cient to force their way through the strong L r uerril!a bands which held the
difficult passes on the Jalapa road. While thus detained on that inhospita-
t m the sickly season, they were exposed to the attacks of a wasting
pestilence, more formidable and, as it unfortunately proved, more destruc-
tive than the Mexican army.
When the unwelcome news of the premature discharge of this large
body of volunteers was received here, unaccompanied by any explanation
to show the necessity of the act, it excited very general surprise and re-
gret; its consequences were at once foreseen, but the Btephad 1 a taken
and could not be retraced. It was loudly condemned. Many did Dot be-
lieve that a measure which appeared to be so unwise and so injurious to
the operations of the army could have emanated from yourself, bul they
were less charitable towards the President and Secretary of War. Both
were denounced for what you had done ; they were unscrupulously charged
with weakness and incapacity; with being actuated by hostility to you,
and a desire to secure popularity with the volunteers, nor were these Mi-
ter assaults intermitted until it began to be suspected that they were mis-
If you really regarded, on the 6th of May, the augmentation of your
forces as being of such vital importance, it is almost as difficult to account
for the course taken to re-engage the volunteers, as for their premature
discharge. I am misled by information on which I ought to rely, if many
of these volunteers would not have continued in service if proper measures
had been taken at Jalapa, while they were indulging the hope of partici-
pating in further triumphs, and of being among those who would enjoy
the enviable distinction of first entering, as victors, the proud capital of the
Mexican republic. Though the subject was there presented to their conr
sideration, no vigorous efforts seem to have been made, no attempt to form
new companies, or to muster them into service, until this powerful induce-
ment was weakened or withdrawn ; until they had been detached from a
victorious army, as if no longer deemed worthy to be a part of it ; sent
sixty miles towards their homes, into a pestilential region, and there
brought within the sympathetic influence of the sentiments which, it was
natural that many should feel and manifest, at the moment of embarking,
to return to their families and friends. Considering the manner in which
the President's order on that subject was attempted to be executed, it is
not strange that among more than three thousand patriotic volunteers Bent
away by your order of the 4th of May, only about " fifty individuals'" were
found willing to re-engage.
You seem to have suddenly conceived the notion of converting the
army, " like Cortez," "into a self-suslainiiig machine," and to make the
resemblance between yourself and the Spanish hero more complete, yoa
indulged a dream of fancy, until you seem to have adopted it as a matter
of belief, that you were " doomed at Washington,* and you became, " like
him, always afraid that the next ship or messenger might recall or further
It should not be forgotten that the design of this unaccountable mili-
tary movement was first communicated to Mr. Trist, before you had given
any intimation of it to your government, and while under the perturbation
of mind which his unwelcome presence in Mexico had produced. Had
you confided this extraordinary plan of a campaign to him, after the " hap-
py change" in your relations ; after you had digested his " farrago of in-
solence, conceit, and arrogance ;" and, after he too, mistaking notoriety for
fame, had sought to win it by disobying the orders of his government, de-
fying its authority, and assailing its conduct, this distinguishing mark of
your confidence in him would have caused much less surprise. This
novel conception, so suddenly adopted, was as suddenly carried out â€” your
army was indeed converted " into a self-sustaining machine" â€” you dis-
charged the twelve months' volunteers, and broke up your post at Jalapa,
and on the way to your main depot ; " resolved," as you announced, " no
longer to depend on Vera Cruz or home ;" you put yourself beyond the
reach of the supplies which had been provided by the government, and
rendered yourself, in a great measure, inaccessible to the recruits and le-
vies (except in strong parties) which had been raised to augment your
command. In this way you rendered unavailing, for a time at least, all
that had been or could be done by the assiduous and incessant labors of the
War Department in all its branches, and then you recklessly put forth the
groundless complaint of " a total want of support and sympathy" from it.
Your letter of the 25th of July, which was not received at Washing-
ton until the 30th of December last, abounds with complaints against the
department, and refers in strong terms to the wants and sufferings of the
army at that time. Before you venture to make its then destitute condition
a ground of charge against the War Department, you ought to have recol-
lected that the afflictions fell upon it in the midst of your experiment of
making it "a self-sustaining machine," and were the legitimate fruits of
that experiment. These sufferings came upon it before your estimated pe-
riod of isolation from " Vera Cruz and home" had half expired. When you
had designedly and unnecessarily abandoned both, and entered upon your
self-sustaining position, " cut off from all supplies and reinforcements from
home, until perhaps late in November," by what pretence of justice do you
complain of the War Department for the distresses you thus voluntarily
inflicted upon yourself and the gallant army under your command I
Something very different from censure and reproof is due for the extraor-
dinary efforts which were successfully made to reach you with recruits
and supplies in your sequestered situation, and to rescue you from the em-
li:irr.issments in which your ill-judged measure had involved you. I have
brought into view this unaccountable movement of yours, with no purpose
to make any comment upon it as a military measure, but solely to show
that the evils resulting from it are not just grounds of accusation against
the War Department, and that the labored attempt to pervert them to such
a purpose, discloses the manner and spirit with which you have executed
the assumed task of its accuser.
As you have indulged in the wildest range of speculation in regard to
the alleged sinister motives and covert designs of others, I feel less reluct-
ant to present my views as to the main object of your last communication.
Throughout the whole of it, and particularly in the concluding part, you
manifest the utmost solicitude to place yourself in the position of an in-
jured and persecuted man. With all the aid you can derive from dextrous
strategy, you will be likely to fail in your attempt, unless you can have
the full benefit of your high coloring of some facts, and your forgetful-
ness of others, together with all your fanciful conjectures and surmises,
Your recall is, you assert, the long suspended " blow of power" which you
had the sagacity clearly to predict. It is somewhat remarkable that vour
predictions preceded the events which you imagine provoked that blow.
As early as the 25th of July â€” soon after " the happy change in my [your]
relations, both official and private, with Mr. Trist" â€” you looked, you say,
" to be dismissed from the service of my [your] country." If your recall
can be regarded as a dismissal, you are entitled to all the credit of the
fulfilment of your own early prediction.
In presenting in its true light the President's compliance with vour
own request to be recalled, which you now denominate your dismissal, I
may be obliged to strip it of the embellishments you have ingeniously
thrown around it, though, in doing this, you may be deprived of much
upon which you depend to sustain your claim to be considered as a perse-
As early as June you begged to be recalled. You allege that this ap-
plication was " rebukingly declined." This is not saying the exact thing.
The reply to your request was, " that it would be decided with exclusive
reference to the public good. When that shall render it proper in his
(the President's) opinion to withdraw you from your present command,
his determination to do so will be made known to you." This was not a
denial, but a suspension of present action, accompanied with an assurance
of future action on the subject. Your request was still pending : a regard
to the public good then stood in the way of the immediate gratification of
your wishes, but the President promised to act definitely on tin 1 question
when that obstacle should be removed. Judging from the state of things
at the head-quarters of the army, in January, he concluded that it was re-
moved, and that he ought no longer to require <>f you reluctant service as
commanding general. This, certainly, cannot be called persecution, <>r
punishment. I do not deem it proper to comment on the state of things at
the head-quarters of the army, to which allusion is made in the letter
granting your request, nor to express an opinion as to the share of respon-
sibility therefor which rests upon yourself or others ; that matter is to a
considerable extent involved in the investigations before the court of inqui-
ry now sitting in Mexico. Your request to be recalled, thus ultimately
granted, was prefaced with imaginary complaints, which could not be
passed without notice, nor noticed, without exposing their groundlessness.
If the exposition has given offence, you can blame only yourself for intro-
ducing complaints so entirely unfounded.
The crowning outrage, as you regard it, is the simple fact that you
and " the three arrested officers" are all to be placed together before the
same court ; "the innocent and the guilty, the accuser and the accused,
the judge and his prisoners, are all dealt with alike." " Most impartial
justice!" you exclaim. And why is it not impartial justice? On what
ground of right can you claim to have your case discriminated from theirs?
It is true you have assumed to be their judge, and have pronounced them
guilty ; and complain and repine that the laws of the country do not allow
you, their accuser, to institute a court to register your decree. But you
are not their rightful judge, although they were your prisoners. Before
that court you all stand on the same level, and all have equal rights.
Though you may have the self-satisfying conviction that you are innocent
and they are guilty, the government could act upon no such presumption.
By becoming an accuser you did not place yourself beyond the reach of
being accused; and unless you are clothed with the immunity of despotic
power, and can claim the benefit of the maxim "that tiie king can do no
wrong," I know not why your conduct, when made the subject of charges,
may not be investigated by a court of inquiry, nor can I perceive by what
other, or better, right you have to complain, and arraign the government,
than the other officers whom you have accused, and whose cases, with
yours were referred to the same court. If yours is a hard case, theirs is
not less so ; if you can rightfully complain of persecution by the govern-
ment, so can they, with equal justice, and an equal claim to public sym-
The charges against you did not emanate from the government, nor did
they relate to a matter in which it could feel any peculiar interest. Not
believing it impossible for you to do wrong, or that you were exempt from
all responsibility, for whatever you might have done, the government
deemed it proper, when charges were preferred against you. coming from
a source entitled to respect, to cause them to be investigated. As the
usual ami mildest mode of proceeding, they were referred to a court of in-
quiry. Until you can show that you enjoy the transcendental privilege to
have your official conduct exempt from all examination, in any form what-
ever, you have no cause to complain of the course taken in regard to the
charges against von.
It your extraordinary pretensions are to derive any support from your
distinguished services in the field, you ought to be mindful that the three
accused officers, put under arrest by you, have like claims for distinguished
services. On the pages of impartial history their names, and their gallant
deeds, must appear with yours, and no monopolizing claims, seeking " ma-
lignant exclusions," at the expense of the " truth of history," will be per-
mitted to rob them of their fair share of the glory won by our gallant army
while under your command.
With your assault upon the character of your " erratic brother" I shall
not intermeddle, but I must repel your charge that he has been favored for
being a political " deserter" to " the truefaiih" for signalizing his " apos-
tasy, by acceptable denunciations of one" to whom he had formerly " pro-
fessed (and not without cause) the highest obligations." The reasons for
not sending your charges against Brevet Major General Worth to the court
of inquiry, are set forth in my letter of the 13th of January. I regret
that they are so entirely unsatisfactory to you, but am consoled with the
assurance that they are in other quarters more favorably received. The
errors of your commentary on my letter have arisen from your misappre-
hension of the text. The principle there laid down is of vital import-
ance to subordinate officers, and in no respect impairs the rights or the au-
thority of those in chief command. As the principles which you arraign
are the creations of your own fancy, and have no countenance or support
from my letter, I am in no way implicated by the " fatal consequences"
you deduce from them. Whether legitimate or fanciful, they do not dis-
turb the positions laid down in my letter.
I cannot, however, but regard your solicitude for the support of disci-
pline to be more ostentatious than profound. When a general at the
head of an army of freemen, who do not lose their rights as citizens by
becoming soldiers, sets up pretensions to dictatorial power â€” when he con-
temns the authority of his government, and is much more ready to censure
than to execute its orders and instructionsâ€” when he denounces as an out-
rage and a punishment the attempt to submit his acts, charged to be an
offence against a subordinate officer, to an investigation in the mildest form
â€”when he administers an indignant reproof to his superior for upholding
the sacred right of appeal, upon which depend the security and protection
of all under his commandâ€” such a general sets an example of insubordi-
nate conduct of wide and withering influence upon sound military disci-
By extending my comments upon your letter, I might multiply proofs
to show that your accusations against the head of the War Department
are unjust; that your complaints are unfounded; that the-designs imputed
by you to the government to embarrass your operations, impair your right-
ful authority as commander, and to offer outrage and insult to your feel-
ings, are all the mere creations of a diste npsred fancy ; but to do more
than I have done would, in my judgment, be a work of supererogation.
In conclusion, I may be permitted to say that, as one of the Presi-
dent's advisers, I had a full share in the responsibility of the act which
assigned you to the command of our armies in Mexico. I felt interested
even more than naturally appertained to my official position, that success
and glory should signalize your operations. It was my duty to bring to
your aid the efficient co-operation of the War Department. I never had
a feeling that did not harmonize with a full and fair discharge of this duty.
I know it has been faithfully -performed. There are some men for whom
enough cannot be done to make them grateful, or even just, unless acts
of subserviency and personal devotedness are superadded. From you I
expected bare justice, but have been disappointed. I have found you my
accuser. In my vindication I have endeavored to maintain a defensive line,
and if I have gone beyond it at any time, it has been done to repel unpro-
voked ao-gression. To your fame I have endeavored to be just. I have
been gratified with the many occasions 1 have had to bear public testi-
mony to your abilities and signal services as a military commander in the
field. It has been, and, under any change in our personal relations, it will
continue to be, my purpose to be liberal in my appreciation of your dis-
tinguished military merits. In respect to your errors and your faults,
though I could not be blind, I regret that you have not permitted me to be
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. L. MARCY,
Secretary of War.
To Major General Winfield Scott,
U. S. Army, Mexico.
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