J. G. (John Gideon) Millingen.

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

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"The first care of general Taylor was to visit
the wounded and see that every comfort was sup-
plied — the constant and well directed energies of
the medical department left but little for him to
do ; every one, whether officer or soldier, had been
attended with unwavering care and watchfulness.
The troops having partaken of their meal, the
order was given to get the command under arms.
General Taylor here summoned a council of war,
composed of the heads of the different commands,
in all thirteen, excluding the commander in chief.
The general, after returning thanks for their sup-
port and bravery on the 8th, and wishing to be
advised as to what they thought best to be done,
called on each to give his opinion. It was then
ascertained that but four out of the thirteen were
in favor of going ahead ; the other officers com-
posing the council voted, some to entrench Avhere
they were and await the assistance of the volun-
teers, and others to retire at once to Point Isabel,
but the general said, "'livill be at Fort Brown
before night, if Hive!"


The following passage occurs in the recently
published life of Gen. Greene. The incidental
compHmeut to the old General, and the parallel
which is here alluded to between Greene and
Taylor, is dehcately and happily done. After
alluding to the early scenes in the life of Greene,
the writer says :

"When removed to an independent command
in the Southern country, Greene at once asserted
his claim to the unhesitating honors of a grateful
country, and the correspondence, presently to be
resumed, will show through what difficulties and
embarrassments he fought his way, and how reso-
lutely he overcame them all. To Mr. Reed, he
wrote in the confidence of the most confiding
friendship, and in what he writes, either to his
confidential friends or his oflicial superiors, no
one can fail being struck with the simple and
manly style in which he expresses himself — the
homely, plain English, that best of idioms formerly
thought, telling his own story in the most direct
form, without a superfluous word or attempt to
adorn the simple and stern realities Avhich he
described. Gen. Greene's despatches from South
Carolina during the campaign of 1781, are worthy
of the same praise which, by common consent, at
the moment that 1 am writing, is bestowed on the
pubhc and private letters from the conqueror of
Monterey and Ruena Vista. The curious inquirer
may find a further and closer parallel between
these gallant men, the soldiers of America's un-
pretending chivalry, in the embarrassments which
perplexed their military career, and in the honors
Avon at a comparatively late period of their pro-
fessional lives. One might have passed away
unknown and uncared for in some distant frontier
garrison, with no higher function than to watch



transplanted Indians, but for the accidental neces- 1
sily or motives of policy, which led to his appoint-
ment to the Mexican frontier ; and Greene would
have been comparatively unknown to fame, but ^
for his promotion in the last year of the Revolu- |
tion, to the command in the Carolinas. Such are
the accidents that lead to the development and
illustration of ffenius."


At the time Gen. Taylor was conducting the
Florida war against the Seminoles, he became re-
markable among the Indians for his singular dis-
regard of danger. He never hesitated to move
about unattended, and generally, when riding out
on important business, he kept a mile or two ahead
of his escort. No matter how many Indians were
prowling about, the old General seemed uncon-
scious that they would harm him, and often, when
only armed parties could escape attack. General
Taylor would trust himself alone under some
wide spreading tree in close proximity with the
enemy, and thus circumstanced he would eat his
frugal meal, and if desirable indulge in a sound
sleep. At the time the Indians were most trouble
some to our troops. Gen. Taylor announced his
determination to go from Fort King to Tampa
Bay, Avhich journey would take him through near-
ly one hundred miles of hostile country. This
jaunt was considered by every body as a most
desperate adventure. The morning for starting
came, when old Zack's travelling companions.
Major Bliss and a young lieutenant began to look
wistfully around for an escort. In due time six
dragoons, all saddled and bridled, made their ap-
pearance ; there was a force to meet several thou-
sand wilv Seminoles who filled up every nook
and corner between Fort King and Tampa Bay !
After some hesitation, one of the General's friends
suggested that the eScort was not sufficiently
strong, and that a requisition should be made for
a greater force. Old Zack examined the appear-
ance of the six dragoons attentively for a moment,
and then remarked, if the number was not suf-
ficient, two mm-e might be added to it.

was very inquisitive, and among other things,
asked our olficer what excuse he intended to malie
for his delay in reporting himself to the Gene-

"O," said the officer, "they say Taylor is a
very easy old soul, and I can easily make up an

On going to bed that night, the officer asked the
landlord who that impudent, inquisitive old fellow
was ? "Why," said the host, "don't you know
General Taylor 1" About an hour afterwards, at
midnight, the tramp of a horse's feet was heard,
maldng large tracks towards head quarters.


A correspondent of the Pennsylvania Inquirer
relates the following anecdote of the commander
of the "Army of Invasion."

"This morning I heard a Httle incident respect-
ing Gen. Taylor, which, at the present time, will
be interesting. During the Florida campaign, a
certain young officer, after receiving his commis-
sion, was ordered to join the army in that quarter.
His first duty was of course to report himself to
Gen. Taylor. After a very tedious journey, how-
ever, through the woods, our officer arrived at a
small shanty called a tavern, about 50 miles from
head quarters, where he thought proper to stay
three days. There were only two visiters there,
besides himself. One of them, and oldish, shab-
by looking man, with a black hat, minus a part
if the crown, and a piece of crown for n ribband.


We have heard several very good anecdotes re-
lated of Gen. Taylor, by a gentleman who served
under him in Florida. The following is one of
the number : During the war with the Seminoles,
the army was frequently supplied with corn which
had become damaged by exposure to damp air.
Gen. Tavlor had a horse which was called 'Clay-
bank,' a very good animal, but he did not particu-
larly fancy Uncle Sam's musty rations. The
general used to partake of the same fare as the
soldiers under him, and so did 'Clay-bank,' so far
as the corn was concerned, but he was a little
dainty. The general was very fond of hominy,
and musty corn made anything but a pleasant diet.
He would not lay himself liable to the suspicion
of 'picking,' to the prejudice of the soldiers, so
old 'Clay-bank' would be let loose among the
sacks of corn, and after smelling very carefully,
the sagacious animal would commence gnawing
a hole mto one which pleased him. The general
would watch the manceuvre until he saw 'Clay-
bank' had made a choice, then, calling his servant,
would direct him to have 'Clay-bank' stabled im-
mediately, for fear he might do mischief; 'but,'
he would say, 'as the animal has gnawed a hole
in the bag, take out a quart or so of the corn and
make a dish of hominy.' The trick was played
several times, but by and by it became known
that whenever 'Clay-bank' gnawed into a sack,
sweet corn was to be found, and the incident be-
came a standing joke during the war.

" Old RouiiH and Ready," by which cogno-
men General Taylor was designated in debate, a
few days since, in the United States Senate, was
acquired by him during his campaign in Florida,
and is sufficiently characteristic of the man. —
Though one of the best disciplinarians, he is but
slighdy attentive to his own costume, and would
hardly be recognized by lace or feathers as a gen-
eral, in the moment of an action. " Boys," said
the general, coolly riding into the hollow square
into which the infantry was throv/n during the
battle of the 9th of May, in order to receive the
charge of the Mexican cavalry — " Boys, I will
place myself in your square," and there wit-
nessed the assault' and repulse, as if the regiment
was merely mantpuvering for parade.





On the 25th of December, 1836, Col. Taylor,
ai the head of a detachment of about 500 men,
composed of the 1st, 4tli and 6th regiments of U.
S. Infantry and some Missouri volunteers, met
about 7U0 Indians, under Alligator, Sam Jones,
and Coa-coo-che, on the banks of the O'ke-cho-
hee. This battle was sought by the Indians, for
the day before the engagement. Col. Taylor re-
ceived a challenge from Alligator, telling him
where to find him, and bantering him to come on.
Col. Taylor desired nothing better, and imme-
diately pushed on, at a rapid march, to the ex-
pected battle ground, fearful that the wily In-
dian might change his purpose. The Indians
had a sti-ong position, in a thick swamp, covered
in front by a small stream, whose quicksands ren-
dered it almost impassable, but Col. T. pushed
through the quicksands and swamps, in the face
of a deadly fire from a concealed foe, driving the
Indians before him. The action was long and
severe. The Indians yielding the ground inch by
inch, and then only at the point of the bayonet.
After three hours of bloody contest, the Indians
were routed, and pursued with great slaughter
until night. This was the last stand the Indians
ever made, in a large body, and the only instance
in which they voluntarily gave battle. Though
Col. Taylor won the day, it was at an expense of
149 Idlled and wounded' — more than one-fourth of
his whole force. Two colonels (Col. Thompson,
of the 5th Infantry, and Col. Gentry, of the Mis-
souri Volunteers,) fell at the head of the troops.
Capt. Van Swearingen, and Lieutenants Brooke
and Carter, also fell in the engagement.

During the whole of the engagement. Colonel
Taylor remained on horseback, passing from point
to point, cheering his men to the conflict, and ex-
posed to the Indian rifle every moment. The
spirit with which the commander and all his
forces entered into the conflict, was exhibited in
some verses written on the occasion, by a soldier.

•'There's battle in yon hammock black,

There's lightning in yon cloud,
Hark! hark! to the music, comrades dear,

For the Indian yell is loud ;
For the Indian yell is loud., my boys,

And the rifle's flash is free ,
But the field of battle is our home,

And happy, happy men are we ;

And happy men are -we,"&c.

For this battle, Mr. Poinsett, Secretary of War,
rendered merited praise to all engaged, in his com-
munication to Congress. The brevet of Briga-
dier General was conferred on Col. Taylor, and
he was given the chief command in Florida;
which he resigned in 1840, after four or five years
of indefatigable service in the swamps and ham-
mocks of Florida.

Lieut. Corwin writes to the Cincinnati Chroni-
cle, and gives the following interesting sketch of
General Taylor on the battle-field of Buena Vista :

" By way of illustrating an important charac-
teristic of Gen. Taylor, to wit, ' determination,'
I will briefly relate a saene that occurred on the
battle-ground of Buena Vista, during the action
of the 23d. At a time when the fortunes of the
day seemed extremely problematical — when many
on our side even despaired of success — old Rouga
and Ready, as he is not inaptly styled, whom you
must know, by-the-bye, is short, fat, and dumpy
in person, with remarkably short legs — took his
position on a commanding height, overlooking the
two armies. This was about three, or perhaps
four o'clock in the afternoon. The enemy, who
had succeeded in gaining an advantageous posi-
tion, made a fierce charge upon our column, and
fought with a desperation that seemed for a time
to insure success to their arms. The struggle last-
ed for some time. All the while. Gen. Taylor
was a silent spectator, his countenance exhibiting
the most anxious solicitude, alternating between
hope and despondency. His staff, perceiving his
perilous situation, (for he was exposed to the fire
of the enemy,) approached him and implored him
to retire. He heeded them not. His thoughts
were intent upon victory or defeat. He knew not
at this moment what the result would be. He
felt that that engagement was to decide his fate. —
He had given all his orders and selected his posi-
tion If the day went against him, he was irre-
trievably lost ; if for him, he could rejoice in com-
mon with his countrymen, at the triumphant suc-
cess of our arms.

''' Such seemed to be his thoughts — his deter-
mination. And when he eaw the enemy give
way and retreat in the utmost confusion, he gave
free vent to his pent up feehngs. His right leg
was quickly disengaged from the pummel of the
saddle, where it had remained during the whole
of the fierce encounter — his arms, which Avere
calmly folded over his breast, relaxed their hold —
his feet fairly danced in the stirrups — his whole
body was in motion. It was a moment of the
most intense and exciting interest. His face was
suffused with tears. I'he day was won — the
victory complete — his litde army saved the dis-
grace of a defeat, and he could not refrain from
weeping for joy at what had seemed to so many,
but a moment before, as an impossible resvlt. —
Long may the noble and kind-hearted old hero
live to enjoy the honors of his numerous brilhant
victories, and many other honors that a grateful
country will ere long bestow upon him."

From the JV. O. Picayune.


At a very critical point of the battle on the 23d,
when it became necessary to sustain one of our
columns, which was staggering under a charge
made by the Mexicans in overwhelming num-
bers. General Taylor despatched Mr. Crittenden
to order Colonel McKee, of the 2d Kentucky Re-
giment, to bring his men into immediate action.
Mr. Crittenden found the regiment, men and offi-
cers, eager for the fray, delivered the order an('



rode back to the general, by whose side it was his
duty to keep. The Kentuckians moved forward in
gallant style, led by McKee and Clay, both of whom,
alas! fell in a subsequent part of the day. It so hap-
pened that before reaching a position from which
they could deliver an effective fire, the regiment had
to cross a valley which was broken up by ravine and
masses of stoiie. Whilst crossing this valley the
heads only of the men could be seen from the point
which Gen. Taylor and Mr. Crittenden occupied—
and these were bobbing up and down and crosswise
in such confusion as to impress both with the idea
that the regiment liad fallen into disorder. The
Mexicans were annoying them at the same moment
by a fire, which helped to confirm the opinion of the
general that the Kentuckians were thrown into dis-

It was one of those decisive crises which occur m
every contested field, when the issue of the day de-
pended, for the time being, upon the gallantry of a
particular corps.

Gen. Taylor, who, as before said, could only see
the heads of the troops, and misled by their motions
in getting across gullies and going around rocks and
other obstructions into the belief that they were
about to falter, turned to Mr. Crittenden, who is a
Kentuckian, and with a countenance indicating deep
mortification, for the general is a Kentuckian too,
and an eye fierce with emotion, exclaimed, " Wr. I
Crittenden, this will not do— this is not the way for i
Kentuckians to behave themselves when called upon
to make good a battle — it will not answer, sir ;" and
with this he clenched his teeth and knit his brow
and set his teeth hard together. Mr Crittenden,
who was mistaken by the same indications that de-
ceived the general, could scarcely make a reply
from very cha.;jrin and shame. In a few moments,
I however, the Kentuckians had crossed the uneven
places and were seen ascending the slope of tlie val-
ley, shoulder to shoulder, and with the firm and re-
gular steps of veterans of a hundred fields. On they
moved until they reached the crest of the hill where
they met the enemy before the flush of a temporary
advantage had subsided. Here they delivered their
fire by companies with such regularity and deadly
aim that the decimated phalanx of Mexico gave way
and retreated precipitously. As the Kentuckians
emerged from the valley the countenance of the
general, who was regarding them with theintensest
interest, gradually relaxed the bitterness of its ex-
pression. A glow of pride supplanted the deep mor-
tification which fixed its muscles, and enthusiasm
qualified tlie fierce glances of his eye. Forward
they moved under his rivetted gaze, whose feelings
became more wrought up as they approached the
scene of carnage. VVhen they opened their fire the
general could no longer restrain his admiration, but
broke forth with a loud h.uzza. " Hurrah for old
Kentuck," he exclaimed, talking as it were to him-
self and raising in his saddle — " That's the way to
do it; give it to them my brave boys!'' and the
tears of exultation rolled down his cheeks as he
said it.

Having got rid of this ebullition of State pride he
went looking after other parts of the field.

Some of our readers may regard this incident,
which we derive from one of the parties concerned,
as savoring more of profanity than generalship ; but
it must be borne in mind that under the excitement
of such terrible scenes of havoc and bloodshed,
those engaged in them use the name of the God of
Battles with some degree of familiarity.


Generals Ampudia akd Taylor. — The New Or-
leans Delta says that the interview between Gens.
Taylor and Ampudia, in relation to the capitulation
of Monterey, has been described to its editors hy a
gentleman who was present, as a very rich scene,
in which the two chief actors were in fine con-

Ampudia was all courtesy and fine words, big
speeches, great volubility, with an abundance of
gesticulations, shrugs, nods, alternate smiles and
frowns, and that whole catalogue of silent language,
with wliich persons of French origin are wont to
help the expression of their ideas. Gen. Ampudia
is of a French family, and was born in the West In-

Gen. Taylor, on the other hand, was as dry as a
chip, as plain as a pipe-stem, and as short as pie-
crust. Dressed in his best coat, (which by the by
looks as if it had served some h:tlf a doz.;n cam-
paigns,) with his glazed oil cloth cap, strapless
pants, and old fashioned white vest, he looked more
like an old farmer, lately elected militia colonel,
who had put on his every day snit, v/ith the slight-
est imaginable sign of military toggery, to distin-
guish him frum a crowd of mere civilians. In his
reply to Ampiulia's long harrangucs, he used such
direct, blunt and emphatic language, that the valor-
ous Mexican was thrown all aback and "had nothing
to say."

Ampudia opened the interview by stating that his
forces were too large to be conquered by Gen. Tay-
lor's army— that he had an abundance of ammuni-
tion, 700U infantry and 3000 cavalry, Avith 40 can-
non, and the best artillerists in the world — that his
loss was very small — and he felt confident he cowld
defend the city against a much stronger force than
that under Gen. Taylor's command — but that from
motives of humanity — to spare the effusion of blood
— to save the lives of helpless women and children
— he Avas willing so far to compromise the glory of
the great Mexican nation as to surrender the city,
provided he was allowed to retire with his whole
force, and carry the public property with him, and
all the arms and munitions of war. When he had
finished his magnificent oration, which, in the style
of his celebrate'd proclamation, was garnished with
numerous allusions to the stupendous power and un-
fading glory and renown of magnanimous Mexico,
old Zack qui'^tly stuck his hands deep into his
breeches pockets, cocked his head a little on one
side, and gentlv raising his grizly eyebrows, that the
bold little black eye lurking beneath might have full
play upon the grandiloquent Mexican, replied in
these few but expressive words:

" Gen. Arnpudia, we came here to take Monterey,
and we are going to do it on such terms as please
us. I wish you good morning." And the old gene-
ral hobbled otf on his two short little legs, leaving
the Mexican general and staff in ihe profoundest

If General Taylor did not say the good thines that
are ascribed to him, we must, give the gentlenu n
who have put them in his mouth credit for an admi-
rable perception of what is becoming in the mouth
of a great commander. A collection of all his re-
puted sayings in times of emergency would be as
fine an " ana " as there is in print anywhere. His
abrupt close of the conference with Ampudia, for



instance, when treating for the surrender of Monte-
rey, is as much to the purpose and as full of mean-
ing as any thing in Wellington's despatches — " Sir,
I hold you, and your town, and your army, in the
hollow of my hand, and you know it. The confer-
ence is closed — in thirty minutes you shall hear
from my batteries."

Of course, General Taylor would not have said
this to a gallant and respected enemy He would
have spoken in a very different vein to a brave and
gallant general, who had maintained his position as
long as it could be maintained, and now, having sat-
isfied the demands of honor and duty to their full
extent, was ready with the frankness of a soldier
and a gentleman, to accept the necessity of his po-
sition. But to Ampudia, neither brave nor gallant,
and whiffling over a capitulatian which he knew to
be inevitable, the response was as fitting as it was
well timed and effective.


There was, on the other hand, a delicious touch
of humor in the old general's acknowledgment to
the " boys " who laughed at him for dodging. In
the thick of the fight at Buena Vista, when the balls
were flying " considerable," Gen. Taylor saw some
of his men ducking their heads as the missiles whiz-
zed by, and called out, " No dodging, gentlemen-
soldiers never dodge." But in a few moments a
twenty-four pounder came humming so near the old
gentleman's nose that he involuntarily ducked his
own head — whereat some of the " boys " " snick-
ered right out." "Dodge the balls, gentlemen,"
exclaimed old Zack, as grave as a mustard pot,
"dodge the balls, gentlemen, but don't run."

In the same style was his quiet remark at Resaca
de la Palma, where the balls made lively music too.
One of them cut off a piece of his coat-tail; where-
upon he drily remarked to one who was near him,
" These balls are getting excited."



The best thing the general is said to have uttered
v/as also at Buena Vista. It was not only quaint but
grand; there was a sort of heroic largeness about it,
in conception and expression, than which we know
of nothing that more fills the mind's eye. It was
when the last, desperate, almost overwhelming
charge was made upon Captain Bragg's battery.
The captain saw the mighty cohort coming, with an
anxious gaze, for there was no infantry at hand to
sustain him. Placing his pieces in position, he hur-
ried to the general, who was not far off, to represent
that his little band would be ridden over and to beg
for a reinforcement. "I have no reinforcement to
give you," answered the general, " but Major Bliss
and 1 will support you."

"Major Bliss and I" accordingly put spurs to
their horses and took post beside the cannon. We
all know what the result was.


A correspondent of the New Orleans Picayune,
writing from the army, tells the following anecdote:

General Taylor's marque at Victoria was about a
mile above that of General Patterson, and between
the two the Tenaessee cavalry was encamped. Gen.

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Online LibraryJ. G. (John Gideon) MillingenThe Taylor text-book, or Rough and ready reckoner → online text (page 15 of 16)