J. G. (John Gideon) Millingen.

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number however, he determined to move forward to
Monterey, the capital city of the State of Nuevo
Leon. 'Phis he found admirably fortified, as well by
nature as by art, and defended by 10,000 troops, be-
sides the armed inhabitants. The situation of the
city rendered it defensible. There were strong
works upon the right and left of the town extending
to the rear. In front there is the Black Fort, — al-
most impregnable when properly manned. Besides
all this their streets were barricaded, and every house
constituted a fortress, being looped for musketry.
Nothing daunted, Gen. Taylor attacked this Gibral-
tar, and after three days hard fighting compelled
Gen. Ampudia the commandant to capitulate. That
he should have succeeded against such odds, and


under such disadvantages, is as he himself ingenii- done, sounds like romance. Yet was it real,— al-
ously remarks, " one of the nnaccountable events of most loo real— as many a saddened heart and vacant
the age." It was acknowledged to be an achieve- | seat round the firesides in our country manifest,
inent more brilliant than the victories of Palo Alto | To follow General Taylor hum the capitulation
and Resaca, and has been characterised as " an at Monterey and do him justice is the most difficult
instance of daring and success which has few if any . part of the duty we have undertaken. Were it not
parallels in modern warfare." Never was more j that all who read this have sufficient information to
consummate generalship displayed than by Gen. Tay- ' eke out that in vviiich we may be at loss, or sufficient
lor on this occasion. It had been his plan originally j enthusiasm in the subject to excuse it, we would
to send Gen. Worth's division to the right of the abandon the attempt.

town, Gen. Butler's to the left and rear, and to have [ Gen. Taylor, as we have seen, from a deficiency
retamed Gen. Twiggs' in front. These positions in means of transportation, had been able to take
were to have been taken on the 21st. On the night i with him to Monterey, so little provision and so fe-Y
of (he 21st he, with Twiggs' division would have ' munitions of war, and his little army was so cut up
carried the citadel. On the morning of the 22d the ! in the battle and worn out by its fatigues, that, v/hen

three divisions were to have moved simultaneously
to the attack from their various positions, and the
city must have fallen under this well digested plan.
" Man proposes, but God disposes." It was a part
of the original plan of Gen. T. to create on the
morning of the 21st a diversion in favor of General
Wor(h,"who had on the 2()th been ordered to take
up the position contemplated as above described.
On the night of the 20th Gen. Worth having dis-
covered tiial the opposition otfered him would be
most formidable, wrote a note to Gen. Taylor urging
him to make the diversion a strong one. In effect-
ing this on the morning of the 21st, Garland's divi-
sion became involved. To save it, Gen. Taylor
found it would be necessary to move up the whole
volunteer division. On the instant he changed his
entire preconceived plan of operations, and deter-
mined to make the fight then. He ordered up all
the troops with the exception of his reserve — pressed
the enemy so in their fortifications as to force them
to concentrate their forces upon that part of the
town — and thus left to Worth a comparatively easy
task in accomplishing the work intrusted to his divi-
sion. This Worth did gallantly — as gallantly as
man could do — but the Hero of Monterey is the
commanding General — he who planned the attack
and ordered the details — he who where balls flew
thickest and death was busiest, bore the brunt of
the battle. The hard fighting at Monterey was on
the lift of the town.

The first shot fired at Monterey was from one of
the long culverins, aimed at Gen. Taylor himself,
whilst recoinioitering. It struck a short distance in
front of him and boimded over his head. "There ! I
knew it would fall short of me, "he calmly remarked.

One anecdote of Gen. Taylor at Monterey, told
by his staff, has never appeared in print. In travers-
ing the field of battle, it was necessary to cross a
bridge which was constantly swept by the Mexican
artillery. When approaching it, it was agreed that
Ihey (the General and his staff) should cross it
singly at a gallop. Four had crossed thus, when it
came to the General's turn. Just as he reached the
middle of the bridge, and when the balls were show-
ering around him, something going wrong in another
part of the field attracted his attention. Stopping
his horse, (much to the discomfiture of those follow-
ing him,) he deliberately look out and arranged his
spy-glass, satisfied himself, and then closing it, rode
on !

In the streets of the town, where there was not
a foot of ground which was not riddled by balls, he
was seen, walking to and fro, directing his men in
their attacks upon the barricades and houses.

Any eulogium we could pass on the storming of
Monterey, would fall far short of the reality. Barely
to state the facts, as we have hastily and imperfectly

the administration directed him to terminate the
armistice which constituted one of the provisions of
the capitulation, he was unable to move onward.
To move up men and munitions, — to establish depots
and extend properly his base of operations, — to dis-
pose of his forces so as to secure the country which
had fallen into his power with the taking of Monte-
rey, — required time and labor. The administration
about this time concluded to change in some measure
the plan of the campaign, and for the first time asked
General Taylor's views upon the subject. He gave
them fully, clearly and succinctly — in a manner to
challenge the admiration of the civilian as well as
the soldier. Any one, to rightly appreciate General
Taylor, must read, carefully and thoughtfully, his
despatches to the War Department from the time he
entered Mexico to the present, — especially those
written subsequently to the taking of Monterey.
They show him the man as well as the general, —
the civilian as well as the soldier — Their great merit
consists not in their conciseness, and the aptitude
and pertinency of every word and expression, —
(though in these they are models,)— but in the ex-
tensiveness of their views of civil policy, — the grand-
ness of their conceptions of military operations.

The administration, not approving what Geperal
Taylor had done and proposed doing, — or for some
cause not known to us, — determined to take from hita
the control of the campaign, and to commit it to
Gen. iScott. Of this General Taylor was of course
ignorant. He first threw forward General Worth
with his division to occupy Saltillo,— a point com-
manding the great pass through which alone an army
of any size, with artillery, &c., could make a de-
monstration upon his positions and lines of commu-
nication, and operation. He next ordered General
Wool to occupy Parras, a position where he com-
manded the approaches from the State of Chihuahua,
and which would enable him to attack on the flank
any force marching from San Luis Potosi upon Sal-
tillo. His intention was moreover, and in chief, that
in the event of an expedition into the interior of
Mexico, General Wool should hold the Patos pass,
and prevent a force being thrown through that, upon
the communications in his rear. With the same
general purpose. Gen. Tay lor,— (that he might occu-
py che only other road through the mountains, the Tu-
la pass,)— left a garrison in Monterey, and in person,
moved down with the remainder of his force to Vic-
toria. At the same time he ordered General Patter-
son to move with his forces along the coast, by that
means protecting his (Gen. Taylor's) flank and con-
centrating the forces at Victoria. With Tampico in
our possession, this plan of operations would have
secured to us, beyond the possibility of redemption,
the Slates of New Leon and Tamaulipas, and the
passes thus held would have most efl'ectually pre-


vented the enemy from penetrating into the con-
quered territory. With the passes thus in our pos-
session and our whole line defended hy 10,000 men —
the new levies in some measwe supplying the place of
a portion of the regulars and more experienced vol-
unteers who might have been withdrawn from Point
Isabel, Matamoras, Camargo, and even partly from
Monterey, — an expedition mii!;ht wisely have been
organized against Vera Cruz. Taylor however
was at this point checked in his operations. At
Victoria he received from Gen. Scott information
that he had assumed the command, a requisition for
all his regulars with the exception of about 1000
artillery and dragoons, and all of the volunteers who
had seen any service, with the exception of the 2d
Mississippi regiment, and directions to return to and
remain at Monterey. The scene here presented to
the mind might touch the heart of the most callous —
a general who had organized and trained his troops
— suffered with them the hardships and privations of
the most arduous portion of the campaign — and
fought three battles which had elevated the charac-
ter of the country and shed an enduring halo round
the American arms — parting from his army, with a
mere escort, to go into a retiracy which diii'ered
from banishment only in name. Who has not his
sympathies aroused for the old veteran, when, with
the small troop that was to accompany him, await-
ing his leave-taking, he addressed those with whom
he had conquered on the Rio Grande and at Monte-
rey commending their past conduct, — speaking of
the hardships they had together endured, — urging
them on to fresh deeds, and continued patriotism on
other fields, and under another leader !

His ready and uncompromising obedience to the
civil authorities in this most trying and mortifying
circumstance is a sublime moral spectacle, and sheds
additional brightness on his name.

Gen. Taylor retired to Monterey. But a remnant
of an army was left with him, and he was directed
to remain on the defensive. The country supposed
that he would either retire from the army, or ne-
cessarily remain in inglorious inactivity. He did
neither. His country could not spare his services,
and he felt it his duty to give them whenever re-
quired, whether they were appreciated or not. It
was moreover not his disposition to remam idle,
however small the means at his command might be.
Here he displayed over again, most conspicuously,
at once the noble generosity of his character,
unadulterated patriotism, and the great military sa-
gacity which have become synonymous with his
name. Scott was about attacking Vera Cruz. Gen.
Taylor knew that any demonstration towards San
Louis would aid in the success of this undertaking.
He, however, had not been well treated, — yet the
best interests of the country might be served and he
smothered all personal considerations. He at once
perceived that Monterey was not the point at which
his stand even on the defensive should be made. He
took the responsibility, instead of remaining in security
and shielding himself behind his orders as he might
have done, and marched to Saltillo. At that point
he found the volunteers, who constituted the mass
of his forces flurried, at having the regulars with-
drawn from them, and disheartened by the inactivity
of a camp life without any prospect of action. His
presence restored their confidence — as it always has
the remarkable power of doing, — such is the un-
bounded confidence of the soldiers in his skill, gal-
lantry and resources. For the purpose of encour-
aging his men, and counteracting this despondency

incident to volunteers in inactivity, he removed hif>
camp to Agua Nueva — 20 miles in advance of Sal-
tillo. The next tidings we have are that his small
army of 500 regulars and 4200 volunteers — most of
whom had never been in battle — are about being
overwhelmed by 20,000 Mexicans led by Santa An-
na in person. Gen. Urrea with 6000 cavalry had
thrown himself in his rear by way of Victoria, thus
demonstrating General Taylor's wisdom in desiring
the Tula pass occupied. For more than a week the
whole country was kept in a state of the most in-
tense anxiety for his fate and that of his small, yet
gallant army. Report followed report, — now that
he was defeated, — again that with great loss he had
succeeded in making his retreat to Monterey. Hi3
best friends and those who had the greatest reliance
upon his great capacity and readiness for every emer-
gency, entertained gloomy forebodings, and dared
not hope more than that he would by great exertions
be able to escape with the remnant of his army into
the Black Fort at Monterey. Again, — (as had been
the case in May, 1846,) — were calculations made as to
the number of rations in that place, and the length of
time his army, there cooped up, would be able to

Did he think of defeat and retreat? No! He had
weighed well every circumstance. He had chosen
his battle field. He knew that the proper place to
fight was in front of Saltillo. He knew that should
the Mexican army once get him in Monterey, they
would, with part of their force, threaten and hold
him in cheek, whilst the rest would pounce down
upon his depots at Camargo and Matamoros, cut off
his communications, and destroy his base line of
operations. He knew that they would occupy the
Rinconada pass, the pass " de los Muertos," and
thence be able, with impunity, continually to annoy
his forces. He had, moreover, planted himself at
Agua Nueva — the position suited his fancy — and he
was not disposed to relinquish it without some hard
knocks. " Will Santa Anna attack you. General !"
inquired one of his officers. " Let him come," was
the reply, with a shrug of the shoulders, " he will
go back faster than he came." To Dr. Wood, his
son-in-law, he wrote, " I will fall back to a position
proper for the manceuvering of my artillery, and
then if Santa Anna wishes to distinguish himself, I
will give him a chance." He retired to the battle-
tleld he had chosen — Bucna Vista. Santa Anna ap-
proached and demanded an unconditional surrender.
The reply was, " Come and take me!" On the 22d
of February the battle commenced between 21,000
regulars, picked troops, under their favorite leader,
" the Napoleon of the West," figliting in their own
country, for their homes, ihek families, their very exist-
ence — and 5000 raw volunteers — carrying on a icar of
invasion. The night of the 2.'M closed upon the
greatest victory of modern times, and beheld the
strength of Mexico broken — her last hope destroyed .
The battles of the 8th and 9th of May were esteemed
wonderful. These were eclipsed by the storming of
Monterey. Even this last must pale before the hard
fought battle of Buena Vista. The papers teem
with incidents and descriptions of the fight — the
country rings with praises of the hero and his
gallant men! The effects of this battle are in the
last degree important. Had fjanta Anna defeated
Ctcu. Taylor, he would have instructed the garrison
of Vera Cruz and San Juan De Ulua to hold out to
th^ last extremity, whilst with his army , flushed with

jtory, and supplied with the spoils, he would have
caaturcd Camargo and Matamoros, and then falleti


on Scott's rear, or attacked the former with a portion
of his troops, whilst with tlie remainder he attempted
the latter. With tlie city and castle in front, Santa
Anna's inspirited troops in the rear, and the vomito
threatening him, Gen. Scott's position would have
been anything but comfortable or safe. By the
battle of Buena Vista, however, the best disciplined
and most efficient army that Mexico ever had, was
annihilated — the military power and resources of the
country were shaken — Santa Anna was stripped of
his influence and prestige — our own troops were ren-
dered invincible, and those of the enemy panic-struck
and utterly demoralized.

The garrisons of Vera Cruz and of San Juan
De Ulua, dispirited and unsustained, surrendered
after a siiort struggle; and, at Cerro Gordo, along
the National Road, and at the City of Mexico, the
recollections of what Taylor and h is men had accom-
plished on the Rio Grande and at Buena Vista, gave
assurance of victory to our own gallant troops. The
Americans felt confident of success against any odds
and under any circumstances, whilst the Mexicans
were sure that defeat must continually await them,
whatever might be the superiority of their numbers,
or the advantage of their position.

Many interesting reflections suggest themselves
in a review of the Mexican campaign, connected
as it is with the name and fame of General Tay-
lor. Leading almost " a forlorn hope" — forced to
reconcile and combine political views with his
military operations, — ordered at once to spur and to
soothe, to strike and to conciliate, — there have been
required of Gen. Taylor, the highest qualities of both
the soldier and the civilian. Cramped in his means
and continually instructed that we were on the eve
of a peace, his sword has been rendered less trench-
ant by the olive branches twined around it, — his arm
has been paralysed in dealing its most sturdy blows, —
he has been prevented from pressing and improving
to their full extent the advantages he has gained.
Yet withal,— quietly, — without parade, — without a
single intrusion of self, — by hard fighting and hard
working, — by indomitable energy and perseverance,

— nobly seconded by the discipline, the gallantry, the
endurance of his troops, he drove the enemy from
the Rio Grande, — occupied the country as far as
Saltillo, — gained within twelve months, four of
the most splendid victories on record, — completely
hioke the military power of Mexico, — and effected, a;*
far as was permitted him, the objects of the adminis-
tration. In every instance, from the defence of Fort
Harrison to the battle of Buena Vista, he has fought
with great odds against him. He has fought with
his best officers and without them, — with regulars, —
with volunteers and regulars conjoined, — and with
volunteers alone. He has attacked the enemy upon
the plain,— he has stormed their fortifications,— ho
has been attacked by them in his position. In every
fight has he been victorious, — underevery variety of
circumstance, — great! He has been found equal to
every emergency, and has astonished the world by
his skill and gallantry,— his power and resources.
His announcements of his victories are models of
military correspondence, — the plans of campaign
contained in his more lengthy communications to the
War Department, stamp him (infinitely more than
the mere man of military etiquette and detail), the
General— the Great Captain. His views of policy,
military and civil, prove that he would adorn any
station he might be called upon to fill. His great
foresight, — his strong common sense, — his skill in
conceiving and promptitude in executing, — his cool
judgment, — his calm determination, — his gallantry
and presence of mind in the heat of battle, — his hu-
manity and forbearance in the hour of victory,— his
stern sense of justice and right, — his great simplicity
of character, — mark him as a man who would have
compared with the old Romans, and proved "the
noblest Roman of them all,"— a man who should
have taken place among our revolutionary fathers.
Brave in war, — gentle in peace, — modest in victory,
—just and generous in every thing, — it seems as if
one of the giant race of men of preceding ages had
been, in Gen. Taylor, providentially endued with
new life, that he might grapple with this crisis in
our affairs.

Letters from General Zachary Taylor,


No. 1.


West Baton Roitge, (La.) J\Iaij I5ih, 1847.
\V. L. Hodge, Esq. — Dear Sir: I send you, an-
nexed, an extract of a letter which I have recently
received from Gen. Taylor ; and, as it shadows forth
the feelings and views of the General on the subject
of the next Presidency in a manner which can do no
violence to the feelings of any one, I have determined
to publish that portion of it which relates to a
subject in whicli liis name has been very generally
associated Ihrougliout the country for some time
past. I do so with the more readiness, because it is
eminently calculated to give a proper insight into
the real character of this eminent man. Please let
il have a place in your columns.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully.


" In regard to the Presidency, I will not say that
1 would not serve, if the good people of the country
were to require me to do so, however much it is op-
posed to my wishes — for I am free to say that I have
110 aspirations for the situation. My greatest, per-
haps only wish, has been to bring, or aid in bringing,
this war to a speedy and honorable close. It has
ever been, and still is, my anxious wish that some
one of the most experienced, talented, and virtuous
statesmen of the country should be chosen to that
high place at the next election. I am satisfied that,
if our friends will do their duty, such a citizen may
be elected.

" I must, however, be allowed to say, that I have
rot the vanity to consider myself qualified for so
high and responsible a station; and, whilst we have
far more eminent and deserving names before the
country, I should prefer to stand aside if one of them
could be raised to the first office in the gift of a free

" I go for the country, the whole country ; and it
is my ardent and sincere wish to see the individual
placed at the head of the nation, who, by a slricl ob-
servance of the Constitution, (be he who he may,)
can make us most prosperous at home, as well as
most re*pected abroad."

No. 2.
Head-quarten Jinny of Occupalion,
Camp near J\Ionlerey, May 18, 1847.
Sir : I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt
of your letter, with the enclosure of your editorial,
extracted from the "Signal" of the 13th April.

At this time rny public duties command so fully
my attention that it is impossible to answer your let-
ter in the terms demanded by its courtesy, and the
importance of the senlinicnts to which it alludes;
neither, indeed, have I the time, should I feel myself
at liberty, to enter into the few and most general
subjects of public policy suggested by the article in

question. My own personal views were better with-
held till the end of the war, when my usefulness as
a military chief, serving in the field against the com-
mon enemy, shall no longer be compromised by their
expression or discussion in any manner.

From many sources I have been addressed on the
subject of the Presidency, and I do violence neither
to myself nor to my position as an Officer of the
Army, by acknowledging to you, as I have done to
all who have alluded to the use of my name in this
exalted connexion, that my services are ever at the
will and call of the country, and that I am not pre-
pared to say that I shall refuse if the country calls
me to the Presidential office, but that I can and shall
yield to no call that does not come from the spontane-
ous action and free will of the nation at large, and
void of the slightest agency of my own.

For the high honor and responsibilities of such an
office, I take this occasion to say that I have not the
slightest aspiration. A much more tranquil and sat-
isfactory life, after the termination of my present
duties, awaits me, I trust, in the society of my fami-
ly and particular friends, and in the occupations
most congenial to my wishes. In no case can I per-
mit myself to be the candidate of any party, or yield
myself to party schemes.

With these remarks,! trust you will pardon me
for thus briefly replying to you, which I do with a
high opinion and approval of the sentiments and
views embraced in your editorial.

With many Avishes for your prosperity in life, and
great usefulness in the sphere in which your talents
and exertions are embarked, I beg to acknowledge
myself, most truly and respectfully, your obedient

Z. TAYLOR, Maj. Gen. U. S. Army.

Jas. W. Taylor, Esq., Cincinnati, Ohio.

No. .3.

Camp near Monterey, Mexico, June 9, 1847.

Dear Sir: — Your letter of the 15th ult., from

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Online LibraryJ. G. (John Gideon) MillingenThe Taylor text-book, or Rough and ready reckoner → online text (page 2 of 16)