as I have since learned, became from that moment our friends,
our protectors. Letter of a Mexican Surgeon.
84 ANECDOTES AND INCIDENTS.
In the same part of the field, and about the same time with
Clay, McKee and Hardin, another fell, pierced by a lance,
whose name is worthy of a place on the rolls of fame Pri
vate Alexander Kunze of Company H, 2d Regiment of Illi
nois. The writer was honored with his friendship, and had
an opportunity of knowing him well, being a member of the
same company and his tent mate. His conduct on the field
was most soldierly, cool, calm, deliberate and prompt in obey
ing orders. His courage was conspicuous, even in the mo
ment of his death, when he refused to surrender. Except a
brother in South America, he left no relatives on this conti
nent. His widowed mother lives in Bueckeburg, in Hano
ver, near his native city, Hamburg. He recived a splendid
education at the universities of Jena and Goettingen. He
had been but a year in the United States, when he joined our
regiment at Alton, whither he had come to volunteer from
Wisconsin. His motives in taking this step, were, that he
might serve the country, whose constitution he respected be
fore all other systems of government, and to gratify his curi
osity in a new mode of life, by seeing Mexico and observing,
as he did, with a philosophic eye, the character of her people
and institutions. The writer promised himself much pleasure
in travelling with him through this country. He was twenty
seven years of age, and probably the most learned man in
the army. His knowledge of philology was accurate and
profound. Such was his familiarity with the Latin, that by
one day's examination of a Spanish grammar, he was able to
read the cognate language with facility. Many pleasant hours
have we spent together in rambling over the mountains and
plains of Mexico, while he filled his haversack with new plants
to send to Germany, and which his knowledge of botany
often enabled him to class in the several genera and species.
A better and a braver heart than his never beat its last upon
a field of battle. Letter from a Private.
EXECUTION OF DESERTERS. 85
Execution of Deserters.
On the morning of the 9th September, was hung at San
Angel, sixteen deserters from the American army, who had
taken up arms against their government.* Immediately
after some ten or twelve were whipped, and branded on the
cheek with the letter D. Riley, the chief of the San
Patricio crowd, came in for a share of the whipping and
branding ; and right well was the former laid on by a Mexi
can muleteer, Gen. Twiggs deeming it too much honor to
the major to be flogged by an American soldier. He did
not bear the operation with that stoicism expected.
The next morning four others of the same company were
executed at Mixcoaca, and on the 13th thirty more were
hung upon one gallows at the same place. The thirty were
brought out for execution about the same time that Chapul-
tepec was being stormed ; and Col. Harney, pointing to
that place, told them that they should live long enough to
see the American flag hoisted upon the battlements of that
fortress, and no longer. In a few moments our colors were
raised, and after it was shown to them they were launched
The clergy at San Angel plead hard to save the lives of
these men, but it was in vain. Gen. Twiggs told them
that to Ampudia, Arista and Santa Anna did these men owe
their deaths ; for they had stooped to the low business of
solicitating desertion from our ranks, and had succeeded in
seducing from duty and allegiance the poor wretches who
had to pay so dearly for their crimes.
According to our military laws, Riley could not be hung,
he having deserted from the army before the commencement
of hostilities, but all that could be awarded him was welfl
* These formed a part of trie " Legion of St. Patrick," which was composed
of deserters from the American army, chiefly Irish, having been tempted by
the bribes held out by Santa Anna to fight against their country.
86 ANECDOTES AND INCIDENTS.
Appearance of Gen. Taylor.
Winding down a hill, our column was halted to let a
troop of horse pass. Do you see at their head a plain look
ing gentleman, mounted upon a brown horse, having upon
his head a Mexican sombrero, dressed in a brown olive
colored loose frock coat, grey pants, wool socks, and shoes?
From under the frock appears the scabbard of a sword ; he
has the eye of an eagle, and every lineament of his counte
nance is expressive of honesty, and a calm, determined
mind. Reader, do you know who this plain looking gentle
man is ? No? It is Major General Zachary Taylor, who
with his military family, and a squadron of dragoons as an
escort, is on his way to Victoria. He never has around him
any of the * pomp and circumstance of glorious war,' but
when victory hangs upon a thread, when even the bravest
dread the galling fire, you will find foremost among them all
that brave and gallant general, whose presence alone ensures
a victory. Letter from an officer.
While crossing the plains to Santa Fe, General Kearny
was some distance ahead with the advance guard. One of
the officers belonging to the rear division singled Bob out
and sent him ahead with a letter to the general. When he
came up with them he found them encamped, and Bob
sauntered up to the general's marque.
" We're gettin' along right sharp, general," said he.
"Yes, Sir! " answered the commander.
" I wish you'd jest look at that horse of mine, general,"
said Bob, " and give me your 'pinion how he'll stand the
racket clar through to whar we're goin'."
" Have you a captain at the head of your company ? "
inquired the general.
A NOBLE RECRUIT. 87
" Well, we hev, boss, and he's some punkins, too," an
" Whenever you wish to learn anything in regard to your
movements," said the general, " inquire] of him."
" That's military, is it? " inquired Bob.
" That's military, Sir," answered the general..
" Well, general, they gin me a letter for you, but cuss
me, if I know whether I oughter gin it you in pusson or
send it through your orderly, and so I'll go back and ask
the captain ! "
And back he went, sure enough, with *the letter in his
possession, to the great annoyance of General Kearny.
A noble Recruit. *
In 1846, the Baron Van Winckle, a captain of artillery
in the service of the king of Saxony, arrived in this country,
in the ship Barens, Capt. Flores, from Hamburg ; he was
an accomplished officer and gentleman. At the time of the
Ronge riots in Leipsic, he was in command of the citadel,
and was instructed to summon the Rongites to disperse, and
if they declined doing so, he was ordered to fire upon them.
They refused to abide by his summons, when he fired, and
some two hundred defenceless people were killed. For this
act of obedience he was censured by many people, and by
some of his associate officers was insulted. For these in
sults he sought redress : challenged several of his compan
ions in arms to mortal combat, and killed two of them.
Finding himself in an unfavorable position, and acting in
accordance with the advice of the Minister of War, he took
shipping for the United States, and with the intention of
remaining here till the excitement at Leipsic growing out of
the Ronge riots should subside. He arrived here in March,
was unhappy and discontented, because of the absence of
88 ANECDOTES AND INCIDENTS.
active life, and had resolved to migrate to the copper mines
of Lake Superior. While waiting, the war with Mexico
broke out. He immediately proceeded to a rendezvous,
enlisted in the army as a private, was despatched forthwith
to Texas, and at the battle of Palo Alto was the first man
killed in the gallant charge made on the enemy. He had
many influential friends in the Eastern cities, but he sought
no other station in our army than that of a private soldier.
How they died in Battle.
The following incidents were related by General Pierce,
at a reception dinner given him by the citizens of Concord,
New Hampshire, upon his return from the Seat of War :
There was Sergeant Stowell, who was shot through the
heart at Churubusco. As his last breath flowed, he whis
pered to me, " Do the boys say I behaved well ? If they
do, write home to my people."
Then, there was Sergeant Pike, who had his leg shot off
while advancing alone on a causeway swept by three batteries.
Two amputations, which did not answer the purpose, were
performed, and a third was deemed hopeless. Die he must,
it was thought. " I know better than they do," said he,
"I'll try another, and when they cut it again I hope they will
cut it so that it will stay cut." A third amputation was
performed, and he lived through it. He, with several
others in the same regiment, were printers. In the new
levies the printers exceed by twenty per cent, those of any
other vocation ; and, on account of their intelligence and
high spirit, have proved the most efficient soldiers in the field.
Another cause of the success of our troops, new and old,
was the conduct of our officers ; who, from the highest to
the lowest, led and cheered on their columns. Hence the
disproportion in the loss of officers and men. Hence the loss
THE LATE LEVI GANTT. 89
of that brave and accomplished officer, Col. Ransom. He
kept pressing up, pressing up, till he was shot dead at the
head of his column. The same was true of Col. Martin
Scott, the best marksman in the army- a son of New Hamp
shire. He raised himself above the protection of a wall
a brother officer begged him not to expose himself unneces
sarily, he replied, " Martin Scott has never yet stooped."
The next moment a shot passed through his heart. He fell
upon his back, deliberately placed his cap upon his breast,
and died. Col. Graham, after receiving six severe wounds,
continued at the head of his men, and upon receiving a
seventh, slowly dropped from his horse, and as he fell upon
the ground, said, " Forward, my men ! My word is always
Forward ! " And so saying he died.
The late Levi Gantt.
Among those who have cause to mourn over the losses of
our army in Mexico are the relations and friends of the late
Lieut. Levi Gantt, who was killed in the attack of the castle
of Chapultepec. This young officer, a graduate of West
Point, took part in every battle fought during the present
war by Generals Scott and Taylor, excepting that of Buena
Vista, and in each won the approbation of his superiors, and
the admiration of his equals in rank, by his gallantry and
daring. At Monterey he volunteered, with thirty men to
make a diversion on the side of one of the fortified hills, near
the Bishop's Palace, opposite to that on which the real at
tack was to be made. So. great was his thirst for distinction
that nothing but the positive orders of his commanding offi
cer prevented him from converting the feigned into a real
attack. While clambering up the steep ascent a cannon ball
fired at his party came within a foot of his head, and covered
his face with sand and gravel. He was among the first to
90 ANECDOTES AND INCIDENTS.
enter the Mexican fortifications on the summit of Cerro Gor-
do. It is believed that the only officer in advance of him
was his cousin, Lieut. Thomas Ewell of the Rifle regiment,
who died on the field the next day from the effects of a
wound. For his bravery in this action Lieut. Gantt, was
recommended to be brevetted. The storming party at Cha-
pultepec was made up of volunteers from the different corps
and regiments of the army. Lieut. Gantt was a volunteer
from his own gallant regiment, the 7th Infantry. In march
ing to the attack, and while under shelter from the enemy's
fire, Lieutenant Gantt stepped out to discover whether an ap
proaching party were friends or foes, when he was struck in
the middle of his breast by a musket ball, and expired in a
few minutes. He was buried the next day in the church
yard at Tacubaya. He died a brave soldier and an upright
The following good story is told of Bob Walker, one of
Doniphan's battalion, the advanced guard that opened com
munication with Gen. Wool's column at Buena Vista. Gen.
Wool, among other things, remarked to Bob that that was
quite a brisk little skirmish they had at Sacramento. "Yes,"
said Bob, " but we didn't lose any of our cannon, if it was
a. skirmish!" "That's right, my man," said Gen. Wool,
seeing that the Missourian was a little huffed, " that's right.,
never allow any one to underrate your victory you fought
against great odds, and a greater disadvantage, than the
enemy have been met during the war, and more successfully,
Bob, emboldened by this flattering speech, remarked with
much sang froid, " I don't think you fight 'em right down
here, no how, General." " Why not?" said Wool, smiling,
INHUMAN MASSACRE. 91
4< how do you fight them ?" "Why, d n it all, you don't
crowd 'em enough" said Bob " By G d, we've tried
'em two or three times now, and we've always found it best
to crowd 'em from the jump ! "
Occasional murders of our men have been perpetrated
ever since we have been in the country all killed by the
lasso. The Arkansas regiment of horse, from their having
ben employed as scouts and occupying the outposts, have
been particularly exposed to this guerrilla warfare, and have
lost four or five of their men. The day before yesterday
it was reported that one of their number had been killed by
the Mexicans, as he had been missing from the camp since
the day before, when he went out to look for his horse.
Search was made for the body, and it was found about a
mile from our camp, with a lasso around the neck, tied to a
prickly pear, having been draged some three hundred yards
upon the face through the chaparral. It presented a horrible
sight ! The name of the young man was Colquitt, a nephew
of the senator.
The Arkansas men vowed vengeance deep and sure.
Yesterday morning, a number of them, some thirty perhaps,
went out to the foot of the mountain, two miles off, to an
arroyo which is washed in the sides of the mountain, to
which the * pisanos ' of Agua Nueva had fled upon our ap
proach, and soon commenced an indiscriminate and bloody
massacre of the poor creatures who had just fled to the
mountains and fastness for security. A number of our reg
iment being out of camp, I proposed to Colonel Bissell to
mount our horses and proceed to the scene of carnage, where
I knew, from the dark insinuations of the night before, that
blood was running freely. We hastened out as rapidly as
92 ANECDOTES AND INCIDENTS.
possible, but owing to the thick chaparrals the work of death
was over before we reached the horrible scene, and its per
petrators were returning to camp glutted with revenge.
God knows how many of the unarmed peasantry have
been sacrificed to atone for the death of poor Colquitt.
The Arkansas regiment say not less than thirty have been
killed. I think, however that twenty of them have been
sent to their eternal rest. Letter from an officer.
Incident related by Gen. Shields.
I will state one thing that was very singular at the battle of
Buena Vista, though I was not there. It has been stated by
the best military men that no man but General Tavlor would
have fought after his flank and rear had been turned, for, ac
cording to the best military writers, he had then only to re
treat or to surrender. But he disregarded science, and fought
and defeated them. At the battle of Churubusco, I happened
to be placed in very nearly a similar position. On my front
was a line three times the length of my own ; there was a
line on each flank, and the Mexican cavalry in my rear.
Books and military science lay down rules for extricating
troops in difficulties ; but I never thought of extricating my
self in any other way than by breaking through their centre.
And on that occasion, after seeing myself surrounded by
what I said in my report was three or four times, but which
I afterwards found was ten times greater than my command, I
determined to break through their centre. I rode along the
column, and I stated that the only way to extricate ourselves
was to break their centre, and that I should lead the charge
myself, and I called on the whole command to follow me.
A Colonel in that command, now no more, (Colonel Butler,)
stepped in front of his regiment, raised his cap, and said,
" General Shields, every South Carolinian will follow you
CAPTAIN BURGWIN. 93
to death." The cry was responded to by every Carolinian ;
the New Yorkers responded to that cry ; the residue of my
command followed ; I wheeled them into line, rushed on the
enemy, and routed and broke them."
Captain Burgwin, of the Dragoons, who fell at Taos, was
a native of North Carolina ; he graduated at West Point in
1830, and at the time of his death was high upon the list of
Captains. He was one of the most popular officers in the
army, from his high toned gentlemanly character. His con
duct and courage in the late battles are the theme of univer
sal praise. After being wounded, Col. Price rode up to
him, and told him that whether he recovered or not he
would bear testimony to his gallantry. Captain B. replied
" I hope, Colonel, that you will also bear witness that my
company did its duty."
Horrors of War.
The bombardment (Vera Cruz,) was perfectly terrific for
three days and night. Such a sight I hope never to see
again. It was sublime and awful ! When our shells fell
you could hear the crash two miles off. Day before yester
day, having nothing to do in the trenches, I went up on the
sandhills in front of our camp. Our battery of six 24-
pounders, a navy battery of six 32-pounders, and fourteen
10-inch mortars, were in full operation, while the enemy
were returning the fire with nearly an equal number. The
day was magnificent the sky perfectly clear, the air fresh
and balmy. Before me lay the beautiful but doomed city.
The firing was incessant the blaze one continuous sheet of
94 ANECDOTES AND INCIDENTS.
flame, as if two volcanoes were belching forth red-hot lava
at each other, while the smoke gathered into a funeral pall
over the devoted town.
I looked on for some time, but the sight made me sick,
and I returned to my tent. The reflection came over me,
" What a horrid trade is war ! what a dreadful spectacle
to see man thus marring the work of God, and turning into
a pandemonium that which seemed a few moments before as
lovely as a paradise ! " When shells and rockets were
bursting around me, I had no such feelings, for I was then
in hot blood ; but looking cooly on, and out of the way- of
danger, it semmed to me truly awful ! Letter from an officer.
I went over the battle-field (Buena Vista,) after the fight,
and of all the shocking and most horrible sights I ever wit
nessed this exceeded. Hundreds of dead, wounded and
dying some with their heads, arms, and legs off, and some
torn literally to pieces by shell and shot. I never wish to
witness such a horrid and awful spectacle again. You
could see the mark of a cannon ball through a regiment,
leaving a column of dead showing the trace of the shot.
Letter from an officer.
Not too good to be looked at.
A. few days since, one of the cleverest members of the
medical staff was in conversation with a friend in the Grand
Plaza, when he was interrupted by the approach of one of
the newly arrived volunteers, who stopped short and
looked him straight in the face, apparently as though (and
this was probably the case) he thought he recognized him.
As the man continued his fixed stare, without speaking, the
doctor turned to him and asked
" Do you want any thing ?"
LIEUT. COL. GRAHAM. 95
The man looked steadily for a moment, and answered,
The doctor continued the conversation with his friend, but
in a little time noticed that the man had passed round him,
and was taking another look probably still unsatisfied as to
whether he knew him or not.
" Do you want any thing ?" inquired he again with em
" No," was the response of the imperturbable volunteer.
" Well, do you know me?"
" Well, why the devil don't you pass on?"
The volunteer without relinquishing his stare, answered,
after a moment
*' Why, you aint too good to be looked at, are ye?" and
sauntered on without moving a muscle of his face,
Lieut. Col. Graham.
Among the officers who it appears were lost to their coun
try in the assault upon the city of Mexico, was the gallant
Lieut. Colonel William Montrose Graham, of the llth reg
iment U. S. Infan.try. Colonel Graham was about 47 years
of age, and was a brave soldier. He entered at the West
Point military academy in 1813, and graduated in 1817, as
3d Lieutenant of Artillery. Another brother, James D.
Graham, of the Topographical Engineers, one of' the most
scientific, accomplished and valuable officers in the service,
entered and graduated the same year. They were the sons
of Dr. Wm. Graham, of Prince William county, Virginia,
who served, as did others of the family, with distinction, as
officers in the revolutionary struggle. Colonel Graham,
whose fall we are now noticing, was, soon after he graduated
at West Point, selected by his commander General Jackson,
96 ANECDOTES AND INCIDENTS.
to perform some arduous and responsible duties, among the
southwestern Indians, which he did so satisfactorily, that he
was highly complimented by the General. Having been
transferred to the 4th regiment of Infantry, under Colonel
Clinch, which was in Florida, he joined it, and was placed
in command of Fort King, for a long time in the very heart
of the troublesome Miccosakies. The writer of this notice
knew him well during that period, and can bear full testimony
to his possession of all the qualities that ennoble a gentleman
and a soldier. He was in Florida, in 1S35, when the Sem-
inole war broke out, and bore the brunt of the first battle,
at the Withlacoochee, where his gallant and final charge
upon the Indians with the bayonet, dispersed the savages,
and aided greatly in securing the victory. Governor Clinch,
in his official report, spoke in the highest terms of the con
duct of Colonel, then Captain Graham. He fell in that
charge with two severe wounds from the Indian rifles, (one
received early in the fight,) and his brother, Lieutenant
Campbell Graham, of the artillery, (now Cap. of Top. Engs.)
also received at the same time two severe wounds, at first
believed to be mortal, but from which he recovered after a
long time. Throughout the whole of the Florida war * the
Grahams' were distinguished for their intrepidity and sol
dierly conduct. Col. G. was in every battle on the Penin
sula of much note, and at Okechubee he gallantly led one
wing of his regiment, and was complimented in the des
patches of his Colonel. His brother, Brevet Major Law
rence Pike Graham, of the 2d dragoons, also served in
Florida with great credit, as a young lieutenant in Twiggs'
regiment, and was severely wounded in 1840, while scout
ing in the night, being fired upon by a party of militia by mis
take. He is the same officer who was brevetted by the Pre
sident and Senate a major for the gallant charge at Resaca
de la Palma, with May, Inge, and others of the dragoons.
Lieutenant Colonel Graham was distinguished at Palo Alto
ANECDOTE OF GEN. TAYLOR. 97
and Resaca de la Palma, where he was with the 4th regiment
of infantry, to which he then belonged. At Monterey he
was selected by General Taylor to lead his regiment to the
assault, and it was for his daring and chivalrous gallantry on
those occasions, and especially that so signally displayed at
Monterey, that he was selected as Lieutenant Colonel of the
llth, one of the new regiments, by the President and Sen
ate. He was not at Buena Vista, having been ordered to
join General Scott ; but at Vera Cruz, Ctiiro Gordo, Con-
treras and Churubusco, he bore a prominent part in the
conflicts, and won his share of the glory of those brilliant
achievements. And he fell as became a brave American
soldier. Eastern paper.
Anecdote of Gen. Taylor,
A great many anecdotes have been related of General
Taylor's remarkable coolness and sagacity on the field of
battle ; but the following is more than twenty-four hours in
advance of its cotemporaries. The general is in the habit of
riding with very short stirrups. Well, in the heat of the bat
tle at Buena Vista, the old veteran saw a cannon ball making
toward him, from one of the Mexican batteries, with terrific