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Jalapa. Resolving, if possible, to turn the enemy's left, and attack in rear, while menacing or engaging his front, I caused daily reconnaissances to be pushed, with the view of finding a route for a force to debouch on the Jalapa road and cut off retreat. The reconnaissance begun by Lieutenant Beauregard, was continued by Captain Lee, Engineers, and a road made along difficult slopes and over chasms out of the enemy's view, though reached by his fire when discovered until, arriving at the Mexican lines, farther reconnaissance became impossible without an action. The desired point of debouchure, the Jalapa road, was not therefore reached, though believed to be within easy distance ; and to gain that point, it now became necessary to carry the height of Cerro Gordo. The dispositions in my plan of battle general orders No. Ill, heretofore enclosed were accordingly made. Twiggs s division, reenforced by Shields s brigade of volunteers, was thrown into position on the 17th, and was, of necessity, drawn into action in taking up the ground for its bivouac and the opposing height for our heavy battery. It will be seen that many of our officers and men were killed or wounded in this sharp combat handsomely commenced by a company of the 7th Infantry under Brevet First Lieutenant Gardner, who is highly praised by all his commanders for signal services. Colonel Harney coming up with the rifle regiment and 1st Artillery (also parts of his brigade) brushed away the enemy and occupied the height on which, in the night, was placed a battery of one 24-pounder and two 24-pound howitzers, under the super-intendence of Captain Lee, Engineers, and Lieutenant Hagner, Ordnance. These guns opened next morning, and were served with effect by Captain Steptoe and Lieutenant Brown, 3d Artillery, Lieutenant Hagner (Ordnance), and Lieutenant Seymour, 1st Artillery. The same night, with extreme toil and difficulty, under the superintendence of Lieutenant Tower, Engineer, and Lieutenant Laidley, Ordnance, an eight-inch howitzer was put in position across the river and opposite to the enemy's right battery. A detachment of four companies, under Major Burnham, New York Volunteers, performed this creditable service, which enabled Lieutenant Ripley, 2d Artillery, in charge of the piece, to open a timely fire in that quarter. Early on the 18th, the columns moved to the general attack, and our success was speedy and decisive. Pillow's brigade, assaulting the right of the intrenchments, although compelled to retire, had the effect I have heretofore stated. Twiggs's division, storming the strong and vital point of Cerro Gordo, pierced the centre, gained command of all of the intrenchments, and cut them off from support. As our infantry (Colonel Eiley s brigade) pushed on against the main body of the enemy, the guns of their own fort were rapidly turned to play on that force (under the immediate command of General Santa Anna), who fled in confusion. Shields s brigade, bravely assaulting the left, carried the rear battery (five guns) on the Jalapa road, and aided materially in completing the rout of the enemy. The part taken by the remainder of our forces, held in reserve to support and pursue, has already been noticed. The moment the fate of the day was decided, the cavalry, and Taylor's, and Wall's field batteries were pushed on toward Jalapa in advance of the pursuing columns of infantry Twiggs's division and the Brigade of Shields (now under Colonel Baker) and Major-General Patterson was sent to take command of them. In the hot pursuit many Mexicans were captured or slain before our men and horses were exhausted by the heat and distance. The rout proves to have been complete the retreat ing army, except a small body of cavalry, being dispersed and utterly disorganized. The immediate con sequences have been our possession of this important city, the abandonment of the works and artillery at La Hoya, the next formidable pass between VERA CRUZ and the capital, and the prompt occupation by Worth's division of the fortress of Perote (second only to San Juan de Ulloa), with its extensive armament of sixty- six guns and mortars, and its large supplies of materiel. To General "Worth's report, annexed, I refer for details. I have heretofore endeavored to do justice to the skill and courage with which the attack on the height of Cerro Gordo was directed and executed, naming the regiments most distinguished, and their commanders, under the lead of Colonel Harney. Lieutenant G. W. Smith led the engineer company as part of the storming force, and is noticed with distinction. The reports of this assault make favorable mention of many in which I can well concur, having witnessed the daring advance and perfect steadiness of the whole. Beside those already named, Lieutenant Brooks, 3d Infantry ; Lieutenant Macdonald, 2d Dragoons ; Lieutenant Yandorn, 7th Infantry all acting staff officers Captain Magruder, 1st Artillery, and Lieutenant Gardner, 7th Infantry, seem to havt, won especial praise. Colonel Eiley s brigade and Talcott's rocket and howitzer battery, were engaged on and about the heights, and bore an active part. The brigade so gallantly led by General Shields, and, after his fall, by Colonel Baker, deserves high commendation for its fine behavior and success. Colonels Foreman and Burnett, and Major Harris, commanded the regiments ; Lieutenant Hammond, 3d Artillery, and Lieutenant Davis, Illinois Volunteers, constituted the brigade staff. These operations, hid from my view by intervening hills, were not fully known when my first report was hastily written. Brigadier-General Twiggs, who was in the immediate command of all the advanced forces, has earned high credit by his judgment, spirit, and energy. The conduct of Colonels Campbell, Haskell, and "Wynkoop, commanding the regiments of Pillow's brigade, is reported in terms of strong approbation by Major-General Patterson. I recommend for a commission, Quartermaster-Sergeant Henry, of the 7th Infantry (already known to the army for intrepidity on former occasions), who hauled down the national standard of the Mexican fort. In expressing my indebtedness for able assistance to Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock, Acting Inspector-General, to Majors Smith and Turnbull, the respective Chiefs of Engineers and Topographical Engineers to their Assistants, Lieutenants Mason, Beauregard, Stevens, Tower, G. W. Smith, McClellan, Engineers, and Lieutenants Derby and Hardcastle, Topographical Engineers to Captain Allen, Chief Quartermaster, and Lieutenant Blair, Chief Commissary and to Lieutenants Hagner and Laidley, Ordnance all actively employed I am compelled to make special mention of the services of Captain R. E. Lee, Engineer. This officer, greatly distinguished at the siege of VERA CRUZ, was again indefatigable, during these operations, in reconnaissances as daring as laborious, and of the utmost value. Nor was he less conspicuous in planting batteries, and in conducting columns to their stations un der the heavy fire of the enemy. My personal staff, Lieutenants Scott, Williams, and Lay, and Major Yan Buren, w r ho volunteered for the occasion, gave me zealous and efficient assistance. Our whole force present, in action and in reserve, was eight thousand five hundred ; the enemy is estimated at twelve thousand, or more. About three thou sand prisoners, four or five thousand stands of arms, and forty-three pieces of artillery were taken. By the accompanying return, I regret to find our loss more severe than at first supposed, amounting in the two days to thirty-three officers and three hundred and ninety-eight men in all four hundred and thirty-one, of whom sixty-three were killed. The enemy's loss is computed to be from one thousand to one thousand two hundred. I am happy in communicating strong hopes of the recovery of the gallant General Shields, who is so much improved as to have been brought to this place. Appended to this report are the following papers : A. General return by name of killed and wounded. B. Copies of report of Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock, Acting Inspector-General (of prisoners taken) and accompanying papers. C. Report of Brigadier-General Twiggs, and subreports. D. Eeport of Major-General Patterson, and reports of brigade commanders. E. Copy of report of Brigadier-General Worth, announcing the occupation by his division of the castle and town of Perote, without opposition with an inventory of ordnance there found. I have the honor to remain, sir, with high respect, your most obedient servant, WINFIELD SCOTT. HON. WM. L. MARCY, Secretary of War.
- Autobiography of Lieut.-Gen. Winfield Scott in Two Volumes - Book by Winfield Scott, 1864