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Title: A campaign in Mexico
Author: Scribner, Benjamin Franklin
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A campaign in Mexico" ***







  “Variety is the spice of life.”






In thus bringing myself before the public as an author, I offer no
apology. I make no pretensions to literary merit. The following
pages were written in the confusion and inconvenience of camp, with
limited sources of information, and without any expectation of future
publication. I offer nothing but a faithful description of my own
feelings, and of incidents in the life of a volunteer. To such as may
be interested in an unvarnished relation of facts, connected with the
duties, fatigues and perils of a soldier’s life, I respectfully submit
this volume.




To the interest of a simple personal narrative, this volume adds the
value of a faithful description of that part of a soldier’s duty in the
camp and field, which is necessarily excluded from official accounts
or general histories. It attracted in manuscript the attention of the
publishers, as a work similar in spirit and purpose to Dana’s “Two
Years before the Mast,” although necessarily less varied in incident,
and less comprehensive in information than that very popular production.

The map of the field of Buena Vista by Lieutenant Green, of the 15th
infantry, is presented as the most accurate yet published, having been
approved by many distinguished officers as a true representation of
the ground, and of the relative positions of the corps of the American
and Mexican armies, on the day of the battle. A careful examination of
the map and references, will afford a clearer idea of the movements of
both, and of the progress of the action, than any of the descriptions
which have yet appeared.

  OF A

_July._--We left the New Albany wharf, July 11th, 1846, at one o’clock
A.M., and are now winding our way to New Orleans, on the noble steamer
Uncle Sam, _en route_ to the wars in Mexico. I am wholly unable to
describe my thoughts and emotions, at leaving my native home, with its
endearing associations, and embarking upon a venturesome career of
fatigue, privation, and danger. I stood upon the hurricane deck, and
could see by the moonlight crowds of my fellow townsmen upon the bank,
and in the intervals of the cannon’s roar, returned their encouraging
cheers. As we glided down, the last objects that met my lingering gaze,
were the white dresses and floating handkerchiefs of our fair friends.
How few of us may return to receive their welcome!

I am becoming more and more impressed with the aristocracy of
office. Those who hold commissions have the best pay, the best
fare, and all the honor. The private performs the work, endures the
privation, and when the toils and sufferings of the campaign are over,
forgetfulness folds him gracefully in her capacious mantle. The cabin
has been reserved for the staff and commissioned officers, while the
non-commissioned and privates enjoy decks the best way they can. I
now realize that when one takes up arms voluntarily in defence of his
country’s institutions, he forfeits his claim to gentility, thereby
rendering himself liable to all kinds of cold, cheerless inattention.
Under a full appreciation of this fact, one of my companions and
myself applied to the Captain of the steamer for a cabin passage. He
granted our request, with the Colonel’s consent, and by paying extra
ten dollars, we were permitted to occupy the last remaining room, and
enjoy the very great privilege of sitting at the same table with our
titled superiors.

There are five companies on board, and all appear in good spirits.
They are following the bent of their several inclinations. At a table
above me is a group of “Greys” busily engaged in signing resolutions
indicative of their disapprobation of the course of Gov. Whitcomb and
his advisers, in officering and forming our regiments. I will not here
try to show how all our plans have been frustrated, nor speak of the
many discouraging circumstances under which we go away; suffice to
say, I willingly signed the resolutions, which will be sent home for
publication. I pause to listen to a song in which Prof. Goff appears to

How pleasing are the impressions made upon the mind by a beautiful
landscape, when advantageously seen and properly appreciated. We have
just passed three islands lying almost side by side, thereby giving
great width to the river. They are indeed beautiful. Viewed in the
distance they appear like three huge tufts of grass.

_12th._--Our noble craft is now ploughing the bosom of the “Great
Father of Waters.” There is something truly sublime in beholding a
mighty river moving on in its course, defying every resistance, and
bearing silently on towards the ocean. There is a tiresomeness in the
scenery upon the banks of this noble stream, when compared with the
diversified character of that found upon either side of the beautiful

It is remarked generally by those among us, accustomed to travelling,
that a more orderly set of men they have never seen than the volunteers
from Indiana. The Greys attract much attention by their jokes and
animation. They lead in the dance, and three of their number take the
front rank in music. Goff with his guitar, Tuley with his violin,
and Matthews with his vocal accompaniments, constitute a musical
trio, possessing power to cheer the soldier’s saddest hour. I have
formed quite an agreeable acquaintance with the clerks of the boat,
who manifest much interest in my future welfare. We have just passed
the mouth of the Arkansas river, and I do not remember to have seen
a single farmhouse for a distance of many miles, that indicates
competency or convenience.

_17th._--After a most delightful trip of five days we arrived at the
great City of the South, and are now encamped on the “Battle Ground”
of the memorable 8th of January. We are almost deluged in water and
mud, as it has rained almost every day since we left home. Having
pitched our tents, several of us not particularly delighted with our
new quarters, sought more congenial lodgings in the city, where we have
remained ever since, but shall rendezvous and proceed to camp in the
morning. In relation to my visit to the city, I shall not particularize
except to say, that I delivered a letter of introduction kindly given
me by a friend, and was joyfully recognized and received.

_18th._--In pursuance of appointment, several of us met next morning at
the Lower Market, negotiated with some Spaniards to take us in their
sail-boat to the encampment, and were soon under way. Having arrived,
we were forced to wade from the river to our tents, nearly to the knees
in mud and water. We were truly in a sorry plight.

Some of the more enterprising in camp have greatly improved their
condition, by laying cordwood in the bottom of their tents. Our
condition is rendered more insupportable from the fact that the
“Barracks” are so short a distance from us, presenting so much of
comfort. We truly envy the regulars.

On the afternoon of the same day we received orders to strike tents and
prepare for embarkation, which we joyfully obeyed. About midnight five
companies were economically stowed under the hatches of the ship Gov.
Davis. Our vessel, together with the Partheon, also containing Indiana
troops, was soon towed onward to the Gulf.

_19th._--We entered the Gulf next morning, and started upon our course
with a fair wind, which, however, was of short duration. It soon
commenced raining, and while I write, head winds impede our progress.
Sea sickness and low spirits prevail. I have not yet been affected by
the former, but am by no means realizing the pleasure trip, which some
of my friends anticipated. If they could spend a night in the hold of
this crowded vessel, they would not dream of citron groves or perfumed

_20th._--In view of bettering my condition last night, I sought new
lodgings by climbing up under the seat of an inverted yawl, where I
slept, or tried to sleep; for the seat was short, narrow and hard,
as my bones can testify. It was also dark and stormy. The wind, rain,
thunder, lightning, and creaking of the ship, as she heaved and surged
through the billows, filled my mind with fear and anxiety, and kept
me the whole night clinging to my narrow perching place. The sky is
now clear, and wind fair, and the whole face of nature changed. We
are gracefully gliding through the white spray, as it glitters in the
sunbeams. The gorgeously tinted clouds are reflected upon the waves, in
all the colors of the rainbow. This is the first time I have enjoyed a
scene at sea, or fully realized being out sight of land. The undulating
motion of the vessel, instead of making me sick, produces real
pleasure. How exhilarating to feel ourselves riding up, up, and down,
down with such regularity, fanned by the breezes that whistle through
the sails!

_21st._--Last evening was spent in organizing a debating club from
the soldier fragments of the Caleopean Society, together with several
new members. Grave and powerful speeches were made, and the question
“Should the pay of volunteers be increased?” was discussed in a
masterly manner. Arguments on both sides were unanswerable, and
consequently unanswered. But as the exercises were got up more for
amusement than improvement, they closed at an early hour, with a
musical finale by the trio performers, who, with the captain of the
ship, and others were convened upon the quarter-deck. We then stretched
ourselves upon the deck, where we slept undisturbed, save when in the
way of the sailors managing the ship.

This morning there appeared to be a general depression of spirits
among the Greys. Complaints were heard from many who before had not
been known to murmur. Our quarters between decks are truly unenviable,
and the heat and stench almost insupportable. We had a fine treat
to-day for dinner. The captain of the Greys had the good fortune to
capture a young shark. It was very acceptably served up in the form of
chowder. The wind is rather more favorable than it has yet been, but
our progress is still slow, and it is the general opinion, it will be
several days before we arrive at Point Isabel. Another and myself spent
a portion of the afternoon upon the quarter deck reading plays from
Shakspeare, after which we were all richly entertained in listening to
the glowing descriptions of Napoleon and his marshals by Headley.

_22d._--We have now fair wind, and are making fine speed. This morning
the reading party was broken up by the fantastic gambols of a shoal
of porpoises. This was quite an incident, and was hailed with much
pleasure by the ennui-burdened passengers. At noon we found by the
altitude, that we were but six hours’ sail from Galveston, and but
half way to our destination. The captain says if the wind continues
favorable, we shall, however, reach there in two days. I have felt
gloomy and low spirited all day; owing, I suppose, to our uncomfortable

_23d._--This has been a miserable day. I do not think I ever spent
one more unhappily. In fact, ever since I have been aboard this ship,
I have had the blues most supremely. The crowd, the confusion, the
dirt, the continual heaving of the vessel, and the dismal wo-begone
countenances, of companions, are well calculated to fill the mind with
reckless despondency.

_24th._--We are now lying at anchor five miles from Brazos Santiago.
About 8 o’clock, last night we witnessed the affecting sight of
a burial at sea. It was indeed a thrilling scene. The moon and
stars shone in all their brilliancy, as if indifferent to human
woes. The body of the dead wrapped in his blanket--the soldier’s
winding-sheet--was brought upon deck. A few words of consolation to
friends composed the ceremony, and the body was lowered into the quiet
deep, food for the “hyenas of the ocean.” I never shall forget the
foreboding pause of the vessel, or the awful splash of the corpse
as it fell into its watery grave. With sad emotions awakened in my
bosom, I lay down upon the quarter-deck, and was ruminating upon the
blighted hopes of this unfortunate youth, when I was aroused by an
approaching storm. I sought shelter in the hold, but the crowd, the
heat, the stench and the groanings of the sick, rendering it almost
insupportable, I soon went aloft, preferring death by drowning to
suffocation. The rain had ceased, but having lost my blanket, I was
forced to take the wet deck and make the best of it. We shall have to
remain on the vessel anchored in the offing, until conveyed ashore by
steamers, to procure which the general and staff have just started in a
long boat.

It is grateful, under any circumstances, to have friends, but how much
additional pleasure it gives to find them among strangers. To find one
here and there, who can sympathize with us in misfortune, and feel
interested in our welfare, when we least expect it, is calculated to
give us better views of humanity. My thoughts were directed to this
subject by the kindness of one of the mates of the ship. One day,
when I was sitting in a rather musing mood, he introduced himself
by familiarly accosting me with “Frank, how goes it?” After some
conversation on matters of present interest, he inquired how I came
to volunteer. I explained to him some of the causes. Among others
I told him the “Spencer Greys” was an independent company formed
several years ago, and chiefly composed of young men of New Albany.
They had attracted much attention by the splendor of their uniform,
their prompt and accurate movements in the drill, and their superior
skill in target firing. They had won many prizes from neighboring
companies, and thereby gained a celebrity, as possessing all the
requisite qualifications to meet the foe, providing courage, that
essential quality in a soldier, was not wanting. The call went forth
for volunteers, and the inquiry was naturally made, “Where are the
Greys?” To say nothing of the many motives that may prompt, pride to
sustain the reputation already gained was sufficient for most of us.
Our company was filled up, and we reported ourselves in readiness to
the governor, and were duly accepted. Here my new friend was called
to supper, and upon declining to accompany him, he kindly insisted I
should receive a package of finely flavored cigars, upon which I can
regale luxuriously.

_25th._--We are still waiting in the most painful suspense and anxiety,
for transportation ashore. For my own part I have made up my mind to
bear everything like a philosopher. I entered upon this campaign,
expecting to meet with privation and suffering; and judging from the
past I am likely to realize my expectations. But trifling officers,
and our very unpleasant situation on this filthy ship, are distresses
that most of us overlooked in our calculation. Hereafter I am resolved
to take everything easy, and complain as little as possible. Surfeited
with bacon and hard mouldy bread, and in consideration of the frequent
invitations from the mate to eat with him, I went to the steward, and
negotiated for one dollar a day to take my meals at the table of the
ship. After dinner I was beckoned to the lower cabin by my friend the
mate, where he brought forth a rare collation, upon which we feasted
like epicures. He opened his chest and showed me many curiosities from
China, Java, and other foreign countries. He also furnished a list
of clothing, handkerchiefs, paper, pencils, and lastly his hammock,
and begged me to take freely anything that would contribute to my
comfort, as it would give him great pleasure to share with me. I
declined receiving anything upon the ground that I was well provided,
and could not carry his hammock, upon the comforts of which he so fully
expatiated. I did, however, accept a superior cedar pencil, and warmly
thanked him for his kind offers. He tells me he is a native of Boston,
and a brother of Thayres, who is interested in the Boston and Liverpool
line of steamers.

_26th._--We are spending another Lord’s day in a heathenish manner.
There are very few among us who spend the day differently from other
days. We have not yet heard from our officers. Most of us have ceased
to make calculations upon the future. How strangely is man subject to
fluctuation of feeling!--with what suddenness the mind can fly from
pleasure to pain! Last night I realized this in its fullest sense. I
was seated astern luxuriating under the influence of a fine cigar,
(thanks to my new friend,) and for the first time witnessed a clear
sunset at sea. It was one of the most glorious scenes I ever beheld.
The whole western sky was illuminated with the most gorgeous colors.
The refulgent sun slowly sinking into the liquid blue until nearly
immersed, sank at once, and a dark mist shot upward in his pathway to
the clouds, which still retained their variegated tints. The whole
scene was sublimely beautiful, and filled me with a joyful enthusiasm.
The sea breeze, and the graceful rocking of the ship contributed to
the effect. At such a moment how sweet is the thought of home, and the
pleasures we long to share with loved ones left behind! These alluring
reflections led me at length to a vein of melancholy, and produced a
complete reaction in my whole feelings, which harmonized well with the
changed and threatening aspect of the gathering clouds. We have just
been thrown into a state of intense excitement by the arrival of a
steamer which has taken three of our companies. The rest will remain
till morning.

_27th._--According to arrangement, the steamer arrived this morning,
to transport us to the island. During the bustle of transfer, we were
attracted to the stern of the ship, where the sailors had caught a
shark, on a hook baited with bacon. Soon a great crowd was collected,
many climbing over the bulwarks and among the rigging to witness the
captured fish. He was at length harpooned and shot, but was so large
we could not conveniently bring it on board. Just as we were leaving
the ship an affray took place between the steward and one of our men,
which was soon participated in by the mates, and many of our party.
Several blows passed, pistols were presented, and for a time serious
consequences were feared, but the trouble was soon settled, when the
mate understood the circumstances of the case. It appeared that one
of our men and an officer claimed the same piece of ice, each one
persisting in having bought it of the steward, to whom it was at last
left to decide. He declared in favor of the officer and gave our man
the lie, &c. Then came the knocks. But as I said before, everything was
soon adjusted, and we separated with perfect good feeling. As we shoved
off the mates and crew (steward excepted) leaned over the bulwarks, and
gave us three hearty cheers. We landed at Brazos Santiago about noon,
having had several hard thumps as we passed the reefs.

_28th._--Yesterday about dark we pitched our tents, and ate our
suppers, after which many of us proceeded to the beach, and enjoyed
the luxury of sea-bathing. The convenience here for this refreshing
operation cannot be surpassed. We waded out on the reefs and turning
our faces to the shore, received the angry surges upon our backs,
or facing them again could see one after another coming at regular
distances, roaring like a cataract fall, and with foam and spray,
dashing onward, like a white plumed army rushing to the charge. In
regular succession they swept over our heads. We were all highly
delighted with the novelty of the scene, which may be enjoyed, but not
described. After rising this morning, the first thing was to repeat
the exercises of last night, which greatly refreshed us, and sharpened
our appetites for the morning meal. The scorching rays of the sun came
down upon us “doubly distilled and highly concentrated;” the effects
of which are, however, greatly counteracted by the sea-breeze. The
thermometer stood yesterday at 90°.

The island is about 3¹⁄₂ miles wide, and very prolific in oysters,
clams, crabs and fish. It may be compared to a sand bar occasionally
diversified by little mounds, which are moved about by the storms that
visit it. I am told that not long ago several families were destroyed
by one of these dreadful tempests. One of our officers, when walking
along the beach the other day, unconsciously trod upon the exposed body
of a man partially decayed, that two weeks ago was buried six feet
in the sand. I am informed that the 1st Indiana regiment will leave
for the Rio Grande in two days. If this be the case, our stay here
will not be long. There are about 5000 troops here, most of whom will
leave before us. We are in fine health and spirits, and continually
congratulating ourselves, upon our escape from the detested ship.

_31st._--I have spent the last two days in running about, and in
writing letters to my friends, one of which I shall here embody in my
journal, as it contains all that has transpired since my last date:

“Having already delayed too long, in hopes of sending you some news,
I will commence at once, as your facilities for obtaining the truth
are not much better than mine. There are so many conflicting rumors
continually floating about the camp, and orders arriving daily
purporting to be from Gen. Taylor, that we are getting to believe
nothing, and to make as few calculations upon the future as possible.
I shall therefore send you nothing in the news line that I don’t think

“The 1st and 3d Indiana regiments left yesterday for the Rio Grande,
the mouth of which is eight miles down the beach. From thence they will
be taken by steamboats up the river. We expect to start on to-morrow.
Some say we will stop at Barita, and others at the head-quarters
opposite Matamoras.

“I am sitting upon the sand and writing this, while some of the
boys are cooking, others washing, and some enjoying the luxury of a
sea bath, hunting shells, oysters, &c. We would all present a novel
appearance, could you see us now. I sometimes almost lose my own
identity. The sudden change of occupation and associations affects us

“The health of the company is good, and all are making the best of
everything. We have but two or three sick, and they are recovering,
except one, and he is very low. He has been prevailed upon to accept
a discharge, and will return home in the first vessel. He is a good
fellow, and all of us regret to part with him.

“General Lane has just returned from an interview with General Taylor,
bearing orders for us to leave in the morning. Another election in our
regiment for Colonel will take place this evening, and, if possible, I
will send you the result.

“The day before yesterday another and myself obtained permission to
visit Point Isabel. We accordingly set out early in the morning. After
crossing the Brazos in a sail-boat, we first visited the hospital
containing the sick and wounded of the 8th and 9th. The rooms were
large and airy, and everything characterized by cleanliness and order.
It is an affecting sight for an American to behold his countrymen
wounded in carrying out the demands of his government, to see them with
their legs and arms blown off, rendering them ever afterwards incapable
of enjoying active life. I was surprised and delighted with the
patience and good humor they exhibited, and with what good feeling the
infantry and dragoons joked and rallied each other. The first instance
was brought about by my addressing one of them with, ‘My friend you
do not look much like a wounded man.’ Said he, ‘I wasn’t much hurt,
but that man sitting on my right, belongs to May’s dragoons, who have
so immortalized themselves. He was shot all over with six pounders.’
The one pointed out pleasantly rejoined. ‘You are jealous because we
fought harder than you did.’ Then turning to us he continued: ‘Yes,
the infantry got into a difficulty and cried, “come and help us;”
that was enough, so we rode up and saved them; now they envy us our
distinction.’ ‘No we don’t,’ replied the other, ‘no we don’t. We
know you did all the fighting. Uncle Sam could not get along without
you.’ ‘Do you see,’ said the dragoon, still addressing us, ‘how they
try to take away our laurels? I will not talk with my inferiors. You
know our privates rank with their orderly sergeants.” We then passed
on to others, who freely answered all our questions. They are all
convalescent with the exception of one prisoner, who was shot in both
legs. One leg has been amputated, and it is supposed the other will
have to be, and that he will not be able to survive the operation. From
here we proceeded to the armory, and were shown some copper balls taken
in the late battles. We then visited Major Ringgold’s grave. It is
enclosed with a wooden fence, the rails of which are filled with holes,
so as to admit musket barrels. These form the palings, the bayonets
serving as pickets. Two boards painted black serve for tombstones.
The newly made graves of volunteers were scattered around, with no
names to distinguish them. Thus we realize all their day-dreams of an
unfading name. We then retraced our steps towards the quartermaster’s
depot, stopping at intervals to speak with the regulars, who were very
courteous and patronizing, evidently feeling their superiority.

“At the outer edge of the entrenchments, we passed by a party of
Mexicans. We could not but exclaim, ‘Are these the people we came to
fight against?’ You can form no idea of their wretched appearance,
without thinking of the most abject poverty and ignorance. They had
brought hides to sell, on carts with wooden wheels, drawn by oxen
with a straight stick lashed to the horns for a yoke. Having arrived
at the quartermaster’s, we were shown some pack saddles, and camp
equipage taken in the two battles. I never was more disappointed with
the appearance of a place than I was with Point Isabel. The government
houses are built principally like barns with canvas roofs. There are in
the place only three or four old Spanish huts, with thatched roofs; the
rest are tents and canvas covered booths. Capt. Bowles has been elected
Colonel by about 100 of a majority. We start for the mouth of the Rio
Grande to-morrow at daylight.”

_Aug. 1._--As I stated in the foregoing letter, W. A. Bowles of Orange
County is now our Colonel elect, Captains Sanderson and Reauseau being
the opposing candidates. I shall here refrain from speaking of the
present defeat, but I am well assured that Sanderson was honestly
elected at New Albany; and yet losing one of the company returns, was
enough to break the election, although the clerks were willing to
swear that Sanderson had a majority! How we have been gulled and led
about by a set of political demagogues, who, regardless of the fearful
responsibility, have forced themselves into positions they possess no
qualifications to fill, with a hope thereby to promote their future
political aggrandizement. O! shame on such patriotism!--According to
orders early this morning, we took up the line of march for the mouth
of the Rio Grande, stopping only to prepare to wade the lagoon. Having
arrived, we pitched our tents to await transportation.

_19th._--By way of relating what has transpired in the last two weeks,
I will copy a letter to two of my relatives, containing most that I
would have journalized.

“I received your letter, and under no circumstances could it have been
more acceptable. The company left the mouth of the Rio Grande on the
3d inst., except one of the lieutenants and myself, who were sent
up the day before with eight men, to guard the commissary stores. We
arrived at this place, Camp Belknap, fourteen miles below Matamoros,
in the night, and remained on duty in the rain and mud with no shelter
for twenty-six hours. When the regiment arrived, we exchanged the duty
of sentinels for that of pack horses. We carried our baggage and camp
equipage, nearly a mile through a swamp, into the chaparel situated on
a slight elevation or ridge. It is universally admitted that a chaparel
cannot be described. I shall therefore attempt it no further than to
give some of the outlines of its character.

“At a short distance it is indeed beautiful, resembling a well
cultivated young orchard. Upon a near approach we find the largest
trees do not exceed in size the peach or plum tree. These are very
crooked and ill-shaped, with pinnate leaves somewhat resembling the
locust. They are called musquite trees, and are scattered about at
irregular distances. The intervals are filled up with a kind of
barren-looking under-growth, which meets the branches of the former.
Prongs of this bush, with sharp steel-colored thorns, shoot out in all
directions, commencing just above the surface of the ground. The rest
of the chaparel is composed of all kinds of weeds, thickly interwoven
with briars, and interspersed with large plats of prickly pear and
other varieties of the cactus family.

“I am conscious I have not done this subject justice. My powers of
description are inadequate, and in order to have a full and clear
conception of a chaparel, you must see and feel it too. Two days
occupied in clearing it away, preparing for an encampment, will give
any one a clear idea of its character. The expression so common with us,

  All bushes have thorns
  All insects have horns,

is almost true without exception. Even the frogs and grasshoppers are
in possession of the last mentioned appendages.

“Our encampment is beautifully situated upon a grassy ridge, bounded
in front by the Rio Grande, opposite Barita, and in the rear by a vast
plain bedecked with little salt lakes. Now if you think this a romantic
spot, or that there is poetry connected with our situation, you need
only imagine us trudging through a swamp, lugging our mouldy crackers
and fat bacon, (for we are truly living on the fat of the land,) to
become convinced that this is not a visionary abode, but stern reality.
I have yet encountered but little else than sloughs, thorns, and the
‘rains and storms of heaven,’ and consequently have not appreciated the
clear nights and bright skies of the ‘sunny South.’ At present we have
finer weather, and it is said the rainy season is nearly over.

“I hope that by speaking freely of things as they are, I am not
conveying the idea that I am discontented. Notwithstanding the
attractions of home, and the greatness of the contrast when compared
with these scenes, I never yet have regretted the step I have taken. We
sometimes think it hard to bear with the ignorance and inattention of
our field officers. The badly selected ground and our frequent want of
full rations may possibly not be attributable to their ignorance and
neglect, but they are certainly the ones to whom we look for redress.
Other regiments around us better officered, fare very differently. I
visited another corps the other day, and to my surprise found that they
had for some time been drawing an excellent article of flour, good
pickles, and molasses. This was the first time I knew that such things
could be obtained, except from the sutlers, who charged seventy-five
cents per quart for the last-mentioned article.

“The more I see of our boys the stronger is my impression that a better
selection could not have been made. Our messmates are all well chosen,
and had we no other difficulties than those incident to a soldier’s
life, a happier set of fellows could not be found. The plans we form to
enliven, not only succeed with ourselves, but attract other companies.
Our quarters are frequently sought by them, to listen to our music, and
look upon our merry moonlight dances.

“I am sometimes struck with the patience and philosophy exercised, even
while performing the humiliating drudgery of the camp. In my own case I
do not know whether it is owing to my selection of companions or not,
but I have never realized the exhaustion and fatigue a description of
our manner of procuring water and provisions would indicate. I have
just returned from one of these expeditions, and will here give you a
faithful description of the schemes resorted to, in order to lighten
our burdens. Another and myself set out with two iron camp-kettles
swung upon a tent pole. Walking about half a mile up the ridge, we
came to the crossing place--the narrowest place of the slough, which
ebbs and flows with the tide. This is unfit to drink on account of
possessing the essence of weeds, distilled by the combined action
of water and sun. In this clime he trifles not, but sends his rays
down with earnestness and energy. Well, after struggling through the
tangled weeds with water nearly to the waist, we in due time arrived
at the bank of the river, dipped up our water and sat down to rest.
We found but little inconvenience in getting water from the stream,
as it was filled to the top of its banks. The country here of late
has been almost inundated. The oldest residents say such a flood has
not been before for thirty years. If there is fatigue in going with
empty buckets, you may readily conceive what is the effect of filled
ones returning. The pole was kept continually twisting by the swinging
motion of the kettles, it being impossible to keep them steady on
account of the irregularities of the road. The difficulties of the
journey were greatly augmented by the depth and tenacity of the mud,
which kept us plunging about, and to our great consternation, causing
us to spill the precious liquid.

“From this description you may think we had a cheerless trip. It was
not so. All was characterized by good humor. We started out crying
the lead, ‘a quarter less twain,’ until we exhausted the vein; then
turning military, the command was given, ‘guide right, cover your file
leader, left, left, left,’ &c. The novelty of the scenery and _genial
influences_ of the sun,--for I know of no other cause,--gradually
excited our minds as we proceeded through the quiet wave, and inspired
us to more noble and exalted demonstrations. Glory became the subject
of our song. Touching quotations from the poets, and inflamed,
impressive recitations, from ardent, patriotic orators and statesmen,
were resorted to, expressive of the high aspirations with which we
set out upon this glorious campaign. We then in lower tones spoke
of the realization of these day-dreams. With feelings thus awakened
we continued our wade. As we approached the land, whether it was
owing to a sensitive feeling upon the shoulders, a general physical
debility, the interesting associations, or the lulling murmur of the
ripples in our wake, I pretend not to say; at any rate ‘a change came
over the spirit of our dreams.’ Our minds reverted to the pleasing
recollections of home. The departed shades of good dinners, and clear,
cool refreshing drinks, rose before us, seducing our appetites from
coarser fare. Thus ended our trip, which, from our own reflections, and
the ludicrous contrasts of the present with the past, wound up with the
heartiest merriment. Safely landed, we drained our boots and proceeded
to tent No. 1., where the water was received by our thirsty messmates
with countenances expressive of joy and satisfaction.

“The day before yesterday we lost one of our comrades, John Lewis, who
died from the effects of measles. Not one, to my knowledge, taken down
here with this disease has ever recovered. He was the second in size in
the company, and possessed a powerful frame and a strong constitution.
We gave him a soldier’s burial. We have obtained discharges for all our
sick who are dangerously ill. There is but a small chance for recovery
here. The disease may be partially overcome, but to regain strength,
when but little reduced, is almost impossible. I don’t wonder that our
hospitals are full when I think of that dreadful slough. For my own
part I was never blessed with better health. Ever since we landed at
Brazos, I have not in a single instance failed to report myself fit
for duty, at roll call every morning. None have escaped better. The
boys say I look so much like a Mexican in complexion, you would hardly
recognize me. I cannot say much about my face, as I seldom get a sight
of it, but my hands look very much the color of a new saddle. You would
be surprised to see the bronzing effect of the sun upon our finger
nails. This climate suits my constitution admirably, you therefore need
give yourselves no uneasiness about my health.

“I do think I never had anything diffuse joy more suddenly through my
heart, than did the arrival of your letter. I had just returned from
wading the slough, loaded with provisions, as the company was going out
on four o’clock drill. I was wet to the waist, and worn out by heat and
over exercise. I perceived one of the lieutenants beckoning to me with
a paper in his hand. As soon as he attracted my attention, he threw it
on the ground, and hastened to join the company, which was marching to
the parade ground. I seized it, and without changing my clothes read it
over, and over again. It was soon spread among my friends, that I had
received a letter, and congratulations from all were showered upon me.
I read the expression, ‘Home; that word is dearer to you than ever,’
which met with a hearty response.

“The camp is continually agitated by rumors brought in by our scouting
parties. The other day the regiment was ordered out, our effective
force computed, and ammunition distributed, on account of one of these

“You say you often wonder what I am doing. I will give you our daily
order of exercises. We are aroused at daylight by the reveille, and
have a company or squad drill for two hours; after which eight men and
a sergeant, or corporal, are detailed for guard. Company drill again
at four o’clock and regimental at five. The intervals are filled up
in getting wood, water and provisions, cooking and washing. Hunting
parties go out sometimes and kill fowls, cattle, wolves and snakes. One
day last week mess No. 14 served up for dinner a rattlesnake seven feet
long. There are many things I should like to write, but having already
spun this letter to an outlandish length, I conclude by thanking you
for the attention and consolation you have given my dear mother. The
affectionate regards of my brothers greatly encourage me. I am writing
this lying on the ground, with my paper on my blanket, and with noise
and confusion around.”

_31st._--If our spirits are depressed, and loneliness and ennui pervade
our feelings, when in good health, how much greater must be the
discontent and gloom that weigh upon us when sick? Nothing could be
more unenviable than my situation for the last two days. Last Thursday
we moved our encampment about a mile further down the river, below
the slough, upon the ground formerly occupied by the 2d regiment from
Kentucky. The heat, rain, violent exertions and other causes combined,
have brought upon me the prevailing disease of the season. I have
suffered from accompanying headaches and fever. My condition has been
much ameliorated by the kind attentions of officers and men. These
examples of generosity are teaching me gratitude, but I place myself
under obligation as little as possible.

If any one should wish to fully appreciate home with its endearing
associations, let him imagine himself a sick soldier, with his body
protected from the ground only by the thickness of his blanket, a coat
or knapsack for a pillow, and the hot scorching sun beating through
his crowded tent. And in the intervals of a burning fever, should his
aching bones find repose in sleep, and in dreams

  “Friends and objects loved
  Before the mind appear,”

yet how fleeting are all earthly joys! The company on the right must
be drilled. He dreams again. He meets in fond embrace the object of
his purest affections, and is about to snatch a warm kiss of welcome.
That detested drum. Complain not. The sentinels must be relieved. I can
write no more now. My head grows dizzy.

_September 2d._--Last night the whole encampment was thrown into the
most intense excitement, by a row which broke out between two companies
of Georgia troops, who were embarking on the steamer Corvette for
Camargo. The combatants were principally Irish, and fought with their
characteristic determination. Although we were some distance from the
river, we could hear distinctly the blows, and demoniacal yells of
the rioters, which were truly appalling. The conflict continued for
two hours, during which several were killed, and wounded, and quite a
number terribly bruised, and others were knocked overboard and perhaps
drowned. Colonel Baker, of the 4th Illinois regiment, marched on board
with twelve men, and demanded peace. He was himself attacked by four
men with bayonets, which he warded off with his scabbard, at the same
time defending himself with his sword, from the attack of the Irish
captain, and succeeded in disabling him, by thrusting his sword into
his mouth, and cutting open the whole side of his cheek. A savage
yell was immediately heard from the mob, and the report of a pistol,
which was aimed at the brave colonel’s head. He fell badly wounded,
the ball entering the back of his neck, and coming out of his mouth.
Then came the cry, “Help, your colonel is shot,--they have killed
Colonel Baker.” This was too much, and we made a simultaneous rush
for our arms. Colonel Bowles ordered out five companies, the Greys
among the number,--and in five minutes we had a line formed around the
boat, and the riot quelled, before the Illinois regiment had arrived.
The exposure of last night has quite laid me up to-day, although the
captain of the guard called me from the ranks, and sent me to my
quarters long before morning.

This has been a solemn day. We had two burials, and it is thought
Colonel Baker will not recover. The whole day has been occupied in the
court martial, which has resulted in sending the officers engaged in
the riot, under arrest, to General Taylor, who is now at Camargo.

_7th._--I am as well as ever again, and on duty. The regiment has just
been mustered by Captain Churchill, for two months’ pay. I have been
gloomy and low-spirited all day. When I reflect upon my situation here
in contrast with that at home, I can hardly realize that I am the same
person. Everything appears like a dream, and I almost believe I am
acting a part in which my own character is not represented. I am thrown
among the temptations of camp, but do not think the effect will be
demoralizing, or its impressions lasting. The more I see of vice and
dissipation, the firmer I believe a moral and virtuous life constitutes
the only sure guarantee of happiness. If permitted to return home, I
shall better appreciate its blessings, be a better friend, a kinder
brother and a more dutiful son. The more I know of the world, the
higher value I set upon friends. Oh! how sweet to enjoy their society,
and feel the capacities of the affections filled with congenial
objects! Here I have nothing to love, no one who knows my heart, or
understands my feelings. When I recall the impressions of mind under
which I volunteered, I have a presentiment that an unhappy fate awaits
me. I doubt whether a warm heart or a flowing soul is a source of more
pleasure than pain to its possessor. * * * *

_14th._--Two others and myself have just returned from a visit to
Matamoros. Three or four days since we left the camp in company with
several of the officers, on board the steamer Whiteville. They were
going to draw pay. The captain of the boat was quite disconcerted to
see so many of us (nearly twenty in all), coming on board. Having got
under way he still insisted he could not accommodate us; that he had
no right to stop for us, and that our orders from the quartermaster
were nothing to him. After much debate in relation to provisions,
starvation, &c., we settled down, and made up our minds for the worst,
which was bad enough, to say the least. The boat lay-to at night on
account of fog and the serpentine windings of the river. We stopped
twice to wood on the way. The ranchos along the banks are principally
owned by the rich, who live in the cities. General Arista’s crossing
was the first place we stopped. There are here about half a dozen
thatched huts, and about twenty “peons” employed in cutting wood, and
hauling it on carts with wooden wheels. Quite a number of us went
ashore and distributed ourselves among them. I went to the farthest
hut, where I was greatly amused by the little urchins. They were
running around the yard perfectly naked, notwithstanding the rain was
pouring down in torrents. I approached the house which contained one
man, two women and three or four children. They all arose, and made
the kindest demonstrations for me to enter. I declined, at the same
time pointing to my muddy feet. They signified “never mind the mud,”
and I walked in and seated myself upon a bench. One of the females
furnished me with a cushion to sit upon, covered with cloth of their
own weaving, which was fringed and ornamented with the brightest and
most showy of colors. We could understand each other very well upon
some subjects, such as the various articles of clothing, and the
prices of the different materials. Everything in the room was of the
roughest construction. The fire was placed at one end of the room upon
a floor, which was of the most primitive order. An aperture in the
roof served for a chimney, which but partially performed the agency.
They were destitute of chairs and bedsteads. Hides spread upon the
ground constituted their beds, an arrangement admirably adapted to
prevent injury upon the heads of children, caused by falling during
the dreamy hours of sleep. I was greatly pleased with the two women,
and with one especially. She appeared to belong to a higher station.
She was apparently about twenty-one, and looked very differently from
any of the sex I had yet seen in that region. Her forehead was high
and intellectual, her countenance was animated and intelligent. In
her ears were large golden pendants, which contrasted strangely with
the rude furniture around. Her beautifully delicate hand did honor
to the glittering jewels encircling her tapering fingers, which were
gracefully entwining the hair of her companion seated by her side.
Perhaps my preference for one was induced by the approving glances from
her “large, dark, eloquent eyes.” She had smoothed for me the cushion,
and flattered me with her looks, and I being in a frame of mind
rather susceptible to kind attentions, my vanity was very naturally
somewhat excited. They were both attired in the simplest manner. A
white chemise, and skirt girded around the waist with a yellow silk
sash comprised the whole arrangement. Their small beautiful feet were
not cramped in stockings or shoes, or their ankles hid with a skirt
too long. Their bosoms were not compressed in stays, or mantled in
cashmeres, but heaved freely under the healthful influences of the
genial sun and balmy air of the sunny south. I approached the mat where
they were sitting, and took the hand of a little girl, and touching
the shoulders of my favorite, I pointed to the child and asked if it
was hers. She shook her head, and looked intelligibly towards her
companion. I then took up the child in my arms and pointed to the
“States,” as if I would take it home with me. They both snatched the
child with great fondness, exclaiming “no, no, no,” to the infinite
amusement of the men who came around me, making every demonstration of
gratification and good will. At this interesting crisis the steamboat
bell summoned me, and by running at full speed I arrived just in time,
while one of the party less fortunate was left behind. He was greatly
frightened, and plead earnestly, but his supplications were in vain.
The captain said he could walk across the country, and get to Matamoros
before we would. I would almost willingly have exchanged situations
with him.

We at length arrived at Matamoros, having been in sight of the town for
five hours before we landed. The river is so crooked that there are
landings on different sides of the city. We registered our names at the
Exchange Hotel. This is a two story brick building with a flat roof,
and an open court in the centre. It was formerly the Mexican custom
house. Our sleeping room was the one through which two cannon balls had
passed, during the bombardment from Fort Brown. The next morning we
rose early and visited the market. The building is about twenty-five
feet high, supported by columns and arches. The whole interior is
divided into stalls, where can be bought meats of all kinds. The
outside is reserved for vegetables and varieties, sold from mats spread
upon the ground, by women with half-clothed figures, and disheveled
hair, presenting an appearance uncouth and repulsive. Bread, milk, pies
and hot coffee are sold in large quantities.

I was surprised to find so many Mexicans still residing in the city.
And was still more surprised to find the alcalde and police officers
performing their respective duties, and all the municipal laws enforced
as formerly. The alcalde, however, receives instruction from Colonel

The dress most common for the women I have already described; I will,
however, mention that they never wear bonnets, but throw a scarf
ingeniously over the head and shoulders. The young men dress with
much taste and neatness, and most of them possess fine figures. They
generally appear in white, and instead of suspenders they wear around
the waist sashes of various colors. The bottoms of their pants are of
enormous width. Some, more showy than the rest, wear blue over the
white, with the outer seam left open to the hips, and buttons down
the side. The hat, which is made of straw or wool, and often covered
with oil-cloth, has its peculiarities. On each side and about three
inches from the top, are fixed little silver knobs in oval plates.
The bands are often made of gold or silver. My thoughts and feelings
while passing through the streets, were in keeping with the novelty of
my situation. Suddenly thrown into a foreign city, where everything
presented an appearance so dissimilar to anything I had ever seen, I
was constantly surprised into expressions of wonder and curiosity. The
side walks are so narrow but two persons can walk abreast. The houses
on the principal streets are built generally of brick, with flat roofs,
brick floors in the first story, and open court yards in the centre.
Those in the less frequented parts of the city, are made of slabs and
stakes driven into the ground, the intervals filled with mud and straw,
and thatched with palmito.

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of this people is their
insatiate thirst for gaming. It amounts almost to monomania. Play
seems to be the sole occupation of a large portion in this place.
Crowds of both sexes may be seen at almost any time in the streets,
and on the banks of the river, betting on their universally favorite
game “monte.” The hotels, restaurants and coffee-houses are infested
with gamblers from all nations. Those boarding at the Exchange follow
their respective games, with all the dignity that characterizes
the professor of law or medicine. Many of them are very showy in
their appearance, courteous in their manner, and agreeable in their
intercourse. To the volunteers, they are attentive and obliging, always
ready to give them any information or advice, and ever ready to rid
them of any extra dimes they may wish to hazard upon their games. It
would doubtless surprise any of our good merchants at home, to witness
the unceremonious rancheros entering their stores, leading in their
favorite mustangs after them,--a general practice here. But it is time
I should close this prosy description. It would be an endless task,
should I attempt to relate all I saw and heard in the church, in the
hospitals, and especially the never-to-be-forgotten incidents on the
lower plaza, and at the fandango.

Just before we unexpectedly embarked for the camp, our attention
was attracted by music, and a crowd, following a company of rope
dancers. We were informed that they came in every Sunday afternoon,
and performed at three o’clock. The party consisted of three men and
one woman on horseback. They were gaudily dressed, very much after
the manner of our circus riders, but, if possible, more grotesque
and showy. The music consisted of a clarinet, a drum and a kind of
ophicleide painted green and red. The pompous cavalcade, supported by
the motley crew of men, women and children, making every gesticulation
of delight, presented truly a rich and ludicrous scene. About this
time the steamer Corvette rounded to with a load of sick volunteers
from Camargo, for the general hospital, and as we expected to leave
immediately, we hastened on board.

I never in my life regretted so much to leave any place after so short
an acquaintance. I was just becoming familiar with the city, and the
next night promised much. That by the way. I went on board without a
murmur, and was soon on my way to the camp.

_20th._--This day has opened upon me fraught with new cares and
responsibilities. This is my twenty-first birth-day. My country can
now fairly claim my influence in sustaining her laws, and supporting
her institutions. When an American youth enters upon the stage of
political life, he should endeavor fully to comprehend the genius
of its government, and the high and glorious privileges it imparts.
His freedom of thought and right of suffrage place him far above, in
point of privilege, any other people, and secure to him blessings not
enjoyed by any other nation under heaven. In view of the inestimable
rights he enjoys, how great are his obligations! How carefully should
he endeavor to avoid party influences; and remain firm in noble
principles, in spite of the deluding sophistry of heartless demagogues.
As he approaches the ballot-box, that sacred guarantee of liberty
when unabused, let him pause and reflect whether he is acting from
impulse or the dictates of reason. I am now twenty-one! We all look
forward with interest to the period! We expect, and we anticipate,
and how often, during the flow of buoyant thought, we map out the way
to future greatness. My feelings are so fluctuating, my anticipations
so frequently unrealized, that no result can be very unexpected. From
this candid and free expression of my feelings, I do not wish to convey
the idea that I am disposed to find fault with the world, or with
the organization of society, but only to indicate more clearly the
constitution of my mind with native sources of unhappiness.

In looking back over a few years in which I have mingled some in
society, I cannot say I have derived no pleasures from the past, that
I have seen no bright spots, or enjoyed no valued objects. It would be
base ingratitude were I to disclaim participation in some delightful
scenes where sympathy and affection warmed kindred hearts. Was this
more than balanced by painful reaction?

The frequent brooding upon saddening subjects, pride, and, I may add,
a sprinkling of patriotism, will, to some extent, account for this day
finding me a soldier upon the borders of Mexico. It is time I should
leave this subject. I drop it at once to recount some of the events of
the day.

Yesterday we were visited by a strong north-wester, so common to the
season in this latitude. It blew so hard that the water from the Gulf
was driven up into the sloughs, causing a swelling from the little salt
lakes of which I have before spoken; but to-day we have a clear sky and
a calm breeze. After breakfast this morning, I went to the sutlers,
and bought a large box of sardines and some claret, as a little treat
for the mess. Our captain and lieutenants were invited to partake, and
toasting my birth-day, they all wished me success. I spent the night
until tattoo, in writing these random reflections, and in thinking what
a contrast the associations of to-day will present, when compared with
three preceding anniversaries of my birth-day.

_October 5th._--For the last two weeks nothing has transpired worthy
of note. The time drags heavily when waiting for orders.--Col. Lane’s
regiment has moved up to Palo Alto, seven miles from Matamoros. General
Lane still drills our regiment, as our colonels are both sick, and one
gone home. Yesterday I wrote a letter, and will copy it in part.

“* * * * * It is Sunday evening, and just about the time you are
returning from church in the afternoon. I fancy I can see the friends
convened in your front room. I often think of your parlor. At this time
what a different scene our camp presents from that of the drawing-room!
Instead of handling gloves, fans, or parasols, our boys are engaged
in brightening their arms and equipments, to surprise the regiment
this evening on dress parade. I am sitting in tent No. 1, and writing
this epistle upon a box that some of the boys have picked up at the
commissary’s. While speaking of the mess I will pronounce a short
eulogium. It is the only one, with perhaps one exception, that has
undergone no changes since we left home. We have had no difficulties,
but have lived together in uninterrupted harmony. We now number six,
one of our mess having been discharged. What a place this for the
study of human nature! Points of character that at home lie concealed
from every one, are here developing every day, and consequently much
change of opinion in relation to character. Even one’s own self changes
views respecting one’s self, in regard to the natural disposition,
motives, and impulses of action. The more I see of a soldier’s life,
the stronger is my conviction that there are worse evils to be feared
than those of the battle field. A retrograde in morals or a total loss
of moral principle, is incalculably worse. Take young men, who, from
their position in society at home, are excluded from the haunts of
strong temptations and the greater vices, and for the most part you
will find them moral from habit, rather than fixed principles, and a
clear discrimination between right and wrong. O! how many such will be
wrecked and ruined in this campaign!

“I am daily realizing the force of that old adage, ‘we know not what
we can do until we try.’ If any one had told me only a few months
ago, that I could with impunity, sleep upon the ground in the open
air, and rise at reveille in the morning, and drill two hours before
breakfast, I should certainly have been at a loss to know of what
kind of materials he thought I was made. Yet these I do almost every
day, and so accustomed am I to a soldier’s couch, I seldom think of a
softer bed. Then, there is poetry in reposing under the direct gaze of
the moon and stars, which, like guardian angels, superintend, while
the watchful sentinel guards around. _Apropos_: we do have some of
the finest nights you ever witnessed. The moonlight is so clear and
bright, we easily see to read by it. And then what a range for the
imagination. How plainly do happy meetings, delightful visions of love
and sympathy, rise before us. Under such pleasing emotions we sink into
the most refreshing slumbers, which are only disturbed by the _musical
mosquitoes_ or _industrious ants_. I close this epistle. The drum calls
to parade.”

_31st._--The only apology I offer for such a distance between dates,
is the absence of anything worthy of relation. I have occupied a part
of the interim in writing letters, and as they contain the little of
incident transpiring, I will copy another in part.

“As a good opportunity presents itself to send you a few lines, I will
avail myself of it, although it is very disagreeable to write with a
strong northerly sweeping over, blowing sand and dirt in the eyes, and
covering the paper. I received your last letter, and I assure you it
gave me great pleasure to hear you were well, and partially resigned
to our separation. I waited for it so long, I had become used to
disappointment, and thought myself partially hardened and indifferent,
but it has awakened anew all my anxieties. How lonely and melancholy
it makes me feel to see others around reading epistles from their
friends, while I am apparently forgotten and uncared for. Indeed, these
reflections are sources of much unhappiness. Do not think from these
expressions, that our condition is worse than previously. It is greatly
improved since the many unfavorable accounts you have heard from us.
There is not now one among us confined to his tent, and everything
goes on as well as a soldier could expect. My brothers can form no
idea of the encouragement and gratification they afforded me by their
assurances of interest and regard. I can conceive of no incentive to
action greater than to gain their affection and approbation. Assure
them of my kind remembrances. I feel this separation will only tend to
bind us closer together, if we are ever permitted to meet again.

“As the armistice has not yet expired, I cannot with certainty inform
you of our future movements. If the war continues, we expect to move
towards Tampico, where we expect active service, a glorious end or a
wreath of laurels. General Patterson deems it no mark of disrespect to
the Indiana troops, that they have not been pushed forward, nor will it
affect our reputation. Our hospital has recently been greatly enlarged
and improved. Our stock of medicines is very low, but fortunately the
camp was never in a healthier condition. Cease your care for me and
bestow your sympathy upon a needier object. The sick soldier with a
hard bed and burning fever, has a stronger claim upon you. Forget him

“I commenced this letter intending to send it immediately, but shall
not be able to do so for a week or two.”

_10th._--I transcribe here a fragment of a letter to my sister
“----. I do think you have used me shamefully, by not noticing one
of my letters, and I have a great mind to fill this whole sheet with
scoldings. I left home as you know, with but few associates. I have no
friends of my own age with you, that I have any claims upon, or from
whom I have a right to expect any favors. But from you I expected much,
or at least I felt assured you would not forget me. How much I have
been disappointed, you yourself can judge. Your inattention becomes
more unpardonable, when I think of the many subjects of interest you
have to write about. If you would just give a list of the friends
who have called upon you, within the last week, or fill a page with
the innocent sayings of the little ones, it would be hailed by me as
a God-send in this dreary place. I am beginning to feel quite like
an old soldier, and ‘forward, march, guide left,’ and other phrases
of the drill are becoming as familiar as if I had spent years in the
service. We have had quite an excitement in relation to moving, for the
last two weeks. General Lane has received orders to hold this regiment
ready to march at an hour’s notice. Ever since he has drilled it twice
a day. The Tampico fever and rage for Monterey have abated, but still
the general keeps up his two drills a day. The paymaster was here last
week, and paid off all save three companies,--ours one of them. The
money gave out. The health of the company is better than ever, and we
do have some of the greatest jollifications you ever heard of. We get
a couple of violins, and do up dancing to their music _à la Mexicana_.
You would deem it a rich treat to hear the promptings, and attempts at
Spanish, which some of the boys have picked up in the neighborhood,
at the various fandangos. We sometimes have half the regiment about
our quarters. The captain’s marque, like his shop door at home, is the
emporium of anecdote and humor.

“_15th._--Lieutenant Cayce has just arrived from among you, and has
enriched us all. How shall I express my gratitude, for the kind favors
you have shown me? The shirts from my dear mother came just in time.
And although the expression of Falstaff,--‘I have but a shirt and half
to all my company; and the half shirt is two napkins tacked together,’
was not true of us generally, yet I assure you my under ‘tunic’
answered mighty well to the half shirt. Your letter, and those of other
friends are thankfully received. This has been a happy day to us all,
notwithstanding the north-wester. I now take a hasty leave. The bearer
waits for this.”

_21st._--For the last two days we have all been busily engaged in
preparing for, and in celebrating the fourth anniversary of the
Spencer Greys, which came off yesterday in fine style. Our arms and
equipments were all polished and whitened, in the best manner our
limited conveniences would allow. Our fatigue dresses were not so showy
as our handsome uniforms at home, yet we made an imposing appearance,
and attracted much attention, while performing some maneuvers of the
fancy drill, upon our parade ground. One of the paymasters said it was
the finest display he had seen on the Rio Grande. I am told that our
general, in a burst of admiration, said, “I would rather command a
regiment of such boys than be the president.” In fact we did ourselves
great credit both in the field, and target firing. Above all the rest
our beautiful flag was universally admired.

It was a fine day, and everything appeared to good advantage. The
sun once more shone forth with all his refulgence, which contrasted
happily with the cold and dreary weather of the three or four previous
days, during which a strong norther was sweeping over us, blowing down
tents and covering everything with sand. But our birth-day anniversary
was ushered in with an unclouded sky, and a complete change in the
whole face of nature. The whole day proved an auspicious one, as the
paymaster arrived and forked over our seven dollars a month. At night
music and dancing were the order of exercises until tattoo, after
which I took the arm of a messmate and strolled out upon the bank of
the river, where we called up to our minds images of the past, spoke
of home, and drew many interesting contrasts. The pleasures of memory,
how varied they are! How inestimable are the faculties by which we
can enjoy again, former pleasures, and happy unions of the past! I
sometimes think that pleasures retrospective are purer than those of
anticipation or realization. “How grand is the power of thought! My
God! how great it is.” These reflections and our mutual interchanges
of sentiment were at length interrupted by the sound of a guitar,
which emanated from the sutler’s tent, to which we at once proceeded,
and found quite a number of officers, listening to the laudable
performances of our musical trio. We remained by invitation, until the
party broke up, then returned to our quarters.

“_23d._--Dear M ---- I have just returned from a visit to Point Isabel
after letters. Most of the boys were paid for their pains, except
myself. It is an anomaly to me that others around me are continually
receiving epistles from their friends, while I am generally doomed to
disappointment. The party consisted of five. After walking sixteen
miles, we arrived at Brazos Santiago, where we were struck with
the change everything presented. It appeared more like the levee at
New Orleans, than the desert island on which we first encamped. The
government has about one hundred and fifty teamsters and laborers
employed, and whole acres are covered with baggage wagons and army
stores. The harbor is filled with hundreds of vessels. Having
regaled ourselves with a dish of oysters and clams, we took a boat
and sailed to the point. We registered our names at the “Palo Alto
House,”--repaired to the post office, and performed various errands
for the boys. The next morning we witnessed the thrilling spectacle of
the disinterment of the remains of Major Ringgold, for the Baltimore
committee. The coffin was escorted to the quartermaster’s depot, by a
company of regulars. Others formed a procession in the rear, and all
marched to the tune of “Adeste Fideles,” accompanied by the roaring of
one eighteen pounder. Having arrived at the destined place, the body
was removed to a leaden coffin. It was so decayed we could form no
idea of its form or features. After dinner we returned to the Brazos,
and put up at the Greenwood Hotel. During the night there came up a
tremendous storm, which swept over the island driving everything before
it. It was quite amusing to see the barrels and hats, bounding before
the gale. Even part of an old steamboat chimney was started, and rolled
before the wind, faster than a horse could gallop, and was thus driven
as far as the eye could see on the other side into the gulf. A bet was
made upon the comparative speed of the barrel, hat and chimney--the
hat won. Having finished our suppers, we repaired to the theatre. The
Young Widow and Irish Tutor, composed the exercises of the evening,
interspersed with songs and dances. Two or three of the characters
were tolerably well sustained, and one of the mess remarked, ‘It is
as good a theatre as I want to go to.’ The storm continued during the
performances with redoubled fury, and the tide coming up between us and
our lodgings, we were forced to wade it against wind and sand, which
lashed our faces unmercifully. The next morning we started for the
camp, stopping by the way to pick up shells, which I will send you the
first opportunity. The Tampico fever rages higher than ever, and our
general is of the impression, we will not be here six days hence. * *
* * * Messes No. 1 and 13 have this day united into one. We now think
we are the _greatest mess alive_. Every one possesses some peculiarity
of taste and disposition, that affords fun for the rest. Every meal is
attended with the life and jollity of a public dinner.” * * * *

“_22d._--Dear Mother. The letter and clothing you sent me were
gratefully received. You can form some idea of my health, when I tell
you the shirts would not button at the neck by two inches, nor at
the wrist without an effort. In the pants the boys say I look like a
‘stuffed paddy.’ Nevertheless they all answer the purpose.

This has been quite an eventful day. In consideration of having no
extra dinner on the day of our celebration, and this being the birthday
of two of our boys, the combined efforts of messes 1 and 13, were
brought to bear upon the preparation of a sumptuous dinner for the
company. Guests were invited, among whom were many officers of the
brigade and regiment. Everything was got up in a style truly rich
and rare. Cooking was done in a manner unsurpassable. Roast beef,
fish, potatoes, peach pies and pound cake without eggs, constituted
the principal dishes. Cigars and claret, were the accompaniments.
Managers, cooks and waiters, all performed in their happiest way, in
their appropriate departments, and our guests congratulated us upon the
entire success of our efforts.” * * *

_December 5th._--We all thought yesterday, that last night would close
our stay in camp Belknap, as we had received orders to embark on the
first boat, for Camargo, and thence to Monterey. The joyous excitement
this news diffused among us, surpasses any description I can give.
In our company the whole night was spent in music and dancing. Our
musicians acquitted themselves ably. Our captain and others joined in
our merriment. I was on duty as corporal of the police, and as the
officer of the day only ordered me to suppress all riots, and see that
the lights were put out at tattoo, I did not think dancing included, so
I joined in the festivities with an ardor that has rendered me to-day
almost unable to walk, and my head aches as if it would split. “Those
who dance must pay the fiddler.” We have just removed to the river,
where we will await conveyance.

_7th._--Night before last seven companies of the regiment embarked for
Camargo, leaving the two rifle companies and Spencer Greys for the
next boat. We are detained in consequence of the captain refusing to
go on the steamer Enterprise, as it is too small to be safe for three
companies. So the Lanesville Legion took our place, it being a smaller
company. We expected to start next morning, but have been disappointed.

Last night we were thrown into great excitement by the alarm of an
attack from the enemy. Just before dark the general and others thought
they heard sounds of a bugle, in the chaparel on the Mexican side of
the river, supposing them to proceed from the enemy. In consideration
of our exposed position,--there being only one hundred and fifty of
us, with but little ammunition, it was thought prudent to station a
picket around the camp. The three companies were ordered out, and four
cartridges apiece distributed, then marched up to be reviewed by the
general. He told us what he had heard, and other causes which made
our position a dangerous one. He urged the necessity of watchfulness,
saying that we would never have so good an opportunity of showing
what we were made of. Many other things he said, calculated to excite
our attention, then dismissed us charging us to lay near our arms,
and not be taken by surprise. We returned to our tents, and arranged
everything, and lying as directed upon our arms, we made up our minds
to do our best, if we were disturbed before morning. About two hours
after midnight, we were suddenly aroused by a discharge of musketry
from our outpost, and the cry, “to arms, to arms.” In ten minutes the
whole three companies were at the general’s quarters.

I think I know now the feeling one experiences while going into
battle. My emotions this night I never shall forget. When first
aroused I seized my musket and equipments, and rushed from the tent in
the greatest excitement. The firing from the pickets, the universal
rushing, hurry and confusion, the impatient cries of, “make haste, men;
fall in,” etc., made me so nervous that doubtless for a few minutes, my
words were unintelligible. After a short period of agitation everything
was ready. As we were marching out to take our position, it seemed
that this would be a wonderful night in my earthly career, and my fate
was to be decided by my success in the coming conflict. I said within,
be calm and do your duty. I aroused all my energy and decision of
character. I then moved with an unwavering step, and would have given
all my possessions to come in contact with the foe. Our men never
marched better, dressing to the guide as it was shifted, with as much
calmness as when on ordinary drill.

Having formed our line in front of a dense chaparel, a party was sent
out to reconnoitre. Here I had a presentiment that the enemy would not
meet us; that this was not the night for our military laurels to be
secured. Had we met the enemy in the field of battle; had we gained
victory amidst adverse circumstances, how gratifying to ambitious
desire that friends should read eloquent descriptions of our deeds of
chivalry. Great was our anxiety while waiting for the return of the

At length the party came; they reported to the general; the general
addressed us in complimentary terms, expressing his unlimited
confidence in our fidelity and courage. He dismissed us saying our only
enemies here, the wolves, had retired to the chaparel. We returned to
our tents crest-fallen, very few having a disposition to joke or laugh
over this evening’s adventure.

_10th._--At last we have departed from camp Belknap. The place that a
few months ago contained 8000 souls, is now without an inhabitant. I
left this beautiful spot with mingled emotions of pain and pleasure.
Here we had light duties, we had opportunities to hear from home, and
other sources of comfort. On these accounts I confess I left camp
Belknap with regret. But on the other hand it could be no longer said,
they still remain away from active duties and scenes of glory. I
thought of the upper camp and wonders in other lands. On these accounts
I left our old encampment with feelings of delight.

We transported ourselves, our camps and equipments to the river bank;
but how heavily many an hour passed away before the arrival of a
steamboat. We several times laid in provisions and cooked them for the
trip, and several times we eat up our provisions before we started on
our trip. It is said man is a poor economist in domestic matters, and
indeed our conduct on this occasion seemed to prove it.

Well, at last we are on board the steamboat Whiteville, the same upon
which many of us went some time ago to Matamoros. Before its arrival
the three captains drew lots for choice of quarters. Our captain was
successful, and he selected the boiler deck. But the captain of the
steamboat refused to let us occupy the place specified. His plea was
“’Tis unsafe, the boat rolls so.” Accordingly all three companies were
stowed away amidst the filth, noise and confusion of the engine room.
O! ’tis revolting to the feelings of one accustomed to the decency
and luxuries of civilized life, to be herded together like cattle in
some dirty little enclosure, and there treated with the hauteur and
chilling neglect of the most abject slaves. How the hot blood mantles
my cheek when I look at our situation. “The boat rolls so!” A fine
excuse truly! Other boats of no greater strength carry troops upon
the boiler deck; yet _this_ hireling says, _we_ “have no more right
there than his _firemen_.” Behold the sacrifices of the soldier! He
forfeits his self-respect, his sense of right and wrong, his liberty of
speech, his freedom of action, and his rank in society. All this for
the public good, and what is his reward? Why, _one_ ration a day, and
_seven_ dollars a month, the cold indifference of the hireling citizen,
and of the avaricious or ambitious officer, holding in his hand the
regulations of the Army. How many such officers when at home, in
newspaper articles or public orations, give vent to fires of eloquence
and of patriotism. They would shed the _last_ drop of blood for their
_dear_ country! but they seem mighty unwilling to shed the _first_
drop, or why don’t they shed a little reflection for the comfort of the
poor soldier, or why don’t they shed out some of their big salaries for
the advantage of those who have left firesides and friends for their
_dear_ country?

So far as this government boat was concerned, it had this regulation:
“No _private_ shall enter the cabin, or be permitted to sit at the
table,” the money or intrinsic worth of the soldier notwithstanding.
Well, I have this consolation, that I have endeavored to show proper
respect without _truckling_ to office or power. In my intercourse
and associations with officers, I have kept up appearances without
blushing, at the inferiority of my living to theirs. As to the monthly
pay of the volunteer, one of my messmates well expressed himself. “I
hope Congress may not increase our pay to ten dollars, for I never can
be paid with money for the wounds my pride has received.”

By the above remarks let it be understood that I am not finding
fault with the duties of the soldier. I am willing, God knows I am
willing, to do everything in my line of duty. Nor am I opposing rigid
discipline, for I hold that subordination is the life and safeguard
of the army. Yet the soldier has rights that should be protected, and
feelings that should be respected.

_11th._--We arrived at Matamoros this morning, before day. At sunrise,
several of us went up to the city, but saw nothing worthy of notice. On
my return, I stopped at the camp of the 4th Regt. Illinois Volunteers.
There I heard with surprise, that my old friend Sergt. R. C. had been
discharged on account of consumption. His brother sergeant of the same
company had died just before at Camargo.

About noon we shoved out and continued our serpentine windings.
Soon after starting several of us took seats upon the boiler deck,
determining not to be removed, when the captain approached and tapping
me on the shoulder, beckoned me to one side. He pointed below to a
wretched specimen of humanity, and remarked with energy, “Look there,
sir! look there! Would you have me take such men as that into my
cabin?” I replied, “must we all suffer from the imprudence of one man?”
“That’s it! That’s it!” said he, laying his hand on my shoulder. “How
can I distinguish? A whole regiment may suffer from the bad conduct
of five or six men, and one may injure the reputation of a company.”
“But,” said I, “if you had complied with the arrangements made, you
would have run no such risks, nor brought down the indignation of us
all. The Spencer Greys, sir, are gentlemen, and know how to behave
themselves; but you say we have no more right here than your firemen.
I tell you, sir, that if because we are volunteers, we have forfeited
in your estimation all title to respectability, it argues that you have
but little sympathy for us or the cause in which we are engaged.” I was
much surprised to see the calmness with which he took this harangue,
for it was delivered with much excitement. He at once attempted to
defend himself, denying some things and explaining others, but his
efforts were unavailing, for the narrowness of soul was still apparent.
Here others joined us and took part in the conversation, when I soon
after made excuse and left.

About sundown we laid up for the night just above St. Marie. This
little town is composed of several thatched huts, a neat little white
brick house, and a large cotton press. I thought this could not be the
enterprise of the natives, and sure enough, we found that the buildings
were owned by a gentleman from New Orleans. I inquired his name, but
have forgotten it. He sends his cotton into the interior to market.

What fortunes might be made here in the cultivation of cotton. As we
ascend the river whole acres of cotton may be seen uncultivated and
going to waste. Occasionally a few of the indolent natives may be seen
picking a little for their own use, and leaving the rest to rot upon
the ground.

The country now begins to assume a more favorable appearance. The river
banks are higher, and the lands back not so subject to inundation.
I have not seen any hills, or even more gentle undulations since we

_13th._--Yesterday and to-day the time has glided away more pleasantly
than usual. Our officers called a meeting, and decided that we _should_
occupy the boiler deck, and at night have as much of the social hall
and cabin floor as is necessary to lie down.

During the afternoon, in conversation with the captain of the boat, he
spoke at length of the Mexican character, and gave me much information
respecting the natural resources of the country. The conversation
turned upon the war and its effects. Major Ringgold and Colonel Watson
were spoken of. The captain appeared to have been acquainted with them

At night we laid up as usual, when nine of us set out in search of a
“fandango,” which we heard of in the neighborhood. After wandering
an hour we found that we had taken a wrong direction, and commenced
retracing our steps, when we were alarmed by the most unearthly yells
apparently approaching us. The sounds proceeded from a party of young
men mounted upon “mustangs,” on their way to the fandango. We stopped
them and conversed some time by signs, and made known our wishes to
accompany them. They now started ahead signifying to us to follow
after, which we did, imitating their yell of “uh! ah! whoop!” and
extravagant gesticulations. Soon they galloped off on their ponies
beyond our hearing.

Notwithstanding the discouragement, we resolved to proceed. The night
was dark, and the chaparel was gloomy through which was our pathway.
At a rancho we procured a guide, who moved reluctantly till we gave
him a dollar. This made him bound ahead yelling like a madman. Now in
the broad road, now in a circuitous path, through weeds and briars we
followed on and on, until the guide paused and appeared bewildered.
Had it not been for our resolution to attain our object, we should
have turned back. The Mexican gaining confidence, so did we and on we
went. Soon we came to another rancho, where we were beset by myriads
of dogs, but like their owners they soon retreated before our charge.
At length we arrived at our destination, where we were received with
great courtesy by the men, but with fear and trembling by the women.
They had evidently seen but little of the Americans, and doubtless our
being soldiers increased their timidity. It was some time before they
ventured to look upon our countenances, or enter into the dance with us
without considerable reluctance. But our kindness and liberality soon
gained their confidence, for after each set we escorted our partners to
the table, where were sold cakes, hot coffee and cigarritas. Everything
was in the open air. A large circle was formed with benches, and the
dancing went on in the centre. The whole was dimly lighted by lanterns
of oiled paper.

Both sexes were dressed principally in white. Uncleanness in dress, is
not one of the faults of the Mexicans, when we take in consideration
their mode of washing. Without tub, without washboard, they rub their
clothes on a smooth board, laid horizontally upon the ground beside
the stream. Occasionally they take up water in the hand and splash
the garment. Much might be said about the events of this night, but
this book is filling up too fast already. I know not when I shall get
another. Before we started we took leave by shaking hands with them
all. It was quite interesting employment to pass down a line of thirty
girls, squeezing their little hands. They certainly can say “Adios
Señor,” with a smile and “naiveté” almost irresistible. We arrived at
the boat precisely at twelve o’clock. To my surprise I found it was my
night for guard, but it was not too late to perform my duties.

_14th._--Yesterday we passed Reynosa, but the boat not landing we saw
very little of the place.

This morning we got aground, where we were until evening. The Corvette,
coming down, generously stopped and pulled us off, after breaking three
large cables.

_18th._--Well, here we are at last, opposite Camargo on the banks of
the San Juan. Through great patience and tribulation, we have at length
encamped on the most disagreeable spot that might fall to the lot of a
soldier. The sand ankle deep and kept in continual motion by the wind
and constant traveling. It reminds one of the simoom on the desert of
Sahara. Twice to-day I went to Camargo. First as bearer of an order for
new canteens and haversacks; and secondly, for wild mules to be broken
for baggage wagons. We only succeeded in getting five, but must draw
the rest in the morning.

Before I returned to the camp, I attended the funeral of an old Mexican
lady, which to an American was a great curiosity. The procession
followed the priest to the house of the deceased. He was attended by
three little boys with long cylindrical poles of brass. The one in the
centre bearing the representation of our Saviour’s crucifixion; the
other two bore long wax candles. They were dressed in long frocks of
red flannel, and something like white waistcoats, which were intended,
perhaps, to represent wings. On the sides of the priest were two other
boys, with a silver censer and a kind of pot with water and sprinkler.
The shoulders of the priest were covered with a velvet mantle, richly
ornamented with silver. Each one in the procession carried a long
candle with a black ribbon in the middle. After remaining half an hour
in the house, they proceeded with the corpse to the church, accompanied
with singing and music from the flute and violin. The lid of the coffin
was carried at one side, leaving the body exposed all the way. On the
black covering of the lid, was a cross formed with white tape.

In the church the coffin was placed upon a table covered with black
velvet trimmed with silver lace, and a large silver candlestick at each
corner. Immediately in front of this was another table decorated in a
similar manner with lace, and having candlesticks. On this were skulls
and bones lying. The room was handsomely furnished with images of
Christ, the Virgin, and many of the saints. After lighting the candles
they began chanting the service, accompanied by the flute and violin,
which composed the exercises, and lasted more than an hour. The music
ceased only while the priest sprinkled the corpse and moved over it the
incense. They repaired at length to the grave-yard, still chanting and
playing, while the chimes tolled their deep melancholy tones. At the
grave what a sight to behold! The ground was strewed with skull bones
and partly decayed remains of humanity. Every new grave they dig they
disinter a body, though it is not necessary, to make room for another

After a short ceremony the priest retired, followed by the boys. The
coffin was filled with dirt, each one putting in some, and the lid was
then nailed on and lowered into the shallow grave. When covered over,
the soil was beat down with a large stone, and left level with the

As we came back we met another funeral escort, but unlike the first.
The body was uncoffined, unshrouded, and unattended by the pomp of
ceremony, or the lamentation of friends. The dead man was guilty of
poverty. But the _last_ may be _first_.

Having returned to our camp we all entered upon the culinary
preparation of four days’ provisions. To-morrow we shall, if ready,
start for Monterey. If ready, I said; the mules must be shod, and
broken in time for the harness. The right wing may leave us, which we
all hope will not be the case.

The reported deaths to-day of Mexicans in Camargo, was thirteen,
mostly from measles. No wonder this disease is so fatal with Mexican
treatment. When the malady is fairly broken out, they apply cold water
and drive it in, and the consequence is, the patient is driven into
the eternal world. I should like to speak of many more things which I
have seen to-day, but the lateness of the hour, and my weariness will
prevent it. I am now afflicted with the first cold since I left home.
Two items more shall be mentioned. Another was received this evening
into the mess; and it is said the needle-eyed soul of the Whiteville
has been discharged from the captaincy for dissipation, and inattention
to duty.

_19th._--Pursuant to arrangement, we set out to-day for Monterey. We
were awakened before daylight, but we did not start before noon. Many
of us have been in Camargo to-day, to obtain five more mules, and
exchange flour for bread. Our haversacks are stored with four days’
provisions. Here is a list of eatables; 1st, bread; 2d, boiled pickled
pork; 3d, coffee; 4th, salt. Soon we shall realize the fatigues and
trials of a wearisome march. For my future perusal I shall give a
minute description of the sufferings and incidents of our tedious

The road to-day was ankle deep in dust all the way, which nearly
suffocated us. It arose so thick at times, that we could not see the
company in front. We, however, kept up our spirits to the highest
pitch. Bursts of merriment followed the glances and expressions of all.
We were truly an antiquated looking group, with our locks and hair
covered faces whitened with the dust.

About sundown we arrived at our first encampment, having traveled nine
miles. The 1st regiment of Indiana had started in the morning, and had
already pitched their tents. The 3d regiment had gone ahead. I feel
very tired with sore feet and aching bones. A cup of coffee has helped
me somewhat.

_20th._--This morning I arose greatly refreshed, and ready to march
twenty miles, the reported distance to Mier; but before night I felt
very differently, and every step was exceedingly painful. My feet were
badly blistered, and every sudden movement of my arms, was like the
piercing of sharp instruments. These acute pains were occasioned by
the straps and weight of my knapsack, which contained all I possessed.
Fancy to yourself the burden I was bound to support. The cartridge box
with forty rounds of ounce ball cartridges, bayonet scabbard and belts,
the haversack of provisions, canteen with water, musket and knapsack.
Let the stoutest carry such loads twenty miles through dust and hot
sunshine, and I assure you they will gladly stop for the night. The
straps of my knapsack bound me so tight, that I could scarcely breathe.
The pain at times was so excessive that I became bewildered, and all
things seemed to swim around me. But pride forbade complaint and I
jogged on; while others, apparently hardier than myself, gave out, and
had their burdens lightened. It was dark when we pitched our tents in
sight of Mier. After much seeking, sufficient wood was obtained to boil
our coffee, and give light for the writing of these notes.

_21st._--In the morning I felt greatly invigorated. I was quite
disappointed in not getting a better view of Mier, a place that will
long be remembered, in consequence of the awful tragedy which was acted
there. Last night too much worn out to visit it, and this morning took
unexpectedly a route that did not pass through its streets. Oh! the
sufferings of the twenty-first. The sun shone with the power of July,
and the dust how annoying! My nose so sore with blowing that I dare not
touch it; and my lips so blistered that I cannot tell when they are
closed. The heat, dust and salt pork made us so thirsty, and how we
did suffer for want of water! So great was our thirst, that we drank
largely of a pond covered thick with a green scum.

Having trudged nineteen miles we arrived at Cannales’ Run, where
we encamped for the night. Nearly overcome with the march, feet
exceedingly sore, and so scalded with sweat, that they did not look
like flesh and blood. But bathing them in cold water made them much
better. After being seated a few minutes I was so sore and stiff,
that it required almost a superhuman effort to move. But I kept up
appearances, and did not acknowledge the extent of my fatigue. I had
resolved to fulfil the prediction--“I can stand the march!” Great
praise is bestowed upon us by the trains, saying we are the strongest
regiment in the field.

_22d._--What an astonishing effect is produced by a few hours’ sleep.
Last night I stretched my aching, stiffened limbs upon the ground, and
how refreshed this morning and ready to march twelve or fifteen miles
to Point Aguda. My feet are becoming hardened, but after stopping
it is some time before I can walk without great pain; but a little
marching prepares me for jogging on better than ever. The march of the
twenty-second would have been much easier had we not lacked bread. Just
think, half a baker’s loaf at breakfast for eleven men, and no more
till we stopped at night.

Here we had a pleasant camp beside a clear running brook, and near
a beautiful cascade, constructed of stone and cement, in order to
turn the channel through the town. How pitiable is the indolence of
the natives. Such natural advantages are neglected. What a mill seat
is here; yet the poor women crush their corn between a stone roller
and slab, in a barbarous manner upon their knees. What a lack of
enterprise! Two companies of Ohio volunteers are stationed in this

_23d._--This is our fifth days’ march, and about one half way to
Monterey. The 1st regiment keeps before, and discommodes us greatly by
their train. This day I did very well. Feet getting well! Thanks to
cold water!

We pitched our tents near the old Spanish town of Ceralvo, which
bears the impress of an antiquated fortress, and reminds one of the
dilapidated castles we read of in romances. The houses are built of
gray stone, with loopholes for windows. Through the centre of the town
runs a beautiful clear stream, spanned by bridges and arches. There is
also a large cathedral with chimes and a towering steeple. It is said
to be 166 years old. Three companies of Ohio troops are stationed in
this place.

_24th._--This sixth day’s march, the easiest of all. Feet nearly well,
and bones don’t ache so grievously. The beautiful scenery by the way
contributed to my ease in marching.

It was not yet light when we left Ceralvo. As the rising sun cast his
radiant beams upon the mountains on the left, I think I never beheld
anything so beautiful and sublime. The whole chain, as far as the eye
could reach, appeared like piles of burnished silver, shaded out in
delightful golden tinges. I gazed upon this wonderful scenery with such
exalted enjoyment, that I forgot the toils of my journey. How thankful
am I, that in my heart are placed such sources of happiness. How
majestic are the works of God! And what exhibitions are these of his
Omnipotence! At length the mists of the morning were dispelled by the
heating rays of the sun. Then in a short time what a change! Where the
rich magnificence was displayed upon the mountain tops, were huge piles
of rocks reaching up to the clouds. But still was left the imposing
grandeur of the scene.

At a creek about six miles from this encampment, we met an express from
Gen. Lane to Col. Drake of the 1st, and to the Lt. Col. of the 2d Reg.
The former was ordered back; eight of his companies to be stationed at
Matamoros, and two at the mouth of the Rio Grande. I was thankful that
ours was permitted to go on. How my sympathies were aroused in favor of
the First. Many of them received our farewell with tears streaming from
their eyes.

The night of the 24th, we were uncomfortably encamped in the
deserted bed of a river. There was no other water within ten miles.
On a flooring of stones, our supper consisted of coffee and hard
crackers filled with little black bugs. This, of course, was not very
refreshing, after a hard day’s march.

There is but little soil between this and Camargo worth cultivating.
Scarcely a tree to be seen larger than the cherry. The soil is
generally rocky and sandy, in some places having indications of iron.
It produces spontaneously little else than burs, briers, thorns, and
all varieties of the cactus. The prickly pear grows in enormous piles,
more than six feet in height. The bank of this deserted channel is
about forty feet high, composed of large gravel cemented together.

_Christmas._--What a contrast between my situation here to-day and that
at home one year ago. The events of last Christmas I remember well;
but here a year after, far away, encamped in the valley of the Sierra
Madre, having marched all day with our flanks guarded by their stony
peaks. I am on duty to-night, for which a fifteen miles’ march is a
poor preparation. Everything is filled with romance. The sky unclouded,
all bespangled with brilliant stars, and the silvery moon riding forth
in the midst of this beautiful scenery.

_26th._--Having traveled sixteen miles this day, we encamped two miles
beyond Marin, on the bank of a little river. We passed through the town
of Ramus, which is said to be owned by Cannales, the celebrated robber.
In Marin there is a fine cathedral and plaza. The houses of this town
are built of stone and plaster of Paris, in which the country abounds.
Notwithstanding my being up all night previous, I went ahead of the
advanced guard all day. I thought I could get along better at my own

_27th._--And now we are at the Walnut Springs; the celebrated
battle-ground of Monterey! This has been a painful day’s march of
twenty-five miles. In eight days and a half, have we performed our
journey. No infantry ever performed the same distance in less time.
Here we are, four miles from the city, at the camp of old Rough and
Ready, who has just started with his command for Victoria.

This is a beautiful spot, with towering peaks rising majestically all
around. Here are the largest, straightest trees I have seen in the
country, forming a beautiful shade. We were hurried on in consequence
of an order to Col. Hadden, from General Lane, stating that we were to
continue our march to Saltillo, as Santa Anna was reported within two
days’ march of that place. Then, we have still a march of sixty-five
miles before us, having passed over one hundred and fifty already.
After carrying heavier burdens than troops of other states, it may be
supposed we were not very sprightly; yet I feel more able to travel on
the next day, than I did on the third day.

On that evening, being wearied, and having duties to perform, I did
not write all that I wished. Much might have been said about the
beautiful scenery that I beheld. After a hard day’s march it was quite
unpleasant, of course, to hunt wood, carry water, and cook half the
night for the next day. But, in the above instance, we had but little
to cook, our supplies having not arrived from Monterey.

_28th._--Whilst striking our tents this morning, general orders
arrived, granting a day’s respite, as the provisions could not be
secured so soon. Instead of resting, quite a number set out to visit
the city. It is truly astonishing how deceiving is the distance to the
mountains. For three days we have been marching directly towards two
mountain spurs, higher than their neighbors. After a day’s journey,
they seemed no nearer than they did in the morning. The city was four
miles off, yet beyond was a knoll that appeared no more than a hundred
yards distant. The previous evening a number of us started for this
prominence that we might gaze upon Monterey, but soon found out the
deception and returned to the encampment.

The more I examine and reflect about the numerous points of natural
defence around the city, the greater my astonishment how it could
be taken by our little army. But it is useless for me to attempt a
description of scenes connected with the exciting action that was
performed there. More interesting accounts than I can give have been
published in numerous papers of our country.

The first place of prominence which we visited was the cathedral. This
surpasses all edifices of the kind I ever saw in splendor. The images
are clothed and decorated with jewels and precious metals. Some of
the smaller paintings are framed in solid silver. The music from the
harp and deep toned organ is truly enchanting. We visited also the
fortification, the bishop’s palace, and the market. The latter abounded
in sugar cane, sweet potatoes and oranges of the most delicious flavor.

Before our return I met one of our townsmen. He belonged to the
Louisville Legion, who were stationed near Saltillo. His health was
recovered, and by his invitation we visited his quarters, the hospital.
There we saw other acquaintances pale and emaciated by disease. They
grasped our hands with warmth and tearful eyes. It was a touching
scene, and made us all thankful for the preservation of our health.
Our friend accompanied us to our camp and showed the position of the
troops, and manner of attack in the great battle. We were also much
interested in inspecting an extensive tannery. It was so clean and
convenient. There were enormous vats which were hollowed in the solid
rock, and watered by a clear stream running through the yard.

I am conscious I have not done justice to these subjects; but this
evening I am so low spirited, that I cannot write anything with ease.
My companions around are reading epistles from home, while I am
destitute of such consolation. These are unavailing regrets. I must
cease my complaints. Our provisions are come, and they must be prepared
for to-morrow’s march.

_29th._--Before day-light we were up and making ready for Saltillo. As
we passed through Monterey, much attention was attracted by our numbers
and healthy appearance. Having traveled fifteen miles we arrived at
the little town St. Catharine, situated near the mountain in the pass.
It contains about five hundred inhabitants. Near us on the same route,
are encamped three companies of regulars. I suffered but little from
this day’s march; and felt that I could go twice the distance on the
succeeding day, with as little suffering as I endured some of the first

The garden of General Arista near Monterey, must have a passing notice.
It certainly surpasses anything of the kind that I ever beheld. It is
regularly laid out with taste and skill. The earth is raised about
three feet above the walks. Here are flowers of all varieties and
the most fragrant. On each side of the main path (which is made of
plaster, white and smooth), are two large basins with fountains rising
from the centre. But more beautiful still are two pools of water,
the most limpid and transparent, in which may be seen myriads of the
finny tribe. Then there is a clear cool stream flowing through white
cement tunnels, throughout the whole garden. The shady groves of exotic
fruits, the atmosphere laden with grateful perfumes, all conspired
to make it a place of enchantment. Everything appeared so novel, so
beautiful, that I almost fancied it the Garden of Eden.

_30th._--Here we are encamped in the plaza of Rinconida, after a most
fatiguing march of twenty-two miles. The road was broken and rocky, and
the wind blowing to the rear nearly suffocated us with dust. This town
is built of mud, and is half way to Saltillo. To this the armistice
extended. Rinconida signifies secure corner, and is in keeping with
its name, being in the intersection of two ranges of mountains. It
could be well defended by a small force. Tending to and from the town
is a beautiful grove of trees, forming a shady archway above, and is
interspersed with enormous century plants, the stalks of which rise
from fifteen to twenty feet.

Quite an excitement! Arrival of the Great Western, or, the heroine
of Fort Brown. She has every appearance of an Amazon, being tall,
muscular, and majestic in her expression. She won laurels at the
bombardment from Matamoros. She issued out coffee to the men while the
bombs were falling all around her.

_31st._--On the morning of the 31st, we were mustered for two months’
pay; then took up our line of march as usual. Owing to the well nigh
broken-down state of our teams, we marched but twelve miles on the
31st. The road was hilly and dusty, but we arrived at our encampment
in good time; the Greys being the advanced guard. This place is called
the Warm Springs, from the temperature of the water. It is destitute of
tree and bush, for miles around, that could be procured for fuel.

  “_Camp Butler, Jan’y 1st, 1847._


 “How shall I repay you for your very kind letter? You can never know
 how grateful I am for its cheering effects. In fact I never had so
 much need of consolation before, as we have just finished a long
 and wearisome march from Camargo through Monterey to this place. We
 are encamped in the dust, which, with the wind and cold, destroys
 every moment of comfort. Our wood is issued out, two cords to the
 regiment; but when it comes to be divided among the companies, then
 subdivided among the messes, it is separated into small parcels
 indeed. No wonder, then, after marching over two hundred miles, and
 passing through so many comfortable places where other troops are
 stationed, that we should feel disappointed in being quartered in this
 disagreeable place. The effect is visible upon us all.

 “We had been here but a few days when Col. Bowles arrived from the
 States loaded with letters. My dear sister, if you could have seen
 with what eagerness we listened for the announcement of our names, and
 with what avidity we tore open the seals and devoured the contents,
 then you would have known how dear you all are to us, and how lively
 is the interest we take in the associations of our beloved homes.
 I am unable to say how often I have read your letter, but every
 time it appears new and interesting. Unto the never-to-be-forgotten
 friends who so kindly remember me, please give the assurance of my
 increased regard and warmest gratitude. Of my sincerity I promise
 to convince them if we are ever permitted to meet again. We are now
 amongst the foremost troops in the enemy’s country, having pitched
 our tents six miles from Saltillo on the high lands of Mexico, with a
 girdle of mountains around us. Through these there are three principal
 passes. Gen. Wool’s division occupies beyond the city; two companies
 of Kentucky cavalry at Rinconida Pass; and two companies of the same
 regiment at the one on our left.

 “Our discipline here is very strict, as rumor of an attack is
 continually floating about the camp. Last night near midnight an
 express arrived from the city, with orders that a picket guard of
 thirty men should be stationed two miles from the camp on the road to
 the two passes, as a large body of lancers had been discovered in the
 neighborhood. But no further alarm has yet been given.

 “We arrived here on New Year’s day, just as the Louisville Legion
 and the 1st Ohio regiment, were returning to Monterey. We had many
 a welcome recognition of friends in the Legion, and many jokes on
 our bronzed appearance; and allusions made to brighter days, when we
 attended together military encampments, dinners and target shooting;
 little dreaming that such a meeting as this was in store.

 “Yesterday several of us visited a cotton factory not far from the
 camp, which is owned by a Scotchman, who conducts the concern with
 ability. There are fifty girls employed, several of whom are from the
 States. The machinery was imported from New York.

 “We have just received word to garrison the city, in place of General
 Worth’s division. Yesterday they started on their way to join General
 Scott. The 3d regiment has already started, so I must postpone
 finishing till we are moved.

“_18th._--During the interval between these dates, I have been so
employed, that I have not been able to finish these notes. We have
so many duties to perform, that there are few leisure moments indeed
for writing. One hundred men are detailed from each of the Indiana
regiments for guard; besides others to work on the fortifications. Last
night our company was on patrol. We were up all night traversing the
streets and alleys, and every suspicious corner in the city. But there
is so much excitement connected with these duties, that we greatly
prefer them to the monotony of camp life.

“We are now pleasantly situated, having comfortable quarters and good
provisions. The Greys sustain that character which they so proudly bore
at home. Yesterday General Butler remarked to his aid-de-camp, while on
brigade drill, that we were the finest volunteer company he had seen
in the service. Our belts were perfectly white, and our arms brightly
burnished, which made the contrast so perceptible.

“The city of Saltillo is situated on the side of a hill. It has narrow
streets and side walks, which are roughly paved with stone. The houses
are built of stone and mud bricks, whitened over on the outside with
plaster. They have flat roofs. The city boasts of two cathedrals, a
nunnery and four plazas. In the centre of the plazas are fountains
continually playing from the centre of large basins.

“The church and plaza Santiago are truly magnificent, covering a whole
square, and the front beautifully ornamented with columns, arches
and statuary. In one steeple is placed a town clock, and in another
a fine collection of chimes. The plaza, when viewed from the church,
has an imposing appearance. The side walks around lead through arches
supported by columns. There are groves of trees at regular distances,
and fountains in the centre, spouting forth the sparkling liquid into
the air, forming rainbows as it falls in copious showers into the basin
below. But these beauties are but a scanty foretaste of the splendid
magnificence that presents itself when you enter the church. I am
incompetent to give a just description of its solemn grandeur. The
paintings were truly beautiful. Hundreds of images were set in large
cases of glass, and gilded niches richly clothed in satins and velvets,
and decorated with silver, gold and precious stones. The altar in the
sanctum is entirely overlaid with silver, as well as the candlesticks,
censers and other appendages. The religious awe and superstitious
reverence they have for these things are astonishing. As they pass the
cathedral, they take off their hats. At morning, noon and night, the
bells commence ringing, as if the whole town was on fire, and persons
in the streets uncover their heads. Yesterday I saw a woman walking on
her knees over the rough stones to church.

“A portion of my leisure time is agreeably spent with some of my
Mexican acquaintances. I have made some progress in acquiring their
language. Yesterday I dined with them by invitation. The natives
are moving from the city in great numbers, and every day increases
the belief that the town will be attacked. About nine o’clock the
other night, the whole city was thrown into an uproar by an expected
attack. Great were the stir and confusion. As the long roll resounded
from every guard station, the crowds of terrified citizens were seen
hurrying to their homes, closing up their stores and barricading their
doors. The fire was gleaming from the rough stones, as the galloping
steeds were rushing to and fro. The cries, ‘to your quarters, men, the
enemy is upon us!’ added to the commotion and tumultuous disorder.

“In a few minutes our little force was formed on the main plaza, and
after an exciting appeal, were stationed at different points. There
we anxiously awaited the assault, but waited in vain, and were soon
disbanded, as the alarm was occasioned by the firing of the Mexican
sentry upon convicts who were attempting to make their escape. It
appears that Santa Anna had sent an order to the alcalde, requiring him
to liberate the criminals, on condition they would join the army. This
the alcalde refused to do; the prisoners finding this out, raised in
rebellion, which caused our stampede.

  “Yours, &c.”

  _Camp at Agua Nueva, February 12th._

We arrived at this place, on last Saturday, to join General Taylor and
Wool, who recently concentrated their forces here. It is generally
believed that a movement is contemplated upon San Luis Potosi, or

It is quite cold in this elevated situation, and we have suffered
exceedingly, especially within a few days. Last night was the first
snow storm that I saw this winter. We use pitch-pine as wood, and chop
it ourselves upon the mountains, six or seven miles from the camp, by
the road.

We now occupy the post of danger, and know not what is in store for
us. So many reports have been in circulation, that we are almost
indifferent to what we hear, no matter how startling it might appear.
But if we march towards San Luis, we shall have what we have been so
long craving--a fight. Recently I became sergeant, to fill the vacancy
occasioned by Thomas Gwin being made sergeant-major. Being on guard
to-night, these notes are written during the intervals of my duties;
having a cold, and nursing my light, which is kept flickering by the
howling wind without. It is nearly eleven, and time to awaken the
second relief.

_13th._--Last night I was so cold and uncomfortably situated, that
I was incapable of holding my pen, but I have commenced early this
morning, hoping to finish before my companions start away. There
was rain last night, and it don’t seem so cold at present, but the
mountains are still covered with snow. This place is truly romantic,
and presents some of the finest prospects I ever beheld. There is the
extended plain, dotted with white tents, and the huge mountain piles
around excite the loftiest sentiments. If the gorgeousness of the
sunsets could be transferred to canvas, the painter might be called a
wild enthusiast.

Dear sister, in sending you this journal, I am actuated by the
expectation of a long and perilous march. It is well to dispense with
all superfluous weight. Please take care of this till I return, if
I should be so fortunate. I know not whether to ask you to continue
writing, as it is doubtful whether your letters would be received. I
shall hasten to apprize you of our next movement. Remember me to all
my friends, my mother and brothers in particular. My fingers are so
benumbed that I cannot write any more.

_28th._--During last week, I have passed through so many thrilling
scenes, that I am unable to describe them in regular order. Last Sunday
we received orders to strike our tents and prepare to march. Before we
had formed a line, and the command given, “file left,” the most of us
were ignorant of our place of destination. But so soon as we commenced
marching towards Saltillo, there was an end of discussion.

Traveling about sixteen miles, we arrived at Buena Vista. After
pitching our tents, we lay down supperless, for we had neither wood nor
provisions. Scarcely had I fallen asleep, when the news was circulated
that a mail had arrived. Soon after a letter was handed me from my
friend Mrs. W., but, having no light, I was forced to postpone the
reading till morning.

We had scarcely finished our breakfast, when the long roll was beaten,
calling us all to arms, as our picket guard had just arrived with
the intelligence that the Mexican army was approaching. Having packed
our wagon and formed a line, we were marched one and a-half miles
towards the enemy, and stationed on a ridge just behind the narrow pass
in which Major Washington’s battery was placed. There we waited the
approach. The Mexicans had encamped the night before at Agua Nueva,
causing the Kentucky and Arkansas cavalry, who were guarding some
provisions, to destroy them and retreat in the night.

We were greatly indebted to Colonel May and Captain M’Cullough, who
rendered us much good service as spies. The intelligence which they
brought caused us to leave the plains of Agua Nueva for a very strong
and advantageous position.--Whilst we were awaiting the onset, I read
Mrs. W.’s letter over and over again. It was encouraging, and afforded
many topics for contemplation.

Having remained in this position more than half the day, we were
ordered over to another height on the left, near the foot of the
mountain, where we were, during the night, occasionally receiving a
shot from the enemy’s battery. (See Map, Letter D.) Toward evening,
the two rifle companies, from each of the Indiana regiments, commanded
by Major Gorman, who were stationed on the left, upon the side of the
mountain, (see Map G,) were fired upon by an immense body of the enemy,
who had also ascended the mountain. A heavy fire was kept up till dark,
when all was silent, save the echoing of the enemy’s trumpets. I never
shall forget the peculiar melody of those sounds as we lay upon our
arms, hungry, and shivering with cold. It was a prelude to the awful
din of next day.

Before hostilities commenced, a flag of truce was sent by Santa Anna
with dispatches to General Taylor, stating that he was here with
twenty thousand men, and to save loss of blood, demanded immediate
capitulation. General Taylor is said to have replied, “If you want
us, come and take us!” It looked almost like madness, with an army of
four thousand five hundred men, and sixteen small pieces of cannon, to
compete with a force, which all our prisoners, and Santa Anna himself,
agree in being twenty thousand men, and seventeen pieces of cannon--of
which eight were sixteen and twenty-four pounders. What a fearful
difference! Yet that small army of raw, inexperienced volunteers not
only struggled against twenty thousand strong of the flower of the
Mexican army, commanded by one of the ablest generals in the world, but
obtained a complete victory. This I hold to be one of the greatest
achievements upon record.

Before I proceed further, I must confess my inability to give an
accurate description of the whole action. The excitement and interest
I experienced in what was passing immediately around me, occupied all
my attention. I shall, therefore, for my future perusal, detail my own
feelings and actions, together with what came under my own observation
during the hazardous conflict.

At sunrise, on the following day, the roaring of the enemy’s cannon
announced the commencement of hostilities. A heavy fire was opened upon
our riflemen upon the mountain, but they returned it in a handsome
style. They were reinforced by a part of the 2d Illinois regiment and
Kentucky cavalry, but still the odds were greatly against them. The
whole mountain side, as far as the eye could reach, glittered with the
enemy’s bayonets and lances.

It was about nine o’clock in the morning when our regiment and a
battery of three pieces, commanded by Lieut. O’Brien, marched out
towards the battery which had been playing against us during the
night and morning. We formed a line in front of three regiments of
Mexico’s oldest soldiers (see Map O). It was an awful moment to face
the thousands of veterans in solid column, with their gaudy uniforms
and showy banners. But we had no time for admiration; for, before our
line was formed, they had fired two rounds, which we soon returned
in right good earnest. I was at my post in the rank of file closers,
and was urging the men to form in their proper places, when Captain
Sanderson cried out, “Never mind, Frank, fire away!” which I did, with
all possible haste. About this time, the battery on our left (see Map,
Letters M, B), opened upon us a deadly fire of grape, which raked our
flank with terrible effect; still we stood front to front, and poured
our fire upon the infantry, which did us but little injury, as they
shot too high. But the battery on our left galled us exceedingly.
It appeared as if we had purposely halted in their exact range, and
the whole atmosphere resounded with the whizzing shot that came with
increasing precision. Apollos Stephens was the first of the Greys to
fall. He received a grape shot in the head, and fell back almost into
my arms. O, how shall I describe the horror of my feelings? There lay
quivering in death one of my comrades, with his eyes upturned, and the
tears starting from them. It was a sad and touching scene--one that
will never be effaced from my memory. I was loading when he fell,
and compressing my lips, and smothering my emotions, I stepped over
him and fired. Our captain was the next to fall, exclaiming “_I’ve
got it, boys!_” A grape shot had struck his scabbard, which saved his
life. Being ready to fire again, I stepped into a vacant place in the
ranks, where I continued to load and fire without noticing anything
around. The only thought I remember to have had was, “What a wonder
I did not receive Captain Sanderson’s shot, as I was next to him on
the same line! so the ball must have passed me before it struck him.”
All was hurry and excitement, each working hard and doing his best.
Occasionally a cannon-ball would whistle over our heads, or strike the
ground near us, throwing the rock and dirt in all directions.

We had fired about twenty-one rounds, when I heard some one say, “They
are all retreating!” and turning, I saw that the right wing had gone,
and the left starting. But several who had not heard Colonel Bowles’
order to retreat, cried out, “Halt, men! for God’s sake, stop!” At
this, many of us hesitated; but the retreat was general, and the enemy
fast advancing upon us, led on by a large force of lancers. At length,
Lieutenant Cayre, then in command, remarked, “It’s no use, boys, to
stay here alone; let _us_ retreat!” which we did, with the balls
raining around us, and the lancers at our heels. We rallied, by order,
on the brow of the ridge from which we started in the morning, but were
told to fall back upon the ridge on which we were first formed on the
morning of the 22d. Here many of us met the Mississippi regiment of
riflemen, who had just arrived from their quarters in town.

The more I reflect upon our position in the opening of the conflict,
the more I am at a loss to understand the policy of sending the 2d
regiment against such an overpowering force. We were three-quarters of
a mile from any assistance, except that of the gallant O’Brien, who
with his three little pieces did such great execution.

Our field officers all deny giving the word retreat, and General
Lane, they say, intended to charge. Had he given the word, the charge
would have been made; but how dreadful would have been the slaughter
of our troops. It is unprecedented in the annals of warfare, for
eight companies to rush against a disciplined force of three thousand
infantry supported by twelve hundred lancers. Had we remained fifteen
minutes longer, it is thought not one half of us would have survived.
Their battery was fast getting our exact range, and it is astonishing
that so many of us escaped.[1]

[1] In justice to General Lane who, being ordered by General Wool to
move forward and meet the enemy that were advancing in strong force,
selected this point for their reception--I will state, that since I
have surveyed, with more leisure and coolness, our position, I am
convinced that a more judicious spot could not have been chosen. It was
the only place where our small force could present so large a front as
the enemy, who, with their overpowering numbers upon almost any other
ground, might have surrounded and destroyed us. To show the probability
of success, had the intended charge been made, I will here quote from a
conversation after the battle. General Wool remarked to Colonel Bowles,
in the presence of General Lane, Colonel Curtis, 3d Ohio regiment, and
Major Washington, Light Artillery, that if he had withheld his order,
“Cease firing, and retreat,” and had carried out the intention of
General Lane, to advance, his regiment would have executed one of the
most brilliant things ever done on any field of battle; “for,” said he,
“Santa Anna, in his own official report, remarks, ‘that he had already
passed an order for his forces to retreat, when the enemy, after a most
determined resistance, was observed to give way in great confusion.’”

My object in thus pausing in my description, is to show the position
of our field officers, and why the 2d Indiana regiment scattered
themselves into other regiments. Here, one instance will be related
showing the qualification of Colonel Bowles to command. On the night of
the 22d we were surprised by a body of horsemen, supposed to be lancers
endeavoring to outflank us. This was pointed out to the Colonel, who
called us to attention, and attempted to form us in a line of battle
before the enemy. But, in his ignorance of tactics, he got us with the
“left in front,” and while we were maneuvering to get right, we might
have been cut to pieces. Fortunately, however, the alarm was caused by
some of our own cavalry, who were returning from watering their horses.

At this display of incapacity in the hour of danger, great murmuring
arose amongst the officers, and the men were all unwilling to trust
their honor and lives in his hands. A committee was sent to General
Lane, requesting him to be with us on the following day, which he
promised faithfully to do. Now in these remarks, I do not wish to
express any disrespect to Colonel Bowles, farther than as a military
commander. I believe him to be intelligent, courteous and humane, and
judging of actions during the engagement, I have no reason to doubt
his or Colonel Haddon’s bravery. But who would wonder at our want
of confidence in these officers, after beholding their ridiculous
blunders while on drill? Who would blame the men for preferring other
commanders, when the enemy commenced crowding upon us? One-third of
us joined other regiments, and the remainder rallied under Lieutenant
Colonel Haddon, forming a distinct front as a regiment, and fought with
firmness alongside the Mississippians and 3d Indianians.

After many fruitless exertions to rally his men, Colonel Bowles ordered
those who were near him to join the Mississippians, at the same time
falling in himself. We marched along the ridge to meet a large body of
lancers supported by infantry. We soon opened our fire upon them, and
that, too, in a manner which forced them to retreat, and pursuing, we
halted at intervals, and continued our leaden hail. Having followed
them across two deep ravines, they were reinforced, and came rushing
down upon us like a tremendous avalanche, pouring out upon us their
incessant shot. We fell back across the two hollows, occasionally
halting to fire upon our pursuers.

While in the second ravine, the sun shining with burning heat,
famishing for want of water, and almost overcome with exertions, I
leaned against a rocky precipice, and there made up my mind to die.
Sad and hopeless were my thoughts, when, raising my head, I beheld the
Mexican line firing down upon us. At this I was involuntarily aroused,
and recollecting an expression in Mrs. W.’s letter, “If you should
die, it would kill your mother,” I made an effort for those I loved
and gained the summit. But oh! God! what a merciful preservation! The
balls rained around, scattering death and destruction on every side.
It appeared like the bed under a shot tower, so thick and fast did the
balls hail about us. A man just before me was shot down, and a brave
lieutenant, who so kindly made room for me in his company, fell wounded
behind me, exclaiming, “Give me water! give me a handkerchief!” I gazed
upon his supplicating countenance, but had nothing to relieve him.
Rendered reckless by the sight we had just witnessed, we rallied again
upon the top of the hill, and with the 2d Indiana under Lieutenant
Haddon, opened a terrible fire upon our blood-thirsty enemies. They
soon retreated in the utmost disorder.

Having fled beyond our fire, a detail was sent to explore the ravine
for our wounded. While descending, what a shocking scene presented
itself! The barbarians were cruelly butchering our wounded, and
stripping them of their clothes. But our unerring rifles soon stopped
these atrocious murders. Our success was but poor compensation for the
blood of twenty brave comrades. The poor lieutenant was left naked with
his throat cut from ear to ear.

About this time the city of Saltillo was attacked by two thousand
lancers, from Palamus Pass, commanded by General Minon, but being
unable to face Major Webster’s well-directed battery from the redoubt
fort, were driven back, after endeavoring to join the main army
by passing along the foot of the mountain. Simultaneous with this
engagement, a charge was made by a large body of lancers upon our
baggage and provision train, at the Ranch (see Map, Letter J) Buena
Vista, and were met by several companies of Kentucky and Arkansas
cavalry, who were unable to withstand the shock, and were forced to
fall back. Then the extended line of lancers came rushing down with
their weapons poised ready to murder and rob our wounded, and sack our
wagons. But they were checked by the appalling fire from the Indiana
rifle battalion, who were ordered from the mountain with others who
had rallied there. (See Map, Letter K.) If the latter could be blamed
for retreating thither, they more than balanced it by their coolness
and heroic defence in this instance. So firmly and furiously did they
resist the Mexicans, that the plundering wretches gladly made their
escape, leaving the plain strewed with their dead and dying. They
were now pursued by Colonel May’s squadron of dragoons, who, with two
pieces of Captain Bragg’s battery, had just come up. They were driven
along the foot of the mountain into a gorge, where they joined a force
that the Mississippians, reinforced by the two Indiana regiments and a
twelve-pound howitzer, had been firing upon with great execution. There
we had them in a dreadful dilemma, Colonel May (see Letter U), and the
two pieces on the left pouring forth a destructive fire as they closed
in. Below, on their right, was stationed a battery of three pieces,
commanded by Captain Sherman, (see Letter Z,) emitting without mercy
the messengers of death. Still further to the right was our position,
(see Letter H,) and with our little cannon was opening their ranks at
every fire. At this interesting crisis, just as we were about to obtain
a brilliant victory over a force of more than five thousand strong,
we were ordered to cease hostilities, as a flag of truce had arrived.
There was an immediate cessation on _our_ part, which the enemy
faithlessly took advantage of, by passing out of the gorge, but not
without suffering greatly from the fire which opened upon them, when
their object was discovered.

The greatest portion of the afternoon was spent with these events. The
enemy, now making another desperate effort, came charging down upon us
in all their splendor. We at once formed a V. (See Letter H.) The 3d
Indiana on the right, the Mississippians and 2d Indiana forming the
angle. As we stood awaiting their approach, Colonel Davis cried out,
“Hold your fire, men, until they get close, and then give it to them!”
I never shall forget the imposing appearance of the Mexicans as they
bore down upon us with their immense columns, glittering lances, and
parti-colored banners. There was one company mounted upon white horses,
and wearing brass mounted caps, with red plumes. At first they started
off in a trot, and as they accelerated into a graceful gallop, with
lines accurately dressed, and lances poised for action, within twenty
paces of us, General Lane gave the word--“_Now give it to them!_”
Here I shall fail in description. What language could I use to convey
a vivid impression of the din and crashing thunder of this terrible
collision? How awful was the report and the destruction of our deadly
fire. The enemy at first slackened, then halted and wavered; then
turning toward their battery, on the ridge, they fled, terrified and

It was, indeed, a glorious achievement. Whole platoons appeared to
droop and fall before our unerring shot. It seemed as if every man
felt that he was an American soldier, and that he was individually
responsible for the performance of that hour. And as the victors
pursued the retreating foe, they rent the air with their shouts of
triumph, throwing up their caps, and giving every demonstration of the
highest delight.

I now felt for the first time like exclaiming, “There is something
glorious in the pomp and circumstance of war.” I almost thought that
I could not be killed, and I felt secure when I reflected about the
bloody ravine, and my miraculous escape. General Lane here rode by,
exclaiming, “_We’ll whip them yet!_” He forgot entirely his wounded
arm, and rode about the field cheering and encouraging the men. It
was truly a happy time! Our little cannon had played into them so
effectually, and it was defended so nobly! In a few minutes we were
again facing the foe upon the ridge, near the place where we were
stationed in the morning. (see Letter S.) The enemy had planted there
a heavy battery, (see Letters M and B,) and as we ascended the brow of
the hill, we were warmly received by an incessant fire, both from the
battery and the Mexican reserve of six thousand that were pursuing
the Illinoisians and Kentuckians, who had _heroically_ attacked this
overpowering force. This was the unfortunate charge in which fell the
gallant Hardin, McKee, and Clay;--a trio of mind, heart and courage,
ever to be lamented. (See Letter P.)

We soon, however, nothing daunted, paid them back with interest, and
again the air was eloquent with our victorious cheers. We there fell
back for protection, under the brow of the hill, and calmly listened
to the whizzing shot from the enemy’s battery striking the ground in
front and rear, scattering the stone in every direction. Thus was spent
the remaining portion of the day. Occasionally we would be called to
attention, and marched to the brow of the hill, when we suspected some
demonstration upon our cannon, which was used in silencing the enemy’s
battery. About sundown, the thundering of artillery ceased, and the
conflict of the day was over.

The Mississippians having received orders to repair to their quarters
in town, myself and Lieutenant Kunkle, (who so proudly bore our banner
in the thickest fight,) accompanied them as far as the hacienda. Our
noble banner was executed by the skill and patriotism of the New Albany

Such a night as I spent at the hacienda, God grant that I may never
spend again! What piles of wounded and dying that lay groaning around!
After wandering about among the wagons which were formed into a hollow
square, I came across one of my messmates. Warmly grasping each
other’s hands, we mutually inquired for our comrades. Then came the
mournful tidings of the death of Francis Baily, Warren Robinson, and
Charles Goff, three of my warmest friends, and brightest ornaments of
our company. What a shock was this!--two of our beloved messmates,
by whom, side by side, we had laid together for so many long months
on the soldier’s couch, and with whom we had so often joked, while
around our simple meals! But no more shall we mingle together in such
uninterrupted harmony! I sought among the wagons for my blanket, but it
was not there. I desired no food, notwithstanding I had eaten but a few
pieces of hard crackers since the morning before. I was now becoming
conscious of my excessive weariness. Loss of sleep, violent exertion,
and the rain, which drenched us several times during the day, caused my
bones to ache in every joint. Weary and faint, I resorted to the roof
of one of the houses, hoping to get a little rest, but in this I was
disappointed. I had scarcely begun to occupy a portion of a blanket
kindly offered me by one of my friends, when we were alarmed by an
unexpected charge from the lancers. Great were the excitement and hurry
on the house tops. Soon every one was ready and waiting for the onset.
Thus the night was spent in continual alarms, anxiety and suspense. We
were ordered to lie upon our arms, and five times during the night were
we aroused for the expected assault from the lancers, whose watch fires
gleamed ominously from the mountains around. The sun had hardly arisen
upon the bloody field, when I gladly arose to seek a fire, as my limbs
were benumbed with cold. While seated on a stone near a fire, I was
brooding over my fate, and that of our little army.

Gloomy, indeed, were my thoughts when my eye caught an open letter
lying upon the ground. Picking it up, I read carelessly until I started
at beholding my own name. Soon I found that the letter was written from
my beloved home, by one of my female friends to my departed associate,
Charles Goff. Never did I before so fully appreciate the value of
friends, or a quiet home, away from the tumult of war. “A---- says she
loves her friends.” How did these sweet words sink into my heart, and
what would I not have given to have realized their import! But what
a contrast between my situation and that of my friends! The dead and
the dying, with mangled and bloody features, staring at me, and a day
of deadly strife before us! I felt that my own destiny would soon be
sealed, and resolved to hold out to the last.

If ever permitted to return home and mingle with valued friends, and
enjoy the blessings of peace, doubtless many of the horrors will be
effaced from my memory. But never shall I forget the terrible night
that I passed at the hacienda of Buena Vista.

Having partaken of some refreshment, many of us proceeded to the field
to rejoin our regiment. While wiping out our muskets and renewing our
flints by the way, we were passed by six men, bearing the body of a
wounded companion. Looking over their shoulders, I recognized my old
friend, Sergeant Combs, of the 3d Indiana regiment. The poor fellow had
been shot in the leg, and had lain out in the field all night. In the
morning his naked body was found amidst a plat of prickly pears, with
his flesh penetrated by the long needles. He has since died.

Upon our arrival we heard of the retreat of the Mexican army, and
parties were sent out in all directions for the killed and wounded.
Another and myself obtained leave to seek for the body of Warren
Robinson. The last account we had of him he was in a ravine, completely
exhausted, and some one passing, remarked, “Warren, don’t stop here;
you’ll surely be killed!” He answered, “I can’t help it; I can go no
further; and if I never see you again, you will know where to find me.”
This place was described to us, and we found him accordingly. He was
pierced to the heart by a ball, and robbed of his shoes and stockings,
and the contents of his pockets.

After gazing upon the placid countenance of young Warren, and
reflecting on his blasted hopes of the future, we raised him up,
and with assistance, bore his bleeding body to the summit of the
ridge. Having secured a wagon, a party of us went in search of others
belonging to our regiment. At length we found the horridly disfigured
bodies of Apollos Stephens and Francis Baily. They were stripped
of their clothing, and near the place where they had fallen in the
morning. At first the icy coldness of their naked bodies sent a thrill
of horror at every touch throughout my whole frame: but my firmness
of nerve increased a little as we progressed in filling up the wagon
with our fallen associates. How my blood chills when I reflect on
those dead soldiers stiffened in frightful attitudes, that were heaped
upon one another so promiscuously! On which side soever we turned our
eyes, could be seen friends and foes terribly mangled, and lingering
in torture. Many of the Mexicans would call out “Agua, agua!” and
gulping it down, they would appear resigned to die. And thus the day
was spent in wandering over the bloody field, and burying the dead.
The dead of each regiment were laid together. Our boys were placed
side by side--Robinson sharing the blanket of his college mate Capt.
Kinder. After preserving a lock of each one’s hair, as a memento for
their friends, we fixed a cross made with staves, with their names cut
thereon, and raised over them a pile of stones. Then we fired three
salutes, and with a heavy heart returned to our camp. But wherever
we went, the dead appeared to follow us, and the most solemn silence
reigned around. On one side lay fifty of our killed, all stripped;
and everywhere could be seen the effect of the raging conflict. After
a cheerless supper, we performed the last duties of humanity to our
worthy messmate Charles Goff. It appears that during the retreat he
received a lance wound in the left elbow, and repaired to a stream
below the rancho to quench his thirst and bathe his wound when he was
attacked by five lancers. Seeing him unarmed, they pursued him at full
speed. After chasing him some distance, they overtook him, and Charles,
finding it impossible to save himself, faced the foe and received the
lance in the breast, before assistance could arrive, and died with an
expression of calm resignation lingering upon his countenance. He was
a good soldier, taking pride in the performance of all his duties. As
a Christian he was invulnerable to the temptations of camp. The last
conversation I had with him was just before we marched out to the
battle. I inquired if he had expressed to any one his wishes in case
he should fall. He replied “No!” with great seriousness. “Hadn’t you
better?” said I. “Yes, and now is the time,” he answered. “I wish you
to collect my papers and things, and take them home to my friends; you
know who I mean.” I asked if he just meant those things that might
be preserved as mementos. Here we were called to attention, and he
replied by nodding his head. Then I heard his rallying voice after the
retreat, which was the last I saw of him until he was cold in death. O
how deeply do we feel his loss! Few, indeed, were like him! We buried
him by moonlight on a grassy ridge near the spot where he fell. Several
officers of the brigade and regiment were present.

The next day our scouts brought word that Santa Anna was still at Agua
Nueva, and perhaps would renew the combat. We were ordered to strike
our tents and repair again to the battle-field, where we remained
suffering almost every inconvenience. In my mess there was not a single
blanket, and many of us had lost our knap-sacks with our clothing.
So we were forced to sleep upon a stony mattress with our tents as
coverlids. Even such rest as these could afford was uncertain. Our
dreams were feverish with anxiety, and every hour we expected the long
roll, and our arms were continually near us. The long roll! oh how
terrible the sound! fraught with danger and death! The soldier alone
can appreciate its import! A night or two before, we heard its sounds
with all its horrors.

Others with myself were conversing over a few coals when General Lane
came up, and ordered Colonel Bowles to have the long roll beaten as an
express had just arrived, stating that our picket guard had been fired
upon. This was a fine opportunity to witness its startling effect,
and waking up my mess we looked down the ravine, where so many were
reposing their weary bones. The moon looked down upon us in all her
silvery brightness, save in the gloomy shadow of mighty rocks, which
were piled up stratum upon stratum. Death-like stillness pervaded the
scene, but it was like the silence that preludes the mighty crash of
the avalanche; for now the rolling of a hundred drums spreads from line
to line. In an instant the white coverings are flying in the air, and
the whole army starting to their feet with every variety of expression
visible upon their excited countenances.

After shivering in the cold for an hour, we were permitted to lie down
again upon our arms. Thus the time was spent in continual alarms and
rumors of assault, which was worse than a dozen battles. We were all
anxious to meet the enemy again, to be revenged for their cruelty to
our wounded brethren, and felt that we could fight more effectually,
as we were hardened into indifference by the past, in beholding our
falling comrades. And further, we had a reinforcement of General
Marshall with three eighteen pounders. At length intelligence came that
the Mexican army had taken up their line of march to San Luis Potosi;
when we were ordered immediately to make preparations for our old

It was a melancholy march, as the road all the way for sixteen miles
was strewed with the Mexican dead. On a single spot I counted thirteen
bodies; and at times the scent from the field was almost insupportable.
After an exciting march, we pitched our tents near the spot which we
left a week before; and part of the time since the enemy had occupied,
whose fires were not extinct on our return.

_March 14th._--We received orders last Wednesday to remove back
to Buena Vista, as the water was so bad, and the wind and dust so
disagreeable, that even our horses were affected, causing them to
die off in great numbers. I was on guard the day before, and was not
relieved till the next evening. To remain a whole day in the hot sun
without shelter, and remain up all night in the cold wind, is a poor
preparation for a hard march. The guard went in advance, and upon our
arrival, were posted around the camp, which is situated on a ridge,
sloping from the mountain. There we remained until the tents were
pitched, and a new guard mounted.

We have not yet forgotten the battle. Low spirits, gloom and regret
are everywhere manifest. There are but few who have not to mourn the
loss of friends and relations. Our wounded are all doing well, save
Granville Jackson, the inflammation of whose hand has brought on a
severe fever; and Alfred Goodwin, who, though badly wounded, may
eventually be able to walk.

Much controversy is going with regard to the retreat of the 2d
regiment; but as it can easily be proved that Colonel Bowles gave the
order, the matter will soon be favorably understood. But the subject
gives us great trouble. If our reputation must suffer, it is, indeed,
very discouraging.

General Taylor, the adored of the army and the hero of many battles,
has removed with Colonel May’s squadron of dragoons, Bragg’s battery of
light artillery, and the Mississippi regiment, to Walnut Springs, near
Monterey. We are still under the command of General Wool, who, although
a brave and prudent officer, and a good soldier, falls below “Old
Rough” in gaining the affection of the men.

There are many things I should like to speak of, especially incidents
and personalities connected with the battle, but am now too low
spirited to relate them. We are so inconveniently situated, the wind
and dust so disagreeable, and at times so concerned for our reputation,
that often I become almost hopeless, and hardly care what becomes of
me. The Indiana troops have truly been unfortunate, the 2d regiment
especially. From our first entering the service, we were organized in
a way contrary to our wishes, and officers selected for us, wholly
unqualified for their stations, and even below mediocrity in point of
talent, which rendered them unable to draw the attention of commanding
officers to their regiment. Thus the greater portion of our time was
spent in obscurity, wading the lagoons of Belknap--since which time we
are nothing indebted to our regimental officers for our preferments.
General Lane has made the 2d regiment what it is, and does honor to the
position which he occupies. But I will cease this strain, as I promised
to complain as little as possible.

_April 1st._--We are now comfortably situated, and have less cause of
complaint than at any other time during the service. There are two
tents pitched together for our mess of eight, who live together in
the greatest harmony. Our floor is carpeted with grass, and we have
blankets and provisions in abundance. But still we look with much
solicitude to the time when we shall meet our beloved friends at home.
What a blank is caused by the absence of some of the refinements of
society, and to be so long absent from those we love, with but little
to occupy their places!--I have learned much in the tented field; I
have learned how few are the real wants of man; I have learned to
abstain from luxuries and to suffer privation; I have learned how
important is good female society for the refinement of manners and the
elevation of morals.

All is quiet again, and the excitement attending the expectation of
another attack, has died away. Until recently, the guard duty has been
very heavy, and the troops in constant anxiety, caused by the rumors
in circulation.--Yesterday the whole division passed in grand review
before General Wool and staff. It was truly a splendid sight. Seven
regiments of infantry, accurately dressed upon the same line; two
squadrons of dragoons, and four batteries of flying artillery. The
gaudy uniforms of the general and staff added to the imposing grandeur
of the parade. The camp is generally in good health, and our wounded
doing well. The loss of Goff and Robinson is a severe stroke to the
mess. I assure you we miss them greatly, especially at night, when we
see their vacant places upon the ground.

_May 15th._--During the last two weeks much excitement has prevailed
with regard to the court of investigation, concerning the conduct of
Brigadier-General Lane and Colonel Bowles. General Lane called for an
examination on his own part, and was acquitted with the highest praise.
Colonel Bowles, by request, followed his example, and the charge of
incapacity for performing the duties of his office, and ignorance of
company and battalion drill, were fully substantiated, as well as the
word of giving the order--“Cease firing, and retreat!” This decision,
approved by Generals Taylor and Wool, at once sets at rest all doubts
as to the propriety of our retreat, and no blame can now be attached to
the 2d regiment for that unfortunate event.

Yesterday evening we received the joyful orders to take up our line
of march for the mouth of the Rio Grande, to start on the 24th. The
2d Kentuckians started yesterday; the Ohioans will leave on the 18th;
and the Illinoisians on the 30th.--We have just received a request
from the citizens of New Albany to bring home the four bodies of our
fallen comrades. We had already canvassed the matter, and given it up
as impossible; but now it must be done, and preparations are being
made for their transportation. General Lane, with his characteristic
nobleness of heart, lends a helping hand. The Mexicans are inferior
mechanics, and material is scarce; and we shall have to use tin instead
of lead for coffins, as the latter is not to be had.

The decision of the Court of Inquiry encouraged and animated us all;
and the effect was quite obvious throughout the whole camp. Last night
a number of us were convened around the fire, and were all recalling
incidents connected with the battle. Many amusing anecdotes were
related, two of which I shall record, as examples of great coolness in
the heat of battle.

During the engagement of the rifle battalion on the mountain, a
deer sprang up in the ravine, between the two fires; a backwoodsman
observing it, cried out, “Look at that deer!” at the same time
diverting his aim from the enemy in front, instantly fired, and brought
the animal to the ground. Another happened under my own observation.
When Captain Sanderson fell, badly shocked by a grape shot striking
his scabbard, a man just before him, who was squatted down examining
his flint, seeing the ball fall near, picked it up, and turning to the
captain, who was gasping for breath, threw it towards him, carelessly
remarking, “There it is, Cap.!”

A ludicrous story was told of a party composed of different regiments,
in an eating-house of Saltillo, after the battle. They were drinking,
and relating their wonderful exploits. One in particular was eloquent
upon the daring bravery of his captain. At this crisis, a fellow
who had been unnoticed before in their merriment, advanced from his
corner, and enthusiastically insisted that the captain spoken of was a
brave man, for he saw him charge unarmed upon a presented pistol. The
stranger was invited to drink, then urged to relate the circumstance,
and, after smacking his lips with great satisfaction, he commenced.
“During the fight I retreated to town, and hid in an old bake oven that
stood on the hill, as you enter the city. Well, I hadn’t been there
long, before I spied your captain making for it at full speed. I drew
my revolver, and when he came, cried out to him, ‘Don’t you come here,
or I’ll blow your brains out!’ _But he rushed right in._”

An amusing incident came off the other day, at the mounting of the
guard. A lieutenant, rather too fond of the “Critter,” with a seedy
suit that had evidently not been worn out with brushing, was rejected,
and charged by our worthy inspector-general not to present himself
there again. So the next day _another_ was detailed, not much better
attired. When the inspector perceived him, he rode up, and severely
remarked, “Didn’t I tell you not to come back here?” He respectfully
rejoined: “A slight mistake, colonel, there is one grease spot less on
this hat!”

  “_Camp near Reynosa, June 4th._

“According to general orders, we broke up our encampment at Buena Vista
on the 24th of May, and after a march of ten successive days, over
three hundred miles, we arrived at this place. From this we will take
steamboats to the mouth of the Rio Grande, thence by vessels to New
Orleans, where we will be discharged, and permitted to return to the
endearments of home. It rained during our last day’s march, and has
continued to do so ever since, at intervals.

“Yesterday several of us visited Reynosa, but saw nothing interesting,
with the exception of the funeral of a little girl five years of age.
We were first attracted to the house by music from the drum, clarionet
and violin. When we arrived, we found the child placed upright in the
coffin, and tricked out with finery. On the head was a kind of a crown
of gilt paper; in one hand the figure of a saint, and in the other a
piece of black wax. After many of the family and friends had assembled,
they formed a ring before the door, and commenced dancing and waltzing
in the most unfeeling manner, until the corpse was conveyed to the
church. They bear the death of children with great philosophy, deeming
it no source of lamentation. The more extensive my acquaintance
with this people, the greater my pride and satisfaction in being an
American. The beauty and ingenuousness of their women, the mind and
energy of their men, are so far below those of ours, that we cannot
make a comparison. They plough their fields with a straight stick
running slanting into the ground; never did I see them make a pound of
butter, although they obtain vast quantities of milk; and they justify
their laborious way of crushing corn by saying ‘it makes it much finer
than mills.’”

On the 3d of July, we landed at New Albany, after an absence of a
year. Multitudes of friends and acquaintances stood upon the shore to
await our arrival. The cannon roared to welcome us, and a flowery arch
spanned the street in all its beauty, to cheer us as we entered the
city. On the fifth, we transported to the solemn grave, the remains
of our fellow soldiers. Great was the concourse which followed in
procession, to witness the mournful ceremony. A noble monument will
mark the resting-place of those who fell in battle.

Reader, I will now come to a conclusion. This journal was written for
my own reference and amusement, but I have made some verbal alterations
for your accommodation. Had I more thoroughly revised the style and
arrangement in my manuscript, doubtless fewer errors would have
existed; but it may go forth with its imperfections, for I have neither
time nor inclination to put on a higher polish.

Other companies than the _Greys_, and other regiments than the
_Second_, could not expect a description of all their glorious deeds
from one whose humble position limited his survey and sources of
extensive information. If I have erred in statements, it was of the
_head_, and not of the _heart_. With a clear conscience I have written
what I have written. Brilliant actions, no doubt, were performed at
Buena Vista that will never shine upon canvas, nor glow in the poet’s
song, nor blaze upon the page of history.


Transcriber’s Notes

Errors in punctuation have been fixed.

Page 15: “of the corse” changed to “of the corpse”

Page 32: “kind of opheclide” changed to “kind of ophicleide”

Page 40: “suddenly arroused” changed to “suddenly aroused”

Page 44: “Nothwithstanding the discouragement” changed to
“Notwithstanding the discouragement”

Page 48: “a rout that did not pass” changed to “a route that did
not pass”

Page 58: “the moun ains” changed to “the mountains”

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A campaign in Mexico" ***

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