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Mexican War
Author: Bonner, John
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Mexican War

1847

When President Polk began his Administration, the United States
Government had become involved in two boundary disputes - one relating to
Oregon, the other to Texas and Mexico. Out of the latter came the Mexican
War, concerning the political causes and merits of which there were then and
ever since have been wide differences of opinion among the American people.
Polk's election by the Democrats in 1844 had turned mainly upon the question
of annexing Texas. Just before he came into office the annexation was made.

Texas claimed as her western boundary the Rio Grande. Mexico held that
the western limit was the Nueces. Between the two rivers there was a large
area of disputed territory. The Texan claim was opposed by many American
statesmen and publicists, and by some was denounced - as the annexation of
Texas had been - as an aggressive move against Mexico. But the United States
Government supported the cause of Texas. General Zachary Taylor, who had
served in the War of 1812, and afterward in several Indian wars, took command
of the army in Texas in 1845. In January, 1846, he was ordered to occupy
positions on or near the left bank of the Rio Grande del Norte. This order
and its execution have been held by some writers to constitute an act of war,
but war was not formally declared by the United States till May 11th. Taylor,
with a small force, had several slight encounters with Mexican troops, after
which he won the battle of Palo Alto (May 8, 1846), near the southern
extremity of Texas; and that of Resaca de la Palma (May 9th), also in Texas,
four miles north of Matamoros, Mexico. He took possession of Matamoros May
18th. With six thousand men, against about ten thousand Mexicans under
Ampudia, Taylor captured Monterey, Mexico (September 24th), and at Buena
Vista, February 22-23, 1847, with five thousand troops, he defeated fifteen
thousand Mexicans under Santa Anna, then President of Mexico and commander of her army.

The war was now transferred to the district between Vera Cruz and the
City of Mexico, the capital, and was henceforth conducted for the United
States by General Winfield Scott, whose previous military career had been much
the same as General Taylor's. Scott had been made Major-General and
Commander-in-Chief of the Army in 1841. His first operation in Mexico was the
taking of Vera Cruz, the principal Mexican seaport, on the Gulf of Mexico.
With the aid of a fleet he besieged the city in March, 1847, and on the 27th
received its surrender. At Cerro Gordo (April 17th and 18th) he won an
important victory that opened his way through the mountains toward his
objective, the city of Mexico. Reenforcements gradually reached him, and by
the first of August he was ready to move on the valley of Mexico with about
eleven thousand men. From this stage to the fall of the capital, completing
the conquest of the country, Bonner's account gives a graphic recital of
events. The city was held by Americans from September 14, 1847, the day they
entered it, until the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (February 2,
1848), which ended the war.

With the energy that characterized Santa Anna throughout the Mexican War,
he had prepared for a desperate defence. Civil strife had been silenced,
funds raised, an army of twenty-five thousand men mustered, and every
precaution taken which genius could suggest or science indicate. Nature had
done much for him. Directly in front of the invading army lay the large lakes
of Xochimilco and Chalco. These turned, vast marshes, intersected by ditches
and for the most part impassable, surrounded the city on the east and the
south - on which side Scott was advancing - for several miles. The only
approaches were by causeways; and these Santa Anna had taken prodigious pains
to guard. The national road to Vera Cruz - which Scott must have taken had he
marched on the north side of the lakes - was commanded by a fort mounting
fifty-one guns on an impregnable hill called El Penon. Should he turn the
southern side of the lakes, a field of lava, deemed almost impassable for
troops, interposed a primary obstacle; and fortified positions at San Antonio,
San Angel, and Churubusco, with an intrenched camp at Contreras, were likewise
to be surmounted before the southern causeways could be reached. Beyond these
there yet remained the formidable castle of Chapultepee and the strong
enclosure of Molino del Rey, to be stormed before the city gates could be
reached. Powerful batteries had been mounted at all these points, and ample
garrisons detailed to serve them. The bone and muscle of Mexico were there.

[See American Leaders: General Winfield Scott at the head of 12,000 men landed
at Vera Cruz, on the Gulf of Mexico, in March, 1847, soon captured the city,
and started on the toilsome march into th einterior. Finally after several
battles in which his troops behaved like veterans, instead of untrained
militia, the capital was taken on September 14, and the army entered the city.
the whole campaign was well-planned and well executed. General Scott and
General Taylor both gained great reputations in this war.]

Goaded by defeat, Santa Anna never showed so much vigor; ambition fired
Valencia; patriotism stirred the soul of Alvarez; Canalizo, maddened by the
odium into which he had fallen, was boiling to regain his soubriquet of the
"Lion of Mexico." With a constancy equal to anything recorded of the Roman
Senate, the Mexican Congress, on learning of the defeat at Cerro Gordo, had
voted unanimously that anyone opening negotiations with the enemy should be
deemed a traitor; and the citizens with one accord had ratified the vote.
Within six months Mexico had lost two splendid armies in two pitched battles
against the troops now advancing against the capital; but she never lost
heart, and her spirit quailed not.

The engineers reporting that the fortress on El Penon could not be
carried without a loss of one-third the army, Scott decided to move by the
south of the lakes; and Worth accordingly advanced, leading the van, as far as
San Augustin, nine miles from the city of Mexico. There a large field of
lava, known as the Pedregal, barred the way. On the one side, two miles from
San Augustin, the fortified works at San Antonio commanded the passage between
the field and the lake; on the other, the ground was so much broken that
infantry alone could advance, and General Valencia occupied an intrenched
camp, with a heavy battery, near the village of Contreras, three miles
distant. Scott determined to attack on both sides, and sent forward General
William J. Worth on the east, and General Gideon J. Pillow and General David
E. Twiggs on the west. The latter advanced as fast as possible over the
masses of lava on the morning of the 19th, and by 2 p.m. a couple of light
batteries were placed in position and opened fire on the Mexican camp.

At the same time General Persifor Smith conceived the plan of turning
Valencia's left, and hastened along the path through the Pedregal in the
direction of a village called San Jeronimo. Colonel Riley followed. Pillow
sent Cadwallader's brigade on the same line, and later in the day Morgan's
regiment was likewise despatched toward that point. They drove in the Mexican
pickets and skirmishers, dispersed a few parties of lancers, and occupied the
village without loss. Seeing the movement, Santa Anna hastened to Valencia's
support with twelve thousand men. He was discovered by Cadwallader just as
the latter gained the village road; and appreciating the vast importance of
preventing a junction between the two Mexican generals, that gallant officer
did not hesitate to draw up his brigade in order of battle. So broken was the
ground that Santa Anna could not see the amount of force opposed to him, and
declined the combat. This was all Cadwallader wanted. Shields's brigade was
advancing through the Pedregal, and the troops which had already crossed were
rapidly moving to the rear of Valencia's camp. Night too was close at hand.
When it fell, Smith's, Riley's, and Cadwallader's commands had gained the
point they sought. Shields joined them at ten o'clock; and at midnight
Captain Lee crossed the Pedregal, with a message from General Smith to General
Scott, to say that he would begin the attack at daybreak next morning.

It rained all night and the men lay in the mud without fires. At three
in the morning (August 20th) the word was passed to march. Such pitchy
darkness covered the face of the plain that Smith ordered every man to touch
his front file as he marched. Now and then a flash of lightning lighted the
narrow ravine; occasionally a straggling moonbeam pierced the clouds and shed
an uncertain glimmer on the heights; but these flitting guides served only to
make the darkness seem darker. The soldiers groped their way, stumbling over
stones and brushwood, and did not gain the rear of the camp till day broke.
Then Riley bade his men look to the priming of their guns, and reload those
which the rain had wet. With the first ray of daylight the firing had begun
again between the Mexican camp and Ransom's corps stationed in front and
Shields's brigade at San Jeronimo. Almost at the same moment Riley began to
ascend the height in the rear. Before he reached the crest, his engineers,
who had gone forward to reconnoitre, came running back to say that his advance
had been detected, that two guns were being pointed against him, and a body of
infantry were sallying from the camp. The news braced the men's nerves. They
gained the ridge, and stood a tremendous volley from the Mexicans without
flinching. Hanson of the Seventh - a gallant officer and an excellent man -
was shot down with many others; but the Mexicans had done their worst.

With steady aim the volley was returned; and ere the smoke rose a cheer
rang through the ravine, and Riley fell with a swoop on the intrenchments.
With bayonet and butt of musket, the Second and Seventh drove the enemy from
his guns, leaping into his camp and slaughtering all before them. Up rushed
Smith's own brigade on the left, driving a party of Mexicans before them, and
charging with the bayonet straight at Torrejon's cavalry, which was drawn up
in order of battle. Defeat was marked on their faces. Valencia was nowhere
to be found. Salas strove vainly to rouse his men to defend themselves with
energy; Torrejon's horse, smitten with panic, broke and fled at the advance of
our infantry. Riley hurled the Mexicans from their camp after a struggle of a
quarter of an hour; and as they rushed down the ravine, their own cavalry rode
over them, trampling down more men than the bayonet and ball had laid low. On
the right, as they fled, Cadwallader's brigade poured in a destructive volley;
and Shields, throwing his party across the road, obstructed their retreat and
compelled the fugitives to yield themselves prisoners of war. The only fight
of any moment had taken place within the camp. There, for a few minutes, the
Mexicans had fought desperately; two of our regimental colors had been shot
down, but finally Anglo-Saxon bone and sinew had triumphed. To the exquisite
delight of the assailants, the first prize of victory was the guns O'Brien had
abandoned at Buena Vista, which were regained by his own regiment. Twenty
other guns and more than a thousand prisoners, including eighty-eight officers
and four generals, were likewise captured, and about fifteen hundred Mexicans
killed and wounded. The American loss in killed, wounded, and missing was
about one hundred men.

Barely taking time to breathe his troops, Smith followed in pursuit
toward the city. By ten o'clock in the morning he reached San Angel, which
Santa Anna evacuated as he approached. The General-in-Chief and the generals
of division had by this time relieved Smith of his command. Scott rode to the
front, and in a few brief words told the men there was more work to be done
that day. A loud cheer from the ranks was the reply. The whole force then
advanced to Coyacan, within a mile of Churubusco, and prepared to assault the
place.

Santa Anna considered it the key to the city, and awaited the attack in
perfect confidence with thirty thousand men. The defences were simple. On
the west, in the direction of Coyacan, stood the large stone convent of San
Pablo, which, as well as the wall and breastworks in front, was filled with
infantry, and which contained seven heavy guns. A breastwork connected San
Pablo with the tete de pont over the Churubusco River, four hundred yards
distant. This was the easternmost point of defence, and formed part of the
San Antonio causeway leading to the city. It was a work constructed with the
greatest skill - bastions, curtain, and wet ditch, everything was complete and
perfect - four guns were mounted in embrasure and barbette, and as many men as
the place would hold were stationed there. The reserves occupied the causeway
behind Churubusco. Independently of his defences, Santa Anna's numbers -
nearly five to one - should have insured the repulse of the assailants.

By eleven - hardly seven hours having elapsed since the Contreras camp
had been stormed, five miles away - Twiggs and Pillow were in motion toward
the San Antonio causeway. Nothing had been heard of Worth, who had been
directed to move along the east side of the Pedregal on San Antonio, but it
was taken for granted he had carried the point, and Scott wished to cut off
the retreat of the garrison. Twiggs was advancing cautiously toward the
convent when a heavy firing was heard in advance. Supposing that a
reconnoitring party had been attacked, he hastily sent forward the First
Artillery, under Dimmick, through a field of tall corn, to support them. No
sooner had they separated from the main body than a terrific discharge of
grape, canister, and musketry assailed them from the convent. In the teeth of
the storm they advanced to within one hundred yards of that building, and a
light battery under Taylor was brought up on their right, and opened on the
convent.

More than an hour the gunners stood firm to their pieces under a fire as
terrible as troops ever endured; one-third of the command had fallen before
they were withdrawn. Colonel Riley meanwhile, with the stormers of Contreras,
had been despatched to assail San Pablo on the west, and, like Dimmick, was
met by a murderous rain of shot. Whole heads of companies were mowed down at
once. Thus Captain Smith fell, twice wounded, with every man beside him; and
a single discharge from the Mexican guns swept down Lieutenant Easley and the
division he led. It was the second time that day the gallant Second had
served as targets for the Mexicans, but not a man fell back. General Smith
ordered up the Third in support, and these, protecting themselves as best they
could behind a few huts, kept up a steady fire on the convent. Sallies from
the works were continually made, and as continually repelled, but not a step
could the assailants make in advance.

By this time the battle was raging at three different points. Worth had
marched on San Antonio that morning, found it evacuated, and given chase to
the Mexicans with the Fifth and Sixth Infantry. The causeway leading from San
Antonio to the tete de pont of Churubusco was thronged with flying horse and
foot; our troops dashed headlong after them, never halting till the advance
corps - the Sixth - were within short range of the Mexican batteries. A
tremendous volley from the tete de pont in front, and the convent on the
flank, then forced them to await the arrival of the rest of the division. This
was the fire which Twiggs heard when he sent Dimmick against the convent.

Worth came up almost immediately; and directing the Sixth to advance as
best they could along the causeway in the teeth of the tete de pont,
despatched Garland's and Clarke's brigades through the fields on the right to
attack it in flank. Every gun was instantly directed against the assailants;
and though the day was bright and clear, the clouds of smoke actually darkened
the air. Hoffman, waving his sword, cheered on the Sixth; but the shot tore
and ripped up their ranks to such a degree that in a few minutes they had lost
ninety-seven men. The brigades on the right suffered as severely. One
hundred men fell within the space of an acre. Still they pressed on, till the
Eighth (of Clarke's brigade) reached the ditch. In they plunged, Lieutenant
Longstreet bearing the colors in advance; he scrambled out on the other side,
dashed at the walls without ladders or scaling implements, and bayoneted the
defenders as they took aim. At last, officers and men mixed pell-mell, some
through the embrasures, some over the walls, rushed or leaped in and drove the
garrison helter-skelter upon their reserves.

The tete de pont gained, its guns were turned on the convent, whence the
Mexicans were still slaughtering our gallant Second and Third. Duncan's
battery, too, hitherto in reserve, was brought up and opened with such
rapidity that a bystander estimated the intervals between the reports at three
seconds! Stunned by this novel attack, the garrison of San Pablo slackened
fire. In an instant the Third, followed by Dimmick's artillery, dashed
forward with the bayonet to storm the nearest bastion. With a run they
carried it, the artillery bursting over the curtain; but at that moment a
dozen white flags waved in their faces. The whole fortified position of
Churubusco was taken.

Meantime, however, a conflict as deadly as either of these was raging
behind the Mexican fortifications. Soon after the battle commenced, Scott
sent Pierce's and Shields's brigades by the left, through the fields, to
attack the enemy in the rear. On the causeway, opposed to them, were planted
Santa Anna's reserves - four thousand foot and three thousand horse - in a
measure protected by a dense growth of maguey. Shields advanced intrepidly
with his force of sixteen hundred. The ground was marshy, and for a long
distance - having vainly endeavored to outflank the enemy - his advance was
exposed to their whole fire. Morgan, of the Fifteenth, fell wounded. The New
York regiment suffered fearfully, and their leader, Colonel Burnett, was
disabled. The Palmettos of South Carolina, and the Ninth under Ransom, were
as severely cut up; and after a while all sought shelter in and about a large
barn near the causeway. Shields, in an agony at the failure of his movement,
cried imploringly for volunteers to follow him.

The appeal was instantly answered by Colonel Butler, of the Palmettos:
"Every South Carolinian will follow you to the death!" The cry was contagious,
and most of the New Yorkers took it up. Forming at angles to the causeway,
Shields led these brave men, under an incessant hail of shot, against the
village of Portales, where the Mexican reserves were posted. Not a trigger
was pulled till they stood at a hundred fifty yards from the enemy. Then the
little band poured in their volley, fatally answered by the Mexican host.
Butler, already wounded, was shot through the head and died instantly. Calling
to the Palmettos to avenge his death, Shields gives the word to charge. They
charge - not four hundred in all - over the plain and down upon four thousand
Mexicans securely posted under cover. At every step their ranks are thinned.
Dickenson, who succeeded Butler in command of the Palmettos, seizes the colors
as the bearer falls dead; the next moment he is down himself, mortally
wounded, and Major Gladden snatches them from his hand. Adams, Moragne, and
nearly half the gallant band are prostrate. A very few minutes more and there
will be no one left to bear the glorious flag.

But at this very moment a deafening roar is heard in the direction of the
tete de pont. Round shot and grape, rifle-balls and canister, come crashing
down the causeway into the Mexican ranks from their own battery. Worth is
there, the gallant fellow, just in time. Down the road and over the ditch,
through the field and hedge and swamp, in tumult and panic the Mexicans are
flying from the bayonets of the Sixth and Garland's brigade. A shout, louder
than the cannon's peal; Worth is on their heels with his men. Before Shields
reaches the causeway he is by his side driving the Mexican horse into their
infantry, and Ayres is galloping up with a captured Mexican gun. Captain
Kearny, with a few dragoons, dashes past, rides straight into the flying host,
scatters them right and left, sabres all he can reach, and halts before the
gate of Mexico. Not till then does he perceive that he is alone with his
little party, nearly all of whom are wounded; but, despite the hundreds of
escopetas that are levelled at him, he gallops back in safety to headquarters.

The sun, which rose that morning on a proud army and a defiant
metropolis, set at even on a shattered, haggard band, and a city full of
woe-stricken wretches who did nothing all night but quake with terror, and
cry, at every noise, "Aqui viene los Yanquies!" ("Here come the Yankees!") All
along the causeway, and in the fields and swamps on either side, heaps of dead
men and cattle intermingled with broken ammunition-carts, marked where the
American shot had told. A gory track leading to the tete de pont, groups of
dead in the fields on the west of Churubusco, over whose pale faces some
stalks of tattered corn still waved; red blotches in the marsh next the
causeway, where the rich blood of Carolina and New York soaked the earth,
showed where the fire of the heavy Mexican guns and the countless escopetas of
the infantry had been most murderous. Scott had lost, in that day's work,
more than a thousand men in killed and wounded, seventy-nine of whom were
officers. The Mexican loss, according to Santa Anna, was one-third of his
army, equal probably to ten thousand men, one-fourth of whom were prisoners,
the rest killed and wounded. As the sun went down the troops were recalled to
headquarters; but all night long the battlefield swarmed with straggling
parties seeking some lost comrade in the cold and rain, and surgeons hurrying
from place to place and offering succor to the wounded.

It would have been easy for Scott to march on the city that night, or
next morning, and seize it before the Mexicans recovered from the shock of
their defeat. Anxious to shorten the war, and assured that Santa Anna was
desirous of negotiating; warned, moreover, by neutrals and others, that the
hostile occupation of the capital would destroy the last chance of peaceable
accommodation and rouse the Mexican spirit to resistance all over the country,
the American general consented, too generously perhaps, to offer an armistice
to his vanquished foe. It was eagerly accepted, and negotiations were
commenced which lasted over a fortnight. In the mean time General Scott had
the satisfaction of hanging several of the Irishmen who had deserted to the
Mexicans, and, serving as the battalion of San Patricio, had shot down so many
of their old comrades at Buena Vista and Churubusco. This act of justice was
approved by the army and the nation. Early in September the treachery of the
Mexicans became apparent. No progress had been made in the negotiations; and,
in defiance of the armistice, an American wagon, proceeding to the city for
provisions, had been attacked by the mob and one man killed and others
wounded. Scott wrote to Santa Anna, demanding an apology, and threatening to
terminate the armistice on the 7th if it were not tendered. The reply was
insulting in the extreme; Santa Anna had repaired his losses and was ready for
another fight.

On the evening of September 7th Worth and his officers were gathered in
his quarters at Tacubaya. On a table lay a hastily sketched map showing the
position of the fortified works at Molino del Rey, with the Casa Mata on one
side and the castle of Chapultepec on the other. The Molino was occupied by
the enemy; there was reason to believe it contained a foundry in full
operation, and Worth had been directed to storm it next morning. Over that
table bent Garland and Clarke, eager to repeat the glorious deeds of August
20th at the tete de pont of Churubusco; Duncan and Smith, already veterans;
Wright, the leader of the forlorn hope, joyfully thinking of the morrow;
famous Martin Scott, and dauntless Graham, little dreaming that a few hours
would see their livid corpses stretched upon the plain; fierce old M'Intosh,
covered with scars; Worth himself, his manly brow clouded, and his cheek paled
by sickness and anxiety. Each officer had his place assigned to him in the
conflict; and they parted to seek a few hours' rest.

At half-past two on the morning of the 8th the division was astir. 'Twas
a bright starlight night whose silence was unbroken as the troops moved
thoughtfully toward the battlefield. In front, on the right, about a mile
from the encampment, the hewn-stone walls of the Molino del Rey - a range of
buildings five hundred yards long, and well adapted for defence - were
distinctly visible, with drowsy lights twinkling through the windows. A
little farther off, on the left, stood the black pile of the Casa Mata, the
arsenal, crenelled for musketry, and surrounded by a quadrangular fieldwork.
Beyond the Casa Mata lay a ravine, and from this a ditch and hedge ran,
passing in front of both works, to the Tacubaya road. Far on the right the
grim old castle of Chapultepec loomed up darkly against the sky. Sleep
wrapped the whole Mexican line, and but few words were spoken in the American
ranks as the troops took up their respective positions; Garland, with Dunn's
battery and Huger's 24-pounders, on the right, against the Molino; Wright, at
the head of the stormers, and followed by the light division under Captain
Kirby Smith, in the centre; M'Intosh, with Duncan's battery, on the left, near
the ravine looking toward the Casa Mata; and Cadwallader, with his brigade, in
reserve.

Night still overhung the east when the Mexicans were roused from their
slumbers by the roar of Huger's 24-pounders, and the crashing of the balls
through the roof and walls of the Molino. A shout arose within their lines,
spreading from the ravine to the castle; lights flashed in every direction,
bugles sounded, the clank of arms rang from right to left, and every man
girded himself for the fray. With the first ray of daylight Major Wright
advanced with the forlorn hope down the slope. A few seconds elapsed; then a
sheet of flame burst from the batteries, and round shot, canister, and grape
hurtled through the air. "Charge!" shouted the leader, and down they went,
with double-quick step, over the ditch and hedge, and into the line, sweeping
everything before them. The Mexicans fell from their guns, but soon, seeing
the smallness of the force opposed to them and reassured by the galling fire
poured from the azoteas and Molino on the stormers, they rallied, charged
furiously, and drove our men back into the plain. Here eleven out of the
fourteen officers of Wright's party, and the bulk of his men, fell killed or
wounded. All of the latter who could not fly were bayoneted where they lay by
the Mexicans.

Captain Walker, of the Sixth, badly shot, was left for dead; he saw the
enemy murdering every man who showed signs of life, but the agony of thirst
was so insupportable that he could not resist raising his canteen to his lips.
A dozen balls instantly tore up the ground around him; several Mexicans rushed
at him with the bayonet, but at that moment the light division, under Kirby
Smith, came charging over the ditch into the Mexican line and diverted their
attention.

Garland meanwhile moved down rapidly on the right with Dunn's guns, which
were drawn by hand, all the horses having been wounded and become
unmanageable. These soon opened an enfilading fire on the Mexican battery;
and some of the gunners flying, the light division charged, under a hot fire,
and carried the guns for the second time. Their gallant leader was shot dead
in the charge. But the enemy could afford to lose the battery. From the tops
of the azoteas, from the Casa Mata and the Molino, a deadly shower of balls
was rained crosswise upon the assailants. Part of the reserve was brought up;
and Dunn's guns and the Mexican battery were served upon the buildings without
much effect at first. Lieutenant-Colonel Graham led a party of the Eleventh
against the latter; when within pistol-shot a terrific volley assailed him,
wounding him in ten places. The gallant soldier quietly dismounted, pointed
with his sword to the building, cried "Charge!" and sank dead on the field.

As fiercely raged the battle at the other wing where Duncan and M'Intosh
had driven in the enemy's right toward the Casa Mata. M'Intosh started to
storm that fort, and, in the teeth of a tremendous hail of musketry, advanced
to the ditch, only twenty-five yards from the work. There a ball knocked him
down; it was his luck to be shot or bayoneted in every battle. Martin Scott
took the command, but as he ordered the men forward he rolled lifeless into
the ditch. Major Waite, the next in rank, had hardly seen him fall before he
too was disabled. By whole companies the men were mowed down by the Mexican
shot; but they stood their ground. At length some one gave the word to fall
back, and the remnants of the brigade obeyed. Many wounded were left on the
ground; among others Lieutenant Burnell, shot in the leg, whom the Mexicans
murdered when his comrades abandoned him. After the battle his body was
found, and beside it his dog, moaning piteously and licking his dead master's
face.

At the head of four thousand cavalry, Alvarez now menaced our left.
Duncan watched them come, driving a cloud of dust before them, till they were
within close range; then opening with his wonderful rapidity, he shattered
whole platoons at a discharge. Worth sent him word to be sure to keep the
lancers in check. "Tell General Worth," was his reply, "to make himself
perfectly easy; I can whip twenty thousand of them." So far as Alvarez was
concerned, he kept his word.

On the American right the fight had reached a crisis. Mixed confusedly
together, men of all arms furiously attacked the Molino, firing into every
aperture, climbing to the roof, and striving to batter in the doors and gates
with their muskets. The garrison never slackened their terrible fire for an
instant. At length Major Buchanan, of the Fourth, succeeded in bursting open
the southern gate; and almost at the same moment Anderson and Ayres, of the
artillery, forced their way into the buildings at the northwestern angle.
Ayres leaped down alone into a crowd of Mexicans - he had done the same at
Monterey - and fell covered with wounds. Our men rushed in on both sides,
stabbing, firing, and felling the Mexicans with their muskets. From room to
room and house to house a hand-to-hand encounter was kept up. Here a stalwart
Mexican hurled down man after man as they advanced; there Buchanan and the
Fourth levelled all before them. But the Mexicans never withstood the cold
steel. One by one the defenders escaped by the rear toward Chapultepec, and
those who remained hung out a white flag. Under Duncan's fire the Casa Mata
had been evacuated, and the enemy was everywhere in full retreat. Twice he
rallied and charged the Molino; but each time the artillery drove him back
toward Chapultepec, and parties of the light infantry pursued him down the
road. Before ten in the morning the whole field was won; and, having blown up
the Casa Mata, Worth, by Scott's order, fell back to Tacubaya.

With gloomy face and averted eye the gallant soldier received the thanks
of his chief for the exploits of the morning. His heart was with the brave
men he had lost - nearly eight hundred out of less than thirty-five hundred
and among them fifty-eight officers, many of whom were his dearest friends.
All had fallen in advance of their men, with sword in hand and noble words on
their lips. 'Twas a poor price for these to have stormed Molino del Rey, and
cut down nearly a fifth of Santa Anna's fourteen thousand men. Sadly the
General returned to his quarters.

The end was now close at hand. Reconnoissances were carefully made, and,
the enemy's strength being gathered on the southern front of the city, General
Scott determined to assail Chapultepec on the west. By the morning of the
12th the batteries were completed, and opened a brisk fire on the castle,
without, however, doing any more serious damage than annoying the garrison and
killing a few men. The fire was kept up all day; and at night preparations
were made for the assault, which was ordered to be made next morning.

At daybreak on the 13th the cannonade began again, as well from the
batteries planted against Chapultepec as from Steptoe's guns, which were
served against the southern defences of the city in order to divert the
attention of the enemy. At 8 a.m. the firing from the former ceased, and the
attack commenced. Quitman advanced along the Tacubaya road, Pillow from the
Molino del Rey, which he had occupied on the evening before. Between the
Molino and the castle lay first an open space, then a grove thickly planted
with trees; in the latter, Mexican sharpshooters had been posted, protected by
an intrenchment on the border of the grove. Pillow sent Lieutenant-Colonel
Johnston with a party of voltigeurs to turn this work by a flank movement; it
was handsomely accomplished; and just as the voltigeurs broke through the
redan, Pillow, with the main body, charged it in front and drove back the
Mexicans. The grove gained, Pillow pressed forward to the front of the rock;
for the Mexican shot from the castle batteries, crashing through the trees,
seemed even more terrible than it really was, and the troops were becoming
restless.

The Mexicans had retreated to a redoubt half way up the hill; the
voltigeurs sprang up from rock to rock, firing as they advanced, and followed
by Hooker, Chase, and others, with parties of infantry. In a very few minutes
the redoubt was gained, the garrison driven up the hill, and the voltigeurs,
Ninth, and Fifteenth were in hot pursuit after them. The firing from the
castle was very severe. Colonel Ransom, of the Ninth, was killed, and Pillow
himself was wounded. Still the troops pressed on till the crest of the hill
was gained. There some moments were lost owing to the delay in the arrival of
scaling-ladders, during which two of Quitman's regiments and Clarke's brigade
reenforced the storming party. When the ladders came, numbers of men rushed
forward with them, leaped into the ditch, and planted them for the assault.

Lieutenant Selden was the first man to mount. But the Mexicans collected
all their energies for this last moment. A tremendous fire dashed the
foremost of the stormers into the ditch, killing Lieutenants Rogers and Smith
and clearing the ladders. Fresh men instantly manned them, and, after a brief
struggle, Captain Howard, of the voltigeurs, gained a foothold on the parapet.
M'Kenzie, of the forlorn hope, followed; and a crowd of voltigeurs and
infantry, shouting and cheering, pressed after him, and swept down upon the
garrison with the bayonet. Almost at the same moment, Johnston, of the
voltigeurs, who had led a small party round to the gate of the castle, broke
it open and effected an entrance in spite of a fierce fire from the southern
walls. The two parties uniting, a deadly conflict ensued within the building.

Maddened by the recollection of the murder of their wounded comrades at
Molino del Rey, the stormers at first showed no quarter. On every side the
Mexicans were stabbed or shot down without mercy. Many flung themselves over
the parapet and down the hillside and were dashed in pieces against the rocks.
More fought like fiends, expending their breath in a malediction, and expiring
in the act of aiming a treacherous blow as they lay on the ground. Streams of
blood flowed through the doors of the college, and every room and passage was
the theatre of some deadly struggle. At length the officers succeeded in
putting an end to the carnage; and the remaining Mexicans having surrendered,
the Stars and Stripes were hoisted over the castle of Chapultepec by Major
Seymour.

Meanwhile Quitman had stormed the batteries on the causeway to the east
of the castle, after a desperate struggle in which Major Twiggs, who commanded
the stormers, was shot dead at the head of his men. The Mexicans fell back
toward the city. General Scott, coming up at this moment, ordered a
simultaneous advance to be made on the city, along the two roads leading from
Chapultepec to the gates of San Cosme and Belen, respectively. Worth was to
command that on San Cosme, Quitman that on Belen. Both were prepared for
defence by barricades, behind which the enemy were posted in great numbers.
Fortunately for the assailants an aqueduct, supported by arches of solid
masonry, ran along the centre of each causeway. By keeping under cover of
these arches, and springing rapidly from one to another, Smith's rifles and
the South Carolina regiment were enabled to advance close to the first
barricade on the Belen road, and pour in a destructive fire on the gunners. A
flank discharge from Duncan's guns completed the work; the barricade was
carried; and without a moment's rest Quitman advanced in the same manner on
the garita San Belen, which was held by General Torres with a strong garrison.

It too was stormed, though under a fearful hail of grape and canister;
and the rifles moved forward toward the citadel. But at this moment Santa
Anna rode furiously down to the point of attack. Boiling with rage at the
success of the invaders, he smote General Torres in the face, threw a host of
infantry into the houses commanding the garita and the road, ordered the
batteries in the citadel to open fire, planted fresh guns on the Paseo, and
infused such spirit into the Mexicans that Quitman's advance was stopped at
once. A terrific storm of shot, shell, and grape assailed the garita, where
Captain Dunn had planted an 8-pounder. Twice the gunners were shot down, and
fresh men sent to take their places. Then Dunn himself fell, and immediately
afterward Lieutenant Benjamin and his first sergeant met the same fate. The
riflemen in the arches repelled sallies; but Quitman's position was
precarious, till night terminated the conflict.

Worth meanwhile had advanced in like manner along the San Cosme causeway,
driving the Mexicans from barricade to barricade, till within two hundred
fifty yards of the garita of San Cosme. There he encountered as severe a fire
as that which stopped Quitman. But Scott had ordered him to take the garita,
and take it he would. Throwing Garland's brigade out to the right and
Clarke's to the left, he ordered them to break into the houses, burst through
the walls, and bore their way to the flanks of the garita. The plan had
succeeded perfectly at Monterey, nor did it fail here. Slowly but surely the
sappers passed from house to house, until at sunset they reached the point
desired. Then Worth ordered the attack. Lieutenant Hunt brought up a light
gun at a gallop, and fired it through the embrasure of the enemy's battery,
almost muzzle to muzzle; the infantry at the same moment opened a most deadly
and unexpected fire from the roofs of the houses, and M'Kenzie, at the head of
the stormers, dashed at the battery and carried it almost without loss. The
Mexicans fled precipitately into the city.

At one that night two parties left the citadel and issued forth from the
city. One was the remnant of the Mexican army, which slunk silently and
noiselessly through the northern gate, and fled to Guadalupe-Hidalgo; the
other was a body of officers who came under a white flag, to propose terms of
capitulation.

The sun shone brightly on the morning of September 14th. Scores of
neutral flags float from the windows on the Calle de Plateros, and in their
shade beautiful women gaze curiously on the scene beneath. Gayly dressed
groups throng the balconies, and at the street-corners dark-faced men scowl,
mutter deep curses, and clutch their knives. The street resounds with the
heavy tramp of infantry, the rattle of gun-carriages, and the clatter of
horses' hoofs. "Los Yanquies!" is the cry, and every neck is stretched to
obtain a glimpse of the six thousand bemired and begrimed soldiers who are
marching proudly to the Grand Plaza. On him especially is every eye intently
fixed, whose martial form is half concealed by a splendid staff and a squadron
of dragoons, as he rides, with flashing eye and beating heart, to the National
Palace of Mexico. But six months before, Winfield Scott had landed on the
Mexican coast; since then he had stormed the two strongest places in the
country, won four battles in the field against armies double, treble, and
quadruple his own, and marched without reverse from Vera Cruz to the City of
Mexico; losing fewer men, making fewer mistakes, and creating less
devastation, in proportion to his victories, than any invading general of
former times. Well might the Mexicans gaze upon his face!