J. G. (John Gideon) Millingen.

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

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whole or any part of it. I will conclude by de-
siring you to present me most respectfully to youi
excellent lady, as well as to my friend Colonel



42



MILITARY.



Nicholas, aud accept my sincere wishes for the
continued heahh and prosperity of you and yours
through a long life.

With respect and esteem, vour friend,

Z. TAYLOR.
Gen. E. G. W. Butler, Louisiana.



LETTER FROM GEN. TAYLOR, IN RE-
GARD TO THE INDIANA REGIMENT'S
CONDUCT AT BUENA VISTA.
Gen. Taylor's official report of the battle of
Buena Vista made mention of the retreat of the
2d Indiana regiment, or a portion of them, at a
critical period of the conflict. Tlie announcement
of this fact caused considerable dissatisfaction in
the State of Indiana, and Gen. Taylor was writ-
ten to on the subject. The following letter from
the man who asts no favors and shrinks from no
responsibilities, is eminently characteristic :

Baton Rouge, La., March 3d, 1848.
Dear Sir : — I have had the pleasure of receiv-
ing your letter of February 17th, enclosing a copy
of the Resolutions adopted by the Senate of In-
diana, relative to the services of the officers and
soldiers Avho were under my command in Mexico,
and also to myself.

It is deeply gratifying to me to receive the marks
of approval and grateful expressions embodied in
these resolutions, but it is infinitely more gratify-
ing and acceptable that they are testimonials from
a State to which I have^ by early associations as
well as by a friendlv and warm regard for her
citizens, always been warmly attached. The re-
membrance of my earliest service upon the bor-
ders of Indiana, and my intimate acquaintance
with her early history, awaken in me the pleasant-
est feelings. It would have afforded me very great
pleasure to have accepted the invitation to visit
the State, as expressed in the resolutions, but I
am induced to await in the neighborhood of this
place, where I have located my family, such or-
ders as the Department of War may at any mo-
ment communicate to me for future service in the
field.

In relation to the impression, which seems to be
current, that my official report of the battle of
Buena Vista had done marked injustice to the 2d
regiment of Indiana troops, I have only to say,
that nothing has been developed subsequently to
the date of that report to cause me to change it.
It was founded upon my own personal observa-
tion on the tield, and upon the official statements
of my subordinates — and 1 would say, that all
might have been well, had not many of the offi-
cers agitated the subject in a manner greatly to
injure the regiment, and involve the credit of the
State, which I very much regret.

In all armies, the best and most experienced
troops have been, at times, subject to panics un-
der a murderous fin» of an enemy, which are in-
explicable. Such, it is most probable, may have
been the case at the lime in (juostion. I am proud
and free to state, however, tliat my confidence in
that regiment was not lost, but it was my inten-
tion to have placed it in action had the enemy re-
sumed his attack on the day following; and I



have always felt assured and confident that had
the battle been renewed, the 2d Indiana regiment
would have acquitted itself with gallantry and in-
trepidity on all future occasions before the enemy.

Please convey to the members of the Legisla-
ture of the State my high sense of the comphment
they have so flatteringly conferred upon the offi-
cers and men who composed my command in
Mexico, and for their honorable notice of myself.

With sentiments of high respect,

I am, dear sir,
Your most obedient servant,
Z. TAYLOR.

John D. Defreks, Editor of the State Journal,
Indianapolis, Ind.

Correspondence of the JY. O. Picayune.
GEN. TAYLOR'S SPEECH AT PLAQUE-
MINE.

On Tuesday evening last. General Taylor left
Baton Rouge for a visit among his friends in the
Parish of Iberville. We understand that his re-
ception on the east side of the river was enthusi-
astic beyond description, and characterized by the
display of the most ardent love and admiration. —
When it was known by the citizens of Plaque-
mine that the General was in the vicinity, a num-
ber of his friends determined to invite him to visit
the town, and accordingly Friday noon Avas ap-
pointed as the time, and accepted of by the Gene-
ral. Although a few hours only were given for
preparation, the manner of the reception, and the
welcome throughout, was in the very best taste,
and afforded pleasure to afl who participated in it.
There was an universal turn out, parties were all
forgotten, beautiful women, gallant men, youth,
age, alike pressed forward to render honor to the
old hero. At an early hour of the day, the ladies
assembled upon the galleries of the hotel, and oc-
cupied other places in the vicinity. At 12 o'clock
the General came into town, escorted by a large
number of his friends. He was received in front
of the hotel by his honor Mayor Desoby, who
welcomed him as follows :

General — It is with unfeignetl pleasure and
self-congratulation that, in the name of the citi-
zens of Plaquemine, I bid you welcome, and offer
you the hospitalities of the town. It would re-
quire eloquence far superior to mine to give utter-
ance to the joy and happiness which we feel at
beholding you among us. We see you the vic-
torious general Avilhout ostentation, surrounded by
no militarv cavalcade, great in that modesty which
distinguishes you, and worthy the praise and ad-
miration ol' a grateful country. We have heard
your praises sung throughout the land, and we
have longed with impatience to greet among us
the hero of Buena Vista. The day has come, and
we bless it — we will ever cherish it in our memo-
ries, for it has brought among us one whose high
deeds and noble actions have struck the world
with astonishment, and filled one of the brightest
pages in the annals of our national glory.

General Taylor, in reply, said he had not the
most distant idea that he was to be ceremoriiously
received by his fellow-citizens of Plaquemine, or



MrHTAIlT.



43



that there would be any occasion for him to make
a set speech. He, however, seemed much affect-
ed, and continued for some time in a strain that
was singularly eloquent. He spoke of the plea-
sure he always experienced in meeting his fellow-
citizens, of his long acquaintance with the State
of Louisiana, and of the universal good feeling
manifested towards him by her noble population.
He said that he had been in the public service for
forty years, and that in that time he had suffered
some hardships, but that he was paid over and
over again when he received such tokens of ap-
probation from his fellow-citizens as were then
exhibited ; he rejoiced that he was not alone a re-
cipient of the honors of the occasion, for there
were fathers present Avho had given sons to fight
for the honor of their country, some of whom had
stood by his side in the hour of peril ; but the kind
and unmerited attention of the fair daughters of
Louisiana he esteemed beyond praise.

He spoke of the Louisiana volunteers and of
their prompt march to the seat of war, of their dis-
appointments and sufferings, and of their willing-
ness at any hazard to march into the interior of
Mexico, and of the unfortunate causes that delay-
ed their movements, and finally led to their being
mustered out of service. He said he was in fa-
vor of their returning, for he knew that a large
portion of them had left their homes on the spur
of the moment, having suddenly, by the call of
patriotism, abandoned the plough, the work shop,
the counting desk and the pulpit, to secure their
country's flag, and save a little army that seemed
to be surrounded on all sides by an overwhelming
enemy.

THIS AMERICAN AND TRULY PATRI-
OTIC SPIRIT OP THE CITIZEN SOLDIER,
SAID GEN. TAYLOR, EXCITED A NEW
SYMPATHY IN THE REGULAR ARMY,
SUCH AS HE HAD NEVER BEFORE
WITNESSED IN HIS EXPERIENCE OF
NEAR FORTY YEARS. I SEE AROUND
ME, CONTINUED the GENERAL, GRAY
HAIRED VETERANS WHOSE YOUTH
HAS BEEN SPENT IN THE SERVICE
OF THEIR COUNTRY, LIKE MY OWN.
THEY ARE RAPIDLY CLOSING THEIR
EARTHLY CAREER; LET US HOLD,
SAID HE. AVITH A STEADY GRASP,
THE CATALOGUE OF PUBLIC AND PRI-
VATE DUTY OUR COUNTRY HAS
GIVEN US, THAT OUR EXAMPLES MAY
BE WORTHY of IMITATION BY THESE
YOUTHS (POINTING TO SIXTY OR
SEVENTY BOYS WHO FORMED PART
OF THE PROCESSION) THAT ARE SOON
TO OCCUPY OUR PLACES. AND FILL
OUR STATIONS IN LIFE. WHO ARE IN
FACT THE GLORY OF OUR COUNTRY
AND THE WEALTH OF OUR FREE IN-
STITUTIONS.

The effect of this address, so evidently the spon-
taneous feelings of an overflowing heart, cannot
be imagined, and several moments elapsed before
the silence was broken by the huzzas that fol-
lowed.



GENERAL HUMPHRY MARSHALL'S

Sketch of Tiiylor's Characler.

Gen. Taylor's Character as a Man. — The
character of General Taylor as a r^oldicr needs no
illustrating, but as the people have known nothing
of him but in his capachy of a military leader,
every new fact in relation to his personal history
is hstened to with eagerness, for it is row beyond
dispute that he will be our next President, if he
should live. The following summary of his per-
sonal qualities was delivered by Col. Humphrey
Marshall, at a barbacue given to the Kentucky
Volunteers at Jeffersontown, on the 10th. It gives
the clearest and most distinct ideas of the man
of any account that we have read, and fully ex-
plains the cause of General Taylor being held in
such high admiration by all who have any per •
sonal communication with him. We do not re-
member that we have ever seen a character which
so fully reahzes the ideal of a genuine American.
Col. Humphrey summed it all up in a very short
and expressive phrase. "He is one of the com-
mon people of the country.*' But we would that
such commoners were not so uncommon :

''My service in Mexico frequently brought me
near to Gen. Taylor, and I was industrious in my
examination of the actual character of the man
whenever opportunity was presented. I have no
motive to deceive you, and you must take the im-
pressions I received for what they are worth. If
I desired to express in the fewest words what man-
ner of man General Taylor is, I should say that,
in his manners and his appearance he is one of
the common people of this coimtnj. He might be
transferred from his tent at Monterey to this as-
sembly and he would not be remarked among this
crowd of respectable old farxners as a man at all
distinguished from those around him. Perfectly
teraperhte in his habits; perfectly plain in his
dress; entirely unassuming in his manners, he
appears to be an old gentleman in fine health,
whose thoughts are not turned upon his personal
appearance, and who has no point about him to
attract particular attention. In his intercourse
with men, he is free, frank and manly. He plays
off none of the airs of some great men whom I
have met. Any one may approach him as nearly
as can be desired, and the more closely his char-
acter is examined, the greater beauties it discloses.

1 . He is an honest man. I do not mean by that
merely that he does not cheat or lie. I mean that
he is a man that never dissembles, and who scorns
all disguises. He neither acts a part among his
friends for effect, nor assumes to be what he is not.
Whenever he speaks you hear what he honestly
believes, and, Avhether right or wrong, you feel
assurance that he has expressed his real opinion.
His dealings with men have been of a most va-
ried character, and I have never heard his honest
name stained by a breath of the slightest reproach.

2. He is a man of rare good judgmciit. By no
means possessed of that brilliancy of genius which
attracts bv ils flashes, yet, like the meteor, expires
even while you gaze upon it ; by no means pos-
sessing that combination of talent which pane-



44



MILITARY.



trates instantly the abstrusest subject, and mea-
sures its length and breadth as if by intuition,
Gen. Taylor yet has that order of intellect which
more slowly but quite as surely masters all that
it engages, and examines all the combinations of
which the subject is susceptible. When he an-
nounces his conclusions you feel confident that he
well understands the ground upon which he plants
himself, and yet rest assured that the conclusion
is the deduction of skill and sound sense faithfully
applied to the matter in hand. It is this order of
mind which has enabled him, unlike many other
officers of the army, to attend to the wants of his
family, by so using the means at his disposal as
to surround himself in his old age Avith a hand-
some private fortune, and to be blessed with an
almost perfect constitution. I would to-day pre-
fer his advice in any matter of private interest —
would take his opinion as to the valueof an estate
— would rather follow his suggestions in a scheme
where property or capital was to be embarked,
would pursue more confidently his counsel where
the management of an army Avas involved, or the
true honor of my country was at stake, than that
of any other man I have ever known. I regard
his judgment as being first rate at everything, from
a horse whip up to a trade in human life upon the
field of battle.

3 He is a firm man and possessed of great energy
of character. It were a waste of time to dwell
upon these traits of his character, for his military
career has afforded such abundant examples of
his exercise of these qualities as to render them
famihar to every citizen who has ever read or
heard of the man. In his army they are daily
exhibited and stand conspicuously displayed iii
every order which emanates from his pen.

4:. He is a benevolent man. This quality has
been uniformly displayed in his treatment of the
prisoners who have been placed in his power by
the vicissitudes of war. No man who had seen
him after the battle of Buena Vista as he ordered
the wagons to bring in the Mexican wounded from
the battle field, and heard him as he at once cau-
tioned his own men that the wounded were to be
treated with mercy, could doubt that he was alive
to all the kinder impulses of our nature. The in-
discretions of youth he chides with paternal kind-
ness yet with the decision which forbids their
repetition, and the young men of his army feel
that It IS a pleasure to gather around him, because
they know that they are as welcome as though
they visited the hearth-stone of their own home,
and they are always as freely invited to partake of
what he has to offer as if they were under the
roof of a father. His conduct in sparing the de-
serters who were captured at Buena Vista ex-
hibited at the same time in a remarkable manner
his benevolence and his judgment. "Don't shoot
them," said he; the worst punishment I will in-
flict IS to return them to the Mexican army."
When Napoleon said to one of his battalions "In-
scribe it on their flag: 'No longer of the army of
Italy,' " he used an expression which was deemed
so remarkable that history preserved it for the ad-
miration of future ages, yet it was not more forci-



0':



lociii



ble as an illustration of his power in touching th(
springs of human action than is that of Genera
Taylor illustrative of the manner in which h(
would make an example for the benefit of th(.
army.

5. He is a man of business luibits. I never hav(
known Gen. Taylor to give up a day to pleasure
I have never visited his quarters without seeing
evidences of the industry with which he toiledj ,
If his talented adjutant was surrounded by papersi JJj,
so was the General. A nd though he would salutei
a visitor kindly and bid him with familiar gracef
to amuse himself until he was at leisure, he neveri
would interrupt the duties which his station calledc
him to perform. When these were closed for the<
day, he seemed to enjoy to a remarkable degrees
the vivacity of young officers and to be glad toe
mingle in their society. As a conversationist, II
do not think Gen. Taylor possesses great power. 1
He uses few words and expresses himself withi
energy and force, but not fluendy. His language**!
is select. I would say, however, from the know
ledge of the man, that he is entirely capable of!
producing anything in the shape of an order or
letter which has ever appeared over his signature,
and in saying so much I understand myself as as-
serting that he is master of his mother tongue, ,;
and can write about as effectively and handsomely,
as he can fight. Such then is the picture of the
man — not of the general — who won my esteem.
I am not in the habit of eulogising men, and have
indulged on this occasion because I desired to de-
scribe to you with the exactness of truth those
qualities which, combined in Gen. Taylor, made
him appear to me as a first rate model of a true
American character. Others will dwell upon the
chivalry he has so often displayed, and his great-
ness so conspicuously illustrated upon the field of
battle ; I formed my ideas of the man when he
was free from duty, and had no motive to appear
in any other light than such as was thrown upon
him by nature, education and principles.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE

MOVEMENT OF U. S. TROOPS TO THE

RIO GRANDE?

General Taylor has been often charged by poli-
ticians with having produced the Mexican war,
by moving the U. States troops from the Nueces
to the Rio Grande. This is an error, which a
moment's reflection on the subject, and a perusal
of the official documents will dispel.

1st. The U. S. troops were ordered by the
President and the War Department into Texas,
and consequently the responsibility of that move
must be borne, exclusively, by the Executive.

2d. Until Mexico acknowledged the independ-
ence of Texas, and whilst she made it a ground
of controversy, the placing a single regiment of
U. S. soldiers in that State, was, under the laws
of nations, as far as Mexico was concerned, quite
as much an invasion of the soil of that Republic
as the marching of the U. S. troops from the
Nueces to the Rio Grande.

3d. On the 15th of June, 1845, Mr. Bancroft,
who then acted as Secretary of War, wrote as



MILITARY,



49



.1 iws to General Taylor: — "The point of your

ULTIMATE destination is the Western frontier of

Texas, luhere you will select and occupy, on or near

I the Rw Grande del Mjvte, such a site as will con-

|sist with the health of tlie troops, and will be best

adapted to repel invasion, and to protect what,

IN THE EVENT OF ANNEXATION, WILL BE Ot'R

Western frontier." See House of Reps.
document, No. 196, May, 1846.

This, it Avill be perceived, is a distinct and posi-
tive order as to a defined boundary, emanating
from General Taylor's constitutional commander,
and allowing him no liberty of choice, and con-
fiding in him no discretion as to his ultimate po-
sition. A military man has nothing to do with
the diplomatic question. His duty is imphcit
obedience.

On the 30th of July, 1845, the actual Secretary
of War, Mr. Marcy, announced to General Tay-
lor that " the Rio Gratule is claimed to be the
boundary beticecn the two countries, and, up to
this boundary you are to extend your protection,
only excepting such posts on the Eastern side
thereof which are in actual occupancy of Mexican
forces, or Mexican settlements over which the
Republic of Mexico did not exercise jurisdiction at
the period of annexation. It is expected, that, in
selecting the establishment for your troops you
will approach as near the boundary line, —
THE Rio Grande — as prudence will dic-
tate."

This, and even more forcible language, was re-
peated in letters from the same source on the 23rd
and 30th of August, and on the 16th of October,
1845. In the last letter the Secretary of War
states, unequivocally, that the Rio Grande IS
the boundary of Texas. We refer for proof
to Senate Document, No. 337, 29th Congress, 1st
Session, pages 75, 77, 80, 81, 82.

4th. In October, 1845, General Taylor review-
ed the instructions from the War Department, and
seeing that he had been ordered to the Rio Grande,
or its neighborhood, as the Texan boundary,
he ventured to suggest an advance of his army.
But he did this expressly with a soldier's view of
the topography and defence of the country ; and
he informed our Government that " if it made
the Rio Gh'ande an ultimatum in adjusting a
boundary, he doubted not that the settlement
would be facilitated by taking possession, at once,
of one or two suitable points on or quite near that
river." At those spots our strength would be
displayed in a manner not to be mistaken, whilst
the position of our troops at the remote camp of
Corpus Christi, with arid wastes between them
and the outposts of Mexico, altogether failed to
impress that Government with our readiness to
vindicate, by force of arms, our title to the coun-
try as far as the Rio Grande. See Senate Docu-
ment, No. 337, 29th Congress, 1st Session, page
99.

This advice, the reader will observe, is founded
only on the hypothesis that the Government at
Washington meant to insist on the boundary of
the Rio Grande, and was thus cautiously given
by General Taylor, even after he had been posi-



tively told, as we have proved, that tlie river too*
the actual limit of Texas.

In order to prevent any error or misapprehen-
sion, we give Gen. Taylor's exact language in his
letter to the War Department :

"• Our poshionthus far (meaning Corpus Chris-
ti) has been the best possible; but now that the en-
tire I'orce will soon be concentrated, it may well
be a question whether the views ov Govern-
ment will bt^ best carried out by our remaining at
this point. It is with great deference that I make
any suggestions on topics which may become
matter of delicate negotiation ; but if our
Government, in settling the question of boundary,
makes the line of the Rio Grande an rdtimatum, 1
cannot doubt that the settlement Avill be greatly
facilitated and hastened by our taking possession
at once of one or two suitable points at or quite
near that river. Our strength and state of prepa-
ration should be displayed in a maimer not to be
mistaken. However salutary may be the effect
produced upon the border people by our presence
here, we are too far from the frontier to impress
the Government of Mexico with our readiness to
vindicate, by force of arms ii" necessary, our title
to the country as far as the Rio Grande." (See
same document.)

This passage expresses no opinion originating
with himself, but is based, solely, on the " views
of the Government,"

5th. We have said that General Taylor, in this
counsel, acted merely as a soldier and not as a
diplomatist ; we shall now confirm our assertion
by positive authority. In the document last refer-
red to, at page 124, a letter from General Taylor
to Ampudia will be found, dated 12th April,
1846, in reply to one from the Mexican chief, in
which he endeavours to discuss the qnestion of boun-
dary with Taylor. To this General Taylor point-
edly answers : " I need hardly advise you, that
charged as I am in only a military capacity,

WITH the performance OF SPECIFIC DUTIES, I
CANNOT ENTER INTO A DISCUSSION OF THE INTER-
NATIONAL Q,UESTION INVOLVED IN THE ADVANCE

OF THE American Army."

6th. But, according to all laws, he who gives
the order to do a certain thing is responsible lor all
its consequences, and the actual order for this
advance, we shall now see, came directly from
the Executive at Washington.

Hear the President on this point, in his annual
message to Congress of December 8th, 1846:

"CORPUS CHRISTI WAS THE POSI-
TION SELECTED BY GEN. TAYLOR.—
He encamped at that place in August, 1845, and
the army remained in that position until the Uth
of March, 1846, when it moved westward; and,
on the 28th of that month, reached the east bank
of the Rio Grande, opposite to Matamoros. —
THIS MOVEMENT WAS MADE IN PUR-
SUANCE OF ORDERS FROM THE WAR
DEPARTMENT, ISSUED ON THE 13th
OF JANUARY, 1846."

Again, in his special message of May 11, 1846,
he said :

"It became, therefore, of urgent necessity to



46



MILITARY.



provide for the defence of that portion of our
country, [the country between the Nueces and
the Rio Grande, where Mexico had mihtary es-
tablishments, &c.] Accordingly, on the loth of
January last, imtnictioiis were issued to the Gene-
ral in command of these troops to occupy the left
bank of the Del jNWc."

The instructions to whicli the President alludes
are contained in the following extract of a letter |
from Mr. Marcy to Gen. Taylor, then, and until


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Online LibraryJ. G. (John Gideon) MillingenThe Taylor text-book, or Rough and ready reckoner → online text (page 12 of 16)