J. G. (John Gideon) Millingen.

The Taylor text-book, or Rough and ready reckoner online

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The Mississippi riflemen, under Col. Davis,
were highly conspicuous for their gallantry and
steadiness, and sustained throughout the engage-
ment the reputation of veteran troops. Brought
into action against an immensely superior force,
they maintained themselves for a long time un-
supported and with heavy loss, and held an im-
portant part of the field until reinforced. Colonel
Davis, though severely wounded, remained in
the saddle untU the close of the action. His dis-
tinguished coolness and gallantry at the head of


his regiment on this daj' entitle him to the parti-
cular notice of the government. The 3d Indiana
regiment, under Colonel Lane, and a fragment of
the 2d, under Colonel Bowles, were associated
with the Mississippi regiment during the greater
portion of the day, and acquitted tliemselves cre-
ditably in repulsing the attempts of the enemy to
break that portion of our like. The Kentucky
cavalry, under Colonel Marsliall, rendered good
service dismounted, with a portion of the Arkan-
sas regiment, in meeting and dispersing the column
of cavalry at Buena Vista. The Island 2d Illi-
nois, and the 2d Kentucky regiments, served im-
mediately under my eye, and I bear a willing tes-
timony to their excellent conduct throughout the
day. The spirit and gallantry with which the 1st
Illinois and 2d Kentucky engaged the enemy in
the morning, restored confidence to that part of
the field, while the list of casualties will show
how much these three regiments suffered in sus-
taining the heavy charge of the enemy in the af
ternoon. Captain Conner's company of Texas
volunteers, attached to the 2d Illinois regiment,
lought bravely, its captain being wounded and
two subalterns killed. Colonel Bissell, the only
surviving colonel of these regiments, merits notice
for his coolness and bravery on this occasion. Af-
ter the fall of the field officers of the 1st Illinois
and 2d Kentucky regiments, the command of
the former devolved upon Lieutenant Colonel
Wealherford; that of the latter upon Major

Regimental commanders and others who have
rendered reports, speak in general terms of the
good conduct of their officers and men, and have
specified many names, but the limits of this report
forbid a recapitulation of them here. I may,
however, mention Lieuts. Rucker and Campbell,
of the dragoons, and Capt. Pike, Arkansas caval-
ry, commanding squadrons; Lieut. Col. Field,
Kentucky cavalry ; Lieut. Col. Roane, Arkansas
cavalry, upon whom the demand devolved after
the fall of Colonel Yell ; Major Bradford, Captain
Sharpe, (severely wounded.) and Adjutant Grif-
fith, Mississippi regiment; Lieut. Col. Hadden,
2d Indiana regiment, and Lieutenant Robinson,
A. D. C. to Gen. Lane ; Lieut. Col. Weatherford,
1st Illinois regiment; Lieut. Col. Morrison, Maj.
Trail, and Adj. Whiteside, (severely wounded,)
2d Ilhnois regiment; and Maj. Fry, 2d Kentucky
regiment, as being favorably noticed for gallantry
and good conduct. Major McCulloch, quarier-
ina.sler in tlie volunteer service, rendered import-
ant services before the engagement, in the com-
mand of a spy company, and during the affair,
was associattxl with the regular cavalry. To
Major Warren, 1st Illinois volunteers, I feel
much indebted for liis firm and judicious course,
while exercising coimnand in the city of Sal-

The medical staff, under the able direction of
Assistant Surgeon Hitchcock, were assiduous in
attention to the wounded upon the field, and in
their careful removal to the rear. Both in these
respects and in the subsequent organization and
service of the hospitals, the administration of

this department was everything that could be


Brig. Gen. Wool speaks in high terms of the
officers of his staff, and I take pleasure in mention-
ing them nere, having witnessed their activity and
zeal upon the field. Lieutenant and A. D, C.
McDowell, Colonel Churchill, inspector general.
Captain Chapman, assistant quartermaster, Lieut.
Sitgreaves, topographical engineers, and Captains
Howard and Davis, volunteer service, are conspi-
cuously noticed by the general for their gallantry
and good conduct. Messrs. March, Addicks,
Potts, Harrison, Burgess, and Dusenberg, attach-
ed in various capacities to Gen. Wool's head-
quarters, are likewise mentioned for their intelli-
gent alacritv in conveying orders to all parts of
the field.

In conclusion, I beg leave to speak of my owa
staff, to whose exertions in rallying troops and
communicating orders I feel greatly indebted.
M;ij. Bliss, assistant adjutant general, Capt. J. H.
Eaton, and Lieut. R. S. Garnett, aids-de-camp,
served near mv person, and were prompt and
zealous in the discharge of every duty. Major
Munroe, besides rendering valuable service as
chief of artillery, was active and instrumental, as
were also Colonels Churchill and Belknap, in-
spectors general, in rallying troops and disposing
tiiem for the defence of" the train and baggage.
Col. Whiting, quartermaster general, and Capt.
Eaton, chief of the subsistence department, were
engaged with the duties of their departments and
also served in my immediate staff on the field.
Captain Sibley, assistant quartermaster, was ne-
cessardy left with the headquarter camp near
town, Avhere his services were highly useful.
Major Mansfield and Lieut. Benham, engineers,
and Capt. Linnard and Lieuts. Pope and Frank-
hn, topographical engineers, were employed be-
fore and during the engagement in making recon-
noissances, and on the field were very active in
bringing information and in conveying my orders
to distant points. Lieut. Kingsbury, in addition
to his proper duties as ordnance ollrcer. Captain
Chilton, assistant quartermaster, and Majors Dix
and Coffee, served also as extra aids-de-camp, and
were actively employed in the transmission of or-
ders. Mr. Thomas L. Crittenden, of Kentucky,
though not in service, volunteered as my aid-de-
camp on this occasion, and served with credit in
that capacity. Major Craig, chief of ordnance,
and Surgeon Craig, medical director, had been
detached on duty from headquarters, and did not
reach the ground until the morning of the 24th —
too late to participate in the action, but in time to
render useful services in their respective depart-
ments of the staff".

1 respectfully enclose returns of the troops en-
gaged, and of casualties incident to the battle.
I am, sir, very respectfully.

Your obedient servant,

Maj. Gen. U. S. A. comm'g.
The Adjutakt General of the Army, Wash-
ington, U, C.



THE SUI«£k\/10N"S




Summons of Santa Anna to Gen. Tatjlm:

You are surrounded by twenty thousand men,
and cannot, in any human probability, avoid suf-
fering a rout, and being cut to pieces with your
troops : but as you deserve consideration and par-
ticular esteem, I Avisli to save you from a catastro-
phe, and for that purpose give you this notice, in
order that you may surrender at discretion, under
the assurance that you will be treated Avith the '
consideration belonging to the Mexican character,
to which end you will be granted an hour's time
to make up your mind, to commence from the
moment when ray flag of truce arrives in your

With this vieAV, I assure you of my particular

God and Liberty. Camp at Encantada, Feb-
ruary 22d, 1847.

To Gen. Z. Taylor, commanding the forces of

the U. S.

Headquarters of the Army of Occupation,
JS'ertr Bucaa Fista, Feb. 22, 1847.
Sir : In reply to your note of this date, sum-
moning me to surrender my forces at discretion, I
beg leave to say that I decUne acceding to your

With high respect, I am, sir.

Your obedient servant,

Maj. Gen. U. S. Army, commanding.
Senor Gen. D. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna,
Commander-in-chief, La Encantada.


From llie New Orleans Picayune of April 11.

Letter from General Taylor. — We have
been placed in possession of a private letter, ad-
dressed to Gen. E. G. W. Butler, of the parish of j
Iberville, by General Taylor, which will be read ,
with the greatest avidity. "VV hatever relates to the '
battle of Buena Visla, of an authentic character,
must possess an absorbing interest. It will be at
once seen that the letter was not intended for the
press; but we make' no apology for publishing
such portions of it as are of public concern. The
distinguished gentleman to whom it was addressed
has been moved by a desire to contribute to the
knowledge of the public upon an engrossing sub-
ject, to submit this letter for our use. We do not
admit that there would be any impropriety in this
under any circumstances; but at the present mo-
ment, and at a time when a very unauthorized
use is sought to be made of General Taylor's
name, we think the publication appropriate, and,
indeed, necessary to the right understanding of
liis great character.

A paragraph in relation to the presidency will

at once create attention. We conjure those who
would appropriate General Taylor for parly pur-
poses, to ponder on what is there written. If they
put him forward as a party nominee they must
run him on party issues. Will they catechise him^
upon the various topics which furin the creed of
any party } Will they subject him to the sur-
veillance of party clubs, or offer him up for the
sustenance of stump orators? A little reflection
will teach them better. Let him be the nominee
of the Repul)lic, or no nominee!

We have laid before our readers several of Santa
Anna's letters in regard to the battles of the 22d
and 23d of February— one of them elaborate in
detail and complete 'in description. The letter of
General Taylor, which now for the first time sees
the light, does not profess to be a minute descrip-
tion ot the events of those days ; but it presents m
a clearer and more authentic shape the grandeur
of the resistance made to the overwhelming forces
of the enemy, and the vastness of the responsibihty
assumed in giving and maintaining the battle.
Stripped of his most efficient men, surrounded by_
armies greater than his own, and in the heart oi
the enemy's country, the gallant old soldier main-
tained his ground, and obtained a victory when
even his own officers counselled a retreat.

It will be observed, also, that Gen. Taylor be-
gins to espy the spires of the city of Mexico from
the fastnesses of the Sierra Madre. But enough
of introduction. When the " good people of the
country" read this letter, we fain believe that the
hope of the author will not be deemed unreasona-
ble when he trusts " they will be satisfied with
what he did on that occasion."'

Headquarters \t Agua Nueva,

My Dear General: Your very acceptable
and interesting letter of the 15th November last
reached me on the 24th of December, while on
march from Monterey to Tampico; but the nature
of my duties since then, (being most of the time
in the saddle,) in addition to other matters, has
prevented me from replying until the present mo-
ment. Be assured, my dear sir, I have not since
then lost sight of it or yourself; and I feel highly
r-ratified for the flattering manner in which you
have noticed the condnct of the officers and soldiers
who marched with me from the Rio Grande to
Monterey, and compelled that place to surrender
after much hard fighting, as they fully merited the
handsome encomiums you have thought proper
to bestow on them. For this you have my sincere

[The general then alludes to the misrepsenta-
tions which had been made in regard to Major
Gen. Butler at Monterey. These misrepresenta-
tions had been the subject of conversation between
them, and left no feehng like distrust or unkind-
ness towards each other in their breasts. Ihe
letter then goes on:]

I was aware of the report as well as statements
in a few of the pubhc journals, that it was intend-
ed by certam individuals to bring General BuUer



forward as the successor of Mr. Polk, which gave
me no concern, and would not even had it been
the case, which I did not credit and which had
been forgotten. I doubt if tlie subject would have
again crossed my mind, had it not been brought
to my notice by you or some one else. I have
never heard hira or any of his friends allude to this
matter. He, (the general,) in consequence of his
wound not healing, which gave him so much
pain as to render hira unfit for duty, left a short
time since, by advice of his medical attendant, for
New Orleans, where I hope he has arrived in
safety, and where I truly hope he will very soon
recover, so as to be able to take the field once

/ may obscri-e that I have been also named as a
candidate for that hi!j;h office by a few newspaper
editors and others, tdiich has been done without my
kiimcledge, icishcs or consent.

This I have assured all who have written me
on the subject, assuring them I had no aspirations
for that or any other civil office ; that my whole
energies, mental and physical, were and had been
absorbed in such a way as I thought best calcu-
lated to bring this war to a speedy and honorable
close, believing it was for the interest of both
countries the sooner it was done the better — at any
rate so far as ours was concerned ; and that presi-
dent-making should be lost sight of until this was

[Here follows a brief statement of events from
the time of General Scott's arrival at the Brazos
till General Taylor returned from Victoria to Mon-
terey. The letter then proceeds :]

I retraced my steps to Monterey, where I arrived
towards the latter part of the month, (January,)
and where I expected to remain some time to "re-
cruit myself and horses ; but a few days after my
arrival I received information from the command
in my front at Saltillo, (C5 miles in the direction
of San Luis Potosi from Monterey,) that the com-
mand—between 4,000 and 5,000 strong— under
Gen. Wool had become very much alarmed in
consequence of about 100 picked men and horses,
belonging to the Kentucky and Arkansas regi-
ments of mounted men, who were sent out towards
San Luis to gain intelligence respecting the ene-
my, and to Avatch their movements, having been
taken, after being surrounded in the night and all
made prisoners by a large force of cavalry, about
50 miles in advance of Saltillo. So said one of the
party who succeeded in making his escape the
next night and getting back to Saltillo ; also that
the Mexican array was advancing in great num-
bers towards Saltillo. These reports induced me
to join my advance immediately. Leaving Mon-
terey on the 31st of January, 1 reached Saltillo on
the morning of the 2d February with a small re-
inforcement, which increased my force to 5,000,
when I lost no time in moving forward and estab-
lishing a carnp at this place, about twenty miles
in advance of Saltillo on the San Luis road, for
the purpose of carrying on a system of instruction,
as well as to watch the inoveraents of the enemy,
and where I expected to fight him, should he at-
tempt to move on Saltillo. Here I remained until J

the 21st, examining the several passes through the
mountams — at which time I ascertained that Gen-
eral Santa Anna was advancing and near at hand
with an overwhelming I'orce. Not exactly liking
my position, having ascertained that he could
gain my rear by two roads on my right and one
on my left, and not deeming ij prudent to divide
my forces, and having apprehensions about my
supplies which were in Saltillo, I determined at
once to fall back towards that place about twelve
miles, and occupy a strong position between two
spurs of a mountain with a narrow valley between
them, where at one point the road is so narrow as
to permit the passage of only one wagon at a time,
with deep gullies running up to the mountains,
washed by the rains so as to prevent horses or
carriages from passing tliem without great diffi-
culty. Said position had been closely examined
by the topographical engineers under the eye of
Gen. Wool before my arrival, who deemed it ad-
mirably adapted to resist a large with a small
force, as well as adapted to the description of force
which composed our army. We therefore fell
back and occupied it on the evening of the 21st,
and at once made the necessary preparations for
giving battle.

The next day the enemy made his appearance
early in the day, and, after reconnoitering our po-
sition for some time, at 2 o'clock, p. m., I received,
by a staff officer with a flag, a communication
from Gen. Santa Anna, requiring me to surrender
at discretion, stating that in the event of my doing
so, Vv-e should be well treated ; that he had sur-
rounded me with more than 20,000 men ; that re-
sistance was out of the question ; and, if I atterapt-
ed it, my command would be put to rout, and
must be destroyed. In reply, I stated I could not
comply with his demand, and he was at liberty to
commence operations whenever he was inclined
to do so. Soon after this the action was com-
menced with his skirmishers on our left, which
was promptly met by ours, and continued with-
out intermission on the side of the mountain until

In the morning at sunrise he renewed the con-
test Avith an overwhelming force — with artillery,
infantry and dragoons — which lasted with very
slight intermissions until dark. A portion of the
time the contest was much the severest I have
ever witnessed, particularly towards the latter part
of the day, when he (Santa Anna) brought up his
reserve, and in spite of every effort on our part,
after the greatest exertions I have ever witnessed
on both sides, drove us by an immense superiority
of numbers for some distance. He had at least
five to one at that point against us. Fortunately,
at the most critical moment, two pieces of artille-
ry which I had ordered up to support that part of
our line, met our exhausted men retreating, Avhen
they were brought into battery and opened on the
enemy, then wiliiin fifty yards in hot pursuit,
with canister and grape, which brought him to a
halt, and soon compelled hira to fall back. In this
tremendous contest we lost three pieces of artil-
lery, nearly all the men and horses having been
killed or crippled, which put it out of our power



40 bring them off; nor did I deem it advisable to
attempt to regain them.

The enemy made his principal efforts against
our flanks, fie was handsomely repulsed in every
attempt on our right, but succeeded early in the
day in gaining our left, in consequence of the
giving way of one of the volunteer regiments,
which could not be rallied with but few excep-
tions, the greater portion retiring about a mile to
a large rancho or farm house, where our wagons
and a portion of our stores were left. These were
soon after attacked by the enemy's cavalry, who
were repulsed with some loss.

For several hours the fate of the day was ex-
tremely doubtful, so much so that I was urged by
some of the most experienced officers to fall back
and take up a new position. This I knew it would
never do to attempt with volunteers, and at once
declined it. The scene now had become one of
the deepest interest. Between the several deep
ravines there were portions of level land from one
to four hundred yards in extent, which became
alternately points of attack and defence, after our
left was turned by both sides. These extended
along and near the base of the mountain for about
two miles, and the struggle for them may be
very appropriately compared to a game of chess.
Night put a stop to the contest, and, strange to
say, both armies occupied the same positions they
did in the raorhing before the battle commenced.
Our artillery did more than wonders. We lay on
our arms all night, as we had done the two pre-
vious ones, without fires, there being no wood to
be had, and the mercury below the freezing point,
ready and expecting to renew the contest the next
morning; but we found at daylight the enemy
had retreated during the night, leaving his killed,
and many of his wounded, for us to bury and
lake care of — carrying off everything else, and
taking up a position at this place. We did not
think it advisable to pursue, not knowing whether
he would renew the attack, continue his retreat,
or wished to draw us from our strong position ;
but contented ourselves with watching his move-
ments closely. Finding, on the 26th, he had re-
newed his retreat, early on the morning of the
27th the army was put in motion for this place,
where we arrived about 3 o'clock, p. m. — their
guard, consisting of cavalry, leaving as our ad-
vance got in siglit. I at once determined on ha-
rassing his rear; but on examining the state of the
men and horses,! found that five days and nights
marching, incessant watching, and sixteen hours
hard fighting, had so exhausted the first and broken
down the latter, it was next to impossible to ac-
complish anything whhout rest. We remained
quiet here until the 2d instant, when I pushed a
command on the San Luis road to a large planta-
tion called Incarnacion, where we found between
two and three hundred wounded in the most
wretched condition, besides those they carried with

the passes of the mountains, 2,000 cavalry, and
early in the morning of the next day, the 23d,
made demonstrations against Saltillo and through-
out the day. They succeeded at one time in cut-
tion off the communication between the city and
battle ground, and making several prisoners, but
were driven away by the officer commanding in
the city, with two pieces of artillery, covered by
about sixty men. They, however, while in pos-
session of the road, prevented a good many from
running off to the city, to which place about 200
of our men had succeeded in getting previously
to the cavalry occupying the road — they, the run-
aways, reporting that our army was beaten and
in full retreat.

The loss on both sides was very great, as you
may suppose — enough so on ours to cover the
whole country with mourning, for among the no-
blest and purest of the land have fallen. We had
240 killed and 500 wounded. The enemy has
suffered in still greater numbers, but as the dead
and wounded are scattered all over the country, it
is difficult to ascertain their number. The prison-
ers who have fallen into our hands, (between 200
and 300 — enough to exchange for all who have
been taken from us,) — as well as some medical
officers left behind to take care of the wounded,
say their killed and wounded is not less than
1 ,500, and they say perhaps more.

I hope the greater portion of the good people
of the country will be satisfied with what we have
done on this occasion. I flatter myself that our
compelling a Mexican army of more than 20,000
men, completely organized and led by their chief
magistrate, to retreat, with less than 500 regulars
and about four thousand volunteers, will meet
their approval. I had not a single company of
regular infantry ; the whole was taken from rne.
I was truly gratified to observe that the chief
magistrate of your state had conferred on you the
rank of brigadier general in the militia, and had
hoped the President of the United States would
have called you into service as such with the new
regiments, and hope he may yet do so, as I need
hardly repeat the pleasure it would give me to be
associated with you in carrying on this Avar. The
road to the city of Mexico from here is now open,
and we only want a few thousand of good regu-
lars, in addition to the volunteers, to enable us to
reach that place. What effect our late battle will
have on Santa Anna and the Mexican Congress,
time must determine; but I sincerely hope it will
lead to peace. One thing is certain : their princi-
pal army has become demolished, and it will be
very difficult for them to raise and equip another.
I regretted to hear your crop of sugar was a
short one, but sincerely hope, as the failure of the
crop was general, that the high prices obtained
will fully make up for quantity.

I much fear I have spun out this long, and to
you uninteresting epistle, beyond your patience

them and left here and on the field. Here we took even to wade through it ; but I have the consola

about ten prisoners, the main part of their army
having proceeded on in the direction of San Luis
iu a very disorganized condition.
On the 22d the enemy threw in our rear, through

tion to know you are not compelled to read the

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Online LibraryJ. G. (John Gideon) MillingenThe Taylor text-book, or Rough and ready reckoner → online text (page 11 of 16)