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My Dear Sir :
Your highly esteemed and interesting letter of the 16th ultimo, which reached me a short time since, was as gratifying as it was unexpected, for although our mutual friend, Major Butler, and myself had several conversations as regards the course pursued toward me by some of the authorities at Washington since the taking of Monterey in September last, in which your name was casually mentioned, but always with great respect and kindness ; and on one occasion he, the Major, permitted me to read a letter from you to him, in reply to one he had addressed you in whole, or in part, on this subject, the contents of which were highly approved ; and although I had not expected a letter from you in relation to this matter, yet the same is duly appreciated, and for which you will be pleased to accept my most cordial thanks.
I consider I would be acting the hypocrite if I hesitated to say on all proper occasions that I considered I had been most harshly if not cruelly treated during the last nine or ten months ; whether intentionally so by the head of the War Department, through the agency of the General in Chief of the Army, aided by the in trigues and misrepresentations of certain subordinates, or from the force of circumstances, I will not pretend to say, but am willing to hope it is attributable to the latter. In order that you may understand the circumstances which have caused me to believe the Secretary of War and some other high functionaries have been, if not now, anything but friendly disposed towards me, and to place my course and conduct in their proper light so that you, whose good opinion I not only desire to possess but to deserve, may comprehend the whole matter, it will not, I trust, be considered presuming or improper in me to enter into somewhat of a detailed narrative of the events connected with this subject from the time I took command of the army and conducted it from the United States to Mexico until it was taken from me ; or in fact up to the battle of Buena Vista ; in doing which I must be more lengthy than I could have wished, leaving you, however, at liberty to read it or not should you have a leisure moment, if not to throw it aside, or in the fire, as you may think best.
While stationed and on duty on the frontier of the state of Arkansas in 1844 I was ordered to Fort Jesup, La., to take command of the Army of Observation, assembled at that place, consisting of two regiments of infantry and one of dragoons, and hold them in readiness to repel any outrages that might be attempted by any Indian tribes residing within the limits of the United States, or the citizens of Texas ; and to open a correspondence with the President of that Republic, and our diplomatic agent, Major Donaldson, residing near that Government, in relation to this and other matters.
I reached Fort Jesup in June and at once entered on the duties assigned me, where I remained until July 4th or 5th, when the annexation of Texas to the United States having been completed, I was directed by Mr. Bancroft, then in charge of the War Department, to move with the troops under my orders to, or near, the southern boundary of the newly acquired territory and take a position in the vicinity of the Gulf, best calculated to protect the people of the same from Mexican invasion and depredations, which I was particularly directed to prevent ; going on to say, as the Department had no knowledge of the localities of that portion of the country, much was left to my discretion in carrying out the views of the Government. After collecting all the information I could, which was very little, in regard to that part of the Gulf coast as regarded its harbors, rivers, &c I determined on going to St. Josephs Island and make the proper examinations before locating the command.
Having ordered the Dragoons to march by land across Texas and report to me at or near St. Joseph s, I proceeded to that pass with the 3d and 4th Infantry by the way of New Orleans, where I was joined by one company of artillery, and reached my place of destination the latter part of July, and after looking around for some days, fixed on Corpus Christi, a small trader s establishment belonging to and occupied by a few of our citizens, on a large bay of the same name, west of the Nueces ; here the command was permanently encamped early in August, where I was soon after joined by the Dragoons, and during the autumn by the larger portion of the regular Army, where we remained undergoing a system of instruction, observing the movements of the Mexicans, locating troops on the northern and western frontiers of the new state to restrain the Indians, exploring the country in every direction, and preparing transportation either by land or water for a prompt movement, until the latter part of the winter, when I was ordered to move forward, take a position on the left bank of the Rio Grande, near Matamoras, and maintain it, but to act on the defensive, unless the Mexicans made it necessary to do otherwise. In obedience to which I left Corpus Christi on the nth of March, 1846, and after passing over a deep sandy desert, covered with salt marshes 150 miles, we reached Point Isabel on the 23d, where I was joined the next day by our heavy baggage, guns, &c., sent around from Corpus Christi by water.
After selecting a proper position for a depot, and leaving an engineer officer to lay out a suitable work for its security, and lose no time in commencing it, as well as leaving a small guard for its defence, I continued my march to the Rio Grande, opposite to Matamoras, distant thirty miles, reaching it on the 28th, and took position on the bank of the river opposite the city, and within short cannon range of it and the works thrown up to defend it, and at once had heavy field work laid out and commenced by and under the superintendence of the Engineers, which was pushed forward with great zeal and perseverance by, I may say, the whole command, until the last day of April, when being nearly completed, and the Mexican commander, Gen Arista having a few days previously commenced crossing his army from the right to the left bank of the Rio Grande, and having succeeded in surprising and capturing a squadron of Dragoons, after leaving a strong garrison in the new work with orders to the commander to defend it to the last extremity, I fell back, reaching Point Isabel on the 2d of May ; after strengthening the works of that important place and increasing its garrison, on the evening of the Jth I commenced retracing my steps with something less than 2,300 men with a large wagon train to relieve the garrison of the new work which had been invested on the morning of the 3d. As expected, I found the Mexican army on the 8th about 12 o clock m. greatly outnumbering us in every arm, drawn up in a position to dispute our march ; I did not hesitate to give him battle which continued until dark, when he was driven from his position, we occupying the same for the night. The battle of the gth with greater odds against us followed, the result of which you are aware of, and the new work relieved after a bombardment of five days with the loss of their gallant commander after which, as soon as I could obtain boats to enable me to cross the Rio Grande with my artillery, I took possession of Matamoras, the enemy having abandoned it, and fled beyond our reach.
While waiting here instructions in regard to future operations from Washington, I received the appointment of Major-General by brevet which was soon followed by a similar appointment, Congress having added another officer of that grade to the Army, which appointments I did not expect, nor had I sought them further than by the faithful discharge of my duty ; yet they were not the less gratifying, and no one could feel more elated, or highly flattered at the approval of my conduct, as well as the confidence reposed in me by the Chief Magistrate of the Republic, which I had hoped to have continued to retain, as well as to merit. On the 26th of June I received a communication from the Secretary of War of which the following is an extract : "You will have received before this will reach you a brevet commission of Major-General, and the President s order assigning you to the command of the Army of the Rio Grande according to your brevet rank. It is the President s intention to continue you in that command and to commit to you the conduct of it in the ensuing campaign."
I at the same time received the plan of said campaign drawn up by the General in Chief of the Army, giving the number of troops &c to be employed. Although I did not approve the plan of said campaign, nor was I consulted in regard to it, yet I hazard nothing when I say that no one ever entered on the performance of any duty than I did in this, with greater zeal, better spirit and determination to carry it out to the very letter, to the best of my abilities and energies ; nor did I, as long as supported falter for one moment, believing in doing so I was carrying out the best interests of the country, by sustaining its executive.
In the meantime, some 18,000 volunteers had or soon after arrived at Brazos Island, without bringing with or preceding them, the means of transporting a barrel of flour, or anything else, one mile from where they landed ; and in some instances without bringing with them camp equipage of any kind, nor was there any in the country to supply them with, and for several weeks it was nearly as much as the officers of the Quarter Master s Department could do, with all the means at their disposal, to remove said volunteers, and their baggage, as they arrived at the Brazos, to where they could procure wood and fresh water, there being neither of these where they landed, nor were there the necessary subsistence stores. About 4,000 of the six months volunteers referred to, mostly from Louisiana, had volunteered under peculiar circumstances ; the news of the defeat and capture of the Dragoons, in addition to the reported perilous situation of our little army on the Rio Grande, from which it was supposed it could not extricate itself, reached New Orleans at the same time that a call was made on the patriotic governor of that state for four regiments of Volunteers, who without a moment s delay made a requisition for the same on the chivalrous people of his state, which was promptly responded to ; and instead of four, six regiments flocked to her standard, rich and poor, men of large families, and of every class and calling, without distinction of party were found in the ranks, who had left their affairs unsettled, and, it may be said, had left their ploughs unharnessed in their fields to rush to the rescue, so much so, that the next consideration was, instead of urging them forward, to restrain them with such feelings they reached the Rio Grande where they hoped and expected to have found and encountered the enemy ; you can therefore well imagine their feelings of disappointment and mortification to find the Mexican army had been defeated, dis persed, and fled to or beyond the mountains of the Sierra Madre, and that to find an enemy a march over an arid country of nearly 300 miles in extent, with very limited supplies to be had on the way for men or horses and without the necessary means of transportation had to be encountered. A camp life was unsuited to them, and disease, the inheritance of all armies, and particularly so among troops fresh from civil life, had begun to show itself among them, when those gallant men, whose term of service would soon be drawing to a close, requested to be led against the enemy or permitted to return to their homes ; the first was impossible, the latter was complied with, as I was satisfied the interests of the country would be promoted instead of injured by such an arrangement. None but those present on such occasions can understand the feelings, or appreciate the trials, mortifications, and harassments incident to them, yet they were all borne with, with all the equanimity I could command ; nor were the necessary preparations for the campaign for one moment lost sight of; the Quarter Master at the head of the Department with me, and at New Orleans were urged over and over again to use every exertion to pro cure the necessary transportation, both for land and water, to enable me to make a forward movement into the enemy s country even with a portion of the command, where there was a prospect of coming in collision with the enemy, which I am sat isfied they did as far as possible. Finding, however, there was great delay in procuring steamboats of the proper description at New Orleans, to facilitate the same, and aid the Quarter Master s Department in getting them, I despatched an Engineer officer to that place with proper instructions to aid in procuring the proper description of boats, and if they could not be had in New Orleans to continue on up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers until they could be met with, and either purchased or chartered, as we could not get on without them, some of which could not be obtained short of Pittsburg. At the same time, every boat that could be had either by purchase or charter of those which had reached the Rio Grande was employed in transporting troops and supplies up the Rio Grande, as rapidly as possible, where, after taking possession of the towns along it on the right bank, I located a depot at Camargo, 400 miles from its entrance into the Gulf (by water).
Having collected here a supply of provisions, forage, and ordnance stores, and judging from the newspapers that the people of the country were becoming impatient that the army under my orders should do something, I determined to move forward, and if practicable to take possession of Monterey, the capital of New Leon, and the most important city east of the Sierra Madre, commanding on this side the first and only road between the Gulf and that place for wheeled carriages, by which the table lands of Mexico can be reached, a distance of near 400 miles. After raking and scraping the whole country for every pack mule, and collecting some 1,500 and their attendants ( my principal means of transportation ) I left Camargo on the 5th of September to join my advance at Serralvo, where I had thrown forward a small supply of provisions, forage, etc., and where I remained a few days for the arrival of some of the troops in the rear ; on their joining I continued on and reached Monterey, distant from Serralvo about sixty-five miles, on the morning of the igth with a little upwards of 6,OOO men, about equal numbers of regulars and volunteers, with a small train of light artillery and one heavy mortar. I found the city naturally very strong, and well fortified, and occupied by a numerous garrison, between 7 and 8,000 regulars as admitted by Gen Ampudia, besides the citizens capable of bearing arms amounting to several thousand more, with forty-two pieces of artillery and an abundant supply of ammunition.
Finding the Mexican commander was determined not to hazard a general action in the field, but to confine himself to his strong works in and around the city, and having devoted the igth and 2Oth to reconnoitering their works, and ap proaches, I determined to carry the place pretty much with the bayonet, commencing with the out works. The attack was made early on the 2ist and after a severe contest particularly on that day, and which was maintained at intervals through the two days following, a flag was sent in early on the morning of the 24th by Gen Ampudia, proposing to evacuate the city provided he was permitted to leave it, withdrawing his troops unmolested, and taking away all the public property, private to be respected, to which I declined acceding, when a personal interview was requested, granted, and resulted in a capitulation, of which I need mention but one article, the armistice for eight weeks, which was as necessary to us as it was to our adversaries.
In the meantime the Secretary of War commenced a correspondence with one at least of my subordinates on the subject of operations within the limits of my command ( which is generally attended with unfortunate results ), no doubt drawn into it by the suggestions of those who wished to be actively employed, and who embarked in the campaign, some at least, I regret to say, more with the view of advancing their own personal ends than the interests of the country. In the meantime the friends, or creatures, of Gen Scott in my camp and elsewhere had become very much alarmed at the prospect of his being lost sight of as an aspirant for the presidency, and, to bring about a change in his favor, filled the ears of the Secretary of War with statements which originated in my camp of the great necessity there was that General Scott should be placed at the head of the army in Mexico, that all desired that such should be the case, that the public good required it, and in addition, many other incorrect and ridiculous statements. When it was known that the capitulation entered into with the Mexican commander at Monterey was disapproved, it added an additional stimulant to the zeal of my defamers, or those who wished to " take from me my good name " in order to supplant me. A gentleman who happened to be in Washington wrote me, saying " perhaps you are not aware of the fact but I regret to say your camp is one mass of intrigue to get you out of the way." Another who possessed the confidence of the President and Secretary in formed me that great exertions were made by the friends of Gen Scott for him to supersede or relieve me, which the President declined doing; they then proposed, their object being to get me out of the way, that an arrangement should be made to give Gen Worth the command ( all, too, for my particular accommodation, as I was anxious to retire to the United States); this the President also declined doing. But by perseverance which overcomes most obstacles, my enemies ultimately succeeded, not in having me superseded or recalled, but by pursuing a much more objectionable, dishonorable, and disgraceful course, which was to strip me of the greater portion of my command in the most discourteous manner that could be devised, no doubt from the expectation that it would have the effect of breaking me down or driving me from the country, if not from the army, or leaving me at the mercy of the enemy.
On the 2d of October I received by special express a communication from the Secretary of War of the I3th of the preceding month, directing me to put an end to the armistice referred to, and commence offensive operations against the enemy. I lost no time in communicating this to General Santa Anna, then at San Luis Potosi, at the head of the Mexican army, and made the necessary arrangement for a forward movement, the order for the same having been given, when I received by a courier from Matamoras a note from Major McLane, stating he had arrived at that place with important despatches for me from the Government and would reach my headquarters in a few days, or as soon as he could procure passage up the Rio Grande. He reached here two days after, on the 1 2th of November, and handed me a communication from the War Department of the 22d October, which in some measure modified the instructions of the I3th of the same month, referred to as brought by Major Graham of the Topo. Engineers.
I moved on Saltillo on the 13th November and reached there the 16th, where after leaving Gen Worth with a brigade, mostly of regulars, I returned to this place.
In the Secretary s despatch of the 13th I think, he stated that an expedition against Vera Cruz was under consideration, and wished to know if I did not con sider 4,000 men sufficient to carry that place ; if so, and I approved the same, I was authorized to detach Gen Patterson on that duty, presuming that I could spare or draw that amount of force from the lower Rio Grande ; in reply, I stated that I considered the number specified was too small for the object, that I thought that not less than 10,000 should be sent on that service, as disaster should not be risked so far froMreinforcements, and if the Government would organize in the states 6,000 men and send them to Vera Cruz with proper engineers and ordnance officers, and the material necessary to carry on the most vigorous siege immediately on their arrival and would touch at Tampico, about the loth of January, I would hold 4,000 men in the vicinity of that place, 2,000 regulars and a like number of volunteers, ready to cooperate with them and would turn over to General Patterson, or any other officer the Department might charge with the management of said expedition ; that I wished to make an examination of the country and the several passes through the mountains between this and the Gulf to ascertain how far and in what way they could be used for military purposes, and would take that occasion to do so and that 4,000 men were as many as could be drawn from this line with safety.
Having made the necessary dispositions for the defence of the country of which I had taken possession by leaving Gen Worth at Saltillo, locating Gen Wool at Patos and Parras, and Gen Butler at Monterey commanding the whole, with re spectable commands to be concentrated at Saltillo should Santa Anna make a move on that place, having ordered Gen Shields with a regiment of Volunteers to proceed to Tampico by water to reinforce and take command of that place, and Major Gen Patterson to march across the country from Matamoras and join me at Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas, with three regiments of Volunteers, I left here on the I4th December with General Twigg s division and reached Victoria on the 4th of January, where I found Gen Quitman with his brigade, and where I was joined the same day by Gen Patterson with his command. On my way to Victoria I received by express General Scott s sugared letter of November 25th from New York, which has been published in the " Union " informing me he was on his way to Mexico, not to relieve or supersede me, but only to take from me the greater portion of my command, in order that he might do something for himself, that I had done enough ( perhaps too much ) and could afford to remain on the defensive until con gress could raise an army for me to command ; a more contemptible and insidious communication was never written. This was the first and I may say the only in timation I had that I was to be outraged ; but I then knew the poisoned shafts which had been sent to Washington ( as mentioned by my friends ) had done their work but too effectually ; but as the Major Gen had stated in his letter he did not expect to see me (or rather did not wish to do so) as well as intimating his object was to attack Vera Cruz, I replied to him that I would continue on to Victoria, and await his order or instructions at that place.
I remained at Victoria ten days, at the end of which I received an order from Gen Scott, then at Camargo, after detailing a proper escort to accompany me back to this place where I would return after putting in march for Tampico the balance of troops with me, which was immediately done, numbering 4,733. I received also at the same time a copy of an order sent from Camargo to Gen Butler who was then at Saltillo, commencing by premising that I had 7,500 regulars (when he must have known there was not and never had been anything like that amount of regular troops under my command at any one time, as monthly returns had been regularly furnished the Adjutant General s office at Washington, which was open to his in spection, and which it was his duty to have examined ) to order to the mouth of the Rio Grande a specific number of regulars, to proceed without delay under the orders of Gen Worth, which took, with the exception of a few weak companies of artillery and dragoons, the whole of the regular force, not leaving me a single company of infantry, as well as taking from me most of the volunteers which I had disciplined. I replied to the same with considerable warmth, stating that I considered the whole proceeding as one of the greatest outrages which had ever been perpetrated, that without my being consulted I was stripped of the greater part of my command, leaving me in front of and within striking distance of Santa Anna with a very inadequate force to oppose him, and that I could not misunderstand the object. Many of the officers were as indignant at the course pursued towards me as I could possibly be, some of high rank, and my devoted friends urged me to return at once to the United States, that I owed it to myself and friends to do so, which I declined doing, stating that if Santa Anna advanced our country needed the services of every man who could be brought to oppose him, nor was it a time to think of private griefs nor was it alone those with me who felt indignant, for as soon as the position I had been placed in was known, thousands throughout the land cried out shame on such treatment ; and if the statements in the papers can be depended on, it excited the astonishment of distinguished persons in other countries.
After putting the troops in march for Tampico, I left Victoria as directed on the 16th with an escort to a large wagon train which had to return to Monterey, and with a heavy heart, where I arrived on the 24th after a useless march of near 500 miles over a rough country at the cost of the lives of a few men, the loss of a considerable portion of what few artillery and dragoon horses accompanied me, and the breaking down or greatly reducing the balance, as well as causing a considerable expenditure of money by the Quarter Master s Department, all of which might have been avoided had I been notified, or ordered, when it was determined to degrade me, to have remained stationary until it was accomplished. This was deter mined on fully the i8th November at Washington, and no doubt was under consideration for some time previous, when if a special express had been sent from Washington directing me not to make any movement until further orders, if it was deemed unsafe to entrust me with the views of the Department, said instructions would have reached me before I marched, which was on the I5th of December j this would have prevented others, as well as myself, much unnecessary fatigue, as well as the results referred to ; but this would have been treating me with too much consideration.
Some four or five days after my return to this place I was informed that great alarm prevailed among the troops at and near Saltillo which composed the greater portion of those left me, in consequence of a report that Santa Anna was advancing on that place with all his forces, which alarm had been greatly augmented by the surprise and capture of two mounted reconnoitering parties, about fifty miles in ad vance of Saltillo towards San Luis Potosi, consisting of about 100 picked men and horses belonging to the Kentucky and Arkansas mounted Volunteers, only one man making his escape and that by the fleetness of his horse, after being in the hands of the enemy ; by him was brought back the most fearful intelligence, as regards the strength and numbers of the enemy s Lancers and Dragoons who had surrounded them, supposed to be the advance of the enemy s army, so much so that the officer in command, after communicating all the information in regard to those matters, urged me to join him with as little delay as possible with all the spare troops I could bring with me ; in consequence of which I left here on the 3Oth and reached Saltillo on the morning of the 1st of February with about 700 men. A few days after my arrival there, I received a communication from Gen Scott, then at Brazos Island, advising me to fall back and concentrate my command at Monterey ; this I declined doing, having determined after the most mature reflection to fight the Mexican General as my best chance of safety should he offer me battle, immediately on his getting across what is termed the " desert " between Saltillo and San Luis Potosi, 150 miles in extent, before he had time to refresh and reorganize his troops, whom I knew must be much exhausted by their march across the same. I continued to examine the localities of the country in front of Saltillo and prepare the troops for battle until the 22d, on which day I was attacked by General Santa Anna with 20,000 men well trained, with a due proportion of every arm completely equipped and supplied with every material to secure success, on the plain of Buena Vista, where with 334 officers and 4,425 rank and file on our side, making in all 4,759, only 453 regulars and a part of theMrecruits, he was repulsed with great loss and his army dispersed, and nearly disorganized after a severe and bloody contest of one whole day and part of another ; the result is so well known it is not necessary to go into particulars, further than to say, that if I had not been so weakened by the fire in my rear ( not being able to improve the victory after gaining it ) the greater portion of the Mexican army would have been captured or destroyed, the whole of his artillery and baggage taken and their president made prisoner, had he not been remarkably fortunate.
I have no hesitation in saying had I left the army when advised to do so by my friends at Victoria, at the time already referred to, the Battle of Buena Vista would never have been fought ; and had it not been, the consequences to the country would have been truly deplorable in a pecuniary view, but what would have been of much more importance, it would have fixed a stain on the national character which would have taken years on years to have wiped out ; or had I fallen back, as ad vised by Gen Scott, to Monterey, the consequences which would have followed would have been scarcely less disastrous than a total rout at or near Saltillo, for as soon as the Mexican General had invested Monterey, which he was prepared to do, it would have been the signal for the rising of the whole country ; every depot on the Rio Grande would have been at once abandoned, taken, or destroyed, all the artillery and cavalry horses and every animal belonging to the trains would have been destroyed or starved, as there was no depot of forage at Monterey, where our vol unteer army shut up and disheartened must have either surrendered or been cut to pieces. No army could have been raised in the United States and brought here in time to have relieved it, and the only way it could have been done would have been by the army under Gen Scott, who, I am induced to believe from what has taken place, would have seen it sacrificed with perfect indifference rather than it should have interfered with his operations against Vera Cruz ; besides, instead of the tri umphant march of Col. Doniphan, reports of which are now going the rounds of the papers, it would have been Colonel D. s disastrous retreat, if not something worse, had the battle of Buena Vista been lost, or had I fallen back to Monterey. The only way in which the said army could have been rescued would have been by a peremptory order from Washington to Gen Scott to have retraced his steps to the Rio Grande. Nor do I hesitate in saying that the battles of the 8th and 9th May, 1846, created a feeling of enthusiasm and gave a confidence to our army that nothing in Mexico could resist ; and although I was denied the privilege of travelling it, that the battle of Buena Vista opened the road to the city of Mexico, and the doors of the halls of Montezumas, that others might revel in them. I do not refer to these matters with anything like exultation, or from any feelings of vanity, but more from a feeling of sorrow than of anger, for most gladly, if I had the power to do it, would I recall the past and cheerfully retire to the walks of private life unnoticed and unknown, could those who I can but look on as having in a great measure been sacrificed on the field of Buena Vista that I might be broken down, or another made more conspicuous, be restored to their families, friends, and country. It is to me, however, a source of gratification to know that since I took command of the Army of Observation I have pursued but one straightforward course, which was to serve the country honestly and faithfully, without turning to the right or left, notwith standing the fire, both in front and rear, by carrying out the orders, and, so far as I knew them, the wishes of the Executive, assailing none but the enemies of the country ; and however much I may have been misrepresented ( which I am induced to believe was to a very great extent ) to the Chief Magistrate, or however his feel ings may have been embittered towards me by the stream of poison which was con stantly infused into his mind to prejudice him against me, yet I have not for a moment lost sight of what was due to him as a gentleman, or to the distinguished position he occupied. As regards the Secretary of War, 1 up to the taking of Monterey, I entertained no other feelings towards him but those of respect and even kindness ; he was the only member of the Cabinet, including the President, with whom I had the honor of a personal acquaintance and only a slight one with him, and after the election of Mr. Polk, when the subject of the formation of his Cabinet was discussed in my presence, I uniformly expressed the hope that he might be placed in his present position. I could, therefore, have no other wish than to see the Department so managed as would redound to his credit and the interest of the nation, and if those feelings have been changed it was by no act of mine, and I may say, contrary to my wishes. Not a communication I addressed to the Secretary of War was ever acknowledged much less replied to for five months ; and but one received from him during the same period, which was calling my attention to a private letter written by me to Major Gen Gaines, never intended for publication ; of this it bore ample testimony on its face, but which found its way into the newspapers, printed in the city of New York, administering by the direction of the President (by implication) a very hard rebuke, which, however undeserved, I was bound to submit to, coming from the source it did.
On the subject of my being a candidate for the Presidency alluded to in your letter to Major Butler, I can only say that if I am so, or to be made one at the coming election, it will be by the acts of others, without any agency of mine in the matter, directly or indirectly. I have not now and never have had any aspirations for that situation, nor have I encouraged any one directly or indirectly to bring my humble name before the country for that high office ; the fact is my course has been a contrary one, for I apprehended at the time what would be the result, which has been but too well realized, viz., to destroy that confidence which should exist between a commanding officer in the field and his Government so necessary to the success of military operations, and which I humbly conceive has been gradually withdrawn from me, as well as a disposition evinced to drive me from the service, or to lay me on the shelf, ever since the capitulation of Monterey ; or why was the army which I had commanded for near three years, which I had conducted from the frontier of Louisiana to the tablelands of the Sierra Madre, which had won three important battles (at least so thought a large portion of the good people of the country) so unceremoniously taken from me without the slightest regard to the courtesy usual on such occasions, as if intended to add insult to injury ? Or if it was thought necessary to supplant me by another in the most cruel manner which could be devised, one who had declined or hesitated in taking it, when he thought it would interfere with his prospects for reaching the Presidency, why was I not offered a command in that army with which I had been so long associated, and permitted to share its toils, its dangers, and its triumphs ? These are matters which can only be explained by those better versed in court intrigues than I pretend or wish to be.
As regards the letter referred to in connection with the Honble. Mr. Walker in relation to the capitulation of Monterey it was brought to my notice by a friend who stated he thought it was written by Mr. Walker, as it was his style ; as it an imadverted severely on my conduct and without regard to the actual state of the case, or appearing to understand it, it is probable I might have remarked in presence of Col. Davis, who I knew was the friend of the Secretary as well as my own, that if it was the production of his pen, it was to be regretted he had not made himself in the first instance acquainted with the exact state of the case before attempting to assail me in that way ; that the whole matter was so filled with misstatements that it would injure the writer, whoever it might be, more than it would me ; and really the transaction had passed entirely from my mind and I doubted whether I should have thought of it again had I not been reminded of it. I certainly have not done Mr. Walker any injustice or injury in regard to the same, and would regret it if I had done so.
On the subject of transportation, which has made some noise at Washington, and notwithstanding the ridiculous and incorrect statements made by the Honble. Mr. Cass z in the Senate of the United States, done with the view of calling in question the correctness of my official statements on that subject, yet I defy him or his prompters to produce one word but what is true, or one that is even highly colored in regard to that or any other matter.
I left Camargo in September last for Monterey with a command of over 6,000 men with 180 or 185 wagons, forty-eight of which were turned over to the Ordnance, while with a column of 2,500 men which left San Antonio, Texas, under the command of General Wool, it had been furnished with upwards of 400 ; and, strange to say, the first additional wheel carriage which reached my Head Quarters after congress had recognized the existence of a war between the United States and Mexico, was on the 2d of November, a period of near six months.
I have the honor to remain with great respect
Your Most Obd Serv Z. TAYLOR,
Major Gen U. S. Army.
Secretary of State,
- Zachary Taylor