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I now send you the long delayed letter and hope that you will pardon my procrastination since I last wrote to you. I have been at Matamoras Camargo Monterey and Saltillo and the intermediate towns. At present I can not conveniently give you a general idea of the portions of Mexico which have fallen under my observation but hope to do so at some future day when things are more settled than at present and I also purpose on writing to you more frequently.
It would have [afforded] me much pleasure to have been with the gallant and victorious General Taylor at the battle of Buena Vista in which he has acquired laurels as imperishable as he history which shall record the invasion of Mexico by our victorious armies. But I was ordered away from Saltillo in January last and I believe for the best inasmuch as I am now with the most important portion of the army and on the most important line of operations.
I am now encamped on the road leading from Vera Cruz to the city of Mexico. Our troops landed about two miles from the former city on the ninth inst and on the same night were fired on by the Mexicans. On the following day we commenced surrounding the city and operating against it. The operations after the [investment] was completed consisted principally in bombarding and cannonading which were continued until not only the city but the castle of San Juan Dulloa agreed to surrender. The capitulation occurred yesterday. The terms are that all the public property falls into our hands, the troops march out under the condition of not serving against us during the present war unless exchanged. The troops marched out yesterday and surrendered their arms and we took possession immediately. This capitulation has thrown into our hands the strong hold of this republic and being a regular [siege] in connection with other circumstances must in my opinion excel any military operations known in the history of our country. I approve of all except allowing the enemy to retire that I can not approve of in as much as we had them secure and could have taken them prisoners of war unconditionally.
Our loss is not accurately known nor that of the enemy either yet but in my estimation ours can not exceed twenty men in killed, we lost only two captains (Capt Vinton of the artillery and Capt Alburtis of the infantry). I have been in the city and was much surprised at its strength. It is surrounded on the land side by a wall about 10 feet high and a series of forts and on the other side is protected by the castle.
You asked me whether I belonged to General Worth's division. I had the honor of being in it so long as it existed but it has been broken up during the past siege. I was part of the time with him and part of the time with General Twigs. Whilst I was at the advanced batteries a cannon ball came in about five steps of me. I presume that you think my name ought to appear in the papers but when you come to consider the composition of our army you will entertain different views. Its composition is such that those who have independent commands only are as a general rule spoken of for instance Ridgely May [Bra--] Duncan Ringold Smith all commanded companies. If an officer wishes to distinguish himself he must remain long in service until he obtains rank then he obtains the praise not only for his efforts but for the efforts of the officers and men under him. That portion of praise which may be due to me must of course go to those above me or be included in the praise given to the army.
My health is extremely good. I probably look better than I have for years. I expect to remain in Mexico for the remainder of the war and expect to move forward with the leading Brigade. I expect to be promoted in a short time to a second lieutenancy. This will probably occasion me to leave the light battery but it will give me more rank which is of the greatest importance in the army.
Remember me in the warmest terms to Mr. Arnold and all my other friends. I rejoice at your prosperity and hope and doubt not that it will continue. I hope soon to march forward towards the city of Mexico. Vera Cruz continues healthy. I intend writing soon and more frequently as my feelings incline me to and as a brother ought. Your last letters coming in such quick succession served as a just rebuke but my means for writing are poor. Even now I am using a box for a chair and my camp bedstead as a writing desk and think myself comfortably situated. You have all the conveniences necessary and I hope that you will use them to write often to one who esteems you above all.
- Stonewall Jackson