J. G. (John Gideon) Millingen.

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

. (page 13 of 16)
Online LibraryJ. G. (John Gideon) MillingenThe Taylor text-book, or Rough and ready reckoner → online text (page 13 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the 11th of March thereafter, at Corpus Ciiristi :


These documents show irresistibly :

1st. That the Secretary of War asserted, posi-
tively, that the Rio Grande was the Texan boun-
dary, before Taylor went to Texas.

2d. I'hat Taylor never expressed the opinion
that the river in question was the boundary.

3d. That he acted and advised, as an obedient
SOLDIER, only according to the " views of the

4th. That the President, directly, ordered the
advance of the troops which produced the actual

5th. That the President was the only constitu-
tional authority that could have conmianded the
advance, and, consequently, that h» is solely re-
sponsible ibr all the issues.


The New York " Literary World " is en-
riched by a brief paper from the pen of Mr.
Stephens, who acquired both celebrity and for-
tune, a few years since, by his interesting "In-
cidents of Travels" in the Holy Land, and at a
later period by his discoveries in Central America.
Mr. S. was one of the passengers on board our
splendid steamer Washington, on her first voyage
to Europe, and he availed himself of her brief de-
tention at Bremen to pay a visit to Baron Alex-
ander Von Humboldt, wliom he found residing
with the King of Prussia in the palace at Potts-
<lam, :>0 miles from Berlin. After an interesting
description of the Baron's personal appearance
and pursuits in his green old age, Mr. Stephens
proceeds to say :

"Out of Europe, Mexico seemed to be the
country whicli intere.'-ted him most; perhaps frosn
its connexion with those countries Avhich had
brought me to his acquaintance, or more probably,
because it was the foundation of his own early
fame. He spoke of Mr. Prescott's History of the
( 'onquest, and said that I might, when the oppor-
tunity offered, say to that gentleman as I'rom him-

self, that there was no historian of the age, ini|
England or Germany, equal to him.

"And he was keenly alive to the present condi-
tion of Mexico : he was lull of our Mexico war :
his eyes were upon Gen. Taylor and the American
Jlrmy. I was well aware, that in the conduct ol
this war Gen. Taylor was drawing upon himself
the eyes of all Europe ; and that whatever might
he the diflerences of opinion as to its necessity or
justice, it was producing everywhere, in mon
archical and anti-republican countries, a strong:
impression of our ability and power for war —
which, in enlightened Europe, even at this day,
more than all the fruits of peace, industry and
extended commerce, more than the exhibition of!
twenty millions of people abounding in all thei
comforts of life, raises us to the rank of a 'first,
rate power, and makes us respected.'

"Baron Humboldt said that whh one of his own
maps before them, the King and his military coun-
cil had followed General Taylor from his encamp-
ment at Corpus Christi, to Palo Alto and Resaca;
de la Palma, through the storming of Monterey,
and the bloody scenes of Buena Vista. They
had fought over all his battles, and with his posi-
tions all marked on the map, were then looking
lor further tidings. They had seen and appre-
ciated all his diliiculties at Buena Vista. In Prus-
sia war is a science, and according to the leading
policy of Europe, to be always ready for war,
every male in Prussia, the highest nobleman's son
not excepted, is compelled to serve his regular
term in the array. In the teeth of all settled opin-
ions, and as it were upsetting the whole doctrine
of standing armies. General Taylw, with a hand-
ful of regulars, and a smcdl body of volunteers who
had never been in battle, and stood up for a ivhole
day against a murderous fire, and had finally de-
feated four times Ids number. Field Marshals and
Generals of Prussia, among them veterans who
had studied the art of war on the great battle-field
of Europe, were struck with admiration at the
daring and skill displayed at Buena Vista ; and
this admiration. Baron Humboldt said, they ex-
pressed without reserve, freely, pubhcly, and
everywhere. Amid the bitterness and malignity
of the English press, it was grateful to hear from
such lips, that the leading mihtary men of a mili-
tary nation did justice to the intrepidity and firm-
ness of our volunteers, and to the courage, skill, ,
and high military talents of Gen. Taylor : while
Baron Humboldt's conunents upon his dispatches ■
and orders, and in fact upon all that related to him
personally in the conduct of the war, were such
as no American could listen to without feeling

From the Virginia Free Preas.

Piciiiiiiisceiiccs of Geucnl Taylor.

The victorious achievements of Palo Alto, and
Resaca de la Palma, where the U. States forces
displayed as much gallantry and noble daring, as
was ever exhibited in ancient or modern warfare,
has called up early associations in the mind of
the writer, and thrown it back upon scenes where



the Hero of the Rio Grande " fleshed his maiden
sword," and culled the first laurels that entwine
his brow.

It was, I think, in the spring of 1814, that the
startling news reached St. Louis, of the capture
of Prairie du Chien, (a fort on thv upper Missis-
sippi river,) and of the repulse of Captain Camp-
bell, who had gone up in a boat, with his com-
pany of United States troops, for the relief of the
place. This gave the British and Indians com
mand of the upper Mississippi, and fears were en-
tertained for the safety of St. Louis. Fort Madi-
son had been evacuated, Chicago, Greenbay, Prai-
rie du Chien, and the whole of the upper country
was in possession of the enemy, and nothing then,
apparently, could oppose their descent of the river,
and the fall of St. Louis.

But there was a gallant spirit on our western
border — a brave soldier, who had been schoohd
tmder William Henry Harrison. Under that great
and good man he had first unsheathed his sword,
and distinguished himself in his warfare with a
subtle foe — Major Zachary Taylor had exhibited
such indomitable courage, such coolness in battle,
when kis fort was on fire, and surrounded by In-
dians — such resources within himself, when even
hope failed almost within every other breast — that
he was ordered to the protection of that exposed
frontier, and to stay the progress of the invading
enemy. Nobly did he achieve the undertaking —
gallantly did he resist and stop their onward
march, and relieve the country from the appre-
hended danger.

With one company of regulars, and as many
volunteers from the territories of Illinois and Mis-
souri, as he could hastily assemble at Portage de
Sieux, he commenced the ascent of the Mississippi
river in " keel-boats " — a craft not dissimilar to the
largest class boats on the Chesapeake and Ohio
Canal. They were bullet-proof however — the
weather-boarding being hard seasoned oak plank,
one and a half inches thick — along the whole
length of the boat, two rows of port-holes, about
two inches square and three feet apart, opened on
each side, and on the stern and bow decks, six-
pound swivel guns were mounted, liaving three
embrasures, one on each side, and one in the end.
We were eight boats altogether, containing from
100 to 150 men each, and propelled by oars,
twenty-five on each side. Thus slowly and tedi-
ously crawling up stream, we ascended the river,
without encountering an enemy until we arrived
nearly opposite Rock river, a considerable stream
emptying on the eastern side of the Mississippi.
Here we found a numerous force of Indians and
British emcamped. The very thing we had been
looking after, and which gave our troops so much
delight; and here, on the ensuing morning, the
gallant Taylor determined to give them battle.
We landed therefore about dark, at a small island,
a little above the mouth of Rock river, and lying
close to the western side of the Mississippi, our
boats moored contiguous to each other along the
shore, bow to stern, and sentinels placed around in
the arch of a circle, from the first to the last boat,
and reaching about fiity yards into the woods.

About daylight, or just before, as the corporal

of the guard, by direction of the sergeant, wa*
looking at his watch, to see if it was not time to
relieve the guard, and stooping for that purpose
with the watch in his hand, to the light of a small
camp fire, the crack of a rifle was heard, and the
watch dropped from the corporal's hand, and he
ran into the boat, with his wrist broken. The
sentinels in conformity with previous orders re-
treated to the boats, and the drums beat to arms.
As soon as it was ascertained that tlie enemy was
on (he island, and would not attack the boats, or-
ders were passed from boat to boat, for one half of
each to turn out — the other half with tire guard to
remain in charge of the boats.

Day about this time began to illuminate the
east, and dispel the gloom which surrounded us.
Some confusion at firs t had been created by the
noise of the drums, the retreat of the guard, and
arousing the men from their slumbers, but with
the coming light all was quieted, and the troops
soon formed on the bank of the river. The hour
had now arrived which the men had so much de-
sired — during the long and tedious trip they had
frequently talked it over — formed their plans — and
determined how they would act Avhen the trial
came — and now, that the time had arrived, upon
which the lives of so many hung, they were as
brave, dauntless, and eager as ever.

The island at which we lay, was only separated
from the western bank of the Mississippi by a
narrow and shallow channel, usually fordable,
and so thickly set with small willows and brush,
that it only could be penetrated by the men stoop-
ing, crawling and worming their way through.
With these obstacles to contend with, Taylor on
foot advanced whh his men, and very soon those
at the boats heard the commencement of the ac-
tion. At first, the reports of the fire-arms were
distinct and apart, but gradually they increased
in number and rapidity, until finally a constant
discharge was kept up, and we knew that the
whole force was engaged.

In the course of about an hour, Capt. Rector
returned with his company, and gave orders for
his boat to push off. This at first created some
alarm lor our friends on the island, as we were
apprehensive that they had been repulsed or sur-
rounded. But we were soon relieved — Taylor
had ordered Rector to drop down with his boat to
the main shore at the foot of the island, and cut up
some 40 or 50 canoes lying there — and with which
the Indians had crossed the river during the previ-
ous night. The Indians were giving way and
falling back before Taylor, and he was fearful they
would escape him in their canoes.

We dropped down stern-foremost, during which
time some twelve or fifteen axes were distributed,
and Lieut. Kincade with a sergeant and twenty-
five men were ordered to disembark, and cover
the party, while they demolished the canoes. In
stead of twenty-five, more than fiity jumped out,
and we had scarcely executed tlie order, before
the Indians arrived; and soon after we re-entered
the boat they opened their fire upon us. At the
same time, the British on the eastern bank of the



river, had brought fonvard their cannon, and
opened upon us and the other boats ; tiiis brought
Taylor and his force to the boats; he had driven
the IntUans from the island ; and the report of the
cannon admonished hira of the exposed stituation
of his frail liotilla.

At first the cannon balls flew over us, or fell
short ; but soon they began to hit us, and our situa-
tion grew rather hot ; the other boats were also
often hit — and Taylor determined to drop down
to a more secure place — upon our attempt to
push off our boat, we found that we were fast
aground — the boat upon being lightened by the
number who disembarked for the destruction of
the canoes, neared the shore, and the consequence
was that when we all returned, she grounded.
The Indians soon detected our situation, and made
the woods ring with their yell of exultation. As
the other boats passed down, Taylor was apprised
of our uncomfortable position — and ordered Capt.
Whitesides to relieve us, but his boat was under
such headway that he could not stop her for some
time — and we got off before he come up. Rector
foreseeing that when the Indians discovered we
were aground, they Avonld make a rush and at-
tempt to board us, or set fire to the boat, had or-
dered both swivels doubly charged with grape, and
half the men to keep their rifles loaded — soon they
came, a rushing pell-mell mob, covering the whole
beach. When they had reached within fifty yards
of the boat, we gave them a whole broadside at
once which sent them heller-skelter head over
heels back again, and strewed the shore with dead
and wounded — in this position we remained for
at least half an hour — the Indians keeping up a
constant fire — and making several charges to board
us, while all the cannon on the opposite shore
were brought to bear upon us. At length we si-
lenced the Indians for a few minutes, by detecting
a large number concealed in a thick willow clus-
ter immediately on the margin of the river, about
twenty steps above us — and through which crowd
we sent two cannister of grape — our bow embra-
sure had been accidently left open, and they had
assembled just above us and wounded several men
through the opening— during the short respite
most of our men jumped out into the water on
the river side of the boat ; keeping it between the
Indians and themselves, and thus lightening lier,
pulled her off. We then dropped down and join-
ed the other boats, the whole force then moved
slowly on to a prairie about a mile below Rock
river, where it disembarked and formed in order

of battle. Here Taylor waited for the enemy —
their numerous macanaw boats which had been
concealed up Rock river, now came out crowded
with Indians and soldiers, and exhibited a disposi-
tion as we thought to give us battle — from some
cause, however, they returned, and we waited
until night in vain — we retired to our boats at
dark, and the next morning no enemy was to be

Two Indians of the Kaskaskia tribe, who had
known Captain Rector for many years, accompa-
nied him on the expedition — Jim Cox and Deroin
— Jim Avas the most reckless being I ever knew, a
perfect dare d — 1. Each boat was provided with
a "falling mast," for the purpose of using sail
when the wind would allow; ours happened to
be standing at the time, and Jim not liking the
confinement of the cabin, where he could only see
through a small port-hole — planted himself on
deck, upright, behind the mast, and kept up a
constant tire upon the Indians with his unerring
rifle. As Ave lay aground we could see him over
our heads through the hatches, which were left
open for the smoke to escape — and ever and anon
he would cry out " Ca-pe-tain, g — d d — m, nusser
Ingin dead — wh-o-o-p!" And there the fellow
stood during the whole fight, behind a mast scarce-
ly two inches in diamster larger than himself, he
almost denuded and all the time yeUing defiance
to his foes.

Agreeable to previous orders, Taylor continued
doAvn the river the next day, and at the foot of
the loAver rapids erected Fort Johnson, a strong
stockade work, which commanded the channel of
the river for several miles, and effectually secured
the lower country from any apprehension of a
visit by the enemy. Upon the completion of the
Fort, the regulars were left to man it, and the
volunteers returned to St. Louis.

In a convesation held many years subsequently,
with Ke-o-cock, the head chief now of the Sauke
tribe, who Avas in the engagement and quite a
young man at the time, I learnt that the killed and
wounded at the island and Avhere the canoes were
destroyed, amounted to more than three hundred,
Avhich so crippled the Sauke and Fox tribes, that
they never assembled in any force after — and that
the British troops returned to Prairie de Chien,
Avhich they evacuated and burnt. Thus was St.
Louis protected, and the country reUeved from
danger, by as gallant and chivalrous a soldier as
ever breathed the breath of life.



At the present time, when whatever relates to
the history of our puL»hc men, whether in military
or civil stations^ is of interest^ perhaps it may not
be uninteresting to state that the schoolmdstcr of
Gen. Taylor, the hero of the late brilliant victory
over a greatly superior force of the Mexican army,
resides in the town of Preston, near this city. The
news of Gen. Taylor's bravery enkindles in the
old gentleman's bosom a degree of patriotism
which causes him to enter into the subject of our
difficulties with Mexico, with all the ardor of
youth, and to look with patriotic interest for what-
ever may relate to the glory and fame of one, who,
when a lad, was placed under his care and in-

Elisha Ayres, Esq., is the name of the per-
son to whom we refer. He left the town of Pres-
ton in 1787, or thereabouts, and pursued his way
southward, on horseback, in quest of business.
Much that is interesting, connected with his travels
and experience, we might relate, as repeated by
the old gentleman himself to us, but we simply
intend to refer to the circumstance of his being
the tutor of Zachary Taylor. Mr. A. established
himself as a teacher in the county of Jefferson,
near Louisville, Ky. Here he became acquainted
with Col. Richard Taylor, who had removed from
the State of Virginia, and at that time was col-
lector at the port of Louisville. He resided in the
family of Col. Taylor a portion of the time, and
had placed under his charge two of his sons,
named Hancock and Zachary — the first named
about eight years of age, and the last about six.
He speaks of Zachary as being a smart boy, who
gave promise of usefulness, and relates with much
satisfaction, various incidents and anecdotes con-
nected with the family and the times of that pe-
riod. — JYarvjich ( Ct.) JVcios.


The Louisville Journal says : — When General
Taylor was a young man, he and an older brother,
William, long since dead, swam from the Ken-
tucky shore across the Ohio river to the Indiana
shore, and back again without resting. The feat
was performed in the month of March, when the
river was swollen and chill. It gready surpassed
the famous one of swimming the Hellespont,
which is about a mile across, and of delightful
temperature. The Taylors were not accompanied
by a boat, as Byron was when he swam the Hel-
lespont, which makes all the difference in the
world. One winter when Gen. Taylor was sta-
tioned at Prairie du Chien, he used to walk every
morning from his lodgmgs to the barracks, without
a great coat, when the thermometer was forty de-
srees beloAv zero.


A correspandent of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
Avriling from the Brazos de Santiago, says :

" On the 26th, a friend of mine visited General
Taylor in the camp of Point Isabel, where he had
established his depot for stores in the armv. On
landing, the scene presented was quite a wild one,
and reminded one of the accounts we have receiv-
ed of an Arab encampment. There were three
or four hundred dragoons in the camp, with their
horses picketed about ; besides an immense num-
ber of wagons, mules and oxen. On stepping
ashore, an officer conducted my friend to the
General's tent. He was introduced to a very
plain, shabbily dressed old gentleman, of rather
small stature, about sixty years of age, and who
looked, by his hardy appearance, as if he had been
camping out all his life.

" This was the commander-in-chief of the army
of occupation. He has been 38 years in service
on the frontiers of our country. One of his offi-
cers remarked that ' old as he is, he bears the fa-
tigues and privations of the campaign better than
any one under him.' He was affable, dignified,
and in excellent spirits. His tent was no larger
and no better than those of the other officers, and
his table was his camp chest, in which he carried
ms cooking utensils, &c. His plates were tin
pans, and his cups (no saucers of course) tin pan-
nikins. A small supply of brown sugar was kept
in a tin canister, and not a piece of crockery was
to be seen. A party of six was thus entertained
in homely style, and they all seemed to enjoy it


The following, it is said, is a rude, but accurate
description of General Taylor :

One of the returned volunteers who fought un-
der Gen. Taylor at Monterey, has furnished us
with a leaf of his diary, describing the personal
appearance and manners of the great hero. We
insert it here for the benefit of our readers :

" The hero of Buena Vista, around whose mili-
tary brow so many chaplets of fame have been
thrown, presents in his personal appearance many
of those striking stamps of nature, which mark the
gentleman and the officer. Of an average medium
height, being about five feet and nine inches, he
inclines to a heaviness of frame and general well-
developed muscular outUne, whh some tendency
to corpulency j of square build, he now inclines
to stoop ; and from the great equestrian exercise
the nature of liis fife has led him necessarily to
undergo, his inferior extremities are somewhat
bowed. His expansive chest shows him capable
of undergoing that vast fatigue through which he
has passed amid the hammocks and savannahs of



Flo-i-^i. ^nf^ tho still more recent fields of Mexico.
His iVtce IS expressive or<Tre;il determination — yet,
still so softened by the kindlier feelings of the soul,
as to render the perfect stranger prepossessed in
his behalf. His nead is large, well-developed in
the anterior regions, and covered with a moderate
quantity of hair, now tinged by the coloring pen-
cil of time, which he wears parted on one side,
and brushed down. His eyebrows are heavy,
and extend over the optic orbit ; the eye grey, full
of lire, and expressive when his mental powers
are called into play, yet reposing as if in pleasant
quiet, when in ordinary. His nose is straight,
neither partaking of the true Grecian or Roman
order; his lips thin, the upper firm, and the lower
slightly projecting. The outline of his face is
oval, the skm wrinkled, and deeply embrowned
by the many tropical suns to which he has been
exposed. His manners are frank, social, and no
one ever left his company, without feeling that he
had been mingling with a gentleman of the true
olden times. He at times appears in deep medi-
tation, and is then not always accessible. In his
military discipline he is firm, and expects all or-
ders emanating from his office to be rigidly en-
forced and observed — treating his men not as
helots or slaves, but exercising only that com-
mand which is necessary for the good of the
whole. To the younger officers under liim, he
is peculiarly lenient — often treating their little
faults more with a father's forgiveness, than with
the judgment of a ruler. In his general toilet he
does not imitate the Beau Brummels, and band-
box dandies of the present fashionable epoch, but
apparels his person in unison with his age, and
has no great predilection for the uniform. In
this, however, he is by no means pecuhar, for a
majority of our regular military gentlemen seldom
appear in their uniforms on duty ; and the stations
to which General Taylor has been assigned, have
been in the warm and sunny south, rendering the
heavy blue cloth dress coat disagreeable to the
physical feelings. I have generally seen him in
a pair of grey trowsers, a dark vest, and either a
brown or speckled frock coat, reaching lower
than would suit the starched and prim bucks of
modern civilization. He wears a long black silk
neck-handkerchief, the knot not looking as if he
had been torturing himself to arrange it before a
full-length mirror; he sometimes wears a white
hat, resembling in shape those used by our fiat-
boatmen, and a pair of common soldier shoes, not

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16

Online LibraryJ. G. (John Gideon) MillingenThe Taylor text-book, or Rough and ready reckoner → online text (page 13 of 16)