even if I 
should be graduated, which I did not expect. The 
encampment which preceded the commencement of 
academic studies was very wearisome and uninterest- 
ing. When the 28th of August came — the date for 
breaking up camp and going into barracks — I felt as 
though I had been at West Point always, and that if 
I staid to graduation, I would have to remain always. 
I did not take hold of my studies with avidity, in 
fact I rarely ever read over a lesson the second time 
during my entire cadetship. I could not sit in 
my room doing nothing. There is a fine library 

H .S 

fi ^ 

Oh £ 

n I 




connected with the Academy from which cadets can 
get books to read in their quarters. I devoted 
more time to these, than to books relating to the 
course of studies. Much of the time, I am sorry to 
say, was devoted to novels, but not those of a trashy 
sort. I read all of Bulwer's then published, Coop- 
er's, Marryat's, Scott's, Washington Irving's works, 
Lever's, and many others that I do not now remem- 
ber. Mathematics was very easy to me, so that 
when January came, I passed the examination, tak- 
ing a good standing in that branch. In French, 
the only other study at that time in the first year's 
course, my standing was very low. In fact, if the 
class had been turned the other end foremost I 
should have been near head. I never succeeded 
in getting squarely at either end of my class, in any 
one study, during the four years. I came near it in 
French, artillery, infantry and cavalry tactics, and 

Early in the session of the Congress which met 
in December, 1839, a bill was discussed abolishing 
the Military Academy. I saw in this an honorable 
way to obtain a discharge, and read the debates with 
much interest, but with impatience at the delay in 
taking action, for I was selfish enough to favor the 
bill. It never passed, and a year later, although the 
time hung drearily with me, I would have been sorry 
to have seen it succeed. My idea then was to get 

4 o 


through the course, secure a detail for a few years 
as assistant professor of mathematics at the Acad- 
emy, and afterwards obtain a permanent position as 
professor in some respectable college ; but circum- 
stances always did shape my course different from 
my plans. 

At the end of two years the class received the 
usual furlough, extending from the close of the June 
examination to the 28th of August. This I enjoyed 
beyond any other period of my life. My father had 
sold out his business in Georgetown — where my 
youth had been spent, and to which my day-dreams 
carried me back as my future home, if I should ever 
be able to retire on a competency. He had moved 
to Bethel, only twelve miles away, in the adjoining 
county of Clermont, and had bought a young horse 
that had never been in harness, for my special use 
under the saddle during my furlough. Most of my 
time was spent among my old school-mates — 
these ten weeks were shorter than one week at West 

Persons acquainted with the Academy know that 
the corps of cadets is divided into four companies 
for the purpose of military exercises. These com- 
panies are officered from the cadets, the superin- 
tendent and commandant selecting the officers for 
their military bearing and qualifications. The adju- 
tant, quartermaster, four captains and twelve lieu- 




tenants are taken from the first, or Senior class ; the 
sergeants from the second, or Junior class; and the 
corporals from the third, or Sophomore class. I had 
not been " called out " as a corporal, but when I re- 
turned from furlough I found myself the last but 
one : — about my standing in all the tactics — of eigh- 
teen sergeants. The promotion was too much 
for me. That year my standing in the class — as 
shown by the number of demerits of the year — was 
about the same as it was among the sergeants, and I 
was dropped, and served the fourth year as a pri- 

During my first year's encampment General Scott 
visited West Point, and reviewed the cadets. With 
his commanding figure, his quite colossal size and 
showy uniform, I thought him the finest specimen of 
manhood my eyes had ever beheld, and the most to 
be envied. I could never resemble him in appear- 
ance, but I believe I did have a presentiment for a 
moment that some day I should occupy his place on 
review — although I had no intention then of remain- 
ing in the army. My experience in a horse-trade 
ten years before, and the ridicule it caused me, 
were too fresh in my mind for me to communicate 
this presentiment to even my most intimate chum. 
The next summer Martin Van Buren, then President 
of the United States, visited West Point and re- 
viewed the cadets ; he did not impress me with 


the awe which Scott had inspired. In fact I regard- 
ed General Scott and Captain C. F. Smith, the 
Commandant of Cadets, as the two men most to be 
envied in the nation. I retained a high regard for 
both up to the day of their death. 

The last two years wore away more rapidly than 
the first two, but they still seemed about five times as 
long as Ohio years, to me. At last all the examina- 
tions were passed, and the members of the class 
were called upon to record their choice of arms of 
service and regiments. I was anxious to enter the 
cavalry, or dragoons as they were then called, but 
there was only one regiment of dragoons in the 
Army at that time, and attached to that, besides the 
full complement of officers, there were at least four 
brevet second lieutenants. I recorded therefore my 
first choice, dragoons ; second, 4th infantry ; and got 
the latter. Again there was a furlough — or, more 
properly speaking, leave of absence for the class 
were now commissioned officers — this time to the 
end of September. Again I went to Ohio to spend 
my vacation among my old school-mates ; and again 
I found a fine saddle horse purchased for my special 
use, besides a horse and buggy that I could drive — 
but I was not in a physical condition to enjoy my- 
self quite as well as on the former occasion. For 
six months before graduation I had had a desperate 
cough (" Tyler's grip" it was called), and I was very 

Eng%aa 8 Holl. 

from a Daguerreotype tyBraly. 




much reduced, weighing but one hundred and seven- 
teen pounds, just my weight at entrance, though I 
had grown six inches in stature in the mean time. 
There was consumption in my father's family, two of 
his brothers having died of that disease, which made 
my symptoms more alarming. The brother and 
sister next younger than myself died, during the re- 
bellion, of the same disease, and I seemed the most 
promising subject for it of the three in 1843. 

Having made alternate choice of two different 
arms of service with different uniforms, I could not 
get a uniform suit until notified of my assignment. 
I left my measurement with a tailor, with directions 
not to make the uniform until I notified him whether 
it was to be for infantry or dragoons. Notice did 
not reach me for several weeks, and then it took at 
least a week to get the letter of instructions to the 
tailor and two more to make the clothes and have 
them sent to me. This was a time of great sus- 
pense. I was impatient to get on my uniform and 
see how it looked, and probably wanted my old 
school-mates, particularly the girls, to see me in it. 

The conceit was knocked out of me by two little 
circumstances that happened soon after the arrival 
of the clothes, which gave me a distaste for military 
uniform that I never recovered from. Soon after 
the arrival of the suit I donned it, and put off for 
Cincinnati on horseback. While I was riding along 


a street of that city, imagining that every one was 
looking at me, with a feeling akin to mine when I 
first saw General Scott, a little urchin, bareheaded, 
barefooted, with dirty and ragged pants held up by 
a single gallows — that's what suspenders were called 
then — and a shirt that had not seen a wash-tub for 
weeks, turned to me and cried: " Soldier! will you 
work? No, sir — ee; I'll sell my shirt first ! !" The 
horse trade and its dire consequences were recalled 
to mind. 

The other circumstance occurred at home. Op- 
posite our house in Bethel stood the old stage tavern 
where "man and beast" found accommodation. 
The stable-man was rather dissipated, but possessed 
of some humor. On my return I found him parading 
the streets, and attending in the stable, barefooted, 
but in a pair of sky-blue nankeen pantaloons — just 
the color of my uniform trousers — with a strip 
of white cotton sheeting sewed down the outside 
seams in imitation of mine. The joke was a huge 
one in the mind of many of the people, and was 
much enjoyed by them ; but I did not appreciate it 
so highly. 

During the remainder of my leave of absence, my 
time was spent in visiting friends in Georgetown 
and Cincinnati, and occasionally other towns in that 
part of the State. 




ON the 30th of September I reported for duty 
at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, with the 
4th United States infantry. It was the largest 
military post in the country at that time, being 
garrisoned by sixteen companies of infantry, eight 
of the 3d regiment, the remainder of the 4th. 
Colonel Steven Kearney, one of the ablest officers 
of the day, commanded the post, and under him 
discipline was kept at a high standard, but without 
vexatious rules or regulations. Every drill and roll- 
call had to be attended, but in the intervals officers 
were permitted to enjoy themselves, leaving the gar- 
rison, and going where they pleased, without making 
written application to state where they were going 
for how long, etc., so that they were back for their 
next duty. It did seem to me, in my early army 
days, that too many of the older officers, when they 
came to command posts, made it a study to think 
what orders they could publish to annoy their sub- 
ordinates and render them uncomfortable. I no- 


ticed, however, a few years later, when the Mexican 
war broke out, that most of this class of officers dis- 
covered they were possessed of disabilities which 
entirely incapacitated them for active field service. 
They had the moral courage to proclaim it, too. 
They were right ; but they did not always give their 
disease the right name. 

At West Point I had a class-mate — in the last 
year of our studies he was room-mate also — F. T. 
Dent, whose family resided some five miles west of 
Jefferson Barracks. Two of his unmarried brothers 
were living at home at that time, and as I had taken 
with me from Ohio, my horse, saddle and bridle, I 
soon found my way out to White Haven, the name 
of the Dent estate. As I found the family congenial 
my visits became frequent. There were at home, 
besides the young men, two daughters, one a school 
miss of fifteen, the other a girl of eight or nine. 
There was still an older daughter of seventeen, who 
had been spending several years at boarding-school 
in St. Louis, but who, though through school, had 
not yet returned home. She was spending the 
winter in the city with connections, the family of 
Colonel John O'Fallon, well known in St. Louis. In 
February she returned to her country home. After 
that I do not know but my visits became more 
frequent ; they certainly did become more enjoyable. 
We would often take walks, or go on horseback to 


visit the neighbors, until I became quite well ac- 
quainted in that vicinity. Sometimes one of the 
brothers would accompany us, sometimes one of the 
younger sisters. If the 4th infantry had remained 
at Jefferson Barracks it is possible, even probable, 
that this life might have continued for some years 
without my finding out that there was anything 
serious the matter with me ; but in the following 
May a circumstance occurred which developed my 
sentiment so palpably that there was no mistaking it. 
The annexation of Texas was at this time the sub- 
ject of violent discussion in Congress, in the press, 
and by individuals. The administration of Presi- 
dent Tyler, then in power, was making the most 
strenuous efforts to effect the annexation, which was, 
indeed, the great and absorbing question of the day. 
During these discussions the greater part of the sin- 
gle rifle regiment in the army — the 2d dragoons, 
which had been dismounted a year or two before, 
and designated " Dismounted Rifles" — was stationed 
at Fort Jessup, Louisiana, some twenty-five miles 
east of the Texas line, to observe the frontier. 
About the 1st of May the 3d infantry was ordered 
from Jefferson Barracks to Louisiana, to go into 
camp in the neighborhood of Fort Jessup, and there 
await further orders. The troops were embarked 
on steamers and were on their way down the Missis- 
sippi within a few days after the receipt of this 


order. About the time they started I obtained a 
leave of absence for twenty days to go to Ohio to 
visit my parents. I was obliged to go to St. Louis 
to take a steamer for Louisville or Cincinnati, or 
the first steamer going up the Ohio River to any 
point. Before I left St. Louis orders were received 
at Jefferson Barracks for the 4th infantry to follow 
the 3d. A messenger was sent after me to stop my 
leaving ; but before he could reach me I was off, 
totally ignorant of these events. A day or two after 
my arrival at Bethel I received a letter from a class- 
mate and fellow lieutenant in the 4th, informing me 
of the circumstances related above, and advising me 
not to open any letter post marked St. Louis or Jef- 
ferson Barracks, until the expiration of my leave, 
and saying that he would pack up my things and 
take them along for me. His advice was not neces- 
sary, for no other letter was sent to me. I now 
discovered that I was exceedingly anxious to get 
back to Jefferson Barracks, and I understood the 
reason without explanation from any one. My leave 
of absence required me to report for duty, at Jeffer- 
son Barracks, at the end of twenty days. I knew 
my regiment had gone up the Red River, but 
I was not disposed to break the letter of my leave ; 
besides, if I had proceeded to Louisiana direct, 1 
could not have reached there until after the expira- 
tion of my leave. Accordingly, at the end of the 


twenty days, I reported for duty to Lieutenant Ewell, 
commanding at Jefferson Barracks, handing him at 
the same time my leave of absence. After noticing 
the phraseology of the order — leaves of absence 
were generally worded, "at the end of which time 
he will report for duty with his proper command" 
— he said he would give me an order to join my 
regiment in Louisiana. I then asked for a few days' 
leave before starting, which he readily granted. 
This was the same Ewell who acquired considerable 
reputation as a Confederate general during the 
rebellion. He was a man much esteemed, and de- 
servedly so, in the old army, and proved himself a 
gallant and efficient officer in two wars — both in my 
estimation unholy. 

I immediately procured a horse and started for 
the country, taking no baggage with me, of course. 
There is an insignificant creek — the Gravois — be- 
tween Jefferson Barracks and the place to which I 
was going, and at that day there was not a bridge over 
it from its source to its mouth. There is not water 
enough in the creek at ordinary stages to run a coffee 
mill, and at low water there is none running whatever. 
On this occasion it had been raining heavily, and, 
when the creek was reached, I found the banks full to 
overflowing, and the current rapid. I looked at it a 
moment to consider what to do. One of my super- 
stitions had always been when I started to go any 

Vol. 1. — 4 


where, or to do anything", not to turn back, or stop until 
the thing intended was accomplished. I have fre- 
quently started to go to places where I had never 
been and to which I did not know the way, depend- 
ing upon making inquiries on the road, and if I got 
past the place without knowing it, instead of turning 
back, I would go on until a road was found turning 
in the right direction, take that, and come in by the 
other side. So I struck into the stream, and in an 
instant the horse was swimming and I being carried 
down by the current. I headed the horse towards 
the other bank and soon reached it, wet through and 
without other clothes on that side of the stream. I 
went on, however, to my destination and borrowed 
a dry suit from my — future — brother-in-law. We 
were not of the same size, but the clothes answered 
every purpose until I got more of my own. 

Before I returned I mustered up courage to make 
known, in the most awkward manner imaginable, the 
discovery I had made on learning that the 4th in- 
fantry had been ordered away from Jefferson Bar- 
racks. The young lady afterwards admitted that she 
too, although until then she had never looked upon 
me other than as a visitor whose company was agree- 
able to her, had experienced a depression of spirits 
she could not account for when the regiment left. Be- 
fore separating it was definitely understood that at a 
convenient time we would join our fortunes, and not 



From a photograph loaned by Mr. U. S. Grant, Jr. 


< 45&tj& ' iwJB 

*W /& &9*m 



-It 1 ■ '"'^P^ 






a photograph loaned by Mr. U. S. Grant, 




let the removal of a regiment trouble us. This was 
in May, 1844. ^ was tne 22< ^ of August, 1848, before 
the fulfilment of this agreement. My duties kept me 
on the frontier of Louisiana with the Army of Obser- 
vation during the pendency of Annexation ; and 
afterwards I was absent through the war with Mex- 
ico, provoked by the action of the army, if not by the 
annexation itself. During that time there was a con- 
stant correspondence between Miss Dent and my- 
self, but we only met once in the period of four years 
and three months. In May, 1845, I procured a 
leave for twenty days, visited St. Louis, and ob- 
tained the consent of the parents for the union, which 
had not been asked for before. 

As already stated, it was never my intention to 
remain in the army long, but to prepare myself for 
a professorship in some college. Accordingly, soon 
after I was settled at Jefferson Barracks, I wrote a 
letter to Professor Church — Professor of Mathemat- 
ics at West Point — requesting him to ask my desig- 
nation as his assistant, when next a detail had to be 
made. Assistant professors at West Point are all 
officers of the army, supposed to be selected for 
their special fitness for the particular branch of study 
they are assigned to teach. The answer from Profes- 
sor Church was entirely satisfactory, and no doubt I 
should have been detailed a year or two later but for 
the Mexican War coming on. Accordingly I laid 



out for myself a course of studies to be pursued in 
garrison, with regularity, if not persistency. I re- 
viewed my West Point course of mathematics during 
the seven months at Jefferson Barracks, and read 
many valuable historical works, besides an occasional 
novel. To help my memory I kept a book in which 
I would write up, from time to time, my recollections 
of all I had read since last posting it. When the 
regiment was ordered away, I being absent at the 
time, my effects were packed up by Lieutenant Has- 
lett, of the 4th infantry, and taken along. I never 
saw my journal after, nor did I ever keep another, 
except for a portion of the time while travelling 
abroad. Often since a fear has crossed my mind lest 
that book might turn up yet, and fall into the hands 
of some malicious person who would publish it. I 
know its appearance would cause me as much heart- 
burning as my youthful horse-trade, or the later re- 
buke for wearing uniform clothes. 

The 3d infantry had selected camping grounds on 
the reservation at Fort Jessup, about midway be- 
tween the Red River and the Sabine. Our orders 
required us to go into camp in the same neighbor- 
hood, and await further instructions. Those author- 
ized to do so selected a place in the pine woods, 
between the old town of Natchitoches and Grand 
Ecore, about three miles from each, and on high 
ground back from the river. The place was given 



the name of Camp Salubrity, and proved entitled to 
it. The camp was on a high, sandy, pine ridge, with 
spring branches in the valley, in front and rear. 
The springs furnished an abundance of cool, pure 
water, and the ridge was above the flight of mos- 
quitoes, which abound in that region in great mul- 
titudes and of great voracity. In the valley they 
swarmed in myriads, but never came to the summit 
of the ridge. The regiment occupied this camp six 
months before the first death occurred, and that was 
caused by an accident. 

There was no intimation given that the removal 
of the 3d and 4th regiments of infantry to the west- 
ern border of Louisiana was occasioned in any way 
by the prospective annexation of Texas, but it was 
generally understood that such was the case. Osten- 
sibly we were intended to prevent filibustering into 
Texas, but really as a menace to Mexico in case she 
appeared to contemplate war. Generally the officers 
of the army were indifferent whether the annexation 
was consummated or not ; but not so all of them. 
For myself, I was bitterly opposed to the measure, 
and to this day regard the war, which resulted, as one 
of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against 
a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic 
following the bad example of European monarchies, 
in not considering justice in their desire to acquire 
additional territory. 



Texas was originally a state belonging to the re- 
public of Mexico. It extended from the Sabine 
River on the east to the Rio Grande on the west, and 
from the Gulf of Mexico on the south and east to the 
territory of the United States and New Mexico — 
another Mexican state at that time — on the north 
and west. An empire in territory, it had but a 
very sparse population, until settled by Americans 
who had received authority from Mexico to colonize. 
These colonists paid very little attention to the 
supreme government, and introduced slavery into 
the state almost from the start, though the constitu- 
tion of Mexico did not, nor does it now, sanction 
that institution. Soon they set up an independent 
government of their own, and war existed, between 
Texas and Mexico, in name from that time until 
1836, when active hostilities very nearly ceased 
upon the capture of Santa Anna, the Mexican Presi- 
dent. Before long, however, the same people — who 
with permission of Mexico had colonized Texas, 
and afterwards set up slavery there, and then se- 
ceded as soon as they felt strong enough to do so — 
offered themselves and the State to the United 
States, and in 1845 their offer was accepted. The 
occupation, separation and annexation were, from 
the inception of the movement to its final consum- 
mation, a conspiracy to acquire territory out of which 
slave states might be formed for the American Union. 


Even if the annexation itself could be justified, the 
manner in which the subsequent war was forced upon 
Mexico cannot. The fact is, annexationists wanted 
more territory than they could possibly lay any claim 
to, as part of the new acquisition. Texas, as an inde- 
pendent State, never had exercised jurisdiction over 
the territory between the Nueces River and the Rio 
Grande. Mexico had never recognized the independ- 
ence of Texas, and maintained that, even if independ- 
ent, the State had no claim south of the Nueces. I 
am aware that a treaty, made by the Texans with 
Santa Anna while he was under duress, ceded all 
the territory between the Nueces and the Rio 
Grande ; but he was a prisoner of war when the 
treaty was made, and his life was in jeopardy. He 
knew, too, that he deserved execution at the hands of 
the Texans, if they should ever capture him. The 
Texans, if they had taken his life, would have only 
followed the example set by Santa Anna himself a 
few years before, when he executed the entire gar- 
rison of the Alamo and the villagers of Goliad. 

In taking military possession of Texas after annex- 
ation, the army of occupation, under General Taylor, 
was directed to occupy the disputed territory. The 
army did not stop at the Nueces and offer to nego- 
tiate for a settlement of the boundary question, but 
went beyond, apparently in order to force Mexico to 
initiate war. It is to the credit of the American na- 


tion, however, that after conquering Mexico, and 
while practically holding the country in our posses- 
sion, so that we could have retained the whole of it, 
or made any terms we chose, we paid a round sum 
for the additional territory taken ; more than it was 
worth, or was likely to be, to Mexico. To us it was 
an empire and of incalculable value ; but it might have 
been obtained by other means. The Southern rebel- 
lion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. 
Nations, like individuals, are punished for their trans- 
gressions. We got our punishment in the most san- 
guinary and expensive war of modern times. 

The 4th infantry went into camp at Salubrity in 
the month of May, 1844, with instructions, as I 
have said, to await further orders. At first, officers 
and men occupied ordinary tents. As the summer 
heat increased these were covered by sheds to break 
the rays of the sun. The summer was whiled away 
in social enjoyments among the officers, in visiting 
those stationed at, and near, Fort Jessup, twenty-five 
miles away, visiting the planters on the Red River, 
and the citizens of Natchitoches and Grand Ecore. 
There was much pleasant intercourse between the 
inhabitants and the officers of the army. I retain 
very agreeable recollections of my stay at Camp Salu- 
brity, and of the acquaintances made there, and no 
doubt my feeling is shared by the few officers living 
who were there at the time. I can call to mind 


only two officers of the 4th infantry, besides myself, 
who Were at Camp Salubrity with the regiment, who 
are now alive. 

With a war in prospect, and belonging to a regi- 
ment that had an unusual number of officers detailed 
on special duty away from the regiment, my hopes 
of being ordered to West Point as instructor van- 
ished. At the time of which I now write, officers in 
the quartermaster's, commissary's and adjutant-gen- 
eral's departments were appointed from the line of 
the army, and did not vacate their regimental com- 
missions until their regimental and staff commissions 
were for the same grades. Generally lieutenants 
were appointed to captaincies to fill vacancies in the 
staff corps. If they should reach a captaincy in the 
line before they arrived at a majority in the staff, 
they would elect which commission they would retain. 
In the 4th infantry, in 1844, at least six line officers 
were on duty in the staff, and therefore permanently 
detached from the regiment. Under these circum- 
stances I gave up everything like a special course of 
reading, and only read thereafter for my own amuse- 
ment, and not very much for that, until the war was 
over. I kept a horse and rode, and staid out of 
doors most of the time by day, and entirely recovered 
from the cough which I had carried from West Point, 
and from all indications of consumption. I have 
often thought that my life was saved, and my health 


restored, by exercise and exposure, enforced by an 
administrative act, and a war, both of which I dis- 

As summer wore away, and cool days and colder 
nights came upon us, the tents we were occupying 
ceased to afford comfortable quarters; and " further 
orders " not reaching us, we began to look about to 
remedy the hardship. Men were put to work getting 
out timber to build huts, and in a very short time all 
were comfortably housed — privates as well as offi- 
cers. The outlay by the government in accomplish- 
ing this was nothing, or nearly nothing. The winter 
was spent more agreeably than the summer had 
been. There were occasional parties given by the 
planters along the " coast" — as the bottom lands on 
the Red River were called. The climate was de- 

Near the close of the short session of Congress of 
1844-5, tne bill for the annexation of Texas to the 
United States was passed. It reached President 
Tyler on the 1st of March, 1845, and promptly re- 
ceived his approval. When the news reached us we 
began to look again for "further orders." They did 
not arrive promptly, and on the 1st of May fol- 
lowing I asked and obtained a leave of absence for 
twenty days, for the purpose of visiting St. Louis. 
The object of this visit has been before stated. 

Early in July the long expected orders were re- 


Mi ** 

u o 

"3 o 

as 1) 



ceived, but they only took the regiment to New 
Orleans Barracks. We reached there before the 
middle of the month, and again waited weeks for still 
further orders. The yellow fever was raging in New 
Orleans during the time we remained there, and the 
streets of the city had the appearance of a continuous 
well-observed Sunday. I recollect but one occasion 
when this observance seemed to be broken by the 
inhabitants. One morning about daylight I hap- 
pened to be awake, and, hearing the discharge of a 
rifle not far off, I looked out to ascertain where the 
sound came from. I observed a couple of clusters of 
men near by, and learned afterwards that " it was noth- 
ing ; only a couple of gentlemen deciding a difference 
of opinion with rifles, at twenty paces." I do not 
remember if either was killed, or even hurt, but 
no doubt the question of difference was settled 
satisfactorily, and " honorably," in the estimation of 
the parties engaged. I do not believe I ever would 
have the courage to fight a duel. If any man should 
wrong me to the extent of my being willing to kill 
him, I would not be willing to give him the choice of 
weapons with which it should be done, and of the time, 
place and distance separating us, when I executed 
him. If I should do another such a wrong as to 
justify him in killing me, I would make any reasona- 
ble atonement within my power, if convinced of the 
wrong done. I place my opposition to duelling 


on higher grounds than any here stated. No doubt 
a majority of the duels fought have been for want 
of moral courage on the part of those engaged to 

At Camp Salubrity, and when we went to New 
Orleans Barracks, the 4th infantry was commanded 
by Colonel Vose, then an old gentleman who had 
not commanded on drill for a number of years. 
He was not a man to discover infirmity in the pres- 
ence of danger. It now appeared that war was 
imminent, and he felt that it was his duty to brush 
up his tactics. Accordingly, when we got settled 
down at our new post, he took command of the regi- 
ment at a battalion drill. Only two or three evolu- 
tions had been gone through when he dismissed the 
battalion, and, turning to go to his own quarters, 
dropped dead. He had not been complaining of ill 
health, but no doubt died of heart disease. He 
was a most estimable man, of exemplary habits, and 
by no means the author of his own disease. 





EARLY in September the regiment left New Or- 
leans for Corpus Christi, now in Texas. Ocean 
steamers were not then common, and the passage was 
made in sailing vessels. At that time there was not 
more than three feet of water in the channel at the out- 
let of Corpus Christi Bay ; the debarkation, therefore, 
had to take place by small steamers, and at an island 
in the channel called Shell Island, the ships anchor- 
ing some miles out from shore. This made the work 
slow, and as the army was only supplied with one or 
two steamers, it took a number of days to effect the 
landing of a single regiment with its stores, camp 
and garrison equipage, etc. There happened to be 
pleasant weather while this was going on, but the 
land-swell was so great that when the ship and 
steamer were on opposite sides of the same wave 
they would be at considerable distance apart. The 
men and baggage were let down to a point higher 
than the lower deck of the steamer, and when ship 
and steamer got into the trough between the waves, 


and were close together, the load would be drawn 
over the steamer and rapidly run down until it rested 
on the deck. 

After I had gone ashore, and had been on guard 
several days at Shell Island, quite six miles from the 
ship, I had occasion for some reason or other to 
return on board. While on the Suviah — I think that 
was the name of our vessel — I heard a tremendous 
racket at the other end of the ship, and much and 
excited sailor language, such as "damn your eyes," 
etc. In a moment or two the captain, who was an 
excitable little man, dying with consumption, and not 
weighing much over a hundred pounds, came running 
out, carrying a sabre nearly as large and as heavy as 
he was, and crying that his men had mutinied. It 
was necessary to sustain the captain without ques- 
tion, and in a few minutes all the sailors charged with 
mutiny were in irons. I rather felt for a time a wish 
that I had not gone aboard just then. As the 
men charged with mutiny submitted to being placed 
in irons without resistance, I always doubted if they 
knew that they had mutinied until they were told. 

By the time I was ready to leave the ship again I 
thought I had learned enough of the working of the 
double and single pulley, by which passengers were 
let down from the upper deck of the ship to the 
steamer below, and determined to let myself down 
without assistance. Without saying anything of my 


intentions to any one, I mounted the railing, and tak- 
ing hold of the centre rope, just below the upper 
block, I put one foot on the hook below the lower 
block, and stepped off. Just as I did so some one 
called out " hold on." It was too late. I tried to 
"hold on" with all my might, but my heels went up, 
and my head went down so rapidly that my hold 
broke, and I plunged head foremost into the water, 
some twenty-five feet below, with such velocity that 
it seemed to me I never would stop. When I 
came to the surface again, being a fair swim- 
mer, and not having lost my presence of mind, I 
swam around until a bucket was let down for me, and 
I was drawn up without a scratch or injury. I do not 
believe there was a man on board who sympathized 
with me in the least when they found me uninjured. 
I rather enjoyed the joke myself. The captain of 
the Suviah died of his disease a few months later, 
and I believe before the mutineers were tried. I 
hope they got clear, because, as before stated, I al- 
ways thought the mutiny was all in the brain of a 
very weak and sick man. 

After reaching shore, or Shell Island, the labor of 
getting to Corpus Christi was slow and tedious. 
There was, if my memory serves me, but one small 
steamer to transport troops and baggage when the 
4th infantry arrived. Others were procured later. 
The distance from Shell Island to Corpus Christi was 


some sixteen or eighteen miles. The channel to the 
bay was so shallow that the steamer, small as it was, 
had to be draped over the bottom when loaded. 
Not more than one trip a day could be effected. 
Later this was remedied, by deepening the channel 
and increasing the number of vessels suitable to its 

Corpus Christi is near the head of the bay of the 
same name, formed by the entrance of the Nueces 
River into tide-water, and is on the west bank of that 
bay. At the time of its first occupancy by United 
States troops there was a small Mexican hamlet 
there, containing probably less than one hundred 
souls. There was, in addition, a small American 
trading post, at which goods were sold to Mexican 
smugglers. All goods were put up in compact pack- 
ages of about one hundred pounds each, suitable for 
loading on pack mules. Two of these packages 
made a load for an ordinary Mexican mule, and three 
for the larger ones. The bulk of the trade was in 
leaf tobacco, and domestic cotton-cloths and calicoes. 
The Mexicans had, before the arrival of the army, 
but little to offer in exchange except silver. The 
trade in tobacco was enormous, considering the popu- 
lation to be supplied. Almost every Mexican above 
the age of ten years, and many much younger, 
smoked the cigarette. Nearly every Mexican carried 
a pouch of leaf tobacco, powdered by rolling in the 



hands, and a roll of corn husks to make wrappers. 
The cigarettes were made by the smokers as they 
used them. 

Up to the time of which I write, and for years 
afterwards — I think until the administration of Presi- 
dent Juarez — the cultivation, manufacture and sale 
of tobacco constituted a government monopoly, and 
paid the bulk of the revenue collected from internal 
sources. The price was enormously high, and made 
successful smuggling very profitable. The difficulty 
of obtaining tobacco is probably the reason why 
everybody, male and female, used it at that time. I 
know from my own experience that when I was at 
West Point, the fact that tobacco, in every form, was 
prohibited, and the mere possession of the weed se- 
verely punished, made the majority of the cadets, 
myself included, try to acquire the habit of using it. 
I failed utterly at the time and for many years after- 
ward ; but the majority accomplished the object of 
their youthful ambition. 

Under Spanish rule Mexico was prohibited from 
producing anything that the mother-country could 
supply. This rule excluded the cultivation of the 
grape, olive and many other articles to which the 
soil and climate were well adapted. The country 
was governed for " revenue only ;" and tobacco, which 
cannot be raised in Spain, but is indigenous to Mex- 
ico, offered a fine instrumentality for securing this 
Vol. i. s 


prime object of government. The native population 
had been in the habit of using "the weed" from a 
period, back of any recorded history of this continent. 
Bad habits — if not restrained by law or public opin- 
ion — spread more rapidly and universally than good 
ones, and the Spanish colonists adopted the use of 
tobacco almost as generally as the natives. Spain, 
therefore, in order to secure the largest revenue from 
this source, prohibited the cultivation, except in spec- 
ified localities — and in these places farmed out the 
privilege at a very high price. The tobacco when 
raised could only be sold to the government, and the 
price to the consumer was limited only by the avarice 
of the authorities, and the capacity of the people to 

All laws for the government of the country were 
enacted in Spain, and the officers for their execution 
were appointed by the Crown, and sent out to the New 
El Dorado. The Mexicans had been brought up igno- 
rant of how to legislate or how to rule. When they 
gained their independence, after many years of war, 
it was the most natural thing in the world that they 
should adopt as their own the laws then in existence. 
The only change was, that Mexico became her own 
executor of the laws and the recipient of the reve- 
nues. The tobacco tax, yielding so large a revenue 
under the law as it stood, was one of the last, if not 
the very last, of the obnoxious imposts to be re- 

Sa^ta^ed ~bv "Wf-IT. Dunnel . 

BontMsr.1784. T)ieil.fatal850. Age.fL 6(5.Yeais. 



pealed. Now, the citizens are allowed to cultivate 
any crops the soil will yield. Tobacco is cheap, and 
every quality can be produced. Its use is by no 
means so general as when I first visited the country. 

Gradually the "Army of Occupation" assembled 
at Corpus Christi. When it was all together it con- 
sisted of seven companies of the 2d regiment of dra- 
goons, four companies of light artillery, five regiments 
of infantry — the 3d, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th — and one 
regiment of artillery acting as infantry — not more 
than three thousand men in all. General Zachary 
Taylor commanded the whole. There were troops 
enough in one body to establish a drill and discipline 
sufficient to fit men and officers for all they were ca- 
pable of in case of battle. The rank and file were 
composed of men who had enlisted in time of peace, 
to serve for seven dollars a month, and were neces- 
sarily inferior as material to the average volunteers 
enlisted later in the war expressly to fight, and also 
to the volunteers in the war for the preservation of 
the Union. The men engaged in the Mexican war 
were brave, and the officers of the regular army, from 
highest to lowest, were educated in their profession. 
A more efficient army for its number and armament, I 
do not believe ever fought a battle than the one com- 
manded by General Taylor in his first two engage- 
ments on Mexican — or Texan soil. 

The presence of United States troops on the edge 


of the disputed territory furthest from the Mexican 
settlements, was not sufficient to provoke hostilities. 
We were sent to provoke a fight, but it was essen- 
tial that Mexico should commence it. It was very 
doubtful whether Congress would declare war ; but 
if Mexico should attack our troops, the Executive 
could announce, " Whereas, war exists by the 
acts of, etc.," and prosecute the contest with 
vigor. Once initiated there were but few public 
men who would have the courage to oppose it. Ex- 
perience proves that the man who obstructs a war in 
which his nation is engaged, no matter whether right 
or wrong, occupies no enviable place in life or his- 
tory. Better for him, individually, to advocate "war, 
pestilence, and famine," than to act as obstructionist 
to a war already begun. The history of the defeat- 
ed rebel will be honorable hereafter, compared with 
that of the Northern man who aided him by conspir- 
ing against his government while protected by it. 
The most favorable posthumous history the stay-at- 
home traitor can hope for is — oblivion. 

Mexico showing no willingness to come to the 
Nueces to drive the invaders from her soil, it be- 
came necessary for the " invaders " to approach to 
within a convenient distance to be struck. Accord- 
ingly, preparations were begun for moving the army 
to the Rio Grande, to a point near Matamoras. It 
was desirable to occupy a position near the largest 


centre of population possible to reach, without abso- 
lutely invading territory to which we set up no claim 

The distance from Corpus Christi to Matamoras 
is about one hundred and fifty miles. The country 
does not abound in fresh water, and the length of the 
marches had to be regulated by the distance between 
water supplies. Besides the streams, there were oc- 
casional pools, filled during the rainy season, some 
probably made by the traders, who travelled con- 
stantly between Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande, 
and some by the buffalo. There was not at that 
time a single habitation, cultivated field, or herd 
of domestic animals, between Corpus Christi and 
Matamoras. It was necessary, therefore, to have a 
wagon train sufficiently large to transport the camp 
and garrison equipage, officers' baggage, rations for 
the army, and part rations of grain for the artillery 
horses and all the animals taken from the north, 
where they had been accustomed to having their 
forage furnished them. The army was but in- 
differently supplied with transportation. Wagons 
and harness could easily be supplied from the north ; 
but mules and horses could not so readily be brought. 
The American traders and Mexican smugglers 
came to the relief. Contracts were made for mules 
at from eight to eleven dollars each. The smugglers 
furnished the animals, and took their pay in goods of 


the description before mentioned. I doubt whether 
the Mexicans received in value from the traders five 
dollars per head for the animals they furnished, and 
still more, whether they paid anything but their own 
time in procuring them. Such is trade ; such is war. 
The government paid in hard cash to the contractor 
the stipulated price. 

Between the Rio Grande and the Nueces there 
was at that time a large band of wild horses feeding; 
as numerous, probably, as the band of buffalo roam- 
ing further north was before its rapid extermination 
commenced. The Mexicans used to capture these 
in large numbers and bring them into the American 
settlements and sell them. A picked animal could 
be purchased at from eight to twelve dollars, but 
taken at wholesale, they could be bought for thirty- 
six dollars a dozen. Some of these were purchased 
for the army, and answered a most useful purpose. 
The horses were generally very strong, formed much 
like the Norman horse, and with very heavy manes 
and tails. A number of officers supplied themselves 
with these, and they generally rendered as useful 
service as the northern animal ; in fact they were 
much better when grazing was the only means of 
supplying forage. 

There was no need for haste, and some months 
were consumed in the necessary preparations for a 
move. In the meantime the army was engaged in 


all the duties pertaining to the officer and the soldier. 
Twice, that I remember, small trains were sent from 
Corpus Christi, with cavalry escorts, to San Antonio 
and Austin, with paymasters and funds to pay off 
small detachments of troops stationed at those 
places. General Taylor encouraged officers to ac- 
company these expeditions. I accompanied one 
of them in December, 1845. The distance from 
Corpus Christi to San Antonio was then computed 
at one hundred and fifty miles. Now that roads 
exist it is probably less. From San Antonio to 
Austin we computed the distance at one hundred 
and ten miles, and from the latter place back to 
Corpus Christi at over two hundred miles. I know 
the distance now from San Antonio to Austin is but 
little over eighty miles, so that our computation was 
probably too high. 

There was not at the time an individual living 
between Corpus Christi and San Antonio until 
within about thirty miles of the latter point, 
where there were a few scattering Mexican settle- 
ments along the San Antonio River. The people 
in at least one of these hamlets lived underground 
for protection against the Indians. The country 
abounded in game, such as deer and antelope, with 
abundance of wild turkeys along the streams 
and where there were nut-bearing woods. On the 
Nueces, about twenty-five miles up from Corpus 


Christi, were a few log cabins, the remains of a town 
called San Patricio, but the inhabitants had all been 
massacred by the Indians, or driven away. 

San Antonio was about equally divided in popu- 
lation between Americans and Mexicans. From 
there to Austin there was not a single residence 
except at New Braunfels, on the Guadalupe 
River. At that point was a settlement of Ger- 
mans who had only that year come into the State. 
At all events they were living in small huts, about 
such as soldiers would hastily construct for temporary 
occupation. From Austin to Corpus Christi there 
was only a small settlement at Bastrop, with a few 
farms along the Colorado River ; but after leaving 
that, there were no settlements except the home of 
one man, with one female slave, at the old town of 
Goliad. Some of the houses were still standing. 
Goliad had been quite a village for the period and 
region, but some years before there had been a Mexi- 
can massacre, in which every inhabitant had been 
killed or driven away. This, with the massacre of 
the prisoners in the Alamo, San Antonio, about 
the same time, more than three hundred men in all, 
furnished the strongest justification the Texans had 
for carrying on the war with so much cruelty. In 
fact, from that time until the Mexican war, the 
hostilities between Texans and Mexicans was so 
great that neither was safe in the neighborhood 


of the other who might be in superior numbers or 
possessed of superior arms. The man we found 
living there seemed like an old friend ; he had come 
from near Fort Jessup, Louisiana, where the officers 
of the 3d and 4th infantry and the 2d dragoons had 
known him and his family. He had emigrated in 
advance of his family to build up a home for them. 



WHEN our party left Corpus Christi it was 
quite large, including the cavalry escort, 
Paymaster, Major Dix, his clerk and the 
officers who, like myself, were simply on 
leave ; but all the officers on leave, except 
Lieutenant Benjamin-— afterwards killed in the 
valley of Mexico — Lieutenant, now General, Augur, 
and myself, concluded to spend their allotted 
time at San Antonio and return from there. We 
were all to be back at Corpus Christi by the end of 
the month. The paymaster was detained in Austin 
so long that, if we had waited for him, we would 
have exceeded our leave. We concluded, there- 
fore, to start back at once with the animals we 
had, and having to rely principally on grass for their 
food, it was a good six days' journey. We had to 
sleep on the prairie every night, except at Goliad, 
and possibly one night on the Colorado, without 
shelter and with only such food as we carried with 
us, and prepared ourselves. The journey was haz- 




ardous on account of Indians, and there were 
white men in Texas whom I would not have 
cared to meet in a secluded place. Lieutenant 
Augur was taken seriously sick before we reached 
Goliad and at a distance from any habitation. To 
add to the complication, his horse — a mustang that 
had probably been captured from the band of wild 
horses before alluded to, and of undoubted lon- 
gevity at his capture — gave out. It was absolutely 
necessary to get forward to Goliad to find a shelter 
for our sick companion. By dint of patience and 
exceedingly slow movements, Goliad was at last 
reached, and a shelter and bed secured for our pa- 
tient. We remained over a day, hoping that Augur 
might recover sufficiently to resume his travels. He 
did not, however, and knowing that Major Dix would 
be along in a few days, with his wagon-train, now 
empty, and escort, we arranged with our Louisiana 
friend to take the best of care of the sick lieutenant 
until thus relieved, and went on. 

I had never been a sportsman in my life ; had 
scarcely ever gone in search of game, and rarely seen 
any when looking for it. On this trip there was 
no minute of time while travelling between San 
Patricio and the settlements on the San Antonio 
River, from San Antonio to Austin, and again from 
the Colorado River back to San Patricio, when deer 
or antelope could not be seen in great numbers. 


Each officer carried a shot-gun, and every evening, 
after going into camp, some would go out and soon 
return with venison and wild turkeys enough for the 
entire camp. I, however, never went out, and had 
no occasion to fire my gun ; except, being detained 
over a day at Goliad, Benjamin and I concluded to 
go down to the creek — which was fringed with tim- 
ber, much of it the pecan — and bring back a few 
turkeys. We had scarcely reached the edge of the 
timber when I heard the flutter of wings over- 
head, and in an instant I saw two or three tur- 
keys flying away. These were soon followed by 
more, then more, and more, until a flock of twenty 
or thirty had left from just over my head. All this 
time I stood watching the turkeys to see where they 
flew — with my gun on my shoulder, and never once 
thought of levelling it at the birds. When I had 
time to reflect upon the matter, I came to the con- 
clusion that as a sportsman I was a failure, and went 
back to the house. Benjamin remained out, and 
got as many turkeys as he wanted to carry back. 

After the second night at Goliad, Benjamin and 
I started to make the remainder of the journey 
alone. We reached Corpus Christi just in time to 
avoid " absence without leave." We met no one — 
not even an Indian — during the remainder of our 
journey, except at San Patricio. A new settlement 
had been started there in our absence of three 





weeks, induced possibly by the fact that there were 
houses already built, while the proximity of troops 
gave protection against the Indians. On the 
evening of the first day out from Goliad we heard 
the most unearthly howling of wolves, directly in 
our front. The prairie grass was tall and we could 
not see the beasts, but the sound indicated that 
they were near. To my ear it appeared that there 
must have been enough of them to devour our 
party, horses and all, at a single meal. The part 
of Ohio that I hailed from was not thickly settled, 
but wolves had been driven out long before I left. 
Benjamin was from Indiana, still less populated, 
where the wolf yet roamed over the prairies. He 
understood the nature of the animal and the 
capacity of a few to make believe there was an 
unlimited number of them. He kept on towards 
the noise, unmoved. I followed in his trail, lack- 
ing moral courage to turn back and join our 
sick companion. I have no doubt that if Benjamin 
had proposed returning to GoliacJ, I would not only 
have " seconded the motion" but have suggested 
that it was very hard-hearted in us to leave Augur 
sick there in the first place ; but Benjamin did not 
propose turning back. When he did speak it was 
to ask: "Grant, how many wolves do you think 
there are in that pack ? " Knowing where fre was 
from, and suspecting that he thought I would over- 


estimate the number, I determined to show my 
acquaintance with the animal by putting the estimate 
below what possibly could be correct, and answered : 
"Oh, about twenty," very indifferently. He smiled 
and rode on. In a minute we were close upon 
them, and before they saw us. There were just two 
of them. Seated upon their haunches, with their 
mouths close together, they had made all the noise 
we had been hearing for the past ten minutes. I 
have often thought of this incident since when I 
have heard the noise of a few disappointed poli- 
ticians who had deserted their associates. There 
are always more of them before they are counted. 

A week or two before leaving Corpus Christi on 
this trip, I had been promoted from brevet second- 
lieutenant, 4th infantry, to full second-lieutenant, 
7th infantry. Frank Gardner,* of the 7th, was 
promoted to the 4th in the same orders. We 
immediately made application to be transferred, so 
as to get back to our old regiments. On my return, 
I found that our m application had been approved 
at Washington. While in the 7th infantry I was 
in the company of Captain Holmes, afterwards a 
Lieutenant-general in the Confederate army. I 
never came in contact with him in the war of the 
Rebellion, nor did he render any very conspicuous 
service in his high rank. My transfer carried me 

* Afterwards General Gardner, C.S.A. 


to the company of Captain McCall, who resigned 
from the army after the Mexican war and settled in 
Philadelphia. He was prompt, however, to volun- 
teer when the rebellion broke out, and soon rose 
to the rank of major-general in the Union army. I 
was not fortunate enough to meet him after he 
resigned. In the old army he was esteemed very 
highly as a soldier and gentleman. Our relations 
were always most pleasant. 

The preparations at Corpus Christi for an advance 
progressed as rapidly in the absence of some twenty 
or more lieutenants as if we had been there. The 
principal business consisted in securing mules, and 
getting them broken to harness. The process was 
slow but amusing. The animals sold to the govern- 
ment were all young and unbroken, even to the 
saddle, and were quite as wild as the wild horses of 
the prairie. Usually a number would be brought in 
by a company of Mexicans, partners in the delivery. 
The mules were first driven into a stockade, called 
a corral, inclosing an acre or more of ground. The 
Mexicans, — who were all experienced in throwing 
the lasso, — would go into the corral on horseback, 
with their lassos attached to the pommels of their 
saddles. Soldiers detailed as teamsters and black- 
smiths would also enter the corral, the former with 
ropes to serve as halters, the latter with branding 
irons and a fire to keep the irons heated. A lasso 


was then thrown over the neck of a mule, when he 
would immediately go to the length of his tether, 
first one end, then the other in the air. While 
he was thus plunging and gyrating, another lasso 
would be thrown by another Mexican, catching the 
animal by a fore-foot. This would bring the mule to 
the ground, when he was seized and held by the 
teamsters while the blacksmith put upon him, with 
hot irons, the initials " U. S." Ropes were then put 
about the neck, with a slip-noose which would 
tighten around the throat if pulled. With a man 
on each side holding these ropes, the mule was 
released from his other bindings and allowed to rise. 
With more or less difficulty he would be conducted 
to a picket rope outside and fastened there. The 
delivery of that mule was then complete. This 
process was gone through with every mule and wild 
horse with the army of occupation. 

The method of breaking them was less cruel and 
much more amusing. It is a well-known fact that 
where domestic animals are used for specific pur- 
poses from generation to generation, the descendants 
are easily, as a rule, subdued to the same uses. At 
that time in Northern Mexico the mule, or his an- 
cestors, the horse and the ass, was seldom used except 
for the saddle or pack. At all events the Corpus 
Christi mule resisted the new use to which he was 
being put. The treatment he was subjected to in 


order to overcome his prejudices was summary and 

The soldiers were principally foreigners who had 
enlisted in our large cities, and, with the exception of 
a chance drayman among them, it is not probable 
that any of the men who reported themselves as 
competent teamsters had ever driven a mule-team in 
their lives, or indeed that many had had any previous 
experience in driving any animal whatever to har- 
ness. Numbers together can accomplish what twice 
their number acting individually could not perform. 
Five mules were allotted to each wagon. A team- 
ster would select at the picket rope five animals of 
nearly the same color and general appearance for 
his team. With a full corps of assistants, other 
teamsters, he would then proceed to get his mules 
together. In two's the men would approach each 
animal selected, avoiding as far as possible its 
heels. Two ropes would be put about the neck 
of each animal, with a slip noose, so that he could 
be choked if too unruly. They were then led 
out, harnessed by force and hitched to the wagon 
in the position they had to keep ever after. 
Two men remained on either side of the leader, 
with the lassos about its neck, and one man re- 
tained the same restraining influence over each of 
the others. All being ready, the hold would be 
slackened and the team started. The first motion 

Vol. i.-6 


was generally five mules in the air at one time, backs 
bowed, hind feet extended to the rear. After re- 
peating this movement a few times the leaders would 
start to run. This would bring the breeching tight 
against the mules at the wheels, which these last 
seemed to regard as a most unwarrantable attempt 
at coercion and would resist by taking a seat, some- 
times going so far as to lie down. In time all were 
broken in to do their duty submissively if not cheer- 
fully, but there never was a time during the war when 
it was safe to let a Mexican mule get entirely loose. 
Their drivers were all teamsters by the time they 
got through. 

I recollect one case of a mule that had worked 
in a team under the saddle, not only for some 
time at Corpus Christi, where he was broken, 
but all the way to the point opposite Matamoras, 
then to Camargo, where he got loose from his fasten- 
ings during the night. He did not run away at first, 
but staid in the neighborhood for a day or two, 
coming up sometimes to the feed trough even ; 
but on the approach of the teamster he always got 
out of the way. At last, growing tired of the con- 
stant effort to catch him, he disappeared altogether. 
Nothing short of a Mexican with his lasso could 
have caught him. Regulations would not have 
warranted the expenditure of a dollar in hiring a 
man with a lasso to catch that mule ; but they did 


allow the expenditure " of the mule," on a certifi- 
cate that he had run away without any fault of the 
quartermaster on whose returns he was borne, and 
also the purchase of another to take his place. I 
am a competent witness, for I was regimental 
quartermaster at the time. 

While at Corpus Christi all the officers who had 
a fancy for riding kept horses. The animals cost 
but little in the first instance, and when picketed 
they would get their living without any cost. I had 
three not long before the army moved, but a sad 
accident bereft me of them all at one time. A 
colored boy who gave them all the attention they 
got — besides looking after my tent and that of a 
class-mate and fellow-lieutenant and cooking for 
us, all for about eight dollars per month, was 
riding one to water and leading the other two. 
The led horses pulled him from his seat and all 
three ran away. They never were heard of after- 
wards. Shortly after that some one told Captain 
Bliss, General Taylor's Adjutant-General, of my 
misfortune. "Yes; I heard Grant lost five or six 
dollars' worth of horses the other day," he replied. 
That was a slander ; they were broken to the 
saddle when I got them and cost nearly twenty 
dollars. I never suspected the colored boy of ma- 
licious intent in letting them get away, because, if 
they had not escaped, he could have had one of them 
to ride on the long march then in prospect. 




AT last the preparations were complete and or- 
ders were issued for the advance to begin on 
the 8th of March. General Taylor had an army 
of not more than three thousand men. One 
battery, the siege guns and all the convalescent 
troops were sent on by water to Brazos Santiago, 
at the mouth of the Rio Grande. A guard was 
left back at Corpus Christi to look after public 
property and to take care of those who were too 
sick to be removed. The remainder of the army, 
probably not more than twenty five hundred men, 
was divided into three brigades, with the cavalry 
independent. Colonel Twiggs, with seven compa- 
nies of dragoons and a battery of light artillery, 
moved on the 8th. He was followed by the three 
infantry brigades, with a day's interval between the 
commands. Thus the rear brigade did not move 
from Corpus Christi until the nth of March. In 
view of the immense bodies of men moved on the 
same day over narrow roads, through dense forests 


'the- pas, 


and across large streams, in our late war, it seems 
strange now that a body of less than three thousand 
men should have been broken into four columns, 
separated by a day's march. 

General Taylor was opposed to anything like 
plundering by the troops, and in this instance, I 
doubt not, he looked upon the enemy as the ag- 
grieved party and was not willing to injure them 
further than his instructions from Washington de- 
manded. His orders to the troops enjoined scrupu- 
lous regard for the rights of all peaceable persons 
and the payment of the highest price for all supplies 
taken for the use of the army. 

All officers of foot regiments who had horses 
were permitted to ride them on the march when it 
did not interfere with their military duties. As 
already related, having lost my " five or six dollars' 
worth of horses " but a short time before I deter- 
mined not to get another, but to make the journey 
on foot. My company commander, Captain Mc- 
Call, had two good American horses, of consider- 
ably more value in that country, where native horses 
were cheap, than they were in the States. He used 
one himself and wanted the other for his servant. 
He was quite anxious to know whether I did not 
intend to get me another horse before the march 
began. I told him No; I belonged to a foot regi- 
ment. I did not understand the object of his 


solicitude at the time, but, when we were about to 
start, he said : " There, Grant, is a horse for 
you." I found that he could not bear the idea of his 
servant riding on a long march while his lieutenant 
went a-foot. He had found a mustang, a three-year- 
old colt only recently captured, which had been pur- 
chased by one of the colored servants with the 
regiment for the sum of three dollars. It was 
probably the only horse at Corpus Christi that could 
have been purchased just then for any reasonable 
price. Five dollars, sixty-six and two-thirds per 
cent, advance, induced the owner to part with the 
mustang. I was sorry to take him, because I really 
felt that, belonging to a foot regiment, it was my 
duty to march with the men. But I saw the Cap- 
tain s earnestness in the matter, and accepted the 
horse for the trip. The day we started was the first 
time the horse had ever been under saddle. I 
had, however, but little difficulty in breaking him, 
though for the first day there were frequent dis- 
agreements between us as to which way we should 
go, and sometimes whether we should go at all. At 
no time during the day could I choose exactly the 
part of the column I would march with ; but after 
that, I had as tractable a horse as any with the army, 
and there was none that stood the trip better. He 
never ate a mouthful of food on the journey except the 
grass he could pick within the length of his picket rope. 


A few days out from Corpus Christi, the immense 
herd of wild horses that ranged at that time between 
the Nueces and the Rio Grande was seen directly in 
advance of the head of the column and but a few 
miles off. It was the very band from which the horse 
I was riding had been captured but a few weeks be- 
fore. The column was halted for a rest, and a num- 
ber of officers, myself among them, rode out two or 
three miles to the right to see the extent of the herd. 
The country was a rolling prairie, and, from the 
higher ground, the vision was obstructed only by the 
earth's curvature. As far as the eye could reach to 
our right, the herd extended. To the left, it ex- 
tended equally. There was no estimating the number 
of animals in it ; I have no idea that they could all 
have been corralled in the State of Rhode Island, or 
Delaware, at one time. If they had been, they would 
have been so thick that the pasturage would have 
given out the first day. People who saw the South- 
ern herd of buffalo, fifteen or twenty years ago, can 
appreciate the size of the Texas band of wild horses 
in 1846. 

At the point where the army struck the Colorado 
River, the stream was quite wide and of sufficient 
depth for navigation. The water was brackish and 
the banks were fringed with timber. Here the whole 
army concentrated before attempting to cross. The 
army was not accompanied by a pontoon train, 


and at that time the troops were not instructed 
in bridge building. To add to the embarrass- 
ment of the situation, the army was here, for 
the first time, threatened with opposition. Buglers, 
concealed from our view by the brush on the 
opposite side, sounded the " assembly," and other 
military calls. Like the wolves before spoken of, 
they gave the impression that there was a large 
number of them and that, if the troops were in pro- 
portion to the noise, they were sufficient to devour 
General Taylor and his army. There were prob- 
ably but few troops, and those engaged principally 
in watching the movements of the " invader." A 
few of our cavalry dashed in, and forded and swam 
the stream, and all opposition was soon dispersed. 
I do not remember that a single shot was fired. 

The troops waded the stream, which was up to 
their necks in the deepest part. Teams were crossed 
by attaching a long rope to the end of the wagon 
tongue, passing it between the two swing mules and 
by the side of the leader, hitching his bridle as well 
as the bridle of the mules in rear to it, and carrying 
the end to men on the opposite shore. The bank 
down to the water was steep on both sides. A rope 
long enough to cross the river, therefore, was at- 
tached to the back axle of the wagon, and men be- 
hind would hold the rope to prevent the wagon 
"beating" the mules into the water. This latter 

* ,5 



rope also served the purpose of bringing the end of 
the forward one back, to be used over again. The 
water was deep enough for a short distance to swim 
the little Mexican mules which the army was then 
using, but they, and the wagons, were pulled through 
so fast by the men at the end of the rope ahead, 
that no time was left them to show their obstinacy. 
In this manner the artillery and transportation of 
the " army of occupation " crossed the Colorado 

About the middle of the month of March the ad- 
vance of the army reached the Rio Grande and 
went into camp near the banks of the river, opposite 
the city of Matamoras and almost under the guns 
of a small fort at the lower end of the town. There 
was not at that time a single habitation from Corpus 
Christi until the Rio Grande was reached. 

The work of fortifying was commenced at once. 
The fort was laid out by the engineers, but the work 
was done by the soldiers under the supervision of 
their officers, the chief engineer retaining general 
directions. The Mexicans now became so incensed 
at our near approach that some of their troops 
crossed the river above us, and made it unsafe for 
small bodies of men to go far beyond the limits of 
camp. They captured two companies of dragoons, 
commanded by Captains Thornton and Hardee. The 
latter figured as a general in the late war, on the 


Confederate side, and was author of the tactics first 
used by both armies. Lieutenant Theodric Porter, 
of the 4th infantry, was killed while out with a small 
detachment ; and Major Cross, the assistant quarter- 
master-general, had also been killed not far from 

There was no base of supplies nearer than Point 
Isabel, on the coast, north of the mouth of the Rio 
Grande and twenty-five miles away. The enemy, 
if the Mexicans could be called such at this time 
when no war had been declared, hovered about in 
such numbers that it was not safe to send a wagon 
train after supplies with any escort that could be 
spared. I have already said that General Taylor's 
whole command on the Rio Grande numbered less 
than three thousand men. He had, however, a few 
more troops at Point Isabel or Brazos Santiago. 
The supplies brought from Corpus Christi in wagons 
were running short. Work was therefore pushed 
with great vigor on the defences, to enable the mini- 
mum number of troops to hold the fort. All the 
men who could be employed, were kept at work 
from early dawn until darkness closed the labors of 
the day. With all this the fort was not completed 
until the supplies grew so short that further delay 
in obtaining more could not be thought of. By 
the latter part of April the work was in a partially 
defensible condition, and the 7th infantry, Major 



Jacob Brown commanding, was marched in to garri- 
son it, with some few pieces of artillery. All the 
supplies on hand, with the exception of enough to 
carry the rest of the army to Point Isabel, were 
left with the garrison, and the march was com- 
menced with the remainder of the command, every 
wagon being taken with the army. Early on the 
second day after starting the force reached its desti- 
nation, without opposition from the Mexicans. There 
was some delay in getting supplies ashore from ves- 
sels at anchor in the open roadstead. 




WHILE General Taylor was away with the 
bulk of his army, the little garrison up the 
river was besieged. As we lay in our tents upon the 
sea-shore, the artillery at the fort on the Rio Grande 
could be distinctly heard. 

The war had begun. 

There were no possible means of obtaining news 
from the garrison, and information from outside 
could not be otherwise than unfavorable. What 
General Taylor's feelings were during this suspense 
I do not know ; but for myself, a young second- 
lieutenant who had never heard a hostile gun be- 
fore, I felt sorry that I had enlisted. A great many 
men, when they smell battle afar off, chafe to get 
into the fray. When they say so themselves they 
generally fail to convince their hearers that they 
are as anvious as they would like to make believe, 
and as they approach danger they become more 
subdued. This rule is not universal, for 1 have 




known a few men who were always aching for a 
fight when there was no enemy near, who were as 
good as their word when the battle did come. But 
the number of such men is small. 

On the 7th of March the wagons were all loaded 
and General Taylor started on his return, with his 
army reinforced at Point Isabel, but still less than 
three thousand strong, to relieve the garrison on 
the Rio Grande. The road from Point Isabel to 
Matamoras is over an open, rolling, treeless prairie, 
until the timber that borders the bank of the Rio 
Grande is reached. This river, like the Mississippi, 
flows through a rich alluvial valley in the most 
meandering manner, running towards all points of 
the compass at times within a few miles. Formerly 
the river ran by Resaca de la Palma, some four or 
five miles east of the present channel. The old bed 
of the river at Resaca had become filled at places, 
leaving a succession of little lakes. The timber that 
had formerly grown upon both banks, and for a con- 
siderable distance out, was still standing. This tim- 
ber was struck six or eight miles out from the 
besieged garrison, at a point known as Palo Alto — 
"Tall trees" or "woods." 

Early in the forenoon of the 8th of May as 
Palo Alto was approached, an army, certainly out- 
numbering our little force, was seen, drawn up in 
line of battle just in front of the timber. Their 


bay©nets and spearheads glistened in the sunlight 
formidably. The force was composed largely of 
cavalry armed with lances. Where we were the 
grass was tall, reaching nearly to the shoulders of 
the men, very stiff, and each stock was pointed at 
the top, and hard and almost as sharp as a darning- 
needle. General Taylor halted his army before 
the head of column came in range of the artilkry 
of the Mexicans. He then formed a line of battle, 
facing the enemy. His artillery, two batteries and 
two eighteen-pounder iron guns, drawn by oxen, 
were placed in position at intervals along the line. 
A battalion was thrown to the rear, commanded by 
Lieutenant-Colonel Childs, of the artillery, as re- 
serves. These preparations completed, orders were 
given for a platoon of each company to stack arms 
and go to a stream off to the right of the command, 
to fill their canteens and also those of the rest 
of their respective companies When the men 
were all back in their places in line, the command 
to advance was given. As I looked down that long 
line of about three thousand armed men, advancing 
towards a larger force also armed, I thought what 
a fearful responsibility General Taylor must feel, 
commanding such a host and so far away from 
friends. The Mexicans immediately opened fire 
upon us, first with artillery and then with infantry. 
At first their shots did not reach us, and the advance 



was continued. As we got nearer, the cannon balls 
commenced going through the ranks. They hurt 
no one, however, during this advance, because they 
would strike the ground long before they reached our 
line, and ricochetted through the tall grass so slowly 
that the men would see them and open ranks and let 
them pass. When we got to a point where the artil- 
lery could be used with effect, a halt was called, and 
the battle opened on both sides. 

The infantry under General Taylor was armed 
with flint-lock muskets, and paper cartridges charged 
with powder, buck-shot and ball. At the distance 
of a few hundred yards a man might fire at you 
all day without your finding it out. The artillery 
was generally six-pounder brass guns throwing only 
solid shot ; but General Taylor had with him three 
or four twelve-pounder howitzers throwing shell, be- 
sides his eighteen-pounders before spoken of, that 
had a long range. This made a powerful armament. 
The Mexicans were armed about as we were so far 
as their infantry was concerned, but their artillery 
only fired solid shot. We had greatly the advantage 
in this arm. 

The artillery was advanced a rod or two in front 
of the line, and opened fire. The infantry stood at 
order arms as spectators, watching the effect of our 
shots upon the enemy, and watching his shots so as 
to step out of their way. It could be seen that the 


eighteen-pounders and the howitzers did a great deal 
of execution. On our side there was little or no loss 
while we occupied this position. During the battle 
Major Ringgold, an accomplished and brave artillery 
officer, was mortally wounded, and Lieutenant Luther, 
also of the artillery, was struck. During the day 
several advances were made, and just at dusk it be- 
came evident that the Mexicans were falling back. 
We again advanced, and occupied at the close of the 
battle substantially the ground held by the enemy 
at the beginning. In this last move there was a brisk 
fire upon our troops, and some execution was done. 
One cannon-ball passed through our ranks, not far 
from me. It took off the head of an enlisted man, 
and the under jaw of Captain Page of my regiment, 
while the splinters from the musket of the killed 
soldier, and his brains and bones, knocked down two 
or three others, including one officer, Lieutenant 
Wallen, — hurting them more or less. Our casualties 
for the day were nine killed and forty-seven wounded. 
At the break of day on the 9th, the army under 
Taylor was ready to renew the battle ; but an advance 
showed that the enemy had entirely left our front 
during the night. The chaparral before us was im- 
penetrable except where there were roads or trails, 
with occasionally clear or bare spots of small dimen- 
sions. A body of men penetrating it might easily be 
ambushed. It was better to have a few men caught 




in this way than the whole army, yet it was neces- 
sary that the garrison at the river should be relieved. 
To get to them the chaparral had to be passed. 
Thus I assume General Taylor reasoned. He halted 
the army not far in advance of the ground occupied 
by the Mexicans the day before, and selected Cap- 
tain C. F. Smith, of the artillery, and Captain McCall, 
of my company, to take one hundred and fifty picked 
men each and find where the enemy had gone. 
This left me in command of the company, an honor 
and responsibility I thought very great. 

Smith and McCall found no obstruction in the way 
of their advance until they came up to the succession 
of ponds, before described, at Resaca. The Mexicans 
had passed them and formed their lines on the op- 
posite bank. This position they had strengthened a 
little by throwing up dead trees and brush in their 
front, and by placing artillery to cover the approaches 
and open places. Smith and McCall deployed on each 
side of the road as well as they could, and engaged 
the enemy at long range. Word was sent back, and 
the advance of the whole army was at once com- 
menced. As we came up we were deployed in 
like manner. I was with the right wing, and led my 
company through the thicket wherever a penetrable 
place could be found, taking advantage of any clear 
spot that would carry me towards the enemy. At 

last I got pretty close up without knowing it. The 

Vol. i. — 7 


balls commenced to whistle very thick overhead, 
cutting the limbs of the chaparral right and left. We 
could not see the enemy, so I ordered my men to lie 
down, an order that did not have to be enforced. We 
kept our position until it became evident that the 
enemy were not firing at us, and then withdrew to 
find better ground to advance upon. 

By this time some progress had been made on our 
left. A section of artillery had been captured by the 
cavalry, and some prisoners had been taken. The 
Mexicans were giving way all along the line, and 
many of them had, no doubt, left early. I at last 
found a clear space separating two ponds. There 
seemed to be a few men in front and I charged upon 
them with my company. There was no resistance, 
and we captured a Mexican colonel, who had been 
wounded, and a few men. Just as I was sending 
them to the rear with a guard of two or three men, a 
private came from the front bringing back one of 
our officers, who had been badly wounded in advance 
of where I was. The ground had been charged over 
before. My exploit was equal to that of the soldier 
who boasted that he had cut off the leg of one of the 
enemy. When asked why he did not cut off his 
head, he replied : " Some one had done that before." 
This left no doubt in my mind but that the battle 
of Resaca de la Palma would have been won, just as 
it was, if I had not been there. 

?d "by J.W. Jar/is . Eng "by A.M.Durand- from a CopT ~bv James Herring. 

aTjfi.O<S>3B 3Em®WK"o 

^#; /H<7t<A^ 



There was no further resistance. The evening of 
the 9th the army was encamped on its old ground 
near the Fort, and the garrison was relieved. The 
siege had lasted a number of days, but the casualties 
were few in number. Major Jacob Brown, of the 
7th infantry, the commanding officer, had been killed, 
and in his honor the fort was named. Since then a 
town of considerable importance has sprung up on 
the ground occupied by the fort and troops, which 
has also taken his name. 

The battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma 
seemed to us engaged, as pretty important affairs ; 
but we had only a faint conception of their magni- 
tude until they were fought over in the North by the 
Press and the reports came back to us. At the same 
time, or about the same time, we learned that war 
existed between the United States and Mexico, by 
the acts of the latter country. On learning this fact 
General Taylor transferred our camps to the south 
or west bank of the river, and Matamoras was occu- 
pied. We then became the " Army of Invasion." 

Up to this time Taylor had none but regular troops 
in his command ; but now that invasion had already 
taken place, volunteers for one year commenced ar- 
riving. The army remained at Matamoras until 
sufficiently reinforced to warrant a movement into 
the interior. General Taylor was not an officer to 
trouble the administration much with his demands, 


but was inclined to do the best he could with the 
means given him. He felt his responsibility as going 
no further. If he had thought that he was sent to 
perform an impossibility with the means given him, 
he would probably have informed the authorities of 
his opinion and left them to determine what should 
be done. If the judgment was against him he would 
have gone on and done the best he could with the 
means at hand without parading his grievance before 
the public. No soldier could face either danger or 
responsibility more calmly than he. These are quali- 
ties more rarely found than genius or physical courage. 
General Taylor never made any great show or 
parade, either of uniform or retinue. In dress he 
was possibly too plain, rarely wearing anything in 
the field to indicate his rank, or even that he was an 
officer ; but he was known to every soldier in his 
army, and was respected by all. I can call to mind 
only one instance when I saw him in uniform, and 
one other when I heard of his wearing it. On both 
occasions he was unfortunate. The first was at 
Corpus Christi. He had concluded to review his 
army before starting on the march and gave orders 
accordingly. Colonel Twiggs was then second in 
rank with the army, and to him was given the com- 
mand of the review. Colonel and Brevet Brigadier- 
General Worth, a far different soldier from Taylor 
in the use of the uniform, was next to Twiggs in 



&bk Wjk 


^ y J/^^ ■ 


rank, and claimed superiority by virtue of his brevet 
rank when the accidents of service threw them where 
one or the other had to command. Worth declined 
to attend the review as subordinate to Twiggs until 
the question was settled by the highest authority. 
This broke up the review, and the question was re- 
ferred to Washington for final decision. 

General Taylor was himself only a colonel, in real 
rank, at that time, and a brigadier-general by 
brevet. He was assigned to duty, however, by the 
President, with the rank which his brevet gave him. 
Worth was not so assigned, but by virtue of com- 
manding a division he must, under the army regula- 
tions of that day, have drawn the pay of his brevet 
rank. The question was submitted to Washington, 
and no response was received until after the army 
had reached the Rio Grande. It was decided against 
General Worth, who at once tendered his resigna- 
tion and left the army, going north, no doubt, by the 
same vessel that carried it. This kept him out of 
the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. 
Either the resignation was not accepted, or General 
Worth withdrew it before action had been taken. 
At all events he returned to the army in time to 
command his division in the battle of Monterey, and 
served with it to the end of the war. 

The second occasion on which General Taylor 
was said to have donned his uniform, was in order to 


receive a visit from the Flag Officer of the naval 
squadron off the mouth of the Rio Grande. While 
the army was on that river the Flag Officer sent 
word that he would call on the General to pay his 
respects on a certain day. General Taylor, knowing 
that naval officers habitually wore all the uniform the 
'Maw allowed" on all occasions of ceremony, thought 
it would be only civil to receive his guest in the 
same style. His uniform was therefore got out, 
brushed up, and put on, in advance of the visit. 
The Flag Officer, knowing General Taylor's aversion 
to the wearing of the uniform, and feeling that it 
would be regarded as a compliment should he meet 
him in civilian's dress, left off his uniform for this 
occasion. The meeting was said to have been em- 
barrassing to both, and the conversation was princi- 
pally apologetic. 

The time was whiled away pleasantly enough at 
Matamoras, while we were waiting for volunteers. 
It is probable that all the most important people of 
the territory occupied by our army left their homes 
before we got there, but with those remaining the 
best of relations apparently existed. It was the 
policy of the Commanding General to allow no pil- 
laging, no taking of private property for public or 
individual use without satisfactory compensation, so 
that a better market was afforded than the people 
had ever known before. 


Among the troops that joined us at Matamoras 
was an Ohio regiment, of which Thomas L. Hamer, 
the Member of Congress who had given me my 
appointment to West Point, was major. He told me 
then that he could have had the colonelcy, but that 
as he knew he was to be appointed a brigadier-gen- 
eral, he preferred at first to take the lower grade. I 
have said before that Hamer was one of the ablest 
men Ohio ever produced. At that time he was in 
the prime of life, being less than fifty years of age, 
and possessed an admirable physique, promising long 
life. But he was taken sick before Monterey, and 
died within a few days. I have always believed that 
had his life been spared, he would have been Presi- 
dent of the United States during the term filled by 
President Pierce. Had Hamer filled that office his 
partiality for me was such, there is but little doubt I 
should have been appointed to one of the staff corps 
of the army — the Pay Department probably — and 
would therefore now be preparing to retire. Neither 
of these speculations is unreasonable, and they are 
mentioned to show how little men control their own 

Reinforcements having arrived, in the month of 
August the movement commenced from Matamoras 
to Camargo, the head of navigation on the Rio 
Grande. The line of the Rio Grande was all that 
was necessary to hold, unless it was intended to in- 


vade Mexico from the North. In that case the 
most natural route to take was the one which Gen- 
eral Taylor selected. It entered a pass in the Sierra 
Madre Mountains, at Monterey, through which the 
main road runs to the City of Mexico. Monterey 
itself was a good point to hold, even if the line of 
the Rio Grande covered all the territory we desired 
to occupy at that time. It is built on a plain two 
thousand feet above tide water, where the air is 
bracing and the situation healthy. 

On the 19th of August the army started for 
Monterey, leaving a small garrison at Matamoras. 
The troops, with the exception of the artillery, cav- 
alry, and the brigade to which I belonged, were 
moved up the river to Camargo on steamers. As 
there were but two or three of these, the boats 
had to make a number of trips before the last of the 
troops were up. Those who marched did so by 
the south side of the river. Lieutenant-Colonel 
Garland, of the 4th infantry, was the brigade com- 
mander, and on this occasion commanded the entire 
marching force. One day out convinced him that 
marching by day in that latitude, in the month of 
August, was not a beneficial sanitary measure, par- 
ticularly for Northern men. The order of marching 
was changed and night marches were substituted 
with the best results. 

When Camargo was reached, we found a city of 


tents outside the Mexican hamlet. I was detailed 
to act as quartermaster and commissary to the 
regiment. The teams that had proven abundantly 
sufficient to transport all supplies from Corpus 
Christi to the Rio Grande over the level prairies of 
Texas, were entirely inadequate to the needs of the 
reinforced army in a mountainous country. To ob- 
viate the deficiency, pack mules were hired, with 
Mexicans to pack and drive them. I had charge of 
the few wagons allotted to the 4th infantry and of 
the pack train to supplement them. There were not 
men enough in the army to manage that train with- 
out the help of Mexicans who had learned how. As 
it was the difficulty was great enough. The troops 
would take up their march at an early hour each 
day. After they had started, the tents and cooking 
utensils had to be made into packages, so that they 
could be lashed to the backs of the mules. Sheet- 
iron kettles, tent-poles and mess chests were incon- 
venient articles to transport in that way. It took 
several hours to get ready to start each morning, 
and by the time we were ready some of the mules 
first loaded would be tired of standing so long with 
their loads on their backs. Sometimes one would 
start to run, bowing his back and kicking up until he 
scattered his load ; others would lie down and try to 
disarrange their loads by attempting to get on the 
top of them by rolling on them ; others with tent- 


poles for part of their loads would manage to run a 
tent-pole on one side of a sapling while they would 
take the other. I am not aware of ever having 
used a profane expletive in my life ; but I would 
have the charity to excuse those who may have done 
so, if they were in charge of a train of Mexican pack 
mules at the time. 






THE advance from Camargo was commenced on 
the 5th of September. The army was divided 
into four columns, separated from each other by one 
day's march. The advance reached Cerralvo in four 
days and halted for the remainder of the troops to 
come up. By the 13th the rear-guard had arrived, and 
the same day the advance resumed its march, followed 
as before, a day separating the divisions. The for- 
ward division halted again at Marin, twenty-four miles 
from Monterey. Both this place and Cerralvo were 
nearly deserted, and men, women and children were 
seen running and scattered over the hills as we ap- 
proached ; but when the people returned they found 
all their abandoned property safe, which must have 
given them a favorable opinion of Los Grengos — " the 
Yankees." From Marin the movement was in mass. 
On the 19th General Taylor, with his army, was en- 
camped at Walnut Springs, within three miles of 

The town is on a small stream coming out of 


the mountain-pass, and is backed by a range of 
hills of moderate elevation. To the north, between 
the city and Walnut Springs, stretches an exten- 
sive plain. On this plain, and entirely outside of 
the last houses of the city, stood a strong fort, en- 
closed on all sides, to which our army gave the name 
of "Black Fort." Its guns commanded the ap- 
proaches to the city to the full extent of their range. 
There were two detached spurs of hills or mountains 
to the north and north-west of the city, which were 
also fortified. On one of these stood the Bishop's 
Palace. The road to Saltillo leaves the upper or 
western end of the city under the fire of the guns 
from these heights. The lower or eastern end was 
defended by two or three small detached works, 
armed with artillery and infantry. To the south 
was the mountain stream before mentioned, and back 
of that the range of foot-hills. The plaza in the 
centre of the city was the citadel, properly speaking. 
All the streets leading from it were swept by artillery, 
cannon being intrenched behind temporary parapets. 
The house-tops near the plaza were converted into 
infantry fortifications by the use of sand-bags for 
parapets. Such were the defences of Monterey in 
September, 1847. General Ampudia, with a force of 
certainly ten thousand men, was in command. 

General Taylor's force was about six thousand five 
hundred strong, in three divisions, under Generals 


/ \ o 


-"HS ■'by Geo. E. Per»e 


From Photograph by Prtuly. 



Butler, Twiggs and Worth. The troops went into 
camp at Walnut Springs, while the engineer officers, 
under Major Mansfield — a General in the late war — 
commenced their reconnoissance. Major Mansfield 
found that it would be practicable to get troops 
around, out of range of the Black Fort and the 
works on the detached hills to the north-west of the 
city, to the Saltillo road. With this road in our pos- 
session, the enemy would be cut off from receiving 
further supplies, if not from all communication with 
the interior. General Worth, with his division some- 
what reinforced, was given the task of gaining pos- 
session of the Saltillo road, and of carrying the de- 
tached works outside the city, in that quarter. He 
started on his march early in the afternoon of the 
20th. The divisions under Generals Butler and 
Twiggs were drawn up to threaten the east and 
north sides of the city and the works on those fronts, 
in support of the movement under General Worth. 
Worth's was regarded as the main attack on Mon- 
terey, and all other operations were in support of it. 
His march this day was uninterrupted ; but the enemy 
was seen to reinforce heavily about the Bishop's 
Palace and the other outside fortifications on their 
left. General Worth reached a defensible position 
just out of range of the enemy's guns on the heights 
north-west of the city, and bivouacked for the night. 
The engineer officers with him — Captain Sanders and 


Lieutenant George G. Meade, afterwards the com- 
mander of the victorious National army at the battle 
of Gettysburg — made a reconnoissance to the Saltillo 
road under cover of night. 

During the night of the 20th General Taylor had 
established a battery, consisting of two twenty-four- 
pounder howitzers and a ten-inch mortar, at a point 
from which they could play upon Black Fort. A 
natural depression in the plain, sufficiently deep to 
protect men standing in it from the fire from the 
fort, was selected and the battery established on the 
crest nearest the enemy. The 4th infantry, then 
consisting of but six reduced companies, was ordered 
to support the artillerists while they were intrenching 
themselves and their guns. I was regimental quar- 
termaster at the time and was ordered to remain in 
charge of camp and the public property at Walnut 
Springs. It was supposed that the regiment would 
return to its camp in the morning. 

The point for establishing the siege battery was 
reached and the work performed without attract- 
ing the attention of the enemy. At daylight the 
next morning fire was opened on both sides and 
continued with, what seemed to me at that day, great 
fury. My curiosity got the better of my judgment, 
and I mounted a horse and rode to the front to see 
what was going on. I had been there but a short 
time when an order to charge was given, and lacking 


the moral courage to return to camp — where I had 
been ordered to stay — I charged with the regiment. 
As soon as the troops were out of the depression 
they came under the fire of Black Fort. As they 
advanced they got under fire from batteries guarding 
the east, or lower, end of the city, and of musketry. 
About one-third of the men engaged in the charge 
were killed or wounded in the space of a few minutes. 
We retreated to get out of fire, not backward, but 
eastward and perpendicular to the direct road run, 
ning into the city from Walnut Springs. I was, I 
believe, the only person in the 4th infantry in the 
charge who was on horseback. When we got to a 
place of safety the regiment halted and drew itself 
together — what was Jeft of it. The adjutant of the 
regiment, Lieutenant Hoskins, who was not in 
robust health, found himself very much fatigued 
from running on foot in the charge and retreat, and, 
seeing me on horseback, expressed a wish that he 
could be mounted also. I offered him my horse and 
he accepted the offer. A few minutes later I saw 
a soldier, a quartermasters man, mounted, not far 
away. I ran to him, took his horse and was back 
with the regiment in a few minutes. In a short time 
we were off again ; and the next place of safety from 
the shots of the enemy that I recollect of being in, 
was a field of cane or corn to the north-east of the 
lower batteries. The adjutant to whom I had loaned 


my horse was killed, and I was designated to act in 
his place. 

This charge was ill-conceived, or badly executed. 
We belonged to the brigade commanded by Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Garland, and he had received orders 
to charge the lower batteries of the city, and carry 
them if he could without too much loss, for the pur- 
pose of creating a diversion in favor of Worth, who 
was conducting the movement which it was intended 
should be decisive. By a movement by the left flank 
Garland could have led his men beyond the range of 
the fire from Black Fort and advanced towards the 
north-east angle of the city, as well covered from fire 
as could be expected. There was no undue loss of 
life in reaching the lower end of Monterey, except 
that sustained by Garland's command. 

Meanwhile Quitman's brigade, conducted by an 
officer of engineers, had reached the eastern end of 
the city, and was placed under cover of the houses 
without much loss. Colonel Garland's brigade also 
arrived at the suburbs, and, by the assistance of some 
of our troops that had reached house-tops from 
which they could fire into a little battery covering the 
approaches to the lower end of the city, the battery 
was speedily captured and its guns were turned upon 
another work of the enemy. An entrance into the 
east end of the city was now secured, and the houses 
protected our troops so long as they were inactive. 



On the west General Worth had reached the Sal- 
tillo road after some fighting but without heavy loss. 
He turned from his new position and captured the 
forts on both heights in that quarter. This gave him 
possession of the upper or west end of Monterey. 
Troops from both Twiggs's and Butler's divisions 
were in possession of the east end of the town, but the 
Black Fort to the north of the town and the plaza in 
the centre were still in the possession of the enemy. 
Our camps at Walnut Springs, three miles away, 
were guarded by a company from each regiment. A 
regiment of Kentucky volunteers guarded the mor- 
tars and howitzers engaged against Black Fort. Prac- 
tically Monterey was invested. 

There was nothing done on the 22d by the United 
States troops ; but the enemy kept up a harmless 
fire upon us from Black Fort and the batteries still 
in their possession at the east end of the city. 
During the night they evacuated these ; so that on 
the morning of the 23d we held undisputed posses- 
sion of the east end of Monterey. 

Twiggs's division was at the lower end of the city, 
and well covered from the fire of the enemy. But 
the streets leading to the plaza — all Spanish or 
Spanish-American towns have near their centres a 
square called a plaza — were commanded from all 
directions by artillery. The houses were flat-roofed 
and but one or two stories high, and about the plaza 

Vol. i.— 8 


the roofs were manned with infantry, the troops 
being protected from our fire by parapets made of 
sand-bags. All advances into the city were thus 
attended with much danger. While moving along 
streets which did not lead to the plaza, our men were 
protected from the fire, and from the view, of the 
enemy except at the crossings ; but at these a vol- 
ley of musketry and a discharge of grape-shot were 
invariably encountered. The 3d and 4th regiments 
of infantry made an advance nearly to the plaza in 
this way and with heavy loss. The loss of the 3d 
infantry in commissioned officers was especially 
severe. There were only five companies of the regi- 
ment and not over twelve officers present, and five 
of these officers were killed. When within a square 
of the plaza this small command, ten companies 
in all, was brought to a halt. Placing themselves 
under cover from the shots of the enemy, the men 
would watch to detect a head above the sand-bags 
on the neighboring houses. The exposure of a 
single head would bring a volley from our soldiers. 

We had not occupied this position long when it 
was discovered that our ammunition was growing 
low. I volunteered to go back* to the point we had 

* General Garland expressed a wish to get a message back to General 
Twiggs, his division commander, or General Taylor, to the effect that he was 
nearly out of ammunition and must have more sent to him, or otherwise be 
reinforced. Deeming the return dangerous he did not like to order any one to 
carry it, so he called for a volunteer. Lieutenant Grant offered his services, 
which were accepted. — Publishers. 


started from, report our position to General Twiggs, 
and ask for ammunition to be forwarded. We 
were at this time occupying ground off from the 
street, in rear of the houses. My ride back was an 
exposed one. Before starting I adjusted myself on 
the side of my horse furthest from the enemy, and 
with only one foot holding to the cantle of the saddle, 
and an arm over the neck of the horse exposed, I 
started at full run. It was only at street crossings 
that my horse was under fire, but these I crossed at 
such a flying rate that generally I was past and under 
cover of the next block of houses before the enemy 
fired. I got out safely without a scratch. 

At one place on my ride, I saw a sentry walking 
in front of a house, and stopped to inquire what he 
was doing there. Finding that the house was full 
of wounded American officers and soldiers, I dis- 
mounted and went in. I found there Captain Will- 
iams, of the Engineer Corps, wounded in the head, 
probably fatally, and Lieutenant Territt, also badly 
wounded, his bowels protruding from his wound. 
There were quite a number of soldiers also. Prom- 
ising them to report their situation, I left, readjusted 
myself to my horse, recommenced the run, and was 
soon with the troops at the east end. Before am- 
munition could be collected, the two regiments I 
had been with were seen returning, running the same 
gauntlet in getting out that they had passed in going 



in, but with comparatively little loss. The move- 
ment was countermanded and the troops were with- 
drawn. The poor wounded officers and men I had 
found, fell into the hands of the enemy during the 
night, and died. 

While this was going on at the east, General 
Worth, with a small division of troops, was advanc- 
ing towards the plaza from the opposite end of the 
city. He resorted to a better expedient for getting 
to the plaza — the citadel — than we did on the 
east. Instead of moving by the open streets, he 
advanced through the houses, cutting passage- 
ways from one to another. Without much loss 
of life, he got so near the plaza during the night 
that before morning, Ampudia, the Mexican com- 
mander, made overtures for the surrender of the 
city and garrison. This stopped all further hostil- 
ities. The terms of surrender were soon agreed 
upon. The prisoners were paroled and permitted 
to take their horses and personal property with 

My pity was aroused by the sight of the Mexican 
garrison of Monterey marching out of town as pris- 
oners, and no doubt the same feeling was experi- 
enced by most of our army who witnessed it. Many 
of the prisoners were cavalry, armed with lances, 
and mounted on miserable little half-starved horses 
that did not look as if they could carry their riders 


out of town. The men looked in but little better 
condition. I thought how little interest the men be- 
fore me had in the results of the war, and how little 
knowledge they had of " what it was all about." 

After the surrender of the garrison of Monterey 
a quiet camp life was led until midwinter. As had 
been the case on the Rio Grande, the people who 
remained at their homes fraternized with the 
" Yankees " in the pleasantest manner. In fact, un- 
der the humane policy of our commander, I question 
whether the great majority of the Mexican people 
did not regret our departure as much as they had 
regretted our coming. Property and person were 
thoroughly protected, and a market was afforded for 
all the products of the country such as the people 
had never enjoyed before. The educated and 
wealthy portion of the population here, as elsewhere, 
abandoned their homes and remained away from 
them as long as they were in the possession of the 
invaders ; but this class formed a very small percent- 
age of the whole population. 







THE Mexican war was a political war, and the ad- 
ministration conducting it desired to make party- 
capital out of it. General Scott was at the head of 
the army, and, being a soldier of acknowledged pro- 
fessional capacity, his claim to the command of the 
forces in the field was almost indisputable and does 
not seem to have been denied by President Polk, or 
Marcy, his Secretary of War. Scott was a Whig 
and the administration was democratic. General 
Scott was also known to have political aspirations, 
and nothing so popularizes a candidate for high civil 
positions as military victories. It would not do 
therefore to give him command of the ' • army of con- 
quest." The plans submitted by Scott for a cam- 
paign in Mexico were disapproved by the adminis- 
tration, and he replied, in a tone possibly a little 
disrespectful, to the effect that, if a soldier's plans 
were not to be supported by the administration, suc- 
cess could not be expected. This was on the 27th 


of May, 1846. Four days later General Scott was 
notified that he need not go to Mexico. General 
Gaines was next in rank, but he was too old and fee- 
ble to take the field. Colonel Zachary Taylor — a 
brigadier-general by brevet — was therefore left in 
command. He, too, was a Whig, but was not sup- 
posed to entertain any political ambitions ; nor did 
he ; but after the fall of Monterey, his third battle 
and third complete victory, the Whig papers at home 
began to speak of him as the candidate of their party 
for the Presidency. Something had to be done to 
neutralize his growing popularity. He could not be 
relieved from duty in the field where all his battles 
had been victories : the design would have been too 
transparent. It was finally decided to send General 
Scott to Mexico in chief command, and to authorize 
him to carry out his own original plan : that is, cap- 
ture Vera Cruz and march upon the capital of the 
country. It was no doubt supposed that Scott's am- 
bition would lead him to slaughter Taylor or destroy 
his chances for the Presidency, and yet it was hoped 
that he would not make sufficient capital himself to 
secure the prize. 

The administration had indeed a most embarrassing 
problem to solve. It was engaged in a war of con- 
quest which must be carried to a successful issue, or 
the political object would be unattained. Yet all the 
capable officers of the requisite rank belonged to the 


■ rea. bvlDanev. 

QtOyKA^vxcL tia/Wtv W 




opposition, and the man selected for his lack of polit- 
ical ambition had himself become a prominent can- 
didate for the Presidency. It was necessary to de- 
stroy his chances promptly. The problem was to do 
this without the loss of conquest and without per- 
mitting another general of the same political party 
to acquire like popularity. The fact is, the adminis- 
tration of Mr. Polk made every preparation to dis- 
grace Scott, or, to speak more correctly, to drive him 
to such desperation that he would disgrace him- 

General Scott had opposed conquest by the way of 
the Rio Grande, Matamoras and Saltillo from the 
first. Now that he was in command of all the forces 
in Mexico, he withdrew from Taylor most of his reg- 
ular troops and left him only enough volunteers, as 
he thought, to hold the line then in possession of 
the invading army. Indeed Scott did not deem it 
important to hold anything beyond the Rio Grande, 
and authorized Taylor to fall back to that line if he 
chose. General Taylor protested against the deple- 
tion of his army, and his subsequent movement upon 
Buena Vista would indicate that he did not share the 
views of his chief in regard to the unimportance of 
conquest beyond the Rio Grande. 

Scott had estimated the men and material that 
would be required to capture Vera Cruz and to march 
on the capital of the country, two hundred and sixty 


miles in the interior. He was promised all he asked 
and seemed to have not only the confidence of the 
President, but his sincere good wishes. The prom- 
ises were all broken. Only about half the troops 
were furnished that had been pledged, other war 
material was withheld and Scott had scarcely started 
for Mexico before the President undertook to super- 
sede him by the appointment of Senator Thomas H. 
Benton as lieutenant-general. This being refused 
by Congress, the President asked legislative authority 
to place a junior over a senior of the same grade, 
with the view of appointing Benton to the rank of 
major-general and then placing him in command of 
the army, but Congress failed to accede to this prop- 
osition as well, and Scott remained in command : 
but every general appointed to serve under him was 
politically opposed to the chief, and several were 
personally hostile. 

General Scott reached Brazos Santiago or Point 
Isabel, at the mouth of the Rio Grande, late in De- 
cember, 1846, and proceeded at once up the river to 
Camargo, where he had written General Taylor to 
meet him. Taylor, however, had gone to, or towards 
Tampico, for the purpose of establishing a post there. 
He had started on this march before he was aware of 
General Scott being in the country. Under these 
circumstances Scott had to issue his orders designat- 
ing the troops to be withdrawn from Taylor, without 




2 3 

the personal consultation he had expected to hold 
with his subordinate. 

General Taylor's victory at Buena Vista, February 
22d, 23d, and 24th, 1847, with an army composed 
almost entirely of volunteers who had not been in 
battle before, and over a vastly superior force nu- 
merically, made his nomination for the Presidency 
by the Whigs a foregone conclusion. He was nom- 
inated and elected in 1848. I believe that he sin- 
cerely regretted this turn in his fortunes, preferring 
the peace afforded by a quiet life free from abuse to 
the honor of filling the highest office in the gift of 
any people, the Presidency of the United States. 

When General Scott assumed command of the 
army of invasion, I was in the division of General 
David Twiggs, in Taylor's command ; but under the 
new orders my regiment was transferred to the divi- 
sion of General William Worth, in which I served 
to the close of the war. The troops withdrawn 
from Taylor to form part of the forces to operate 
against Vera Cruz, were assembled at the mouth 
of the Rio Grande preparatory to embarkation 
for their destination. I found General Worth a 
different man from any I had before served directly 
under. He was nervous, impatient and restless on 
the march, or when important or responsible duty 
confronted him. There was not the least reason for 
haste on the march, for it was known that it would 


take weeks to assemble shipping enough at the point 
of our embarkation to carry the army, but Gen- 
eral Worth moved his division with a rapidity that 
would have been commendable had he been going 
to the relief of a beleaguered garrison. The length 
of the marches was regulated by the distances be- 
tween places affording a supply of water for the 
troops, and these distances were sometimes long 
and sometimes short. General Worth on one occa- 
sion at least, after having made the full distance 
intended .for the day, and after the troops were in 
camp and preparing their food, ordered tents struck 
and made the march that night which had been 
intended for the next day. Some commanders can 
move troops so as to get the maximum distance out 
of them without fatigue, while others can wear them 
out in a few days without accomplishing so much. 
General Worth belonged to this latter class. He 
enjoyed, however, a fine reputation for his fighting 
qualities, and thus attached his officers and men to 

The army lay in camp upon the sand-beach in the 
neighborhood of the mouth of the Rio Grande for 
several weeks, awaiting the arrival of transports to 
carry it to its new field of operations. The trans- 
ports were all sailing vessels. The passage was a 
tedious one, and many of the troops were on ship- 
board over thirty days from the embarkation at the 


mouth of the Rio Grande to the time of debarka- 
tion south of Vera Cruz. The trip was a comfort- 
less one for officers and men. The transports used 
were built for carrying freight and possessed but 
limited accommodations for passengers, and the cli- 
mate added to the discomfort of all. 

The transports with troops were assembled in the 
harbor of Anton Lizardo, some sixteen miles south 
of Vera Cruz, as they arrived, and there awaited the 
remainder of the fleet, bringing artillery, ammuni- 
tion and supplies of all kinds from the North. With 
the fleet there was a little steam propeller dispatch- 
boat — the first vessel of the kind I had ever seen, 
and probably the first of its kind ever seen by any 
one then with the army. At that day ocean steam- 
ers were rare, and what there were were side-wheel- 
ers. This little vessel, going through the fleet so 
fast, so noiselessly and with its propeller under water 
out of view, attracted a great deal of attention. 1 
recollect that Lieutenant Sidney Smith, of the 4th 
infantry, by whom I happened to be standing on the 
deck of a vessel when this propeller was passing, ex- 
claimed, " Why, the thing looks as if it was propelled 
by the force of circumstances." 

Finally on the 7th of March, 1847, the little army 
of ten or twelve thousand men, given Scott to invade 
a country with a population of seven or eight mill- 
ions, a mountainous country affording the greatest 


possible natural advantages for defence, was all as- 
sembled and ready to commence the perilous task 
of landing from vessels lying in the open sea. 

The debarkation took place inside of the little 
island of Sacrificios, some three miles south of Vera 
Cruz. The vessels could not get anywhere near 
shore, so that everything had to be landed in light- 
ers or surf-boats ; General Scott had provided these 
before leaving the North. The breakers were some- 
times high, so that the landing was tedious. The 
men were got ashore rapidly, because they could 
wade when they came to shallow water; but the camp 
and garrison equipage, provisions, ammunition and 
all stores had to be protected from the salt water, 
and therefore their landing took several days. The 
Mexicans were very kind to us, however, and threw 
no obstacles in the way of our landing except an 
occasional shot from their nearest fort. During 
the debarkation one shot took off the head of 
Major Albertis. No other, I believe, reached any- 
where near the same distance. On the 9th of March 
the troops were landed and the investment of Vera 
Cruz, from the Gulf of Mexico south of the city to 
the Gulf again on the north, was soon and easily 
effected. The landing of stores was continued until 
everything was got ashore. 

Vera Cruz, at the time of which I write and up to 
1880, was a walled city. The wall extended from 



the water's edge south of the town to the water again 
on the north. There were fortifications at intervals 
along the line and at the angles. In front of the 
city, and on an island half a mile out in the Gulf, 
stands San Juan de Ulloa, an enclosed fortification 
of large dimensions and great strength for that 
period. Against artillery of the present day the land 
forts and walls would prove elements of weakness 
rather than strength. After the invading army had 
established their camps out of range of the fire from 
the city, batteries were established, under cover of 
night, far to the front of the line where the troops 
lay. These batteries were intrenched and the ap- 
proaches sufficiently protected. If a sortie had been 
made at any time by the Mexicans, the men serving 
the batteries could have been quickly reinforced 
without great exposure to the fire from the enemy's 
main line. No serious attempt was made to capture 
the batteries or to drive our troops away. 

The siege continued with brisk firing on our side 
till the 27th of March, by which time a considerable 
breach had been made in the wall surrounding the 
city. Upon this General Morales, who was Govern- 
or of both the city and of San Juan de Ulloa, com- 
menced a correspondence with General Scott look- 
ing to the surrender of the town, forts and garrison. 
On the 29th Vera Cruz and San Juan de Ulloa were 
occupied by Scott's army. About five thousand pris- 


oners and four hundred pieces of artillery, besides 
large amounts of small arms and ammunition, fell 
into the hands of the victorious force. The casual- 
ties on our side during the siege amounted to 
sixty-four officers and men, killed and wounded. 



GENERAL SCOTT had less than twelve thou- 
sand men at Vera Cruz. He had been promised 
by the administration a very much larger force, or 
claimed that he had, and he was a man of veracity. 
Twelve thousand was a very small army with which 
to penetrate two hundred and sixty miles into an 
enemy's country, and to besiege the capital ; a city, at 
that time, of largely over one hundred thousand in- 
habitants. Then, too, any line of march that could be 
selected led through mountain passes easily defended. 
In fact, there were at that time but two roads from 
Vera Cruz to the City of Mexico that could be taken 
by an army; one by Jalapa and Perote, the other by 
Cordova and Orizaba, the two coming together on 
the great plain which extends to the City of Mexico 
after the range of mountains is passed. 

It was very important to get the army away from 
Vera Cruz as soon as possible, in order to avoid the 
yellow fever, or vomito, which usually visits that city 
early in the year, and is very fatal to persons not 

Vol. i.— 9. 


acclimated ; but transportation, which was expected 
from the North, was arriving very slowly. It was 
absolutely necessary to have enough to supply the 
army to Jalapa, sixty-five miles in the interior and 
above the fevers of the coast. At that point the 
country is fertile, and an army of the size of General 
Scott's could subsist there for an indefinite period. 
Not counting the sick, the weak and the garrisons 
for the captured city and fort, the moving column 
was now less than ten thousand strong. This force 
was composed of three divisions, under Generals 
Twiggs, Patterson, and Worth. The importance of 
escaping the vomito was so great that as soon as 
transportation enough could be got together to move 
a division the advance was commenced. On the 
8th of April, Twiggs's division started for Jalapa. He 
was followed very soon by Patterson, with his division. 
General Worth was to bring up the rear with his 
command as soon as transportation enough was as- 
sembled to carry six days' rations for his troops with 
the necessary ammunition and camp and garrison 
equipage. It was the 13th of April before this di- 
vision left Vera Cruz. 

The leading division ran against the enemy at 
Cerro Gordo, some fifty miles west, on the road to 
Jalapa, and went into camp at Plan del Rio, about 
three miles from the fortifications. General Patterson 
reached Plan del Rio with his division soon after 



Twiggs arrived. The two were then secure against 
an attack from Santa Anna, who commanded the 
Mexican forces. At all events they confronted the 
enemy without reinforcements and without molesta- 
tion, until the 18th of April. General Scott had re- 
mained at Vera Cruz to hasten preparations for the 
field; but on the 12th, learning the situation at the 
front, he hastened on to take personal supervision. 
He at once commenced his preparations for the capt- 
ure of the position held by Santa Anna and of the 
troops holding it. 

Cerro Gordo is one of the higher spurs of the 
mountains some twelve to fifteen miles east of Jalapa, 
and Santa Anna had selected this point as the easiest 
to defend against an invading army. The road, said 
to have been built by Cortez, zigzags around the 
mountain-side and was defended at every turn by 
artillery. On either side were deep chasms or 
mountain walls. A direct attack along the road 
was an impossibility. A flank movement seemed 
equally impossible. After the arrival of the 
commanding-general upon the scene, reconnois- 
sances were sent out to find, or to make, a road 
by which the rear of the enemy's works might be 
reached without a front attack. These reconnois- 
sances were made under the supervision of Captain 
Robert E. Lee, assisted by Lieutenants P. G. T. 
Beauregard, Isaac I. Stevens, Z. B. Tower, G. W. 


Smith, George B. McClellan, and J. G. Foster, of 
the corps of engineers, all officers who attained 
rank and fame, on one side or the other, in the great 
conflict for the preservation of the unity of the 
nation. The reconnoissance was completed, and the 
labor of cutting out and making roads by the flank 
of the enemy was effected by the 1 7th of the month. 
This was accomplished without the knowledge of 
Santa Anna or his army, and over ground where he 
supposed it impossible. On the same day General 
Scott issued his order for the attack on the 18th. 

The attack was made as ordered, and perhaps 
there was not a battle of the Mexican war, or of any 
other, where orders issued before an engagement 
were nearer being a correct report of what after- 
wards took place. Under the supervision of the 
engineers, roadways had been opened over chasms to 
the right where the walls were so steep that men 
could barely climb them. Animals could not. These 
had been opened under cover of night, without 
attracting the notice of the enemy. The engineers, 
who had directed the opening, led the way and the 
troops followed. Artillery was let down the steep 
slopes by hand, the men engaged attaching a strong 
rope to the rear axle and letting the guns down, a 
piece at a time, while the men at the ropes kept 
their ground on top, paying out gradually, while a 
few at the front directed the course of the piece. In 




like manner the guns were drawn by hand up the 
opposite slopes. In this way Scott's troops reached 
their assigned position in rear of most of the intrench- 
ments of the enemy, unobserved. The attack was 
made, the Mexican reserves behind the works beat a 
hasty retreat, and those occupying them surrendered. 
On the left General Pillow's command made a formid- 
able demonstration, which doubtless held a part of 
the enemy in his front and contributed to the vic- 
tory. I am not pretending to give full details of all 
the battles fought, but of the portion that I saw. 
There were troops engaged on both sides at other 
points in which both sustained losses ; but the battle 
was won as here narrated. 

The surprise of the enemy was complete, the vic- 
tory overwhelming ; some three thousand prisoners 
fell into Scott's hands, also a large amount of ord- 
nance and ordnance stores. The prisoners were 
paroled, the artillery parked and the small arms and 
ammunition destroyed. The battle of Buena Vista 
was probably very important to the success of Gen- 
eral Scott at Cerro Gordo and in his entire campaign 
from Vera Cruz to the great plains reaching to the 
City of Mexico. The only army Santa Anna had to 
protect his capital and the mountain passes west of 
Vera Cruz, was the one he had with him confronting 
General Taylor. It is not likely that he would have 
gone as far north as Monterey to attack the United 


States troops when he knew his country was threat- 
ened with invasion further south. When Taylor 
moved to Saltillo and then advanced on to Buena 
Vista, Santa Anna crossed the desert confronting the 
invading army, hoping no doubt to crush it and get 
back in time to meet General Scott in the mountain 
passes west of Vera Cruz. His attack on Taylor 
was disastrous to the Mexican army, but, notwith- 
standing this, he marched his army to Cerro Gordo, 
a distance not much short of one thousand miles by 
the line he had to travel, in time to intrench himself 
well before Scott got there. If he had been success- 
ful at Buena Vista his troops would no doubt have 
made a more stubborn resistance at Cerro Gordo. 
Had the battle of Buena Vista not been fought 
Santa Anna would have had time to move leisurely 
to meet the invader further south and with an army 
not demoralized nor depleted by defeat. 

After the battle the victorious army moved on to 
Jalapa, where it was in a beautiful, productive and 
healthy country, far above the fevers of the coast. 
Jalapa, however, is still in the mountains, and be- 
tween there and the great plain the whole line of the 
road is easy of defence. It was important, therefore, 
to get possession of the great highway between the 
sea-coast and the capital up to the point where it 
leaves the mountains, before the enemy could have 
time to re-organize and fortify in our front. Worth's 


division was selected to go forward to secure this 
result. The division marched to Perote on the 
great plain, not far from where the road debouches 
from the mountains. There is a low, strong fort 
on the plain in front of the town, known as the 
Castle of Perote. This, however, offered no resist- 
ance and fell into our hands, with its armament. 

General Scott having now only nine or ten thou- 
sand men west of Vera Cruz, and the time of some 
four thousand of them being about to expire, a long 
delay was the consequence. The troops were in 
a healthy climate, and where they could subsist for 
an indefinite period even if their line back to Vera 
Cruz should be cut off. It being ascertained that 
the men whose time would expire before the City of 
Mexico could possibly fall into the hands of the 
American army, would not remain beyond the term 
for which they had volunteered, the commanding- 
general determined to discharge them at once, for a 
delay until the expiration of their time would have 
compelled them to pass through Vera Cruz during 
the season of the vomito. This reduced Scott's 
force in the field to about five thousand men. 

Early in May, Worth, with hjs division, left Perote 
and marched on to Puebla. The roads were wide 
and the country open except through one pass in a 
spur of mountains coming up from the south, through 
which the road runs. Notwithstanding this the small 


column was divided into two bodies, moving a day 
apart. Nothing occurred on the march of special 
note, except that while lying at the town of Amo- 
zoque — an easy day's march east of Puebla — a body 
of the enemy's cavalry, two or three thousand strong, 
was seen to our right, not more than a mile away. 
A battery or two, with two or three infantry regi- 
ments, was sent against them and they soon disap- 
peared. On the 15th of May we entered the city of 

General Worth was in command at Puebla until 
the latter end of May, when General Scott arrived. 
Here, as well as on the march up, his restlessness, par- 
ticularly under responsibilities, showed itself. During 
his brief command he had the enemy hovering around 
near the city, in vastly superior numbers to his own. 
The brigade to which I was attached changed quar- 
ters three different times in about a week, occupying 
at first quarters near the plaza, in the heart of the 
city ; then at the western entrance ; then at the ex- 
treme east. On one occasion General Worth had 
the troops in line, under arms, all day, with three 
days' cooked rations in their haversacks. He gal- 
loped from one command to another proclaiming 
the near proximity of Santa Anna with an army 
vastly superior to his own. General Scott arrived 
upon the scene the latter part of the month, and 
nothing more was heard of Santa Anna and his myr- 



iads. There were, of course, bodies of mounted 
Mexicans hovering around to watch our movements 
and to pick up stragglers, or small bodies of troops, 
if they ventured too far out. These always with- 
drew on the approach of any considerable num- 
ber of our soldiers. After the arrival of General 
Scott I was sent, as quartermaster, with a large train 
of wagons, back two days' march at least, to procure 
forage. We had less than a thousand men as escort, 
and never thought of danger. We procured full 
loads for our entire train at two plantations, which 
could easily have furnished as much more. 

There had been great delay in obtaining the 
authority of Congress for the raising of the troops 
asked for by the administration. A bill was before 
the National Legislature from early in the session of 
1846-7, authorizing the creation of ten additional 
regiments for the war to be attached to the regular 
army, but it was the middle of February before it 
became a law. Appointments of ^commissioned offi- 
cers had then to be made ; men had to be enlisted, 
the regiments equipped and the whole transported 
to Mexico. It was August before General Scott re- 
ceived reinforcement sufficient to warrant an ad- 
vance. His moving column, not even now more 
than ten thousand strong, was in four divisions, 
commanded by Generals Twiggs, Worth, Pillow and 
Quitman. There was also a cavalry corps under 


General Harney, composed of detachments of the 1st, 
2d, and 3d dragoons. The advance commenced on 
the 7th of August with Twiggs's division in front. 
The remaining three divisions followed, with an in- 
terval of a day between. The marches were short, 
to make concentration easier in case of attack. 

I had now been in battle with the two leading com- 
manders conducting armies in a foreign land. The 
contrast between the two was very marked. General 
Taylor never wore uniform, but dressed himself en- 
tirely 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 side-ways — 
with both feet on one side — particularly on the battle- 
field. General Scott was the reverse in all these par- 
ticulars. He 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 com- 
manding 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. 

In their modes of expressing thought, these two 
generals contrasted quite as strongly as in their other 
characteristics. General Scott was precise in lan- 
guage, 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 
embarrassment. Taylor was not a conversationalist, 
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. But with 
their opposite characteristics both were great and suc- 
cessful soldiers ; both were true, patriotic and upright 
in all their dealings. Both were pleasant to serve 
under — Taylor was pleasant to serve with. Scott saw 
more through the eyes of his staff officers than 
through his own. His plans were deliberately pre- 
pared, and fully expressed in orders. Taylor saw 
for himself, and gave orders to meet the emergency 
without reference to how they would read in his- 





THE route followed by the army from Puebla to 
the City of Mexico was over Rio Frio mountain, 
the road leading over which, at the highest point, is 
about eleven thousand feet above tide water. The 
pass through this mountain might have been easily 
defended, but it was not ; and the advanced division 
reached the summit in three days after leaving Puebla. 
The City of Mexico lies west of Rio Frio mountain, 
on a plain backed by another mountain six miles far- 
ther west, with others still nearer on the north and 
south. Between the western base of Rio Frio 
and the City of Mexico there are three lakes, 
Chalco and Xochimilco on the left and Texcoco on 
the right, extending to the east end of the City 
of Mexico. Chalco and Texcoco are divided by a 
narrow strip of land over which the direct road to the 
city runs. Xochimilco is also to the left of the 


road, but at a considerable distance south of it, 
and is connected with Lake Chalco by a narrow 
channel. There is a high rocky mound, called El 
Penon, on the right of the road, springing up from the 
low flat ground dividing the lakes. This mound was 
strengthened by intrenchments at its base and sum- 
mit, and rendered a direct attack impracticable. 

Scott's army was rapidly concentrated about Ayotla 
and other points near the eastern end of Lake Chalco. 
Reconnoissances were made up to within gun-shot of 
El Penon, while engineers were seeking a route by 
the south side of Lake Chalco to flank the city, and 
come upon it from the south and south-west. A way 
was found around the lake, and by the 18th of August 
troops were in St. Augustin Tlalpam, a town about 
eleven miles due south from the plaza of the cap- 
ital. Between St. Augustin Tlalpam and the city 
lie the hacienda of San Antonio and the village of 
Churubusco, and south-west of them is Contreras. 
All these points, except St. Augustin Tlalpam, 
were intrenched and strongly garrisoned. Contreras 
is situated on the side of a mountain, near its base, 
where volcanic rocks are piled in great confusion, 
reaching nearly to San Antonio. This made the 
approach to the city from the south very difficult. 

The brigade to which I was attached — Gar- 
lands, of Worth's division — was sent to con- 
front San Antonio, two or three miles from 


St. Augustin Tlalpam, on the road to Churubusco 
and the City of Mexico. The ground on which 
San Antonio stands is completely in the valley, 
and the surface of the land is only a little above 
the level of the lakes, and, except to the south- 
west, it was cut up by deep ditches filled with water. 
To the south-west is the Pedregal — the volcanic rock 
before spoken of — over which cavalry or artillery 
could not be passed, and infantry would make but 
poor progress if confronted by an enemy. From the 
position occupied by Garland's brigade, therefore, no 
movement could be made against the defences of San 
Antonio except to the front, and by a narrow cause- 
way, over perfectly level ground, every inch of which 
was commanded by the enemy's artillery and infantry. 
If Contreras, some three miles west and south, should 
fall into our hands, troops from there could move to 
the right flank of all the positions held by the enemy 
between us and the city. Under these circumstances 
General Scott directed the holding of the front of 
the enemy without making an attack until further 

On the 1 8th of August, the day of reach- 
ing San Augustin Tlalpam, Garland's brigade 
secured a position within easy range of the 
advanced intrenchments of San Antonio, but 
where his troops were protected by an arti- 
ficial embankment that had been thrown up for 


some other purpose than defence. General Scott at 
once set his engineers reconnoitring the works about 
Contreras, and on the 19th movements were com- 
menced to get troops into positions from which an 
assault could be made upon the force occupying that 
place. The Pedregal on the north and north-east, 
and the mountain on the south, made the passage by 
either flank of the enemy's defences difficult, for their 
work stood exactly between those natural bulwarks ; 
but a road was completed during the day and night 
of the 19th, and troops were got to the north and west 
of the enemy. 

This affair, like that of Cerro Gordo, was an 
engagement in which the officers of the engineer 
corps won special distinction. In fact, in both 
cases, tasks which seemed difficult at first sight were 
made easier for the troops that had to execute them 
than they would have been on an ordinary field. The 
very strength of each of these positions was, by the 
skill of the engineers, converted into a defence for 
the assaulting parties while securing their positions 
for final attack. All the troops with General Scott 
in the valley of Mexico, except a part of the division 
of General Quitman at San Augustin Tlalpam and the 
brigade of Garland (Worth's division) at San An- 
tonio, were engaged at the battle of Contreras, or 
were on their way, in obedience to the orders of their 
chief, t© reinforce those who were engaged. The 


assault was made on the morning of the 20th, and in 
less than half an hour from the sound of the advance 
the position was in our hands, with many prisoners 
and large quantities of ordnance and other stores. 
The brigade commanded by General Riley was from 
its position the most conspicuous in the final assault, 
but all did well, volunteers and regulars. 

From the point occupied by Garland's brigade we 
could see the progress made at Contreras and the 
movement of troops toward the flank and rear of the 
enemy opposing us. The Mexicans all the way back 
to the city could see the same thing, and their con- 
duct showed plainly that they did not enjoy the sight. 
We moved out at once, and found them gone from 
our immediate front. Clarke's brigade of Worth's 
division now moved west over the point of the Ped- 
regal, and after having passed to the north sufficiently 
to clear San Antonio, turned east and got on the 
causeway leading to Churubusco and the City of 
Mexico. When he approached Churubusco his 
left, under Colonel Hoffman, attacked a tete-de- 
pont at that place and brought on an engagement. 
About an hour after, Garland was ordered to advance 
directly along the causeway, and got up in time to 
take part in the engagement. San Antonio was 
found evacuated, the evacuation having probably 
taken place immediately upon the enemy seeing the 
stars and stripes waving over Contreras. 


1 45 

The troops that had been engaged at Contreras, and 
even then on their way to that battle-field, were moved 
by a causeway west of, and parallel to the one by way 
of San Antonio and Churubusco. It was expected 
by the commanding general that these troops would 
move north sufficiently far to flank the enemy out of 
his position at Churubusco, before turning east to 
reach the San Antonio road, but they did not suc- 
ceed in this, and Churubusco proved to be about the 
severest battle fought in the valley of Mexico. 
General Scott coming upon the battle-field about 
this juncture, ordered two brigades, under Shields, to 
move north and turn the right of the enemy. This 
Shields did, but not without hard fighting and heavy 
loss. The enemy finally gave way, leaving in our 
hands prisoners, artillery and small arms. The bal- 
ance of the causeway held by the enemy, up to the 
very gates of the city, fell in like manner. I recollect 
at this place that some of the gunners who had stood 
their ground, were deserters from General Taylor's 
army on the Rio Grande. 

Both the strategy and tactics displayed by General 
Scott in these various engagements of the 20th of 
August, 1847, were faultless as I look upon them now, 
after the lapse of so many years. As before stated, the 
work of the engineer officers who made the reconnois- 
sances and led the different commands to their destina- 
tions, was so perfect that the chief was able to give his 

Vol. 1. — 10 


orders to his various subordinates with all the pre- 
cision he could use on an ordinary march. I mean, 
up to the points from which the attack was to com- 
mence. After that point is reached the enemy often 
induces a change of orders not before contemplated. 
The enemy outside the city outnumbered our sol- 
diery quite three to one, but they had become so de- 
moralized by the succession of defeats this day, that 
the City of Mexico could have been entered without 
much further bloodshed. In fact, Captain Philip 
Kearney — afterwards a general in the war of the re- 
bellion — rode with a squadron of cavalry to the very 
gates of the city, and would no doubt have entered 
with his little force, only at that point he was badly 
wounded, as were several of his officers. He had 
not heard the call for a halt. 

General Franklin Pierce had joined the army in 
Mexico, at Puebla, a short time before the advance 
upon the capital commenced. He had consequently 
not been in any of the engagements of the war up to 
the battle of Contreras. By an unfortunate fall of 
his horse on the afternoon of the 19th he was pain- 
fully injured. The next day, when his brigade, with 
the other troops engaged on the same field, was 
ordered against the flank and rear of the enemy guard- 
ing the different points of the road from San Augus- 
tin Tlalpam to the city, General Pierce attempted to 
accompany them. He was not sufficiently recovered 

5^ ^cB^^a^^ 



□nitre ) cam 




to do so, and fainted. This circumstance gave rise to 
exceedingly unfair and unjust criticisms of him when 
he became a candidate for the Presidency. Whatever 
General Pierce's qualifications may have been for 
the Presidency, he was a gentleman and a man of 
courage. I was not a supporter of him politically, 
but I knew him more intimately than I did any other 
of the volunteer generals. 

General Scott abstained from entering the city at 
this time, because Mr. Nicholas P. Trist, the commis- 
sioner on the part of the United States to negotiate a 
treaty of peace with Mexico, was with the army, and 
either he or General Scott thought — probably both of 
them — that a treaty would be more possible while the 
Mexican government was in possession of the capital 
than if it was scattered and the capital in the hands 
of an invader. Be this as it may, we did not enter 
at that time. The army took up positions along 
the slopes of the mountains south of the city, as 
far west as Tacubaya. Negotiations were at once 
entered into with Santa Anna, who was then practi- 
cally the Government and the immediate commander 
of all the troops engaged in defence of the country. 
A truce was signed which denied to either party the 
right to strengthen its position, or to receive re- 
inforcements during the continuance of the armis- 
tices, but authorized General Scott to draw sup- 
plies for his army from the city in the meantime. 


Negotiations were commenced at once and were 
kept up vigorously, between Mr. Trist and the com- 
missioners appointed on the part of Mexico, until the 
2d of September. At that time Mr. Trist. handed in 
his ultimatum. Texas was to be given up absolutely 
by Mexico, and New Mexico and California ceded 
to the United States for a stipulated sum to be after- 
wards determined. I do not suppose Mr. Trist had 
any discretion whatever in regard to boundaries. 
The war was one of conquest, in the interest of an in- 
stitution, and the probabilities are that private in- 
structions were for the acquisition of territory out of 
which new States might be carved. At all events the 
Mexicans felt so outraged at the terms proposed that 
they commenced preparations for defence, without 
giving notice of the termination of the armistice. The 
terms of the truce had been violated before, when 
teams had been sent into the city to bring out supplies 
for the army. The first train entering the city was 
very severely threatened by a mob. This, however, 
was apologized for by the authorities and all responsi- 
bility for it denied; and thereafter, to avoid exciting 
the Mexican people and soldiery, our teams with their 
escorts were sent in at night, when the troops were in 
barracks and the citizens in bed. The circumstance 
was overlooked and negotiations continued. As 
soon as the news reached General Scott of the second 
violation of the armistice, about the 4th of September, 


he wrote a vigorous note to President Santa Anna, 
calling his attention to it, and, receiving an unsatis- 
factory reply, declared the armistice at an end. 

General Scott, with Worth's division, was now 
occupying Tacubaya, a village some four miles south- 
west of the City of Mexico, and extending from the 
base up the mountain-side for the distance of half a 
mile. More than a mile west, and also a little above 
the plain, stands Molino del Rey. The mill is a long 
stone structure, one story high and several hundred 
feet in length. At the period of which I speak Gen- 
eral Scott supposed a portion of the mill to be used 
as a foundry for the casting of guns. This, however, 
proved to be a mistake. It was valuable to the 
Mexicans because of the quantity of grain it contained. 
The building is flat roofed, and a line of sand-bags 
over the outer walls rendered the top quite a formida- 
ble defence for infantry. Chapultepec is a mound 
springing up from the plain to the height of probably 
three hundred feet, and almost in a direct line be- 
tween Molino del Rey and the western part of the 
city. It was fortified both on the top and on the 
rocky and precipitous sides. 

The City of Mexico is supplied with water by two 
aqueducts, resting on strong stone arches. One of 
these aqueducts draws its supply of water from a 
mountain stream coming into it at or near Molino 
del Rey, and runs north close to the west base of 


Chapultepec ; thence along the centre of a wide road, 
until it reaches the road running east into the city 
by the Garita San Cosme ; from which point the 
aqueduct and road both run east to the city. 
The second aqueduct starts from the east base of 
Chapultepec, where it is fed by a spring, and runs 
north-east to the city. This aqueduct, like the other, 
runs in the middle of a broad road-way, thus leaving 
a space on each side. The arches supporting the 
aqueduct afforded protection for advancing troops 
as well as to those engaged defensively. At points 
on the San Cosme road parapets were thrown across, 
with an embrasure for a single piece of artillery 
in each. At the point where both road and aque- 
duct turn at right angles from north to east, there 
was not only one of these parapets supplied by one 
gun and infantry supports, but the houses to the 
north of the San Cosme road, facing south and 
commanding a view of the road back to Chapulte- 
pec, were covered with infantry, protected by para- 
pets made of sand-bags. The roads leading to garitas 
(the gates) San Cosme and Belen, by which these 
aqueducts enter the city, were strongly intrenched. 
Deep, wide ditches, filled with water, lined the sides 
of both roads. Such were the defences of the City 
of Mexico in September, 1847, on the routes over 
which General Scott entered. 

Prior to the Mexican war General Scott had been 



very partial to General Worth — indeed he continued 
so up to the close of hostilities — but, for some 
reason, Worth had become estranged from his chief. 
Scott evidently took this coldness somewhat to heart. 
He did not retaliate, however, but on the contrary 
showed every disposition to appease his subordinate. 
It was understood at the time that he gave Worth 
authority to plan and execute the battle of Molino 
del Rey without dictation or interference from any 
one, for the very purpose of restoring their former 
relations. The effort failed, and the two generals 
remained ever after cold and indifferent towards each 
other, if not actually hostile. 

The battle of Molino del Rey was fought on the 
8th of September. The night of the 7th, Worth 
sent for his brigade and regimental commanders, 
with their staffs, to come to his quarters to receive 
instructions for the morrow. These orders contem- 
plated a movement up to within striking distance of 
the Mills before daylight. The engineers had re- 
connoitred the ground as well as possible, and had 
acquired all the information necessary to base proper 
orders both for approach and attack. 

By daylight on the morning of the 8th, the troops 
to be engaged at Molino were all at the places des- 
ignated. The ground in front of the Mills, to the 
south, was commanded by the artillery from the sum- 
mit of Chapultepec as well as by the lighter batteries 


at hand ; but a charge was made, and soon all was over. 
Worth's troops entered the Mills by every door, and 
the enemy beat a hasty retreat back to Chapultepec. 
Had this victory been followed up promptly, no doubt 
Americans and Mexicans would have gone over the 
defences of Chapultepec so near together that the 
place would have fallen into our hands without further 
loss. The defenders of the works could not have 
fired upon us without endangering their own men. 
This was not done, and five days later more val- 
uable lives were sacrificed to carry works which had 
been so nearly in our possession on the 8th. I do 
not criticise the failure to capture Chapultepec at 
this time. The result that followed the first assault 
could not possibly have been foreseen, and to profit 
by the unexpected advantage, the commanding gen- 
eral must have been on the spot and given the 
necessary instructions at the moment, or the troops 
must have kept on without orders. It is always, how- 
ever, in order to follow a retreating foe, unless stopped 
or otherwise directed. The loss on our side at Molino 
del Rey was severe for the numbers engaged. It 
was especially so among commissioned officers. 

I was with the earliest of the troops to enter the 
Mills. In passing through to the north side, looking 
towards Chapultepec, I happened to notice that there 
were armed Mexicans still on top of the building, 
only a few feet from many of our men. Not seeing 


Ftottz- the original pazrvk,ikC' possession* of -th#j7irf>! 




any stairway or ladder reaching to the top of the build- 
ing, I took a few soldiers, and had a cart that hap- 
pened to be standing near brought up, and, placing 
the shafts against the wall and chocking the wheels 
so that the cart could not back, used the shafts as a 
sort of ladder extending to within three or four feet 
of the top. By this I climbed to the roof of the 
building, followed by a few men, but found a private 
soldier had preceded me by some other way. There 
were still quite a number of Mexicans on the roof, 
among them a major and five or six officers of lower 
grades, who had not succeeded in getting away before 
our troops occupied the building. They still had 
their arms, while the soldier before mentioned was 
walking as sentry, guarding the prisoners he had sur- 
rounded, all by himself. I halted the sentinel, re- 
ceived the swords from the commissioned officers, and 
proceeded, with the assistance of the soldiers now with 
me, to disable the muskets by striking them against 
the edge of the wall, and throw them to the ground 

Molino del Rey was now captured, and the troops 
engaged, with the exception of an appropriate guard 
over the captured position and property, were marched 
back to their quarters in Tacubaya. The engage- 
ment did not last many minutes, but the killed and 
wounded were numerous for the number of troops 


During the night of the nth batteries were estab- 
lished which could play upon the fortifications of 
Chapultepec. The bombardment commenced early 
on the morning of the 12th, but there was no further 
engagement during this day than that of the artillery. 
General Scott assigned the capture of Chapultepec 
to General Pillow, but did not leave the details to 
his judgment. Two assaulting columns, two hundred 
and fifty men each, composed of volunteers for the 
occasion, were formed. They were commanded by 
Captains McKinzie and Casey respectively. The as- 
sault was successful, but bloody. 

In later years, if not at the time, the battles of 
Molino del Rey and Chapultepec have seemed to me 
to have been wholly unnecessary. When the assaults 
upon the garitas of San Cosme and Belen were de- 
termined upon, the road running east to the former 
gate could have been reached easily, without an en- 
gagement, by moving along south of the Mills until 
west of them sufficiently far to be out of range, thence 
north to the road above mentioned ; or, if desirable 
to keep the two attacking columns nearer together, 
the troops could have been turned east so as to come 
on the aqueduct road out of range of the guns from 
Chapultepec. In like manner, the troops designated 
to act against Belen could have kept east of Chapul- 
tepec, out of range, and come on to the aqueduct, 
also out of range of Chapultepec. Molino del Rey 




Cv* K»w. 


' tyfry CkappeL, in tke possession oft 

a , Try & C° PubhalieEa , T5V / 



and Chapultepec would both have been necessarily 
evacuated if this course had been pursued, for they 
would have been turned. 

General Quitman, a volunteer from the State of 
Mississippi, who stood well with the army both as a 
soldier and as a man, commanded the column acting 
against Belen. General Worth commanded the col- 
umn against San Cosme. When Chapultepec fell the 
advance commenced along the two aqueduct roads. 
I was on the road to San Cosme, and witnessed most 
that took place on that route. When opposition 
was encountered our troops sheltered themselves by 
keeping under the arches supporting the aqueduct, 
advancing an arch at a time. We encountered no 
serious obstruction until within gun-shot of the point 
where the road we were on intersects that running 
east to the city, the point where the aqueduct turns 
at a right angle. I have described the defences 
of this position before. There were but three com- 
missioned officers besides myself, that I can now call 
to mind, with the advance when the above position 
was reached. One of these officers was a Lieutenant 
Semmes, of the Marine Corps. I think Captain Gore, 
and Lieutenant Judah, of the 4th infantry, were the 
others. Our progress was stopped for the time by 
the single piece of artillery at the angle of the 
roads and the infantry occupying the house-tops back 
from it. 


West of the road from where we were, stood a 
house occupying the south-west angle made by the 
San Cosme road and the road we were moving 
upon. A stone wall ran from the house along each 
of these roads for a considerable distance and thence 
back until it joined, enclosing quite a yard about 
the house. I watched my opportunity and skipped 
across the road and behind the south wall. Proceed- 
ing cautiously to the west corner of the enclosure, I 
peeped around and seeing nobody, continued, still 
cautiously, until the road running east and west was 
reached. I then returned to the troops, and called 
for volunteers. All that were close to me, or that 
heard me, about a dozen, offered their services. 
Commanding them to carry their arms at a trail, I 
watched our opportunity and got them across the 
road and under cover of the wall beyond, before 
the enemy had a shot at us. Our men under 
cover of the arches kept a close watch on the in- 
trenchments that crossed our path and the house-tops 
beyond, and whenever a head showed itself above 
the parapets they would fire at it. Our crossing was 
thus made practicable without loss. 

When we reached a safe position I instructed my 
little command again to carry their arms at a trail, 
not to fire at the enemy until they were ordered, and 
to move very cautiously following me until the San 
Cosme road was reached ; we would then be on the 

A// 7 ' St-/// ///<■■ ; . 



flank of the men serving the gun on the road, and 
with no obstruction between us and them. When 
we reached the south-west corner of the enclosure 
before described, I saw some United States troops 
pushing north through a shallow ditch near by, who 
had come up since my reconnaissance. This was the 
company of Captain Horace Brooks, of the artillery, 
acting as infantry. I explained to Brooks briefly 
what I had discovered and what I was about to do. 
He said, as I knew the ground and he did not, I 
might go on and he would follow. As soon as we got 
on the road leading to the city the troops serving 
the gun on the parapet retreated, and those on the 
house-tops near by followed ; our men went after 
them in such close pursuit — the troops we had left 
under the arches joining — that a second line across 
the road, about half-way between the first and the 
garita, was carried. No reinforcements had yet 
come up except Brooks's company, and the position 
we had taken was too advanced to be held by so 
small a force. It was given up, but retaken later in 
the day, with some loss. 

Worth's command gradually advanced to the front 
now open to it. Later in the day in reconnoi- 
tring I found a church off to the south of the 
road, which looked to me as if the belfry would 
command the ground back of the garita San 
Cosme. I got an officer of the voltigeurs, with a 


mountain howitzer and men to work it, to go with 
me. The road being in possession of the enemy, 
we had to take the field to the south to reach the 
church. This took us over several ditches breast 
deep in water and grown up with water plants. 
These ditches, however, were not over eight or ten 
feet in width. The howitzer was taken to pieces 
and carried by the men to its destination. When I 
knocked for admission a priest came to the door, 
who, while extremely polite, declined to admit us. 
With the little Spanish then at my command, I ex- 
plained to him that he might save property by open- 
ing the door, and he certainly would save himself 
from becoming a prisoner, for a time at least ; and 
besides, I intended to go in whether he consented 
or not. He began to see his duty in the same light 
that I did, and opened the door, though he did not 
look as if it gave him special pleasure to do so. 
The gun was carried to the belfry and put together. 
We were not more than two or three hundred 
yards from San Cosme. The shots from our 
little gun dropped in upon the enemy and created 
great confusion. Why they did not send out a 
small party and capture us, I do not know. We 
had no infantry or other defences besides our one 

The effect of this gun upon the troops about the 
gate of the city was so marked that General Worth 



saw it from his position.* He was so pleased that 
he sent a staff officer, Lieutenant Pemberton — later 
Lieutenant-General commanding the defences of 
Vicksburg — to bring me to him. He expressed his 
gratification at the services the howitzer in the 
church steeple was doing, saying that every shot 
was effective, and ordered a captain of voltigeurs 
to report to me with another howitzer to be placed 
along with the one already rendering so much ser- 
vice. I could not tell the General that there was not 
room enough in the steeple for another gun, because 
he probably would have looked upon such a state- 
ment as a contradiction from a second lieutenant. I 
took the captain with me, but did not use his gun. 
The night of the 13th of September was spent by 
the troops under General Worth in the houses near 
San Cosme, and in line confronting the general line 
of the enemy across to Belen. The troops that I 
was with were in the houses north of the road lead- 
ing into the city, and were engaged during the night 
in cutting passage-ways from one house to another 
towards the town. During the night Santa Anna, 
with his army — except the deserters — left the city. 
He liberated all the convicts confined in the town, 
hoping, no doubt, that they would inflict upon us some 
injury before daylight ; but several hours after Santa 

* Mentioned in the reports of Major Lee, Colonel Garland and General 
Worth. — Publishers. 


Anna was out of the way, the city authorities sent a 
delegation to General Scott to ask — if not demand — 
an armistice, respecting church property, the rights of 
citizens and the supremacy of the city government 
in the management of municipal affairs. General 
Scott declined to trammel himself with conditions, 
but gave assurances that those who chose to remain 
within our lines would be protected so long as they 
behaved themselves properly. 

General Quitman had advanced along his line 
very successfully on the 13th, so that at night his 
command occupied nearly the same position at 
Belen that Worth's troops did about San Cosme. 
After the interview above related between General 
Scott and the city council, orders were issued for 
the cautious entry of both columns in the morning. 
The troops under Worth were to stop at the Ala- 
meda, a park near the west end of the city. Quit- 
man was to go directly to the Plaza, and take 
possession of the Palace — a mass of buildings on the 
east side in which Congress has its sessions, the 
national courts are held, the public offices are all 
located, the President resides, and much room is left 
for museums, receptions, etc. This is the building 
generally designated as the " Halls of the Monte- 

Vol. i.— 11 





ON entering the city the troops were fired upon by 
the released convicts, and possibly by deserters 
and hostile citizens. The streets were deserted, and 
the place presented the appearance of a " city of the 
dead," except for this firing by unseen persons from 
house-tops, windows, and around corners. In this 
firing the lieutenant-colonel of my regiment, Gar- 
land, was badly wounded, Lieutenant Sidney Smith, 
of the 4th infantry, was also wounded mortally. He 
died a few days after, and by his death I was pro- 
moted to the grade of first lieutenant. I had gone 

Note. — It had been a favorite idea with General Scott for a great many years 
before the Mexican war to have established in the United States a soldiers' 
home, patterned after something of the kind abroad, particularly, I believe, in 
France. He recommended this uniformly, or at least frequently, in his annual 
reports to the Secretary of War, but never got any hearing. Now, as he had 
conquered the state, he made assessments upon the different large towns and 
cities occupied by our troops, in proportion to their capacity to pay, and ap- 
pointed officers to receive the money. In addition to the sum thus realized he 
had derived, through capture at Cerro Gordo, sales of captured government 
tobacco, etc., sums which swelled the fund to a total of about $220,000. Por- 


l6 3 

into the battle of Palo Alto in May, 1846, a second 
lieutenant, and I entered the city of Mexico sixteen 
months later with the same rank, after having been 
in all the engagements possible for any one man 
and in a regiment that lost more officers during 
the war than it ever had present at any one engage- 
ment. My regiment lost four commissioned officers, 
all senior to me, by steamboat explosions during 
the Mexican war. The Mexicans were not so dis- 
criminating. They sometimes picked off my 

General Scott soon followed the troops into the 
city, in state. I wonder that he was not fired upon, 
but I believe he was not ; at all events he was not 
hurt. He took quarters at first in the M Halls of the 
Montezumas," and from there issued his wise and 
discreet orders for the government of a conquered 
city, and for suppressing the hostile acts of liberated 
convicts already spoken of — orders which chal- 
lenge the respect of all who study them. Lawless- 

tions of this fund were distributed among the rank and file, given to the 
wounded in hospital, or applied in other ways, leaving a balance of some $i 18 ,ooo 
remaining unapplied at the close of the war. After the war was over and the 
troops all home, General Scott applied to have this money, which had never 
been turned into the Treasury of the United States, expended in establishing 
such homes as he had previously recommended. This fund was the foundation 
of the Soldiers' Home at Washington City, and also one at Harrodsburgh, 

The latter went into disuse many years ago. In fact it never had many sol- 
diers in it, and was, I believe, finally sold. 


ness was soon suppressed, and the City of Mexico 
settled down into a quiet, law-abiding place. The 
people began to make their appearance upon the 
streets without fear of the invaders. Shortly after- 
wards the bulk of the troops were sent from the 
city to the villages at the foot of the mountains, 
four or five miles to the south and south-west. 

Whether General Scott approved of the Mexican 
war and the manner in which it was brought about, 
I have no means of knowing. His orders to troops 
indicate only a soldierly spirit, with probably a little 
regard for the perpetuation of his own fame. On 
the other hand, General Taylor's, I think, indicate 
that he considered the administration accountable 
for the war, and felt no responsibility resting on 
himself further than for the faithful performance of 
his duties. Both generals deserve the commenda- 
tions of their countrymen and to live in the grateful 
memory of this people to the latest generation. 

Earlier in this narrative I have stated that the 
plain, reached after passing the mountains east of 
Perote, extends to the cities of Puebla and Mexico. 
The route travelled by the army before reaching 
Puebla, goes over a pass in a spur of mountain com- 
ing up from the south. This pass is very susceptible 
of defence by a smaller against a larger force. 
Again, the highest point of the road-bed between 
Vera Cruz and the City of Mexico is over Rio Frio 


mountain, which also might have been successfully 
defended by an inferior against a superior force. 
But by moving north of the mountains, and about 
thirty miles north of Puebla, both of these passes 
would have been avoided. The road from Perote to 
the City of Mexico, by this latter route, is as level as 
the prairies in our West. Arriving due north from 
Puebla, troops could have been detached to take 
possession of that place, and then proceeding west 
with the rest of the army no mountain would have 
been encountered before reaching the City of Mexico. 
It is true this road would have brought troops in 
by Guadalupe — a town, church and detached spur 
of mountain about two miles north of the capital, all 
bearing the same general name— and at this point 
Lake Texcoco comes near to the mountain, which 
was fortified both at the base and on the sides : but 
troops could have passed north of the mountain and 
come in only a few miles to the north-west, and so 
flanked the position, as they actually did on the 

It has always seemed to me that this northern 
route to the City of Mexico, would have been the 
better one to have taken. But my later experience 
has taught me two lessons : first, that things are 
seen plainer after the events have occurred ; second, 
that the most confident critics are generally those 
who know the least about the matter criticised. I 


know just enough about the Mexican war to approve 
heartily of most of the generalship, but to differ 
with a little of it. It is natural that an important 
city like Puebla should not have been passed with 
contempt ; it may be natural that the direct road to 
it should have been taken ; but it could have been 
passed, its evacuation insured and possession ac- 
quired without danger of encountering the enemy 
in intricate mountain defiles. In this same way 
the City of Mexico could have been approached 
without any danger of opposition, except in the open 

But General Scott's successes are an answer to all 
criticism. He invaded a populous country, pene- 
trating two hundred and sixty miles into the interior, 
with a force at no time equal to one-half of that 
opposed to him ; he was without a base ; the enemy 
was always intrenched, always on the defensive ; yet 
he won every battle, he captured the capital, and 
conquered the government. Credit is due to the 
troops engaged, it is true, but the plans and the 
strategy were the general's. 

I had now made marches and been in battle under 
both General Scott and General Taylor. The 
former divided his force of 10,500 men into four col- 
umns, starting a day apart, in moving from Puebla 
to the capital of the nation, when it was known that 
an army more than twice as large as his own stood 



ready to resist his coming. The road was broad 
and the country open except in crossing the Rio 
Frio mountain. General Taylor pursued the same 
course in marching toward an enemy. He moved 
even in smaller bodies. I never thought at the time 
to doubt the infallibility of these two generals in all 
matters pertaining to their profession. I supposed 
they moved in small bodies because more men could 
not be passed over a single road on the same day 
with their artillery and necessary trains. Later 
I found the fallacy of this belief. The rebellion, 
which followed as a sequence to the Mexican 
war, never could have been suppressed if larger 
bodies of men could not have been moved at the 
same time than was the custom under Scott and 

The victories in Mexico were, in every instance, 
over vastly superior numbers. There were two 
reasons for this. Both General Scott and General 
Taylor had such armies as are not often got to- 
gether. At the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca-de- 
la-Palma, General Taylor had a small army, but it 
was composed exclusively of regular troops, under 
the best of drill and discipline. Every officer, from 
the highest to the lowest, was educated in his pro- 
fession, not at West Point necessarily, but in the 
camp, in garrison, and many of them in Indian wars. 
The rank and file were probably inferior, as material 


out of which to make an army, to the volunteers that 
participated in all the later battles of the war ; but 
they were brave men, and then drill and discipline 
brought out all there was in them. A better army, 
man for man, probably never faced an enemy than 
the one commanded by General Taylor in the earli- 
est two engagements of the Mexican war. The volun- 
teers who followed were of better material, but 
without drill or discipline at the start. They 
were associated with so many disciplined men 
and professionally educated officers, that when 
they went into engagements it was with a confi- 
dence they would not have felt otherwise. They 
became soldiers themselves almost at once. All 
these conditions we would enjoy again in case of 

The Mexican army of that day was hardly an 
organization. The private soldier was picked up 
from the lower class of the inhabitants when wanted ; 
his consent was not asked ; he was poorly clothed, 
worse fed, and seldom paid. He was turned 
adrift when no longer wanted. The officers of 
the lower grades were but little superior to the 
men. With all this I have seen as brave stands 
made by some of these men as I have ever seen 
made by soldiers. Now Mexico has a standing army 
larger than that of the United States. They have 
a military school modelled after West Point. Their 



officers are educated and, no doubt, generally brave. 
The Mexican war of 1846-8 would be an impossibil- 
ity in this generation. 

The Mexicans have shown a patriotism which it 
would be well if we would imitate in part, but with 
more regard to truth. They celebrate the anniver- 
saries of Chapultepec and Molino del Rey as of very 
great victories. The anniversaries are recognized as 
national holidays. At these two battles, while the 
United States troops were victorious, it was at very 
great sacrifice of life compared with what the Mexi- 
cans suffered. The Mexicans, as on many other oc- 
casions, stood up as well as any troops ever did. 
The trouble seemed to be the lack of experience 
among the officers, which led them after a certain 
time to simply quit, without being particularly 
whipped, but because they had fought enough. 
Their authorities of the present day grow enthu- 
siastic over their theme when telling of these vic- 
tories, and speak with pride of the large sum of 
money they forced us to pay in the end. With us, 
now twenty years after the close of the most stupend- 
ous war ever known, we have writers — who profess 
devotion to the nation — engaged in trying to prove 
that the Union forces were not victorious ; prac- 
tically, they say, we were slashed around from Donel- 
son to Vicksburg and to Chattanooga ; and in the 
East from Gettysburg to Appomattox, when the 


physical rebellion gave out from sheer exhaustion. 
There is no difference in the amount of romance in 
the two stories. 

I would not have the anniversaries of our victories 
celebrated, nor those of our defeats made fast days 
and spent in humiliation and prayer; but I would 
like to see truthful history written. Such history 
will do full credit to the courage, endurance and sol- 
dierly ability of the American citizen, no matter what 
section of the country he hailed from, or in what 
ranks he fought. The justice of the cause which 
in the end prevailed, will, I doubt not, come to be 
acknowledged by every citizen of the land, in time. 
For the present, and so long as there are living wit- 
nesses of the great war of sections, there will be 
people who will not be consoled for the loss of a 
cause which they believed to be holy. As time 
passes, people, even of the South, will begin to 
wonder how it was possible that their ancestors ever 
fought for or justified institutions which acknowl- 
edged the right of property in man. 

After the fall of the capital and the dispersal of 
the government of Mexico, it looked very much as 
if military occupation of the country for a long 
time might be necessary. General Scott at once 
began the preparation of orders, regulations and 
laws in view of this contingency. He contemplated 
making the country pay all the expenses of the oc- 



cupation, without the army becoming a perceptible 
burden upon the people. His plan was to levy a 
direct tax upon the separate states, and collect, at the 
ports left open to trade, a duty on all imports. 
From the beginning of the war private property had 
not been taken, either for the use of the army or of 
individuals, without full compensation. This policy 
was to be pursued. There were not troops enough 
in the valley of Mexico to occupy many points, but 
now that there was no organized army of the enemy 
of any size, reinforcements could be got from the 
Rio Grande, and there were also new volunteers ar- 
riving from time to time, all by way of Vera Cruz. 
Military possession was taken of Cuernavaca, fifty 
miles south of the City of Mexico ; of Toluca, nearly 
as far west, and of Pachuca, a mining town of great 
importance, some sixty miles to the north-east. Vera 
Cruz, Jalapa, Orizaba, and Puebla were already in 
our possession. 

Meanwhile the Mexican government had departed 
in the person of Santa Anna, and it looked doubtful 
for a time whether the United States commissioner, 
Mr. Trist, would find anybody to negotiate with. 
A temporary government, however, was soon es- 
tablished at Queretaro, and Trist began negotiations 
for a conclusion of the war. Before terms were final- 
ly agreed upon he was ordered back to Washing- 
ton, but General Scott prevailed upon him to remain, 


as an arrangement had been so nearly reached, and 
the administration must approve his acts if he suc- 
ceeded in making such a treaty as had been contem- 
plated in his instructions. The treaty was finally 
signed the 2d of February, 1848, and accepted by the 
government at Washington. It is that known as the 
" Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo," and secured to 
the United States the Rio Grande as the boundary 
of Texas, and the whole territory then included in 
New Mexico and Upper California, for the sum of 

Soon after entering the city of Mexico, the oppo- 
sition of Generals Pillow, Worth and Colonel Dun- 
can to General Scott became very marked. Scott 
claimed that they had demanded of the President his 
removal. I do not know whether this is so or not, 
but I do know of their unconcealed hostility to 
their chief. At last he placed them in arrest, and 
preferred charges against them of insubordination 
and disrespect. This act brought on a crisis in the 
career of the general commanding. He had asserted 
from the beginning that the administration was hos- 
tile to him ; that it had failed in its promises of men 
and war material ; that the President himself had 
shown duplicity if not treachery in the endeavor to 
procure the appointment of Benton : and the ad- 
ministration now gave open evidence of its enmity. 
About the middle of February orders came conven- 


IKlYra 1 MAJf MW^ H TOW§(OT< 

<-7f>.7 '.<}/, U.S.ARMi 


ing a court of inquiry, composed of Brevet Briga- 
dier-General Towson, the surgeon-general of the 
army, Brigadier-General Cushing and Colonel Bel- 
knap, to inquire into the conduct of the accused and 
the accuser, and shortly afterwards orders were re- 
ceived from Washington, relieving Scott of the com- 
mand of the army in the field and assigning Major- 
General William O. Butler of Kentucky to the 
place. This order also released Pillow, Worth and 
Duncan from arrest. 

If a change was to be made the selection of Gen- 
eral Butler was agreeable to every one concerned, so 
far as I remember to have heard expressions on 
the subject. There were many who regarded the 
treatment of General Scott as harsh and unjust. It 
is quite possible that the vanity of the General had 
led him to say and do things that afforded a plaus- 
ible pretext to the administration for doing just 
what it did and what it had wanted to do from the 
start. The court tried the accuser quite as much as 
the accused. It was adjourned before completing 
its labors, to meet in Frederick, Maryland. General 
Scott left the country, and never after had more 
than the nominal command of the army until early 
in 1 861. He certainly was not sustained in his ef- 
forts to maintain discipline in high places. 

The efforts to kill off politically the two success- 
ful generals, made them both candidates for the 


Presidency. General Taylor was nominated in 
1848, and was elected. Four years later General 
Scott received the nomination but was badly 
beaten, and the party nominating him died with his 

* The Mexican war made three presidential candidates, Scott, Taylor and 
Pierce — and any number of aspirants for that high office. It made also gov- 
ernors of States, members of the cabinet, foreign ministers and other officers of 
high rank both in state and nation. The rebellion, which contained more war 
in a single day, at some critical periods, than the whole Mexican war in two 
years, has not been so fruitful of political results to those engaged on the Union 
side. On the other side, the side of the South, nearly every man who holds 
office of any sort whatever, either in the state or in the nation, was a Confed- 
erate soldier ; but this is easily accounted for from the fact that the South was 
a military camp, and there were very few people of a suitable age to be in the 
army who were not in it. 


ZACHARY TAYLOR. (1852.) PRESIDENT, 1849-50. 





HP HE treaty of peace between the two countries 
1 was signed, by the commissioners of each side 
early in February, 1848. It took a considerable time 
for it to reach Washington, receive the approval of the 
administration, and be finally ratified by the Senate. 
It was naturally supposed by the army that there 
would be no more fighting, and officers and men 
were of course anxious to get home, but knowing 
there must be delay they contented themselves as 
best they could. Every Sunday there was a bull fight 
for the amusement of those who would pay their 
fifty cents. I attended one of them — just one — not 
wishing to leave the country without having wit- 
nessed the national sport. The sight to me was 
sickening. I could not see how human beings could 
enjoy the sufferings of beasts, and often of men, as 
they seemed to do on these occasions. 

At these sports there are usually from four to six 
bulls sacrificed. The audience occupies seats around 


the ring in which the exhibition is given, each seat 
but the foremost rising higher than the one in front, 
so that every one can get a full view of the sport. 
When all is ready a bull is turned into the ring. 
Three or four men come in, mounted on the merest 
skeletons of horses blind or blind-folded and so 
weak that they could not make a sudden turn with 
their riders without danger of falling down. The 
men are armed with spears having a point as sharp 
as a needle. Other men enter the arena on foot, 
armed with red flags and explosives about the size of 
a musket cartridge. To each of these explosives is 
fastened a barbed needle which serves the purpose 
of attaching them to the bull by running the needle 
into the skin. Before the animal is turned loose a 
lot of these explosives are attached to him. The 
pain from the pricking of the skin by the needles is 
exasperating ; but when the explosions of the car- 
tridges commence the animal becomes frantic. As 
he makes a lunge towards one horseman, another 
runs a spear into him. He turns towards his last 
tormentor when a man on foot holds out a red flag ; 
the bull rushes for this and is allowed to take it 
on his horns. The flag drops and covers the eyes of 
the animal so that he is at a loss what to do ; it is 
jerked from him and the torment is renewed. When 
the animal is worked into an uncontrollable frenzy, 
the horsemen withdraw, and the matadores — literally 


murderers — enter, armed with knives having blades 
twelve or eighteen inches long, and sharp. The 
trick is to dodge an attack from the animal and 
stab him to the heart as he passes. If these efforts 
fail the bull is finally lassoed, held fast and killed by 
driving a knife blade into the spinal column just 
back of the horns. He is then dragged out by 
horses or mules, another is let into the ring, and the 
same performance is renewed. 

On the occasion when I was present one of the 
bulls was not turned aside by the attacks in the rear, 
the presentations of the red flag, etc., etc., but kept 
right on, and placing his horns under the flanks of 
a horse threw him and his rider to the ground with 
great force. The horse was killed and the rider lay 
prostrate as if dead. The bull was then lassoed and 
killed in the manner above described. ' Men came in 
and carried the dead man off in a litter. When the 
slaughtered bull and horse were dragged out, a fresh 
bull was turned into the ring. Conspicuous among the 
spectators was the man who had been carried out on 
a litter but a few minutes before. He was only 
dead so far as that performance went ; but the corpse 
was so lively that it could not forego the chance of 
witnessing the discomfiture of some of his brethren 
who might not be so fortunate. There was a feeling 
of disgust manifested by the audience to find that he 
had come to life again. I confess that I felt sorry 

Vol. i.— j2 


to see the cruelty to the bull and the horse. I did 
not stay for the conclusion of the performance ; but 
while I did stay, there was not a bull killed in the 
prescribed way. 

Bull fights are now prohibited in the Federal Dis- 
trict — embracing a territory around the City of 
Mexico, somewhat larger than the District of Colum- 
bia — and they are not an institution in any part of 
the country. During one of my recent visits to 
Mexico, bull fights were got up in my honor at 
Puebla and at Pachuca. I was not notified in ad- 
vance so as be able to decline and thus prevent 
the performance ; but in both cases I civilly de- 
clined to attend. 

Another amusement of the people of Mexico of 
that day, and one which nearly all indulged in, male 
and female, old and young, priest and layman, was 
Monte playing. Regular feast weeks were held 
every year at what was then known as St. Augustin 
Tlalpam, eleven miles out of town. There were dealers 
to suit every class and condition of people. In many 
of the booths clackos — the copper coin of the coun- 
try, four of them making six and a quarter cents 
of our money — were piled up in great quantities, 
with some silver, to accommodate the people who 
could not bet more than a few pennies at a time. 
In other booths silver formed the bulk of the capi- 
tal of the bank, with a few doubloons to be changed 


if there should be a run of luck against the bank. 
In some there was no coin except gold. Here the 
rich were said to bet away their entire estates in a 
single day. All this is stopped now. 

For myself, I was kept somewhat busy during the 
winter of 1847-8. My regiment was stationed in 
Tacubaya. I was regimental quartermaster and 
commissary. General Scott had been unable to get 
clothing for the troops from the North. The men 
were becoming — well, they needed clothing. Mate- 
rial had to be purchased, such as could be obtained, 
and people employed to make it up into " Yankee 
uniforms." A quartermaster in the city was designated 
to attend to this special duty ; but clothing was so 
much needed that it was seized as fast as made up. 
A regiment was glad to get a dozen suits at a time. 
I had to look after this matter for the 4th infantry. 
Then our regimental fund had run down and some 
of the musicians in the band had been without their 
extra pay for a number of months. 

The regimental bands at that day were kept up 
partly by pay from the government, and partly by 
pay from the regimental fund. There was authority 
of law for enlisting a certain number of men as mu- 
sicians. So many could receive the pay of non- 
commissioned officers of the various grades, and the 
remainder the pay of privates. This would not se- 
cure a band leader, nor good players on certain in- 


struments. In garrison there are various ways of 
keeping up a regimental fund sufficient to give extra 
pay to musicians, establish libraries and ten-pin al- 
leys, subscribe to magazines and furnish many extra 
comforts to the men. The best device for supplying 
the fund is to issue bread to the soldiers instead of 
flour. The ration used to be eighteen ounces per day 
of either flour or bread ; and one hundred pounds 
of flour will make one hundred and forty pounds of 
bread. This saving was purchased by the commis- 
sary for the benefit of the fund. In the emergency 
the 4th infantry was laboring under, I rented a bak- 
ery in the city, hired bakers — Mexicans — bought fuel 
and whatever was necessary, and I also got a con- 
tract from the chief commissary of the army for bak- 
ing a large amount of hard bread. In two months 
I made more money for the fund than my pay 
amounted to during the entire war. While stationed 
at Monterey I had relieved the post fund in the 
same way. There, however, was no profit except 
in the saving of flour by converting it into bread. 

In the spring of 1848 a party of officers obtained 
leave to visit Popocatapetl, the highest volcano in 
America, and to take an escort. I went with the 
party, many of whom afterwards occupied conspicu- 
ous positions before the country. Of those who 
"went south," and attained high rank, there was 
Lieutenant Richard Anderson, who commanded a 



corps at Spottsylvania ; Captain Sibley, a major- 
general, and, after the war, for a number of years 
in the employ of the Khedive of Egypt ; Captain 
George Crittenden, a rebel general ; S. B. Buckner, 
who surrendered Fort Donelson ; and Mansfield 
Lovell, who commanded at New Orleans before that 
city fell into the hands of the National troops. Of 
those who remained on our side there were Captain 
Andrew Porter, Lieutenant C. P. Stone and Lieu- 
tenant Z. B. Tower. There were quite a number 
of other officers, whose names I cannot recollect. 

At a little village (Ozumba) near the base of Po- 
pocatapetl, where we purposed to commence the 
ascent, we procured guides and two pack mules with 
forage for our horses. High up on the mountain 
there was a deserted house of one room, called the 
Vaqueria, which had been occupied years before by 
men in charge of cattle ranging on the mountain. 
The pasturage up there was very fine when we saw 
it, and there were still some cattle, descendants of the 
former domestic herd, which had now become wild. 
It was possible to go on horseback as far as the 
Vaqueria, though the road was somewhat hazardous 
in places. Sometimes it was very narrow with a 
yawning precipice on one side, hundreds of feet 
down to a roaring mountain torrent below, and al- 
most perpendicular walls on the other side. At one 
of these places one of our mules loaded with two 


sacks of barley, one on each, side, the two about as 
big as he was, struck his load against the moun- 
tain-side and was precipitated to the bottom. The 
descent was steep but not perpendicular. The mule 
rolled over and over until the bottom was reached, 
and we supposed of course the poor animal was 
dashed to pieces. What was our surprise, not 
long after we had gone into bivouac, to see the lost 
mule, cargo and owner coming up the ascent. The 
load had protected the animal from serious injury ; 
and his owner had gone after him and found a way 
back to the path leading up to the hut where we 
were to stay. 

The night at the Vaqueria was one of the most 
unpleasant I ever knew. It was very cold and the 
rain fell in torrents. A little higher up the rain 
ceased and snow began. The wind blew with great 
velocity. The log-cabin we were in had lost the roof 
entirely on one side, and on the other it was hardly 
better than a sieve. There was little or no sleep 
that night. As soon as it was light the next morn- 
ing, we started to make the ascent to the summit. 
The wind continued to blow with violence and the 
weather was still cloudy, but there was neither rain 
nor snow. The clouds, however, concealed from our 
view the country below us, except at times a momen- 
tary glimpse could be got through a clear space 
between them. The wind carried the loose snow 


)y_jZsP-. /yd. ^st^s&Lg^^coz^z^ 



around the mountain-sides in such volumes as to make 
it almost impossible to stand up against it. We la- 
bored on and on, until it became evident that the top 
could not be reached before night, if at all in such 
a storm, and we concluded to return. The descent 
was easy and rapid, though dangerous, until we got 
below the snow line. At the cabin we mounted 
our horses, and by night were at Ozumba. 

The fatigues of the day and the loss of sleep the 
night before drove us to bed early. Our beds consist- 
ed of a place on the dirt-floor with a blanket under us. 
Soon all were asleep ; but long before morning first 
one and then another of our party began to cry out 
with excruciating pain in the eyes. Not one escaped it. 
By morning the eyes of half the party were so swollen 
that they were entirely closed. The others suffered 
pain equally. The feeling was about what might be 
expected from the prick of a sharp needle at a white 
heat. We remained in quarters until the afternoon 
bathing our eyes in cold water. This relieved us 
very much, and before night the pain had entirely 
left. The swelling, however, continued, and about 
half the party still had their eyes entirely closed ; 
but we concluded to make a start back, those who 
could see a little leading the horses of those who 
could not see at all. We moved back to the village 
of Ameca Ameca, some six miles, and stopped again 
for the night. The next morning all were entirely 


well and free from pain. The weather was clear and 
Popocatapetl stood out in all its beauty, the top look- 
ing as if not a mile away, and inviting us to return. 
About half the party were anxious to try the ascent 
again, and concluded to do so. The remainder — 
I was with the remainder — concluded that we had 
got all the pleasure there was to be had out of moun- 
tain climbing, and that we would visit the great 
caves of Mexico, some ninety miles from where we 
then were, on the road to Acapulco. 

The party that ascended the mountain the second 
time succeeded in reaching the crater at the top, 
with but little of the labor they encountered in their 
first attempt. Three of them — Anderson, Stone and 
Buckner — wrote accounts of their journey, which 
were published at the time. I made no notes of this 
excursion, and have read nothing about it since, but 
it seems to me that I can see the whole of it as 
vividly as if it were but yesterday. I have been back 
at Ameca Ameca, and the village beyond, twice in the 
last five years. The scene had not changed mate- 
rially from my recollection of it. 

The party which I was with moved south down 
the valley to the town of Cuantla, some forty miles 
from Ameca Ameca. The latter stands on the plain 
at the foot of Popocatapetl, at an elevation of about 
eight thousand feet above tide water. The slope 
down is gradual as the traveller moves south, but 



one would not judge that, in going to Cuantla, de- 
scent enough had been made to occasion a material 
change in the climate and productions of the soil ; 
but such is the case. In the morning we left a tem- 
perate climate where the cereals and fruits are those 
common to the United States ; we halted in the 
evening in a tropical climate where the orange and 
banana, the coffee and the sugar-cane were flourish- 
ing. We had been travelling, apparently, on a plain 
all day, but in the direction of the flow of water. 
Soon after the capture of the City of Mexico an 
armistice had been agreed to, designating the limits 
beyond which troops of the respective armies were not 
to go during its continuance. Our party knew noth- 
ing about these limits. As we approached Cuantla 
bugles sounded the assembly, and soldiers rushed 
from the guard-house in the edge of the town towards 
us. Our party halted, and I tied a white pocket 
handkerchief to a stick and, using it as a flag of 
truce, proceeded on to the town. Captains Sibley 
and Porter followed a few hundred yards behind. I 
was detained at the guard-house until a messenger 
could be dispatched to the quarters of the command- 
ing general, who authorized that I should be con- 
ducted to him. I had been with the general but 
a few minutes when the two officers following 
announced themselves. The Mexican general re- 
minded us that it was a violation of the truce for us 


to be there. However, as we had no special authority 
from our own commanding general, and as we knew 
nothing about the terms of the truce, we were per- 
mitted to occupy a vacant house outside the guard 
for the night, with the promise of a guide to put us 
on the road to Cuernavaca the next morning. 

Cuernavaca is a town west of Cuantla. The 
country through which we passed, between these two 
towns, is tropical in climate and productions and 
rich in scenery. At one point, about half-way be- 
tween the two places, the road goes over a low pass 
in the mountains in which there is a very quaint old 
town, the inhabitants of which at that day were 
nearly all full-blooded Indians. Very few of them 
even spoke Spanish. The houses were built of 
stone and generally only one story high. The streets 
were narrow, and had probably been paved before 
Cortez visited the country. They had not been 
graded, but the paving had been done on the natural 
surface. We had with us one vehicle, a cart, which 
was probably the first wheeled vehicle that had ever 
passed through that town. 

On a hill overlooking this town stands the tomb 
of an ancient king ; and it was understood that the 
inhabitants venerated this tomb very highly, as well 
as the memory of the ruler who was supposed to 
be buried in it. We ascended the mountain and 
surveyed the tomb ; but it showed no particular 


marks of architectural taste, mechanical skill or ad- 
vanced civilization. The next day we went into 

After a day's rest at Cuernavaca our party set out 
again on the journey to the great caves of Mexico. 
We had proceeded but a few miles when we were 
stopped, as before, by a guard and notified that the 
terms of the existing armistice did not permit us to 
go further in that direction. Upon convincing the 
guard that we were a mere party of pleasure seekers 
desirous of visiting the great natural curiosities of 
the country which we expected soon to leave, we were 
conducted to a large hacienda near by, and directed 
to remain there until the commanding general of that 
department could be communicated with and his 
decision obtained as to whether we should be per- 
mitted to pursue our journey. The guard promised 
to send a messenger at once, and expected a reply 
by night. At night there was no response from the 
commanding general, but the captain of the guard 
was sure he would have a reply by morning. Again 
in the morning there was no reply. The second 
evening the same thing happened, and finally we 
learned that the guard had sent no message or mes- 
senger to the department commander. We deter- 
mined therefore to go on unless stopped by a force 
sufficient to compel obedience. 

After a few hours' travel we came to a town where 


a scene similar to the one at Cuantla occurred. 
The commanding officer sent a guide to conduct our 
party around the village and to put us upon our road 
again. This was the last interruption : that night 
we rested at a large coffee plantation, some eight 
miles from the cave we were on the way to visit. It 
must have been a Saturday night ; the peons had 
been paid off, and spent part of the night in gam- 
bling away their scanty week's earnings. Their coin 
was principally copper, and I do not believe there 
was a man among them who had received as much 
as twenty-five cents in money. They were as much 
excited, however, as if they had been staking thou- 
sands. I recollect one poor fellow, who had lost his 
last clacko, pulled off his shirt and, in the most ex- 
cited manner, put that up on the turn of a card. 
Monte was the game played, the place out of doors, 
near the window of the room occupied by the officers 
of our party. 

The next morning we were at the mouth of the 
cave at an early hour, provided with guides, candles 
and rockets. We explored to a distance of about 
three miles from the entrance, and found a succes- 
sion of chambers of great dimensions and of great 
beauty when lit up with our rockets. Stalactites 
and stalagmites of all sizes were discovered. Some 
of the former were many feet in diameter and ex- 
tended from ceiling to floor ; some of the latter 



were but a few feet high from the floor ; but the 
formation is going on constantly, and many centu- 
ries hence these stalagmites will extend to the ceil- 
ing and become complete columns. The stalagmites 
were all a little concave, and the cavities w r ere filled 
with water. The water percolates through the roof, 
a drop at a time — often the drops several min- 
utes apart — and more or less charged with mineral 
matter. Evaporation goes on slowly, leaving the 
mineral behind. This in time makes the immense 
columns, many of them thousands of tons in weight, 
which serve to support the roofs over the vast cham- 
bers. I recollect that at one point in the cave one 
of these columns is of such huge proportions that 
there is only a narrow passage left on either side of 
it. Some of our party became satisfied with their 
explorations before we had reached the point to 
which the guides were accustomed to take explor- 
ers, and started back without guides. Coming to 
the large column spoken of, they followed it entirely 
around, and commenced retracing their steps into 
the bowels of the mountain, without being aware of 
the fact. When the rest of us had completed our 
explorations, we started out with our guides, but had 
not gone far before we saw the torches of an ap- 
proaching party. We could not conceive who these 
could be, for all of us had come in together, and 
there were none but ourselves at the entrance when 


we started in. Very soon we found it was our 
friends. It took them some time to conceive how 
they had got where they were. They were sure 
they had kept straight on for the mouth of the cave, 
and had gone about far enough to have reached it. 






MY experience in the Mexican war was of great 
advantage to me afterwards. Besides the 
many practical lessons it taught, the war brought 
nearly all the officers of the regular army together 
so as to make them personally acquainted. It also 
brought them in contact with volunteers, many of 
whom served in the war of the rebellion afterwards. 
Then, in my particular case, I had been at West Point 
at about the right time to meet most of the graduates 
who were of a suitable age at the breaking out of 
the rebellion to be trusted with large commands. 
Graduating in 1843, I was at tne military academy 
from one to four years with all cadets who graduated 
between 1840 and 1846 — seven classes. These classes 
embraced more than fifty officers who afterwards be- 
came generals on one side or the other in the re- 
bellion, many of them holding high commands. All 
the older officers, who became conspicuous in the 
rebellion, I had also served with and known in Mex- 



ico : Lee, J. E. Johnston, A. S. Johnston, Holmes, 
Hebert and a number of others on the Confederate 
side ; McCall, Mansfield, Phil. Kearney and others 
on the National side. The acquaintance thus formed 
was of immense service to me in the war of the re- 
bellion — I mean what I learned of the characters of 
those to whom I was afterwards opposed. I do not 
pretend to say that all movements, or even many of 
them, were made with special reference to the char- 
acteristics of the commander against whom they 
were directed. But my appreciation of my enemies 
was certainly affected by this knowledge. The 
natural disposition of most people is to clothe a 
commander of a large army whom they do not 
know, with almost superhuman abilities. A large 
part of the National army, for instance, and most 
of the press of the country, clothed General Lee 
with just such qualities, but I had known him per- 
sonally, and knew that he was mortal ; and it was 
just as well that I felt this. 

The treaty of peace was at last ratified, and the 
evacuation of Mexico by United States troops was 
ordered. Early in June the troops in the City of 
Mexico began to move out. Many of them, includ- 
ing the brigade to which I belonged, were assembled 
at Jalapa, above the vomito, to await the arrival 
of transports at Vera Cruz : but with all this pre- 
caution my regiment and others were in camp on 


;Mo tdxitssies s, gmit. 


the sand beach in a July sun, for about a week be- 
fore embarking, while the fever raged with great 
virulence in Vera Cruz, not two miles away. I can 
call to mind only one person, an officer, who died of 
the disease. My regiment was sent to Pascagoula, 
Mississippi, to spend the summer. As soon as it 
was settled in camp I obtained a leave of absence 
for four months and proceeded to St. Louis. On 
the 226. of August, 1848, I was married to Miss Julia 
Dent, the lady of whom I have before spoken. We 
visited my parents and relations in Ohio, and, at the 
end of my leave, proceeded to my post at Sackett's 
Harbor, New York. In April following I was or- 
dered to Detroit, Michigan, where two years were 
spent with but few important incidents. 

The present constitution of the State of Michigan 
was ratified during this time. By the terms of one 
of its provisions, all citizens of the United States 
residing within the State at the time of the ratification 
became citizens of Michigan also. During my stay 
in Detroit there was an election for city officers. 
Mr. Zachariah Chandler was the candidate of the 
Whigs for the office of Mayor, and was elected, al- 
though the city was then reckoned democratic. All 
the officers stationed there at the time who offered 
their votes were permitted to cast them. I did not 
offer mine, however, as I did not wish to consider 
myself a citizen of Michigan. This was Mr. Chand 

Vol. i. — 13 


lers first entry into politics, a career he followed 
ever after with great success, and in which he died 
enjoying the friendship, esteem and love of his coun- 

In the spring of 1851 the garrison at Detroit was 
transferred to Sackett's Harbor, and in the following 
spring the entire 4th infantry was ordered to the 
Pacific Coast. It was decided that Mrs. Grant should 
visit my parents at first for a few months, and then 
remain with her own family at their St. Louis home 
until an opportunity offered of sending for her. In 
the month of April the regiment was assembled at 
Governor's Island, New York Harbor, and on the 
5th of July eight companies sailed for Aspinwall. 
We numbered a little over seven hundred persons, 
including the families of officers and soldiers. Pas- 
sage was secured for us on the old steamer Ohio, 
commanded at the time by Captain Schenck, of the 
navy. It had not been determined, until a day or two 
before starting, that the 4th infantry should go by 
the Ohio ; consequently, a complement of passengers 
had already been secured. The addition of over 
seven hundred to this list crowded the steamer most 
uncomfortably, especially for the tropics in July. 

In eight days Aspinwall was reached. At that 
time the streets of the town were eight or ten inches 
under water, and foot passengers passed from place 
to place on raised foot-walks. July is at the height 

Eng 1 hyrGeo^Feane- 




of the wet season, on the Isthmus. At intervals the 
rain would pour down in streams, followed in not 
many minutes by a blazing, tropical summer's sun. 
These alternate changes, from rain to sunshine, were 
continuous in the afternoons. I wondered how any 
person could live many months in Aspinwall, and 
wondered still more why any one tried. 

In the summer of 1852 the Panama railroad was 
completed only to the point where it now crosses 
the Chagres River. From there passengers were 
carried by boats to Gorgona, at which place they 
took mules for Panama, some twenty-five miles fur- 
ther. Those who travelled over the Isthmus in those 
days will remember that boats on the Chagres River 
were propelled by natives not inconveniently bur- 
dened with clothing. These boats carried thirty to 
forty passengers each. The crews consisted of six 
men to a boat, armed with long poles. There were 
planks wide enough for a man to walk on conven- 
iently, running along the sides of each boat from end 
to end. The men would start from the bow, place 
one end of their poles against the river bottom, brace 
their shoulders against the other end, and then walk 
to the stern as rapidly as they could. In this way 
from a mile to a mile and a half an hour could be 
made, against the current of the river. 

I, as regimental quartermaster, had charge of 
the public property and had also to look after the 

196 personal memoirs of u. s. grant. 

transportation. A contract had been entered into 
with the steamship company in New York for the 
transportation of the regiment to California, includ- 
ing the Isthmus transit. A certain amount of bag- 
gage was allowed per man, and saddle animals were 
to be furnished to commissioned officers and to all 
disabled persons. The regiment, with the exception 
of one company left as guards to the public prop- 
erty — camp and garrison equipage principally — and 
the soldiers with families, took boats, propelled as 
above described, for Gorgona. From this place they 
marched to Panama, and were soon comfortably on 
the steamer anchored in the bay, some three or four 
miles from the town. I, with one company of troops 
and all the soldiers with families, all the tents, mess 
chests and camp kettles, was sent to Cruces, a town 
a few miles higher up the Chagres River than Gor- 
gona. There I found an impecunious American who 
had taken the contract to furnish transportation for 
the regiment at a stipulated price per hundred pounds 
for the freight and so much for each saddle animal. 
But when we reached Cruces there was not a mule, 
either for pack or saddle, in the place. The con- 
tractor promised that the animals should be on hand 
in the morning. In the morning he said that they 
were on the way from some imaginary place, and 
would arrive in the course of the day. This went 
on until I saw that he could not procure the animals 


at all at the price he had promised to furnish them 
for. The unusual number of passengers that had 
come over on the steamer, and the large amount of 
freight to pack, had created an unprecedented de- 
mand for mules. Some of the passengers paid as 
high as forty dollars for the use of a mule to ride 
twenty-five miles, when the mule would not have sold 
for ten dollars in that market at other times. Mean- 
while the cholera had broken out, and men were dying 
every hour. To diminish the food for the disease, 
I permitted the company detailed with me to pro- 
ceed to Panama. The captain and the doctors ac- 
companied the men, and I was left alone with the 
sick and the soldiers who had families. The regi- 
ment at Panama was also affected with the disease ; 
but there were better accommodations for the well 
on the steamer, and a hospital, for those taken with 
the disease, on an old hulk anchored a mile off. 
There were also hospital tents on shore on the island 
of Flamingo, which stands in the bay. 

I was about a week at Cruces before transportation 
began to come in. About one-third of the people 
with me died, either at Cruces or on the way to 
Panama. There was no agent of the transportation 
company at Cruces to consult, or to take the respon- 
sibility of procuring transportation at a price which 
would secure it. I therefore myself dismissed the 
contractor and made a new contract with a native, 


at more than double the original price. Thus we 
finally reached Panama. The steamer, however, 
could not proceed until the cholera abated, and the 
regiment was detained still longer. Altogether, on 
the Isthmus and on the Pacific side, we were delayed 
six weeks. About one-seventh of those who left New 
York harbor with the 4th infantry on the 5th of July, 
now lie buried on the Isthmus of Panama or on 
Flamingo island in Panama Bay. 

One amusing circumstance occurred while we were 
lying at anchor in Panama Bay. In the regiment 
there was a Lieutenant Slaughter who was very liable 
to sea-sickness. It almost made him sick to see the 
wave of a table-cloth when the servants were spreading 
it. Soon after his graduation, Slaughter was ordered 
to California and took passage by a sailing vessel 
going around Cape Horn. The vessel was seven 
months making the voyage, and Slaughter was sick 
every moment of the time, never more so than while 
lying at anchor after reaching his place of desti- 
nation. On landing in California he found orders 
which had come by the Isthmus, notifying him of 
a mistake in his assignment ; he should have been 
ordered to the northern lakes. He started back 
by the Isthmus route and was sick all the way. 
But when he arrived at the East he was again ordered 
to California, this time definitely, and at this date was 
making his third trip. He was as sick as ever, and had 


been so for more than a month while lying at anchor in 
the bay. I remember him well, seated with his elbows 
on the table in front of him, his chin between his 
hands, and looking the picture of despair. At last he 
broke out, " I wish I had taken my father's advice ; 
he wanted me to go into the navy ; if I had done so, 
I should not have had to go to sea so much. " Poor 
Slaughter ! it was his last sea voyage. He was kill- 
ed by Indians in Oregon 

By the last of August the cholera had so abated 
that it was deemed safe to start. The disease did not 
break out again on the way to California, and we 
reached San Francisco early in September. 





SAN FRANCISCO at that day was a lively place. 
Gold, or placer digging as it was called, was at 
its height. Steamers plied daily between San Fran- 
cisco and both Stockton and Sacramento. Passengers 
and gold from the southern mines came by the Stock- 
ton boat; from the northern mines by Sacramento. In 
the evening when these boats arrived, Long Wharf — 
there was but one wharf in San Francisco in 1852 — was 
alive with people crowding to meet the miners as they 
came down to sell their " dust " and to " have a time." 
Of these some were runners for hotels, boarding houses 
or restaurants ; others belonged to a class of impecu- 
nious adventurers, of good manners and good presence, 
who were ever on the alert to make the acquaint- 
ance of people with some ready means, in the hope of 
being asked to take a meal at a restaurant. Many 
were young men of good family, good education and 
gentlemanly instincts. Their parents had been able 
to support them during their minority, and to give 


them good educations, but not to maintain them 
afterwards. From 1849 to I ^53 there was a rush of 
people to the Pacific coast, of the class described. All 
thought that fortunes were to be picked up, with- 
out effort, in the gold fields on the Pacific. Some 
realized more than their most sanguine expectations ; 
but for one such there were hundreds disappointed, 
many of whom now fill unknown graves ; others died 
wrecks of their former selves, and many, without 
a vicious instinct, became criminals and outcasts. 
Many of the real scenes in early California life exceed 
in strangeness and interest any of the mere products 
of the brain of the novelist. 

Those early days in California brought out char- 
acter. It was a long way off then, and the journey 
was expensive. The fortunate could go by Cape 
Horn or by the Isthmus of Panama ; but the mass of 
pioneers crossed the plains with their ox-teams. This 
took an entire summer. They were very lucky when 
they got through with a yoke of worn-out cattle. 
All other means were exhausted in procuring the 
outfit on the Missouri River. The immigrant, on ar- 
riving, found himself a stranger, in a strange land, 
far from friends. Time pressed, for the little means 
that could be realized from the sale of what was left 
of the outfit would not support a man long at Cali- 
fornia prices. Many became discouraged. Others 
would take off their coats and look for a job, no 


matter what it might be. These succeeded as a 
rule. There were many young men who had studied 
professions before they went to California, and who 
had never done a day's manual labor in their lives, 
who took in the situation at once and went to work 
to make a start at anything they could get to do. 
Some supplied carpenters and masons with mate- 
rial — carrying plank, brick, or mortar, as the case 
might be ; others drove stages, drays, or baggage 
wagons, until they could do better. More became 
discouraged early and spent their time looking up 
people who would " treat," or lounging about res- 
taurants and gambling houses where free lunches 
were furnished daily. They were welcomed at these 
places because they often brought in miners who 
proved good customers. 

My regiment spent a few weeks at Benicia bar- 
racks, and then was ordered to Fort Vancouver, on 
the Columbia River, then in Oregon Territory. Dur- 
ing the winter of 1852-3 the territory was divided, 
all north of the Columbia River being taken from 
Oregon to make Washington Territory. 

Prices for all kinds of supplies were so high on the 
Pacific coast from 1849 until at least 1853 — that it 
would have been impossible for officers of the army 
to exist upon their pay, if it had not been that author- 
ity was given them to purchase from the commissary 
such supplies as he kept, at New Orleans wholesale 


prices. A cook could not be hired for the pay of 
a captain. The cook could do better. At Benicia, in 
1852, flour was 25 cents per pound ; potatoes were 16 
cents ; beets, turnips and cabbage, 6 cents ; onions, 
37^2 cents ; meat and other articles in proportion. In 
1853 at Vancouver vegetables were a little lower. I 
with three other officers concluded that we would 
raise a crop for ourselves, and by selling the surplus 
realize something handsome. I bought a pair of 
horses that had crossed the plains that summer and 
were very poor. They recuperated rapidly, however, 
and proved a good team to break up the ground 
with. I performed all the labor of breaking up the 
ground while the other officers planted the potatoes. 
Our crop was enormous. Luckily for us the Colum- 
bia River rose to a great height from the melting of 
the snow in the mountains in June, and overflowed 
and killed most of our crop. This saved digging it 
up, for everybody on the Pacific coast seemed to 
have come to the conclusion at the same time that 
agriculture would be profitable. In 1853 more 
than three-quarters of the potatoes raised were per- 
mitted to rot in the ground, or had to be thrown 
away. The only potatoes we sold were to our own 

While I was stationed on the Pacific coast we were 
free from Indian wars. There were quite a number 
of remnants of tribes in the vicinity of Portland in 


Oregon, and of Fort Vancouver in Washington Ter- 
ritory. They had generally acquired some of the 
vices of civilization, but none of the virtues, except 
in individual cases. The Hudson's Bay Company 
had held the North-west with their trading posts for 
many years before the United States was represented 
on the Pacific coast. They still retained posts along 
the Columbia River and one at Fort Vancouver, 
when I was there. Their treatment of the Indians 
had brought out the better qualities of the savages. 
Farming had been undertaken by the company to 
supply the Indians with bread and vegetables ; they 
raised some cattle and horses ; and they had now 
taught the Indians to do the labor of the farm and 
herd. They always compensated them for their labor, 
and always gave them goods of uniform quality and 
at uniform price. 

Before the advent of the American, the medium of 
exchange between the Indian and the white man 
was pelts. Afterward it was silver coin. If an 
Indian received in the sale of a horse a fifty dollar 
gold piece, not an infrequent occurrence, the first 
thing he did was to exchange it for American half 
dollars. These he could count. He would then 
commence his purchases, paying for each article 
separately, as he got it. He would not trust any 
one to add up the bill and pay it all at once. At 
that day fifty dollar gold pieces, not the issue of the 



government, were common on the Pacific coast. 
They were called slugs. 

The Indians, along the lower Columbia as far as 
the Cascades and on the lower Willamette, died 
off very fast during the year I spent in that section ; 
for besides acquiring the vices of the white people 
they had acquired also their diseases. The measles 
and the small-pox were both amazingly fatal. In 
their wild state, before the appearance of the white 
man among them, the principal complaints they 
were subject to were those produced by long in- 
voluntary fasting, violent exercise in pursuit of 
game, and over-eating. Instinct more than reason 
had taught them a remedy for these ills. It was 
the steam bath. Something like a bake-oven was 
built, large enough to admit a man lying down. 
Bushes were stuck in the ground in two rows, about 
six feet long and some two or three feet apart ; 
other bushes connected the rows at one end. The 
tops of the bushes were drawn together to interlace, 
and confined in that position ; the whole was then 
plastered over with wet clay until every opening 
was filled. Just inside the open end of the oven 
the floor was scooped out so as to make a hole that 
would hold a bucket or two of water. These ovens 
were always built on the banks of a stream, a big 
spring, or pool of water. When a patient required 
a bath, a fire was built near the oven and a pile 


of stones put upon it. The cavity at the front 
was then filled with water. When the stones were 
sufficiently heated, the patient would draw himself 
into the oven ; a blanket would be thrown over 
the open end, and hot stones put into the water 
until the patient could stand it no longer. He 
was then withdrawn from his steam bath and 
doused into the cold stream near by. This treat- 
ment may have answered with the early ailments of 
the Indians. With the measles or small-pox it 
would kill every time. 

During my year on the Columbia River, the small- 
pox exterminated one small remnant of a band of 
Indians entirely, and reduced others materially. I 
do not think there was a case of recovery among 
them, until the doctor with the Hudson Bay Com- 
pany took the matter in hand and established a 
hospital. Nearly every case he treated recovered. 
I never, myself, saw the treatment described in the 
preceding paragraph, but have heard it described 
by persons who have witnessed it. The decimation 
among the Indians I knew of personally, and the 
hospital, established for their benefit, was a Hudson's 
Bay building not a stone's throw from my own 

The death of Colonel Bliss, of the Adjutant 
General's department, which occurred July 5th, 
1853, promoted me to the captaincy of a company 



then stationed at Humboldt Bay, California. The 
notice reached me in September of the same year, 
and I very soon started to join my new command. 
There was no way of reaching Humboldt at that 
time except to take passage on a San Francisco 
sailing vessel going after lumber. Red wood, a 
species of cedar, which on the Pacific coast takes 
the place filled by white pine in the East, then 
abounded on the banks of Humboldt Bay. There 
were extensive saw- mills engaged in preparing 
this lumber for the San Francisco market, and 
sailing vessels, used in getting it to market, fur- 
nished the only means of communication between 
Humboldt and the balance of the world. 

I was obliged to remain in San Francisco for sev- 
eral days before I found a vessel. This gave me a 
good opportunity of comparing the San Francisco of 
1852 with that of 1853. As before stated, there had 
been but one wharf in front of the city in 1852 — 
Long Wharf. In 1853 the town had grown out into 
the bay beyond what was the end of this wharf when 
I first saw it. Streets and houses had been built 
out on piles where the year before the largest ves- 
sels visiting the port lay at anchor or tied to the 
wharf. There was no filling under the streets or 
houses. San Francisco presented the same gen- 
eral appearance as the year before ; that is, eating, 
drinking and gambling houses were conspicuous 


for their number and publicity. They were on the 
first floor, with doors wide open. At all hours of 
the day and night in walking the streets, the eye was 
regaled, on every block near the water front, by the 
sight of players at faro. Often broken places were 
found in the street, large enough to let a man down 
into the water below. I have but little doubt that 
many of the people who went to the Pacific coast in 
the early days of the gold excitement, and have 
never been heard from since, or who were heard 
from for a time and then ceased to write, found 
watery graves beneath the houses or streets built 
over San Francisco Bay. 

Besides the gambling in cards there was gambling 
on a larger scale in city lots. These were sold " On 
Change," much as stocks are now sold on Wall 
Street. Cash, at time of purchase, was always paid 
by the broker ; but the purchaser had only to put up 
his margin. He was charged at the rate of two or 
three per cent, a month on the difference, besides 
commissions. The sand hills, some of them almost 
inaccessible to foot-passengers, were surveyed off and 
mapped into fifty vara lots — a vara being a Spanish 
yard. These were sold at first at very low prices, 
but were sold and resold for higher prices until they 
went up to many thousands of dollars. The brokers 
did a fine business, and so did many such purchasers 
as were sharp enough to quit purchasing before the 


final crash came. As the city grew, the sand hills 
back of the town furnished material for filling up the 
bay under the houses and streets, and still further 
out. The temporary houses, first built over the 
water in the harbor, soon gave way to more solid 
structures. The main business part of the city now 
is on solid ground, made where vessels of the largest 
class lay at anchor in the early days. I was in San 
Francisco again in 1854. Gambling houses had dis- 
appeared from public view. The city had become 
staid and orderly. 

Vol. i.— 14 




MY family, all this while, was at the East. It con- 
sisted now of a wife and two children. I saw 
no chance of supporting them on the Pacific coast out 
of my pay as an army officer. I concluded, there- 
fore, to resign, and in March applied for a leave of 
absence until the end of the July following, tender- 
ing my resignation to take effect at the end of that 
time. I left the Pacific coast very much attached to 
it, and with the full expectation of making it my 
future home. That expectation and that hope re- 
mained uppermost in my mind until the Lieutenant- 
Generalcy bill was introduced into Congress in the 
winter of 1863-4. The passage of that bill, and my 
promotion, blasted my last hope of ever becoming a 
citizen of the further West. 

In the late summer of 1854 I rejoined my family, 
to find in it a son whom I had never seen, born 
while I was on the Isthmus of Panama. I was now 
to commence, at the age of thirty-two, a new struggle 
for our support. My wife had a farm near St. 




Louis, to which we went, but I had no means to 
stock it. A house had to be built also. I worked 
very hard, never losing a day because of bad 
weather, and accomplished the object in a moderate 
way. If nothing else could be done I would load a 
cord of wood on a wagon and take it to the city for 
sale. I managed to keep along very well until 1858, 
when I was attacked by fever and ague. I had suf- 
fered very severely and for a long time from this 
disease, while a boy in Ohio. It lasted now over a 
year, and, while it did not keep me in the house, it 
did interfere greatly with the amount of work I was 
able to perform. In the fall of 1858 I sold out my 
stock, crops and farming utensils at auction, and 
gave up farming. 

In the winter I established a partnership with 
Harry Boggs, a cousin of Mrs. Grant, in the real 
estate agency business. I spent that winter at St. 
Louis myself, but did not take my family into town 
until the spring. Our business might have become 
prosperous if I had been able to wait for it to grow. 
As it was, there was no more than one person could 
attend to, and not enough to support two families. 
While a citizen of St. Louis and engaged in the real 
estate agency business, I was a candidate for the 
office of county engineer, an office of respectability 
and emolument which would have been very accept- 
able to me at that time. The incumbent was ap- 


pointed by the county court, which consisted of 
five members. My opponent had the advantage of 
birth over me (he was a citizen by adoption) and 
carried off the prize. I now withdrew from the co- 
partnership with Boggs, and, in May, i860, removed 
to Galena, Illinois, and took a clerkship in my 
father's store. 

While a citizen of Missouri, my first opportunity 
for casting a vote at a Presidential election occurred. 
I had been in the army from before attaining my 
majority and had thought but little about politics, 
although I was a Whig by education and a great 
admirer of Mr. Clay. But the Whig party had 
ceased to exist before I had an opportunity of exer- 
cising the privilege of casting a ballot ; the Know- 
Nothing party had taken its place, but was on the 
wane; and the Republican party was in a chaotic 
state and had not yet received a name. It had no 
existence in the Slave States except at points on the 
borders next to Free States. In St. Louis City and 
County, what afterwards became the Republican 
party was known as the Free-Soil Democracy, led 
by the Honorable Frank P. Blair. Most of my 
neighbors had known me as an officer of the army 
with Whig proclivities. They had been on the same 
side, and, on the death of their party, many had be- 
come Know-Nothings, or members of the American 
party. There was a lodge near my new home, and 




//^tctsfts /? ££fr<^ 



I was invited to join it. I accepted the invitation ; 
was initiated ; attended a meeting just one week 
later, and never went to another afterwards. 

I have no apologies to make for having been one 
week a member of the American party ; for I still 
think native-born citizens of the United States 
should have as much protection, as many privileges 
in their native country, as those who voluntarily 
select it for a home. But all secret, oath-bound po- 
litical parties are dangerous to any nation, no matter 
how pure or how patriotic the motives and prin- 
ciples which first bring them together. No political 
party can or ought to exist when one of its corner- 
stones is opposition to freedom of thought and to 
the right to worship God " according to the dictate 
of one's own conscience," or according to the creed 
of any religious denomination whatever. Neverthe- 
less, if a sect sets up its laws as binding above the 
State laws, wherever the two come in conflict this 
claim must be resisted and suppressed at whatever 

Up to the Mexican war there were a few out and 
out abolitionists, men who carried their hostility to 
slavery into all elections, from those for a justice of 
the peace up to the Presidency of the United States. 
They were noisy but not numerous. But the great 
majority of people at the North, where slavery did 
not exist, were opposed to the institution, and looked 


upon its existence in any part of the country as 
unfortunate. They did not hold the States where 
slavery existed responsible for it ; and believed that 
protection should be given to the right of property 
in slaves until some satisfactory way could be reached 
to be rid of the institution. Opposition to slavery 
was not a creed of either political party. In some 
sections more anti-slavery men belonged to the Dem- 
ocratic party, and in others to the Whigs. But with 
the inauguration of the Mexican war, in fact with 
the annexation of Texas, " the inevitable conflict " 

As the time for the Presidential election of 1856 
— the first at which I had the opportunity of voting — 
approached, party feeling began to run high. The 
Republican party was regarded in the South and the 
border States not only as opposed to the extension 
of slavery, but as favoring the compulsory abolition 
of the institution without compensation to the own- 
ers. The most horrible visions seemed to present 
themselves to the minds of people who, one would 
suppose, ought to have known better. Many edu- 
cated and, otherwise, sensible persons appeared to 
believe that emancipation meant social equality. 
Treason to the Government was openly advocated 
and was not rebuked. It was evident to my mind 
that the election of a Republican President in 1856 
meant the secession of all the Slave States, and re- 

V <> 

cA/m^ (^LSA^s^L^^^ipf^ ■ 





bellion. Under these circumstances I preferred the 
success of a candidate whose election would prevent 
or postpone secession, to seeing the country plunged 
into a war the end of which no man could foretell. 
With a Democrat elected by the unanimous vote of 
the Slave States, there could be no pretext for seces- 
sion for four years. I very much hoped that the 
passions of the people would subside in that time, 
and the catastrophe be averted altogether ; if it 
was not, I believed the country would be better 
prepared to receive the shock and to resist it. I 
therefore voted for James Buchanan for President. 
Four years later the Republican party was suc- 
cessful in electing its candidate to the Presidency. 
The civilized world has learned the consequence. 
Four millions of human beings held as chattels 
have been liberated ; the ballot has been given 
to them ; the free schools of the country have 
been opened to their children. The nation still lives, 
and the people are just as free to avoid social inti- 
macy with the blacks as ever they were, or as they 
are with white people. 

While living in Galena I was nominally only a 
clerk supporting myself and family on a stipulated 
salary. In reality my position was different. My 
father had never lived in Galena himself, but 
had established my two brothers there, the one next 
younger than myself in charge of the business, 


assisted by the youngest. When I went there it 
was my father's intention to give up all connection 
with the business himself, and to establish his three 
sons in it : but the brother who had really built up 
the business was sinking with consumption, and it 
was not thought best to make any change while he 
was in this condition. He lived until September, 
1 86 1, when he succumbed to that insidious disease 
which always flatters its victims into the belief that 
they are growing better up to the close of life. A 
more honorable man never transacted business. In 
September, 1861, I was engaged in an employment 
which required all my attention elsewhere. 

During the eleven months that I lived in Galena 
prior to the first call for volunteers, I had been 
strictly attentive to my business, and had made but 
few acquaintances other than customers and people 
engaged in the same line with myself. When the 
election took place in November, 1860, I had not 
been a resident of Illinois long enough to gain citi- 
zenship and could not, therefore, vote. I was really 
glad of this at the time, for my pledges would have 
compelled me to vote for Stephen A. Douglas, who 
had no possible chance of election. The contest 
was really between Mr. Breckinridge and Mr. Lin- 
coln ; between minority rule and rule by the majority. 
I wanted, as between these candidates, to see Mr. 
Lincoln elected. Excitement ran high during the 

v&2%&>/ &fSs^^^%^^. 



canvass, and torch-light processions enlivened the 
scene in the generally quiet streets of Galena many- 
nights during the campaign. I did not parade with 
either party, but occasionally met with the "wide 
awakes " — Republicans — in their rooms, and super- 
intended their drill. It was evident, from the 
time of the Chicago nomination to the close of 
the canvass, that the election of the Republican can- 
didate would be the signal for some of the Southern 
States to secede. I still had hopes that the four 
years which had elapsed since the first nomination of 
a Presidential candidate by a party distinctly opposed 
to slavery extension, had given time for the extreme 
pro-slavery sentiment to cool down ; for the South- 
erners to think well before they took the awful leap 
which they had so vehemently threatened. But I was 

The Republican candidate was elected, and solid 
substantial people of the North-west, and I presume 
the same order of people throughout the entire North, 
felt very serious, but determined, after this event. 
It was very much discussed whether the South would 
carry out its threat to secede and set up a separate 
government, the corner-stone of which should be, pro- 
tection to the " Divine " institution of slavery. For 
there were people who believed in the " divinity" of 
human slavery, as there are now people who believe 
Mormonism and Polygamy to be ordained by the 


Most High. We forgive them for entertaining such 
notions, but forbid their practice. It was generally- 
believed that there would be a flurry ; that some of 
the extreme Southern States would go so far as to 
pass ordinances of secession. But the common im- 
pression was that this step was so plainly suicidal 
for the South, that the movement would not spread 
over much of the territory and would not last long. 

Doubtless the founders of our government, the 
majority of them at least, regarded the confederation 
of the colonies as an experiment. Each colony con- 
sidered itself a separate government; that the confed- 
eration was for mutual protection against a foreign 
foe, and the prevention of strife and war among them- 
selves. If there had been a desire on the part of any 
single State to withdraw from the compact at any time 
while the number of States was limited to the original 
thirteen, I do not suppose there would have been any 
to contest the right, no matter how much the deter- 
mination might have been regretted. The problem 
changed on the ratification of the Constitution by all 
the colonies ; it changed still more when amendments 
were added ; and if the right of any one State to with- 
draw continued to exist at all after the ratification of 
the Constitution, it certainly ceased on the formation 
of new States, at least so far as the new States them- 
selves were concerned. It was never possessed at all 
by Florida or the States west of the Mississippi, all 



of which were purchased by the treasury of the entire 
nation. Texas and the territory brought into the 
Union in consequence of annexation, were purchased 
with both blood and treasure ; and Texas, with a do- 
main greater than that of any European state except 
Russia, was permitted to retain as state property all 
the public lands within its borders. It would have been 
ingratitude and injustice of the most flagrant sort for 
this State to withdraw from the Union after all that 
had been spent and done to introduce her ; yet, if sep- 
aration had actually occurred, Texas must necessarily 
have gone with the South, both on account of her 
institutions and her geographical position. Secession 
was illogical as well as impracticable ; it was revolution. 

Now, the right of revolution is an inherent one. 
When people are oppressed by their government, it 
is a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves of 
the oppression, if they are strong enough, either by 
withdrawal from it, or by overthrowing it and sub- 
stituting a government more acceptable. But any 
people or part of a people who resort to this rem- 
edy, stake their lives, their property, and every claim 
for protection given by citizenship — on the issue. 
Victory, or the conditions imposed by the conqueror 
— must be the result. 

In the case of the war between the States it 
would have been the exact truth if the South had 
said, — " We do not want to live with you Northern 


people any longer ; we know our institution of 
slavery is obnoxious to you, and, as you are grow- 
ing numerically stronger than we, it may at some 
time in the future be endangered. So long as you 
permitted us to control the government, and with 
the aid of a few friends at the North to enact laws 
constituting your section a guard against the escape 
of our property, we were willing to live with 
you. You have been submissive to our rule 
heretofore ; but it looks now as if you did not 
intend to continue so, and we will remain in the 
Union no longer." Instead of this the seceding 
States cried lustily, — " Let us alone ; you have no 
constitutional power to interfere with us." News- 
papers and people at the North reiterated the cry. 
Individuals might ignore the constitution; but the 
Nation itself must not only obey it, but must enforce 
the strictest construction of that instrument ; the 
construction put upon it by the Southerners them- 
selves. The fact is the constitution did not apply 
to any such contingency as the one existing from 
1 86 1 to 1865. Its framers never dreamed of such 
a contingency occurring. If they had foreseen it, 
the probabilities are they would have sanctioned the 
right of a State or States to withdraw rather than 
that there should be war between brothers. 

The framers were wise in their generation and 
wanted to do the very best possible to secure their 



own liberty and independence, and that also of 
their descendants to the latest days. It is pre- 
posterous to suppose that the people of one genera- 
tion can lay down the best and only rules of 
government for all who are to come after them, 
and under unforeseen contingencies. At the time 
of the framing of our constitution the only physi- 
cal forces that had been subdued and made to 
serve man and do his labor, were the currents in 
the streams and in the air we breathe. Rude 
machinery, propelled by water power, had been 
invented ; sails to propel ships upon the waters 
had been set to catch the passing breeze — but the 
application of steam to propel vessels against both 
wind and current, and machinery to do all manner 
of work had not been thought of. The instanta- 
neous transmission of messages around the world 
by means of electricity would probably at that day 
have been attributed to witchcraft or a league 
with the Devil. Immaterial circumstances had 
changed as greatly as material ones. We could 
not and ought not to be rigidly bound by the rules 
laid down under circumstances so different for emer- 
gencies so utterly unanticipated. The fathers them- 
selves would have been the first to declare that their 
prerogatives were not irrevocable. They would 
surely have resisted secession could they have lived 
to see the shape it assumed. 


I travelled through the Northwest considerably 
during the winter of 1 860-1. We had customers in 
all the little towns in south-west Wisconsin, south- 
east Minnesota and north-east Iowa. These gener- 
ally knew I had been a captain in the regular army 
and had served through the Mexican war. Conse- 
quently wherever I stopped at night, some of the 
people would come to the public-house where I was, 
and sit till a late hour discussing the probabilities of 
the future. My own views at that time were like 
those officially expressed by Mr. Seward at a later 
day, that " the war would be over in ninety days." I 
continued to entertain these views until after the 
battle of Shiloh. I believe now that there would 
have been no more battles at the West after the 
capture of Fort Donelson if all the troops in that 
region had been under a single commander who 
would have followed up that victory. 

There is little doubt in my mind now that the pre- 
vailing sentiment of the South would have been op- 
posed to secession in i860 and 1861, if there had 
been a fair and calm expression of opinion, unbiased 
by threats, and if the ballot of one legal voter had 
counted for as much as that of any other. But there 
was no calm discussion of the question. Demagogues 
who were too old to enter the army if there should 
be a war, others who entertained so high an opinion 
of their own ability that they did not believe they 




could be spared from the direction of the affairs of 
state in such an event, declaimed vehemently and 
unceasingly against the North ; against its aggressions 
upon the South ; its interference with Southern rights, 
etc., etc. They denounced the Northerners as cow- 
ards, poltroons, negro-worshippers ; claimed that one 
Southern man was equal to five Northern men in 
battle ; that if the South would stand up for its rights 
the North would back down. Mr. Jefferson Davis 
said in a speech, delivered at La Grange, Mississippi, 
before the secession of that State, that he would 
agree to drink all the blood spilled south of Mason 
and Dixon's line if there should be a war. The 
young men who would have the fighting to do in 
case of war, believed all these statements, both in re- 
gard to the aggressiveness of the North and its cow- 
ardice. They, too, cried out for a separation from 
such people. The great bulk of the legal voters of 
the South were men who owned no slaves ; their 
homes were generally in the hills and poor country ; 
their facilities for educating their children, even up to 
the point of reading and writing, were very limited ; 
their interest in the contest was very meagre — what 
there was, if they had been capable of seeing it, was 
with the North ; they too needed emancipation. 
Under the old regime they were looked down upon 
by those who controlled all the affairs in the inter- 
est of slave owners, as poor white trash who were 


allowed the ballot so long as they cast it according 
to direction. 

I am aware that this last statement may be disput- 
ed and individual testimony perhaps adduced to show 
that in ante-bellum days the ballot was as untrammel- 
led in the South as in any section of the country ; but 
in the face of any such contradiction I reassert the 
statement. The shot-gun was not resorted to. Mask- 
ed men did not ride over the country at night intim- 
idating voters ; but there was a firm feeling that a 
class existed in every State with a sort of divine right 
to control public affairs. If they could not get this 
control by one means they must by another. The 
end justified the means. The coercion, if mild, was 

There were two political parties, it is true, in all 
the States, both strong in numbers and respect- 
ability, but both equally loyal to the institution 
which stood paramount in Southern eyes to all other 
institutions in state or nation. The slave-owners 
were the minority, but governed both parties. Had 
politics ever divided the slave-holders and the non- 
slave-holders, the majority would have been obliged 
to yield, or internecine war would have been the 
consequence. I do not know that the Southern 
people were to blame for this condition of affairs. 
There was a time when slavery was not profitable, 
and the discussion of the merits of the institution 


was confined almost exclusively to the territory 
where it existed. The States of Virginia and Ken- 
tucky came near abolishing slavery by their own 
acts, one State defeating the measure by a tie vote 
and the other only lacking one. But when the insti- 
tution became profitable, all talk of its abolition 
ceased where it existed ; and naturally, as human 
nature is constituted, arguments were adduced in its 
support. The cotton-gin probably had much to do 
with the justification of slavery. 

The winter of 1 860-1 will be remembered by 
middle-aged people of to-day as one of great excite- 
ment. South Carolina promptly seceded after the 
result of the Presidential election was known. 
Other Southern States proposed to follow. In some 
of them the Union sentiment was so strong that it 
had to be suppressed by force. Maryland, Dela- 
ware, Kentucky and Missouri, all Slave States, 
failed to pass ordinances of secession ; but. they 
were all represented in the so-called congress of the 
so-called Confederate States. The Governor and 
Lieutenant-Governor of Missouri, in 1861, Jack- 
son and Reynolds, were both supporters of the 
rebellion and took refuge with the enemy. The 
governor soon died, and the lieutenant-governor 
assumed his office ; issued proclamations as gov- 
ernor of the State ; was recognized as such by the 
Confederate Government, and continued his preten- 

VOL. I.- 15 


sions until the collapse of the rebellion. The South 
claimed the sovereignty of States, but claimed 
the right to coerce into their confederation such 
States as they wanted, that is, all the States where 
slavery existed. They did not seem to think this 
course inconsistent. The fact is, the Southern slave- 
owners believed that, in some way, the ownership of 
slaves conferred a sort of patent of nobility — a right 
to govern independent of the interest or wishes of 
those who did not hold such property. They con- 
vinced themselves, first, of the divine origin of the 
institution and, next, that that particular institution 
was not safe in the hands of any body of legislators 
but themselves. 

Meanwhile the Administration of President Bu- 
chanan looked helplessly on and proclaimed that 
the general government had no power to interfere ; 
that the Nation had no power to save its own life. 
Mr. Buchanan had in his cabinet two members at 
least, who were as earnest — to use a mild term — in 
the cause of secession as Mr. Davis or any South- 
ern statesman. One of them, Floyd, the Secretary 
of War, scattered the army so that much of it could 
be captured when hostilities should commence, and 
distributed the cannon and small arms from Northern 
arsenals throughout the South so as to be on hand 
when treason wanted them. The navy was scat- 
tered in like manner. The President did not pre- 

I > 


From, a Flioto grafil . 



vent his cabinet preparing for war upon their gov- 
ernment, either by destroying its resources or stor- 
ing them in the South until a de facto government 
was established with Jefferson Davis as its President, 
and Montgomery, Alabama, as the Capital. The 
secessionists had then to leave the cabinet. In their 
own estimation they were aliens in the country which 
had given them birth. Loyal men were put into 
their places. Treason in the executive branch of the 
government was estopped. But the harm had al- 
ready been done. The stable door was locked after 
the horse had been stolen. 

During all of the trying winter of 1 860-1, when 
the Southerners were so defiant that they would not 
allow within their borders the expression of a sen- 
timent hostile to their views, it was a brave man 
indeed who could stand up and proclaim his loyalty 
to the Union. On the other hand men at the North 
— prominent men — proclaimed that the government 
had no power to coerce the South into submission 
to the laws of the land; that if the North under- 
took to raise armies to go south, these armies would 
have to march over the dead bodies of the speakers. A 
portion of the press of the North was constantly pro- 
claiming similar views. When the time arrived for 
the President-elect to go to the capital of the Nation 
to be sworn into office, it was deemed unsafe for him 
to travel, not only as a President-elect, but as any 


private citizen should be allowed to do. Instead of 
going in a special car, receiving the good wishes of 
his constituents at all the stations along the road, he 
was obliged to stop on the way and to be smuggled 
into the capital. He disappeared from public view 
on his journey, and the next the country knew, his 
arrival was announced at the capital. There is little 
doubt that he would have been assassinated if he had 
attempted to travel openly throughout his journey. 


^ hocti 






THE 4th of March, 1861, came, and Abraham Lin- 
coln was sworn to maintain the Union against 
all its enemies. The secession of one State after 
another followed, until eleven had gone out. On the 
nth of April Fort Sumter, a National fort in the har- 
bor of Charleston, South Carolina, was fired upon 
by the Southerners and a few days after was captured. 
The Confederates proclaimed themselves aliens, and 
thereby debarred themselves of all right to claim pro- 
tection under the Constitution of the United States. 
We did not admit the fact that they were aliens, but 
all the same, they debarred themselves of the right 
to expect better treatment than people of any other 
foreign state who make war upon an independent 
nation. Upon the firing on Sumter President Lin- 
coln issued his first call for troops and soon after a 
proclamation convening Congress in extra session. 
The call was for 75,000 volunteers for ninety days 


service. If the shot fired at Fort Sumter "was 
heard around the world," the call of the President for 
75,000 men was heard throughout the Northern States. 
There was not a state in the North of a million of 
inhabitants that would not have furnished the entire 
number faster than arms could have been supplied 
to them, if it had been necessary. 

As soon as the news of the call for volunteers 
reached Galena, posters were stuck up calling for a 
meeting of the citizens at the court-house in the even- 
ing. Business ceased entirely ; all was excitement ; 
for a time there were no party distinctions ; all were 
Union men, determined to avenge the insult to the 
national flag. In the evening the court-house was 
packed. Although a comparative stranger I was call- 
ed upon to preside ; the sole reason, possibly, was that 
I had been in the army and had seen service. With 
much embarrassment and some prompting I made out 
to announce the object of the meeting. Speeches 
were in order, but it is doubtful whether it would have 
been safe just then to make other than patriotic ones. 
There was probably no one in the house, however, 
who felt like making any other. The two principal 
speeches were by B. B. Howard, the post-master and 
a Breckinridge Democrat at the November election 
the fall before, and John A. Rawlins, an elector on 
the Douglas ticket. E. B. Washburne, with whom I 
was not acquainted at that time, came in after the 





meeting had been organized, and expressed, I under- 
stood afterwards, a little surprise that Galena could 
not furnish a presiding officer for such an occasion 
without taking a stranger. He came forward and 
was introduced, and made a speech appealing to the 
patriotism of the meeting. 

After the speaking was over volunteers were called 
for to form a company. The quota of Illinois had 
been fixed at six regiments ; and it was supposed that 
one company would be as much as would be accepted 
from Galena. The company was raised and the 
officers and non-commissioned officers elected before 
the meeting adjourned. I declined the captaincy 
before the balloting, but announced that I would aid 
the company in every way I could and would be 
found in the service in some position if there should 
be a war. I never went into our leather store after 
that meeting, to put up a package or do other business. 

The ladies of Galena were quite as patriotic as the 
men. They could not enlist, but they conceived the 
idea of sending their first company to the field uni- 
formed. They came to me to get a description of the 
United States uniform for infantry ; subscribed and 
bought the material ; procured tailors to cut out the 
garments, and the ladies made them up. In a few 
days the company was in uniform and ready to report 
at the State capital for assignment. The men all turn- 
ed out the morning after their enlistment, and I took 


charge, divided them into squads and superintended 
their drill. When they were ready to go to Spring- 
field I went with them and remained there until they 
were assigned to a regiment. 

There were so many more volunteers than had been 
called for that the question whom to accept was quite 
embarrassing to the governor, Richard Yates. The 
legislature was in session at the time, however, and 
came to his relief. A law was enacted authorizing- 
the governor to accept the services of ten additional 
regiments, one from each congressional district, for 
one month, to be paid by the State, but pledged to go 
into the service of the United States if there should 
be a further call during their term. Even with this 
relief the governor was still very much embarrassed. 
Before the war was over he was like the President 
when he was taken with the varioloid : " at last he had 
something he could give to all who wanted it." 

In time the Galena company was mustered into the 
United States service, forming a part of the nth 
Illinois volunteer infantry. My duties, I thought, 
had ended at Springfield, and I was prepared to start 
home by the evening train, leaving at nine o'clock. 
Up to that time I do not think I had been introduced 
to Governor Yates, or had ever spoken to him. I 
knew him by sight, however, because he was living 
at the same hotel and I often saw him at table. 
The evening I was to quit the capital I left the 




2 33 

supper room before the governor and was standing 
at the front door when he came out. He spoke to 
me, calling me by my old army title " Captain," and 
said he understood that I was about leaving the 
city. I answered that I was. He said he would 
be glad if I would remain over-night and call at 
the Executive office the next morning. I complied 
with his request, and was asked to go into the Ad- 
jutant-General's office and render such assistance 
as I could, the governor saying that my army ex- 
perience would be of great service there. I accept- 
ed the proposition. 

My old army experience I found indeed of very 
great service. I was no clerk, nor had I any capac- 
ity to become one. The only place I ever found in 
my life to put a paper so as to find it again was 
either a side coat-pocket or the hands of a clerk or 
secretary more careful than myself. But I had been 
quartermaster, commissary and adjutant in the 
field. The army forms were familiar to me and I 
could direct how they should be made out. There 
was a clerk in the office of the Adjutant-General 
who supplied my deficiencies. The ease with which 
the State of Illinois settled its accounts with the 
government at the close of the war is evidence of 
the efficiency of Mr. Loomis as an accountant on a 
large scale. He remained in the office until that 



As I have stated, the legislature authorized the 
governor to accept the services of ten additional regi- 
ments. I had charge of mustering these regiments 
into the State service. They were assembled at 
the most convenient railroad centres in their re- 
spective congressional districts. I detailed officers 
to muster in a portion of them, but mustered three 
in the southern part of the State myself. One of 
these was to assemble at Belleville, some eighteen 
miles south-east of St. Louis. When I got there I 
found that only one or two companies had arrived. 
There was no probability of the regiment coming to- 
gether under five days. This gave me a few idle 
days which I concluded to spend in St. Louis. 

There was a considerable force of State militia at 
Camp Jackson, on the outskirts of St. Louis, at the 
time. There is but little doubt that it was the de- 
sign of Governor Claiborn Jackson to have these 
troops ready to seize the United States arsenal and 
the city of St. Louis. Wiiy they did not do so I do 
not know. There was but a small garrison, two 
companies I think, under Captain N. Lyon at the 
arsenal, and but for the timely services of the Hon. 
F. P. Blair, I have little doubt that St. Louis would 
have gone into rebel hands, and with it the arsenal 
with all its arms and ammunition. 

Blair was a leader among the Union men of St. 
Louis in 1861. There was no State government in 




i yon. 


Missouri at the time that would sanction the raising 
of troops or commissioned officers to protect United 
States property, but Blair had probably procured 
some form of authority from the President to raise 
troops in Missouri and to muster them into the ser- 
vice of the United States. At all events, he did 
raise a regiment and took command himself as Col- 
onel. With this force he reported to Captain Lyon 
and placed himself and regiment under his orders. 
It was whispered that Lyon thus reinforced intended 
to break up Camp Jackson and capture the militia. 
I went down to the arsenal in the morning to see 
the troops start out. I had known Lyon for two 
years at West Point and in the old army afterwards. 
Blair I knew very well by sight. I had heard him 
speak in the canvass of 1858, possibly several times, 
but I had never spoken to him. As the troops 
marched out of the enclosure around the arsenal, 
Blair was on his horse outside forming them into 
line preparatory to their march. I introduced my- 
self to him and had a few moments' conversation 
and expressed my sympathy with his purpose. This 
was my first personal acquaintance with the Honor- 
able — afterwards Major-General F. P. Blair. Camp 
Jackson surrendered without a fight and the gar- 
rison was marched down to the arsenal as prisoners 
of war. 

Up to this time the enemies of the government in 


St. Louis had been bold and defiant, while Union 
men were quiet but determined. The enemies had 
their head-quarters in a central and public position 
on Pine Street, near Fifth — from which the rebel flag 
was flaunted boldly. The Union men had a place of 
meeting somewhere in the city, I did not know 
where, and I doubt whether they dared to enrage 
the enemies of the government by placing the na- 
tional flag outside their head-quarters. As soon 
as the news of the capture of Camp Jackson reached 
the city the condition of affairs was changed. 
Union men became rampant, aggressive, and, if you 
will, intolerant. They proclaimed their sentiments 
boldly, and were impatient at anything like disrespect 
for the Union. The secessionists became quiet but 
were filled with suppressed rage. They had been 
playing the bully. The Union men ordered the 
rebel flag taken down from the building on Pine 
Street. The command was given in tones of author- 
ity and it was taken down, never to be raised again 
in St. Louis. 

I witnessed the scene. I had heard of the sur- 
render of the camp and that the garrison was on its 
way to the arsenal. I had seen the troops start out 
in the morning and had wished them success. I 
now determined to go to the arsenal and await their 
arrival and congratulate them. I stepped on a car 
standing at the corner of 4th and Pine streets, and 


saw a crowd of people standing quietly in front of 
the head-quarters, who were there for the purpose of 
hauling down the flag. There were squads of other 
people at intervals down the street. They too were 
quiet but filled with suppressed rage, and muttered 
their resentment at the insult to, what they called, 
" their" flag. Before the car I was in had started, a 
dapper little fellow — he would be called a dude at 
this day — stepped in. He was in a great state of 
excitement and used adjectives freely to express his 
contempt for the Union and for those who had just 
perpetrated such an outrage upon the rights of a 
free people. There was only one other passenger 
in the car besides myself when this young man en- 
tered. He evidently expected to find nothing but 
sympathy when he got away from the " mud sills " 
engaged in compelling a " free people " to pull down 
a flag they adored. He turned to me saying : 

" Things have come to a pretty pass when a free 

people can't choose their own flag. Where I came 
from if a man dares to say a word in favor of 
the Union we hang him to a limb of the first tree 
we come to." I replied that " after all we were 
not so intolerant in St. Louis as we might be ; I 
had not seen a single rebel hung yet, nor heard 
of one ; there were plenty of them who ought to 
be, however." The ] r oung man subsided. He was 
so crestfallen that I believe if I had ordered him 


to leave the car he would have gone quietly out, 
saying to himself : " More Yankee oppression." 

By nightfall the late defenders of Camp Jackson 
were all within the walls of the St. Louis arsenal, 
prisoners of war. The next day I left St. Louis for 
Mattoon, Illinois, where I was to muster in the regi- 
ment from that congressional district. This was the 
2 1st Illinois infantry, the regiment of which I sub- 
sequently became colonel. I mustered one regi- 
ment afterwards, when my services for the State 
were about closed. 

Brigadier-General John Pope was stationed at 
Springfield, as United States mustering officer, all 
the time I was in the State service. He was a 
native of Illinois and well acquainted with most of 
the prominent men in the State. I was a carpet- 
bagger and knew but few of them. While 1 was on 
duty at Springfield the senators, representatives in 
Congress, ex-governors and the State legislators 
were nearly all at the State capital. The only ac- 
quaintance I made among them was with the gov- 
ernor, whom I was serving, and, by chance, with 
Senator S. A. Douglas. The only members of 
Congress I knew were Washburne and Philip Foulk. 
With the former, though he represented my district 
and we were citizens of the same town, I only be- 
came acquainted at the meeting when the first com- 
pany of Galena volunteers was raised. Foulk I had 

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known in St. Louis when I was a citizen of that 
city. I had been three years at West Point with 
Pope and had served with him a short time during 
the Mexican war, under General Taylor. I saw a 
good deal of him during my service with the State. 
On one occasion he said to me that I ought to go 
into the United States service. I told him I in- 
tended to do so if there was a war. He spoke of 
his acquaintance with the public men of the State, 
and said he could get them to recommend me for a 
position and that he would do all he could for me. 
I declined to receive endorsement for permission 
to fight for my country. 

Going home for a day or two soon after this con- 
versation with General Pope, I wrote from Galena 
the following letter to the Adjutant-General of the 

Galena, Illinois, 

May 24, 1 86 1. 
Col. L. Thomas, 

Adjt. Gen. U. S. A., 

Washington, D. C. 

Sir : — Having served for fifteen years in the regular army, 
including four years at West Point, and feeling it the duty of 
every one who has been educated at the Government expense to 
offer their services for the support of that Government, I have 
the honor, very respectfully, to tender my services, until the close 
of the war, in such capacity as may be offered. I would say, in 
view of my present age and length of service, I feel myself com- 
petent to command a regiment, if the President, in his judgment, 
should see fit to intrust one to me 


Since the first call of the President I have been serving on the 

staff of the Governor of this State, rendering such aid as I could 

in the organization of our State militia, and am still engaged in 

that capacity. A letter addressed to me at Springfield, Illinois, 

will reach me. 

I am very respectfully, 

Your obt. svt, 


This letter failed to elicit an answer from the 
Adjutant-General of the Army. I presume it was 
hardly read by him, and certainly it could not have 
been submitted to higher authority. Subsequent to 
the war General Badeau having heard of this letter 
applied to the War Department for a copy of it. 
The letter could not be found and no one recol- 
lected ever having seen it. I took no copy when 
it was written. Long after the application of Gen- 
eral Badeau, General Townsend, who had become 
Adjutant-General of the Army, while packing up 
papers preparatory to the removal of his office, 
found this letter in some out-of-the-way place. It 
had not been destroyed, but it had not been regu- 
larly filed away. 

I felt some hesitation in suggesting rank as high 
as the colonelcy of a regiment, feeling somewhat 
doubtful whether I would be equal to the position. 
But I had seen nearly every colonel who had been 
mustered in from the State of Illinois, and some 
from Indiana, and felt that if they could com- 


Gen.E.D. town send. 


mand a regiment properly, and with credit, I could 

Having but little to do after the muster of the 
last of the regiments authorized by the State legis- 
lature, I asked and obtained of the governor leave 
of absence for a week to visit my parents in Cov- 
ington, Kentucky, immediately opposite Cincinnati. 
General McClellan had been made a major-general 
and had his headquarters at Cincinnati. In reality 
I wanted to see him. I had known him slightly at 
West Point, where we served one year together, 
and in the Mexican war. I was in hopes that when 
he saw me he would offer me a position on his 
staff. I called on two successive days at his office 
but failed to see him on either occasion, and re- 
turned to Springfield. 

Vol. 1. — 16 





WHILE I was absent from the State capital on 
this occasion the President's second call for 
troops was issued. This time it was for 300,000 men, 
for three years or the war. This brought into the 
United States service all the regiments then in the 
State service. These had elected their officers from 
highest to lowest and were accepted with their organi- 
zations as they were, except in two instances. A Chi- 
cago regiment, the 19th infantry, had elected a very 
young man to the colonelcy. When it came to taking 
the field the regiment asked to have another appointed 
colonel and the one they had previously chosen 
made lieutenant-colonel. The 21st regiment of in- 
fantry, mustered in by me at Mattoon, refused to 
go into the service with the colonel of their selection 
in any position. While I was still absent Governor 
Yates appointed me colonel of this latter regiment. 




2 43 

A few days after I was in charge of it and in camp 
on the fair grounds near Springfield. 

My regiment was composed in large part of young 
men of as good social position as any in their sec- 
tion of the State. It embraced the sons of farmers, 
lawyers, physicians, politicians, merchants, bankers 
and ministers, and some men of maturer years who 
had filled such positions themselves. There were 
also men in it who could be led astray ; and the 
colonel, elected by the votes of the regiment, had 
proved to be fully capable of developing all there 
was in his men of recklessness. It was said that he 
even went so far at times as to take the guard from 
their posts and go with them to the village near by 
and make a night of it. When there came a pros- 
pect of battle the regiment wanted to have some 
one else to lead them. I found it very hard work 
for a few days to bring all tie men into anything 
like subordination ; but the great majority favored 
discipline, and by the application of a little regular 
army punishment all were reduced to as good dis- 
cipline as one could ask. 

The ten regiments which had volunteered in the 
State service for thirty days, it will be remembered, 
had done so with a pledge to go into the National 
service if called upon within that time. When 
they volunteered the government had only called 
for ninety days' enlistments. Men were called now 


for three years or the war. They felt that this 
change of period released them from the obligation 
of re-volunteering. When I was appointed colonel, 
the 2 1 st regiment was still in the State service. 
About the time they were to be mustered into the 
United States service, such of them as would go, 
two members of Congress from the State, Mc- 
Clernand and Logan, appeared at the capital and 
I was introduced to them. I had never seen either 
of them before, but I had read a great deal about 
them, and particularly about Logan, in the news- 
papers. Both were democratic members of Con- 
gress, and Logan had been elected from the south- 
ern district of the State, where he had a majority of 
eighteen thousand over his Republican competitor. 
His district had been settled originally by people 
from the Southern States, and at the breaking out of 
secession they sympathized with the South. At 
the first outbreak of war some of them joined the 
Southern army ; many others were preparing to do 
so ; others rode over the country at night denounc- 
ing the Union, and made it as necessary to guard 
railroad bridges over which National troops had to 
pass in southern Illinois, as it was in Kentucky or 
any of the border slave states. Logan's popularity 
in this district was unbounded. He knew almost 
enough of the people in it by their Christian names, 
to form an ordinary congressional district. As he 


went in politics, so his district was sure to go. The 
Republican papers had been demanding that he 
should announce where he stood on the questions 
which at that time engrossed the whole of public 
thought. Some were very bitter in their denun- 
ciations of his silence. Logan was not a man to be 
coerced into an utterance by threats. He did, how- 
ever, come out in a speech before the adjournment 
of the special session of Congress which was 
convened by the President soon after his inaugura- 
tion, and announced his undying loyalty and devo- 
tion to the Union. But I had not happened to see 
that speech, so that when I first met Logan my im- 
pressions were those formed from reading denun- 
ciations of him. McClernand, on the other hand, had 
early taken strong grounds for the maintenance of 
the Union and had been praised accordingly by the 
Republican papers. The gentlemen who presented 
these two members of Congress asked me if I would 
have any objections to their addressing my regiment. 
I hesitated a little before answering. It was but a 
few days before the time set for mustering into the 
United States service such of the men as were will- 
ing to volunteer for three years or the war. I had 
some doubt as to the effect a speech from Logan 
might have ; but as he was with McClernand, whose 
sentiments on the all-absorbing questions of the 
day were well known, I gave my consent. Mc- 


Clernand spoke first ; and Logan followed in a 
speech which he has hardly equalled since for force 
and eloquence. It breathed a loyalty and devotion 
to the Union which inspired my men to such a point 
that they would have volunteered to remain in the 
army as long as an enemy of the country continued 
to bear arms against it. They entered the United 
States service almost to a man. 

General Logan went to his part of the State and 
gave his attention to raising troops. The very men 
who at first made it necessary to guard the roads in 
southern Illinois became the defenders of the Union. 
Logan entered the service himself as colonel of a 
regiment and rapidly rose to the rank of major-gen- 
eral. His district, which had promised at first to 
give much trouble to the government, filled every 
call made upon it for troops, without resorting to 
the draft. There was no call made when there were 
not more volunteers than were asked for. That 
congressional district stands credited at the War 
Department to-day with furnishing more men for 
the army than it was called on to supply. 

I remained in Springfield with my regiment until 
the 3d of July, when I was ordered to Quincy, Illinois. 
By that time the regiment was in a good state of dis- 
cipline and the officers and men were well up in the 
company drill. There was direct railroad commu- 
nication between Springfield and Quincy, but I 



thought it would be good preparation for the troops 
to march there. We had no transportation for our 
camp and garrison equipage, so wagons were hired 
for the occasion and on the 3d of July we started. 
There was no hurry, but fair marches were made 
every day until the Illinois River was crossed. 
There I was overtaken by a dispatch saying that 
the destination of the regiment had been changed to 
Ironton, Missouri, and ordering me to halt where I 
was and await the arrival of a steamer which had 
been dispatched up the Illinois River to take the 
regiment to St. Louis. The boat, when it did come, 
grounded on a sand-bar a few miles below where we 
were in camp. We remained there several days 
waiting to have the boat get off the bar, but before 
this occurred news came that an Illinois regiment was 
surrounded by rebels at a point on the Hannibal 
and St. Joe Railroad some miles west of Palmyra, 
in Missouri, and I was ordered to proceed with all 
dispatch to their relief. We took the cars and 
reached Quincy in a few hours. 

When I left Galena for the last time to take com- 
mand of the 2 1 st regiment I took with me my oldest 
son, Frederick D. Grant, then a lad of eleven years 
of age. On receiving the order to take rail for 
Quincy I wrote to Mrs. Grant, to relieve what I sup- 
posed would be her great anxiety for one so young 
going into danger, that I would send Fred home 


from Quincy by river. I received a prompt letter 
in reply decidedly disapproving my proposition, and 
urging that the lad should be allowed to accompany 
me. It came too late. Fred was already on his 
way up the Mississippi bound for Dubuque, Iowa, 
from which place there was a railroad to Galena. 

My sensations as we approached what I supposed 
might be " a field of battle " were anything but 
agreeable. I had been in all the engagements in 
Mexico that it was possible for one person to be in ; 
but not in command. If some one else had been 
colonel and I had been lieutenant-colonel I do not 
think I would have felt any trepidation. Before 
we were prepared to cross the Mississippi River at 
Quincy my anxiety was relieved ; for the men of the 
besieged regiment came straggling into town. I 
am inclined to think both sides got frightened and 
ran away. 

I took my regiment to Palmyra and remained 
there for a few days, until relieved by the 19th Illinois 
infantry. From Palmyra I proceeded to Salt River, 
the railroad bridge over which had been destroyed 
by the enemy. Colonel John M. Palmer at that 
time commanded the 13th Illinois, which was acting 
as a guard to workmen who were engaged in re- 
building this bridge. Palmer was my senior and 
commanded the two regiments as long as we re- 
mained together. The bridge was finished in about 


two weeks, and I received orders to move against 
Colonel Thomas Harris, who was said to be en- 
camped at the little town of Florida, some twenty- 
five miles south of where we then were. 

At the time of which I now write we had no 
transportation and the country about Salt River 
was sparsely settled, so that it took some days to 
collect teams and drivers enough to move the camp 
and garrison equipage of a regiment nearly a thou- 
sand strong, together with a week's supply of pro- 
vision and some ammunition. While preparations 
for the move were going on I felt quite comfortable ; 
but when we got on the road and found every house 
deserted I was anything but easy. In the twenty- 
five miles we had to march we did not see a per- 
son, old or young, male or female, except two horse- 
men who were on a road that crossed ours. As 
soon as they saw us they decamped as fast as their 
horses could carry them. I kept my men in the 
ranks and forbade their entering any of the deserted 
houses or taking anything from them. We halted 
at night on the road and proceeded the next morn- 
ing at an early hour. Harris had been encamped in 
a creek bottom for the sake of being near water. 
The hills on either side of the creek extend to a 
considerable height, possibly more than a hundred 
feet. As we approached the brow of the hill from 
which it was expected we could see Harris' camp, 


and possibly find his men ready formed to meet us, 
my heart kept getting higher and higher until it 
felt to me as though it was in my throat. I would 
have given anything then to have been back in Illi- 
nois, but I had not the moral courage to halt and 
consider what to do ; I kept right on. When we 
reached a point from which the valley below was in 
full view I halted. The place where Harris had 
been encamped a few days before was still there 
and the marks of a recent encampment were plainly 
visible, but the troops were gone. My heart re- 
sumed its place. It occurred to me at once that 
Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had 
been of him. This was a view of the question I 
had never taken before ; but it was one I never 
forgot afterwards. From that event to the close 
of the war, I never experienced trepidation upon 
confronting an enemy, though I always felt more 
or less anxiety. I never forgot that he had as 
much reason to fear my forces as I had his. The 
lesson was valuable. 

Inquiries at the village of Florida divulged the 
fact that Colonel Harris, learning of my intended 
movement, while my transportation was being col- 
lected took time by the forelock and left Florida 
before I had started from Salt River. He had in- 
creased the distance between us by forty miles. The 
next day I started back to my old camp at Salt River 


bridge. The citizens living on the line of our march 
had returned to their houses after we passed, and 
finding everything in good order, nothing carried 
away, they were at their front doors ready to greet 
us now. They had evidently been led to believe 
that the National troops carried death and devasta- 
tion with them wherever they went. 

In a short time after our return to Salt River 
bridge I was ordered with my regiment to the town 
of Mexico. General Pope was then commanding the 
district embracing all of the State of Missouri between 
the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, with his head- 
quarters in the village of Mexico. I was assigned 
to the command of a sub-district embracing the 
troops in the immediate neighborhood, some three 
regiments of infantry and a section of artillery. 
There was one regiment encamped by the side of 
mine. I assumed command of the whole and the 
first night sent the commander of the other regiment 
the parole and countersign. Not wishing to be out- 
done in courtesy, he immediately sent me the counter- 
sign for his regiment for the night. When he was 
informed that the countersign sent to him was for 
use with his regiment as well as mine, it was difficult 
to make him understand that this was not an unwar- 
ranted interference of one colonel over another. 
No doubt he attributed it for the time to the pre- 
sumption of a graduate of West Point over a volun- 


teer pure and simple. But the question was soon 
settled and we had no further trouble. 

My arrival in Mexico had been preceded by that 
of two or three regiments in which proper discipline 
had not been maintained, and the men had been in 
the habit of visiting houses without invitation and 
helping themselves to food and drink, or demanding 
them from the occupants. They carried their mus- 
kets while out of camp and made every man they 
found take the oath of allegiance to the government. 
I at once published orders prohibiting the soldiers 
from going into private houses unless invited by the 
inhabitants, and from appropriating private property 
to their own or to government uses. The people 
were no longer molested or made afraid. I received 
the most marked courtesy from the citizens of Mex- 
ico as long as I remained there. 

Up to this time my regiment had not been carried 
in the school of the soldier beyond the company 
drill, except that it had received some training on 
the march from Springfield to the Illinois River. 
There was now a good opportunity of exercising it 
in the battalion drill. While I was at West Point 
the tactics used in the army had been Scott's and 
the musket the flint lock. I had never looked at a 
copy of tactics from the time of my graduation. 
My standing in that branch of studies had been near 
the foot of the class. In the Mexican war in the 
summer of 1846, I had been appointed regimental 


quartermaster and commissary and had not been at 
a battalion drill since. The arms had been changed 
since then and Hardee's tactics had been adopted. 
I got a copy of tactics and studied one lesson, 
intending to confine the exercise of the first day to 
the commands I had thus learned. By pursuing this 
course from day to day I thought I would soon get 
through the volume. 

We were encamped just outside of town on the 
common, among scattering suburban houses with 
enclosed gardens, and when I got my regiment 
in line and rode to the front I soon saw that if I 
attempted to follow the lesson I had studied I would 
have to clear away some of the houses and garden 
fences to make room. I perceived at once, however, 
that Hardee's tactics — a mere translation from the 
French with Hardee's name attached — was nothing 
more than common sense and the progress of the 
age applied to Scott's system. The commands 
were abbreviated and the movement expedited. 
Under the old tactics almost every change in the 
order of march was preceded by a "halt," then 
came the change, and then the " forward march." 
With the new tactics all these changes could be made 
while in motion. I found no trouble in giving com- 
mands that would take my regiment where I wanted 
it to go and carry it around all obstacles. I do not 
believe that the officers of the regiment ever discov- 
ered that I had never studied the tactics that I used. 






1HAD not been in Mexico many weeks when, 
reading a St. Louis paper, I found the President 
had asked the Illinois delegation in Congress to 
recommend some citizens of the State for the position 
of brigadier-general, and that they had unanimously 
recommended me as first on a list of seven. I was 
very much surprised because, as I have said, my 
acquaintance with the Congressmen was very limited 
and I did not know of anything I had done to inspire 
such confidence. The papers of the next day an- 
nounced that my name, with three others, had been 
sent to the Senate, and a few days after our confir- 
mation was announced. 

When appointed brigadier - general I at once 
thought it proper that one of my aides should 
come from the regiment I had been commanding, 
and so selected Lieutenant C. B. Lagow. While liv- 
ing in St. Louis, I had had a desk in the law office 


Grant first knew Rawlins at Galena, Illinois, near which place the latter was born and where 
he had raised himself, in spite of poverty, to the rank of a respectable lawyer. He was a Douglas 
Democrat and a strong Union man. When Grant was promoted to brigadier-general he asked 
Rawlins to become a member of his staff, with the rank of captain. Rawlins joined Grant in Sep- 
tember, 1861, at Cairo, became his assistant adjutant-general, and finally his chief of staff, remain- 
ing with him to the end. He was promoted to brigadier-general August 11, 1863, and brigadier- 
general and chief of staff of the United States Army March 5, 1865. Grant, as President, made him 
Secretary of War March 11, 1869. He died September 6, 1869. 


of McClellan, Moody and Hillyer. Difference in 
views between the members of the firm on the ques- 
tions of the day, and general hard times in the bor- 
der cities, had broken up this firm. Hillyer was 
quite a young man, then in his twenties, and very 
brilliant. I asked him to accept a place on my 
staff. I also wanted to take one man from my new 
home, Galena. The canvass in the Presidential 
campaign the fall before had brought out a young 
lawyer by -the name of John A. Rawlins, who 
proved himself one of the ablest speakers in the 
State. He was also a candidate for elector on 
the Douglas ticket. When Sumter was fired upon 
and the integrity of the Union threatened, there 
was no man more ready to serve his country 
than he. I wrote at once asking him to accept 
the position of assistant adjutant-general with 
the rank of captain, on my staff. He was about 
entering the service as major of a new regiment 
then organizing in the north-western part of 
the State ; but he threw this up and accepted my 

Neither Hillyer nor Lagow proved to have any 
particular taste or special qualifications for the duties 
of the soldier, and the former resigned during the 
Vicksburg campaign ; the latter I relieved after the 
battle of Chattanooga. Rawlins remained with me 
as long as he lived, and rose to the rank of brigadier- 


general and chief-of-staff to the General of the 
Army — an office created for him — before the war 
closed. He was an able man, possessed of great 
firmness, and could say " no " so emphatically to a 
request which he thought should not be granted 
that the person he was addressing would understand 
at once that there was no use of pressing the matter. 
General Rawlins was a very useful officer in other 
ways than this. I became very much attached to 

Shortly after my promotion I was ordered to 
Ironton, Missouri, to command a district in that 
part of the State, and took the 21st Illinois, my old 
regiment, with me. Several other regiments were 
ordered to the same destination about the same time. 
Ironton is on the Iron Mountain railroad, about 
seventy miles south of St. Louis, and situated among 
hills rising almost to the dignity of mountains. When 
I reached there, about the 8th of August, Colonel B. 
Gratz Brown — afterwards Governor of Missouri and 
in 1872 Vice-Presidential candidate — was in command. 
Some of his troops were ninety days' men and their 
time had expired some time before. The men had 
no clothing but what they had volunteered in, and 
much of this was so worn that it would hardly stay 
on. General Hardee — the author of the tactics I did 
not study — was at Greenville, some twenty-five miles 
further south, it was said, with five thousand Con- 




//. flUu* 


federate troops. Under these circumstances Colonel 
Brown's command was very much demoralized. A 
squadron of cavalry could have ridden into the val- 
ley and captured the entire force. Brown himself 
was gladder to see me on that occasion than he ever 
has been since. I relieved him and sent all his men 
home, within a day or two, to be mustered out of 

Within ten days after reaching I ronton I was 
prepared to take the offensive against the enemy at 
Greenville. I sent a column east out of the valley 
we were in, with orders to swing around to the south 
and west and come into the Greenville road ten 
miles south of Ironton. Another column marched 
on the direct road and went into camp at the point 
designated for the two columns to meet. I was to 
ride out the next morning and take personal com- 
mand of the movement. My experience against 
Harris, in northern Missouri, had inspired me with 
confidence. But when the evening train came in, it 
brought General B. M. Prentiss with orders to take 
command of the district. His orders did not relieve 
me, but I knew that by law I was senior, and at that 
time even the President did not have the authority 
to assign a junior to command a senior of the same 
grade. I therefore gave General Prentiss the situa- 
tion of the troops and the general condition of 
affairs, and started for St. Louis the same day. The 

Vol. i. -17 


movement against the rebels at Greenville went no 

From St. Louis I was ordered to Jefferson City, 
the capital of the State, to take command. General 
Stirling Price, of the Confederate army, was thought 
to be threatening the capital, Lexington, Chillicothe 
and other comparatively large towns in the central 
part of Missouri. I found a good many troops in 
Jefferson City, but in the greatest confusion, and no 
one person knew where they all were. Colonel Mul- 
ligan, a gallant man, was in command, but he had 
not been educated as yet to his new profession and 
did not know how to maintain discipline. I found 
that volunteers had obtained permission from the 
department commander, or claimed they had, to 
raise, some of them, regiments ; some battalions ; 
some companies — the officers to be commissioned 
according to the number of men they brought into 
the service. There were recruiting stations all over 
town, with notices, rudely lettered on boards over 
the doors, announcing the arm of service and length 
of time for which recruits at that station would be 
received. The law required all volunteers to serve 
for three years or the war. But in Jefferson City 
in August, 1 86 1, they were recruited for different 
periods and on different conditions ; some were en- 
listed for six months, some for a year, some without 
any condition as to where they were to serve, others 




were not to be sent out of the State. The recruits 
were principally men from regiments stationed there 
and already in the service, bound for three years if 
the war lasted that long. 

The city was filled with Union fugitives who had 
been driven by guerilla bands to take refuge with 
the National troops. They were in a deplorable 
condition and must have starved but for the support 
the government gave them. They had generally 
made their escape with a team or two, sometimes a 
yoke of oxen with a mule or a horse in the lead. A 
little bedding besides their clothing and some food 
had been thrown into the wagon. All else of their 
worldly goods were abandoned and appropriated by 
their former neighbors; for the Union man in Mis- 
souri who staid at home during the rebellion, if he 
was not immediately under the protection of the 
National troops, was at perpetual war with his neigh- 
bors. I stopped the recruiting service, and disposed 
the troops about the outskirts of the city so as to 
guard all approaches. Order was soon restored. 

I had been at Jefferson City but a few days when 
I was directed from department headquarters to fit 
out an expedition to Lexington, Booneville and 
Chillicothe, in order to take from the banks in those 
cities all the funds they had and send them to St. 
Louis. The western army had not yet been sup- 
plied with transportation. It became necessary 


therefore to press into the service teams belonging 
to sympathizers with the rebellion or to hire those 
of Union men. This afforded an opportunity of giv- 
ing employment to such of the refugees within our 
lines as had teams suitable for our purposes. They 
accepted the service with alacrity. As fast as troops 
could be got off they were moved west some twenty 
miles or more. In seven or eight days from my as- 
suming command at Jefferson City, I had all the 
troops, except a small garrison, at an advanced posi- 
tion and expected to join them myself the next day. 
But my campaigns had not yet begun, for while 
seated at my office door, with nothing further to do 
until it was time to start for the front, I saw an offi- 
cer of rank approaching, who proved to be Colonel 
Jefferson C. Davis. I had never met him before, 
but he introduced himself by handing me an order 
for him to proceed to Jefferson City and relieve me 
of the command. The orders directed that I should 
report at department headquarters at St. Louis with- 
out delay, to receive important special instructions. 
It was about an hour before the only regular train 
of the day would start. I therefore turned over to 
Colonel Davis my orders, and hurriedly stated to 
him the progress that had been made to carry out the 
department instructions already described. I had at 
that time but one staff officer,* doing myself all the 

* C. B. Lagow, the others not yet having joined me. 


detail work usually performed by an adjutant-general. 
In an hour after being relieved from the command 
I was on my way to St. Louis, leaving my single staff 
officer to follow the next day with our horses and 

The " important special instructions " which I re- 
ceived the next day, assigned me to the command 
of the district of south-east Missouri, embracing all 
the territory south of St. Louis, in Missouri, as well 
as all southern Illinois. At first I was to take personal 
command of a combined expedition that had been 
ordered for the capture of Colonel Jeff. Thompson, 
a sort of independent or partisan commander who 
was disputing with us the possession of south-east 
Missouri. Troops had been ordered to move from 
Ironton to Cape Girardeau, sixty or seventy miles 
to the south-east, on the Mississippi River ; while the 
forces at Cape Girardeau had been ordered to move 
to Jacksonville, ten miles out towards Ironton ; and 
troops at Cairo and Bird's Point, at the junction of 
the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, were to hold them- 
selves in readiness to go down the Mississippi to Bel- 
mont, eighteen miles below, to be moved west from 
there when an officer should come to command them. 
I was the officer who had been selected for this pur- 
pose. Cairo was to become my headquarters when 
the expedition terminated. 

In pursuance of my orders I established my tern- 


porary headquarters at Cape Girardeau and sent 
instructions to the commanding officer at Jackson, 
to inform me of the approach of General Prentiss 
from I ronton. Hired wagons were kept moving 
night and day to take additional rations to Jackson, 
to supply the troops when they started from there. 
Neither General Prentiss nor Colonel Marsh, who 
commanded at Jackson, knew their destination. I 
drew up all the instructions for the contemplated 
move, and kept them in my pocket until I should 
hear of the junction of our troops at Jackson. Two 
or three days after my arrival at Cape Girardeau, 
word came that General Prentiss was approaching 
that place (Jackson). I started at once to meet him 
there and to give him his orders. As I turned the 
first corner of a street after starting, I saw a column 
of cavalry passing the next street in front of me. I 
turned and rode around the block the other way, so 
as to meet the head of the column. I found there 
General Prentiss himself, with a large escort. He 
had halted his troops at Jackson for the night, and 
had come on himself to Cape Girardeau, leaving 
orders for his command to follow him in the morn- 
ing. I gave the General his orders — which stopped 
him at Jackson — but he was very much aggrieved 
at being placed under another brigadier-general, 
particularly as he believed himself to be the senior. 
He had been a brigadier, in command at Cairo, 



while I was mustering officer at Springfield without 
any rank. But we were nominated at the same 
time for the United States service, and both our 
commissions bore date May 17th, 1861. By virtue 
of my former army rank I was, by law, the senior. 
General Prentiss failed to get orders to his troops 
to remain at Jackson, and the next morning early 
they were reported as approaching Cape Girardeau. 
I then ordered the General very peremptorily to 
countermarch his command and take it back to 
Jackson. He obeyed the order, but bade his com- 
mand adieu when he got them to Jackson, and went 
to St. Louis and reported himself. This broke up 
the expedition. But little harm was done, as Jeff. 
Thompson moved light and had no fixed place for 
even nominal headquarters. He was as much at 
home in Arkansas as he was in Missouri and would 
keep out of the way of a superior force. Prentiss 
was sent to another part of the State. 

General Prentiss made a great mistake on the 
above occasion, one that he would not have com- 
mitted later in the war. When I came to know 
him better, I regretted it much. In consequence 
of this occurrence he was off duty in the field when 
the principal campaign at the West was going on, 
and his juniors received promotion while he was 
where none could be obtained. He would have 
been next to myself in rank in the district of south- 


east Missouri, by virtue of his services in the Mexi- 
can war. He was a brave and very earnest soldier. 
No man in the service was more sincere in his devo- 
tion to the cause for which we were battling ; none 
more ready to make sacrifices or risk life in it. 

On the 4th of September I removed my head- 
quarters to Cairo and found Colonel Richard 
Oglesby in command of the post. We had never 
met, at least not to my knowledge. After my pro- 
motion I had ordered my brigadier-general's uniform 
from New York, but it had not yet arrived, so that 
I was in citizen's dress. The Colonel had his office 
full of people, mostly from the neighboring States 
of Missouri and Kentucky, making complaints or 
asking favors. He evidently did not catch my name 
when I was presented, for on my taking a piece of 
paper from the table where he was seated and writ- 
ing the order assuming command of the district of 
south-east Missouri, Colonel Richard J. Oglesby to 
command the post at Bird's Point, and handing it 
to him, he put on an expression of surprise that 
looked a little as if he would like to have some one 
identify me. But he surrendered the office without 

The day after I assumed command at Cairo a man 
came to me who said he was a scout of General 
Fremont. He reported that he had just come from 
Columbus, a point on the Mississippi twenty miles 


below on the Kentucky side, and that troops had 
started from there, or were about to start, to seize 
Paducah, at the mouth of the Tennessee. There 
was no time for delay ; I reported by telegraph to 
the department commander the information I had 
received, and added that I was taking steps to get 
off that night to be in advance of the enemy in se- 
curing that important point. There was a large 
number of steamers lying at Cairo and a good many 
boatmen were staying in the town. It was the work 
of only a few hours to get the boats manned, with 
coal aboard and steam up. Troops were also des- 
ignated to go aboard. The distance from Cairo to 
Paducah is about forty-five miles. I did not wish to 
get there before daylight of the 6th, and directed 
therefore that the boats should lie at anchor out in 
the stream until the time to start. Not having re- 
ceived an answer to my first dispatch, I again tele- 
graphed to department headquarters that I should 
start for Paducah that night unless I received further 
orders. Hearing nothing, we started before midnight 
and arrived early the following morning, anticipating 
the enemy by probably not over six or eight hours. 
It proved very fortunate that the expedition against 
Jeff. Thompson had been broken up. Had it not 
been, the enemy would have seized Paducah and 
fortified it, to our very great annoyance. 

When the National troops entered the town the 


citizens were taken by surprise. I never after saw 
such consternation depicted on the faces of the people. 
Men, women and children came out of their doors 
looking pale and frightened at the presence of the 
invader. They were expecting rebel troops that day. 
In fact, nearly four thousand men from Columbus 
were at that time within ten or fifteen miles of Pa- 
ducah on their way to occupy the place. I had but 
two regiments and one battery with me ; but the 
enemy did not know this and returned to Columbus. 
I stationed my troops at the best points to guard 
the roads leading into the city, left gunboats to 
guard the river fronts and by noon was ready to 
start on my return to Cairo. Before leaving, how- 
ever, I addressed a short printed proclamation to the 
citizens of Paducah assuring them of our peaceful 
intentions, that we had come among them to pro- 
tect them against the enemies of our country, and 
that all who chose could continue their usual avoca- 
tions with assurance of the protection of the gov- 
ernment. This was evidently a relief to them ; but 
the majority would have much preferred the presence 
of the other army. I reinforced Paducah rapidly 
from the troops at Cape Girardeau ; and a day or 
two later General C. F. Smith, a most accomplished 
soldier, reported at Cairo and was assigned to the 
command of the post at the mouth of the Tennessee. 
In a short time it was well fortified and a detach- 




ment was sent to occupy Smithland, at the mouth of 
the Cumberland. 

The State government of Kentucky at that time 
was rebel in sentiment, but wanted to preserve an 
armed neutrality between the North and the South, 
and the governor really seemed to think the State had 
a perfect right to maintain a neutral position. The 
rebels already occupied two towns in the State, Co- 
lumbus and Hickman, on the Mississippi ; and at the 
very moment the National troops were entering Pa- 
ducah from the Ohio front, General Lloyd Tilghman 
— a Confederate — with his staff and a small detach- 
ment of men, were getting out in the other direction, 
while, as I have already said, nearly four thousand 
Confederate troops were on Kentucky soil on their 
way to take possession of the town. But, in the 
estimation of the governor and of those who thought 
with him, this did not justify the National authorities 
in invading the soil of Kentucky. I informed the 
legislature of the State of what I was doing, and my 
action was approved by the majority of that body. 
On my return to Cairo I found authority from de- 
partment headquarters for me to take Paducah " if I 
felt strong enough," but very soon after I was repri- 
manded from the same quarters for my correspondence 
with the legislature and warned against a repetition 
of the offence. 

Soon after I took command at Cairo, General 


Fremont entered into arrangements for the exchange 
of the prisoners captured at Camp Jackson in the 
month of May. I received orders to pass them 
through my lines to Columbus as they presented 
themselves with proper credentials. Quite a number 
of these prisoners I had been personally acquainted 
with before the war. Such of them as I had so 
known were received at my headquarters as old 
acquaintances, and ordinary routine business was not 
disturbed by their presence. On one occasion when 
several were present in my office my intention to 
visit Cape Girardeau the next day, to inspect the 
troops at that point, was mentioned. Something 
transpired which postponed my trip ; but a steamer 
employed by the government was passing a point 
some twenty or more miles above Cairo, the next 
day, when a section of rebel artillery with proper 
escort brought her to. A major, one of those who 
had been at my headquarters the day before, came 
at once aboard and after some search made a direct 
demand for my delivery. It was hard to persuade 
him that I was not there. This officer was Major 
Barrett, of St. Louis. I had been acquainted with 
his family before the war. 

■v (w 

^ l VJ.CBvS*,^ 





FROM the occupation of Paducah up to the early 
part of November nothing important occurred 
with the troops under my command. I was rein- 
forced from time to time and the men were drilled 
and disciplined preparatory for the service which was 
sure to come. By the ist of November I had not 
fewer than 20,000 men, most of them under good drill 
and ready to meet any equal body of men who, like 
themselves, had not yet been in an engagement. 
They were growing impatient at lying idle so long, 
almost in hearing of the guns of the enemy they 
had volunteered to fight against. I asked on one 
or two occasions to be allowed to move against Co- 
lumbus. It could have been taken soon after the 
occupation of Paducah ; but before November it 
was so strongly fortified that it would have required 
a large force and a long siege to capture it. 

In the latter part of October General Fremont 
took the field in person and moved from Jefferson 


City against General Sterling Price, who was then 
in the State of Missouri with a considerable com- 
mand. About the first of November I was directed 
from department headquarters to make a demonstra- 
tion on both sides of the Mississippi River with the 
view of detaining the rebels at Columbus within 
their lines. Before my troops could be got off, I 
was notified from the same quarter that there were 
some 3,000 of the enemy on the St. Francis River 
about fifty miles west, or south-west, from Cairo, and 
was ordered to send another force against them. I 
dispatched Colonel Oglesby at once with troops suf- 
ficient to compete with the reported number of the 
enemy. On the 5th word came from the same 
source that the rebels were about to detach a large 
force from Columbus to be moved by boats down 
the Mississippi and up the White River, in Arkansas, 
in order to reinforce Price, and I was directed to 
prevent this movement if possible. I accordingly 
sent a regiment from Bird's Point under Colonel W. 
H. L. Wallace to overtake and reinforce Oglesby, 
with orders to march to New Madrid, a point some 
distance below Columbus, on the Missouri side. At 
the same time I directed General C. F. Smith to 
move all the troops he could spare from Paducah 
directly against Columbus, halting them, however, a 
few miles from the town to await further orders from 
me. Then I gathered up all the troops at Cairo and 



Fort Holt, except suitable guards, and moved them 
down the river on steamers convoyed by two gun- 
boats, accompanying them myself. My force con- 
sisted of a little over 3,000 men and embraced five 
regiments of infantry, two guns and two companies 
of cavalry. We dropped down the river on the 6th to 
within about six miles of Columbus, debarked a few 
men on the Kentucky side and established pickets to 
connect with the troops from Paducah. 

I had no orders which contemplated an attack by 
the National troops, nor did I intend anything of 
the kind when I started out from Cairo ; but after 
we started I saw that the officers and men were 
elated at the prospect of at last having the oppor- 
tunity of doing what they had volunteered to do — 
fight the enemies of their country. I did not see 
how I could maintain discipline, or retain the confi- 
dence of my command, if we should return to Cairo 
without an effort to do something. Columbus, 
besides being strongly fortified, contained a gar- 
rison much more numerous than the force I had 
with me. It would not do, therefore, to attack 
that point. About two o'clock on the morning 
of the 7th, I learned that the enemy was crossing 
^troops from Columbus to the west bank to be 
dispatched, presumably, after Oglesby. I knew 
there was a small camp of Confederates at Belmont, 
immediately opposite Columbus, and I speedily 


resolved to push down the river, land on the Mis- 
souri side, capture Belmont, break up the camp and 
return. Accordingly, the pickets above Columbus 
were drawn in at once, and about daylight the boats 
moved out from shore. In an hour we were debark- 
ing on the west bank of the Mississippi, just out of 
range of the batteries at Columbus. 

The ground on the west shore of the river, oppo- 
site Columbus, is low and in places marshy and cut 
up with sloughs. The soil is rich and the timber 
large and heavy. There were some small clearings 
between Belmont and the point where we landed, 
but most of the country was covered with the native 
forests. We landed in front of a cornfield. When 
the debarkation commenced, I took a regiment down 
the river to post it as a guard against surprise. At 
that time I had no staff officer who could be trusted 
with that duty. In the woods, at a short distance 
below the clearing, I found a depression, dry at the 
time, but which at high water became a slough or 
bayou. I placed the men in the hollow, gave 
them their instructions and ordered them to remain 
there until they were properly relieved. These 
troops, with the gunboats, were to protect our trans- 
ports. , 

Up to this time the enemy had evidently failed to 
divine our intentions. From Columbus they could, 
of course, see our gunboats and transports loaded 


with troops. But the force from Paducah was 
threatening them from the land side, and it was 
hardly to be expected that if Columbus was our 
object we would separate our troops by a wide river. 
They doubtless thought we meant to draw a large 
force from the east bank, then embark ourselves, 
land on the east bank and make a sudden assault on 
Columbus before their divided command could be 

About eight o'clock we started from the point of 
debarkation, marching by the flank. After moving 
in this way for a mile or a mile and a half, I halted 
where there was marshy ground covered with a 
heavy growth of timber in our front, and deployed 
a large part of my force as skirmishers. By this 
time the enemy discovered that we were moving 
upon Belmont and sent out troops to meet us. 
Soon after we had started in line, his skirmishers 
were encountered and fighting commenced. This 
continued, growing fiercer and fiercer, for about four 
hours, the enemy being forced back gradually until 
he was driven into his camp. Early in this engage- 
ment my horse was shot under me, but I got 
another from one of my staff and kept well up with 
the advance until the river was reached. 

The officers and men engaged at Belmont were 
then under fire for the first time. Veterans could 
not have behaved better than they did up to the 

Vol. i.— 18. 


moment of reaching the rebel camp. At this point 
they became demoralized from their victory and 
failed to reap its full reward. The enemy had been 
followed so closely that when he reached the clear 
ground on which his camp was pitched he beat a 
hasty retreat over the river bank, which protected 
him from our shots and from view. This precipitate 
retreat at the last moment enabled the National forces 
to pick their way without hinderance through the 
abatis — the only artificial defence the enemy had. 
The moment the camp was reached our men laid 
down their arms and commenced rummaging the 
tents to pick up trophies. Some of the higher officers 
were little better than the privates. They galloped 
about from one cluster of men to another and at 
every halt delivered a short eulogy upon the Union 
cause and the achievements of the command. 

All this time the troops we had been engaged with 
for four hours, lay crouched under cover of the river 
bank, ready to come up and surrender if summoned 
to do so ; but finding that they were not pursued, 
they worked their way up the river and came up on 
the bank between us and our transports. I saw at the 
same time two steamers coming from the Columbus 
side towards the west shore, above us, black — or gray 
— with soldiers from boiler- deck to roof. Some of 
my men were engaged in firing from captured guns 
at empty steamers down the river, out of range, cheer- 


ing at every shot. I tried to get them to turn their 
guns upon the loaded steamers above and not so far 
away. My efforts were in vain. At last I directed 
my staff officers to set fire to the camps. This drew 
the fire of the enemy's guns located on the heights of 
Columbus. They had abstained from firing before, 
probably because they were afraid of hitting their 
own men ; or they may have supposed, until the camp 
was on fire, that it was still in the possession of their 
friends. About this time, too, the men we had 
driven over the bank were seen in line up the river 
between us and our transports. The alarm " sur- 
rounded" was given. The guns of the enemy and 
the report of being surrounded, brought officers and 
men completely under control. At first some of the 
officers seemed to think that to be surrounded was 
to be placed in a hopeless position, where there was 
nothing to do but surrender. But when I announced 
that we had cut our way in and could cut our way 
out just as well, it seemed a new revelation to officers 
and soldiers. They formed line rapidly and we 
started back to our boats, with the men deployed as 
skirmishers as they had been on entering camp. The 
enemy was soon encountered, but his resistance this 
time was feeble. Again the Confederates sought 
shelter under the river banks. We could not stop, 
however, to pick them up, because the troops we had 
seen crossing the river had debarked by this time 


and were nearer our transports than we were. It 
would be prudent to get them behind us ; but we 
were not again molested on our way to the boats. 

From the beginning of the fighting our wounded 
had been carried to the houses at the rear, near the 
place of debarkation. I now set the troops to bring- 
ing their wounded to the boats. After this had 
gone on for some little time I rode down the road, 
without even a staff officer, to visit the guard I 
had stationed over the approach to our transports. 
I knew the enemy had crossed over from Columbus 
in considerable numbers and might be expected to 
attack us as we were embarking. This guard would 
be encountered first and, as they were in a natural 
intrenchment, would be able to hold the enemy for 
a considerable time. My surprise was great to find 
there was not a single man in the trench. Riding 
back to the boat I found the officer who had com- 
manded the guard and learned that he had with- 
drawn his force when the main body fell back. At 
first I ordered the guard to return, but finding that 
it would take some time to get the men together 
and march them back to their position, I counter- 
manded the order. Then fearing that the enemy 
we had seen crossing the river below might be com- 
ing upon us unawares, I rode out in the field to 
our front, still entirely alone, to observe whether 
the enemy was passing. The field was grown up 


with corn so tall and thick as to cut off the view of 
even a person on horseback, except directly along 
the rows. Even in that direction, owing to the 
overhanging blades of corn, the view was not ex- 
tensive. I had not gone more than a few hundred 
yards when I saw a body of troops marching past 
me not fifty yards away. I looked at them for a 
moment and then turned my horse towards the 
river and started back, first in a walk, and when I 
thought myself concealed from the view of the enemy, 
as fast as my horse could carry me. When at the 
river bank I still had to ride a few hundred yards to 
the point where the nearest transport lay. 

The cornfield in front of our transports terminated 
at the edge of a dense forest. Before I got back the 
enemy had entered this forest and had opened a 
brisk fire upon the boats. Our men, with the ex- 
ception of details that had gone to the front after 
the wounded, were now either aboard the transports 
or very near them. Those who were not aboard 
soon got there, and the boats pushed off. I was the 
only man of the National army between the rebels 
and our transports. The captain of a boat that had 
just pushed out but had not started, recognized me 
and ordered the engineer not to start the engine ; he 
then had a plank run out for me. My horse seemed 
to take in the situation. There was no path down 
the bank and every one acquainted with the Missis- 



sippi River knows that its banks, in a natural state, do 
not vary at any great angle from the perpendicular. 
My horse put his fore feet over the bank without 
hesitation or urging, and with his hind feet well 
under him, slid down the bank and trotted aboard 
the boat, twelve or fifteen feet away, over a single 
gang plank. I dismounted and went at once to the 
upper deck. 

The Mississippi River was low on the 7th of No- 
vember, 1 86 1, so that the banks were higher than 
the heads of men standing on the upper decks of the 
steamers. The rebels were some distance back from 
the river, so that their fire was high and did us but 
little harm. Our smoke-stack was riddled with bul- 
lets, but there were only three men wounded on 
the boats, two of whom were soldiers. When I 
first went on deck I entered the captain's room ad- 
joining the pilot-house, and threw myself on a sofa. 
I did not keep that position a moment, but rose to 
go out on the deck to observe what was going on. I 
had scarcely left when a musket ball entered the 
room, struck the head of the sofa, passed through it 
and lodged in the foot. 

When the enemy opened fire on the transports 
our gunboats returned it with vigor. They were 
well out in the stream and some distance down, so 
that they had to give but very little elevation to their 
guns to clear the banks of the river. Their position 


very nearly enfiladed the line of the enemy while he 
was marching through the cornfield. The execution 
was very great, as we could see at the time and as 
I afterwards learned more positively. We were very 
soon out of range and went peacefully on our way 
to Cairo, every man feeling that Belmont was a great 
victory and that he had contributed his share to it. 

Our loss at Belmont was 485 in killed, wounded 
and missing. About 125 of our wounded fell into 
the hands of the enemy. We returned with 175 
prisoners and two guns, and spiked four other pieces. 
The loss of the enemy, as officially reported, was 642 
men, killed, wounded and missing. We had engaged 
about 2,500 men, exclusive of the guard left with 
the transports. The enemy had about 7,000 ; but this 
includes the troops brought over from Columbus 
who were not engaged in the first defence of Bel- 

The two objects for which the battle of Belmont 
was fought were fully accomplished. The enemy 
gave up all idea of detaching troops from Columbus. 
His losses were very heavy for that period of the 
war. Columbus was beset by people looking for their 
wounded or dead kin, to take them home for medical 
treatment or burial. I learned later, when I had 
moved further south, that Belmont had caused more 
mourning than almost any other battle up to that 
time. The National troops acquired a confidence in 


themselves at Belmont that did not desert them 
through the war. 

The day after the battle I met some officers from 
General Polk's command, arranged for permission 
to bury our dead at Belmont and also commenced 
negotiations for the exchange of prisoners. When 
our men went to bury their dead, before they were 
allowed to land they were conducted below the point 
where the enemy had engaged our transports. Some 
of the officers expressed a desire to see the field ; but 
the request was refused with the statement that we 
had no dead there. 

While on the truce-boat I mentioned to an officer, 
whom I had known both at West Point and in the 
Mexican war, that I was in the cornfield near their 
troops when they passed ; that I had been on horse- 
back and had worn a soldier's overcoat at the time. 
This officer was on General Polk's staff. He said 
both he and the general had seen me and that Polk 
had said to his men, " There is a Yankee ; you may 
try your marksmanship on him if you wish," but no- 
body fired at me. 

Belmont was severely criticised in the North as a 
wholly unnecessary battle, barren of results, or the 
possibility of them from the beginning. If it had not 
been fought, Colonel Oglesby would probably have 
been captured or destroyed with his three thousand 
men. Then I should have been culpable indeed. 



WHILE at Cairo I had frequent opportunities 
of meeting the rebel officers of the Columbus 
garrison. They seemed to be very fond of coming 
up on steamers under flags of truce. On two or three 
occasions I went down in like manner. When one of 
their boats was seen coming up carrying a white flag, 
a gun would be fired from the lower battery at Fort 
Holt, throwing a shot across the bow as a signal to 
come no farther. I would then take a steamer and, 
with my staff and occasionally a few other officers, 
go down to receive the party. There were several 
officers among them whom I had known before, both 
at West Point and in Mexico. Seeing these officers 
who had been educated for the profession of arms, 
both at school and in actual war, which is a far more 
efficient training, impressed me with the great ad- 
vantage the South possessed over the North at the 
beginning of the rebellion. They had from thirty to 
forty per cent, of the educated soldiers of the Nation. 


i^6 cX, 


They had no standing army and, consequently, these 
trained soldiers had to find employment with the 
troops from their own States. In this way what 
there was of military education and training was dis- 
tributed throughout their whole army. The whole 
loaf was leavened. 

The North had a greater number of educated and 
trained soldiers, but the bulk of them were still in 
the army and were retained, generally with their old 
commands and rank, until the war had lasted many 
months. In the Army of the Potomac there was 
what was known as the " regular brigade," in which, 
from the commanding officer down to the youngest 
second lieutenant, every one was educated to his 
profession. So, too, with many of the batteries ; all 
the officers, generally four in number to each, were 
men educated for their profession. Some of these 
went into battle at the beginning under division com- 
manders who were entirely without military training. 
This state of affairs gave me an idea which I ex- 
pressed while at Cairo ; that the government ought 
to disband the regular army, with the exception of 
the staff corps, and notify the disbanded officers that 
they would receive no compensation while the war 
lasted except as volunteers. The register should be 
kept up, but the names of all officers who were not 
in the volunteer service at the close, should be 
stricken from it. 


On the 9th of November, two days after the battle 
of Belmont, Major-General H. W. Halleck super- 
seded General Fremont in command of the Depart- 
ment of the Missouri. The limits of his command 
took in Arkansas and west Kentucky east to the 
Cumberland River. From the battle of Belmont 
until early in February, 1862, the troops under my 
command did little except prepare for the long 
struggle which proved to be before them. 

The enemy at this time occupied a line running 
from the Mississippi River at Columbus to Bowling 
Green and Mill Springs, Kentucky. Each of these 
positions was strongly fortified, as were also points on 
the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers near the Ten- 
nessee state line. The works on the Tennessee were 
called Fort Heiman and Fort Henry, and that on 
the Cumberland was Fort Donelson. At these points 
the two rivers approached within eleven miles of each 
other. The lines of rifle pits at each place extended 
back from the water at least two miles, so that the 
garrisons were in reality only seven miles apart. 
These positions were of immense importance to the 
enemy ; and of course correspondingly important for 
us to possess ourselves of. With Fort Henry in our 
hands we had a navigable stream open to us up to 
Muscle Shoals, in Alabama. The Memphis and 
Charleston Railroad strikes the Tennessee at East- 
port, Mississippi, and follows close to the banks of 


MM. r^i^i 


the river up to the shoals. This road, of vast im- 
portance to the enemy, would cease to be of use to 
them for through traffic the moment Fort Henry 
became ours. Fort Donelson was the gate to Nash- 
ville — a place of great military and political impor- 
tance — and to a rich country extending far east in 
Kentucky. These two points in our possession the 
enemy would necessarily be thrown back to the 
Memphis and Charleston road, or to the boundary 
of the cotton states, and, as before stated, that road 
would be lost to them for through communication. 

The designation of my command had been changed 
after Halleck's arrival, from the District of South- 
east Missouri to the District of Cairo, and the 
small district commanded by General C. F. Smith, 
embracing the mouths of the Tennessee and Cum- 
berland rivers, had been added to my jurisdiction. 
Early in January, 1862, I was directed by General 
McClellan, through my department commander, to 
make a reconnoissance in favor of Brigadier-General 
Don Carlos Buell, who commanded the Depart- 
ment of the Ohio, with headquarters at Louisville, 
and who was confronting General S. B. Buckner 
with a larger Confederate force at Bowling Green. 
It was supposed that Buell was about to make some 
move against the enemy, and my demonstration was 
intended to prevent the sending of troops from Co- 
lumbus, Fort Henry or Donelson to Buckner. I at 


once ordered General Smith to send a force up the 
west bank of the Tennessee to threaten forts Hei- 
man and Henry ; McClernand at the same time 
with a force of 6,000 men was sent out into west 
Kentucky, threatening Columbus with one column 
and the Tennessee River with another. I went with 
McClernand's command. The weather was very bad ; 
snow and rain fell ; the roads, never good in that 
section, were intolerable. We were out more than a 
week splashing through the mud, snow and rain, the 
men suffering very much. The object of the expe- 
dition was accomplished. The enemy did not send 
reinforcements to Bowling Green, and General 
George H. Thomas fought and won the battle of 
Mill Springs before we returned. 

As a result of this expedition General Smith re- 
ported that he thought it practicable to capture Fort 
Heiman. This fort stood on high ground, com- 
pletely commanding Fort Henry on the opposite 
side of the river, and its possession by us, with the 
aid of our gunboats, would insure the capture of 
Fort Henry. This report of Smith's confirmed 
views I had previously held, that the true line of 
operations for us was up the Tennessee and Cum- 
berland rivers. With us there, the enemy would be 
compelled to fall back on the east and west entirely 
out of the State of Kentucky. On the 6th of Jan- 
uary, before receiving orders for this expedition, I 


L n§ i ty G eo . E . Perffle 

S- - *- 


Com. A. H. FOOTE.TJ.S.N. 



had asked permission of the general commanding the 
department to go to see him at St. Louis. My ob- 
ject was to lay this plan of campaign before him. 
Now that my views had been confirmed by so able a 
general as Smith, I renewed my request to go to St. 
Louis on what I deemed important military business. 
The leave was granted, but not graciously. I had 
known General Halleck but very slightly in the old 
army, not having met him either at West Point or 
during the Mexican war. I was received with so 
little cordiality that I perhaps stated the object of 
my visit with less clearness than I might have done, 
and I had not uttered many sentences before I was 
cut short as if my plan was preposterous. I returned 
to Cairo very much crestfallen. 

Flag-officer Foote commanded the little fleet of 
gunboats then in the neighborhood of Cajro and, 
though in another branch of the service, was subject 
to the command of General Halleck. He and I 
consulted freely upon military matters and he agreed 
with me perfectly as to the feasibility of the cam- 
paign up the Tennessee. Notwithstanding the re- 
buff I had received from my immediate chief, I there- 
fore, on the 28th of January, renewed the suggestion 
by telegraph that " if permitted, I could take and 
hold Fort Henry on the Tennessee." This time I was 
backed by Flag-officer Foote, who sent a similar dis- 
patch. On the 29th I wrote fully in support of the 


proposition. On the ist of February I received full 
instructions from department headquarters to move 
upon Fort Henry. On the 2d the expedition started. 

In February, 1862, there were quite a good many 
steamers laid up at Cairo for want of employment, 
the Mississippi River being closed against navigation 
below that point. There were also many men in the 
town whose occupation had been following the 
river in various capacities, from captain down to 
deck hand. But there were not enough of either 
boats or men to move at one time the 17,000 men 
I proposed to take with me up the Tennessee. I 
loaded the boats with more than half the force, how- 
ever, and sent General McClernand in command. I 
followed with one of the later boats and found Mc- 
Clernand had stopped, very properly, nine miles 
below Fort Henry. Seven gunboats under Flag- 
officer Foote had accompanied the advance. The 
transports we had with us had to return to Paducah 
to bring up a division from there, with General C. F. 
Smith in command. 

Before sending the boats back I wanted to get the 
troops as near to the enemy as I could without com- 
ing within range of their guns. There was a stream 
empting into the Tennessee on the east side, ap- 
parently at about long range distance below the fort. 
On account of the narrow water-shed separating the 
Tennessee and Cumberland rivers at that point, the 


Vol. i. — 19 


stream must be insignificant at ordinary stages, but 
when we were there, in February, it was a torrent. 
It would facilitate the investment of Fort Henry 
materially if the troops could be landed south of that 
stream. To test whether this could be done I 
boarded the gunboat Essex and requested Captain 
Wm. Porter commanding it, to approach the fort 
to draw its fire. After we had gone some dis- 
tance past the mouth of the stream we drew the fire 
of the fort, which fell much short of us. In conse- 
quence I had made up my mind to return and bring 
the troops to the upper side of the creek, when the 
enemy opened upon us with a rifled gun that sent 
shot far beyond us and beyond the stream. One 
shot passed very near where Captain Porter and I 
were standing, struck the deck near the stern, pene- 
trated and passed through the. cabin and so out into 
the river. We immediately turned back, and the 
troops were debarked below the mouth of the creek. 
When the landing was completed I returned with 
the transports to Paducah to hasten up the balance 
of the troops. I got back on the 5th with the ad- 
vance, the remainder following as rapidly as the 
steamers could carry them. At ten o'clock at night, 
on the 5th, the whole command was not yet up. 
Being anxious to commence operations as soon as 
possible before the enemy could reinforce heavily, I 
issued my orders for an advance at 11 a.m. on the 

v £), tfW^~ 





6th. I felt sure that all the troops would be up by 
that time. 

Fort Henry occupies a bend in the river which 
gave the guns in the water battery a direct fire down 
the stream. The camp outside the fort was in- 
trenched, with rifle pits and outworks two miles back 
on the road to Donelson and Dover. The garrison 
of the fort and camp was about 2,800, with strong 
reinforcements from Donelson halted some miles out. 
There were seventeen heavy guns in the fort. The 
river was very high, the banks being overflowed ex- 
cept where the bluffs come to the water's edge. A 
portion of the ground on which Fort Henry stood 
was two feet deep in water. Below, the water ex- 
tended into the woods several hundred yards back 
from the bank on the east side. On the west bank 
Fort Heiman stood on high ground, completely com- 
manding Fort Henry. The distance from Fort 
Henry to Donelson is but eleven miles. The two 
positions were so important to the enemy, as he saw 
his interest, that it was natural to suppose that rein- 
forcements would come from every quarter from 
which they could be got. Prompt action on our part 
was imperative. 

The plan was for the troops and gunboats to start 
at the same moment. The troops were to invest 
the garrison and the gunboats to attack the fort at 
close quarters. General Smith was to land a brigade 


of his division on the west bank during the night of 
the 5th and get it in rear of Heiman. 

At the hour designated the troops and gunboats 
started. General Smith found Fort Heiman had 
been evacuated before his men arrived. The gun- 
boats soon engaged the water batteries at very close 
quarters, but the troops which were to invest Fort 
Henry were delayed for want of roads, as well as 
by the dense forest and the high water in what 
would in dry weather have been unimportant beds of 
streams. This delay made no difference in the 
result. On our first appearance Tilghman had sent 
his entire command, with the exception of about one 
hundred men left to man the guns in the fort, to the 
outworks on the road to Dover and Donelson, so 
as to have them out of range of the guns of our navy ; 
and before any attack on the 6th he had ordered 
them to retreat on Donelson. He stated in his sub- 
sequent report that the defence was intended solely 
to give his troops time to make their escape. 

Tilghman was captured with his staff and ninety 
men, as well as the armament of the fort, the ammu- 
nition and whatever stores were there. Our cavalry 
pursued the retreating column towards Donelson and 
picked up two guns and a few stragglers ; but the 
enemy had so much the start, that the pursuing force 
did not get in sight of any except the stragglers. 

All the gunboats engaged were hit many times. 






The damage, however, beyond what could be repair- 
ed by a small expenditure of money, was slight, ex- 
cept to the Essex. A shell penetrated the boiler of 
that vessel and exploded it, killing and wounding 
forty-eight men, nineteen of whom were soldiers who 
had been detailed to act with the navy. On several 
occasions during the war such details were made 
when the complement of men with the navy was 
insufficient for the duty before them. After the fall 
of Fort Henry Captain Walke, commanding the 
iron-clad Carondelet, at my request ascended the 
Tennessee River and thoroughly destroyed the 
bridge of the Memphis and Ohio Railroad. 




I INFORM ED the department commander of our 
success at Fort Henry and that on the 8th I would 
take Fort Donelson. But the rain continued to fall 
so heavily that the roads became impassable for artil- 
lery and wagon trains. Then, too, it would not have 
been prudent to proceed without the gunboats. At 
least it would have been leaving behind a valuable 
part of our available force. 

On the 7th, the day after the fall of Fort Henry, 
I took my staff and the cavalry — a part of one regi- 
ment — and made a reconnoissance to within about a 
mile of the outer line of works at Donelson. I had 
known General Pillow in Mexico, and judged that 
with any force, no matter how small, I could march 
up to within gunshot of any intrenchments he was 
given to hold. I said this to the officers of my staff 
at the time. I knew that Floyd was in command, 
but he was no soldier, and I judged that he would 
yield to Pillow's pretensions. I met, as I expected, 




no opposition in making the reconnoissance and, be- 
sides learning the topography of the country on the 
way and around Fort Donelson, found that there 
were two roads available for marching ; one leading 
to the village of Dover, the other to Donelson. 

Fort Donelson is two miles north, or down the 
river, from Dover. The fort, as it stood in 1861, 
embraced about one hundred acres of land. On the 
east it fronted the Cumberland ; to the north it 
faced Hickman's creek, a small stream which at that 
time was deep and wide because of the back-water 
from the river ; on the south was another small 
stream, or rather a ravine, opening into the Cumber- 
land. This also was filled with back-water from the 
river. The fort stood on high ground, some of it as 
much as a hundred feet above the Cumberland. 
Strong protection to the heavy guns in the water 
batteries had been obtained by cutting away places 
for them in the bluff. To the west there was a line 
of rifle-pits some two miles back from the river at 
the farthest point. This line ran generally along 
the crest of high ground, but in one place crossed a 
ravine which opens into the river between the village 
and the fort. The ground inside and outside of this 
intrenched line was very broken and generally wood- 
ed. The trees outside of the rifle-pits had been cut 
down for a considerable way out, and had been felled 
so that their tops lay outwards from the intrench- 


ments. The limbs had been trimmed and pointed, 
and thus formed an abatis in front of the greater 
part of the line. Outside of this intrenched line, and 
extending about half the entire length of it, is a 
ravine running north and south and opening into 
Hickman creek at a point north of the fort. The 
entire side of this ravine next to the works was one 
long abatis. 

General Halleck commenced his efforts in all 
quarters to get reinforcements to forward to me im- 
mediately on my departure from Cairo. General 
Hunter sent men freely from Kansas, and a large 
division under General Nelson, from Buell's army, 
was also dispatched. Orders went out from the War 
Department to consolidate fragments of companies 
that were being recruited in the Western States so 
as to make full companies, and to consolidate com- 
panies into regiments. General Halleck did not 
approve or disapprove of my going to Fort Donel- 
son. He said nothing whatever to me on the subject. 
He informed Buell on the 7th that I would march 
against Fort Donelson the next day ; but on the 
10th he directed me to fortify Fort Henry strongly, 
particularly to the land side, saying that he forwarded 
me intrenching tools for that purpose. I received 
this dispatch in front of Fort Donelson. 

I was very impatient to get to Fort Donelson be- 
cause I knew the importance of the place to the 

. i/^Cc 






enemy and supposed he would reinforce it rapidly. 
I felt that 15,000 men on the 8th would be more 
effective than 50,000 a month later. I asked Flag- 
officer Foote, therefore, to order his gunboats still 
about Cairo to proceed up the Cumberland River 
and not to wait for those gone to Eastport and 
Florence ; but the others got back in time and we 
started on the 12th. I had moved McClernand out 
a few miles the night before so as to leave the road 
as free as possible. 

Just as we were about to start the first reinforce- 
ment reached me on transports. It was a brigade 
composed of six full regiments commanded by 
Colonel Thayer, of Nebraska. As the gunboats 
were going around to Donelson by the Tennessee, 
Ohio and Cumberland rivers, I directed Thayer to 
turn about and go under their convoy. 

I started from Fort Henry with 15,000 men, in- 
cluding eight batteries and part of a regiment of 
cavalry, and, meeting with no obstruction to detain 
us, the advance arrived in front of the enemy by 
noon. That afternoon and the next day were spent 
in taking up ground to make the investment as com- 
plete as possible. General Smith had been directed 
to leave a portion of his division behind to guard 
forts Henry and Heiman. He left General Lew. 
Wallace with 2,500 men. With the remainder of 
his division he occupied our left, extending to Hick- 

--'-■-■:~ '■-:■■'' - : ■ ■•'•' 

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man creek. McClernand was on the right and cov- 
ered the roads running south and south-west from 
Dover. His right extended to the back-water up the 
ravine opening into the Tennessee south of the vil- 
lage. The troops were not intrenched, but the 
nature of the ground was such that they were just 
as well protected from the fire of the enemy as if 
rifle-pits had been thrown up. Our line was gener- 
ally along the crest of ridges. The artillery was 
protected by being sunk in the ground. The men 
who were not serving the guns were perfectly covered 
from fire on taking position a little back from the crest. 
The greatest suffering was from want of shelter. It 
was midwinter and during the siege we had rain 
and snow, thawing and freezing alternately. It 
would not do to allow camp-fires except far down 
the hill out of sight of the enemy, and it would not 
do to allow many of the troops to remain there at 
the same time. In the march over from Fort Henry 
numbers of the men had thrown away their blankets 
and overcoats. There was therefore much discom- 
fort and absolute suffering. 

During the 12th and 13th, and until the arrival of 
Wallace and Thayer on the 14th, the National forces, 
composed of but 15,000 men, without intrenchments, 
confronted an intrenched army of 21,000, without 
conflict further than what was brought on by our- 
selves. Only one gunboat had arrived. There was 


a little skirmishing each day, brought on by the 
movement of our troops in securing commanding 
positions ; but there was no actual fighting during 
this time except once, on the 13th, in front of Mc- 
Clernand's command. That general had undertaken 
to capture a battery of the enemy which was annoy- 
ing his men. Without orders or authority he sent 
three regiments to make the assault. The battery 
was in the main line of the enemy, which was de- 
fended by his whole army present. Of course the 
assault was a failure, and of course the loss on our 
side was great for the number of men engaged. In 
this assault Colonel William Morrison fell badly 
wounded. Up to this time the surgeons with the 
army had no difficulty in finding room in the houses 
near our line for all the sick and wounded ; but now 
hospitals were overcrowded. Owing, however, to the 
energy and skill of the surgeons the suffering was 
not so great as it might have been. The hospital 
arrangements at Fort Donelson were as complete as 
it was possible to make them, considering the in- 
clemency of the weather and the lack of tents, in a 
sparsely settled country where the houses were gen- 
erally of but one or two rooms. 

On the return of Captain Walke to Fort Henry 
on the 10th, I had requested him to take the vessels 
that had accompanied him on his expedition up the 
Tennessee, and get possession of the Cumberland as 





far up towards Donelson as possible. He started 
without delay, taking, however, only his own gunboat, 
the Carondelet, towed by the steamer Alps. Captain 
Walke arrived a few miles below Donelson on the 
1 2th, a little after noon. About the time the ad- 
vance of troops reached a point within gunshot of 
the fort on the land side, he engaged the water bat- 
teries at long range. On the 13th I informed him 
of my arrival the day before and of the establish- 
ment of most of our batteries, requesting him at the 
same time to attack again that day so that I might 
take advantage of any diversion. The attack was 
made and many shots fell within the fort, creating 
some consternation, as we now know. The invest- 
ment on the land side was made as complete as the 
number of troops engaged would admit of. 

During the night of the 13th Flag-officer Foote 
arrived with the iron-clads St. Louts, Louisville and 
Pittsburg and the wooden gunboats Tyler and 
Conestoga, convoying Thayer's brigade. On the 
morning of the 14th Thayer was landed. Wallace, 
whom I had ordered over from Fort Henry, also 
arrived about the same time. Up to this time he 
had been commanding a brigade belonging to the 
division of General C. F. Smith. These troops were 
now restored to the division they belonged to, and 
General Lew. Wallace was assigned to the command 
of a division composed of the brigade of Colonel 


Thayer and other reinforcements that arrived the 
same day. This new division was assigned to the 
centre, giving the two flanking divisions an oppor- 
tunity to close up and form a stronger line. 

The plan was for the troops to hold the enemy 
within his lines, while the gunboats should attack 
the water batteries at close quarters and silence his 
guns if possible. Some of the gunboats were to run 
the batteries, get above the fort and above the 
village of Dover. I had ordered a reconnoissance 
made with the view of getting troops to the river 
above Dover in case they should be needed there. 
That position attained by the gunboats it would have 
been but a question of time — and a very short time, 
too — when the garrison would have been compelled 
to surrender. 

By three in the afternoon of the 14th Flag-officer 
Foote was ready, and advanced upon the water 
batteries with his entire fleet. After coming in range 
of the batteries of the enemy the advance was slow, 
but a constant fire was delivered from every gun that 
could be brought to bear upon the fort. I occupied 
a position on shore from which I could see the ad- 
vancing navy. The leading boat got within a very 
short distance of the water battery, not further off I 
think than two hundred yards, and I soon saw one 
and then another of them dropping down the river, 
/visibly disabled. Then the whole fleet followed and 





the engagement closed for the day. The gunboat 
which Flag-officer Foote was on, besides having 
been hit about sixty times, several of the shots pass- 
ing through near the water-line, had a shot enter the 
pilot-house which killed the pilot, carried away the 
wheel and wounded the flag-officer himself. The 
tiller-ropes of another vessel were carried away and 
she, too, dropped helplessly back. Two others had 
their pilot-houses so injured that they scarcely formed 
a protection to the men at the wheel. 

The enemy had evidently been much demoralized 
by the assault, but they were jubilant when they saw 
the disabled vessels dropping down the river entirely 
out of the control of the men on board. Of course 
I only witnessed the falling back of our gunboats 
and felt sad enough at the time over the repulse. 
Subsequent reports, now published, show that the 
enemy telegraphed a great victory to Richmond. 
The sun went down on the night of the 14th of 
February, 1862, leaving the army confronting Fort 
Donelson anything but comforted over the prospects. 
The weather had turned intensely cold ; the men 
were without tents and could not keep up fires where 
most of them had to stay, and, as previously stated, 
many had thrown away their overcoats and blankets. 
Two of the strongest of our gunboats had been dis- 
abled, presumably beyond the possibility of rendering 
any present assistance. I retired this night not 


knowing but that I would have to intrench my posi- 
tion, and bring up tents for the men or build huts 
under the cover of the hills. 

On the morning of the 15th, before it was yet 
broad day, a messenger from Flag-officer Foote 
handed me a note, expressing a desire to see me on 
the flag-ship and saying that he had been injured the 
day before so much that he could not come himself to 
me. I at once made my preparations for starting. 
I directed my adjutant-general to notify each of the 
division commanders of my absence and instruct them 
to do nothing to bring on an engagement until they 
received further orders, but to hold their positions. 
From the heavy rains that had fallen for days and 
weeks preceding and from the constant use of the 
roads between the troops and the landing four to 
seven miles below, these roads had become cut up so 
as to be hardly passable. The intense cold of the 
night of the I4th-i5th had frozen the ground solid. 
This made travel on horseback even slower than 
through the mud ; but I went as fast as the roads 
would allow. 

When I reached the fleet I found the flag-ship 
was anchored out in the stream. A small boat, how- 
ever, awaited my arrival and I was soon on board 
with the flag-officer. He explained to me in short 
the condition in which he was left by the engagement 
of the evening before, and suggested that I should 

^ ^^fi^^?" 




j^/^ I? BATTER^ 




intrench while he returned to Mound City with his 
disabled boats, expressing at the time the belief that 
he could have the necessary repairs made and be 
back in ten days. I saw the absolute necessity of 
his gunboats going into hospital and did not know 
but I should be forced to the alternative of going 
through a siege. But the enemy relieved me from 
this necessity. 

When I left the National line to visit Flag-officer 
Foote I had no idea that there would be any engage- 
ment on land unless I brought it on myself. The 
conditions for battle were much more favorable to us 
than they had been for the first two days of the in- 
vestment. From the 12th to the 14th we had but 
15,000 men of all arms and no gunboats. Now 
we had been reinforced by a fleet of six naval vessels, 
a large division of troops under General L. Wallace 
and 2,500 men brought over from Fort Henry 
belonging to the division of C. F. Smith. The en- 
emy, however, had taken the initiative. Just as I 
landed I met Captain Hillyer of my staff, white with 
fear, not for his personal safety, but for the safety of 
the National troops. He said the enemy had come 
out of his lines in full force and attacked and scat- 
tered McClernand's division, which was in full re- 
treat. The roads, as I have said, were unfit for mak- 
ing fast time, but I got to my command as soon as 
possible. The attack had been made on the National 

Vol. 1. — 20 

306 personal memoirs oe u. s. grant. 

right. I was some four or five miles north of our 
left. The line was about three miles long. In reach- 
ing the point where the disaster had occurred I had 
to pass the divisions of Smith and Wallace. I saw 
no sign of excitement on the portion of the line held 
by Smith ; Wallace was nearer the scene of conflict 
and had taken part in it. He had, at an opportune 
time, sent Thayer's brigade to the support of Mc- 
Clernand and thereby contributed to hold the enemy 
within his lines. 

I saw everything favorable for us along the line of 
our left and centre. When I came to the right ap- 
pearances were different. The enemy had come out 
in full force to cut his way out and make his escape. 
McClernand's division had to bear the brunt of the 
attack from this combined force. His men had stood 
up gallantly until the ammunition in their cartridge- 
boxes gave out. There was abundance of ammuni- 
tion near by lying on the ground in boxes, but at 
that stage of the war it was not all of our command- 
ers of regiments, brigades, or even divisions, who had 
been educated up to the point of seeing that their 
men were constantly supplied with ammunition during 
an engagement. When the men found themselves 
without ammunition they could not stand up against 
troops who seemed to have plenty of it. The divi- 
sion broke and a portion fled, but most of the men, 
as they were not pursued, only fell back out of range 


of the fire of the enemy. It must have been about 
this time that Thayer pushed his brigade in between 
the enemy and those of our troops that were without 
ammunition. At all events the enemy fell back 
within his intrenchments and was there when I got 
on the field. 

I saw the men standing in knots talking in the 
most excited manner. No officer seemed to be giv- 
ing any directions. The soldiers had their muskets, 
but no ammunition, while there were tons of it close 
at hand. I heard some of the men say that the ene- 
my had come out with knapsacks, and haversacks 
filled with rations. They seemed to think this indi- 
cated a determination on his part to stay out and 
fight just as long as the provisions held out. I 
turned to Colonel J. D. Webster, of my staff, who 
was with me, and said : " Some of our men are pretty 
badly demoralized, but the enemy must be more so, 
for he has attempted to force his way out, but has 
fallen back: the one who attacks first now will be 
victorious and the enemy will have to be in a hurry 
if he gets ahead of me." I determined to make the 
assault at once on our left. It was clear to my mind 
that the enemy had started to march out with his 
entire force, except a few pickets, and if our attack 
could be made on the left before the enemy could re- 
distribute his forces along the line, we would find but 
little opposition except from the intervening abatis. 


I directed Colonel Webster to ride with me and call 
out to the men as we passed : " Fill your cartridge- 
boxes, quick, and get into line ; the enemy is trying 
to escape and he must not be permitted to do so." 
This acted like a charm. The men only wanted some 
one to give them a command. We rode rapidly to 
Smith's quarters, when I explained the situation to 
him and directed him to charge the enemy's works 
in his front with his whole division, saying at the 
same time that he would find nothing but a very 
thin line to contend with. The general was off in an 
incredibly short time, going in advance himself to 
keep his men from firing while they were working 
their way through the abatis intervening between 
them and the enemy. The outer line of rifle-pits was 
passed, and the night of the 15th General Smith, 
with much of his division, bivouacked within the lines 
of the enemy. There was now no doubt but that 
the Confederates must surrender or be captured the 
next day. 

There seems from subsequent accounts to have 
been much consternation, particularly among the offi- 
cers of high rank, in Dover during the night of the 
15th. General Floyd, the commanding officer, who 
was a man of talent enough for any civil position, 
was no soldier and, possibly, did not possess the ele- 
ments of one. He was further unfitted for command, 
for the reason that his conscience must have troubled 

' Jll» 


1 8 





him and made him afraid. As Secretary of War he 
had taken a solemn oath to maintain the Constitution 
of the United States and to uphold the same against 
all its enemies. He had betrayed that trust. As 
Secretary of War he was reported through the north- 
ern press to have scattered the little army the coun- 
try had so that the most of it could be picked up in 
detail when secession occurred. About a year before 
leaving the Cabinet he had removed arms from north- 
ern to southern arsenals. He continued in the Cab- 
inet of President Buchanan until about the ist of 
January, 1861, while he was working vigilantly for 
the establishment of a confederacy made out of 
United States territory. Well may he have been 
afraid to fall into the hands of National troops. He 
would no doubt have been tried for misappropri- 
ating public property, if not for treason, had he been 
captured. General Pillow, next in command, was 
conceited, and prided himself much on his services in 
the Mexican war. He telegraphed to General John- 
ston, at Nashville, after our men were within the 
rebel rifle-pits, and almost on the eve of his making 
his escape, that the Southern troops had had great 
success all day. Johnston forwarded the dispatch 
to Richmond. While the authorities at the capital 
were reading it Floyd and Pillow were fugitives. 

A council of war was held by the enemy at which 
all agreed that it would be impossible to hold out 


longer. General Buckner, who was third in rank in 
the garrison but much the most capable soldier, 
seems to have regarded it a duty to hold the fort 
until the general commanding the department, 
A. S. Johnston, should get back to his headquar- 
ters at Nashville. Buckner's report shows, however, 
that he considered Donelson lost and that any 
attempt to hold the place longer would be at the 
sacrifice of the command. Being assured that 
Johnston was already in Nashville, Buckner too 
agreed that surrender was the proper thing. Floyd 
turned over the command to Pillow, who declined it. 
It then devolved upon Buckner, who accepted the 
responsibility of the position. Floyd and Pillow 
took possession of all the river transports at Dover 
and before morning both were on their way to 
Nashville, with the brigade formerly commanded 
by Floyd and some other troops, in all about 3,000. 
Some marched up the east bank of the Cumberland ; 
others went on the steamers. During the night For- 
rest also, with his cavalry and some other troops, 
about a thousand in all, made their way out, passing 
between our right and the river. They had to ford 
or swim over the back-water in the little creek just 
south of Dover. 

Before daylight General Smith brought to me the 
following letter from General Buckner : 







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