John Frost.

Pictorial history of Mexico and the Mexican War : comprising an account of the ancient Aztec empire, the conquest by Cortes, Mexico under the Spaniards, the Mexican revolution, the republic, the Texan war, and the recent war with the United States online

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Online LibraryJohn FrostPictorial history of Mexico and the Mexican War : comprising an account of the ancient Aztec empire, the conquest by Cortes, Mexico under the Spaniards, the Mexican revolution, the republic, the Texan war, and the recent war with the United States → online text (page 1 of 50)
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PICTORIAL



HISTORY OF MEXICO



AND THE



MEXICAN WAR



COMPRISING AN ACCOUNT OF THE



ANCIENT AZTEC EMPIRE, THE CONQUEST BY CORTES, MEXICO

UNDER THE SPANIARDS, THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION, THE

REPUBLIC, THE TEXAN WAR, AND THE RECENT

WAR WITH THE UNITED STATES.



BY JOHN FROST, LL. D.

AUTHOR OF PICTORIAL HISTOET OF THE WORLD, PICTORIAL BISTORT OP THS
UNITED STATES, BOOK. OP THE ARMY, BOOK OF THE NAVY, &C. &C.



EMBELLISHED WITH FIVE HUNDRED ENGRAVINGS, FROM DESIGNS OF W, CROOME AND OTHER

DISTINGUISHED ARTISTS.




PHILADELPHIA:

CHARLES DESILVER,

No. 1229 CHESTNUT STREET,
BALTIMORE, MD.: CUSHINGS & BAILEY. PITTSBURG, PA.: JOHN P. HUNT.

1862.



< C,






ENTERED, ACCORDING TO ACT or CONGRESS, IN THE YEAR 1848, BY

JOHN FROST,

IN THE OFFICE OF THE CLERK OF THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED
STATES, IN AND FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA.



STEREOTYPED BY GEORGE CHARLES.
PRINTED BY SMITH AND PETERS.




THE recent war between the United States and Mexico
has awakened in the people of the former country a degree
of interest in the history and condition of the latter, which
it never possessed before. The reading public are not satis
fied with the accounts of the war which have been pub
lished, but evince an anxiety to learn something of the
whole antecedent history of the sister republic. To satisfy
this inquiry the following work has been written.

The account of Ancient Mexico, and of the Conquest, is
founded on the histories of Bernal Diaz, Solis, and other
Spanish writers, and the learned and eloquent History of
the Conquest, by our accomplished countryman, Mr.
Prescott. From equally authentic and reliable authorities
are drawn the facts comprised in the history, of the Revo
lution, Mexico under the Spaniards, the Republic under jt?
successive presidents, and the Texan war.

In composing the narrative of the recent war between
Mexico and the United States, which forms the largest and
most important part of the work, recourse has been had to
A 2 (iii)



i v PREFACE.

official authorities chiefly ; the despatches of the general
officers, and the reports of their subordinates being con
sidered the most reliable sources of information ; although
the author has had opportunity of considerable personal
intercourse with officers of rank who have taken an active
and conspicuous part in the contest.

In embellishing the work, the author has had the advan
tage of Mr. Croome's invaluable services ; and he is in
debted to Messrs. Root, Simons, Collins, Butler, Gunn &
England, and Van Loan, for daguerreotype portraits of
officers ; by which means a degree of authenticity in this
department has been attained, which was out of the ques
tion before the invention of this important art.

It is certainly a gratifying task to any patriotic Ameri
can writer to record the events of the recent war with the
Mexican Republic. Such a glorious career of successful
valour seldom presents itself to the notice of the historian.
In many respects this contest is unparalleled in the annals
of the world's affairs ; and it will for ever hold a conspicu
ous place on that pillar of glory where the deeds of Ameri
can freemen are emblazoned for the admiration of mankind.




CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.

GEOGRAPHICAL OCTLIWE OF MEXICO, ....... l3

CHAPTER II.

THB AZTEC EMPIRE BEFORE THE CONO.UEST,. . .

CHAPTER III.

MAWNERS, CUSTOMS, AWD SOCIAL CONDITION OF THE AZTECS, . 35

CHAPTER IV.

AQ

AtfCIEWT MoifUMEKTS OF MEXICO,

CHAPTER V.

* fi 1

HlSTORT OF THE CoX^EST BT CoRTES,.

CHAPTER VI.

MEXICO TTJTDER. THE SPANIARDS, -

CHAPTER VH.

THE MIXICAK REVOLUTION, 148

(v)



VI CONTENTS.

CHAPTER VIII.

HISTORY OF THE MEXICAN REPUBLIC, . . ....... 165

CHAPTER IX.

CAUSES OP THE MEXICAN WAH, 178

CHAPTER X.

JPENING OF THE CAMPAIGN ON THE RlO GRANDE. SlEGE OF FORT BROWN, 194

CHAPTER XI.

BATTLE OF PALO ALTO, 222

CHAPTER XII. .

BATTLE OF RESACA DE LA PALMA, 232

CHAPTER XIII.

BABITA AND MATAMORAS CAPTURED, 246

CHAPTER XIV.

* *

EVENTS SUBSEQUENT TO THE CAPTURE OF MATAMORAS, . . . . 254

CHAPTER XV.

MARCH TO MONTEREY, 269

CHAPTER XVI,

STORMING OF FEDERATION AND INDEPENDENCE HILLS, 278

*

CHAPTER XVII.

STORMING OF MONTEREY, ... 298

CHAPTER XVIII.

CAPITULATION OF MONTEREY, 321

CHAPTER XIX.

OPERATIONS SUBSEQUENT TO THE CAPTURE OF MONTEREY, 332

CHAPTER XX.

MARCH OF GENERAL WOOL TO MONCLOVA, 348



CONTENTS. Vll

CHAPTER XXI.

SANTA ANITA'S MARCH TO BCENA VISTA. BATTLE GROUND AND SKIRMISH
OP FEBRUARY 22d, 359

CHAPTER XXII

BATTLE OF BUENA VISTA, 367

CHAPTER XXIII.

CONQUEST OF CALIFORNIA AND NEW MEXICO, 388

CHAPTER XXIV.

SIEGE OF VERA CRUZ, 465

CHAPTER XXV.

MARCH TOWARDS THE CAPITAL, AND BATTLE OP CERRO GORDO, 479

CHAPTER XXVI.

THE GUERRILLA WARFARE, 493

CHAPTER XXVII.

MARCH TO THE CAPITAL, AND BATTLES OF CONTRERAS AND CHURUBUSCO.. 501

CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE ARMISTICE, 542

CHAPTER XXIX.

STORMING OF MOLING DEL RET, 551

CHAPTER XXX.

STORMING OF CHAPULTEPEC, 563

CHAPTER XXXI.

STORMING OF SAN .COSME AND BELEN GATES, 576

CHAPTER XXXII.

ENTRANCE INTO THE CAPITAL, 591

CHAPTER XXXIII.

SIEGE OF PCEBLA, . . 597



via



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XXXIV.

BATTLES 07 HUAMANTLA AND ATLIXCO, 603

CHAPTER XXXV.

CAPTURE OF GUATMAS, AND MOVEMENTS OF THE GUERRILLAS,. 610

CHAPTER XXXVI.

OPERATIONS IN CALIFORNIA AND NEW MEXICO, 621

CHAPTER XXXVII.



CLOSE OF THI WAH,



631





Ornamental Headpiece, ..~..~~-..~~. ~ -... ^.. 13

Cofre de Perote, ~~ 15

Termination of the Aqueduct in the City of Mexico, 17

Volcanoes as seen from Tacubaya, .~.~.... IS

Mexican Muleteers, - - ,*...,,-. 23

Mexican Cavalry at a Pulque Shop, between San Martin and Puebla, 26

Indian Hut, in the Tierra Caliente, - ' 27

The Mexican Coat of*A.rms, ...... ~ ~. 29

Nezahualcoytl ^-. - - ..~- 30

Bath of Montezuma, ..-. - 31

Nezahualpilli, *..- .- 3i

Ahuitzotl, ..~..- 34

Sculptured Stone in Monte of Mapilca, 35

Pyramid of Cholula, < 38

Great Teocalli, or Temple of Mexico. From an old print, - - 40

The ordinary Human Sacrifice, ........... - - 42

Gladiatorial Sacrifice, ~-~_....-.~- -. -, 43

Ancient Mexican Manuscript, -.. U 44

Great Calendar Stone, - - 46

Interior of a Modern Mexican House, - 47

Ornamental Headpiece, - - - 48

Ruins of Xochicalco, ...~~. ...~ .. ^ .. 50

Pyramids of San Juan, Teotihuacan, ~- - - ~....~ 52

Ancient Aqueduct, leading from the Mountains of the hill of Tezcosingo, -~ 55

Ruins of Quemada, - ......~..~~- ~ ~ 59

Temple at Tusapan, .~~......~....~~.....-~...,...-..-~....~-......~^.....~. ..._.... 57

Pyramid of Papantla,- - ^..~^-.....~- ~~ 68

Pyramid of Misantla, . .... .^ 69

Monument at Copan, - - 73

Ruins of Zayi,-. - -~ ..~....~...~. 79

Ruins of Uxmal, .^.^-...^. ..~.....^. ^^ 80

Landing of Cortes at Vera Cruz,-* - - ~- 81

Bartholomew de Olmedo, <- ~..~-. ~..~~ 84

Diego de Ordaz, ...... * . - 85

Teuhtlile, - -. - ~~ 87

Massacre at Cholula, -.....,..-.....-. 92

Cortes advancing to the City of Mexico, - 93

Defeat of Narvaez, ...~ ..^- .^ ~~. .._. ^. 102

Cuitlahua,-. - ~.........- ^.. 104

Cortes, ^- 106

Christovalde Olid, 107

Velasquez de Leon, - 108

Sandoval, - ^....^.....^ ,, ^. no

Guatimozin. - -....... ...^.. - 114

Ixtlilxochltl,. .. - ^.*... M ^ 115

Jorge de Alvarado, - ~ 118

Pedro de Alvarado, ~ 120

Charles V.-...^ ~ , ^..... 123

Ornamental Tailpiece, ~-~~...'...- ~. ~.. . 124

Ornamental Headpiece, - 126

Father Martin, of Valentia, 127

Las Casas, 129

Defeat of Quiches by Alvarado,- .~.~ ~ - ~ ^....~. 131

Celebration of the Founding of St. Jago,. 132

Pizarro, .. 1 33

Priests welcoming the arrival of Soldiers, 134

Marco de Nizza, 135

Mexican Gentlemen, 147

Hidalgo, -...._ 148

Calleja, _ 152

Leonardo Bravo, 150



(ix)



X ILLUSTRATIONS.

Death of Morelos, ~ 158

Mina, - 160

Iturbide, -...... - .... ~ ........... ...,^....^-....*....^. iei

Novella, * 163

Ornamental Tailpiece, - ..._....-. ..^.^ ~ -. 164

General Bustamente, 165

Pedraza, - ~- 166

Fall of the Alamo, 168

General Cos, ~- - ~ 169

Mexia, - 171

Santiago Iman, - - 172

General Rivas, - 173

Paredes, - 174

Santa Anna, 176

Santmanet, - - 177

Ornamental Tailpiece, 177

Ornamental Headpiece, - 178

Bocanegra, ~..., .~ 181

Corpus Christi, - - 187

Drilling raw Recruits, ~ 188

Point Isabel, 191

Mexican Lancer, - - 193

City of Matamoras, ~ 194

Colonel Cross, ~ 198

Captain Thornton's skirmish with the Mexicans, - 208

American Troops landing at Point Isabel, - 210

Captain Walker's Expedition, .....~- 213

Major Brown mortally wounded, *~ - - 219

Fort Brown, * 221

Ornamental Headpiece, 222

Soldiers Drinking, 224

Battle of Palo Alto, ~ 227

Repulse of the Mexican Cavalry at Palo Alto, ~ 229

Major Ringgold, - ~ 231

Ornamental Headpiece, - 232

Plan of the Battle-grounds of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, .... .. .~ 234

Second Charge of Captain May, 238

Flag of the Tampico Battalion, 239

Americans entering Arista's Camp, 240

Rout of the Mexicans, ... 241

Death of Ringgold, ~~ 245

Ornamental Headpiece, - ....... 246

Public Square, Matamoras, - - 251

Mexicans in their Holiday Attire, 252

General Gaines, - 254

Colonel Garland, 256

General Roger Jones, - 259

General Taylor writing to the War Department, 261

Hon. W. L. Marcy, Secretary of War, 263

Camargo, looking North, - 266

Grand Plaza, Camargo, ~- 267

Ornamental Tailpiece, 268

Ornamental Headpiece, - ........-..- 269

Captain McCulloch, .....- ~ ... 272

Advance of the Americans to Marin, ~ - 275

Camp Kitchen, - - .... 277

Monterey, - "- ~~- ~ 278

Map of Monterey, ~ -.... -..~~..~ -...... 281

View of the Bishop's Palace, Monterey, * - ..-...-....... 285

Cavalry Action on the Morning of September Slat, ..-.- ~.....~. -. 289

Colonel Hays, ~- -~ - 294

Worth at Monterey, ....-.*. .....^. 927

Monterey from the Bishop's Palace, - - ~ ..-....-....... 298

Storming of Fort Teneria, ..~~- ~~. ..^- ~,~-. 301

General Butler, -~ ..-... ..~ 303

Colonel Watson, ~- ~....H.~..H.-..~.~..~~ <. 305

General Butler wounded, ^..-^.....*. 306

Colonel Jefferson Davis, - .*......... ~- 310

Storming of Monterey, ~ .~~....... 313

Contest in the Streets of Monterey, .....~. -.....* -......, 317

Ornamental Headpiece, -~- - 321

General Worth, -~~ ..., ^ 327

Herdsmen of Monterey, .....- ^. .- .- 331

Ornamental Headpiece, _.... ^ .- 332

President Polk, - * 333

Colonel May, - 335

Saltillo, ~ 340

Victoria and Tula Pass, - 341

General Taylor taking leave of the Soldiers, - - - - 343

McCulloch examining a Mexican Deserter, 345

Captain Daniel Drake Henrie, - - 346

Ornamental Tailpiece, .... ^ M .* 347

General Wool, - 348

General Wool's March to Monclova, - 351



ILLUSTRATIONS. XI

A Texas Hanger, - - 356

General Taylor, 358

Headpiece, General Taylor, -~ -....- - ~ 359

Santa Anna, '....- 351

Ornamental Tailpiece, - 366

Ornamental Headpiece, - 367

Plan of the Battle of Buena Vista, - - - 368

Repulse of the Mexican cavalry at Buena Vista, - 371

Da vis's Infantry repulsing the Mexican Cavalry, 374

Death of Colonel Yell, - 376

Major Bliss, - - - - 379

General Taylor and Captain Bragg at Buena Vista, * - 380

Death of Colonel Clay, ~~ ~- - ~ - 381

Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Clay, Jr., ...-.- -~ - 382

Mexicans killing the wounded at Buena Vista, 387

Mexican Indians, 388

Pearl Divers, ~~- * 389

San Francisco, California, 391

Santa Barbara, ~- .- ,. 392

San Carlos de Monterey, ~- . - 393

Anchorage at Yerba Buena, . . .- 965

Dragoons exercising, -...-.- ... 400

Bent's Fort, ~~ 401

Santa Fe, New Mexico, - .- ~..-~ *. 407

Encampment near Valentia, - - 411

Major Sumner, * - - 412

Encampment at Fray Christobal, 414

Traders, ~ - 415

General Kearny, . ...*....^... ~- 416

Battle of Bracito, - 418

Colonel Benton, ........._ ~ - 422

Battle of Sacramento, - ~ 427

Colonel Mitchell bearing off the Mexican Standard, 429

Capture of Monterey, * 437

Capture of Yerba Buena, - - - -.... .-..~.~-...~. 438

Monterey, Upper California, - 441

Colonel Fremont, - ... - -..-.. 444

Christopher Carson, - * ~- 445

Battle of San Pasqual, ..~....~ - ... 453

Battle of San Gabriel, - -.......,... 454

Presidio of San Francisco. Encampment of the New York Volunteers, 456

Indian atrocities in New Mexico, ~ ^-....^ -. 460

Ornamental Tailpiece, -~ -~. ....- -. - _ 464

Ornamental Headpiece, - ....... ~-....~-....~. - 465

Tampico, ~ ~~ - - 466

Commodore Conner, - .......- -..- .... 467

General Scott going on board the Commodore's Ship, ~~~ 469

Vera Cruz, ~ ~..~- - .._ 471

Plan of Vera Cruz and San Juan de Ulloa, 472

Colonel Totten, . ....^.^ ~ ~ 474

Colonel Harney's Dragoon Fight,- ~ -.-... .-........ ~ 476

Lieutenant Hunter, ............ ~. . , 477

Ornamental Tailpiece, . - .. ~~-.. .-.*-......-...-..* _~. 479

Ornamental Headpiece,- **- - *....-. ..^.^ 479

General Pillow,' - - - ~ 481

Plan of the Battle of Cerro Gordo, ~.-~ ^....^ ~...,~_. ....... 488

General Twiggs at Cerro Gordo, ~._~. .^....... 484

General Scott complimenting Colonel Harney, ....- ~... .~....~- ~,...-~ 495

General Shields wounded, -~ ^-...-.^ 487

Colonel Baker, .^. ..^. 438

Colonel Hitchcock, ~~~ -...<.. . 489

Tuspan, ^- ..... .... ^... ...... ^ -.... .......... 490

Puebla, ~ - - 491

Ornamental Headpiece, ~....^ ~. ~. 493

National Bridge, ,~.. ,..._ 494

Mexican Cavalry menacing a Train of Wagons, - - 495

Captain Duperu's Dragoons attacking the Guerrillas, - 498

Ornamental Tailpiece, ~ 500

Ornamental Headpiece, .... ...... ^- ^ 501

City of Mexico, from the Convent of San Cosine, 503

Death of Captain Thornton, - 505

Plan of the Battles of Contreras and Churubusco, 506

General Persifor F. Smith, - 508

Storming of Contreras, 513

General Shields, - i 516

General Cadwalader, - 518

Storming of Churubusco, - 532

Assistant Adjutant-General Mackall, 536

Guerrillas, 538

CoJonel Burnett, 539

Ornamental Tailpiece, - 541

N ic hoi as P. Trist, 542

General Quitman, 54S



Xll



ILLUSTRATIONS.



Ornamental Tailpiece, -*- 54tt

Plan of the Battle of Molino del Key, 550

Ornamental Headpiece, 551

Molino del Key Chapultepec in the distance, 552

Storming of Molino del Hey, ~ - 656

Ornamental Tailpiece, - 561

Plan of the Storming of Chapultepec, - 562

Mexican Costumes, 563

Chapultepec, 567

Colonel Harney, 570

Colonel Seymour, 571

Storming of Chapultepec, .*......... 572

Major Twiggs, 573

Ornamental Tailpiece, 575

Mexican Gentlemen, ' 576

General Scott, 577

General Scott and Staff, 579

Routes of Worth's and Q oilman's Columns from Chapultepec to the San Cosme and Belen Gates 580

Ornamental Tailpiece, 590

Ornamental Headpiece, 591

Grand Plaza in the City of Mexico, 592

City of Mexico. Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl in the distance, 593

Ornamental Tailpiece, 596

Western part of Puelrla de los Angeles, 597

Colonel Childs, 599

Mexican Hut, - - 602

Ornamental Headpiece, 603

Major Iturbide, 606

Captain Walker, 607

Ornamental Tailpiece, 609

A Guerrilla, 610

Capture of Guaymas, 611

General Cushing, 612

General Towson, 614

General Patterson, * - 615

Colonel Bankhead, 619

Ornamental Tailpiece, ................. 620

Ornamental Headpiece, .-,~-,...~....^-. -. 691

Ornamental Tailpiece; - * 630

Ornamental Headpiece, - ' 631





CHAPTER I.




HE line of separation between Mexico and
Guatimala is extremely irregular, commenc
ing on the east side with the river Sarstoon,
which it follows to its source, whence it
runs north to north latitude 17 30' and then
takes a course west and south-west until it
reaches latitude 15' 45', when it changes its
direction to north-east. On the west and
south-west the Pacific washes its shores,
while its boundaries on the north and west are the United States and
the Gulf of Mexico.

The disorders of the government, and the lawless state of the
population, have hitherto prevented our acquiring any thing like an
accurate account of the country or its population; and, until very
recently, the accounts of Baron Humboldt were the only reliable
sources of information respecting it. The portion lying south of the
Tropic of Cancer, is by far the most rich and populous, but the
B



14 GEOGRAPHICAL OUTLINE.

numbers of the population decrease as we go northward, some of
the so called states of the republic being occupied almost wholly by
unsubdued savages. Mexico differs from almost all other countries
in the great variety of its climate, a feature arising not so much
from its extent in latitude as from the diversity of its surface. The
northern extension of the Andes, if the Cordilleras may so be called,
enters the country on the south, and diverges, following the line
of the coasts on each side of the country. The eastern arm finally
subsides into the great plains of Texas, but the other preserves its
character until it joins with the Rocky Mountains in the United
States. Between these two arms of the Cordilleras is comprised an
immense central table-land, nearly three-fifths of the whole surface
of the republic, known as the Plateau of Anahuac. The elevation
of this plateau, varying from six thousand to eight thousand feet
above the level of the sea, causes it to have a temperate climate,
notwithstanding that a considerable portion of it is within the tro
pics. The surface of this table-land is diversified by some very high
mountains, and a few well-defined ridges subdivide it into smaller
plateaus, to which various names have been given. It is not tra
versed by many valleys, however, and a road, fourteen hundred
miles in length, connects the capital with the city of Santa Fe, with
little deviation from a level. The most remarkable tract in the Pla
teau of Anahuac, is the plain in which th$ capital is situated, known
as the Plain of Tenochtitlan. This plain is fifty-five miles long and
thirty-five broad, containing an area of seventeen hundred square
miles, surrounded with porphyritic and basaltic rocks. One hundred
and sixty square miles of it are covered with water, which is de
posited in five principal lakes, situated on different levels. South-
eastwardly from the city is the Lake of Chalco ; north- westwardly, that
of Tezcuco, and north of that, those of San Christoval and Zumpango.
The largest of these lakes is that of Tezcuco, which covers an area
of seventy square miles,' and has an elevation but three feet lower
than the great Square of Mexico. The lakes San Christoval, Chalco,
and Tonanitla, are five feet higher than Tezcuco, while Zumpango,
the smallest of all, has a level thirty feet higher than that of Tez
cuco. The head of water which could be poured over the city by
these lakes may be readily perceived. In 1629, the city of Mexico
was almost wholly inundated, and preparations were being made for
the foundation of a new capital, when an earthquake fortunately drew
off the excess of water. An immense artificial canal, the Desague of
Huchuetoga, was then commenced, for the purpose of draining these
lakes, but it was not finished until the year 1789. The length of
the cut is about twelve miles, it is one hundred and fifty feet deep,



GEOGRAPHICAL OUTLINE.



17




Termination of the Aqueduct in the City of Mexico.

and three hundred wide, and it discharges the waters of the valley
into the river Panuco, three hundred feet below the level of the Lake
Zumpango. This canal and the beautiful aqueducts with which the
city of Mexico is supplied with water, the people owe to the energy
of the Spanish government, and they are almost the only works of this
kind in the country. Earthquakes are frequent in Mexico, but they
seldom do any mischief, a remark which will also apply to the many
volcanoes in the country. On the south-east side of the plain of
Tenochtitlan, those of Popocatepetl, seventeen thousand seven hun
dred and sixteen feet, Iztaccihuatl fifteen thousand seven hundred
feet, Orizaba seventeen thousand three hundred and eighty feet, and
the Cofre de Perote thirteen thousand four hundred and sixteen feet
above the level of the sea, meet the eye, while other mountains and
volcanoes, whose smoking craters might be a cause of continual ap
prehension, bound the horizon on other sides. The purity of the
atmosphere has an astonishing tendency to diminish apparent dis
tances, and nowhere does this produce a more remarkable effect
than in the city of Mexico. Most of the mountains surrounding the
valley are at least fifteen miles distant ; yet on looking down any of
the streets of the city, it appears to be terminated by a mass of rocks,
which are seen so distinctly, that on a clear day, all the undulations
of the surface may be traced, and the trees and patches of different
vegetation readily distinguished. To the south-east the view is
bounded by the lofty Popocatepetl, higher than any mountain in
North America except Mount St. Elias ; Iztaccihuatl, which is muck
u2 3



18



GEOGRAPHICAL OUTLINE.




Volcanoes, as seen from Tacubaya.

nearer, is two thousand feet lower, but the two stand forth proudly
pre-eminent from any view in the valley, and strangers delighted to
record the pleasure with which they watch the effect of the last rays
of light playing upon the summits in the evening when all around is
sinking into obscurity.

The want of water occasions serious disadvantages to Mexico, the
rivers, compared with the extent of country, being few and unimportant.
The lakes, however, are extensive, and the Spaniards, finding that the
only manure which the land required was water, raised many hydraulic
constructions, at great cost, for purposes of irrigation, which the Mexi
cans have suffered to fall into ruin, and which will probably be allowed
to remain so. The country produces every thing that will flourish in
the torrid and temperate zones of good quality, yet so indolent are
the natives, and so regardless of all attempts at systematic agriculture,
that a single season of drought produces a famine. The rural popu
lation then go into the deserts in search of wild plants, and generally
with success. The great variety of the productions is occasioned
by the extent of the country through twenty-one degrees of latitude
and the rapidity of the slope on either side. On the east side espe
cially the climates are distinctly marked by the vegetation. " On the
ascent from Vera Cruz," says Humboldt, " climates succeed each other




GEOGRAPHICAL OUTLINE. 19

in layers, and the traveller passes in review in the course of two
days, the whole scale of vegetation from the parisitic plants of the
tropics to the pines of the arctic regions."

k S respects climate, Mexico is divided into
the tierras calientes, or hot regions, the tier-
ras templadas or temperate regions and the
tierras frias or cold regions. The first in
clude the low grounds on the east and west
coast, comprising on the eastern slope the
greater part of the states of Tamaulipas, Vera
Cruz, Tabasco, and the peninsula of Yucatan.
These tierras on the west are less extensive.
The mean temperature is about 77 of Fahrenheit, and the growth of
the soil consists principally of sugar, cotton, indigo, and bananas.
The winter on the east coast lasts from October to April, during
which time north or north-west winds blow with great violence for
several days together. The shores at this time are free from pesti
lence, but with the summer the unhealthy season begins, and
foreigners landing on the coast have little hope of escaping the yel
low fever. At the height of two thousand five hundred feet above
the sea, however, this scourge is almost wholly unknown.

The tierras templadas extend from two thousand five hundred to
five thousand feet of elevation, and furnish us with the Mexican oak,
and most of the fruits and grains of Europe. The cities situated in
these regions, of which Jalapa is one, are famous for their salubrity
and the inexhaustible supply of fruits. Great beauty and strength
of vegetation result from the frequent fogs and humidity of the atmo
sphere, which, however, are objectionable in other points of view.

The tierras frias include all the vast plains elevated five thousand
feet or more above the level of the sea. Here the mean temperature
is about 64 Fahrenheit, but when the height of more than eight
thousand feet is attained the climate is exceedingly disagreeable.
Near Mexico, the limit of perpetual snow is twelve thousand to fifteen
thousand feet high. In the tierras frias, the vegetation is not so
vigorous as in the lower countries, but the climate is on the whole



Online LibraryJohn FrostPictorial history of Mexico and the Mexican War : comprising an account of the ancient Aztec empire, the conquest by Cortes, Mexico under the Spaniards, the Mexican revolution, the republic, the Texan war, and the recent war with the United States → online text (page 1 of 50)