J. G. (John Gideon) Millingen.

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

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much polished."


The singular simplicity that marks Gen. Tay-
lor's personal app(>arance and habits, have become
a subject of universal fame. It is curious that a
soldier, so C'minent in all qualhies of discpline,
should be so ciii/.en-looking in his own appear-
ance. A curious scene occurred at Point Isabel,
at the time Commodore Conner appeared offthiit
place with his fleet to give succor to the " army
of occupation." Commodore (,'onner is a naval
officer that is not only strict in his dress, but has a
Phihidelphia nicftv alvMif it. Hp appears in full

and splendid uniform on all public occasions, be-
ing the exact opposite in this particular of Gen.

At the proper time. Commodore Conner sent
word to Gen. Taylor that he would come ashore
to pay him a visit of ceremony. This put old
" Rough and Ready " into a tremendous excite-
ment. If Com. Conner had quietly come up to
his tent, and given him a sailor's grip, and sat
down on a camp chest and talked over matters in
the old-fashioned way, Gen. Taylor would have
been prepared; but to have the most carefully
dressed oflicer in our navy, commanding the
finest fleet, to come in full uniform, surrounded
by all the glittering pomp of splendid equipments,
to pay a visit of ceremony, was more than Gene-
ral Taylor had, without some effort, nerve to go
through with; but, ever equal to emergencies, he
determined to compliment Commodore Conner,
and through him the navy, by appearing infuU
uniform — a thing his officers associated with him
for years had never witnessed.

In the meanwhile. Com. Conner was cogitating
over the most proper way to compliment General
Taylor. Having heard of his peculiar disregard
of military dress, he concluded he Avould make
the visit in a manner comporting to General Tay-
lor's habits, and consequently equipped himself
in plain white drilling, and, unattended, came

The moment old " Rough and Ready " heard
that Commodore Conner had landed, he abandon-
ed some heavy work he was personally attending
to about the camp, and precipitately rushed into
his tent, delved to the bottom of an old chest, and
pulled out a uniform coat, that had peacefully
slumbered for years in undisturbed quietude, slip-
ped himself into it, in his haste fastened it so that
one side of the standing collar was three button
holes above the other, and sat himself down as un-
comfortable as can well be imagined. With quiet
step, and unattended. Commodore Conner pre-
sented himself at General Taylor's tent; the two
soldiers shook hands, both in exceeding astonish-
ment at each other's personal appearance.

The wags in the army say, that the above con-
tains the only authentic account where Gen. Tay-
lor was ever headed, and that since that time he
has taken to linen roundabouts of the largest di-
mensions, with more pertinacity than ever.


Among the volunteers was a "gentleman's
son" — a full private, who, heartily sick of rainy
weather, mud, and no shelter, first Avent to his
captain with his complaints, but meeting with no
particular sympathy, resolved to have a talk with
General Taylor himself. Arrived at the com-
mander's quarters, the General was pointed out
to him, but he was rather incredulous. " That
oUl fellow General Taylor? Nonsense!" Satis-
fied, however, that such was even the case, h6
marched up, and rather patronizingly opened his



" General Taylor, I believe."

"Yes, sir."

" Well, General, I'm devilish glad to see you —
am, indeed." The General returned the civility.

'* General, you'll excuse me, but since I've been
here I've been doing all I could for you — have, in-
deed ; but the fact is, the accommodations are very
bad — they are, indeed; mud, sir! bkeged to lie
down in it, actually ; and the fact is. General, I'm
a gentleman's son, and not used to it!"

The General, no doubt deeply impressed with
the fact of having a gentleman's son in his army,
expressed his regret that such annoyance should
ever exist, under any circumstances, in a civilized

« Well— but. General, what am I to do^"

"Why, really, I don't know, unless you take
my place."

"Well, now, that's civil — 'tis, indeed. Of
course don't mean to turn you out, but a few
hour's sleep — a cot, or a bunk, or any thing-
would be so refreshing ! You're place — where is
it. General?"

" 0,justdrop down — anytohere about here — any
place about camp will answer!"

The look which the " gentleman's son " gave
the General was rather peculiar.

" Well, no wonder they call you ' Rough and
Ready,' " said he ; and, amid the smiles of all,
but "Rough and Ready" himself, the "gentle-
man's son " returned to take his chance of the


General Taylor was sitting on his horse in the
thickest of the fight, with his sword drawn, while

the balls were ratthng around him. Col. C ,

the amiable sutler of the 4th, and formerly mayor
of Augusta, and well known for his courage and
kindness of disposition, remarked to him that it
was getting rather hot, and proposed to him to re-
tire a little. " Let's ride a little nearer, the halls
will fall behind us!" was the General's reply.


Greneral Jackson, in his last sickness, occupied
his mind to a very great degree Avith the subject
of the annexation of Texas ; as his bodily strength
failed him, it seemed as if his mind grew stronger
.impressed with the matter. A distinguished cler-
gyman well known for his piety, called on Gen.
Jackson — the conversation, against the clergy-
man's wishes, turned upon the annexation of
Texas. After a variety of remarks, the clergy-
man observed that he was afraid that the annexa-
tion would lead to war with the European powers.
General Jackson still persisted in pursuing this fa-
vorite strain of thought, when the followhig con-
versation ensued :

Clergyman. — We should be careful. General,
how we involve the country in war, because now
that you have retired from public life, we have no
great military commander to take the field.

General Jackson. — We have a commander per-
fectly competent.

The clergyman expressingf surprise at the cop-
fidence of General Jackson's remark, enquired
where the people were to luuk for tlial man?

The General unhesitatingly said : " JjOid doirn
on the Mississippi, in the person of Col. Zac. Tay-


A good story is told of old " Rough and Ready,"
who accompanied Gen. Wortli's Brigade to Sal-
tillo, in connection with the march into that place.
As they approached within a few miles of it,
they were met by a courier fmm the Alcade, or
chief governor of the city, who presented to the
General a very formidable looking despatch. A;
halt was called, and the General's interpreter wasr
ordered to give a translation of the document. It •.
opened with an expostulation of the injustice of.
the war on the part of the Americans — alleged!
that it was prosecuted for the purposes of con-^
quest, rapine and plunder — protested against the'
further advance of the General's forces — threaten-,'
ed him with the retribution that must follow, and.

but the General stopped the translator in the

middle of a sentence, with — "Are you through,
sir?" "No," was the reply, "I have not read
half of it, yet."

"O, I'll hear no more of it," said the General;!
"March!" Reordered the bugler to sound the;
advance, and again the column was in motion. ■>


When the army last summer was at Matamo^''
ras, a Mr. Reeder came there to distribute medals^
to the non-commissioned officers and soldiers who'
had distinguished themselves at Palo Alto, &c. '
It is reported that while there, Mr. R. informed-
"Old Zack" that he had been nominated by;
some persons in New York for the Presidency.*
The old General's reply was characterisfic. " Mr.
Reeder, I don't want it — I have no other or higher
ambition than to remain at the head of my little
army. I have always considered myself an hon-
est man — my neighbors so consider me — but
were I to accept a nomination, there are persons
who would call me every thing that is bad, and
others who would say of rne as they said of Gen.
Harrison, that I never was within two miles of a
field of battle."


We find on examinaUon, says the New Or-
leans National, that General Taylor has as many
titles as the Duke of Wellington, and they all de-
signate some great event in the history, of some
striking peculiarity of his mind. They have been
conferred by different sovereigns of the United
States and foreign potentates at diS'erent times,
and when General Taylor is in full dress, with
their insignia hanging across his breast, it makes
him look hke a plain old gentleman of the olden
time, that does the people good to look at.

Mr. Marcy calls him, " Major General Taylor,

The people generally, " old Rough and Ready."

The Mexicans, " Don Zachary."



The teamsters in the array, " The Old Man."
The mechanics and artists in the army, " The

Old Boss."
The Mexican women, " Mucha Buena."
Sarita Anna, " Old fool, don't know when he

is whipped."

Gen. Scott, "My dear, dear General."

The Sovereigns, " Our next President of the U.



We Avill relate an anecdote of General Taylor,
Avhich we once heard, amid the early scenes of
the Black Hawk war on Rock River, and which
seems most characteristic of the Rough and Ready
of later years. Some time after Stillman's defeat
by Black Hawk's band, Taylor, marching with a
large body of volunteers and a handful of regu-
lars in pursuit of the hostile Indian force, found
himself approaching Rock River, then asserted
by many to be the true north-western boundary of
the State of Illinois. The volunteers, as Taylor
Avas informed, would refuse to cross the stream.
They were militia, they said, called out for the
defence of the State, and it was unconstitutional
to order them to march beyond its frontier into
the Indian country. Taylor thereupon halted his
command, and encamped within the acknow-
ledged boundaries of Illinois. He Avould not, as
the relator of the story said, budge an inch further
without orders. He had already driven Black
Hawk out of the State, but the question of cross-
ing Rock River seemed hugely to trouble his ideas
cf integrity to the constitution on one side, and
military expediency on the other. During the
night, however, orders came, either from General
Scott or General Atkinson, for him to follow up
Black Hawk to the last. The quietness of the
regular colonel meanwhile had rather encouraged
the mutinous militia to bring their proceedings to
a head. A sort of town -meeting was called upon
the prairie, and Taylor invited to attend. After
listening some time very quietly to the proceed-
ings, it became Rough and Ready's turn to ad-
dress the chair. "He had heard," he said, with
much pleasure the views which several speakers
had expressed of the independence and dignity of
each private American citizen. He felt that all
gentlemen there present were his equals — in reali-
ty, he was persuaded that many of them would
ia a few years be his superiors, and perhaps, in
the capacity of M(!mbers of Congress, arbiters of
the fortune and reputation of humble servants of
tlie Republic like himself. He exjx'Cled then to
obey them as interpreters of the Avill of the peo-
ple ; and the best proof he could give that he would
obey them, was now to observe the orders of those
whom the people had already put in the places
of authority, to which many gentlemen around
him justly aspired. In plain English, gentlemen
and fellow-citizens, the Avord has been passed on
to me from Washington to follow Black Hawk,
and to take you Avith me as soldiers. I mean to
do both. There are the llal-boats drawn up on

the shore, and here are Uncle Sam's men drawn
up behind you on the prairie."

"Stra-anger," added the man who told the story,
"the Avay those militia-men sloped into those flat-
boats was a caution. Not another Avord was said.
Had Zack Taylor been Avith Van Renselaer at
Niagara River, in the last Avar, I rayther think
he'd a taught him hoAV to get mihtia-men over a

Taylor, as is Avell knoAvn, did follow Black
Hawk through the prairies of Northern Illinois —
through the Avooded gorges, the rocky fells, the
plashy rice pools, the hitherto unbroken Avilderness
of western Wisconsin. The mditia-men gave out
from day to day ; the country became impassable
to horses, and the volunteer settlers Avho had first
seized arms merely to repel an Indian foray, re-
fused to submit their backs to the necessary bur-
dens in carrying their own supplies through the
deep swamps and almost impervious forests. At
last the very Indians themselves, Avhom Taylor
thus desperately pursued from day to day and
week to Aveek, began to sink from fatigue and ex-
haustion : they Avere found by our men stretched
beside their trails, while yet the good Anglo-Nor-;
man blood of Taylor's band held out amid suffer-
ings in the wilderness Avhich the child of the forest
himself could not endure. The battle of the Bad-
Axe, and the rout of Black HaAvk by Taylor, at
length tenninated this arduous march.

The steamer bearing Atkinson and his reinforce-
ments, reached the junction of the Bad-Axe and
the Mississippi, j ust as the encounter Avas over,
and we believe brought Taylor along with his
prisoners back to Fort Crawford, AA'here, after
landing the former, she passed on to St. Louis.
When Ave remember the complimentary reception
which Black HaAvk met with all along our At-
lantic border, hoAV strange it seems that AA'hen the
name of his captor Avas mentioned as the hero of
Okeechoobee, his countrymen asked, "Avho is this
Col. Taylor that has just been brevetted a Briga-
dier?" Even as it was afterAvards asked concern-
ing the Hero of the Rio Bravo, "Avho is this
Brigadier Taylor who has so brilliantly earned
the brevet of Major-General?" One might noAV,
without extravagance, venture to predict that the
captor of Black Hawk is as Avell knoAvn as Avas
that Avarrior himself; and that he Avould probably
be received by the people in a progress through-
out the country, with demonstrations of affection
and respect, at least equal to those which Avere
showered upon the Avily Sauk chief, the but too
successful rival of the chivalrous, and loyal, and
neglected Keokuk.

When Gen. Taylor Avas on his way to Ncav
Orleans, on one of our Mississippi river packets,
just previous to his departure for Corpus Christi,
a gentleman, a Avay-passenger, came on board of
the boat, and AA^nt to the clerk's oflice for a state-
room. The clerk informed him that all Avere
taken, and that he Avould have to content himself
Avith an upper berlk. The gentleman assented,
and, after seeing his name duly entered, he Avalk-



ed into the cabin, when it struck him, he would
find out who occupied the lower berth of his state
room; steppinj? into the clerk's office, he read —
"Lower, Z. Taylor, Baton Rouge." "Is this
Brigadier General Taylor, of the U. S. Army'?"
he said to the clerk : " I ask because 1 have some
curiosity to know who is my room mate, and,
more particularly, if it is General Taylor." The
clerk satisfied him that such was the fact, when
our traveller entered into conversation with the
old veteran. Our friend was a planter, and old
Zack appeared, by his conversation, to have beat-
en his SAVord into a ploughshare ; for he talked
about planting, and the crops, and the civil gov-
ernment of our country, and appeared to be as
ignorant of our army as if he had never seen it.
At a reasonable bed-time, old Zack retired. After
a while oar traveller went into the state-room,
and, to his surprise, found the broad mattrass of
the lower berth unoccupied — and looking, discov-
ered General Taylor sleeping in the upper berth.
The young man, surprised, regretted what he con-
ceived to be a mistake, and in the morning ex-
pressed his regrets at what had happened. —
"Pooh, pooh!" yaid the old General, laughing,
*•' don't you know I am the youngest, and more
used to hard fare than you are!"


The extreme simplicity of General Taylor's
habits has become proverbial; but, like all human
beings, if the old General was not proud of his
dress, or of the pride and pomp of " glorious
war," he had his weakness, and it displayed itself
in his state carriage. This magnificent vehicle
was one of the last purchases the old soldier
made ere he started for the wars. It was none of
these high-backed, four-horse, soft-cushioned,
coat-of-arms panelled affairs, such as Martin Van
Buren imported from England to ride when he
was President, but it was, in vulgar parlance, a
Jersey wagon, and one of the ugliest and most
inconvenient ones ever sent out i'rom that sand
soil State. We have no doubt that this same
wagon was kept on hand in some little country
town until it was discovered that no one would
buy it, and it was sent out to New Orleans to sell.
Now, old Zack looked at it, and it struck Ms fancy
as one of the most luxuriant, strong axle-tree,
hard-seated, low backed, first-rate carriages that
ever was made; so he bought it, shipped it, and
in due time landed it at Corpus Christi. It was
evidently General Taylor's pet; he kept it stand-
ing right up beside Ringgold's and Duncan's bat-
teries, as if he would have sons of thunder blaze
sway at any body that did not say it was the great-
est carriage that ever was made.

The old General was never seen in it. By
many, it was supposed that the top was so low
that such a thing was impossible. When he start-
ed to Matamoras from Corpus Christi, it was
made the carrier of the old General's chest, and
the celebrated over-coat that sot woimded atBue-
na Vista. After the battles of the 8th and 9th, a
change for two hours and fifty-seven minutes

came over hLs feehngs — he had read, no doubt, of
"General Scott's splendid military carriage" —
and old Zack came to the conclusion that he must
put on a little grandeur, so he got into his militfiry
carriage, and started from Point Isabel to Mata-
moras, to complete his victories by driving Arista
from that town. No record was ever made when
he resumed his old grey, but long before half the
distance was completed, a sick soldier was in the
General's place, and he himself was again on
horseback. Nothing of an cxcitins: nature oc-
curred to the old " Jarsey carryall" for a long
time. It was duly dragged about and stationed
where its owner could see it taken care of and
honored. It went up to Monterey, and finally
down to Victoria. When the General was order-
ed back from his march to Vera Cruz, the old
wagon looked exceedingly surly, and its wheels
screeched awfully. On this trip it met with a sad
disaster. A drunken teamster run his baggage
wagon into it, tore the hind wheels off, and other-
wise laid it in ruins. Now, the old General had
philosophy enough to pocket, without repining,
the orders that were humiliating to his pride; but
he had not philosophy enough to pocket the de-
struction of his state carriage, so he rode up to
the unfortunate teamster, and catching him by
both ears, he shook the fellow's head violently,
exclaiming " what did you do that for ; I brought
(the wagon) way from Corpus Christi." The
excitement passed away, the old General cast a
lingering glance at the ruins of his pet, and left it
to decay beside the road. — JV. O. Kalional.

The Mississippi Volunteers relate an anecdote
illustrating General Taylor's characteristic good-
ness of heart. Soon after the battle of Resaca,
and during the excessively hot weather, from
which officers and men suffered severely, some
gentleman sent General Taylor for his private use
a barrel of ice, and a quantity of delicious claret.
The precious burthen was deposited at the Gene-
ral's tent, with a note from the donor, after po-
htely acknowledging which the old hero caused
the head of the barrel to be knocked out, and, taking
for his own use a lump as large as his fist, sent the
whole of the remainder, and the claret, to the
hospital, for the pse of the sick soldiers. This is
but one instance, out of many, of the considerate
and self-sacrificing generosity and humanity of
General Taylor's character.

The General had occasion to visit Point Isal>el,
after the battle of Buena Virsa, and the Captain
of the steamboat had reserved a suit of state-rooms
for the General's accommodation. There were
several sick and wounded volunteers on the boat,
en route for New Orleans, who had to take the
wayfare incident to a crowded boat, and particu-
larly so on this occasion. General Taylor soon
saw all this, and at once ordered these men to be
placed in his state-rooms and proper attention
paid them. It was rather a cold, rainy day when



this occurred. The deck hands and many others
on the boat did not know General Taylor. The
wind blew high, and the hremen had raised a sail
in front of the boilers to protect themselves from
the rain, and under this sail there were some old
mattresses; here General Taylor laid down and
and went to sleep. At supper time great inqui-
ries were made for the general, and servants sent
off to look him up. But he could not be found !
At last some one, going below, inquired of a fire-
man if he had seen anything of such and such a
man — the fireman said no, but added, '* there is
a clever old fellow asleep there under the sail, in
front of the fire!" It was General Taylor. Yes,
sweet indeed must have been the sleep of such a
man who has the heart to change places with the
poor sick soldier, as Taylor did on this occasion ;
such humanity stands out in bold relief, and great-
ly mitigates the evils incident to war,


The Hagerstown Torchlight publishes a state-
ment which was received from an officer of the
Army, a classmate of Col. Davis of Mississippi,
establishing the fact that Old Rough-and-Ready
writes all his depatches. It has generally been
understood that those which the old hero has
issued since he has been in Mexico were written
by his aid. Major Bliss, but such is not the case.
The Torchlight says :

"In conversation with General Gibson, of the
United States Army, now stationed at Washing-
ton, our friend asked the question if Major Bliss
did not write the despatches. The old General's
eye sparkled with indignation, and he replied that
he had served with General Taylor upon thirteen
Court Martials, and that he (General T.) had
been selected by each Court to draw up its Re-
port, because of his ability in composition — that
all were willing to accede to him the faculty of
expressing in the clearest, strongest, and most for-
cible manner, the views of the Court, and hence
he was uniformly selected for this purpose.

*• General Gibson also stated, that in Florida, a
misunderstanding arose between Gen. Twiggs
and General Taylor, from a remark made by the
latter in regard to some military operations of the
form er. A corresponence ensued, which proved
perfectly satisfactory to General Twiggs. One of
CJeneral Taylor's communications, in which he
gave, at large, his views of the m'atter in dispute,
reached Washington, and, as General Gibson re-
marked, was regarded by the gentlemen of the
army as one of the most powerful military pro-
ductions they had ever seen. This communica-
tion seems to have foreshadowed the despatches
Avhose fame has spread over Europe and our

'• One of the peculiarities of General Taylor's
style of writing was also noted. Instead of leav-
ing, as is customary, a margin at the top and side
of the sheet. General Taylor commences at the
extreme limit, and fills the sheet so completely,
that, as our informant observed, it is impossible lo
crowd in, anywhere, evtn a little i. This seems
to be one of the many pecuharitics of " Rough
and Ready."


The New Orleans Delta, of the 9th, contains a
long and interesting letter from Point Isabel, May
20th. After speaking of the battle of the 8th, the
writer says :

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Online LibraryJ. G. (John Gideon) MillingenThe Taylor text-book, or Rough and ready reckoner → online text (page 14 of 16)