The Project Gutenberg eBook of Into Mexico with General Scott

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Title: Into Mexico with General Scott

Author: Edwin L. Sabin

Illustrator: Charles H. Stephens

Release date: July 30, 2022 [eBook #68652]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1920

Credits: Donald Cummings and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)



The American Trail Blazers


These books present in the form of vivid and fascinating fiction, the early and adventurous phases of American history. Each volume deals with the life and adventures of one of the great men who made that history, or with some one great event in which, perhaps, several heroic characters were involved. The stories, though based upon accurate historical fact, are rich in color, full of dramatic action, and appeal to the imagination of the red-blooded man or boy.

Each volume illustrated in color and black and white

12mo. Cloth.












Although General Winfield Scott was nicknamed by the soldiers “Old Fuss and Feathers,” they intended no disrespect. On the contrary, they loved him, and asked only that he lead them. No general ever lived who was more popular with the men in the ranks. They had every kind of confidence in him; they knew that “Old Fuss and Feathers” would look out for them like a father, and would take them through.

His arrival, all in his showy uniform, upon his splendid horse, along the lines, was the signal for cheers and for the bands to strike up “Hail to the Chief.” At bloody Chapultepec the soldiers crowded around him and even clasped his knees, so fond they were of him. And when he addressed them, tears were in his eyes.

General Scott was close to six feet six inches in height, and massively built. He was the tallest officer in the army. His left arm was partially useless, by reason of two wounds received in the War of 1812, but in full uniform he made a gallant sight indeed. He never omitted any detail of the uniform, because he felt that the proper uniform was required for discipline. He brooked no unnecessary slouchiness among officers and men; he insisted upon regulations and hard drilling, and the troops that he commanded were as fine an army as ever followed the Flag.


While he was strict in discipline, he looked keenly also after the comforts and privileges of his soldiers. He realized that unless the soldier in the ranks is well cared for in garrison and camp he will not do his best in the field, and that victories are won by the men who are physically and mentally fit. He did not succeed in doing away with the old practice of punishment by blows and by “bucking and gagging,” but he tried; and toward the ill and the wounded he was all tenderness.

As a tactician he stands high. His mind worked with accuracy. He drew up every movement for every column, after his engineers had surveyed the field; then he depended upon his officers to follow out the plans. His general orders for the battle of Cerro Gordo are cited to-day as model orders. Each movement took place exactly as he had instructed, and each movement brought the result that he had expected; so that after the battle the orders stood as a complete story of the fight.

His character was noble and generous. He had certain peculiar ways—he spoke of himself as “Scott” and like Sam Houston he used exalted language; he was proud and sensitive, but forgiving and quick to praise. He prized his country above everything else, and preferred peace, with honor, to war. Although he was a soldier, such was his justice and firmness and good sense that he was frequently sent by the Government to make peace without force of arms, along the United States borders. He alone it was who several times averted war with another nation.

General Scott should not be remembered mainly[9] for his battles won. He was the first man of prominence in his time to speak out against drunkenness in the army and in civil life. He prepared the first army regulations and the first infantry tactics. He was the first great commander to enforce martial law in conquered territory, by which the conquered people were protected from abuse. He procured the passage of that bill, in 1838, which awarded to all officers, except general officers like himself, an increase in rations allowance for every five years of service. The money procured from Mexico was employed by him in buying blankets and shoes for his soldiers and in helping the discharged hospital patients; and $118,000 was forwarded to Washington, to establish an Army Asylum for disabled enlisted men. From this fund there resulted the present system of Soldiers’ Homes.

The Mexican War itself was not a popular war, among Americans, many of whom felt that it might have been avoided. Lives and money were expended needlessly. Of course Mexico had been badgering the United States; American citizens had been mistreated and could obtain no justice. But the United States troops really invaded when they crossed into southwestern Texas, for Mexico had her rights there.

The war, though, brought glory to the American soldier. In the beginning the standing army of the United States numbered only about eight thousand officers and men, but it was so finely organized and drilled that regiment for regiment it equalled any army in the world. The militia of the States could not be depended upon to enter a foreign country; they had to be called upon as volunteers. Mexico[10] was prepared with thirty thousand men under arms; her Regulars were well trained, and her regular army was much larger than the army of the United States.

When General Zachary Taylor, “Old Rough and Ready,” advanced with his three thousand five hundred Regulars (almost half the United States army) for the banks of the Rio Grande River, he braved a Mexican army of eight thousand, better equipped than he was, except in men.

A military maxim says that morale is worth three men. All through the war it was skill and spirit and not numbers that counted; quality proved greater than quantity. “Old Zach,” with seventeen hundred Regulars, beat six thousand Mexican troops at Resaca de la Palma. At Buena Vista his four thousand Volunteers and only four hundred and fifty or five hundred Regulars repulsed twenty thousand of the best troops of Mexico. General Scott reached the City of Mexico with six thousand men who, fighting five battles in one day, had defeated thirty thousand. Rarely has the American soldier, both Regular and Volunteer, so shone as in that war with Mexico, when the enemy outnumbered three and four to one, and chose his own positions.

The battles were fought with flint-lock muskets, loaded by means of a paper cartridge, from which the powder and ball were poured into the muzzle of the piece. The American dragoons were better mounted than the Mexican lancers, and charged harder. The artillery was the best to be had and was splendidly served on both sides, but the American guns were the faster in action.

Thoroughly trained officers and men who had confidence[11] in each other and did not know when they were beaten, won the war. Many of the most famous soldiers in American history had their try-out in Mexico, where Robert E. Lee and George B. McClellan were young engineers, U. S. Grant was a second lieutenant, and Jefferson Davis led the Mississippi Volunteers. The majority of the regular officers were West Pointers. General Scott declared that but for the military education afforded by the Academy the war probably would have lasted four or five years, with more defeats than victories, at first.

Thus the Mexican War, like the recent World War, proved the value of officers and men trained to the highest notch of efficiency.

In killed and wounded the war with Mexico cost the United States forty-eight hundred men; but the deaths from disease were twelve thousand, for the recruits and the Volunteers were not made to take care of themselves. In addition, nearly ten thousand soldiers were discharged on account of ruined health. All in all the cost of the war, in citizens, footed twenty-five thousand. The expense in money was about $130,000,000.

By the war the United States acquired practically all the country west from northern Texas to the Pacific Ocean, which means California, Utah, Nevada, the western half of Colorado and most of New Mexico and Arizona. This, it must be said, was an amazing result, for in the outset we had claimed only Texas, as far as the Rio Grande River.

E. L. S.




  The War with Mexico 18
  Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott 27
I. The Star-Spangled Banner 37
II. A Surprise for Vera Cruz 53
III. The Americans Gain a Recruit 61
IV. Jerry Makes a Tour 67
V. In the Naval Battery 84
VI. Second Lieutenant Grant 92
VII. Hurrah for the Red, White and Blue! 110
VIII. Inspecting the Wild “Mohawks” 120
IX. The Heights of Cerro Gordo 130
X. Jerry Joins the Ranks 146
XI. In the Wake of the Fleeing Enemy 154
XII. An Interrupted Toilet 164
XIII. Getting Ready at Puebla 175
XIV. A Sight of the Goal at Last 188
XV. Outguessing General Santa Anna 194
XVI. Facing the Mexican Host 203
XVII. Clearing the Road to the Capital 218
XVIII. In the Charge at Churubusco 229
XIX. Before the Bristling City 240
XX. The Battle of the King’s Mill 250
XXI. Ready for Action Again 269
XXII. Storming Chapultepec 279
XXIII. Forcing the City Gates 291
XXIV. In the Halls of Montezuma 311




“You Young Rascal! What’s the Meaning of this Racket?” Frontispiece  
Winfield Scott—General-in-Chief of the Armies of the United States at the Period of His Commanding in Mexico 27
“And All Your Army and Guns Can’t Keep Them Off” 46
“’Peared Like They Were Going to Ambush Me and Take this Turkey” 125
Lieutenant Grant Used this as a Ladder 264
The March to the City of Mexico, 279 Miles 18
The Campaign in the Valley of Mexico 194




His motto in life: “If idle, be not solitary; if solitary, be not idle.”

At Queenstown Heights, 1812: “Let us, then, die, arms in hand. Our country demands the sacrifice. The example will not be lost. The blood of the slain will make heroes of the living.”

At Chippewa, July 5, 1814: “Let us make a new anniversary for ourselves.”

To the Eleventh Infantry at Chippewa: “The enemy say that Americans are good at long shot, but cannot stand the cold iron. I call upon the Eleventh instantly to give the lie to that slander. Charge!”

From an inscription in a Peace Album, 1844: “If war be the natural state of savage tribes, peace is the first want of every civilized community.”

At Vera Cruz, March, 1847, when warned not to expose himself: “Oh, generals, nowadays, can be made out of anybody; but men cannot be had.”

At Chapultepec, 1847: “Fellow soldiers! You have this day been baptized in blood and fire, and you have come out steel!”

To the Virginia commissioners, 1861: “I have served my country under the flag of the Union for more than fifty years, and, so long as God permits me to live, I will defend that flag with my sword, even if my own native State assails it.”



The Causes

March 2, 1836, by people’s convention the Mexican province of Texas declares its independence and its intention to become a republic.

April 21, 1836, by the decisive battle of San Jacinto, Texas wins its war for independence, in which it has been assisted by many volunteers from the United States.

May 14, 1836, Santa Anna, the Mexican President and general who had been captured after the battle, signs a treaty acknowledging the Texas Republic, extending to the Rio Grande River.

September, 1836, in its first election Texas favors annexation to the United States.

December, 1836, the Texas Congress declares that the southwestern and western boundaries of the republic are the Rio Grande River, from its mouth to its source.

The government of Mexico refuses to recognize the independence of Texas, and claims that as a province its boundary extends only to the Nueces River, which empties into the Gulf of Mexico, about 120 miles from the mouth of the Rio Grande.

This spring and summer petitions have been circulated through the United States in favor of recognizing the Republic of Texas. Congress has debated upon that and upon annexation. The South especially desires the annexation, in order to add Texas to the number of slave-holding States.

February, 1837, President Andrew Jackson, by message to Congress, relates that Mexico has not observed a treaty of friendship signed in 1831, and has committed many outrages upon the Flag and the citizens of the United States; has refused to make payments for damages and deserves “immediate war” but should be given another chance.

March, 1837, the United States recognizes the independence of the Texas Republic.

Mexico has resented the support granted to Texas by the United States and by American citizens; she insists that[19] Texas is still a part of her territory; and from this time onward there is constant friction between her on the one side and Texas and the United States on the other.

In August, 1837, the Texas minister at Washington presents a proposition from the new republic for annexation to the United States. This being declined by President Martin Van Buren in order to avoid war with Mexico, Texas decides to wait.

Mexico continues to evade treaties by which she should pay claims against her by the United States for damages. In December, 1842, President John Tyler informs Congress that the rightful claims of United States citizens have been summed at $2,026,079, with many not yet included.

Several Southern States consider resolutions favoring the annexation of Texas. The sympathies of both North and South are with Texas against Mexico.

In August, and again in November, 1843, Mexico notifies the United States that the annexation of Texas, which is still looked upon as only a rebellious province, will be regarded as an act of war.

October, 1843, the United States Secretary of State invites Texas to present proposals for annexation.

In December, 1843, President Tyler recommends to Congress that the United States should assist Texas by force of arms.

April 12, 1844, John C. Calhoun, the Secretary of State, concludes a treaty with Texas, providing for annexation. There is fear that Great Britain is about to gain control of Texas by arbitrating between it and Mexico. The treaty is voted down by the Senate on the ground that it would mean war with Mexico, would bring on a boundary dispute, and that to make a new State out of foreign territory was unconstitutional.

Throughout 1844 the annexation of Texas is a burning question, debated in Congress and by the public. In the presidential election this fall the annexation is supported by the Democratic party and opposed by the Whig party. The Democrats had nominated James K. Polk for President, George M. Dallas for Vice-President; the Democrats’ campaign banners read: “Polk, Dallas and Texas!” Polk and Dallas are elected.

March 1, 1845, a joint resolution of Congress inviting Texas into the Union as a State is signed by President Tyler[20] just before he gives way to President-elect Polk. The boundaries of Texas are not named.

March 6 General Almonte, Mexican minister to the United States, denounces the resolution as an act of injustice to a friendly nation and prepares to leave Washington.

March 21 orders are issued by President Polk to General Zachary Taylor to make ready for marching the troops at Fort Jesup, western Louisiana, into Texas.

This same month the Texas Secretary of State has submitted to Mexico a treaty of peace by which Mexico shall recognize the republic of Texas, if Texas shall not unite with any other power.

In May, this 1845, Mexico signs the treaty with Texas.

May 28 the President of the United States directs General Taylor to prepare his command for a prompt defence of Texas.

June 4 President Anson Jones, of the Texas Republic, proclaims that by the treaty with Mexico hostilities between the two countries have ended. But—

June 15 President Polk, through the Secretary of War, directs General Taylor to move his troops at once, as a “corps of observation,” into Texas and establish headquarters at a point convenient for a further advance to the Rio Grande River. A strong squadron of the navy also is ordered to the Mexican coast. And—

June 21 the Texas Congress unanimously rejects the treaty with Mexico, and on June 23 unanimously accepts annexation to the United States.

July 4, this 1845, in public convention the people of Texas draw up an annexation ordinance and a State constitution.

On July 7 Texas asks the United States to protect her ports and to send an army for her defence.

August 3 General Zachary Taylor lands an army of 1500 men at the mouth of the Nueces River, and presently makes his encampment at Corpus Christi, on the farther shore.

In October the Mexican Government, under President Herrera, agrees to receive a commissioner sent by the United States to discuss the dispute over Texas, and President Polk withdraws the ships that have been stationed at Vera Cruz.

December 6, 1845, John Slidell, the envoy from the United States, arrives in the City of Mexico to adjust the matter of Texas and also the claims held by American citizens against Mexico.

The Mexican Republic is in the throes of another revolution.[21] It declines to include the claims in the proposed discussion; December 30 President Herrera is ousted and Don Maria Paredes, who favors war rather than the loss of Texas, becomes head of the republic. Minister Slidell finally has to return home, in March, 1846. But long before this President Polk had decided to seize the disputed Texas boundary strip.

General Taylor’s Campaign

January 13, 1846, General Taylor is directed by the President to advance and occupy the left or Texas bank of the Rio Grande River; he has been reinforced by recruits, and is authorized to apply to the Southern States for volunteer troops.

March 8 the first detachment is started forward to cross the disputed strip between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. Other detachments follow. Part way General Taylor is officially warned by a Mexican officer that a farther advance will be deemed a hostile act. He proceeds, with his 4000 Regulars (half the army of the United States), and establishes a base of supplies at Point Isabel, on the Gulf shore, about thirty miles this side of the Rio Grande River.

March 28 the American army of now 3500 men, called the Army of Occupation, encamps a short distance above the mouth of the Rio Grande River, opposite the Mexican town of Matamoros and 119 miles from the mouth of the Nueces.

The Mexican forces at Matamoros immediately commence the erection of new batteries and the American force begins a fort.

April 10 Colonel Truman Cross, assistant quartermaster general in the American army, is murdered by Mexican bandits.

April 12 General Ampudia, of the Mexican forces at Matamoros, serves notice upon General Taylor either to withdraw within twenty-four hours and return to the Nueces out of the disputed territory, or else accept war. General Taylor replies that his orders are for him to remain here until the boundary dispute is settled. He announced a blockade of the Rio Grande River.

April 19 Second Lieutenant Theodoric Henry Porter, Fourth Infantry, is killed in action with Mexican guerillas.

April 25, this 1846, occurs the first battle of the war, when at La Rosia a squadron of sixty-three Second Dragoons under Captain Seth B. Thornton, reconnoitering up the Rio Grande River, is surrounded by 500 Mexican regular cavalry. Second[22] Lieutenant George T. Mason and eight enlisted men are killed, two men wounded, Captain Thornton, two other officers and forty-six men are captured.

By this victory the Mexicans are much elated; the flame of war is lighted in the United States.

May 11 President Polk announces a state of war, and a bloody invasion of American soil by the Mexican forces that had crossed the Rio Grande.

May 13 Congress passes a bill authorizing men and money with which to carry on the war, and declaring that the war has been begun by Mexico. There were objections to the bill on the ground that the President had ordered troops into the disputed territory without having consulted Congress, and that war might have been avoided. But all parties agree that now they must support the Flag.

General Taylor calls on the governors of Louisiana and Texas for 5000 volunteers.

April 28 Captain Samuel Walker and some seventy Texas Rangers and Volunteers are attacked and beaten by 1500 Mexican soldiers near Point Isabel, the American base of supplies. Captain Walker and six men make their way to General Taylor with report that his line of communication has been cut.

May 1, having almost completed the fort opposite Matamoros above the mouth of the Rio Grande, General Taylor leaves a garrison of 1000 men and marches in haste to rescue his supplies at Point Isabel. The Mexican troops are appearing in great numbers, and matters look serious for the little American army.

May 3 the Mexican forces at Matamoros open fire upon the fort, thinking that General Taylor has retreated.

May 8 General Taylor, hurrying back to the relief of the fort, with his 2300 men defeats 6500 Mexicans under General Arista in the artillery battle of Palo Alto or Tall Timber, fought amidst the thickets and prairie grasses about sixteen miles from Point Isabel. American loss, four killed, forty wounded; Mexican loss, more than 100 in killed alone.

The next day, May 9, “Old Rough and Ready” again defeats General Arista in the battle of Resaca de la Palma, or Palm Draw (Ravine), a short distance from Palo Alto. Having withstood a fierce bombardment of seven days the fort, soon named Fort Brown, of present Brownsville, Texas, is safe. The Mexican forces all flee wildly across the Rio Grande River.

May 18 General Taylor throws his army across the river[23] by help of one barge, and occupies Matamoros. Here he awaits supplies and troops.

August 20 he begins his advance into Mexico for the capture of the city of Monterey, 150 miles from the Rio Grande River and 800 miles from the City of Mexico.

Meanwhile General Paredes, president of Mexico, has been deposed by another revolution, and General Santa Anna has been called back.

September 21–22–23 General Taylor with his 6600 men assaults the fortified city Monterey, in the Sierra Madre Mountains of northeastern Mexico, and defended by 10,000 Mexican soldiers under General Ampudia.

September 24 the city is surrendered. American loss, 120 officers and men killed, 368 wounded; Mexican loss, more than 1000.

General Taylor proceeds to occupy northeastern Mexico. In November he receives orders to detach 4000 men, half of whom shall be Regulars, for the reinforcement of General Scott’s expedition against Vera Cruz.

February 22, 1847, with 4300 Volunteers and 450 Regulars he encounters the full army of General Santa Anna, 20,000 men, at the narrow mountain pass of Buena Vista, near Saltillo seventy-five miles southwest of Monterey.

The American army, holding the pass, awaits the attack. In the terrible battle begun in the afternoon of February 22 and waged all day February 23, the Mexican troops are repulsed; and by the morning of February 24 they have retreated from the field. American loss, 267 killed, 456 wounded, 23 missing; Mexican loss, 2000.

The battle of Buena Vista leaves the American forces in possession of northeastern Mexico. General Santa Anna now hastens to confront General Scott and save the City of Mexico. General Taylor returns to Louisiana, and there is no further need for his services in the field.

General Scott’s Campaign

March 9, 1847, General Winfield Scott, with the assistance of the naval squadron under Commodore Conner, lands his Army of Invasion, 12,000 men transferred in sixty-seven surf-boats, upon the beach three miles below the fortified city of Vera Cruz, without loss or accident.

In spite of shot and shell and terrific wind storms the[24] army advances its trenches and guns to within 800 yards of the city walls. On March 22 the bombardment of Vera Cruz is begun.

March 27 the surrender of the city and of the great island fort San Juan de Ulloa is accepted. The siege has been so scientifically conducted that 5000 military prisoners and 400 cannon are taken with the loss to the American forces of only sixty-four officers and men killed and wounded.

Having been detained at Vera Cruz by lack of wagons and teams, on April 8 General Scott starts his first detachment for Mexico City, 280 miles by road westward.

The March to the City of Mexico, 279 Miles

April 12, arrangements being completed, he hastens to the front himself and is received with cheers for “Old Fuss and Feathers” all along the way.

April 18 storms and captures the heights of Cerro Gordo, sixty miles inland, where his 8000 men are opposed by 12,000 under Santa Anna. Three thousand prisoners, among them five generals, are taken; 5000 stands of arms and forty-three pieces of artillery. American loss, 431, thirty-three being officers; Mexican casualties, over 1000.

April 19 he occupies the town of Jalapa, fifteen miles onward. April 22 the castle of Perote, some fifty miles farther, is captured without a struggle. On May 15 the advance division of 4300 men enters the city of Puebla, 185 miles from Vera Cruz. In two months General Scott has taken 10,000 prisoners of war, 700 cannon, 10,000 stands of small-arms, 30,000 shells and solid shot.

The term of enlistment of 4000 twelve-months Volunteers being almost expired, he waits in Puebla for reinforcements.

August 7 he resumes the march for the Mexican capital, ninety-five miles. His force numbers 10,800, and he needs must cut loose from communications with Vera Cruz, his base.

August 9, from Rio Frio Pass, elevation 10,000 feet, on the summit of the main mountain range of Mexico, the army gazes down into the Valley of Mexico, with the city of Mexico visible, thirty-five miles distant.

By a new and difficult route he avoids the defences of the main road to the city, and on August 18 has approached to within nine miles and striking distance of the outer circle of batteries.

August 19–20, by day and night attack, 3500 Americans carry the strong entrenchments of Contreras defended by[25] 7000 Mexicans. American loss, in killed and wounded, 60; Mexican casualties, 700 killed, 1000 wounded.

The same day, August 20, 1847, the outpost of San Antonio is taken, the high citadel of Churubusco stormed. There are five separate actions, all victorious, and the dragoons charge four miles to the very gates of the city. Thirty-two thousand men have been defeated by 8000. The total Mexican loss is 4000 killed and wounded, 3000 prisoners, including eight generals; the American loss is 1052, of whom seventy-six are officers.

August 21 President and General Santa Anna proposes an armistice.

September 7 the armistice is broken and General Scott resumes his advance upon the city.

September 8 the General Worth division, reinforced to 3000 men, in a bloody battle captures the outpost Molino del Rey or King’s Mill, and the Casa-Mata supporting it—the two being defended by 14,000 Mexicans. American loss, killed, wounded and missing is 789, including fifty-eight officers. The Mexican loss is in the thousands.

September 12, by a feint the Scott army of 7000 able-bodied men is concentrated before the Castle of Chapultepec, situated upon a high hill fortified from base to summit and crowned by the Military College of Mexico, with its garrison of cadets and experienced officers.

September 13 Chapultepec is stormed and seized; the road to the city is opened, the suburbs are occupied and the General Quitman division has forced the Belen gateway into the city itself. Twenty thousand Mexicans have been routed.

At daybreak of September 14 the city council of Mexico informs General Scott that the Mexican Government and army have fled. At seven o’clock the Stars and Stripes are raised over the National Palace and the American army of 6000 proceeds to enter the grand plaza.

This fall of 1847 there is still some fighting in the country along the National Road between Vera Cruz and the City of Mexico, and the fleeing Santa Anna attacks Puebla in vain.

February 2, 1848, a treaty of peace is signed at Guadaloupe Hidalgo by the United States commissioner and the Mexican commissioners.

May 30, 1848, the treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo is ratified by both parties.

June 19, 1848, peace is formally declared by President Polk, who on July 4 signs the treaty.


Other Campaigns

At the end of June, 1846, the Army of the West, composed of 2500 Volunteers and 200 First Dragoons, under General Stephen W. Kearny, leaves Fort Leavenworth on the Missouri River to march 1000 miles and seize New Mexico.

August 18 General Kearny enters the capital, Santa Fé, and takes possession of New Mexico.

This same month the Army of the Center, 2500 Volunteers and 500 Regulars under General John E. Wool, assembles at San Antonio of Texas for a march westward to seize Chihuahua, northwestern Mexico, distant 400 miles.

General Wool is ordered to join General Scott; but in December, 1846, Colonel A. W. Doniphan, of the Missouri Volunteers of the Kearny army, leaves Santa Fé with 800 men to march to Chihuahua, 550 miles, and reinforce him.

December 25 he defeats General Ponce de Leon, commanding 500 Mexican regular lancers and 800 Chihuahua volunteers, in the battle of Brazitos, southern New Mexico.

February 28, 1848, in the battle of Sacramento, he defeats General Heredia and 4000 men, entrenched on the road to Chihuahua. American loss, one killed, eleven wounded; Mexican loss, 320 killed, over 400 wounded.

On March 1 the American advance enters the city of Chihuahua.

Meanwhile, during all these events, on July 7, 1846, Commodore John D. Sloat, of the navy’s Pacific Squadron, has hoisted the Flag over Monterey, the capital of Upper California. The explorer, John C. Fremont, already has supported an uprising of Americans in the north, and the flag is raised at San Francisco and Sacramento.

On September 25 (1846) General Kearny starts from Santa Fé with 400 First Dragoons to occupy California, 1100 miles westward. On the way he learns that California has been taken. He proceeds with only 100 Dragoons. A battalion of 500 Mormons enlisted at Fort Leavenworth is following.

December 12 he arrives at San Diego, California, and forthwith military rule is established in California.


General-in-Chief of the Armies of the United States at the Period of his Commanding in Mexico. From the Picture by Chappel



Old Fuss and Feathers

Born on the family farm, fourteen miles from Petersburg, Virginia, June 13, 1786.

His father, William Scott, of Scotch blood, a captain in the Revolution and a successful farmer, dies when Winfield is only six years old. Until he is seventeen the boy is brought up by his mother, Ann Mason, for whose brother, Winfield Mason, he is named. All the Scott family connections were prominent and well-to-do.

Winfield is given a good education. When he is twelve he enters the boarding-school of James Hargrave, a worthy Quaker, who said to him after the War of 1812: “Friend Winfield, I always told thee not to fight; but as thou wouldst fight, I am glad that thou weren’t beaten.” When he is seventeen he enters the school, of high-school grade, conducted in Richmond, Virginia, by James Ogilvie, a talented Scotchman. Here he studied Latin and Greek, rhetoric, Scotch metaphysics, logic, mathematics and political economy.

In 1805, when he is approaching nineteen, he enters William and Mary College, of Virginia. Here he studies chemistry, natural and experimental philosophy, and law, expecting to become a lawyer.

This same year he leaves college and becomes a law student in the office of David Robinson, in Petersburg. He has two companion students: Thomas Ruffin and John F. May. The three lads all rose high. Thomas Ruffin became chief justice of North Carolina; John May became leader of the bar in southern Virginia; Winfield Scott became head of the United States Army.

In 1806 he is admitted to the bar and rides his first circuit in Virginia. At Richmond, in 1807, he hears the arguments by the greatest legal orators of the day in the trial of ex-Vice-President Aaron Burr for high treason.

While the trial is in progress the British frigate Leopard enforces the right of search upon the United States frigate Chesapeake, off the capes of Virginia. On July 2 (1807) President Thomas Jefferson forbids the use of the United[28] States harbors and rivers by the vessels of Great Britain, and volunteer guards are called for to patrol the shores.

Young Lawyer Scott, now twenty-one years of age, becomes, as he says, “a soldier in a night.” Between sunset and sunrise he travels by horse twenty-five miles, from Richmond to Petersburg, and having borrowed the uniform of a tall absent trooper and bought the horse he joins the first parade of the Petersburg volunteer cavalry.

While lance corporal in charge of a picket guard on the shore of Lynnhaven Bay he captures a boat crew of six sailors under two midshipmen, coming in from Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy’s British squadron for water. The Government orders him to release the prisoners, and not to do such a trick again, which might bring on war.

England having made amends for the attack upon the Chesapeake the volunteers are disbanded. Corporal Scott resumes his practice of law. On Christmas Eve, 1807, he arrives in Charleston, South Carolina, to practice there. But he hears that war with Great Britain is again likely. Thereupon he hastens to Washington and applies for a commission in the increased regular army. He is promised a captaincy.

The Peace Party in the United States gains the upper hand over the War Party. In March, 1808, Lawyer Scott returns to Petersburg without his commission.

May 3, 1808, he receives his commission at last, and is appointed to a captaincy in the regiment of light or flying artillery then being raised. He recruits his company from Petersburg and Richmond youths and is ordered to New Orleans. For the next fifty-three years he is a soldier, and he outlives every other officer of 1808.

After a voyage of two months in a sailing vessel he arrives at New Orleans April 1, 1809.

The trouble with Great Britain having quieted down this summer, he despairs of seeing active service and attempts to resign. While in New Orleans he has said that he believed General James Wilkinson, commanding that department, to have been a partner of Aaron Burr in the conspiracy against the United States government. Now when he arrives in Virginia he hears that he is accused of having left the army through fear of punishment for his words. So he immediately turns about and goes back to face the charges. He rejoins the army at Washington, near Natchez, Mississippi, in November.


In 1810 he is court-martialed under the Articles of War and found guilty of “conduct unbecoming a gentleman,” in having spoken disrespectfully of his commanding officer. He is sentenced to twelve months’ suspension from duties, with the recommendation that nine of the months be remitted.

Under this sentence he returns to Petersburg. He spends every evening, when at home, reading English literature with his friend Benjamin Watkins Leigh, in whose family he is staying. His motto is: “If idle, be not solitary; if solitary, be not idle.” During this period he again despairs of seeing active service; but he writes: “Should war come at last, who knows but that I may yet write my history with my sword?”

In the fall of 1811 he rejoins the army at department headquarters at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, having made the journey by land over a new road through the country of the Creeks and Choctaws.

This winter of 1811–1812 he is appointed superior judge-advocate for the trial of a prominent colonel. He also serves upon the staff of Brigadier General Wade Hampton, commander of the Southern Department, and is much in New Orleans.

The inactive life of a soldier in peace palls upon him. In February, 1812, the news arrives that Congress has authorized an increase of the regular army by 25,000 men. This looks like war. May 20, as a member of General Hampton’s staff, he embarks with the general for Washington. Upon entering Chesapeake Bay their ship passes a British frigate standing on and off; in less than an hour they pass a pilot boat bringing to the frigate the message that the United States has declared for war with Great Britain. Thus by a narrow margin they have escaped capture by the frigate.

July 6, 1812, is appointed lieutenant-colonel, Second Artillery, at the age of twenty-six.

Is ordered with his regiment to the Canadian border; reports at Buffalo October 4, 1812.

On October 13 leads 450 regulars and militia in a final attack upon Queenstown Heights, opposite Lewiston, New York. The Heights are held by a greatly superior force of British regulars and militia and 500 Indians. The United States militia left on the American side of the Niagara River refused to cross and support, and the attack failed for lack of reinforcements. There were no boats for retreat; two flags of truce had been unheeded; with his own hand young[30] Lieutenant-Colonel Scott, tall and powerful and wearing a showy uniform (“I will die in my robes,” he said), bears the third flag forward into the faces of the raging Indians to save his men. He is rescued with difficulty by British officers. After the surrender he is held prisoner with the other Regulars until paroled on November 20 and sent to Boston.

In January, 1813, is released from parole. Is ordered to Philadelphia to command a double battalion of twenty-two companies.

March 12, 1813, promoted to colonel, Second Artillery.

March 18, appointed adjutant general, rank of colonel.

May, 1813, appointed chief of staff to Major-General Henry Dearborn on the Niagara frontier, New York, and reorganizes the staff departments of the Army.

May 27 commands the advance again in the attack on Fort George, Canada. Every fifth man is killed or wounded. By the explosion of a powder magazine his collar-bone is broken and he is badly bruised; but he is the first to enter the fort and he himself hauls down the colors.

July 18 he resigns his adjutant generalcy in order to be with his regiment as colonel. Leads in several successful skirmishes.

March 9, 1814, aged twenty-eight, is appointed brigadier-general. He has become noted as a student of war—a skilful tactician and a fine disciplinarian. At the Buffalo headquarters he is set at work instructing the officers. The United States has no military text-book, but he has read the French system of military training and employs that.

July 3, 1814, leads with his brigade to the attack upon Fort Erie, opposite Buffalo. Leaps from the first boat into water over his head, and laden with sword, epaulets, cloak and high boots swims for his life under a hot fire, until he can be hauled in again. The fort is captured.

July 4, again leading his brigade he drives the enemy back sixteen miles.

July 5 fights and wins the decisive battle of Chippewa against a much superior force. The war on the land had been going badly for the United States. Now the victory of Chippewa sets bonfires to blazing and bells to ringing throughout all the Republic; the American army had proved itself with the bayonet and General Scott is hailed as the National hero.


July 25 he distinguishes himself again in the night battle of Niagara or Lundy’s Lane. He is twice dismounted, and is bruised by a spent cannon ball. Receives an ounce musket ball through the left shoulder and is insensible for a time. Is borne from the field in an ambulance.

July 25 brevetted major-general for gallantry at Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane.

The wound in his shoulder refuses to heal properly. He is invalided and is unable to take part in further active service for the rest of the war. Travels upon a mattress in a carriage. Stops at Princeton College on Commencement Day, is given an ovation and the degree of Master of Arts. Congress votes him a special gold medal; the States of Virginia and New York vote him each a sword. His wound slowly heals under treatment by noted surgeons, but leaves him with a left arm partially paralyzed.

He is placed in charge of operations in defence of Baltimore and is made president of the National Board of Tactics, sitting in Washington.

After the close of the war he presides, May, 1815, upon the board convened to reduce the army.

Declines to accept the office of Secretary of War.

July, 1815, sails for Europe, where he witnesses the reviews of 600,000 soldiers, following the defeat of Napoleon by the allied troops. He meets distinguished commanders and statesmen of the Old World, and is awarded many honors.

Returning from Europe in 1816 he marries Miss Maria Mayo, of Richmond, Virginia. Seven children—five girls and two boys—were born. Of these, four died early in life.

As brigadier-general, in 1818, he begins the preparation of a system of General Regulations or Military Institutes for the United States Army. This was approved of by the War Department and Congress.

September 22, 1824, he writes and has printed “A Scheme for Restricting the Use of Ardent Spirits in the United States.” This essay was the basis of the temperance movement in the country.

In 1824 is president of the Board of Infantry Tactics, meeting at West Point.

In 1826 is president of a board of militia officers and regular officers, convened at Washington to devise an organization and system of tactics for the militia of the United States.

In 1828, while inspecting the Indian frontier of Arkansas[32] and Louisiana, is approved of by the cabinet for appointment to commander-in-chief of the army, but loses to General Alexander Macomb.

In the summer of 1832 is ordered from his Eastern Department to proceed in person against the Sacs and Foxes under Chief Blackhawk, in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. The cholera is raging in the Great Lakes region. Before leaving New York he takes instructions from a doctor, and when his force is attacked by the disease on the boats he himself applies the remedies and prevents a panic.

Arrives at Fort Crawford, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, after Blackhawk’s surrender. Descends the Mississippi to Fort Armstrong, on Rock Island, and holds grand council with the Sacs, Foxes, Sioux, Menominees and Winnebagos. Is congratulated by the Secretary of War for his services and his high moral courage in combating the cholera.

On his way home to West Point he narrowly escapes a severe attack of the cholera himself.

November, 1832, is sent to South Carolina, which has threatened to secede unless the tariff laws of the Government are modified. General Scott takes command in Charleston, and by his firmness and good sense among his fellow Southerners averts civil war.

In 1834–1835 translates and revises the new French infantry tactics for use by the United States. These, known as “Scott’s Infantry Tactics,” were the first complete tactics adopted by the army and were used up to 1863.

January 20, 1836, is directed by the President to proceed against the Seminole Indians of Florida. Asked at four in the afternoon when he could start, he says: “This night.” Through failure of supplies and by reason of the short-time enlistment of the majority of the troops, the campaign is unsuccessful. For this, and for a similar delay in a march against the Creeks, he is court-martialed by order of President Jackson. The court approves of his campaign plans and acquits him. Returning to his headquarters in New York he is tendered a public dinner April, 1837. This he declines.

January, 1838, is ordered to the Niagara frontier again, where misguided Americans and Canadians are attempting a movement to annex Canada to the United States. In dead of winter he travels back and forth along the American border, quieting the people by his words and the force of his presence.

In the spring of this 1838 he is sent into Alabama to[33] remove the Cherokee Indians to new lands given them by treaty, west of the Mississippi River. The Indians had refused to go, but by using reason and gentleness he avoids bloodshed and persuades them to move of their own accord.

In February, 1839, is sent by the President as special agent to northern Maine, where the State of Maine and the Canadian province of New Brunswick are in arms against each other over a dispute upon the boundary between. Again by his rare good judgment and by his influence with the authorities upon either side, he averts what might easily have resulted in another war.

In 1840 he is proposed as the Whig candidate for President, but he declines in favor of General William Henry Harrison, who is elected.

June 25, 1841, appointed full major-general.

July 5, 1841, appointed chief of the Army, a position that he occupies for twenty years.

From 1841 to 1846 is busied with the duties of his office. He aims to enforce justice and discipline among the rank and file. August, 1842, he issues general orders forbidding the practice of officers striking enlisted men and cursing them, and directs that in cases of offense the regulations of the service be employed.

In the summer and fall of 1846, believing that the campaign by General Zachary Taylor to conquer Mexico by invasion from the Rio Grande River border cannot succeed, he advises an advance upon the City of Mexico from Vera Cruz on the Gulf. He asks permission to lead the army in person.

November 23, 1846, he is directed by the Secretary of War to conduct the new campaign.

Leaves Washington for New Orleans November 25.

In his absence a bill is introduced in Congress to create the rank of lieutenant-general, and thus place over him a superior officer. This movement for politics was defeated, but General Scott felt that he had “an enemy in his rear.”

Under these conditions he goes to meet General Taylor at the Rio Grande in January, 1847, and detaches a portion of the forces for the Vera Cruz campaign. This makes an enemy of General Taylor.

February 19, 1847, he issues general orders declaring martial law in Mexico, for the purpose of restraining the Volunteers from abusing the people of the conquered territory. This wins over the natives and restores discipline.


March 9 to September 14, 1847, he conducts the campaign by which the City of Mexico, is captured.

September 14, 1847, to February 18, 1848, he remains in charge of the military government in Mexico. By his enforcement of martial law that respects the persons and property of the Mexican people he gains the leaders’ confidence. He is proposed for dictator of the Mexican Republic, with a view to annexation to the United States, but declines.

February 18, 1848, he receives orders from President Polk to turn over his command to Major-General William O. Butler, and report for trial by a court of inquiry, on charges that he had unjustly disciplined Generals Quitman and Pillow, and Lieutenant-Colonel Duncan. He is acquitted.

March 9, by joint resolution of Congress, he is voted the National thanks for himself and his officers and men, and the testimony of a specially struck gold medal in appreciation of his “valor, skill and judicious conduct.”

May 20, 1848, he arrives home to his family at Elizabeth, near Philadelphia.

Is assigned to command of the Eastern Department of the Army, with headquarters in New York.

In 1850, after the death of President Taylor, he resumes his post in Washington as commander-in-chief of the Army.

In 1850 he is awarded the honorary degree of LL.D. by Columbia College (University).

June, 1852, he is nominated by the Whig party for President. He is opposed by President Fillmore and Secretary of State Daniel Webster, who had been candidates. Is badly defeated in the election by Franklin Pierce of the Democratic party.

February, 1855, he is brevetted lieutenant-general from date of March 29, 1847—the surrender of Vera Cruz. This rank had not been in use since the death of Lieutenant-General George Washington, and was now revived by special act of Congress.

In November, 1859, he sails in the steamer Star of the West for Puget Sound, by way of Panama, to adjust difficulties arising between Great Britain and the United States over the possession of San Juan Island of the international boundary.

In 1860 he counsels the Government to garrison the forts and arsenals on the Southern seaboard with loyal troops, and thus probably prevent the threatened secession of the Southern States. His advice is disregarded.


In March, 1861, submits other plans by which he still hopes that the rebellion may be averted.

Is offered high command by his native State, Virginia, and declines to forsake the Flag.

October 31, 1861, being seventy-five years of age and long a cripple, almost unable to walk from wounds and illness, he retires from the army. President Lincoln and the cabinet call upon him together and bid him farewell. There are tears in the old hero’s eyes.

November, 1861, he sails for a visit in Europe.

December, 1861, is recommended by President Lincoln in first annual message to Congress for further honors, if possible.

June 10, 1862, his wife dies, leaving him with three daughters, now grown.

He removes from New York to West Point, and on June 5, 1864, after a year’s work he completes his autobiography in two volumes.

He dies at West Point, May 29, 1866, aged eighty, lacking two weeks.





“The North Americans! They are getting ready to attack the city!”

“Who says so? Where are they?”

“At Point Anton Lizardo, only sixteen miles down the coast. A great fleet of ships has arrived there, from North America. The sails looked like a cloud coming over the ocean. The harbor is crowded with masts and flags. Yes, they are getting ready.”

That was the word which spread through old Vera Cruz on the eastern coast of Mexico, at the close of the first week of March, 1847.

“Well, the castle will sink them all with cannon balls. It will be another victory. We shall see a fine sight, like on a fiesta (holiday). Viva!”

“Bien! Viva, viva!” Or: “Good! Hurrah, hurrah!”

There was excitement, but the news travelled much faster than the Americans, for they seemed to be still staying at desolate Anton Lizardo.

Now, March 9, up here at the city of Vera Cruz, was as fine a day as anybody might wish for. The sun had risen bright and clear above the Gulf of[38] Mexico, and one could see land and ocean for miles and miles.

From the sand dunes along the beach about three miles southeast of Vera Cruz, where Jerry Cameron was helping old Manuel and young Manuel cut brush for fagots, the view was pleasant indeed. To the northward, up the sandy coast, the fine city of Vera Cruz—the City of the True Cross—surrounded by its fortified wall two miles in length, fairly shone in the sunlight. Its white-plastered buildings and the gilded domes of its many churches were a-glitter. In the far distance, inland behind the city, the mountain ranges up-stood, more than ten thousand feet high, with Orizaba Peak glimmering snowy, and the square top of Perote Peak (one hundred miles west) deeply blue, in shape of a chest or strong-box. Outside the sea-wall in front of the city there was the sparkling bay, dotted with the sails of fishing boats, and broken by shoals.

Upon a rocky island about a third of a mile out from the city there loomed the darkly frowning Castle of San Juan de Ulloa—the fort which guarded the channel into the harbor. And almost directly opposite the place where Jerry worked as a woodcutter there basked the island of Sacrificios or Sacrifices, about two miles out, with the flags of the foreign men-of-war anchored near it streaming in the breeze. While farther out, beyond Sacrificios, appeared Green Island, where the ships of the United States had been cruising back and forth, blockading Vera Cruz itself.

The United States and Mexico were at war. They had been at war for well-nigh a year, but the[39] fighting was being done in the north, where the Americans had tried to invade by crossing the Rio Grande River and had been thrashed. At least, those were the reports. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna himself, Mexico’s famous leader, had returned from exile in Cuba to command the army. He had been landed at Vera Cruz without the Americans objecting. The Americans had foolishly thought that he would advise peace—or else they were afraid to stop him. At any rate, he had gone on to Mexico City, had gathered an army, and not a week ago word had arrived that he had completely routed the army of the American general named Taylor, in the battle of Buena Vista, north Mexico!

It was said that the crack Eleventh Infantry of the Mexican regular army had alone defeated the North Americans. The Eleventh had marched to war last summer, carrying their coats and shirts and pantaloons slung on the ends of their muskets, because the weather was hot. The soldiers had not looked much like fighters, to Jerry; many of the muskets were without locks, and most of the soldiers were barefoot.

But the news of the great victory filled all Vera Cruz with rejoicing. The guns of the forts were fired, the church bells were rung, and the people cheered in the streets, and from the sea-wall shook their fists at the American fleet in the offing.

It had been unpleasant news to Jerry, he being an American boy whose father had died in Vera Cruz, from the yellow fever, and had left him alone. He hated to believe that Mexico actually was whipping the United States. But he and the few[40] other Americans stranded here did not dare to say anything.

Now that the North Americans (as they were called) had been driven out, in the north, very likely they would try to invade Mexico at another point. Yes, no doubt they might be foolish enough to try Vera Cruz, hoping to march even to the City of Mexico from this direction! Of course, the notion was absurd, for the City of Mexico was two hundred and eighty miles by road, and on the other side of the mountains. So the Vera Cruzans laughed and bragged.

“No hay cuidado, no hay cuidado! Somos muy valientes. Es una ciudad siempre heroica, esta Vera Cruz de nosotros,” they said. Or, in other words; “No fear, no fear! We are very brave. It is a city always heroic, this Vera Cruz of ours.”

“That is right,” had agreed old Manuel and young Manuel, with whom Jerry lived and worked. “If those North Americans wish to come, let them try. We have two hundred great guns on the walls, and three hundred in the castle—some of them the largest in the world. Yes, and five thousand soldiers, and the brave General Morales to lead us.”

“The Vera Cruz walls are ten feet thick, and those of the castle are fifteen feet thick,” old Manuel added. “Cannon balls stick fast; that is all.”

“The guns will kill at two miles,” young Manuel added. “Never once have those North American ships dared to come within reach. The commander at the castle laughs. He says to the American commander: ‘Bring on your fleet. You may fire all your shot at us and we will not take the trouble to reply. We only despise you.’”


“Así es—that is so,” grunted old Manual. “The castle has stood there for two hundred and fifty years. Please God, it will stand there two hundred and fifty more years, for all that those Yahnkee savages can do.”

It was true that the American fighting ships had stayed far out from shore. They cruised back and forth, preventing supplies from being brought in. That was a blockade, but Vera Cruz did not care. It had plenty to eat. It went about its business: the fishing boats of the native Indians caught vast quantities of fish in the harbor, the ranches raised cattle and vegetables and fruits, and peons or laborers like the two Manuels cut fagots and carried loads of it on their burros into town, to sell as cooking fuel.

Thus it happened that Jerry, who worked hard with the two Manuels for his living, was out here amidst the sand hills, as usual, on this bright morning of March 9, 1847.

These sand hills fringed all the beach on both sides of the city, and extended inland half a mile. The winter gales or northers piled them up and moved them about. Some of them were thirty feet high—higher than the walls of the city. From their crests one could look right into Vera Cruz. They were grown between, and even to their tops, with dense brush or chaparral, of cactus and thorny shrubs, forming regular jungles; and there were many stagnant lagoons that bred mosquitoes and fevers.

From the city the National Road ran out, heading westward for the City of Mexico, those two hundred and eighty miles by horse and foot.


To-day, of all the flags flying off shore scarcely one was the American flag. The American warships had disappeared entirely, unless that sloop tacking back and forth several miles out might be American. At first it had been thought that the Yankees had grown discouraged by the news of the defeats of their armies on land, and now did not know what to do. The very sight of the grim castle of San Juan de Ulloa had made them sick at their stomachs, the Vera Cruzans declared. But the reports from Anton Lizardo had changed matters.

The morning passed quietly, with the flags of the city and castle—flags banded green, white and red and bearing an eagle on a cactus in the center—floating gaily, defying the unseen Americans. At noon the two Manuels and Jerry ate their small lunch, and drank water from a hole dug near a shallow lagoon. Then, about two o’clock, old Manuel, who had straightened up for a breath and to ease his back, uttered a loud cry.

“Mira! See! The Americans are coming again!”

He was gazing to the east, down the coast. Young Manuel and Jerry gazed, squinting through the chaparral. Out at sea, to the right of the little island Sacrificios, there had appeared against the blue sky a long column of ships, their sails shining whitely. They came rapidly on, bending to the gentle breeze, and swinging in directly for the island anchorage. Scrambling like a monkey, old Manuel hustled for a high, clear place and better view; young Manuel and Jerry followed.

The foremost were ships of war; they looked[43] too trim and large, and kept in too good order, for merchantmen, and they held their positions, in the lead and on the flanks, as if guarding. But what a tremendous fleet this was—sail after sail, until the ships, including several steamers, numbered close to one hundred! Soon the flags were plain: the red-and-white striped flags of the United States, streaming gallantly from the mast ends.

“The Americans!” young Manuel scoffed. “They want another beating? They think to frighten us Vera Cruzanos? Bah! We will show them. We are ready. See?”

That was so. How quickly things had happened! As if by a miracle the sea wall of Vera Cruz was alive with people clustered atop; yes, and people were gathering upon all the roofs, and even in the domes of the churches. From this distance they were ants. The news had spread very fast. The notes of the army bugles sounded faintly, rallying the gunners to the batteries.

Now out at the anchorage near Sacrificios the mastheads and the yards of the foreign men of war and the other vessels, from England, France, Spain, Prussia, Germany, Italy, were heavy with sailors clustered like bees, watching the approach of the American fleet.

Straight for Sacrificios the fleet sped, silent and beautiful, before a steady six-knot breeze which barely ruffled the gulf. A tall frigate (the American flagship Raritan) forged to the fore, and in its wake there glided a vessel squat and bulky, leaving a trail of black smoke.

“Un barco de vapor—a steamboat!”


“Yes, yes! But it has no paddles—it moves like a snake!”

“No matter,” said old Manuel. “Everybody knows that the North Americans are in league with the Evil One. Only the Evil One could make a boat to move without paddles. But the saints will protect us.”

“They are bringing soldiers!” young Manuel cried. “Look! The decks of the warships are crowded!”

The American warships all forged to the fore; in line behind the tall Raritan and the smoking new steamer (which was only a propeller) they filed past the foreign ships at the Sacrificios anchorage, and about a mile from the beach they cast anchor also. Now it might be seen that each ship had towed a line of rowboats, and that every deck was indeed crowded with soldiers, for muskets and bayonets flashed, uniforms glittered, bands played, and a clatter and hum drifted with the music to the shore.

The merchant ships stayed outside the anchorage, as if waiting. There seemed to be seventy-five or eighty of them; too many for the space inside.

The warships lost no time. Small launches instantly began to tow the rowboats to their gangways; soldiers began to descend——

“What! They are going to land here, on our beach of Collado?” old Manuel gasped.

“No! Viva, viva!” young Manuel cheered. “Our brave soldiers are there, waiting! Viva, viva!”

“Now we shall see!” And old Manuel cheered, waving his ragged hat. “There will be a battle. Maybe we shall have to run.”


From the brush and sand hills a troop of Mexican lancers, in bright uniforms of red caps and red jackets and yellow capes, had cantered down to the open beach, their pennons flapping, their lance tips gleaming. They rode and waved defiantly, daring the Americans to come ashore.

A row of little flags broke out from the mizzen mast of the Raritan. At once two gunboat steamers and five sloops of war left the squadron, they ploughed in, a puff of whitish smoke jetted from the bows of a gunboat, and as quick as a wink another puff burst close over the heads of the lancer troop. Boom-boom!

The gay lancers, bending low in their saddles, scudded like mad back into the sand hills and the brush, with another shell peppering their heels.

“Hurrah! Hurrah!” Jerry cheered, for it looked as though that beach was going to be kept clear.

He got such a box on the ear that it knocked him sprawling and set his head to ringing.

“You shut up!” old Manuel scolded. “You little American dog, you! Your Americans are cowards. They dare not land and fight. They think to stand off out at sea and fight. The miserable gringos from the north! That’s the Mexican name for them: gringos. You understand?”

No, Jerry did not understand. “Gringo” was a new word—a contempt word recently invented by the Mexicans, when they spoke of the North Americans—his Americans. But he wasn’t caring, now; he was wild with the box on the ear, and the sight of the United States soldiers. Boxes on the ear never[46] had angered him so, before. It was pretty hard to be cuffed, here in front of the Flag; cuffed by the enemies of the Flag.

“That isn’t so,” he snarled hotly. “They aren’t cowards. You’ll see. They’ll land where they please. And all your army and guns can’t keep them off. Then they’ll walk right over your walls.”


“Shut up!” young Manuel bawled, and cuffed him on the other side of the head. “Of course they are cowards. They’ve been beaten many times by our brave men. Your General Taylor has been captured. He dressed like a woman and tried to hide. Now your gringos are so afraid that they think to land out of reach of our cannon. If they do land, what will they do? Nothing. The minute they come closer the guns of the castle will blow them to pieces.”

“Yes; and soon the yellow fever will kill them. They will find themselves in a death-trap,” old Manuel added. “Bah! Our brave General Morales may let them land. He sees how foolish they are. All he needs do is to wait. Where can they go? Nowhere! They will fight mosquitoes. That is it: they are come to fight the mosquitoes!”

Jerry saw that there was no use in arguing; not with two men whose hands were heavy, and who preferred to believe lies. They did not know American soldiers and sailors.

The cannon of the city and castle had not yet spoken, but the walls of San Juan de Ulloa, like those of Vera Cruz, a little nearer, were thronged with people, watching. And that was a busy scene, yonder toward Sacrificios. The two gunboats and the[47] five sloops cruised lazily only eight hundred yards out from the beach, their guns trained upon it; the sailors stood prepared at the pieces, and spy-glasses, pointed at the beach, occasionally flashed with light. Well it was, thought Jerry, that he and the two Manuels were securely hidden. He did not wish an American shot coming his way. But there, beyond the seven patrol boats, the rowboats were being loaded at the gangways of the men-of-war; for the soldiers of his country evidently were determined to land.

Boat after boat, crammed to the gunwales with men, left the gangways, was pulled a short distance clear, and lay to.

“How many boats?” young Manuel uttered. “Many, many. It is wonderful.”

“And a crazy idea,” old Manuel insisted, “to land here where the ships cannot follow, right in sight of Vera Cruz. But the more the better; the yellow fever will have a feast, and so will the vultures.”

The loading of the boats took two hours. The sun was almost set when the last one appeared to have been filled. No shot had been fired by the Mexican batteries. Suddenly a great cheer rang from the ships and the boats; yes, even from the English, and French and Spanish ships. The boats had started; they were coming in at last, and a brave spectacle they made: a half-circle more than three-quarters of a mile front, closing upon the beach, with oars flashing and bayonets gleaming and the trappings of the officers glinting, all in the crystal air of sunset, upon the smooth sea. The breeze had died[48] down, as if it, too, were astonished; but above the boats a myriad seagulls swerved and screamed.

Five, ten, twenty, forty, sixty, sixty-seven! Sixty-seven surf-boats each holding seventy-five or one hundred soldiers! Sixty-seven surf-boats, and one man-of-war gig!

“Sainted Mary! Where did the Americans get them all?” old Manuel gasped.

Jerry thrilled with pride. Hurrah! He was an American boy, and those were American ships and American boats, manned by American soldiers and American sailors, under the American flag. He shivered a little with fear, also; for when the guns of the castle and the city began to throw their shells, what would happen to those blue-coated men, helpless upon the bare beach of Collado?

The music from the bands in the boats and upon the ships sounded plainly. The bands were playing “Yankee Doodle,” “Hail, Columbia!” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Even the dip of the oars from the sixty and more boats, pulled by sailors, sounded like a tune of defiance, as the blades rose and fell and the oar-shafts thumped in their sockets.

Splash, splash, chug, chug, all together in a measured chant; and still the guns of the city and castle were silent, biding their time.

Now it was a race between the boats, to see which should land its men first. The sailors were straining at the oars; the figures of the soldiers—their bristling muskets, their cross-belts and cartridge boxes, their haversacks—were clear; their officers might be picked out, and also the naval officers, one in the stern of each boat, urging the rowers.


The gig beat. One hundred yards from the beach it grounded. It scarcely had stopped when a fine, tall officer leaped overboard into the water waist deep; with his sword drawn and waved and pointed he surged for the shore. He wore a uniform frock coat, with a double row of buttons down the front and with large gold epaulets on the shoulders. Upon his head was a cocked hat; and as he gained the shallows the gold braid of his trousers seams showed between boots and skirts. He was of high rank, then; perhaps a general—perhaps the general of the whole army! And his face had dark side-whiskers.

Close behind him there hurried a soldier with the flag. All the men, mainly officers, his staff, had leaped overboard; and from the other boats, fast and faster, the men were leaping, and surging in, and in, holding their muskets and cartridge boxes high, and cheering.

“Boom!” A cannon shot! Smoke floated from the bastion fort of Santiago, in the nearest corner of the city walls, three miles up the shore; but the ball must have fallen short.

“Boom!” A great gun in San Juan castle, three miles and a half, had tried. By the spurt of sand this ball also was short.

“We’d better get out of here,” old Manuel rapped. “To the city! Quick! The Americans are surely landing. We don’t want to have our ears cut off; and we don’t want to be blown up, either. The guns are beginning; they are playing for the dance.”

“Yes; and you come, too, you little gringo,” young Manuel exclaimed, grabbing Jerry by the arm.[50] “We’ll not have you running to those other gringos and telling them tales.”

Away scuttled old Manuel and young Manuel, dragging Jerry and shoving him before them while they followed narrow trails amidst the dunes and the thick, thorny brush. Presently they all heard another hearty shout from a thousand and more throats; but it was not for them.

Pausing and looking back they saw the whole broad beach blue with the American uniforms; flags of blue and gold were fluttering—a detachment of the soldiers had marched to the very top of one high dune and had planted the Stars and Stripes. Already some of the boats were racing out to the ships, for more soldiers. The bands upon the shore were playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” again.


“Shut up, gringito (little gringo)!”

“You will sing another tune if you don’t take care. There!” And Jerry received a third and fourth cuff. “Your soldiers are cowards. They land out of reach of the guns. And now maybe we have lost our burro.”

“Why don’t you go back for it, then?” Jerry demanded. “Why don’t your own soldiers march out and stop the soldiers of my country?”

“Because we Mexicans are too wise. The Americans never can get near the city. Why should we waste any lives on them? Now you come along, gringito.”

And Jerry had to go, wild with rage and hot with hopes.

The balls from the city and castle were falling[51] short; the patrol vessels and the soldiers and sailors paid no attention to them; but from all the ranches and fields and huts outside the city walls the people were hastening in, for protection. This was another sight: those men, women and children, carrying bundles, and driving laden donkeys, and chattering, threatening, bragging and laughing.

Hustling on, Jerry and the two Manuels joined with the rest, crossing the open strip a half a mile wide, bordering the walls, and pushing in through the gate on this side, named the Gate of Mexico and commanded by batteries.

Inside the city there were hubbub and excitement. The broad paved streets of the down-town among the two-story stone buildings were crowded as on a feast day. Bugles were pealing, drums were beating, soldiers in the bright blue and white of the infantry and the red and green of the artillery were marching hither thither, lancers in their red and yellow clattered through, while the roof-tops and the church belfries above swarmed with gazers.

Nobody showed much fear.

“Wait, until the cannon get the range.”

“Or until the northers bury the gringos in the sand!”

“And then the vomito, the yellow fever! That is our best weapon.”

“Indeed, yes. All we Vera Cruzanos need do is to wait.”

The northers, as everybody should know, were the terrific winds that blew in the winter and early spring; they blew so fiercely, from the gulf and a clear sky, that anyone lying for a few moments in[52] the sand would be covered up. Neither man nor beast could face a norther, there in the open where the sand drifted like snow.

And the vomito, or yellow fever! Ay de mi! That was worse. It came in the spring as soon as the northers ceased and stayed all summer. Some days and nights it appeared like a yellow mist, rising from the lagoons of the coast and spreading toward the city; men and women and children died by the hundreds, even in the city streets, so that the buzzards feasted on the bodies. The City of the Dead: this was the name for Vera Cruz during the vomito season. Everyone who was able fled to the higher country inland, and stayed there above the vomito fog.

Until ten o’clock this night the American boats landed the American soldiers; by token of the twinkling lights and the distant shouts the beach was occupied for a mile of length, and the bivouacs extended back into the dunes.




It was such a tremendous explosion that it shook the solid buildings of the city. It also brought Jerry upon his feet, all standing, where he had been asleep for the night in a vacant niche against a stone warehouse. A great many of the people slept this night in the open air, just where they chanced to be, so that they might miss no excitement.

The explosion awakened them all. There was a rush for good viewpoints; perhaps the battle had begun. Right speedily Jerry had scrambled atop the wall at a place between batteries, from which he could see the harbor and the Americans’ beach eastward. Nobody objected to him, here.

“Boom—Boom!” A double explosion well-nigh knocked him backward. A cloud of black smoke had spurted from the walls of San Juan de Ulloa castle, a quarter of a mile before; but yonder amidst the sand hills the louder “Boom!” had raised a much greater, blacker smoke, where the shell had burst.

The people upon the wall cheered.

“Viva, viva!”

“Now we shall see. San Juan is speaking with his giants.”

“Yes, the Paixhans,” said a Volunteer. “It is the Paixhans that he is turning loose, to blow the Yankees up. Viva!”


The Paixhan guns were large pieces that threw shells in a line, instead of solid shot or high-sailing bombs like the mortars.

“Boom!” from the castle; and in a moment, “Boom!” from the thickets of the dunes. The smoke jetted angrily; the people imagined that they could see brush and trees and bodies flying through the air; but just how much damage was being done no one might say, because most of the American army was out of sight, concealed in the wilderness of the jungle.

General Morales, commanding the city and castle, had issued a proclamation calling upon the soldiers and citizens to rally for the defense. All this day the American boats, large and small, plied back and forth between the fleet and the shore, out of range, bringing in horses and mules and cannon and supplies; when the cannon had been landed, soldiers and sailors fell to like ants and helped the long teams drag them across the beach, into the sand hills. The larger part of the army had been swallowed by the chaparral; but now and again a column of blue-uniformed men could be sighted, winding through a cleared spot, as if gradually encircling the city on the land side.

All day the city forts and outworks and the castle pitched round-shot and shell into the dunes. There were several little battles when the Mexican lancers and infantry outposts met the American advance. A number of wounded Mexican soldiers were carried in; but the American flags kept coming on, bobbing here and there, bound inland.

“To-morrow it will blow,” the weather prophets[55] asserted, noting the yellow sunset. “A norther! Then those gringos will wish they were somewhere else.”

“Yes, that is so.”

Sure enough, about noon the next day (which had dawned calm), far out at sea a sharp, vivid line of white appeared, approaching rapidly.

“The norther! Hurrah! It is the norther!”

A norther never had been so welcomed before. The shipping was frantically lowering sails and putting out storm anchors. The war vessels at Sacrificios were riding under bare poles. The line of white reached them—they bowed to it, their masts sweeping almost to the water. On it came, at prodigious speed, in a front miles long. The white was foam, whipped feathery by wind. Suddenly all the shipping in the harbor was in a confusion of scud; the few American small boats plying between war vessels and beach were striving desperately, and see! The dunes had been veiled in a cloud of yellow dust driven by the gale.

The change was miraculous. So strong was the wind that it cleaned the walls of people. Like the rest, Jerry crouched in shelter, while the gale howled overhead.

The dunes were completely shut from view by the cloud of scud and sand. Firing from the city and castle ceased. There was nothing to do but wait and let the norther work. Somewhere under that sand cloud the Americans crouched also, fighting for breath and to keep from being buried. Here in Vera Cruz everybody was safe and happy, except Jerry Cameron. He was safe, but he was sorry for[56] those other Americans, although he did not dare to say so.

It was a bad norther. It blew without a pause for two nights and days. Then, about noon of the third day, which was March 13, it quit about as suddenly as it had arrived. It left the ocean tossing with white caps and thundering against the sea-wall and upon the beach, but the air over the dunes cleared and all eyes peered curiously to see what had become of the American army.

Why, the flags were nearer! Some of them fluttered at the very inside edge of the hills, not much more than half a mile away, across the open space which skirted the city walls. There were signs that the ground was being dug out, as if for batteries. As soon as the ocean quieted a little, the boats again hustled back and forth, landing more guns and supplies. The forts and castle fired furiously at the American camps. But the Americans had not been stopped by the norther and they were not to be stopped by shot and shell.

Now more than a week passed in this kind of business, with the city and castle firing, and with the Mexican soldiers skirmishing in the brush to annoy the gringos, and with the Americans doing little by day, but each night creeping nearer. One morning a strange new token was to be sighted. To the south the ground had been upheaved, during the night, out from the edge of the dunes, and a line of earth extended like a mole-run into the cleared space. The Americans were burrowing.

The city forts lustily bombarded the place and evidently drove the Americans out of the trench, for[57] there was no reply. In fact, very few gringos were seen, but their flags might be glimpsed, farther back. Where were their cannon?

After this fresh burrows appeared frequently. Still there was no firing by the American cannon. What was being done, in that brush, none of the Vera Cruzans could say from such a distance. Only——

“It will be a siege,” the wise-acres nodded. “Very well. We shall wait until the vomito comes. The vomito will fight for us, in the sand hills where our brave soldiers cannot go. The yellow fever will find those skulking gringos, who dare not attack us.”

Then, about two o’clock of March 22, after the Americans had been digging and dragging cannon for almost two weeks, and had advanced their flags in a complete half circle around the city, excitement rose again. A Yankee officer and two other men, bearing a white flag, had ridden out from among the dunes and were boldly cantering forward across the flat strip, for the southern Gate of Mexico.

The three were received by a Mexican officer sent by General Morales. Word spread that the American general, named Scott, demanded the surrender of Vera Cruz! He gave two hours for an answer.

General Morales did not require the two hours. Before the time was up, back went the flag of truce, while the soldiers loudly cheered when they learned that he had refused to surrender. If the Americans wished to try a battle, let them start in; they all would die without having reached the walls; and as for breaching the walls with their cannon, that was impossible.


Four o’clock had been the limit set by the American general, Scott. Usually Vera Cruz slept from noon until four; all Mexico took its siesta then: stores were closed and shutters drawn and nobody stirred abroad; in Vera Cruz even the water carriers who cried “Water! Pure water!” on the streets, dozed like the rest. And by this time, two weeks, the people had grown accustomed to the guns, so that they slept right through.

But this afternoon the city waked early, and by four o’clock the roof tops and the walls were thick with spectators watching to see what would happen. Ragged Jerry gazed with the others. He had paid no attention to the two Manuels. There had been no fagot gathering, and little other business except talk.

The sea was smooth; the ships swung at anchor under a blue sky; out at Sacrificios island, four miles distant to the east, the Stars and Stripes languidly flapped from the mast ends of the men-of-war; the sand dunes shimmered yellow, buzzards circled above them and the chaparral which flowed into the flat strip—the buzzards might see the American army, but few persons in the city could. Nevertheless, from the east clear around into the west the faint sounds of the burrowing blue coats drifted in.

There was no sign of any charge. Then, at four o’clock precisely, from a spot half a mile out, between the city and Collado Beach, a sudden great belch of black smoke issued; a black speck streaked high through the sky, fell—and there was a resounding crash and a mighty shock, from an explosion[59] in the very center of the city. The clatter of stones followed.

Next, while the people gazed at each other, astounded, in the southeast the chaparral was drowned by a perfect torrent of the same smoke, blasts of air rocked the very walls and buildings, all the city shook to explosion after explosion mingled. Several shells had arrived at once; the air was filled with dust and shrieks.

Vera Cruz was being bombarded. The bastion guns boomed hotly, replying; the great guns of the castle chimed in; the chaparral was being torn to pieces. But so was the city; and out in the roadstead the two steam gunboats and the five sloops of war veered nearer and from a mile away began to shoot, also, at the city and the castle both.

The battle had opened. The Americans were firing only seven mortars; that was all—seven. Where were their other cannon? Stuck in the sand and brush, as like as not. The seven mortars were hard to see, but the city forts and the castle would bury them. As for those little ships a mile at sea, one shot from San Ulloa would sink any of them.

However, the mortars stuck to it. They kept firing all night, while it was too dark for the forts and the castle to answer. There was no sleep for Vera Cruz—not amidst that steady “Boom! Boom! Boom!” and “Crash! Crash! Crash!”, with showers of iron and rock flying far and wide into all parts of the city.

In the morning ten mortars were at work. The forts and San Ulloa spouted smoke and flame in vain. The walls had not been hurt; but what with the[60] booming, and the crashing, and the yelling and running, assuredly Vera Cruz was no place in which to stay. Jerry resolved to get out before he, an American boy, was killed by shots from his own country.

This afternoon another norther set in, as if to help Vera Cruz. It silenced the mortars, and drove the American gunners to cover. Nobody could see to shoot in such a dust storm. The people were happy over it. They knew that the northers and the yellow fever would come to their rescue. The Americans were crazy, their guns useless, their trenches would be filled faster than they could be dug. But to Jerry the norther looked like a lucky stroke for one American, at least. To slip over the walls and sneak across the flat strip and enter the American camp would be as easy as—well, as cutting a watermelon.



The norther was making things uncomfortable in the city as well as outside. The streets were lashed by howling wind, and raked by sand and bits of clay; loosened stones crashed to the pavement, threatening the few people who scuttled around the corners; and when the thick dusk gathered early Vera Cruz seemed deserted. But if matters were bad here, what must they be yonder, out in the open?

Jerry was going to know, pretty soon. It was time that he left Vera Cruz. He did not belong in Vera Cruz, where Americans were disliked. It was the enemy’s country. The two Manuels had housed him in their shack, and had fed him, but only because he worked for them. He had not seen them this day—did not wish ever to see them again; they had cuffed him on the ears, they thought little of slapping him about. He had stayed with them because there was nothing else for him to do. But now his own people had arrived to teach these Mexicans a lesson; had brought the Flag right to the doorway of Mexico, and were knocking for admittance.

If they really did not get in—of course they would get in, but supposing they didn’t, and had to go away and try at another place! Supposing, as the Vera Cruzans said, the walls held out against the cannon, and the yellow fever raged, then he would be stranded the same as before. It was a long, long way from Vera Cruz to the United States.


So this was the time to make a dash for freedom, while the way was short and the norther blew.

At eight o’clock the darkness was dense with the smother of dust. Nobody saw him as he ran low like a rabbit, tacking from building to building and corner to corner, until he had reached the wall at a place nearest to the American cannon. The wall was twelve feet high, here; at intervals it was built into batteries, jutting outside and inside both; but to-night even the sentries had been forced under cover.

The wall was very old; there were sections where it had crumbled and could be climbed easily enough by means of toe-holds and finger-holds. All the boys of Vera Cruz knew that old wall perfectly; and it was used as a promenade also by men and women who strolled upon the wide top.

The American cannon had done little damage to it yet. The mortar bombs all passed over, to land in the city. But Jerry remembered a spot where he often had climbed before, in fun—and to show the Vera Cruzans that their wall could not keep a boy in.

He had to guess at the spot, in the wind and the darkness. When he thought that he was there, he shinned up. Here the wind struck him full blast, and whew! He had to lie flat and crawl, clutching fast with fingers and toes, feeling his way, and fairly plastered to the rough top. If once he raised up, away he would go like a leaf; for that wind certainly meant business.

At last, feeling ahead, he came to the crumbled edge. And now, cautiously swinging about, he prepared to slide over feet first. If this was the right spot, he would land outside after a slide of only[63] about ten feet. But how to tell? There wasn’t any way. It might be that this was not the right place at all, and he would drop straight down more than ten feet and break a leg. Still, he was bound to try. So he backed like a crab, farther and farther, exploring with his toes; he was over the edge, he was clinging with his knees and hands and barking his shins—and on a sudden the edge gave under his fingers and down he slithered, fast and faster, all in the darkness, with clatter and rasp and scrape, until—thump!

No, it had not been the exact spot. Maybe by daylight he wouldn’t have risked such a long slide, on his stomach. But his clothes could not be hurt—a few more rags made no difference, and he was all right.

He had landed on his back in the dry moat or ditch which skirted the bottom of the wall. Under his feet there was a heap of mortar from the wall, and a stiff bush had almost skewered him. He picked himself up, to claw out. In a moment the wind struck him full, again—sent him reeling and sprawling, and stung his cheek with sand and pebbles. Somewhere before him there lay the dunes and the American camp; but he could not see a thing, he had to cross the flat, brushy strip half a mile wide, and unless he kept his wits sharpened he would get all turned around.

Well, the wind was his only guide; it hit him quartering, from the left or gulf side—came like a sheet of half-solid air, to flatten him. Leaning against it he bored on, trying to go in a straight line. Ouch! Cactus! And more cactus. Ouch! A large thorny bush. Ouch! A hollow into which he stepped with a grunt.


The plain was a whirlpool of whistling wind and blinding sand that took his breath and blistered his cheek. The cactus stabbed him, the brush tripped him; every little while he had to sit down and rest. One lone boy seemed a small figure in the midst of that great storm, black with murk, especially when he wasn’t dead certain that he was heading right.

That was a tremendously long half mile. Was he never going to get to the other edge? Perhaps he would be better off if he stayed in one spot and waited for morning. No; then he would be caught between two fires—might be shot by one side or the other, or else captured by prowling Mexican soldiers.

After a while the wind slackened a little; the air cleared, and so did the sky. A moon peeped forth from the overhead scud. He thought that he could see the dunes, in a dim line, and he pushed on for them as fast as he could. He ought to be drawing near to them, by this time, for Vera Cruz lay hours behind him, according to the way his legs ached from his stumblings and zigzaggings.

Here came the wind, again—in a terrific blast as if it had been only taking breath, too. The moon vanished, everything vanished, and he was blinded by the dust once more.

Then, quite unexpectedly, as he was leaning and gasping and blundering on, breaking through the brush and never minding the cactus, he ran against a mound of sand. He sort of crawled up this, clawing his way—the wind seized him, on top, hurled him forward, and down he pitched, headfirst, into a hole on the other side.

This time he landed upon something soft and alive. It grabbed him tightly in two arms and he heard a voice in good sailor American:


“Shiver my timbers! Belay there, whoever you be. Hey, maties! Stand by to repel boarders! They’re entering by the ports.”

“No, no! I’m a boy—I’m an American!” Jerry panted. “There’s nobody else.”

“A boy? Bless my bloomin’ eyes.” The grip relaxed, but the voice growled. “Wot d’you foul my hawser for, when I’m snugged under for the night, with storm anchors out?”

“I didn’t mean to,” Jerry stammered.

“Who are you, then? Wot’s your rating? Answer quick, and no guff.”

“I’m nobody ’special—I’m Jerry Cameron. I’ve run away from Vera Cruz.”

“Under bare poles, too, by the feel of you. You’re a bloody spy, eh?”

“No, I’m not,” Jerry implored. “I’m an American, I told you.”

“Where’s the rest of your boarding crew?”

“There aren’t any.”

“Does your mother know you’re out?”

“She’s dead. So’s my father.”

“Now if you’re one o’ them young limbs o’ drummer boys, playing a game on me——”

“I’m not,” Jerry declared.

“Wot do you want here?”

“I want to join the army.”

“The army! Get out, then. Don’t you go taking this for any landlubber mess. Avast with you! Port your helm and sheer off.” And the clutch loosened.

“But where am I, please?” Jerry asked, bewildered.

“Wait till I put a half hitch on you and I’ll tell[66] you; for if you’re putting up a game you’ll be hanged to the yardarm at sunrise. That’s regulations. Lie quiet, now. I’m hungry and I’m a reg’lar bloomin’ cannerbal.”

A cord was deftly passed about Jerry’s slim waist, tightened, tied, and apparently fastened to his captor also—who growled again as if satisfied. Flint and steel were struck, and a lantern lighted—a lantern enclosed in a wire netting—a battle lantern. It was flashed upon Jerry, and at the same time flashed upon his captor. He saw a very red face—a dirty face but a good-natured face, under a shock of tow hair; and a pair of broad shoulders encased in a heavy woollen jacket. Two bright blue eyes surveyed him.

“A bloomin’ bloody stowaway,” the man growled, not unkindly. “That’s wot! Well, wot you want to know?”

“Where am I, if this isn’t the army?” Jerry pleaded.

“The army be blowed,” answered the man. “This is the navy, young feller. Bless my eye, but you’re in the naval battery, as you’ll soon find out, and so’ll those bloody dons when we open up in the morning.”

“Yes, sir. But I think I’d like to stay, anyway,” said Jerry; for he was down under the wind, and he was very tired.

“Right-o, my hearty.” The man untied the rope. “Now we can lie yard and yard, but mind you keep quiet, ’cause I’m dead for sleep. One wiggle, and out you go. All quiet below decks. That’s discipline and them’s man-o’-war orders.”

The sailor turned down the lantern, and settled himself with a grunt.



The norther certainly was slackening off, as if it had blown itself out. The wind died to a fitful breeze, and this itself finally ceased. There was a dead calm. Overhead the stars sparkled again. It seemed to be a great relief to everything—this calm, after the lashing and the howling and the general strain. Only the gulf surf roared dully in the distance.

Now voices sounded, right and left and behind, as if the American camp had aroused and the men were issuing from their coverts. They had weathered the storm. Jerry carefully raised, to look. He could see the occasional flash of a lantern. Then he lay down. In the calm he was more exhausted than ever. That had been a tough trail through the brush, fighting the wind at every step. Before he knew, he was asleep, beside the snoring sailor; and the next that he knew, he was awakened into gray dawn by a bustle around him.

Where was he? Oh, yes; he was safe with the Americans. So he got up, shook himself, and took stock.

He was still out in the plain, instead of at the edge of the dunes; the trench which sheltered him was six feet wide and the same in depth, and was screened by brush outside the dirt thrown out. It ran right and left, as if connecting with other trenches. Figures of sailors and their officers hurried[68] back and forth, scarcely noticing him. There were gruff orders. He had to see what was going on; so he fell in with the busy files, and in a moment he had arrived at the breech of an enormous cannon, surrounded by sailors stripped to the waist and tugging and heaving to move the cannon into place.

Beyond it there was another cannon, already in place, its muzzle pointing out through sandbags, its squatty solid iron frame resting upon little wheels which fitted a pair of iron rails bolted to a plank turn-table upon a platform. Beyond that was still another great gun. And to the rear there was the sand-bagged roof of a low hut, sunk deeply almost on the level with the surface of the ground. This was a battery, then; and that probably was the powder house—the magazine. And all had been dug out, and erected, here, between the dunes and Vera Cruz, in point-blank range of the walls!

By the hurry and bustle something was going to happen very soon. A smart naval officer in blue and gold, with sword drawn, was overseeing the work of setting the first gun into position. A boatswain, his shirt open upon his hairy chest and a whistle dangling at the end of a cord, was bossing. Everybody was a sailor, so it must be the naval battery.

The boatswain saw Jerry staring; and he stared likewise.

“Hi! What you doin’ here, young ’un?”

“Just watching,” said Jerry.

“Where you from?”

“Vera Cruz. But I’m an American.”

“Shiver my tops’ls!” uttered the boatswain; and the other sailors briefly paused to wipe their[69] brows and grin. “A bloomin’ American from Very Cruz.” He saluted the officer. “Recruit for the navy, sir. What shall I do with him?”

“Send him to the rear. This is no place for boys,” rapped the officer. “What’s your name, lad?”

“Jerry Cameron.”

“How did you get in here?”

“I ran away from Vera Cruz last night. I don’t belong there.”

“Too much Yankee music in that city, eh?”

“Yes, sir. It’s awful.”

“Well, it will be worse. If you’ve come to join the band you’ll have to go to the rear. We can’t take care of you here. Things will open lively in a short time, now.”

And as if to prove his words the air shook, a dull boom sounded, a louder boom rolled from the dunes. Vera Cruz had awakened to action again.

“You follow that trench and keep going,” the officer ordered. “March, before your head’s blown off.”

“Boom—Bang!” A great mass of sand and brush spouted up not fifty yards to the front, and the shock sent everyone staggering. A shell from Vera Cruz had landed near indeed. “Boom—Bang!” That was another. The Mexican batteries were trying.

“Handspikes, there! Put a block under that transom, bo’s’n,” barked the officer, never noticing.

“Aye, aye, sir!” The men jumped to their work. Jerry turned and headed back through the trench. He was glad that he was not to be in Vera Cruz this day. Those guns looked mean.


The trench, higher than his crown and wider than he was tall, led obliquely toward the dunes. To have cut such a trench must have been a prodigious job—and the queer part was, that from Vera Cruz the work had not been seen.

Judging by deep wheel tracks the cannon had been dragged through the trench, to the front.

For a little way he met nobody. Now the shells from the city and castle were bursting all around him, well-nigh deafening him; and from a distance the American guns were replying. Next, he came to a squad of sailors, sitting in a side gallery and eating breakfast. They hailed him.

“Ahoy! Where bound, young ’un?”

“Nowhere,” Jerry answered.

“Heave to, then, and come aboard with your papers. Where you from?”

“Vera Cruz.”

“Lay alongside.” So Jerry turned in. “What’s your colors? Speak sharp. Report to the admiral.”

“Red, white and blue,” asserted Jerry.

“Blow me, but he is American, by the cut of his jib,” one of them exclaimed. “Where’s your convoy, young sloop-o’-war?”

“Nowhere. I ran away last night.”

“Homeward bound in ballast. Can’t you see he’s floating clean above loading mark?” said another. “He’s empty to his keel. Fall to, my hearty. Line your lockers.”

They were a jovial party, grimy with sand and sweat, their blue sailor shirts open, their faces red and their big hands tarry and scarred. They passed him hard biscuit and meat and a cup of coffee—and[71] every now and again the earth shook to the explosion of a shell. While they were asking him questions about himself, and Vera Cruz, and the Mexicans (for whom they appeared to feel much scorn) there was a fresh hullaballoo, somewhere in the main trench. Up they sprang, to crowd and gaze.

“Another pill-tosser to feed the bloomin’ dons,” they cried. “Hooray!”

And here, through the trench, there came one of the great naval guns: first, rounding an elbow, a long double file of sailors, stripped to the waist, leaning low to a rope and tugging like horses; then the breech of the gun, then high wheels upon which it had been mounted, with other sailors wrestling at them; then the immensely long barrel, with still other sailors pushing at this clear to the muzzle.

A bo’s’n trudged beside, urging the work. When the gun stuck for a moment crowbars were thrust under the wheels—

“Heave-ho! Together, now! Heave-ho!”

“Aye, aye! Heave-ho!”

“Heave, my bullies!”

And they panted a song:

“’Way down Rio, Rio, Rio!
’Way down Rio, Oh!”

The gun went surging by.

“We’ll be needed up for’d, maties,” said one of the sailor squad. “Young ’un, you set your course the direction you were steering.”

They mopped their mouths with the backs of their tarry fists and lurched on after the cannon.

Jerry proceeded. Next, but not much farther,[72] the trench was cut by another trench, crossing it at right angle and extending without end on either hand. This trench on right and left was lined with blue-capped, blue-coated soldiers, crouching low, or daringly peering through openings they had made in the ridge of sand thrown out in front of the trench, their long-barreled muskets leaning against the wall, beside them. Jerry kept on, following the wheel tracks.

His trench grew shallow; and the wheel tracks wound through low places amidst the dunes. He left the trench behind him. Next, he began to see soldiers in squads—messing, shaking their blankets free of sand, clearing out small trenches that had almost filled during the storm; and so forth and so forth. And tents, some blown flat and being hoisted again; and the United States flags, and regimental flags; and stacks of muskets in rows.

The soldiers appeared to be of the rough-and-ready order; many of them bearded or stubbly, their uniforms worn carelessly, their caps set at an angle; some were barefoot, as if easing their feet; some had on shoes, and some had one trouser-leg tucked into a boot-top; and several who seemed ill were sitting enveloped in Mexican blankets.

They were singing—these soldiers—in groups, as they lolled or worked at various tasks; singing not very musically, but gaily:

“Green grow the rushes, O!
Green grow the rushes, O!
The sweetest hours that e’er I spend
Are spent among the lasses, O!”

That was the chorus of one group nearest to Jerry, as he sidled through the camp. It was not[73] much of a song, although as good as most of the Mexican songs. He saw a flag, of blue and gold, which said “First Tennessee Volunteers.” A soldier was shaking it out from its folds.

“Well, I’m in the army, anyway,” Jerry thought, to himself. “But I guess I’ll go on, to the beach, and see what’s there.”

So although the men hailed him, as the sailors had, only in different language, he shook his head and did not stop.

Pretty soon he came to a cleaner camp, within easy sight of the surf beyond the dunes, and of the ships at anchor off Sacrificios. There were many soldiers, here, too, but more orderly and better clothed. The camp appeared to stretch clear to the beach; and while he was wandering and gazing, somebody challenged him.

It was another boy, in uniform—a red-headed boy, spick and span and as smart as a new whip.

“Hey, you! What you doing?”

He wore a tight blue jacket and lighter blue trousers; the front of the jacket was crossed by a lot of red braid, a high collar held his chin up, upon his head was perched a jaunty blue, red-decorated round cap with leather visor, and a short sword hung at his right thigh.

“Nothing special,” Jerry answered back.

“Come over till I investigate. We don’t allow camp followers in the lines.”

Jerry went over.

“I’m not a camp follower,” he retorted. The soldiers who heard, laughed.

“Then what’s your regiment?”


“Haven’t any, yet. I left Vera Cruz only last night.”

“You did! Huh! That’s a likely yarn. How’d you get into the lines, then?”

“Just walked. I skipped out, over the wall, and crossed the plain in the storm.”

“What’d you skip out for?”

“Because I’m an American. I don’t like it in Vera Cruz.”

“Guess you didn’t. Guess nobody does—and they’ll all like it less, to-day. We’re to give ’em a jolly good shaking up. Got any folks?”


“Anybody come with you?”


“Well, what’s your name?”

“Jerry Cameron.”

“That sounds all right. What did you do in Vera Cruz?”

“Lived there with my father until he died from yellow fever. Then I worked for two Mexicans, until I had a chance to run away.”

“Mind you don’t lie.”

“I’m not lying. Should think you could see I’m American.”

“Guess you are. Guess you’re O. K., Jerry. I’m Hannibal Moss, drummer boy, Company A, Eighth United States Infantry,” said the boy, with a little swagger of importance. “That’s what. Best company in the best fighting regiment of the whole army. What you intend to do? Join us?”

“I’d like to, mighty well.”

“Where’ve you been since you got in?”


“Out there with the sailors and the big guns. That’s where I landed. But they sent me back.”

“Oh, that’s the navy battery. What’d you think of it?”

“They’re the biggest guns I ever saw.”

“Guess they are. Guess they’ll fix those dons—blow their walls to pieces. They’re sixty-eight-pounder shell guns and thirty-two-pounder solid shot fellows. You bet! The army’s got some just as big, but they haven’t come yet, so the navy’s going to help us out. We’ve a battery of twenty-four-pounders out there, though. Only seven hundred yards from the walls. Wait till you hear the music.”

“The walls haven’t been hurt yet; or they hadn’t been, when I left,” said Jerry.

“That’s because we weren’t ready. We’ve had to use mortars; but throwing bombs into houses isn’t what we’re here for. Old Fuss and Feathers—he knows what he’s about. That’s why he called on the navy, when his own siege guns didn’t arrive. He wants to finish things here and march on into the mountains before the yellow fever starts up. Say, it’s been pretty hot in Vera Cruz, hasn’t it, with all those bombs bursting?”

“It certainly has,” Jerry answered soberly. “They’ve killed people who weren’t fighting, and knocked down a lot of houses.”

“Well, that’s war. The Mexicans ought to have surrendered when they had a chance. They can surrender any time. All they need do is to hang out a white flag. Fuss and Feathers is going to take their city. He doesn’t want their houses, though, and I guess he’s sorry to hurt non-combatants. The civilians[76] ought to have moved their families out. After we’ve breached the walls proper and forced terms, we’ll have Vera Cruz as a base and we’ll march straight to the Halls of Montezuma.”

“Who’s Fuss and Feathers?”

Hannibal stared.

“You don’t know anything about the army, that’s sure. Fuss and Feathers is Major-General Winfield Scott, commander-in-chief of the United States army. We call him Fuss and Feathers, for fun. Not when he’s around, though. M-m-m! You bet not! He’s a stickler for discipline. But he’ll take us to the Halls of Montezuma.”

“Where are they, Hannibal!”

“My eye, you’re green! The Halls of Montezuma are the capitol in the City of Mexico, of course. Guess you’ve a lot to learn. Want me to show you about? Maybe I can find you a job if you’re an American. Looks like you need a suit of clothes—but you aren’t much worse than some of those Mohawks are already. Come on; let’s walk.”

“You see, I’m off duty,” Hannibal explained, as he strolled with Jerry in tow. “We had to work half the night, digging trenches. We just got back. Golly, but that was a storm, wasn’t it! Filled us up as fast as we could dig out. But no storms are going to stop this army. Say; do you know where you are?”

“In the American army.”

“Yes, siree, and in the First Division, too. This is Brigadier-General William J. Worth’s division of Regulars: Fourth Infantry, Fifth Infantry, Sixth Infantry, Eighth Infantry, Second and Third Artillery. The Eighth Infantry—that’s my regiment—is[77] in the Second Brigade. Colonel Clarke’s our commander. Garland’s commander of the First Brigade. They’re both good men—and so’s General Worth. My eye! Isn’t he, though! You’re lucky to have struck the Regulars. If you’d stayed with the Mohawks—my eye!”

“Who are they, Hannibal?”

“The Volunteers. We call ’em ‘Mohawks’ because they’re so wild. They’re General Patterson’s division, the Third: the Palmettos—those are the South Carolinans; the First and Second Tennessee Mountaineers; the First and Second Pennsylvania Keystoners; the Second New Yorkers; the Third and Fourth Illinois Suckers; the Georgia Crackers, and the Alabamans. Guess they can fight, but they’re awful on discipline. Won’t even salute their officers. Expect you passed through them on your way from the naval battery.”

The sun had risen, flooding all the chaparral and glinting on the gulf surges beyond the fringing beach. The uproar of the cannon in castle and city had welled to a deep, angry chorus; the American guns were answering; the morning air quivered to the quick explosions; and over city and strip of plain a cloud of black smoke floated higher and higher, veiling the sun itself. Now and then a piece of shell droned in, skimming the sand hills and kicking up puffs of dust. A round-shot of solid iron actually came rolling down a slope and landed at their very feet. Jerry stooped to feel of it. Ouch! It was still hot.

“Shucks!” Hannibal laughed. “Put it in your pocket.” He cocked his cap defiantly. “It’s a dead one. When you’re in your first battle you think[78] every gun is aimed at you; and after that you don’t care.”

“You’ve been in other battles, Hannibal?”

“I should rather say! We’re all veterans, in this division. We were with Old Zach—he’s General Zachary Taylor—when he licked the dons at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma in Texas last May, and we helped take Monterey in September. We’d have been licking ’em again if we hadn’t been sent here with Old Fuss and Feathers.”

“But General Taylor’s been licked since, hasn’t he? At Buena Vista?”

“He? Old Zach? Do you believe that story? It’s just a Mexican lie. I wasn’t there, but the New Orleans papers say he wasn’t licked at all. There can’t anybody lick Old Zach. He just wears his old clothes and sits his horse sideways, and tells the men: ‘The bayonet, my hardy cocks!’ When we joined Old Fuss and Feathers we knew he was all right, too, but we expected to have to dress up and shave. I tell you, there was hustling. Regulations say that officers’ and men’s hair has got to be cropped—cut short, you know; whiskers can’t grow lower than the ears and nobody except the cavalry can wear moustaches. Old Davy—that’s General David Twiggs of the Second Division of Regulars—he had a white beard reaching nearly to his waist, and he shaved it all off and cut his hair. Looked funny, too. But the regulations aren’t being enforced, after all. We’re in Mexico to fight. Wait till you see General Worth’s side-whiskers. But let’s climb a hill, farther front, and lie down, and I’ll show you things. No! Wait a minute. Listen to that cheering. I guess there’s news. Come on.”


They ran back, toward the camp. Cheers could be heard—beginning at the beach edge of the dunes and traveling inward. The soldiers were running, and gathering. An officer on horseback attended by other mounted officers was riding slowly on, among the dunes and occasionally stopping. Whenever he had paused, fresh cheers arose.

“That’s General Worth, and Captain Mackall, division adjutant,” Hannibal informed. “Golly! Wonder what’s up. Something special.”

They hastened until they had joined a crowd of the men, all waiting expectant, for General Worth and party were coming on.

“Mind your eye, now,” Hannibal whispered. “If you know how to salute you’d better do it. You’re with the Regulars.”

The soldiers stiffened to attention—Hannibal like the rest, and Jerry trying to imitate. Every hand went to a salute. General Worth was as fine a looking man as one might ever see—tall and straight in the saddle, with handsome face, dark complexion, flashing black eyes, and side-whiskers of graying black. Rode perfectly.

He halted again, returning the salute.

“By direction of General Scott you will listen to good news, men,” he said.

Whereupon another officer, who evidently was the division adjutant, unfolded a paper, and read:

“The commanding general of the Army of Invasion takes prompt occasion to announce to his fellow soldiers that by battle of February Twenty-second and Twenty-third, at Buena Vista, northeastern Mexico, Major-General Zachary Taylor, with a force of less than forty-five hundred, decisively defeated[80] the Mexican general Santa Anna and twenty-three thousand of the best troops of Mexico. The commanding general desires to congratulate his army upon this great victory of the successful General Taylor.

“By command of Major-General Scott.

H. L. Scott,

“Assistant Adjutant-General.”

“Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!” cheered the men.

General Worth and staff rode on, leaving excitement in their wake.

“I told you so,” Hannibal cried. “Old Zach had mostly Volunteers, too. But that made no difference. And now you’ve seen Worth. Just like him to publish those orders this way, instead of waiting for parade. And fight? Oh, my! I guess so!”

“I’ve seen him before,” Jerry exclaimed, remembering. “He jumped ashore first when you all landed on the beach.”

“He did that. The First Division led and his boat beat and he was first out. But did you see us land? Where were you?”

“Here in these sand hills, cutting brush.”

“Wasn’t that a landing, though! We set a record. General Scott and Commodore Conner of the navy put twelve thousand men ashore in ten hours, and all we got was wet. Never lost a life. That’s discipline for you. Whoo-ee! Listen to those guns talk! The dons are right angry to-day. Guess they’ve discovered those batteries out in front. Come on, now, if you want to see the fun.”

They left the camp; trudged fast until they approached the edge of the dunes, toward the city,[81] crossed a shallow trench or road that wound along, and climbing to the top of a sand hill were in view of the plain and the Mexican batteries. A number of soldiers were here, watching. They had dug little hollows, as a protection from shell fragments.

The firing had increased. The city and the castle of San Ulloa were shrouded in the dense smoke; the plain was spouting earth and brush, but it was spouting smoke and shot and shell also, for American batteries were replying. And the entrenched line of blue-coats, supporting the artillery, might be glimpsed.

“Those dons are trying to find our guns,” asserted Hannibal. “That plain is full of trenches. Golly, but it was a job to dig them. We Regulars, and the Mohawks, too, had to work by night, in shifts; and we got jolly well peppered, you bet. We didn’t dare use lanterns; worked by the feel, in the cactus and brush, and the northers near smothered us, besides. We were marched out after dark, and every man grabbed a spade and his orders were to dig a hole eight feet long and five feet wide and six feet deep. When the holes were connected they made a ditch all ’round the city, five miles not counting the sand-bags and parapets and battery emplacements and caves for magazines. Then we and the sailors dragged the guns clear from the beach, three miles and more, through the sand and swamps. We haven’t guns enough yet. Only sixteen out of about sixty that the general expected. The most of ’em are ten-inch mortars, and they’re no good for breaching walls. The castle’s firing thirteen-inch shells at us—sockdologers! But the navy’s helping the army with three six-inch solid-shot guns and three[82] eight-inch Paixhan shell guns, for direct fire into the walls. Wait till that Battery Five opens. It’s point-blank range of the walls on this side.”

“Is the army all ’round the city?”

“Yes, siree, boy. The First Division has the right of line, starting at the beach. That’s ours. Patterson’s Third Division Mohawks have the center. They’re the Voluntarios. Twigg’s Regulars of the Second Division have the left, reaching to the beach on the other side of the city. We’ve got the Mexicanos cooped up. They can’t sneak out.”

It was a great sight—those bursting shells and those bounding solid shot, some of which ricochetted to the dunes and rolled hither thither. Now and then shell fragments flew past, and an occasional long-range shell burst behind. The soldiers appeared to enjoy the view. They seemed to know what was coming; they all had been under fire before, and every few moments a shot or shell might be seen sailing above the smoke.

“Look out, boys! There’s a bomb—a thirteen-inch, from the castle!”

“Here comes a solid shot. Lie low.”

“There’s an eight-inch, again.”

Suddenly a lull occurred in the shouts and jokes. The men stiffened as they lay poking their heads up. A brilliant group of officers were riding along the shallow trench or road at the inside base of the sand hill parapets. The foremost was a very large man, broad shouldered and erect and towering high upon his horse. He had a square, stern, wrinkled face, smooth shaven except for grey side-whiskers of regulation trim; wore a plumed[83] chapeau upon his grey hair, full uniform of dark blue, with gold buttons in a double row down the front, heavy gold epaulets on the shoulders, and broad gold braid following his trousers seams. A sword in engraved scabbard hung at his left side; his left arm was curiously crooked. A splendid horse bore him proudly.

All the other officers were in full uniform, too, and kept behind him.

“That’s Scott! That’s General Scott! Old Fuss and Feathers himself!” Hannibal whispered. “Now mind your eye. No foolishness, boy.”

General Scott turned his horse and rode boldly right up the sand hill, until he sat looking at the plain and the enemy through his spy-glass. The men promptly stood up, at salute.

“Keep down, keep down, men,” he gruffly ordered. “You shouldn’t expose yourselves this way.”

A solid shot whistled by him, and he never stirred. A shell burst in front, and he never stirred. He sat, gazing.

“Sure, sir, you’re exposin’ yourself, ain’t you?” somebody called.

General Scott snapped his glass together, and smiled grimly. Jerry could see his grey eyes, as he glanced at the man. They were of a keen grey, but kindly. There was something fatherly as well as severe about him.

“Oh, as for that,” General Scott answered, “generals, nowadays, can be made of anybody, but men, my lad, are hard to get.”

He leisurely rode back to his staff; and how the soldiers cheered!



“Listen!” Hannibal cried.

He had sharp ears. The beat of drums and the shrill of fifes could be faintly heard, sounding from the rear.

“That means us. It’s the Eighth Infantry march, as a warning signal. Expect I’m wanted. Golly, hope I haven’t missed musicians’ call. Old Peters—he’s drum major—will be mad as a hornet. A drummer never gets any rest, anyhow. Good-by. See you again. You look me up.”

Away ran Hannibal, and most of the soldiers followed.

“More trench work,” they grumbled.

The place seemed very empty. Jerry hesitated, and wandered after. Before he got to the camp he met a double file marching out to tap of drum, their muskets on their shoulders. Hannibal and a fifer led, behind a sergeant. Hannibal wore his drum, suspended from a pair of whitened cross-belts that almost covered his chest. He gave Jerry a wink, as he passed, sturdily shuttling his drumsticks.

Jerry fell in behind, at a respectful distance; soon he lost the file and the sound of the drum, but he kept on, guided by wheel tracks. Next he had arrived among the Volunteers again, where they were laughing and lounging as before, except that these were a different batch, at this particular spot—grimy as if they had just come out of the trenches,[85] themselves. Decidedly it was easy to tell a Volunteer from a Regular, by the clothes and the untrimmed hair and the free off-hand manners.

The sun was high and hot; a perfect day had succeeded to the stormy night. Jerry continued, until he struck the big trench scored by the broad tracks. He was heading back for the naval battery; and presently there he was, once more, his farther way blocked by the great guns and a mass of sailors.

Nobody noticed him. The cross-trench for the battery was ringing with orders and with the crash of shells from the castle and city. The magazine was open—a squad of sailors stood beside each gun—the cannon were being loaded—the charges were rammed home by two sailors to each rammer—there was a quick order, repeated by the bo’s’ns, who blew their whistles; and as if by magic all the brush fringing the cannon muzzles was swept away with cutlasses and brawny arms.

With a cheer the sailors holding the rope tackle hauled hard and the enormous cannon darted silently forward, so that their muzzles were thrust beyond the parapet.

A sailor behind each breech drew his cord taut. It was attached at the other end to a large lever, like a trigger, connected with an upraised hammer.

A gunner sighted—screwed down, screwed up, sprang aside—

“Aye, aye, sir!”

“Aye, aye, sir!” announced the other squinting gunners, one to each piece.

“Fire!” shouted the battery officer, with dash of sword.


The lock strings were jerked viciously. Such a thunderous blast tore the air to shreds that Jerry’s ear drums felt driven right into his head, and the suction of the air, following the report, dragged him upon his nose.

The smoke gushed wider and higher. He could see the officers standing and peering through their spy-glasses, at the city; they shouted—he could not hear a word, but the smoking guns had recoiled inward until checked by ropes and chocks; the rammers swabbed with the swab ends of their long ramrods; other sailors thumbed the vent holes; the swabbers reversed their tools; sailors rapidly inserted a flannel bag of powder into each muzzle; in it went, forced home by the ramrods; shells for some guns, shot for others, had been handed up—were rammed down—out rolled the guns, to the haul on block and tackle—

“Aye, aye, sir!”



The sailors appeared to be cheering as they toiled. The guns thundered and smoked—recoiled as if alive and eager, were sponged and loaded and run out again; every man was on the jump, but they all moved like clockwork. Cowering there, back of the magazine, and glued to the side of the trench, Jerry stared roundly. Nobody paid any attention to him. All were too busy to take heed of a ragged boy.

Bang!” A return shot had arrived. It was a shell, and had burst so near that the fragments and the dirt rained down.

Bang!” Another. The naval battery had been discovered, and Jerry was under fire.


The naval guns and the guns of the city forts answered one another furiously. What a clangor and turmoil—what a smother of hot smoke from the cannon muzzles and the bursting shells! Solid shot thudded in, too. They ripped across the parapet, cutting gashes and sending the sand-bags flying. They bounded into the trench, and lay there spinning, ugly and black. It was hard to tell whether they were really solid or were going to burst. Horrors! One of the men passing ammunition had lost his head! A solid shot skimming through the same slot out of which a cannon muzzle pointed had taken the man’s head off; he crumpled like a sack, and Jerry felt sick at the red sight.

When he opened his eyes and had to look again, shuddering, the body was gone; another sailor—a live one—stood in the place, and the guns were booming as before.

All the guns of the city forts on this side seemed to be firing at the naval battery. Several sailors had been wounded; a young officer was down and bleeding. The wounded were staggering to the rear; one stopped and sank beside Jerry. He had an arm dangling and crimsoned, and a bloody head.

“Ship ahoy, matie,” he gasped. Jerry recognized him as his first friend of the night preceding. “You’re here again, are you? D’you know where the sick bay is?”

“No, sir,” said Jerry.

“It’s aft some’ers down this bloomin’ trench. Lend me a tow, will you? I’ve got a spar nigh shot off and a bit o’ shell in my figgerhead. Hard for me to keep a course, d’you see?”


“All right. You tell me where to take you.”

“Right-o, my hearty. Steady, there. P’int due sou’-sou’east. The sick bay and the bloody sawbones’ll be some’ers abeam. You’ll smell the arnicky.”

With the shells exploding and the cannon-balls pursuing they made way down the trench, the sailor leaning with his sound arm on Jerry’s shoulders.

The sick bay, or hospital, was a sandbag-covered room at one side; not a pleasant place—oh, no, for wounds were being dressed and things were being cut off by the navy surgeon and his assistant. Still, it seemed to be safe from the shot and shell, and there were not many wounded, yet; only four or five. So Jerry lingered, until the surgeon espied him and set him at work picking lint, serving water, and so forth.

The reports from the battery were encouraging, judging by the conversation. The six guns were all in action, together: the three Paixhans, which threw shells eight inches in diameter and weighing sixty-eight pounds, and the three solid-shot pieces, which threw balls, six inches in diameter, and weighing thirty-two pounds. These were the heaviest American guns firing yet, for breaching.

“Yes, shiver my timbers!” growled Jerry’s sailor to one of the other wounded. “Scott axed for ’em, didn’t he? Would the commodore please to land a few o’ the navy toys and furnish the bass in this here music? Would the navy lend the army some genuyine main-deck guns, of a kind to fire a broadside with and send the bloomin’ dons to Davy Jones? ‘Bless my bloody eyes!’ says the commodore.[89] ‘Sartinly I will, general. But I must fight ’em.’ And ain’t we a-fightin’ of ’em? Well, I guess we are, matie!”

So being navy guns, they were being “fought” by the navy. From seven hundred yards their shot and shell were tearing right through the walls of the city. The astonished Mexicans were fighting back with three batteries, all aimed at the naval battery, to put it out.

The army was erecting another battery, nearby—Battery Number 4, of the heaviest army cannon, sixty-eight-pounders and twenty-four-pounders. Pretty soon these would join with the navy fire.

The work in the sick bay slackened, and Jerry stole up “forward” again. The din and the rush were as bad as ever. The sailors, bared to the waist, were black with powder grime and streaked with sweat, on faces, bodies and arms. The guns were alive and alert—they were monsters, belching, darting back, fuming, while they waited to be fed, then eagerly darting to belch once more.

After each shot the gun squads cheered, peering an instant through the fog.

“Another for the dons’ lockers!”

“Hooray, lads! We’ve cut his bloomin’ flag away.”

“No, no! It’s up again.”

Yonder, across the heaving plain, the figure of a Mexican officer had leaped upon the parapet of a bastion fort set in the walls and was fastening the Mexican flag to its broken flagpole. It was a brave act. Cheers greeted him.


The crew in front of Jerry reloaded at top speed. The great gun spoke.

“They’re serving those pieces like rifles,” said somebody, in Jerry’s ear. “By thunder, they’re planting shot and shell exactly where they please.” That was the surgeon, who had come forward for a view. “But the enemy’s making mighty good practice, too. He has German artillery officers.”

Suddenly the surgeon yelled, and grabbing Jerry forced him flat.

“Look sharp!”

The parapet of the battery was scored ragged. The gun platforms and the trench were littered with shell fragments and spent solid shot. Now there had sounded a soft “plump” or thud. A round black sphere as large as Jerry’s head had landed in the bottom of the wide space behind the guns—it was only a few feet to the rear of the quarter-gunner who stood holding in his arms a copper tank containing the powder charges. Each charge weighed ten pounds.

He heard the thump, and what did he do but turn and stoop and put his hand upon the thing! Evidently it was hot—it was smoking—a shell! Down dived the quarter-gunner, quick as a wink, plastering himself against the ground. There was a chorus of startled shouts, and—“Boom!” the shell had exploded.

The tremendous shock drove Jerry rolling over and over. As seemed to him, the trench and the emplacements and the battery and all the men had been blown to bits. But when he picked himself up amidst the dense smoke, instead of seeing bloody[91] shreds everywhere, he saw the men likewise picking themselves up and staring about dazedly. The ammunition chest had exploded also, but even the quarter-gunner had not been harmed. One lieutenant had had his hat-brim torn off; that was all.

“A thirteen-inch bomb, from the castle,” the surgeon remarked. “Young man, we’d better get out of here, and stay where we belong.”

“Send that boy out of fire,” an officer barked. “Now, my hearties! Show those fellows we’re still alive.”

Cheering, the sailors jumped to their task.

His head ringing, Jerry stumbled back with the surgeon. And at the hospital he got a quick dismissal.

“You heard the orders, youngster. Follow your nose and keep going.”

That was good advice, when such shells were landing and he could be of no use. So Jerry scuttled back down the trench, hoping to run upon Hannibal somewhere.



The Volunteer section of the trenches, extending right and left back of the naval battery, had not escaped the fire of the Mexican guns. It was filled with the blue-coats and blue-caps, as before; but shot and shell had ripped it, squads were repairing it, under fire, by throwing up fresh sand and stowing the sandbags more securely. The other men crouched nervously, their muskets grasped, as if they were awaiting the word to charge. Some of them grinned at Jerry, when he paused to look in; they leveled jokes at him.

“Did you get blown up, bub?”

“How’s the weather, where you’ve been?”

“Does your maw know you’re out?”

But Jerry pressed on again, “following his nose,” and trying to dodge shell fragments; tried a short cut among the dunes, rounded one of the numerous lagoons or marshes, where soldiers off duty were washing their socks; and sooner than he had expected he had entered the camp of the Regulars, once more.

He could tell it by the looks of it. The men were better “set up” than average, seemed well cared for, acted business like; their older officers were brusque, the younger were stiff-backed and slim-waisted, and as a rule they all sat or stood apart from the soldiers.

The hour was after noon; he knew this by the[93] sun, dimly shining through the drifting smoke cloud, and by his empty stomach—amazingly empty now that he thought about it. But he had not laid eyes upon Hannibal, yet, nor anybody else that he ever had seen before.

He happened to stop for a moment near a young officer. The officer was composedly standing by himself, his hands in his pockets as if he were not at all concerned about the racket at the front. He had a smooth-shaven, rather square face, dark brown hair and blue-grey eyes, and was stocky but not large. In fact, was scarcely medium. He had a thoughtful, resolute look, however—a quiet way, that is, which might make anyone hesitate to tackle him for trouble.

He gave Jerry a slow, quizzical smile.

“Well, my lad, what do you want here?”

“Will you please tell me if this is the Eighth United States Infantry?” Jerry asked.

“No. That’s in the Second Brigade. This is the Fourth Infantry, First Brigade.”

“Then where is the Eighth Infantry?” asked Jerry.

“The Eighth is posted with the Second Brigade, farther on. You’ll see the regimental flag. What do you want with the Eighth Regiment?”

“I know a boy there. He promised to get me a job.”

“What kind of a job?”

“He didn’t say, but he’s a drummer boy.”

“You reckon on being a drummer boy? Better not. There’s one with his arm shot off, already.”

“Not Hannibal!” Jerry exclaimed.

“Hannibal who?”


“Hannibal Moss. He’s the boy I mean.”

“Oh, no; not that young rascal of the Eighth. Another boy by the name of Rome, over in the Twiggs division. Now he’ll be a cripple for life.”

“Will he have to go home?”


“Well,” said Jerry, “I’d hate to have my arm shot off, but I’d hate worse to have to go home and miss all the rest of the fighting. Could I get his job, do you think?”

The officer laughed. When he laughed, his face lighted up.

“I don’t believe that this army can wait until you learn to drum. We’re liable to be busy from now on. Where did you come from? Where are your folks?”

“Haven’t any. I’ve been in the naval battery.”

“You have! Belong to the navy, do you?”

“No, sir. I don’t seem to belong anywhere. I ran away from Vera Cruz last night. I’m an American.”

“So I see. Well, how do you like the naval battery?”

“It’s pretty lively,” said Jerry, shaking his head. “They didn’t want me, there, so I came back to the army.”

“You’d better go on to the rear; go down to the beach, and some of those camp followers will take care of you.”

“Are they a part of the army?”

“Not exactly,” the officer grimly answered. “Their duty seems to lie in raking in the army’s money as fast as they can bamboozle us. Still, the laundresses are rather necessary. I’ll speak to some[95] laundress about you, when I have opportunity. Are you willing to scrub clothes in a tub?”

“No,” Jerry declared honestly. “I think I’d rather join the army and help fight. Are you a general?”

“I?” The young officer acted astonished. “Not yet. I’m only Second Lieutenant Grant. I’m about as far from being a general as you are.”

“But you’re fighting, anyway.”

“Not very fiercely, at present. The artillery is doing the fighting. After the artillery has opened the way, then the infantry will have a chance.”

“Well,” said Jerry, “I guess I’d better be going on.”

“Look here,” spoke Lieutenant Grant. “I’ll wager you’re hungry. Aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You see that tent at the end of the row?” And Lieutenant Grant pointed. “That’s my quarters—mine and Lieutenant Sidney Smith’s. You go there and you’ll find a darky; or you’ll find him if he isn’t somewhere else. He’s Smith’s servant. You tell Pompey that Lieutenant Grant sent you to get something to eat. Then you can tidy up my things. I reckon,” added Lieutenant Grant, stubbornly, as if to himself, “that I’ll show Smith I can have a bodyguard as well as he can.”

“And shall I stay there?” Jerry asked eagerly.

“You say you want to join the army. So if you’re willing to play understudy to a mere second lieutenant instead of to a drum major, maybe we can come to some agreement. At any rate, go get a meal.”

Jerry hustled for the tent. The flaps were open,[96] nobody was within, but on the sunny side, without, he discovered a young darky asleep, on his back, with a bandanna handkerchief over his face to keep off the flies.

The darky was dressed in a torn whitish cotton shirt, a pair of old army trousers, sky-blue, tied about his waist with a rope, and gaping shoes from which his toes peeped out.

He was snoring. But Jerry had to get something to eat, according to orders.

“Hello,” he said, gazing down.

The bandanna rose and fell; the snores continued. Shot and shell and big guns made no difference to this darky.

Jerry considered. He broke a twig from a scrap of bush and tickled the toes. They twitched, the snores changed to grunts, the bandanna wriggled, and on a sudden with a prodigious “Oof! G’way from dar!” the darky blew off his bandanna and sort of burst into sitting up, staring wildly, his eyes rolling.

“Who you?” he accused. “Wha’ fo’ you do dat, ticklin’ me like one o’ dem t’ousand-leggers? I’se gwine to lambast you fo’ dat, you white limb o’ Satan!”

“Lieutenant Grant said you’d find me something to eat,” Jerry explained. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Scyare me? Oof! I shuah felt one o’ dem t’ousand-legger centipeders crawlin’ right inside my shoes. Huh! I don’t give house room to no t’ousand-leggers. What you say you want? Who-all sent you?”


“Lieutenant Grant. He said you were to find me something to eat.”

“Where am dat Lieutenant Grant?”

“Over there. He was there, but he’s gone now.” For Lieutenant Grant had disappeared.

“Done issued me ohders, did he? I don’t belong to no second lieutenant. I belong to Lieutenant Smith. He fust lieutenant. If he say to feed white trash, I got to feed ’em, but I ain’t takin’ ohders from no second lieutenant.”

“I’ll go back and tell him,” Jerry proffered. “There he is.” Lieutenant Grant was in sight, talking with another officer. Once he glanced toward the tent; and his glance could be felt.

The darky hastily sprang up.

“Reckon I’ll find you sumpin. Yes, suh; when anybody’s jined the ahmy he’s got to ’bey his s’perior offercers. Come along, white boy. Where you from, anyhow?”

“Vera Cruz.”

“You from Very Cruz? What you do dar?”

“Worked for my keep. Last night I ran away.”

“You an American boy?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Hi yi!” Pompey chuckled “’Spec’ Very Cruz ain’t a place to lib in, dese days. Hi yi! Guess when dose big bombs come a-sailin’ dey say: ‘Where dose Mexicans? Where dose Mexicans? Here dey be, here dey be—Boom! Now where dey be?’ Yes, suh, white folks better get out. Bombs cain’t take time to ’stinguish color. Gin’ral Scott, he in berry big hurry to march on to City ob Mexico. Gwine to spend Fo’th ob Jooly in Halls ob Montyzoomy,[98] eatin’ off’n golden platters. Come along, white boy. Ain’t got nuffin’ but cold cohn pone an’ salt hoss, but I’ll feed you. You gwine to jine the ahmy?”

“Hope to,” said Jerry.

“What’s yo’ name?”

“Jerry Cameron.”

“Any kin to the No’th Car’liny Camerons?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t any folks.”

“Sho’, now! Dem No’th Car’liny Camerons are mighty uppity people. Dat Lieutenant Grant, he a fine man, too. But I’m ’tached to Fust Lieutenant Smith, Fo’th United States Infantry. If you get ’tached to Lieutenant Grant, I’m uppitier than you are, remember. When you work ’round with me you got to ’bey my ohders. I’m yo’ s’perior offercer.”

“All right, Pompey,” Jerry agreed.

He munched the cornbread and salt beef, and Pompey chattered on.

“Listen to dem guns talk! Oof! Talkin’ a way right through dem walls, laike the horn ob Jericho. Mebbe to-morrow Gin’ral Scott wave his sword, an’ Lieutenant Smith an’ me an’ all the rest de ahmy, we fix bagonets an’ go rampagin’ ’crost dat patch ob lebbel ground an’ capture all dem Mexicans. What you gwine to do den?”

“Go, too, I guess,” said Jerry.

“We don’t ’low no nuncumbatants along when we-all charge,” Pompey asserted. “Ob co’se I got to stay with Massa Smith. I’se part the ahmy. But when dose cannon balls come a-sayin’ ‘Hum-m-m, where dat little white boy?’, what you gwine to do den?”

“I’d dodge ’em,” said Jerry.


“Wha’ dat? You dodge ’em? Now you talk foolish. Guess you nebber fit a battle yet. We-all am vet’rans. We-all belong to the Fo’th Infantry. We-all fit under Gin’ral Taylor. The Fo’th Infantry done licked dem Mexicans out o’ Texas an’ clyar into Mexico till dar warn’t any more to lick; den Gin’ral Scott, he said: ‘I got to have dat Fo’th Infantry to whup Santy Annie an’ capture the City ob Mexico.’ If you gwine to jine the Fo’th Infantry, boy, you meet up with a heap o’ trouble. We don’t dodge cannon balls. We hain’t time. We jest let ’em zoop an’ we keep a-goin’.”

“All those cannon balls don’t hit somebody,” said Jerry.

“Um-m-m. How you know? You talk laike you’d been sojerin’. Where you hide yo’self, after you leave Very Cruz? ’Way back on the beach?”

“No. I’ve been in the naval battery.”

“Wha’ dat?” Pompey’s eyes stuck out. “Out dar, with dose big guns? You lie, boy. How you get dar?”

“I tumbled into it, last night.”

“Befo’ the shootin’?”

“Yes; but I went back this morning. I stayed as long as they’d let me. Then a big shell burst right inside and an officer made me get out.”

“Sho’!” Pompey exclaimed. “You been under fiah? ’Pears laike you don’t talk more’n Lieutenant Grant. He’s the least talkin’est man I ebber did see. He shuah don’t take any back seat in fightin’, though. Um-m-m, no indeedy! Dar at Monterey he rode so fast Mexican bullets couldn’t ketch him. Powerful man on a hoss, dat Lieutenant Grant.[100] But you ’member, now, if you stay ’round hyar, waitin’ on him, I don’t take ohders from you. You take ’em from me. I’m sarvent to a fust lieutenant; yo’ man’s only a second lieutenant. He may be good man; but dat’s ahmy way. I’m yo’ s’perior in the ahmy.”

“All right,” Jerry agreed again.

“Now I’m gwine back to sleep, an’ don’t you tickle my toes. No, suh! I ain’t ’feared ob bombs, but I’se drefful scyared ob t’ousand-leggers. Dar’s yo’ side the tent, where Lieutenant Grant sleeps. You kin tidy it up, if you gwine to stay.”

Pompey went to sleep, as before. Jerry found little to do. Lieutenant Grant’s side of the tent was in apple-pie order, not a thing misplaced. The whole interior of the tent was as neat as a pin. There were only a couple of cots, two canvas stools, a folding table, two blue painted chests, with canteens, overcoats, and a few small articles hanging up.

After fiddling about, Jerry strolled out. Pompey was snoring, the guns of batteries and city and castle were thundering, soldiers were drilling or sitting in groups. Lieutenant Grant came walking hastily.

“Did that darky treat you well?”

“Yes, sir. I had something to eat.”

“That’s good.”

“But I didn’t find much to do in the tent.”

“I suppose not. Well, I’m on quartermaster detail, and I may not be back to-night. You’ll have to look out for yourself.”

“Can I stay?”


“With you and the Fourth Infantry.”


“I shouldn’t wonder,” Lieutenant Grant smiled. “How are you at foraging?”

“I don’t know. I’ll try.”

“Pompey’ll teach you. He’ll take eggs from a setting hen. If Lieutenant Smith turns up and asks who you are, you tell him you’re attached to the Fourth Infantry as chief forager for Lieutenant U. S. Grant.”

“Sha’n’t you need me any more to-day?” Jerry asked.

“No. You can report in the morning. You may sleep in my bunk to-night unless I’m there first. That will keep the fleas from getting too hungry.”

“I’d like to find the Eighth Infantry and tell Hannibal Moss I’m in the army.”

“Go ahead.”

Lieutenant Grant hurried on. He mounted a horse and galloped for the beach. Jerry went seeking the Eighth Infantry.

The sun was much lower in the west. The bombardment had dwindled. It was said that ammunition for the mortars and other guns had run short until more could be landed through the heavy surf from the ships. The firing of the naval battery guns had ceased entirely.

By the time that Jerry had found the Eighth Infantry the sun was setting and throughout the camp the company cooks were preparing supper. A detachment of sailors marched up from the beach, at their rolling gait, to relieve the crews in the battery. They were given a cheer.

“Hello, there!”

It was Hannibal, again. He stood up and beckoned. Jerry gladly went over to him.


“Where you going?”

“Looking for you, is all.”

“Good. Wait a minute, till after retreat. I’ve got to beat retreat.”

“Do you have to retreat?” Jerry blurted, aghast.

“Naw; not that kind. Not for Old Fuss and Feathers. Cracky, but you’re green! It’s evening roll-call and parade.”

Through the camp drums were tapping, fifes squeaking, horns blaring. Officers were striding, buttoning their jackets and buckling on their swords. Soldiers were seizing muskets from the stacks and forming lines under their gruff sergeants. Hannibal himself ran and grabbed his drum from a stack of muskets, and disappeared around a tent. Sergeants were calling the company rolls. And in a few moments here came the regiment’s band, and the fifers and drummers, in a broad, short column, playing a lively march tune; led by a whopping big drum major, in a long scarlet coat, gay with gilt braid and cord, on his head a shako which with nodding plume looked to be three feet high, in his hand a tasseled staff.

The music formed on a level space, the band to the fore, then a rank of fifers, then a rank of drummers—with all the little drummer boys bursting through their tightly fitting uniforms of red-braided snug jackets and sky-blue long trousers flaring at the bottoms, their swords by their sides, their drums slung from their white cross-belts, their caps tilted saucily. Hannibal was there, rolling his drumsticks as lustily as the others.

The regiment followed, marching by companies,[103] the stars and stripes and the regimental flag of blue and gold at the head. The companies changed direction into line three ranks deep, on the left of the music.

“Eyes—right! Right—dress!”

It was funny to see those eyes.


The eyes gazed straight before.

A man on horseback, who must have been the colonel, sat out in front.



“Right shoulder—shift!”



The band and field music marched up and down, playing bravely. The two ranks stood motionless, the soldiers as stiff as ramrods, their muskets held perpendicularly in front of them. Why, compared with these Regulars the Mexican Regulars, even the famous Eleventh Infantry of the Line, were only slouchers.

The music resumed position; the drums rolled, a bugler lilted a kind of call.

Pretty soon the colonel turned his horse and left; the company officers barked snappy orders, and the companies were marched back to stack arms again and be dismissed. Hannibal came rollicking without his drum.

“I’m off till tattoo at half-past nine,” he announced, to Jerry. “No guard duty. Our company’s to rest. If I wasn’t a drummer I wouldn’t have anything to do till to-morrow. But a drummer[104] never gets much rest. He has to be Johnny-on-the-Spot all the time. Just wait till you’re a drummer. What you want to do? Where’ve you been since morning?”

“I was up in the naval battery.”

“Under fire, you mean?”

“Guess so. A big shell burst right in front of me, inside the battery; in the middle of us all. Didn’t kill anybody, though. Then an officer made me get. But I’ve joined the army.”

“You have? How? Already?”

“You bet. I’m in the Fourth Regiment.”

“What do you do there? A drummer? Who’s teaching you? Old Brown?”

“No, I’m not a drummer. I’m with the officers. I’m attached to Lieutenant Grant.”

“Aw——!” and Hannibal stared. “What you mean now? How ‘attached?’”

“That’s what he said. I take care of his tent and I go along with him and the Fourth Regiment.”

“You do? That’s not soldiering; that’s only being a follower. But what did you join the Fourth for? Maybe I could have got you into the Eighth. You ought to be a drummer. A drummer gets nine dollars a month and he’s some pumpkins, too. He’s no private. He wears a sword like an officer, and has his own drill. I could have taught you the taps and flams and drags and rolls. They’re easy. Then maybe you’d be a drum major some day. That’s what I intend to be.”

“Well, I can learn to be an officer. Lieutenant Grant will teach me,” Jerry answered.

“You’ve got to be a soldier first, before you[105] learn to be an officer. You ought to enlist or go to school. Nearly all the company officers in the Regulars went to school at West Point. The old fellows were appointed or rose from the ranks, but most of them fought in the War of 1812 or in Florida. Some of the fresh civilians are jolly green when they join. My eye! I know more than they do. But anyhow,” Hannibal continued, as if not to be disagreeable, “the Fourth is a good regiment, next to the Eighth. You’ll learn, I guess. I know Lieutenant Grant. I know all the officers. He’s got a funny name. Ever hear it? Ulysses! That’s it. He’s not very big, but you ought to see him stick on a horse. Come along. Let’s go up on top of one of the hills and watch the shells.”

Then, as they trudged:

“Here come the sailors from the battery. Jiminy, but they’re black! It’s no sport, serving those big guns. I’d rather be in the artillery than in the infantry, though, if I wasn’t a drummer.”

The tars from the naval battery trooped wearily by, for the beach and their ships. Black they were, with powder, and coated with sand, so that their eyes peered out whitely.

“Did you give ’em Davy Jones, Jack?” Hannibal called smartly.

They grinned and growled; and one of them answered back:

“Aye, aye, young hearty. Blowed their bloomin’ bul’arks all to smash, that’s wot. Hooray for the navy!”

“Hooray!” Hannibal and Jerry cheered.

The sand hills were being occupied by officers and[106] men, gathered to watch the show. The best point seemed to be awarded to a special little group—

“Say! We’ll have to take another,” Hannibal exclaimed. “There’s General Scott, again—and his engineers, too. We’ll get as close as we can. Wait. They’re coming down. You mind your eye and I’ll show you a fine officer.” The group, with the commanding figure of General Scott to the fore, gazing through glasses, seemed about to leave. “You see that officer who’s just turned our way? Talking to another officer? He’s Captain Robert E. Lee, of the engineers, on Scott’s staff. He laid out these trenches and batteries—he’s the smartest engineer in the army. The officer he’s talking to is Lieutenant George B. McClellan, graduated from West Point only last summer. I know him—I knew him when we all were under Old Zach, in the north of Mexico, before we came here with Fuss and Feathers. He’s smart, too, but he gets funny sometimes. Captain Lee is the smartest of all.”

Upon leaving their hill the group passed nearer. Jerry might see that Captain Lee was a slender, dark-eyed, handsome young officer; Lieutenant McClellan was not so good-looking—had a long nose and a pinched face, and a careless, happy-go-lucky manner; was slight of build. General Scott towered over them all. What a giant of a man he was—and with what a voice when he spoke in measured sentences!

They mounted horses held by orderlies, and cantered away, probably for headquarters where General Scott’s large tent stood, back of the First Division camp.


Jerry and Hannibal climbed to the crest of the sand hill. The evening had fallen; the west was pink, and the tops of the sand hills and the towers of the city glowed, but the dusk was gathering on the plain and over the gulf. Down in the plain the mortars were firing slowly, as before, one after another, as if timed by a clock; and the city and the castle were replying in same fashion. As the dusk deepened the bombs could be seen. They rose high, sailed on, leaving a streak of red from their burning fuses, and dropped swiftly—and all the city was lighted luridly by the burst of flame.

The Mexican shells crossed their tracks with other streaks of red; and they, also, burst with great lurid explosions, illuminating the sand hills and the dark lines of trenches below. Sometimes there were four and five bombs in the air at the same time, going and coming.

It was a grand sight, from the outside. Jerry was glad that he was not in Vera Cruz; and he was glad that he was not one of the soldiers in those little detachments that now and again hustled silently through the hills, to enter the trenches, and do outpost duty and repair the works, under fire.

“Guess to-morrow the army heavies will be helping the navy thirty-twos and sixty-eights,” Hannibal remarked. “Then we’ll have the walls breached, and we’ll all go in and capture the whole shebang. General Scott won’t sit around here, waiting. He’ll storm the walls and have the business over with before the yellow fever starts up. We’ve got to get away from this low country.”


“What are we fighting about, anyway, Hannibal?”

“Fighting about, boy! To whip Mexico, of course. Got to fetch her to time, haven’t we? ‘Conquer a peace’—that’s what General Scott says. The Republic of Texas has come into the United States, and as long as Mexico says she sha’n’t, and keeps pestering Americans and won’t pay for damages, the only way to get a peace is to conquer it. Besides, Mexico fired first, at the Rio Grande—killed some of the dragoons and captured Lieutenant Thornton and a lot more. Guess we had to fight, after that, didn’t we?”

“Mexico says we invaded her.”

“Aw, shucks!” Hannibal scoffed. “So do some of the home papers. That’s politics. When once the army gets to shooting then talk isn’t much use till one side or the other is licked. They all ought to have arranged matters before the fighting started.”

Until long after dark they two crouched here, together with other soldiers, watching the bombs. The night was clear and still, except for the smoke and the guns. And when the castle spoke with a thirteen-incher, and that landed, then—Boom!

“Well, I’ve got to go for tattoo,” said Hannibal, with a yawn. “You’d better skip, too, or you won’t be let in if you don’t have the countersign. After tattoo everybody’s supposed to be bunked for the night.”

“Maybe I’ll see you to-morrow.”

“See you in Vera Cruz, boy,” Hannibal promised. “Bet you the Eighth will beat the Fourth, if we storm. Sorry you aren’t one of us, in the[109] Eighth. That’s General Worth’s regiment. He was our colonel before I joined.”

“I’ll stay with the Fourth,” Jerry retorted. “I’ll go sharpen Lieutenant Grant’s sword.”

Hannibal laughed.

“Those toad-stickers aren’t meant to be sharp. They’re just for looks. But I keep mine sharp, all right. To-morrow I’ll capture a Mexican with it.”

Jerry found the tent. Everything here was quiet, except Pompey, and he was snoring. So Jerry snuggled down upon Lieutenant Grant’s cot, under a blanket, intending to stay awake to make certain that it was all right; but while listening to Pompey, and to the steady cannonade, dulled by distance, he drowsed off—dreamed of charging and throwing shells while he ran, with Hannibal beating a drum and the Mexican army lying flat and shooting bullets that burst like little bombs.

In the morning he was aroused by drums and fifes. He was still in the cot. Pompey was about to shake him, and a tall officer in undress was laughing.

“Hi, you white boy! Wha’ fo’ you sleepin’ in an offercer’s bed?” Pompey accused. “Hain’t you manners? Heah dat reveille—an’ me cookin’ all the breakfus! Turn out. When Lieutenant Grant come, what he gwine to do fo’ a place to sleep?”

“You’re Grant’s boy, are you?” the tall officer asked. “I’m Lieutenant Smith. And in absence of your superior officer I politely request that you help Pompey with the breakfast. Lieutenant Grant will be here at any moment. He’ll appreciate a warm bed, but he’ll want it for himself.”



“A truce! A truce! They’ve surrendered!”

It was afternoon again. All this morning the cannon of both sides had been hammering away; but the new army battery, Number 4, of four twenty-four-pounders and two sixty-eight-pounder shell guns or Paixhans, had joined with the naval battery. The fire seemed to be battering the walls to pieces. The men from the trenches, and the officers who watched through their spy-glasses, declared that the shells and solid shot were dismounting the Mexican guns and tumbling the casemates and parapets upon the heads of the gunners. The mortars were still blowing up the buildings and the streets. The Mexican fire was growing weaker.

Lieutenant Grant had come back just after reveille, from all-night work in the quartermaster department, overseeing the landing of stuff on the beach from the transports in the offing. He had gone to bed and had slept until noon.

“Do you think we’ll charge on Vera Cruz to-day?” Jerry asked at his first opportunity; for Pompey had been prophesying, and the waiting infantry appeared to be a little nervous, and the old sergeants would say neither yes nor no.

“That’s not for me to answer,” Lieutenant Grant replied. “We’ll obey orders.”

“Vera Cruz has got to surrender, though, hasn’t[111] it? And if Old Fuss and Feathers says to charge, we’ll charge.”

“Look here,” the lieutenant rapped, severely. “Don’t let me catch you using that nickname again. You’re speaking disrespectfully of the commanding officer. He’s Major-General Scott. Remember that: Major-General Winfield Scott, chief of the United States army, and commanding this Army of Invasion. Where did you get that name?”

“The men call him that; even the drummer boys do,” Jerry apologized. “So I thought I might.”

“Well, the men don’t do it out of disrespect. They know him. All the old soldiers are proud to serve under General Scott. The drummer boys are young rascals, without respect for anybody. So don’t pattern on them.”

“Is General Scott as good a general as Old Zach—General Taylor, I mean?”

“I’m not supposed to express an opinion. A second lieutenant has no opinions to express about his superior officers. I served under General Taylor in Texas and northeastern Mexico. General Taylor won all his battles; that’s the test of a general. He’s an old hand at fighting. So is General Scott. They were appointed to the army at the same time, 1808. As far as I may judge, their methods are different but equally effective. General Taylor I was privileged to see in action. He is experienced in emergency fighting, learned from his campaigns against the Indians in the War of 1812 and in the Florida War. He apparently does not plan far ahead, but meets the emergencies as they come up, on the field, and handles his forces in person. General Scott,[112] who attained high reputation for bravery and skill against British regular troops in the War of 1812 and is a hard student of war—in fact, has compiled the system of tactics in use by the United States army—relies more, I understand, upon having his orders carried out as issued in advance and covering the whole field. He is regarded as a master of tactics, which, you know, means the moving of troops upon the field, in the presence of the enemy. Strategy is the science of moving troops to advantage before contact with the enemy; the getting ready to fight. Tactics may be learned in books, but strategy is largely a gift. General Taylor is named by the soldiers who admire him ‘Old Rough and Ready,’ and that well describes him. He is a straightforward fighter, and opposed to all display; he places dependence upon the natural courage of his men, rather than upon drill. His tactics are successful. The tactics of General Scott have brought the army to a fine state of discipline. The American regular army is the best in the world, and the Volunteers will soon be not far behind. As I have not served long under General Scott, of course I cannot say much about his strategy when in command of a large body of troops. One thing is sure: he has the ablest engineers yet produced, to help him carry out his plans, and a splendidly trained army, both officers and rank and file, to perform his plans; and officers and men are confident that his plans will be thoroughly sound.”

With this military lecture, Lieutenant Grant strode away.

Pompey chuckled.


“Hi yi! Nebber did heah Lieutenant Grant talk so much at onct. Didn’t say nuffin’ much, neither.”

At noon the fire from the city had ceased. There were rumors that the Mexican general wished to surrender. About two o’clock the American batteries ceased, also. Cheers spread from the advance trenches back to the camps. A white flag had been borne from the city to General Scott’s headquarters.

“A truce! A truce! They’ve surrendered!”

Out on the front the soldiers could be seen scrambling from the trenches and cheering; and the officers of the batteries stood upon the sandbags to examine the walls at leisure with their glasses.

The truce, however, did not last long. The Mexican flag went back. The general officers, who had been called into council with General Scott, returned to their divisions; and one of them—a burly short-necked, red-faced, lion-looking man who was General David Twiggs of the Second Division of Regulars, said, in plain hearing as he rode:

“Humph! My boys will have to take that place with the bayonet yet.”

The mortar batteries opened again. It was reported that General Scott and Commodore Perry (Commodore Conner had gone home) of the navy had agreed upon an assault of the city to-morrow, March 26, by soldiers and sailors both.

The mortars fired all night, in slow fashion, as if for reminder. The city forts and the castle answered scarcely at all. Evidently the time for the assault was ripe. About midnight another norther came; the worst norther to date. In the morning half the tents were flat, everything and everybody were covered[114] with sand, and the trenches and the city could not be seen through the sand cloud.

“We gwine to attack, jest the same,” Pompey proclaimed. “We cain’t see the enemy; enemy can’t see us. Fust t’ing dey know, dar we’ll be. Wind cain’t stop bagonets. No, suh! Oof! Don’t believe I laike dis country, nohow. If Gin’ral Scott don’t take us away, I’se gwine back to Virginny. Yaller feber’s done arriv. Dey’s got it yonduh in Very Cruz, already. Mebbe we don’t want dat Very Cruz. I ain’t pinin’ to stay ’round hyar. Nigger don’t stand no show ’gin yaller feber. Dey say dar’s a big passel ob Mexican sojers collectin’ in back country to capture us when yaller feber an’ dese no’thers gets done with us. So if Gin’ral Scott don’t quit foolin’ an’ mahch away, I’se gwine by myself.”

Soon after breakfast, or about eight o’clock, the firing stopped once more; another white flag had been taken in to General Scott. This time it proved to be in earnest, for the batteries did not reopen during the day, nor during the night.

The surrender was set for the morning of the twenty-ninth, at ten o’clock sharp.

Jerry looked up Hannibal, and learned more news from him than he could get by listening to Lieutenant Grant and Lieutenant Smith talk, or to Pompey chatter.

“We bagged ’em both,” Hannibal asserted. “City and castle, too. General Scott didn’t start in to say anything about the castle. All he wanted was the city, and then the castle would have to surrender or starve. But the Mexican general offered[115] the two, and so of course we took ’em. General Worth, of our division, and Pillow, of the Tennessee Volunteers in the Third Division, and Colonel Totten, chief of engineers, did the talking. The surrender’s to be made at ten o’clock in the morning, day after to-morrow. Who did you say the Mexican general was?”

“General Morales.”

“Well, he isn’t. He escaped and left another general, Landero, to foot the bill. But you’ll see a great sight when all those Mexicans march out and pile up their guns. We took that city easy, too. Had only two officers and nine men killed in the army and one officer and four men killed in the navy, and less than sixty wounded. That’s pretty good for twenty days’ skirmishing and investing.”

“The Mexicans have lost a thousand, I guess,” proffered Jerry.

“They ought to have surrendered sooner. The longer they held out the worse they got it. We were going to storm the walls this very day. The navy was to carry the water front and the army the sides; and there’d have been bullets and shells and solid shot and bayonet work, all mixed.”

The morning for the surrender dawned clear and calm. The orders had called for every officer and man to clean up and wear his best uniform. So there were preparations as if for parade.

“Sech a polishin’ an’ scourin’ an’ slickenin’ I nebber did see,” Pompey complained, as he and Jerry worked on the belts and swords and uniforms of their lieutenants. Through all the regiment and division the soldiers were scouring their muskets and polishing[116] their buttons and whitening their cross-belts and shining their tall leather dress-hats.

The drums beat the assembly, which was the signal for the companies to fall in. The troops, under the stars and stripes and their regimental colors, were marched to a green meadow south of the city walls. The sailors had come ashore. They wore their white flapping trousers, and short blue jackets, and white flannel shirts with broad blue collars, having a star in the corners. They, and the Regulars, were spick and span, because they had been trained to take care of themselves and their things. The Volunteers were not so neat, but that was the fault of their officers.

The sailors and the Regulars were drawn up in one long line, extending nearly a mile; the Volunteers were drawn up in another long line, facing them. The dragoons were at the head of the double line, and so were two mounted companies of Riflemen, and the Tennessee Horse. By this time a great stream of Mexican men and women and children and loaded burros were filing out of the city gate, taking their goods with them. General Scott had promised not to interfere with the citizens, but nevertheless the people were afraid.

Jerry himself, hastening with Pompey and a throng of the camp followers, had his first chance to see the whole army.

The generals all were here, with their staffs: General Scott, of course, the most imposing of any, by reason of his great size and his full uniform; the swarthy, flashing-eyed General Worth, very handsome on a prancing horse—he had been appointed to[117] receive the surrender, which was an honor to the First Division; the white-haired, lion-like General Twiggs (Old Davy), of the Second Division of Regulars—his whiskers on his cheeks were growing again, which, with his short neck and stout shoulders, made him look more like a lion than ever; General Robert Patterson of the Volunteer Third Division—an old soldier of Pennsylvania, who had a rugged face and high forehead and was known as a fighting Irishman; and Colonel William S. Harney of the Dragoons—another giant of a man, almost as large as General Scott, with sunburned face and blue eyes, and a quick, bluff manner, which just fitted a bold dragoon.

Then there were the brigade commanders: Colonel John Garland and Colonel Newman S. Clarke of the First Division; Colonel Bennet Riley (who had risen from the ranks) and General Persifor Smith (the colonel of the Mounted Rifles), of the Second Division; General Gideon Pillow the Tennessean (a slightly built man and the youngest of all the brigadiers), General John A. Quitman the Mississippian (a slender man with elegant side-whiskers), and General James Shields from Illinois (a black-moustached Irishman), of the Volunteers.

But the Regular cavalry took the eye: The one company of the First Dragoons, under young Captain Phil Kearny, the six companies of the Second Dragoons, and the nine companies of the Riflemen under Major Edwin V. Sumner of the Second Dragoons, while their own colonel, Persifor Smith, was serving as brigadier. Only two companies of the Riflemen were really Mounted Riflemen; the regiment[118] had lost most of its horses in a storm on the way, and not all the dragoons were mounted, either, for the same reason.

The uniform of the dragoons was short dark-blue jackets piped with yellow, and light blue trousers with yellow stripes down the seams, and buff saddle reinforcements on the inside legs; cavalry boots, and dress helmets floating a white horsehair plume. The Riflemen (who carried rifles instead of muskatoons) had green trimmings. It was said to be a dashing regiment, equal to the dragoons.

Suddenly, at ten o’clock precisely, in the city and at the castle of San Ulloa, down fluttered the Mexican red, white and green tricolor flags, while the Mexican cannon fired a salute to them; the red, white and blue rose in their place, and the salute by the army and navy guns was almost drowned by the great cheer from Jerry and all the rest of the non-combatants. The two ranks of soldiers and sailors did not dare to cheer without orders, but they swelled with pride.

And here came the Mexican army, in a long column, out of the southern gate, with a lot more women and children (the soldiers’ families) trudging beside, carrying bundles.

There were five thousand—infantry, artillery and cavalry—led by their bands. Their uniforms were dazzling: green and red, light blue and white, blue and red, whitish and red, red and yellow—many combinations, the officers being fairly covered with gilt and bright braid.

“Shuah, dey’s most all gin’rals an’ drum-majors,” Pompey exclaimed, admiring.


In comparison, the United States uniforms of plain navy blue and sky blue, with a little white and a little red and a little yellow and green, looked very business like—even the gold epaulets of the officers’ dress coats.

General Worth and General Landero severely saluted one another. General Landero drew aside with his staff. The whole Mexican army marched down between the two lines, and out beyond the end they were shown where to stack their muskets and deposit their belts and other equipment and the flags. A regiment of lancers, in green, with tall red caps and yellow cloaks, brought up the rear, on foot, to pile their lances.

Some of the Mexican soldiers looked sad; some looked rather glad to have the matter ended. They all were pledged by their officers not to take part in the war again, unless exchanged for American prisoners. Meanwhile they were permitted to go home.

“Reckon dey mought as well plow deir cohn,” Pompey chuckled. “’Case why? ’Case dar won’t be anybody to exchange ’em fo’.”



After the surrender the army camp was moved out of the sand hills and to the beach. That was a great relief—to be away from the swamps and thickets and dust and the thousands of small flies and millions of fleas. Some of the clever officers had been greasing themselves all over with pork rind and sleeping in canvas bags drawn tightly around their necks; but even this did not work.

General Worth was appointed military governor of Vera Cruz; another honor for the First Division. General Quitman’s brigade of Mohawks was put in as garrison.

The men were granted leave, in squads, to go into Vera Cruz. And Vera Cruz was a sad sight, as Jerry found out when he and Hannibal strolled through. The bombs from the mortars had crashed through the tiled roofs of the buildings, burst the walls apart, and had made large holes in the paved streets. It was dangerous to walk because of the loosened cornices of the roofs. The beautiful cathedral had been struck; it now was a hospital, containing hundreds of wounded soldiers and civilians.

But the most interesting thing to “military men” was the wall on the side of the city toward the naval battery. The sixty-eights and thirty-twos had hewed two openings—had simply pulverized the coral rock laid twelve feet thick; and a wagon and team might be driven through either gap. The bastions, also,[121] and the outlying batteries, had been knocked to smithereens.

Yet it was astonishing how quickly American rule was bringing order. The streets were being rapidly cleaned up by squads of soldiers and by the Mexicans who were hired. Shops were doing a big business—the soldiers, especially the Volunteers, were gorging themselves with fruits and vegetables and cakes. The harbor was again crowded with masts, of American transports and merchantmen flying many flags. The sea-wall was a regular market, piled with bales and boxes and crates for the army, and thronged with people white, yellow and black, who set up stalls, or crowded around the huge naval guns hauled there to be placed back upon the ships of Commodore Perry’s squadron. A new wharf was being built, extending out clear to the coaling depot that had been erected upon the reef near the castle, at the entrance to the harbor.

Assuredly old Vera Cruz was being Americanized. But although everything was under strict martial law, and one negro camp follower who had frightened a Mexican woman had been promptly tried and hanged, Jerry never caught a glimpse of the two Manuels among all the Mexicans who stayed in safety.

He was not now afraid of the two Manuels. They had cuffed him and had sneered at the “gringos”—but here the gringos were, unbeaten! And Vera Cruz belonged to the Mexicans no longer.

In a short time the camp was moved again, to the plain between the city and the sand hills. The men had been rested; they were set at work drilling. As[122] soon as horses and mules and wagons arrived from the United States, the march for the City of Mexico would be begun.

“Let’s go over to the Volunteer camp and watch the foot Mustangs drill,” Hannibal proposed, one afternoon. “That’s great fun.”

So they went to the Third Division camp. A number of companies were being put through their drill, according to the tactics of General Scott. The Kentuckians (a regiment newly arrived) were exercising in the manual of arms.





[1] In Scott’s Tactics “shoulder arms” was the same as “carry arms.”







“Right shoulder—shift!”




“Load in twelve times—load!”






Every soldier tore the end of the paper cartridge open with his teeth.


A little of the powder was emptied into the pans of the guns.



At that, the soldiers dropped their guns upright, and prepared to pour the powder in from the cartridge.


The powder was dumped into the muzzles, and the ball and cartridge paper for a wad, were forced in after.





Or perhaps—



And while one held one’s breath, expecting a volley—


This left them at a “ready,” again.

“That load in twelve times is only for discipline,” Hannibal scoffed. “To teach ’em to work together. Load in four times is the Regulars’ way, by count—one, two, three, four. But mostly it’s ‘Load at will—load!’ I’d hate to be a Volunteer. They can fight, though. Yes, siree; they can fight. They’re not much on discipline, and they yell and sing and straggle[124] while marching; but when they see the enemy—my eye!”

These Volunteers were indeed a lively and good-natured if rather rough set. When drill was over they raced for their messes and proceeded to loll about and cook and eat and sing, as if they had no thought in the world except to picnic. The rust on their guns and the length of their beards never bothered them at all.

Here’s a health to all them that we love,
Here’s a health to all them that love us,
Here’s a health to all them that love those that love them
That love those that love them that love us!

This was the song of one group, who were drinking from tin cups.

Molly is the gal for me——

sang another group. And—

Upon the hill he turned,
To take a last fond look
Of the valley and the village church,
And the cottage by the brook.
He listened to the sounds,
So familiar to his ear,
And the soldier leant upon his sword
And wiped away a tear.

A tall bearded Tennesseean was singing that, while his companions listened soberly.

But a chorus welled and spread until all the groups were joining in.

Green grow the rushes, O!
Green grow the rushes, O!
The sweetest hours that e’er I spend
Are spent among the lasses, O!


“They sang that stuff all through Texas and North Mexico,” said Hannibal. “It’s the Mohawk war cry. And the Mexicans think it’s a sort of national song, like some of theirs. You ought to hear ’em try to sing it themselves. ‘Gringo, gringo,’ they say, instead of ‘Green grow,’ and they call the Americans ‘gringos’!”

“That’s right; they do,” Jerry agreed, remembering the two Manuels and other Vera Cruzans. “They called me a ‘gringo’ whenever they were mean, but it wasn’t Spanish and they didn’t seem to know where it came from. ‘Gringo!’ Huh!”

Now he understood at last.

“Well, I’ve got to go back for that blamed ‘retreat,’” Hannibal grumbled. “Thunder! I never did see the use in all this parading every day.” Which was an odd remark for a Regular and a veteran.

They were just leaving the mess fires of the Mohawks, when there was a great shout of laughter, and out of the brush here came a big Illinoisan, a dead turkey in one hand and his long musket in the other, driving before him two ragged Mexicans.

“What you got there, Bill?”

“Part the Mexican army, boys. ’Peared like they were going to ambush me and take this turkey; but I said ‘Nary, Mary Ann,’ and fetched ’em along with help of old Sal.” And he flourished his gun.


“We meant no harm, good Americanos,” the Mexicans whined. “We are only poor countrymen.”

“Pass your turkey over to us,” the soldiers cried, to Bill. “Tell your paisanos to git and come back with the rest of their army.”


“I know them!” Jerry exclaimed. “They aren’t in the army. They’re brush cutters.” He ran aside. “Hello, Manuel.”

The two Manuels had been cringing and smiling and repeating: “Good Americanos! Valiant soldiers! Do not harm us, and God will reward you.” They saw Jerry, and recognized him. “Gringo puppy,” they hissed. “Where have you been?”

“Yes, I’m a gringo,” Jerry answered. “And I’m in the army of the Americans. You said they couldn’t take Vera Cruz. What do you say now?”

“They took Vera Cruz by standing off and killing all the people,” old Manuel snarled, in Spanish. “But wait, till they try to march on. Our Santa Anna and fifty thousand brave men are coming to meet them. Hear that, gringito? You’ll wish you’d stayed in the brush with old Manuel.”

Jerry laughed. He told Hannibal what had been said, and Hannibal laughed. As they went on they looked back. The two Manuels were scuttling out of the camp, unharmed, for the soldiers were more interested in the turkey.

Teams and cavalry mounts, and wagons and supplies were very slow in arriving, so that the army stayed in camp at Vera Cruz for over a week without a move. The yellow fever increased—only the fresh lively air blown in by the northers had held it down; and as soon as the northers ceased then the vomito would rage as usual. A large number of the men, especially the Volunteers, were ill with disease caused by drinking bad water and by over-eating.

General Scott reorganized the army for the march inland. The general orders changed the assignment[127] of the regiments very little, and left them as follows:

First Regular Division, Brevet Major-General William J. Worth commanding: Light Battery A, Second Artillery; Second Artillery, eight companies, as infantry; Third Artillery, four companies, as infantry; Fourth Infantry, six companies; Fifth Infantry, six companies; Sixth Infantry, five companies; Eighth Infantry, seven companies.

Second Regular Division, Brigadier-General David E. Twiggs commanding: Light Battery K, First Artillery; howitzer and rocket company; Mounted Rifles, nine companies; First Artillery as infantry; Fourth Artillery, six companies, as infantry; Second Infantry, nine companies; Third Infantry, six companies; Seventh Infantry, six companies.

Third or Volunteer Division, Major-General Robert Patterson commanding: Third Illinois, Fourth Illinois; Second New York, ten companies; First Tennessee, Second Tennessee; First Pennsylvania, ten companies; Second Pennsylvania, ten companies; South Carolina, eleven companies; Kentucky, and a detachment of Tennessee cavalry.

The enlistment term of the Georgians and Alabamans had almost expired, so they were not included.

The company of engineers, which contained Captain Lee and Lieutenant McClellan and Lieutenant Beauregard and other smart young officers, was independent; and so were the ordnance or heavy artillery company and the dragoons.

Each division had been broken into brigades as before; and although Jerry’s Fourth Infantry and[128] Hannibal’s Eighth Infantry were still in separate brigades they were in the First Division, anyway.

Subtracting the General Quitman brigade of South Carolinans (the Palmettos), Alabamans and Georgia Crackers, and the Tennessee cavalry, who were to garrison Vera Cruz, the army numbered between eight and nine thousand officers and men—not many for a march into Mexico and a fight with General Santa Anna’s thirty or fifty thousand.

Jerry proceeded to learn the drum, with Hannibal as instructor. The drumsticks proved tricky—there seemed to be a lot of rigmarole and Hannibal was a hard drillmaster; but who might tell what would happen in the coming battles? Young Rome, drummer boy in the Twiggs division, had been disabled already. So it behooved a fellow to be prepared to fill a vacancy.

For the army there were drills and evolutions “in masse,” as they were styled, with General Scott himself commanding. And a grand spectacle that was, when the infantry wheeled, and the artillery galloped, and the dragoons spurred, all upon the plain under the walls of Vera Cruz crowded with townspeople, gathered to view the sight.

On the evening of April 7 there was a last parade by the troops together, and a speech by General Scott, in which he promised that if the men would follow him he would take them through.

In his gold-buttoned blue frock coat, and his gold-braided blue trousers, with gold epaulets on his broad shoulders and a gold sash around his waist and a plumed cockaded chapeau upon his grizzled head, his tasseled sword in its engraved scabbard hanging at[129] his side, he sat his horse and thundered his words so that almost every ear could hear. He called the troops “My brave boys”—and at the close of the speech they roundly cheered their “Old Fuss and Feathers,” the “Hero of Chippewa”—that battle in the War of 1812 where he showed the enemy that the American infantry was equal to the best.

The march onward was supposed to commence the next day, April 8; but—

“’Peahs laike we Gin’ral Worth men ain’t gwine,” Pompey complained. “I heah Lieutenant Smith sayin’ we ain’t gwine yet. We-all got to stay. Wha’ fo’ we-all called Fust Division, when we ain’t fust?”

Jerry had seen little of Lieutenant Grant lately; the lieutenant had been acting as quartermaster of the Fourth and was kept busy. Now when asked about the march, he replied shortly:

“Yes. The Second Division leads. General Worth is required here; but you can depend upon it we’ll be on hand for the fighting.”



“The general’s gone, as I suppose you know, Grant,” Lieutenant Smith remarked to Lieutenant Grant, at dinner this noon.

The day was April 12. The camp was much smaller than it had been throughout the week following the fall of Vera Cruz. Early in the morning of April 8 the Second Division had marched away, with the fifes and drums and the bands playing Yankee Doodle. Preceded by the two horse companies of the Mounted Rifles the long column had wound out over the National Road for the City of Mexico, two hundred and seventy-five or eighty miles westward, as the road ran.

General Scott had been growing impatient with the delays in the arrival of wagons and animals. He wished to move all the troops to Jalapa, at least, which was in the mountains about seventy miles west. There they would be free of the dreaded vomito.

So on the next day, April 9, the General Patterson Third Division of Volunteers had started. General Patterson himself was on sick list, and General Pillow commanded in his place. The Mohawks had stumped gaily out, singing and shouting.

The general orders had directed that each division take a wagon train carrying six days’ rations for the men and three days’ oats for the animals. There would be little forage on the way to the City of Mexico until Jalapa had been reached, in the high country. After the Mohawk division had left, there[131] were plenty of wagons but few animals remaining for the First Division. The Mexican horses and mules were small, poor creatures. Beside them the American animals were giants. A siege train of six heavy guns was being prepared also. And the First Division had had to wait.

But now—

“The general gone?” Lieutenant Grant answered. “That’s good news. We’ll soon be gone, too, then.”

“Yes; and we’re in for a lively brush, according to reports. Twiggs and Patterson have run up against the whole Mexican army at Plan del Rio, fifty miles inland. Santa Anna’s said to be there in person, with all the troops he can muster, on the hills commanding the road where it passes through a gorge in climbing the mountains. So the general has set out with Lee and Phil Kearny’s First Dragoons to see for himself. We’ll be needed, all right.”

“I’ll make application to be relieved of this quartermaster duty and permitted to serve with my company,” Lieutenant Grant declared. “I wouldn’t miss that battle for a thousand dollars.”

“Lieutenant Grant, he want to fight,” Pompey chuckled, while he and Jerry cleared away the mess dishes after dinner. “What you gwine to do, when dey’s a-fightin’ dem Mexicans?”.

“Going to keep along where I can see, anyhow,” Jerry asserted.

“Sho’, now; battlefield’s no place fo’ boys,” Pompey rebuked. “Ain’t no place fo’ dis nigger, neither. You an’ me is nuncumbatants. We got to tend to camp, so’s to have hot victuals ready. Fightin’ is powerful hungry work.”


This afternoon orders were issued to the regiments of the First Division to prepare to break camp in the morning. That was good news to everybody. Hannibal was as jubilant as the rest. There were all kinds of rumors but they sifted down to the one fact: that General Santa Anna, who had been so badly defeated by General Taylor on Washington’s Birthday last February, at Buena Vista in northeastern Mexico, had moved his forces eight hundred miles across the mountains and deserts clear to the City of Mexico, had rallied another large army of Regulars, National Guards and Volunteers, and was now fortified two hundred miles east of the city—and all in time to confront the army of General Scott!

The First started the next morning, April 13, accompanied by the engineers and a detachment of the Second Dragoons. Light marching orders was the word—but at that, what with the muskets which weighed fourteen pounds, and the cartridge boxes which weighed eight pounds, and the haversacks and knapsacks and blanket rolls and heavy belts, the canteens of water, bayonets in scabbards, and so forth, every man carried about forty pounds not including his woollen clothing. The tents and the extra clothing were left at Vera Cruz; Lieutenant Smith and Lieutenant Grant left their chests and spare outfits—and Jerry rejoiced, for he now had little to guard. He could do about as he pleased, except he had to tend camp when necessary. But everybody took three days’ rations.

Thereupon he boldly marched beside Company B, Lieutenant Grant’s company.

Only General Quitman, with the South Carolinans,[133] the Georgians and the Alabamans and most of the Tennessee horse, remained in Vera Cruz.

The column of cavalry, artillery and infantry stretched long. The canteens and the tin cups clinked, the heavy shoes clumped, the dragoon horses clattered, the artillery and the wagons rumbled, and the dust rose in a white cloud.

Trudge, trudge, trudge, with the bands and the fifes and drums playing marching tunes—“Yankee Doodle,” “Will You Come to the Bower” (the Texas battle song of independence, that), “Turkey in the Straw,” “Hail, Columbia!”, and so on, and the men marching at will. The dragoons and General Worth and staff headed the column, the guns of Colonel Duncan’s flying battery came next, the sturdy infantry and the artillery serving as infantry followed, the wagon train toiled in the rear. And midway Jerry, clad in an old cut-down pair of army trousers, and an old army shirt, with a ragged straw hat on his crown and no shoes on his feet, ambled beside Company B, keeping as close to Lieutenant Grant as he dared. Pompey was somewhere, probably stealing a ride in one of the wagons.

The road was a poor road for one called “National,” the main road to the capital. It was ankle deep in sand. Soon the soldiers were sweating and panting. When a halt was made about three miles out, at a stream, they began to overhaul their knapsacks and haversacks, and throw things away. Presently the route was strewn with stuff, although the wise ones hung to their blankets and great-coats and rations, if nothing else.

Trudge, trudge, clinkity-clink, all that day, and[134] all the next day, while the mountains gradually loomed higher and higher before. On the third day they had arrived at the Puente National, or National Bridge, where the road crossed the Antigua River. Now the mountains and the Plan del Rio were only sixteen miles onward.

General Worth ordered camp here to rest the division. He himself went forward to consult with General Scott. This day of April 16 was a nervous day in the bivouac. The men all were held together, forbidden to wander from the lines. But the dragoons who reconnoitred ahead said that they had seen the Twiggs and Patterson divisions encamped and waiting down near Plan del Rio village beside the Rio del Plan, at the foot of the mountains—probably right under the Mexican army.

An aide brought back orders from General Worth. Hannibal saw him come galloping, and soon knew what was up.

“Reveille is to sound at eleven-thirty to-night, and we’re to move camp in the dark.”

“Then what, Hannibal?” Jerry asked.

“Tell you later. A battle, I expect. Old Fuss and Feathers will have a scheme.”

The men slept on the ground without tents, Lieutenant Smith and Lieutenant Grant did not undress, for what was the use? Reveille sounded at eleven-thirty, the assembly followed, and the companies fell in, the men yawning and grumbling. The night was pitchy dark; the column went stumbling up the road, with the soldiers staggering aside as if asleep on their feet. It seemed as though that night’s[135] march never would end; and at daybreak, when halt was sounded, everybody was glad indeed.

But what a panorama that was as the sun rose. It was well worth staying awake for. Yonder, below the slope up which the night’s march had led, there appeared the camps of the two other divisions, near the little village in a level bottom or valley. The river issued from a gorge in the mountains and flowed rapidly down past the village, on the left or south. There were precipices and high hills on both sides of it; and on the right or north the National Road, obliquing from the river and village, zigzagged up into the hills, and crossed the mountains.

This was the Pass of Cerro Gordo. The highest crest—a huge round-topped hill—four miles distant in the midst of the other hills along the road, was Cerro Gordo itself: Big Mountain, or Telegraph Hill. The officers said that with their glasses they could see the Mexican flags floating from its very summit, over batteries, and over a stone tower.

“Gin’ral Scott, he got to shed his coat an’ get to work, I reckon,” declared Pompey, who had appeared at each night’s camp. “How we-all gwine to trabbel on with dose Mexicans rollin’ rocks down on us? An’ dar ain’t no road ’t all odder side the ribber. ’Spec’ we mought have to make wings an’ fly ober dose mountings. Don’t see no odder way.”

Aha! The troops below were already in motion. At any rate, one column was moving out, and filing into the hills on the north of the road. Marched like Regulars; must be the Second Division! Was the battle about to begin, before the First Division received orders? But when, after a hasty breakfast,[136] the division hurried down and camped near the Third Division, soldier talk explained matters.

The Second and Third Divisions had been here two or three days, lying low and wondering how to get past Cerro Gordo. When the Third had joined the Second, General Twiggs had decided to storm Cerro Gordo, anyhow, and had given instructions to General Pillow. He was a fighting man, this General Twiggs. But General Patterson had heard and had galloped forward from his bed to take command and veto the orders. Being a major-general, he outranked Old Davy, who was only a brigadier. The men had been rather glum at the idea of storming Cerro Gordo from the road—that looked like a sure-death job; and when they learned that nothing would be done until General Scott came in, they felt mightily relieved.

General Scott had arrived on the fourteenth. He immediately sent Captain Lee of the engineers out to examine the country. Captain Lee reported that by following a deep brushy ravine around to the northwest, if the guns and men could be got through then Cerro Gordo might be flanked and attacked from the rear. Santa Anna faced the road, of course, thinking that the principal attack would be made from that. The Americans were not goats or rabbits; they would have to march by the road. And Cerro Gordo and the other batteries (quite a number) commanded all the zigzags and switchbacks by entrenchments and breastworks two miles in length. His artillery and his muskets, manned by twelve or thirteen thousand soldiers, would simply pulverize that road.


It had looked like a problem to General Twiggs and Generals Pillow and Patterson; but Captain Lee seemed to have solved the problem. General Scott approved the plan. Pioneers were dispatched at once to open a trail around to the north that cannon might be hauled; the Second Division had marched this morning, to take position and seize, as was said, a hill that the Mexicans had neglected to fortify.

The day, April 17, was a fine one, with just a little sea breeze wafting in from the gulf and Vera Cruz, fifty miles east. The stars and stripes fluttered over the camps of the First and Third Divisions; but the Second Division apparently did not intend to come back. Upon the mountain crests three and four miles west the Mexican flags fluttered. All was quiet there. General Santa Anna seemed to have no suspicion that anything especial was happening. He waited for the Americans to advance. General Scott knew exactly what was happening and what was going to happen. He issued his orders for battle.

First they were given to the division commanders. The division adjutants furnished copies of them to the brigade commanders; the brigade adjutants transmitted them to the regimental commanders; and soon the company officers who were keen knew them also.

“Now we gwine to see what kind ob strateegis’ Gin’ral Scott am,” Pompey pronounced. For Lieutenant Grant had made a copy of the orders where posted, and he and Lieutenant Smith discussed them.

“The enemy’s whole line of entrenchments and batteries will be attacked in front, and at the same[138] time turned, early in the day to-morrow—probably before ten o’clock A.M.,” said the first paragraph of these General Orders No. 111.

“Hi golly!” Pompey chuckled. “We gwine to slam him in the face an’ in the back, same time. Dat’s proper.”

“The Second Division of Regulars is already advanced within easy turning distance toward the enemy’s left. That division has instructions to move forward before daylight to-morrow, and take up position across the National Road in the enemy’s rear, so as to cut off a retreat toward Jalapa.”

“We got dose Mexicans retreatin’ already,” chuckled Pompey, while Jerry listened with all his ears.

The Second Division was to be reinforced by General Shields’ brigade of Volunteers.

“The First Division of Regulars will follow the movement against the enemy’s left at sunrise to-morrow morning.”

“Hi! Dat’s us,” Pompey announced. “We gwine to be dar fo’ the leavin’s.”

General Pillow’s brigade of Volunteers was to attack from the front, or the river side, as soon as he heard the sounds of battle in the north.

“The enemy’s batteries being carried or abandoned, all our divisions and corps will pursue with vigor. The pursuit may be continued many miles, until stopped by darkness or fortified positions, toward Jalapa. Consequently, the body of the army will not return to this encampment, but be followed to-morrow afternoon or early the next morning, by the baggage trains of the several corps.”


General Scott therefore was confident. He had no notion of being beaten; he made no mention of what to do in case that his troops were driven back. All his order read: “Go ahead.”

“Twiggs has the honors this time,” Lieutenant Smith remarked. “Why, that old fire-eater will capture the whole bag before the rest of us ever catch up with him!”

The Second had a good head start, at least. Then, shortly after noon, a wave of heavy gunfire rolled in from the northwest—the direction taken by the Twiggs division. Great clouds of smoke welled up, three miles distant; the heights of Cerro Gordo were veiled, and the smoke extended down and rose again.

The Second Division was in battle! General Scott evidently had expected this. In about an hour the long roll beat for General Shields’ brigade, in the Volunteer camp; out they went, at quick time—the Second New York and the Third and Fourth Illinois, and three twenty-four-pounders.

General Scott himself might be seen, sitting his horse, upon a little rise of the valley bottom, gazing steadily at the smoke through his glass. Very calm and collected he appeared. His aides galloped forward as if to get the news.

All that afternoon the booming of cannon and the drumming of musketry continued. No bad news came back. At sunset the firing died away. An aide from General Twiggs raced in and reported to General Scott. Speedily there were cheers.

Captain Gore of the company hastened forward to learn what he might. He returned.

“The movement by General Twiggs has been[140] entirely successful, men. The American flag is now established upon a hill directly opposite Telegraph Hill, within easy range of the rear of the enemy’s defenses. Colonel Harney’s Mounted Rifles and the First Artillery, supported by the Seventh Infantry, carried it in gallant style, and General Shields’ brigade is reinforcing with men and guns. The first stage of the battle has been won.”

“An’ will we get into the foight, cap’n, plaze, sorr?” old Sergeant Mulligan asked.

“We’ll do our level best, sergeant. All we want is the chance.”

This was an uneasy night. The men persisted in talking among themselves until late. The veterans who had fought in other battles cracked jokes and told stories, and the few new men were nervous. The sergeants and corporals in vain cautioned: “Silence! Go to sleep.”

Lieutenant Grant lay under his blanket in the open, for the tents were far behind. The night was sultry; showers of rain fell, wetting the blankets. Pompey himself chattered less than usual and Jerry felt serious. To-morrow there was going to be a great battle of eight thousand American soldiers against twelve thousand Mexican soldiers, strongly fortified on the hills.

“Cerro Gordo hill is the key to the field,” Lieutenant Grant had said “That of course must be taken, and all the operations will concentrate upon it.”

The First Division did not know till later, but all this night the Illinois and New York Volunteers were working like Trojans, dragging the three twenty-four-pounders, under direction of Captain[141] Lee and Lieutenant Hagner of the Ordnance, through the brush and over the rocks and tree trunks, and up the hill. The men were divided into two detachments. One detachment rested while the other detachment hauled and shoved; then the working detachment blocked the wheels and lay panting while the first detachment buckled to. It was not until three o’clock in the morning, that amidst the darkness and the rain the three guns were placed in position to open fire upon Telegraph Hill.

Down in the camp at Plan del Rio reveille was sounded before daylight. Breakfast was eaten in the pink of dawn. And listen! The day’s battle had commenced! Cannon were bellowing from the Second Division’s hill—sending grape and solid shot into the Mexican entrenchments upon Telegraph Hill. The Mexicans were replying.

Huzzah! The long roll sounded, signaling to the men to be alert.

“Fall in! Fall in!” the sergeants shouted; and the assembly was not needed. Company B was ready in a jiffy, the men with muskets in hand, their cartridge boxes and bayonet scabbards in place, their knapsacks and their haversacks with two days’ rations hanging from their shoulders. They formed a single rank facing to the right.

“Front face!”

They faced together, in company front.

“In three ranks, form company! By the left flank! Left face! March!” barked First Sergeant Mulligan.

That done, Company B was three men (or files)[142] deep; and Sergeant Mulligan turned it over to Captain Gore.

“Number off!” the captain ordered.

The men numbered.

“Shoulder—arms! To the rear, open order—march! Front!”

Now the company was in opened ranks. The lieutenants and the first sergeant quickly passed behind, examining the cartridge boxes to see that all were filled.


“Close order—march!”

To the color had been sounded.

“By the right flank—right face—forward—march!” And Company B marched to its position at the head of the Fourth Regiment, for it was the color company.

Jerry followed. He had no idea of being left behind; he determined to keep his eyes upon Lieutenant Grant, and he paid no attention to the whereabouts of Pompey.

General Worth, stately and handsome, his black eyes flashing, was sitting his horse. Colonel Garland, of the First Brigade, issued sharp orders, which were repeated by the galloping brigade adjutant to the regimental commanders, and by them to the company officers. The gunfire among the hills had waxed tremendous. The General Pillow brigade of Volunteers was about to move.

General Worth lifted his sword—his orders had meant “Forward!” The companies broke into platoons and away they tramped, at quick step, in long column again, the fifes and drums playing merrily.[143] The Pillow brigade was coming. Those Pennsylvanians and Tennesseeans had been directed to storm Telegraph Hill from in front, if possible; they had several batteries to carry, first. No pleasant job, that; and all as a feint to hold the Mexicans occupied on the roadside.

The First Division branched to the right, and into the brush through which the pioneers had hacked a rough trail. The faces of the soldiers were stern; some white, some red, with excitement. The battle clamor arose so loud that the drums and fifes could scarcely be heard. A dense cloud of smoke covered the hills before. Were those cheers, mingled with the bellowing of cannon and the roll of muskets? From whom—the Mexicans or the blue-coats? Jerry stumbled as he half ran, trying to stay close to Lieutenant Grant.

The trail was cumbered with tree trunks and rocks and cactus. After a time the Fourth Regiment rounded the base of a hill, and emerged at a ravine running crosswise, at the very foot of Telegraph Hill itself. Upon the top of the first hill cannon were thundering. And look! The hither slope of the other hill was alive with men, toiling up in ragged lines, following the colors. They were blue-coats—Regulars! The standard of the Mounted Rifles waved on the left, in the ravine. The Mexican batteries and entrenchments were shooting down upon the storming columns, the Rifles were deploying and facing a charge upon the stormers’ flank; and from the top of the first hill the twenty-four-pounders were pouring grape and ball across, into the higher hill, El Telegrapho.


“Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!” The First Division quickened pace, so eager the men were to get into the fight.

“Form company! First platoon—right oblique—quick—march!” And—“Left into line, wheel!” the adjutant shouted.

“To the left, into line—quick—march!” shouted Captain Gore to Company B.

The men obeyed at a run. The division was forming line of battle.

“Forward—center guide—quick time—march!”

The drums tapped briskly. They had crossed the head of the ravine, they began to scramble up the slope, at last, in the wake of the Second Division stormers. The brush and rocks were reddened, strewn with knapsacks, and dotted with dead and wounded; the climb was very steep. A perfect pandemonium raged above. Bullets and grape-shot were whistling overhead. The men gripped their muskets and peered and panted. Huzzah! But what’s the cheering for? For General Scott! Here he stood, as large as life, in his full uniform, gazing through his glass up the hill, marking the progress of the charge. He looked as cool and confident as if watching a parade.

“Huzzah for Old Fuss and Feathers! Huzzah! Huzzah!”

Company B passed close to him. He waved encouragingly.

“On, my brave boys!” he said.

Next there were breastworks, bloodied and trampled. The Mexicans had already been driven out of these. Scrambling inside, Jerry almost stepped upon[145] a drum—a drum, drumsticks, cross-belt harness and all. It was a Mexican drum, but differing little from a United States outfit except the Mexican eagle instead of the American eagle upon the brass plates. So he grabbed it up quick, and lugging it on, trying to sling it, he pursued the line.

The slope continued. A breeze was wafting away the smoke; the stars and stripes and the regimental flags of the stormers had advanced far; and the blue ragged line, rushing, resting, and rushing again, pressing after the streaming folds and after a single figure, who, sword flashing, kept in the lead.

The drum bothered Jerry. When he had slipped into the cross-belts they were so long that the drum struck his shins, and the best that he could do was to carry it in his arms. His own battle line had forged well ahead of him; and when, dipping into a hollow, and clambering up out, still following Company B, he might glimpse the stormers again, he heard a hearty burst of cheers and yells.

Huzzah! Huzzah! The hurrying First Division was cheering—echoing the cheers from the top of the hill. From the stone tower above a blue regimental flag was flying—and the stars and stripes; the Mexican flag had come down. The American soldiers were springing upon the breastworks just beyond, wielding their bayonets as they disappeared—other American flags had been planted—the red caps of the Mexican defenders surged backward, and eddying and tossing broke into numerous rivulets flowing tumultuously across the hill, to the south, for the road below.



El Telegrapho Hill—Cerro Gordo, the Big Hill—had been taken. When Jerry, lugging his precious drum, joined the Fourth Infantry the blue coats were swarming over the flat top, taking prisoners, and the Mexican rout was tearing down in the south making for the Jalapa road.

From the northwest edge of the hill another storming column had entered. This was the Second Infantry and Fourth Artillery, under Colonel Bennet Riley, of the Second Brigade, who had been ordered to make a half circuit. But they had arrived too late. Colonel Harney, the dragoon, and his Third and Seventh Infantry and First Artillery had captured the hill themselves. Those were the flags of the Third, the Seventh and the First. The flag of the Seventh had been raised first. Quartermaster-Sergeant Henry, of the Seventh, had been the man who had hauled down the Mexican flag from the flagpole on the stone tower, and the Seventh’s color-bearers had instantly raised their own standards.

The battle was won, but not all over. Colonel Riley at once launched his column in pursuit of the fleeing Mexicans. General Shields’ Volunteers—the Third and Fourth Illinois and the New Yorkers—were attacking in the west, to seize the batteries there and cut in to the Jalapa road. Cannon were booming in the south, where General Pillow’s Tennesseeans and Pennsylvanians and a company of Fourth Kentuckians[147] were being held at bay still. But the hill of Cerro Gordo commanded all the country; it was the key, and in the Mexican batteries around white flags were being hoisted. Detachments were sent by General Worth, who was senior officer here, to take possession. The firing died away.

On the top of the hill all was excitement. The dead and wounded were thick. The Rifles came up from the ravine where they had checked a charge of the Mexicans to turn Colonel Harney’s left; their band was bringing a lot of prisoners, to the tune of Yankee Doodle. The men of the storming columns were loud in their praises of Colonel Harney. It was he who had led, bare-headed and sword in hand. The fifteen hundred of them had taken the hill, defended by breastworks and the stone tower and six thousand Mexican soldiers. Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

And now here was General Scott, on his horse. The men ran for him, the wounded crawled nearer or feebly cheered; tears were flooding his grizzled cheeks; he removed his hat, and his voice trembled.

“Brother soldiers! I am proud to call you brothers, and your country will be proud to hear of your conduct this day. Our victory has cost us the lives of a number of brave men, but they died fighting for their country. Soldiers, you have a claim on my gratitude for your conduct this day which I will never forget.”

He beckoned to Colonel Harney, and held out his hand to him.

“Colonel Harney, I cannot now fully express my[148] admiration of your gallant achievement, but at the proper time I shall take great pleasure in thanking you in proper terms.”

He put his chapeau back upon his grey head and slowly rode on. Every few paces he halted to bend and speak with the wounded.

Lieutenant Grant was untouched; so were Captain Gore and Lieutenant Smith; the Fourth Infantry, and in fact, the whole of the First Division had escaped all accident save by a few spent balls. It was said that General Shields of the Volunteers had been mortally wounded by a bullet through the chest—had a hole in him the size of one’s fist! Major Sumner of the Second Dragoons had been wounded. Lieutenant Thomas Ewell of the Rifles, but serving in the charge, had been the first officer to spring upon the breastworks at the tower and had been shot down. He and Colonel Harney and Quartermaster-Sergeant Henry (who had hauled down the Mexican flag there) were the heroes of the hour.

Santa Anna had fled, when he saw the hill being taken. General Vasquez, of his infantry, was lying dead here (a fine looking man, who had fallen shot through the head, but his face to the foe); other generals were surrendering—General Vega, who had been fighting off the Pillow Volunteers, near the river, had surrendered all his force. How many Mexicans had been captured and what the losses were on both sides nobody yet knew.

Hugging his drum and roaming over the battlefield, Jerry met Hannibal. They shook hands and danced.


“What you got there, boy?”

“A drum. Found it on the way up.”

“Mexican drum, huh? Going to keep it?”

“Guess so. Can’t I?”

“Sure you can. You may get a chance to be a drummer. We can fix it over. But hurrah! Didn’t we do the business, though? Took the works just as Fuss and Feathers said. Never a hitch. Pillow was licked, at first, but that made no difference; nobody expected him to do more than hold the enemy’s attention. Twiggs and Riley’s brigade are cleaning up the country west, and the dragoons are right on Santa Anna’s heels. Now we won’t stop again till we’re in the Halls of Montezuma. There’s the long roll for the First. Good-by. We’re moving. Hang on to that drum.”

The First Division had been directed to march for the road and support the Riley brigade in pursuit of the Mexicans. It was now mid-afternoon. Reports came back that the dragoons were pressing hard down the road, and that the Mexicans were too long-legged for the infantry. Camp was ordered for the night, just beyond the little village of Cerro Gordo, in the pass.

General Santa Anna’s headquarters camp had been here also. It and the village had been seized by the Shields Volunteers and they were highly excited. They had found Santa Anna’s carriage—a large gilded coach, patterned after the State coach of Napoleon Bonaparte. But General Santa Anna was not in it. He had cut the team loose and had fled upon one of the mules.


The Volunteers were passing a wooden leg around; said that it was Santa Anna’s leg—

“No! His leg is cork.”

“Well, this may be his reserve leg, mayn’t it? Next time we’ll capture the cork leg and then he can’t run so fast.”

And a group of other Volunteers were having a rough and tumble over something upon the ground.

It was a chest, burst open; a chest of Mexican money for the expenses of Santa Anna’s army. The military chest, that is. The soldiers were grabbing at the money; officers were trying to separate them. Suddenly all stood aside and saluted, for General Scott was towering above, upon his horse.

“Let the boys have what is on the ground, officers,” he said. “They’ve fought and worked all day and deserve what they get. The remainder will be placed in charge of the chief quartermaster.”

Pompey (Jerry had forgotten Pompey) arose from the bottom of the heap, his black fists crammed with bills. He certainly had arrived here very quickly; no doubt had come in one of the wagons sent forward to receive wounded.

“Yes, suh. Sojerin’ is powerful hahd work fo’ mighty little pay,” he pronounced. “We-all near captured Santy Annie. We done made him pore; he’s gwine to beg his victuals, that’s shuah.” Pompey saw Jerry and grinned. “Howdy, boy. Where you been?”

“Climbing Telegraph Hill with the troops.”

“Huh!” Pompey grunted. “Wha’ fo’ you go to all dat work? I come ’round by the road an’ ketch[151] Santy Annie hyar. He run so fast he forgit his laig an’ all his money. Jest slashed his mules from dat coach an’ skadoodled. Where you find dat drum?”

“In some breastworks.”

“What you gwine to do with it?”

“Keep it.”

“’Spec’ you set big sto’ on bein’ a drummer.”

“Shouldn’t wonder, Pompey.”

“Dis chile’s so rich now he can be a gin’ral,” Pompey chuckled. “He don’t have to sojer common. Yes, suh; Gin’ral Scott am a great strateegis’.”

The baggage train had not come in yet from Plan del Rio, and the camp was only a plain bivouac of blankets and haversack rations. Having little to do, Jerry was cautiously trying out his drum, when Lieutenant Grant spoke to him.

“You’ve won a drum, I see.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Can you play it?”

“A little, is all; but I’m learning.”

“You want to be a drummer boy, I suppose.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, you have a chance. One of the drummers of the Fourth broke his leg on the way up the hill. He got in front of a spent solid shot. You might report to Drum Major Brown and see if he can do anything for you. I hope,” the lieutenant added, with a smile, “you can drum better than you can cook or make a bed.”

“Hope so, too, lieutenant,” Jerry answered. “Thank you, sir. Hooray!”

Tall Drum Major Brown of the Fourth looked him over.


“Lieutenant Grant sent you, eh? What can you do?”

“I don’t know,” Jerry acknowledged. “I can’t cook.”

“Looks like he’s found that out. Whenever a man’s good at nothing he tries to join the band or the field music. Humph! Where’d you get that drum?”

“On the way up the hill.”

“What were you doing there?”

“Just following along, sir, to keep with the lieutenant and the company.”

“You’re the same young fellow who was in the naval battery, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Can you drum?”

“Not much yet, but I’ll learn.”

“Let’s hear you. Sound a roll.”

Jerry did, after a fashion.

“Tap common time.”

Jerry did.

“Now quick time.”

Jerry did.

“You’ve got a pretty good ear,” the drum major approved. “I’m a drummer short. I’ll see what I can do for you, but of course I’ll have to ask the adjutant. Anyway, you can fall in with the field music in the morning for the march. Are those your best clothes?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Maybe we can rustle a uniform for you, and have a tailor fit it.”

“Could I stay in Company B?”



“That’s my company, sir.”

“Oh! Is it! Well, as happens, the vacancy is in Company C, and there you go unless Sykes of Company B will exchange with you, and the company officers don’t object.”

“Thank you, Mr. Brown.” Jerry sped away to find Hannibal and practice a few wrinkles. The two worked a long time, shortening the cross-belts and adapting the drum so that it would hang properly.



General Scott had lost three officers and sixty rank and file killed, thirty officers and three hundred and thirty-six men wounded, with one private missing. The Mexican killed and wounded were over one thousand; five generals and three thousand other officers and men had been taken, together with four or five thousand stands of small arms and forty-three pieces of artillery.

The surgeons thought that General Shields might get well; he had a fighting chance. Major Sumner of the dragoons was going to travel in the Santa Anna coach until he was strong enough to ride a horse again.

The First Division was to push right onward, following up the retreat of the eight thousand Mexicans who had escaped. The main part of the Second Division and the ill General Patterson, with a portion of the Volunteers, were camped farther along, up the road, but it was understood that the First would soon have the honor of the advance, because its men were fresh. And that was what the First desired: to get ahead. It was tough to have missed out in the battle of Cerro Gordo. Still, nothing could have stopped old Colonel Harney, once he was started up that hill.

Reveille had been ordered for four-thirty; and when Musicians’ Call sounded for all the regimental field music to assemble at the guard tent for roll-call,[155] Jerry boldly appeared to answer the drum-major’s inspection. Not much of a figure he cut, either, in his rags, and he had no little fun poked at him; but he stuck and kept his place when the drums and fifes formed at the head of the regiment for the march.

It was a fine morning. General Scott had ridden on, with an escort, to make his headquarters at Jalapa, sixteen miles beyond the pass. The road was all littered with the spoils of war. The fleeing Mexicans had thrown away everything: guns and overcoats and cartridge boxes, knapsacks and haversacks. And soon worse signs of battle were to be noted. Bodies of Mexican soldiers, cold and bloody, became thicker and thicker. The dragoons had spurred along here, hot in pursuit of the enemy. The skulls of most of the dead men had been split asunder by sabers. The bodies were mainly those of Mexican lancers who had tried to cover the retreat; but evidently the lancers had been no match for the Second Dragoons led by Major Ben Beall, and Captain Phil Kearny’s one company of the First.

The bodies lay in the road and upon both sides all the way to Encerro, eight miles. The majority of the dragoon horses had given out here; but from Encerro (which was General Santa Anna’s country-place—or one of several such places) to Jalapa there were still a few bodies, for some of the dragoons had kept on through the whole sixteen miles.

The road climbed. It was a paved road, broken into holes by the rains. Beyond Encerro the country grew much better. More mountains loomed before, huge and blue. As the road wound upward, there[156] were green trees and lively streams that emptied into an irrigating ditch skirting the road; and corn, coffee, plantain and banana plantations with neat white houses, instead of the cactus and brush and bare ground and huts of the tierra caliente—the warm land of the lower yellow-fever district. It all looked pretty good.

“We’ll not starve hereabouts, that’s sure,” remarked the drummer who was plying his sticks on Jerry’s left.

By the time, early evening, that Jalapa was in sight the men were tired again, and Jerry’s fingers were blistered with the drumsticks. Now the road was lined on both sides with flowering shrubs and vines, and the birds were singing loudly.

General Worth directed the adjutant to have camp made on a piece of high ground near the road. The drums beat the halt. The day’s up-hill march had ended a short mile out of Jalapa.

After the guards had been posted and supper had been eaten, everybody was glad enough to turn in. Tattoo, to extinguish lights and be quiet, was not needed.

When reveille sounded at daybreak, the drummers and fifers saw a beautiful scene indeed. The camp was above the clouds. Below, in the east or the direction of Vera Cruz, a thunderstorm was raging; the lightning darted through the clouds, which were white on top with the rays of the unseen sun. Only twenty-five miles in the south old Orizaba Peak shone like silver. Jerry frequently had seen it from Vera Cruz, but never had it appeared so wonderful. And on before, in the west, there was Jalapa, located[157] between hills, with its white houses and red roofs set amidst orchards and gardens.

“Well, now I say that like as not we all were killed at Cerro Gordo and have arrived in Heaven,” Drum Major Brown said.

“That’s right; for according to the Spanish, they have a saying: ‘Jalapa is a small piece of Heaven fallen to earth,’” a fifer asserted.

“You’re wrong there, and so are they,” corrected somebody. “Look beyond. We’re going to be nearer Heaven than when down at Jalapy.”

Back of Jalapa the real mountains began. They rose straight up, it seemed, in a series of purple masses until their crests touched the sky.

Halt was made at pretty Jalapa only long enough for General Worth to receive fresh instructions from General Scott; and out the First Division marched, leaving the Second Division behind, and the Patterson Volunteers, and most of the dragoons. The First was in the advance at last.

Rumors stated that the First was to take the castle of Perote, twenty-five miles on. Perote ranked second in strength to only San Juan de Ulloa itself. But if one brigade of the Second Division had been able to take Cerro Gordo Hill, the two brigades of the First felt able to take Perote.

The road climbed and climbed. The horses of the Duncan flying battery of the Second Artillery, and those of the wagon train, had all they could do, even when helped by men at the wheels. But the day was clear, and an inspiring sight that was to look before and behind, and see the serried column winding on, Captain Kearny’s Company K of the First[158] Dragoons ahead, General Worth and staff following; the artillery afoot, and the infantry and their bands trudging gallantly after, and the white-topped wagons bringing up the rear.

“We’re surely bound to ‘see the elephant,’ as the Volunteers say,” uttered Jerry’s neighbor, the thin drummer.

That evening when bivouac was made they were almost six thousand feet in air. The views had been marvelous. Jerry hastened to find Hannibal, as usual, for talk and practice. On the way he passed Lieutenant Grant, who stopped him as he saluted.

“How do you like your new job by this time?”

“First rate, sir. I’ll learn, the drum major says. Haven’t done so awfully bad, but of course they’re easy on me. I don’t know much about the drills yet.”

“I don’t wonder. You were thrown right into things without previous instruction on that line.”

“Yes, sir. Do you think we’ll have a fight on the road, sir?”

“There’s a chance. If the pass beyond, called La Joya, is held in force it may give us a little trouble. But we can depend upon General Worth, you know.”

“Guess so, sir. How’s Pompey, lieutenant?”

“Pompey? That black rascal? Oh, Pompey lost all his money the first night to those gambler camp followers, and he’s down to plain cooking.”

The lieutenant stepped on; Jerry saluted again and ran along.

“La Joya? Sure thing,” Hannibal said “It’s like Cerro Gordo, and we’re the men to take it.”

The next day’s march was another stiff climb.[159] Cherry trees and apple trees were giving place to pines and firs. The soldiers puffed and complained that their ears throbbed. It was slow work, toiling up the long winding road. To-night there was rain, which by morning had hardened to a heavy white frost.

La Joya was not far now. The dragoons reconnoitred ahead; the gunners of the Duncan battery rode with slow matches lighted. Presently the road was about to skirt the base of a round-topped hill. The hill looked as though it had been fortified, but when the Fourth marched by it was seen that the breastworks had been abandoned.

Beyond La Joya the road continued through a gorge two miles in length. No guns were fired, no rocks were rolled, no Mexican flag was sighted. The whole Mexican army had disappeared as if broken by the defeat at Cerro Gordo. In fact, General Scott had announced in his dispatches: “Mexico no longer has an army.” But when camp was made this evening, at a deserted village, the men began to talk hopefully of Perote.

Perote, ten or twelve miles westward and down, certainly would furnish a fight. It was a town and a mountain and a fort, or castle. Everybody living in Mexico knew of that famous castle, where prisoners were confined in dungeons. And the mountain, called the Chest of Perote, was the square black peak seen from Vera Cruz. The town, upon a plain under the mountain, had a church with a very tall tower, visible for a great distance from several directions.

Jerry also banked on Perote, for he had been promised his uniform there if the division stayed long[160] enough to have it fitted. He needed the uniform. His clothes were rather thin for use seven thousand feet up in the mountains, and besides, what was a drummer boy without a uniform? Luckily he had gained a pair of shoes from the spoils captured at Cerro Gordo; and at Perote he would be full rigged, with sword, cap and all; and Dick Sykes, the drummer of Company B, had agreed to exchange companies with him.

General Worth was in a hurry. He moved the division early in the morning. About noon they saw Perote town, near at hand on the plain; and the great castle, detached from it, guarding the road and the Chest.

The column hastened, eager for action. The castle remained grim and silent. General Worth sent forward a staff officer to demand its surrender. The Mexican flag fluttered down. The staff officer returned. Perote had yielded.

General Worth established his headquarters in the town, but the camp was ordered upon the plain, near the castle, about a mile from the town. Colonel Vasquez, of the Mexican army, had been left here by General Santa Anna to turn the castle over to the Americans—and that seemed odd, for it contained fifty-four cannon (one of which had a bore of seventeen inches across), eleven thousand balls, fourteen thousand bombs and hand grenades, and five hundred muskets. It covered two acres; and when the men were permitted to inspect it they found that the walls were eight feet thick and sixty feet high, surrounded by a moat fifteen feet deep and seventy-five feet wide.

Nevertheless, the castle sat by itself on the plains;[161] and while it might have kept part of the army back to capture it, the rest of the army could have marched on. General Santa Anna probably had his reasons for abandoning it; he of course would make a stand somewhere else.

During the few days’ camp at Perote Jerry got his uniform and equipment—regulation cap, sword and buckles included—and felt privileged to strut like a drummer boy indeed. Swapped companies with Sykes, too. Took occasion to parade before Pompey, who scoffed at him.

“Gwan, white boy. Who you? All stripes an’ no rank, dat what you be!”

The outfit had come to him only just in time. The First Brigade was to march on by itself at once. General Quitman had arrived at Jalapa from Vera Cruz; the Second Brigade was to wait for him and his detachment of Volunteers, while the First Brigade pushed ahead to open the country farther.

It was said that General Worth had received instructions from Old Fuss and Feathers to proceed and seize the large city of Puebla, one hundred miles westward and only ninety from the City of Mexico. Puebla had sixty thousand people. Whether the First Brigade was to do this nobody in the ranks knew, but the men all were ready to try.

“If you fellows need help send back for us,” proffered Hannibal, whose regiment, the Eighth, remained to help hold Perote and to wait for the Quitman Mohawks.

“We don’t figure on needing help, boy,” Jerry retorted. “Next time I see you maybe it’ll be in the Halls of Montezuma.”


The First Brigade set out gaily; General Worth and staff; Company A, engineers, with Acting Captain George W. Smith, Lieutenant J. C. Foster and the sprightly Lieutenant McClellan; Light Battery A and Companies B, C, D, F, G, H, I and K, Second Artillery; Companies B, G and K, Third Artillery; A, B, C, D, E and I, Fourth Infantry. They marched up the National Road through fields of grain, around the base of dark Pizarro Mountain (a lone peak higher than Perote Peak), and had covered eighteen miles when halt was made for the night at a homely mud village.

The country again grew better, displaying fruit orchards and green ranches. A fight was rather expected at the pass of El Pinal, where the road threaded a third narrow gorge in a range of bare, granite hills; but although rocks had been heaped in readiness to be rolled down upon the heads of any enemy, nobody was here to roll them.

Beyond El Pinal the road issued upon a high, flat ridge. The column suddenly forgot its weariness. Another stately view unfolded. In the west there uplifted two splendid mountains. The highest, shining with snow, was the famous Popocatepetl, or Smoky Mountain, three miles high. The other, its comrade on the north of it, was—well, a jaw-breaker: Iztaccihuatl. It, too, was a famous peak. The two of them overlooked the City of Mexico.

And between the flat ridge and the range of the two peaks there lay the beautiful green valley of Puebla, dotted with the white-walled country-houses of wealthy ranchers; and in the midst of the valley,[163] the roofs and spires of Puebla itself, twelve miles distant from the ridge.

So the column quick-stepped manfully, and with the fifes and drums pealing descended to the pretty town of Amozoc, ten miles from the city of Puebla.

Amozoc proved to be a pleasant surprise. That had been a long and hard march from Perote: with the days warm and showery, and the nights cold and frosty, and the men sleeping on the ground in the dirt, without tents, and trudging by day through mud and dust both. But here at Amozoc, the alcalde or mayor met General Worth on the outskirts of the town and invited him in, and when the column entered the women came running from their adobe houses, bringing fruit and pitchers of cold water.

“They call Puebla the City of the Angels, do they? Faith, what’s the matter with Amozoc? Here be rale angels.”

“The first white women we’ve seen since Jalapy.”

“Bless their purty faces an’ black eyes.”

Such were the comments by the ranks behind the Fourth Infantry music.

An aide came galloping back to Colonel Garland.

“The general’s compliments, colonel, and he directs that you quarter your infantry battalion in the town corral, near the plaza. I will show you.”

Presently the Fourth had stacked arms in the corral.



The orders were to clean up, as if for inspection and parade. General Worth was sending word forward to the city council of Puebla, giving notice that he intended to occupy the city at once. Evidently he wished to march in in style to make a showing, for Puebla was the second largest city in Mexico.

Jerry played in luck. He had kept his new uniform in the best of shape. It would get shabby soon enough, like the other uniforms. His drum shone. So he was done with his prinking early. The men generally were taking their time, to rest and munch fruit. When he asked permission to go for a stroll, Drum Major Brown said, having eyed him and seen nothing wrong:

“All right. Report in thirty minutes.”

Tommy Jones, another smart drummer boy, from Company I, joined him.

“What you lugging your drum for, Jerry?”

“So nobody’ll spatter mud on it, of course.”

“You’re a greenie yet,” Tom asserted. “When you’ve carried a drum as long as I have you’ll be mighty glad to drop it.”

“Well, I sha’n’t leave it, just the same. Some of those fellows would put up a job on me to see how much I’ll stand.”

Jerry continued, with his precious drum. The mud-fenced corral was an odd sight as he and Tom[165] hastened through to the gate. The men finally had settled to work. They were in all stages of undress: some of them were washing their faces and handkerchiefs and shirts at the watering troughs, some were shaving, some were sitting and polishing their jacket buttons with their “buff sticks,” which held each button in a slot while rag and powder were used; some were shining their buckles, or whitening their cross-belts with soap-stone, or cleaning their shoes; and a number had their muskets apart and were scouring the rust and dirt from locks, barrels and bayonets.

Pompey was hard at it on the outfits of Lieutenant Smith and Lieutenant Grant.

“Where you gwine, stripes?” he demanded. “’Peahs laike you drummers ain’t got nothin’ to do. I shuah’d laike to jine the music. Jest tootle an’ thumpity-thump while we-all work. Where you gwine now, so importinent? Mebbe Santy Anne done sent fo’ you to s’render.”

“Mind you shine those buttons or you’ll get a whaling,” Jerry answered. “I’ll be back to inspect.”

“You go ’long, stripes,” growled Pompey. “I ain’t no sojer. I’se with the offercers. Who you, to be so uppity? All stripes an’ no rank; that you!”

With Tom, Jerry hurried out.

“Pobrecitos! Aqui, pobrecitos—here, poor little boys,” the kind-hearted women greeted, inviting them to eat. But they had no time for that if they wished to see the town.

Somehow, the people of Amozoc were overcordial to an enemy. The North Americans were invading their country—at Cerro Gordo probably had killed Volunteers from this very place; and yet the[166] citizens smiled and bowed as if to friends. It struck Jerry as a game; he couldn’t put much stock in all that palaver. He remembered the two Manuels.

The town was not anything great to look at. It manufactured saddles and fine inlaid spurs, and the best building was the principal church. The church sat inside a fenced yard shaded by immense yew trees covered with crimson-flowering vines—very curious. Two or three officers were gazing about and talking with the priests. The doors were open. Taking off his cap Jerry sidled in; Tom followed.

“Dare you to climb that,” Tom challenged.

It was a ladder, seen through the doorway of a closet in one corner, and extending almost straight up into the belfry.

“Never take a dare. You watch me,” said Jerry.

“I’ll hold your drum.”

“No, you won’t!”

Lugging the drum slung behind him, Jerry was out of breath when he emerged into the dusty belfry, beside the great copper bell. But he was glad that he had come. What a view! He could see the road, in the east, connecting with the plateau that they had crossed from El Pinal; he could see the top of Pizarro Peak at Perote; and he didn’t know but that he could see the dust of the Second Brigade and the Quitman Mohawks coming on one day’s march late.

He crept around the bell, and could see the brigade camp below. The men, like specks, were washing up and mending clothes and whitening belts in the corral and in the plaza where the artillery companies had been quartered. He could see the specks of[167] pickets, posted at the edge of town. There in the west were snowy Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, sentinels over the Halls of Montezuma. And there, on this side of them, was the city of Puebla of the Angels, sparkling in the afternoon sun.

Then, as his eyes traveled, they lighted upon a real dust cloud, slightly in the north, between Amozoc and Puebla.

The cloud was advancing; yes, and rapidly. Whew! Cavalry, sure as shooting. Mexican lancers! No other horsemen could be expected from that direction, not in such a mass. The outpost guards had not seen them yet.

Like lightning Jerry twitched his drumsticks from his belt, jerked his drum to the fore, and beat the long roll. R-r-r-r-r-r-r! R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r! And R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r! The stunning noise in the hollow belfry deafened him. It must have fallen like a thunder clap upon the ears of the camp. As he plied the drumsticks with his two hands he saw that the grouped specks had frozen stone still, as if staring about to locate the alarm.

He didn’t delay. Down he slid, down the ladder, never caring how he landed—and he landed plump into somebody’s arms. They were Lieutenant McClellan’s.

You young rascal! What’s the meaning of this racket? Who authorized you to——?”

“The enemy, sir!” Jerry panted, not waiting. “They’re coming.”

“How do you know?”

“I saw their dust——”



“Between here and Puebla—about five miles out—lancers, sir.”

Away ran Lieutenant McClellan.

“Golly!” blurted Tom, who had been listening with his mouth open. He, too, ran, and Jerry after. They got to the corral just in time. All the town had seemed to be excited, the pickets were firing alarm shots, the long rolls were beating for artillery and infantry, officers and men were hustling, and in the corral the Fourth Infantry was falling in, helter skelter, the soldiers wrestling into their trousers and jackets and shoes, buckling on their belts and cartridge boxes, seizing their muskets.

An aide spurred through the corral gate.

“Colonel Garland! Oh, Colonel Garland! The general directs that you take four companies of the Fourth, unite with the Second Artillery, and commanding in person, march out upon the Puebla road until in touch with the enemy or he has been dispersed.”

Captain Nichols, the adjutant, rapidly called the companies: A, B, E, I. Company B was into it! Jerry sprang to his place. Drummer and fifer stuck to their company on detached duty like this.

“Company B, by the right flank! Right face! Company, forward—march!” Captain Gore bawled.

In double file (two ranks formation) Company A marched out through the corral gate.

“By platoon, into line! Quick—march! Guide right.”

The other companies were close before and behind. The Second Artillery, serving as infantry, was double-quicking from the plaza, under Major[169] Galt. Two guns of Colonel Duncan’s battery issued at a gallop. In the plaza the remaining two cannon were being hauled at top speed to opposite corners to face the streets.

At quick step the Colonel Garland detachment, with the guns trundling at the rear, headed for the Puebla road. And a funny spectacle the detachment made: loose shoes flopping, jackets askew and half buttoned, belts dangling, caps wrong side before, muskets not all put together yet, and many of the men only partly washed and shaved.

The cloud of dust was plain and much nearer. The Mexicans appeared to be swinging around, northward, as if bent upon cutting the road east of Amozoc. They could be seen easily: a great column of lancers—looked to be two or three thousand, all at a trot, their yellow cloaks streaming, their red jackets glimmering, their lance points, muskatoons and trappings flashing.

“Form company! First platoon, right oblique!”


“Company, right turn—double quick—march!”

The detachment was marching straight for the lancers; down came the lancers, massing for a charge.

“Column—halt!” Adjutant Nichols shouted.

“Form square—right and left into line—quick march—wheel!”

With rumble and thud and cheer the two guns of Flying Battery A dashed to the fore. They were unlimbered and turned in a jiffy. The gunners waved their slow matches, or linstocks, to brighten the spark. The cannon were lined and pointed—an instant more and with a gush and a boom a solid shot[170] had whistled toward the gay lancers. Another—and another. Whish! That was grape, and the lancers scattered. One more dose of the murderous grape and they had whirled, every man—they were scouring like mad back for Puebla, a general (by his epaulets) striving in vain to rally them. He was carried along with the rest.

“Santa Anna! There goes Santa Anna!”

It was only a guess, but it proved true. Later news said that General Santa Anna himself had gathered cavalry, infantry and artillery at Puebla, in order to stop the American advance; he had left the infantry and artillery there, while with the lancers he rode to cut off General Worth’s Second Brigade from the First Brigade. In El Pinal Pass, for instance, he might have done the job nicely. But he had chosen the wrong time. A “rascal” of a drummer boy had seen him from the church steeple.

After all it was not much of a brush. Colonel Garland took his column into Amozoc again and arms were stacked; but the day was drawing to a close and there was no more prinking. The camp had to keep on the alert, with strong guards out, for the Mexicans might be up to more tricks.

In consequence of being half dirty and half clean the men really looked worse than ever.

General Worth waited for the Colonel Clarke brigade and the Quitman Volunteers to join him. They arrived the next morning. General Quitman brought only two regiments, the New Yorkers and Second Pennsylvanians. The First Pennsylvania (Colonel Wynkoop’s “Dutch” regiment) had been left at Perote. As for the other Mohawks—


“Did you know that Old Fuss and Feathers hasn’t more than six thousand men all told?” Hannibal demanded, after first greetings.


“That’s right. We’ve lost five thousand Mohawks since you left Perote. Got only the First and Second Pennsylvania, the Palmettos and the New Yorkers. The others were twelve-months men and their time is out soon. The Alabamans and Georgians are still at Vera Cruz; and at Jalapa General Scott let the Third and Fourth Illinois and the Tennesseeans and Kentuckians go. They said they’d stay till the last day, but then they wouldn’t re-enlist; they wanted to get home. So he thought they’d better start right away, before the yellow fever got bad at Vera Cruz. We’re garrisoning Jalapa and Perote, and that’s all. Have a big sick list and a lot of desertions, too, but not as many as in Texas and northeast Mexico. Up there the Mexicans kept tolling the men over by promising high pay and officers’ jobs. Some of ’em are fighting under Santa Anna now, I bet, because they’re afraid to come back. If they’re captured they’ll be shot or hanged.”

“Where’s General Scott?”

“He’s coming from Jalapa with the Second Division. General Pillow’s gone to Vera Cruz to look after reinforcements, and General Patterson has gone home because he hasn’t men enough for a division. I suppose Quitman or Pillow will command the Mohawks now. So you fellows didn’t have much of brush with those lancers, you say?”

“No. They ran off.”

“Well, you did your best, boy. You gave the[172] alarm. I guess those smart officers will quit calling us ‘rascally drummer boys.’ Anyhow, hope we beat the Second Division into Puebla. There’s no use in this whole division sitting here, only ten miles out. We don’t need the Second.”

The restless General Worth decided the same thing. The scouts who reconnoitred reported that all Santa Anna’s forces in Puebla had vanished on the road to the City of Mexico; the mayor of Puebla sent the same word. Before noon the First Division and the Quitman two regiments of Mohawks marched for Puebla. The day was May 15.

A short distance out of Puebla the mayor and city council met General Worth to escort him in. There was to be no fight. The road changed to a magnificent paved highway leading between pillars of shining stone like colored marble.

“Close order—march!”

Those were the company orders. The ranks closed up and the men took to the cadenced step, all feet moving to the taps of the drums.

“Column, close in mass—quick—march!”

Each company closed in upon the company before, so that there was a solid column of platoons, every musket at a right shoulder shift, every foot planted in unison with the other feet.


This did not prevent the men from glancing aside, as they marched shoulder to shoulder. The tune for the fifes and drums was Yankee Doodle but the regimental bands played Washington’s March.

The paved road led through a broad gateway in the city wall. The top of the wall had been crowded[173] with Pueblans, and now the streets were lined with more, and the balconies of the buildings were fringed with men and women gaily dressed, peering over to see the North Americans. The women waved their handkerchiefs and fans, the men flashed white teeth while they puffed their cigarettes and made remarks.

It was a pity that the toilet at Amozoc had been interrupted. Many of the muskets were still stained from the battle of Cerro Gordo and the rains; some of the rank and file had not had time to shave. Uniforms were dingy, belts half whitened or whitened not at all, the buttons and buckles and the band instruments were tarnished. Yes, and faces were not especially clean, for the grime of the marches through dust and mud was deep. Besides, a number of the soldiers had been ill.

It was evident that the Pueblans were disappointed. They had expected to see glitter and show as in their own troops, instead of this collection of thin, long-haired, shabbily clad troops marching under rain-stained, wind-torn flags.

But no troops in the world could have marched with better discipline. This was a veteran division, even the Mohawks. Those holes in the flags were bullet holes, the stains were powder stains. Cerro Gordo was behind, so was Perote, here was Puebla, and the next entry would be that into the City of Mexico.

Halt was made in the large plaza, in the very center of the city, bordered on one side by the great palace or governor’s house, six hundred feet long, and on another by the cathedral, covering a block. The Pueblans surrounded the plaza in dense ranks,[174] staring and commenting. General Worth showed not the slightest hesitation. The division stacked arms here, cannon were placed at the corners, guards were posted, and the companies dismissed. It was a pleasant spot. The men comfortably stretched out. They were only three thousand Americans in the midst of sixty thousand Mexicans, with the whole Mexican army somewhere about; but in a few minutes two-thirds of them were sound asleep.



“The ‘old man’ ’s coming!”

It was now May 27. The First Division and the Quitman Volunteers had been holding Puebla for more than a week and a half. There had been alarms. One day all the troops had stood under arms, from morning until night, with guns loaded and with three days’ rations in their haversacks, expecting an attack by Santa Anna; but Santa Anna had not appeared. General Worth seemed nervous—and little wonder.

Word had arrived at last from General Scott that he would be here to-morrow at noon. This was his custom: to send a warning ahead whenever he rode up the line, so that the regiments might be ready to turn out and receive him in proper style.

The Eighth Regiment (General Worth’s “own”) was selected to do the honors. This peeved Hannibal, but it let Jerry and the Fourth out to see things as they occurred. Luckily, the Fourth was quartered near the east gateway of the National Road from Vera Cruz and Jalapa, and a fellow could climb the wall here and look right down upon the road.

First, about half-past eleven, General Worth and General Quitman with their staffs, a-glitter in their full-dress uniforms of blue cloth and gold trappings, white plumes floating from their chapeaus, went trotting to meet the chief.

All came back together: General Scott, tall and massive, upon his prancing horse, in full uniform[176] complete from his plume to his shining boots; General Worth on his right, General Quitman on his left, the staffs following; Captain Phil Kearny’s company of the First Dragoons and a detachment of the Second Dragoons in column of fours as escort. With only these two hundred and fifty dragoons General Scott had ridden ahead of the Twiggs division, clear from La Joya, one hundred and twenty miles.

The soldiers upon the wall at either side of the gate gave Fuss and Feathers a rousing cheer. That pleased him. He took off his chapeau and bowed right and left to his “boys.”

Commander-in-chief’s headquarters were to be at the palace on the plaza. On the way to it there was a square of trees, the Alameda. The Eighth Infantry had been drawn up on parade, in two ranks, in front of the church San José, opposite the Alameda. Colonel Clarke himself, of the Second Brigade, commanded.


The drums beat a roll, every musket came to a rigid present, every sword to a salute, the colors dipped, and General Scott, looking like the old hero that he was, rode proudly along the line, his hand at his hat, his eyes a little misty. The regimental band played “Hail to the Chief.”

The Second Division of Regulars did not get in for a couple of days. General Childs, of the Third Artillery, had been left at Jalapa with about one thousand men, mainly Regulars of all the arms. Colonel Wynkoop and most of his First Pennsylvanians were still at Perote. Having only five thousand eight[177] hundred active troops, General Scott was obliged to mark time at Puebla while awaiting reinforcements.

This was hard, for it gave General Santa Anna plenty of leisure in which to gather another army and complete his fortifications. And while Puebla was a pleasant place, there seemed to be a discouraging amount of sickness caused by the fruits and the water. One-fourth of the soldiers were in the hospital and many died.

The well were kept busy, for General Scott believed in exercise and drill. The army had its first opportunity since leaving Vera Cruz to drill together. Every day one or another of the brigades was manœuvred out upon the Puebla military drill grounds near the city walls; and three times a week there was a full division review, under the eyes of the commander-in-chief.

The Pueblans always crowded to witness the drills, and after watching they were free to admit that the Americans knew how to soldier.

It was no slouch of a job to be a drummer, as Jerry found out all over again. He himself had a lot to learn, if he would obey the drum major’s signals made with the tasseled staff. The drummer’s especial drill, for instance: Put up—drumsticks! Unsling—drums! Ground—drums! Take up—drums! Suspend—drums! Draw out—drumsticks! The marching signals: By the right flank, by the left flank, wheel to change direction, right oblique, left oblique, and so forth. The beats: The marching taps, ninety steps to the minute; the flam, or double beat, in pairs, at one hundred and ten steps to the minute, used in the evening retreat; the rolls, eighty beats to the[178] minute for the troop call, and one hundred and ten to the minute for quick time and the salutes; the drag, one hundred and forty beats to the minute, for double-quick time, and the long roll, in sections as fast as one could work the drumsticks, for alarms.

Then there were the many calls: The general, for the whole camp to prepare to break up; the assembly, for the companies to fall in; to the color, for the companies to form regiments; the reveille, or first call, in the early morning, to wake the camp up; the tattoo, or last call, in the evening, to send the camp to bed; the drummers’ call, or musicians’ call; come for orders, and the call to the sergeants or corporals; the retreat call, for evening parade; and in the field the halt, the recall, the march in retreat, the run or charge, and the commence firing.

A drummer boy had to have a good ear and lots of constant practice to do all these things, with the drum major or some of the veteran drummers criticizing.

There were one drummer and one fifer in each company of infantry and artillery, although the battery sections usually had a bugler. The dragoons had trumpeters. Drummers and fifers of each regiment formed the field music and marched with the band, when the regiment had a band. The Fourth did not have a band, which was lucky. The Eighth had theirs, and Hannibal claimed that it was a nuisance, always getting in the way of the field music.

The music was under the drum major. He acted as first sergeant and received his orders from the regimental adjutant. He called the roll at music assembly, gave the signals with his staff, and saw[179] that the musicians knew how to play. If there was any instrument, from the drum even to the horn, that “Old Brown,” the drum major of the Fourth, could not play, nobody had yet discovered it.

In regimental camp and manœuvres all the company drummers and fifers generally played and marched together—say ten drummers and ten fifers. They assembled at the guard house for reveille, and beating and tooting paraded around through the camp, paying especial attention to the officers’ quarters! The regimental calls were preceded by the regimental march to draw attention, in case that more than the one regiment was present. When marching in column, the field music was at the head of the regiment, the drummers behind the fifers. But the drummer and fifer of each company messed and camped with the company, and stayed with it when it was detached.

The drummers served each in turn at being posted at the guard house to march with the guard on tour and relief and to sound any signal that might be required. The drummers, too, were used as markers in the drills to indicate where the lines were to be formed and dressed; and might be summoned for orderlies or messengers.

In fact, a drummer was an important personage. The drummer boys got the pay and rations of a private; wore a better uniform and a short sword.

But not all the drummers were boys. There was a sprinkling of boys and a sprinkling of grown men; and when the field music had formed it made rather a funny sight with a six-foot lath like Bill Sykes in the[180] same short rank with a dumpy, strutty little “rascal” like young Tommy Jones, aged only fourteen.

The fifers were mainly men. Jerry’s partner, Fifer O’Toole, outreached him by a foot.

At rest intervals the troops were now given chances to see the city and nearby country. Puebla far surpassed Vera Cruz. The saying ran: “Puebla is the first heaven, Mexico (the City of Mexico) is the second.” The paved streets were many and broad, flanked by splendid stone buildings and traversed by the rattling coaches of the wealthy. There were one hundred churches, and innumerable fine stores; the markets teemed with fruits and vegetables. The houses were thrown open to the officers and men; General Worth had started in by not interfering with the city government as long as it did not interfere with him; General Scott continued the system. He permitted the city watchmen to patrol with their arms as before, so that at night there were two sets of guards.

The Mexican watchmen would chant:

“Ave Maria! Son las doce de la noche, y sereno,” which meant: “Hail, Mary! It is eleven o’clock and quiet.”

While the American sentries growled:

“Post Number One (or Two, or Three). All’s well.”

Six miles out from the city were the ruins of the ancient Aztec Indian town of Cholula, with a pyramid of clay and stone blocks two hundred feet high, mounted by one hundred and forty steps. When Cortez, the conquerer, came through here in 1520 the pyramid was used for human sacrifices, and the[181] never-dying fire to the Aztec gods was kept alive on top by the priests. But Cortez destroyed the city and killed six thousand of the people. Now there was no city, and no fire, and on top of the pyramid a church had been erected.

This was such a historic place that the troops were marched out to it, a brigade at a time, for an excursion. The Fourth Infantry with the First Brigade of the First Division, under General Worth and Colonel Garland, made the trip, one clear day, when old Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl seemed to be within musket shot instead of seventy-five miles away. Beyond those two mountains lay the City of Mexico, the goal.

“We are the ones to get there,” thought Jerry. The Regulars themselves were no discouraging sight—fifteen hundred well-trained soldiers marching at ease, bearing their veteran flags; the artillery officers brilliant in red trappings, the infantry marked by white, and the general staff gold-braided and gold-epauletted.

To be sure, whenever the troops started for anywhere spies in Puebla immediately galloped into the country to carry the news to Mexican lancers. But who feared the lancers?

General Scott came from behind. He and his staff swept along the column of platoons, and slackened to ride abreast half way.

The officers there had been discussing the scenery. Some gave the palm to glistening Popocatepetl, some to Iztaccihuatl, some to the red-roofed city, some to the fields of green, and some to the great pyramid surmounted by the church. But General Scott said,[182] in his loud voice, so that the drummers and fifers of the Fourth heard plainly:

“Gentlemen, I differ with you all. My greatest delight is in this fine body of troops, without whom we can never sleep in the Halls of Montezuma, or in our own homes again.”

The speech traveled up and down the column and everybody cheered. Old Fuss and Feathers certainly appreciated good soldiers.

It had been hoped that the army would “sleep in the Halls of Montezuma” on July 4. But although plenty of provisions had been collected the reinforcements were still slow. So the Fourth of July was passed at Puebla, with celebrations by the rank and file, and in the evening a grand reception by General Scott at the palace for officers and townspeople.

Then, on July 8, General Pillow, who had been promoted to a major-generalcy in the Regulars, arrived from Vera Cruz with forty-five hundred men, under Colonel McIntosh of the Fifth Infantry and General George Cadwalader, a new brigadier, of Pennsylvania. They had started in three detachments and had had several skirmishes with guerillas on the way; had lost fifty men in killed and wounded, and a great deal of baggage.

They brought up the Palmettos, the Mounted Rifles, some of the Second and new Third Dragoons, Company F of the Fourth Infantry, B of the Fifth Infantry, parts of the Ninth, Eleventh and Fifteenth Infantry (new Regular regiments), a few companies of Voltigeurs or scouting riflemen, and a batch of recruits for all arms.

General Franklin Pierce (another new brigadier),[183] of New Hampshire, arrived next, on August 6, with twenty-four hundred men out of three thousand. He had dropped six hundred by reason of sicknesses, and had had six fights. His troops were the famous Marine Corps of the navy, the remainder of the new Regular regiments—Ninth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth—and more recruits.

The new regiments were rather raw yet; had been mustered in only a few months, and only six out of the four hundred officers had seen service. The others were civilian appointees—many were greener than Jerry. They made an odd sight as they rode or walked about trying to act like old hands, but bothered by their swords and spurs. The Marines, however, were a snappy lot, officers and all, and took no back talk from anybody.

General Scott had called in the garrison from Jalapa. It looked as though he was almost ready to march on. He now commanded fourteen thousand men in Puebla, but the sick list was tremendous. Two thousand men were in the hospital, five hundred others were just getting well. Nevertheless, the time had come. For several days before the arrival of the last reinforcements under General Pierce all signs had pointed to an early break up. A council of war had been held at headquarters, attended by Generals Worth, Twiggs, Quitman and Pillow; aides and orderlies had been racing through the streets, equipments had been overhauled and wagons loaded.

Reports said that General Santa Anna had gathered an army again of thirty thousand and more, and had fortified all the approaches to the capital.

That made no difference to the army. The[184] Regulars were eager to start. The Volunteers—the Second Pennsylvanians, the New Yorkers and the South Carolinans—gallantly proclaimed that they wished to “see the elephant” beyond those next mountains. These fighting Mohawks were bound to go through, and compared with the new Regulars, they were veterans.

Colonel Childs, from Jalapa, was to remain in Puebla with the sick and a garrison of five hundred. The majority of the First Pennsylvanians stayed at Perote to hold that. Counting out teamsters and the like General Scott had, after all, only about ten thousand seven hundred officers and men, with whom to advance against General Santa Anna’s thirty thousand.

“We might better have chased right along with what we had after the battle of Cerro Gordo, and reached Mexico as soon as Santa Anna,” Hannibal complained. “He’s had time to make ready for us, and we’re cut loose from our base—haven’t men enough to garrison a single place, except Perote, between here and Vera Cruz, and the whole road is worried by guerillas. Old Fuss and Feathers says he’s thrown away the scabbard and is advancing with the naked sword. It’s do or die. Well, anyhow, the Second Division starts to-morrow. Those fellows have the luck again. Hope we aren’t far behind.”

This was August 6, the day of General Pierce’s arrival. The army had been re-apportioned into four divisions instead of three.

The First Division was about the same as before: Second Artillery, Third Artillery, Fourth Infantry,[185] in the First Brigade; Fifth Infantry, Sixth Infantry, Eighth Infantry, in the Second Brigade.

The Second Division (General Twiggs’) was about the same also: First Artillery, Third Infantry, and the Rifles, in the First Brigade; Fourth Artillery, Second Infantry, Seventh Infantry, with the Engineer company and Ordnance company, in the Second Brigade.

Major-General Pillow, who ranked next to General Scott, now, as full major-general, commanded the Third Regular Division. This contained the new regiments. The First Brigade, General Cadwalader, had the Voltigeurs or light riflemen, the Eleventh Infantry, the Fourteenth Infantry, and Captain John Magruder’s Light Battery I of the First Artillery. The Second Brigade, under the handsome General Franklin Pierce, had the Ninth, Twelfth and Fifteenth Infantry.

General Quitman commanded the Fourth Division. This was the Volunteers and the Marines. General Shields, who had recovered from his terrible wound received at Cerro Gordo, had, of course, been given the Volunteer brigade, composed of the Palmettos under Colonel P. M. Butler, and the Second New Yorkers under Colonel Ward B. Burnett. Lieutenant-Colonel E. S. Watson, of the Marines, had the Second Brigade—the Marines under Major Levi Twiggs and the Second Pennsylvania (a fine regiment equal to the Regulars) under Colonel W. B. Roberts, with Light Battery H of the Third Artillery under Lieutenant E. J. Steptoe, and Company C, Third Dragoons.


Then there was the cavalry brigade, commanded by the fire-eater, Colonel Harney, and containing Company F of the First Dragoons, under Captain Phil Kearny, nephew of General Stephen W. Kearny who had marched the First to California; six companies of the Second Dragoons, under Major E. V. Sumner, who also had recovered from his Cerro Gordo wound; and three companies of the new Third Dragoons, under Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas P. Moore.

The Twiggs Second Division was to lead the way, with Harney’s dragoons clearing the advance.

Everybody turned out early the next morning, Tuesday, August 7, to see the Second start for the Halls of Montezuma. The dragoons were already a short distance upon the road. A great throng of soldiers, sick and well, and of the townspeople, pressed around the plaza where General Twiggs drew up his regiments on parade before the government palace to be inspected by General Scott.

Inspection over with, he faced the long lines and raised his hat—and what a burly fighter he looked to be, with his short neck and his sunburned red face and his mane of white hair.

“Now, my lads, give them a Cerro Gordo shout!” he bellowed. “One, two, three—huzzah!”

“Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!” The twenty-five hundred cheered with one voice in a deafening burst. Jerry, Hannibal, and every comrade in the crowd joined wildly. The bands blared, the drums rolled, the fifes squeaked.

“By company, right wheel! Quick—march!”


The division broke into column of companies.

“Columns, forward—march! Guide—right!”

“Break into platoons—march!”

Away tramped the Second Division, bands playing, drums beating, cannon rumbling, flags flying.

“Hi!” Pompey chuckled, having squirmed up beside Jerry and Hannibal. “Santy Annie, he done heah dat shout, an’ he’s a-sayin’: ‘Dem Yankees is comin’! Now where I gwine?’”



The next morning the General Quitman Mohawks and Marines marched jauntily out, headed by Captain Gaither’s company of the Third Dragoons. The Worth division was to leave on the morning following; the Pillow Third Regular Division would be the last.

All Puebla gathered to see the First go. Not a few of the Mexican women were crying. The First Division was the favorite. The townspeople had named it the “Pueblan Division.” They admired the way the men had stacked arms and coolly lain down to sleep in the plaza as if fearing nothing.

General Worth, dark and flashing-eyed, sitting his horse like a field marshal, called for three cheers.

“Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!”

In column of sections five men wide the First passed through the gate, and upon the National Road to the City of Mexico.

“Form platoons—march!”

“Route step—march!”

From close order of thirteen inches distance the ranks fell back to twenty-eight inches, or one pace, apart. The men might carry their guns at will, always with the muzzles up; they need not keep step and might talk.

An aide from the general staff galloped in from behind and said something to General Worth. The order rang imperative:


“Column, close order—march!”

So everybody came to a shoulder arms, the ranks closed, the drums again tapped the cadence of ninety steps to the minute.

General Scott hastened by with his staff and escort, and continued on to join the Twiggs advance, it was said.

“Route step—march!”

The day, August 9, was sunny and warm. The City of Mexico lay about ninety miles west, beyond the next range of mountains. From the pass over the range the Valley of Mexico and the city would be seen.

At the end of the third day’s march camp was pitched amidst an icy drizzle, in a high valley named the Rio Frio or Cold Water Valley. There had been a stiff climb through pine forests but the pass was near before. General Worth, riding his horse among the regiments, directed that timber be cut by the messes and fires built. Soon the dark rainy valley was aglow with the log blazes of the First Division bivouac, here ten thousand feet up, in the Anahuac Mountains.

Jerry was warm and comfortable, rolled in his blanket beside the fire, his drum stowed in its oilcloth housing.

“Ah, weel, I’ve seen worse in Scotland,” Private “Scotty” MacPheel remarked.

“Sure, we’ll niver mind whin we’re all a-livin’ cosy-loike in the Halls o’ Montezumy,” said Corporal Finerty. “Faith, an’ they’re not fur now. Jist over the top o’ the hill, an’ down.”

The fires gradually died under the pelting rain.[190] When to the touch of a sergeant, Jerry awoke, shivering, for reveille, his blanket was sheeted with ice, and icicles hung from his drum cover.

But this day they all were to cross the range and would see the City of Mexico below, where General Santa Anna waited with his thirty thousand men, his artillery and his forts.

To drum beat and fife note, playing the regimental marches, the First Division stepped out briskly in the crisp air. The way was up, and up, and up. At every half mile the column had to stop and rest. The men sweat under their muskets, knapsacks, haversacks, cartridge boxes and blanket rolls. When they reached the top they were almost eleven thousand feet aloft.

The pass formed a plateau about a mile long but not wide. At noon the column halted at the western edge for dinner.

Nothing below could be seen except a heavy fog extending like billows of cloud, while up here the sun was shining. Nevertheless the Valley of Mexico was underneath the fog bank.

“Companies, fall in!”

“By platoons, forward—route step—march!”

Down they went upon a pretty fair road. The fog was breaking, as they twisted and turned amidst the pines. Now the sun commenced to shine into the valley itself. Lakes glistened, green fields unfolded, more mountains appeared.

With rumble of wheels, tramp of feet and clatter of hoofs the First Division descended. Nobody could deny that the long column of cavalry, artillery, infantry and wagons made a handsome sight. General[191] Worth and staff, in their great-coats, upon their horses, had paused. The general was eagerly surveying the line. Then he exclaimed:

“Gentlemen! Look at that! Just look at that column! Isn’t it enough to cheer the heart of any man?”

By mid-afternoon the whole valley was in view. There were numerous towns; several large lakes; the City of Mexico was disclosed as a patch of sparkling towers and turrets, thirty miles distant. And after a time the ranks began to pick out the camps of the Second and Fourth Divisions, blue with soldiers and slightly marked by the few tents of officers.

“That first is Twiggs.”

“No, it’s Quitman. I can see the Mohawks ’atin’!”

“B’gorry, ’tis Twiggs; for there’s Ould Fuss an’ Feathers, big as anny thray men!”

“Column, close up—march!”

The ranks closed, the men fell into the cadenced step. Drum Major Brown ordered “Coming Through the Rye”; and with the fifes and drums of the Fourth Regiment playing “If a body meet a body,” and the other music and the bands playing what they chose, they all marched past the first camp (that of the Quitman Volunteers and Marines); before reaching the camp of the Second they turned into a road branching off to the southwest, as if for a round shining lake; and at sunset, while the clouds promised rain, they made camp at a village named Chalco, near the eastern border of the lake.

The evening was rainy. Under orders from the officers the company sergeants soon billeted the men[192] in the village houses and shacks. Jerry’s mess—First Sergeant Mulligan, Corporal Finerty, Fifer O’Toole, Privates “Scotty” MacPheel, John Doane (who had served in the British army) and Henry Brewer from New Jersey—got quarters equal to the best: the same being a room with stout clay walls and mud roof, and a fireplace, and sheep pelts on the dirt floor for softness. To be sure, the pelts smelled rather strong when warmed up, but what difference?

Sergeant Mulligan sent out Scotty and Henry to forage, with Jerry as interpreter. They three came back bringing a shoulder of mutton, two chickens and an armful of corn. Under orders from the sergeant, in a gruff voice, but delivered by Jerry, the Mexican who owned the hut supplied firewood. Speedily the mess was cooking and eating.

“The only thing that bothers me now is, jest how are we goin’ to call on Santy Annie?” said Fifer O’Toole, munching; “for, as I understand, all the roads leadin’ in to him are dikes, like, through the bogs, wid wather on both hands an’ cannon overhead.”

“Why can’t you l’ave that to Gin’ral Scott?” Corporal Finerty reproved. “Faith, he’ll find the way in an’ we’ll take it. Meself, I ain’t paid to do a gin’ral’s work; I’ve my own business, an’ that’s fightin’ whin the officers give the word. They’re the lads who know.”

“By the way the folks in this town are acting, keeping so aloof and not over friendly, they consider us as good as licked already,” put in Henry Brewer. “‘You are all dead men’—wasn’t that the comforting[193] word from the black-faced villain who handed us over the mutton?” he appealed to Jerry.

Jerry nodded.

“But they said the same about you in Vera Cruz,” he added.

“Yis, an’ they thought the same at Cerry Gordo,” Sergeant Mulligan asserted. “An’ the same they thought in Pueblo, whin the purty gurls cried to see us set out. But for all that we’re still terrible able to punish flesh-an’-blood victuals. Wid full stomicks an’ Scott to lade us on we go.”



In the morning the clouds had vanished. The day was as warm as midsummer; in the east and southeast the great peaks of Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl stood out white and sharp and clear; large Lake Chalco shimmered in lanes of water through reeds and floating meadows; across it, and farther in the northwest, the City of Mexico appeared plainly, its towers and high roofs glistening in the sun.

Everything looked peaceful. After the camp had performed its fatigue duties, the men were set at work cleaning their equipment. Jerry finished early and was free to wander.

By all talk throughout the regiment the situation was serious. The City of Mexico was in sight, but it was surrounded by lakes and bogs, and batteries of heavy guns, and fortifications manned by thirty thousand or more Mexican soldiers.

After a while he espied an officer seated by himself, apart, upon a pile of old clay bricks and studying a map. It was Lieutenant Grant, busy figuring the problem. Jerry went to him and saluted.

“Well, my lad?” the lieutenant invited.

“Beg your pardon, sir, but I was wondering what we’re going to do,” Jerry ventured.

Lieutenant Grant smiled.

“So are the rest of us. It’s a very pretty puzzle. But General Scott will solve it, for here we are.”


“Oh, we’ll take the city, of course, sir,” Jerry agreed. “I don’t know how, though.”

“N-no,” the lieutenant mused, eying his map. Then he eyed Jerry. He was worn and thin, like the soldiers generally. “You’re a bright boy. Maybe if you look at this map you will understand things better. But this is all confidential, you must remember. The man in the ranks is supposed to wait and obey orders; the field officers say what they are. And as I’m only a second lieutenant I have little to do with the planning of operations.”

“I’ll remember, sir,” Jerry promised.

“All right. Sit down. Here’s a sketch map that I’ve borrowed from the engineers. It covers this section. There’s the road from Puebla, over which we advanced. There’s the Fourth Division camp, at Buena Vista, which we passed before turning off; and there’s the Second Division camp at Ayotla, three miles along toward the city. Here we are at Chalco, a short distance south of the Puebla road and the two other camps, and there in the northwest is the City of Mexico. You’ll see how we are blocked off from going over the Puebla or National road, by the fortress of El Peñon. There’s El Peñon, thirteen miles west of General Twiggs’ camp, on the main highway.”

The Campaign in the Valley of Mexico

“Yes, sir. I see it. Can’t we take it like we took Cerro Gordo?”

“General Scott, I have been informed, would rather not try. El Peñon is stronger than Cerro Gordo was. You can see it from here. It consists of one steep hill; mounts fifty-one guns by batteries placed in terraces, and is surrounded by a ditch of[196] water twenty-four feet wide and ten feet deep. The guns enfilade, or rake the length of the road for a long distance, and we cannot avoid them by leaving the road on account of marshes on either hand. To force El Peñon would cost three thousand men, and we would still be upon a narrow road, seven miles from the city, and unable to manœuvre. But southwest of El Peñon, and nearer the city, on a branch road or cut-off from the main road, you see another fortress called Mexicalcingo.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Mexicalcingo is a fortified town, commanding the passage of a bridge through the marsh at the head of Lake Xochimilco, which is the lake extending into the northwest from Lake Chalco. Mexicalcingo is scarcely five miles from the City of Mexico, but otherwise it gives much the same problem as El Peñon. We might carry the batteries and the bridge, and then we’d still be on a narrow road, flanked by marshes for four miles, before we struck another main road to the city. General Scott is having both fortifications reconnoitred, I believe, but his spies have already posted him.”

“Then what can we do, sir?” Jerry asked.

“I’m not saying, although I am at liberty to have my own ideas. Anybody is permitted to think, but it’s against regulations to think aloud sometimes. I’m telling you these things as man to man. When you grow up you may be an officer yourself, with maps at your disposal. Well, if we can’t get at the capital from the east, there ought to be other ways. Napoleon laid down as a maxim of war: ‘Never do what the enemy expects you to do.’ Santa Anna[197] expects General Scott to advance upon the city by the eastern approaches, and I understand that he has concentrated his batteries and men so as to defend these approaches. Now you’ll see by the map that beyond Mexicalcingo the cut-off road joins a main road from the south, named the Acapulco road. And that farther west there is still another main road from the south.”

“Yes, sir,” mused Jerry, pouring over the map and following the lieutenant’s finger.

“There is a way to strike the Acapulco road, or the other road, without reducing Mexicalcingo. An army might—I do not say it could—but an army of brave men might march around south of Lake Chalco, here, and away south of Mexicalcingo, over a very rough country, and reach the Acapulco road at the town of San Augustine, about thirty miles from where we now are. Thus we should avoid El Peñon and Mexicalcingo, and approach the city from an unexpected quarter, either the south or the west.”

“Maybe General Scott has thought of that, sir.”

Lieutenant Grant smiled again.

“No doubt he has. I rather surmise that he thought of it at Puebla. I know he was busy gathering information. But by all reports from our spies and from the natives the route around south of Lake Chalco is very bad, with lava rocks and sharp ridges and bogs. It is so bad that the Mexicans themselves rarely use it, and General Santa Anna has paid little attention to it.”

“The same way he didn’t pay much attention to that first hill at Cerro Gordo,” said Jerry.

“Cerro Gordo ought to have taught him, but[198] apparently it didn’t. He’s fairly good at tactics and poor at strategy. General Scott shines in both. I have an idea,” continued the lieutenant; and he suddenly asked: “Can you keep a secret, boy?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very well. Do so. I am telling you a secret—or what may be a secret. It is quite likely that the march upon the City of Mexico will be made by the south. Captain Lee, of the engineers, has reconnoitred the trail around the lake to San Augustine and thinks it passable.”

“And we won’t have to fight, sir?”

“Oh, we’ll have fighting enough and to spare. There are defenses over on the Acapulco road, and Santa Anna will find out what we’re up to. It’s simply a question whether he’ll dare move his forces in time and leave the eastern approaches weakened. You see Tlalpam, or San Augustine? North on the road to the city there is the town of San Antonio, which probably has strong batteries; and then Churubusco, four miles from the city. After these are taken, we should have to fight a way through the interior line of defenses connected with the city walls. But at San Augustine we shall be within nine miles of the city and have the choice of several roads. Yes,” smiled the lieutenant, folding the map, “we shall be kept busy, officers, men and boys.”

The Third Division, under General Pillow, bringing the new infantry regiments and the Voltigeurs, arrived this afternoon. They all passed on through Chalco and encamped two miles south at Chimalpa. Now if the attacks were to be made from the east, then the Second Division and the Quitman Volunteers[199] and Marines would get in first, because they already were on the main road. This put the First and Third Divisions in the rear again, which was not pleasing to them. But Jerry, hearing the talk, smiled to himself, for he thought that he and Lieutenant Grant knew different.

And thus it came about; for—

“Hooray, boys! The march is reversed. The old First is to lead the way wance more.”

That was the word from Corporal Finerty, at noon mess the next day in the village of Chalco, on the eastern shore of Lake Chalco.

“An’ where do we go?”

“Sure, I ain’t been told yet, but you can figger for yourselves. It won’t be by the main road, that’s certain, where the Twiggs lads are ahead of us.”

The news set everybody on edge. The men only waited for orders. In about two hours they came from Brigade Adjutant Nichols, speaking for Colonel Garland.

“Beat the assembly, drum major.”

At the initial taps the Fourth Regiment slung haversacks and knapsacks and grasped muskets. The other regiments were as alert. Drum Major Brown signaled, and his drummers sounded To the Color.

There was brief inspection. Ranks were closed, platoons formed, the First Division moved out into the south instead of into the north. That was just as Lieutenant Grant had predicted.

The Pillow division was under arms, two miles on, but had not yet formed for a march. The First trudged blithely by with good-natured jokes, and left it.


When bivouac was made this evening in a cornfield eight miles from Chalco the division was in fine spirits. Old Fuss and Feathers and General Worth were up to something, nobody knew exactly what; but all, including Santa Anna, would soon find out.

The next day’s march rounded the lake and turned into the west among olive groves. Emerging from these the leading ranks broke into a cheer. In the north, far beyond the lake, there might be seen El Peñon hill, a dark, bulky mass, with the Mexican flag still flying defiantly from its top. Across the head of another lake, in the northwest, Mexicalcingo village was just visible with the Mexican flags marking its batteries also. The division was side-stepping these forts out of range.

“Faith, they don’t see us at all, at all. They’re settin’ over their traps, an’ prisently we’ll be lookin’ at their backs!”

The road was getting bad. It wound along the base of a bare mountain range that extended ridges right into the new lake, Xochimilco. The horses of Duncan’s battery had to be helped by hand; the baggage train in the rear struggled with the steep ravines cut into the sharp rock between ridges.

At ten o’clock in the morning another village, San Gregorio, was reached. Here an aide came up with dispatches for General Worth; the word spread that an attack had been made upon one of the columns behind. The division was to wait for instructions.

Then, at evening, all Colonel Harney’s cavalry brigade, eight hundred dragoons, trotted in. They said that a force of Mexican infantry and lancers[201] had tried to cut off the Second Division, back at Buena Vista on the way from Ayotla to march around the lakes; but that Taylor’s battery of the First Artillery had sent the red caps flying.

The Second Division and the Fourth Division were following the Third and the First. The whole army was on the move, flanking El Peñon and Mexicalcingo, aiming to strike the Acapulco road into Mexico City from the south.

The road to San Augustine grew worse. In places there was scarcely space for the column to pass between Lake Xochimilco and the mountain slopes. The pioneers toiled. The Mexicans had hastened to cut ditches and roll down logs; but the artillery and the wagons were hauled through and over.

Captain Mason of the engineers rode ahead, out of sight, to reconnoitre. When he returned it was reported that he had entered San Augustine itself, and had found no soldiers.

“Column, attention! Close order—forward—march!”

With cavalry, infantry, four pieces of artillery and seventy-five wagons the First Division marched into San Antonio on the afternoon of August 17.

In camp this night many of the men thought that now the way was open to the city. Remembering the map and his talk with Lieutenant Grant, Jerry feared different. So did others.

“Not yet, not yet, my lads,” said Sergeant Mulligan. “We’ll have our fights. You can rist sure that Santy Annie knows afore this what we’re about. Ain’t the country full o’ spies for him? ’Tis a long[202] nine miles to thim Halls o’ Montezumy, an’ plenty o’ room for batteries acrost the way. If I don’t miss my guiss there’ll be troops an’ guns a-hurryin’ already, ’round by the city an’ down to head us off. I hear tell that not two mile north is the first o’ the trouble—a place called San Antonio, bristlin’ wid guns; an’ Cherrybusco beyant, lookin’ the same. An’ bogs, an’ outworks, an’ the city walls beyant that.”

“Weel,” quoth Private MacPheel, “may the bullets be distributed same as the pay, an’ mony a braw fallow win through.”



At eight in the morning assembly was ordered. The division formed column. This looked like business. General Scott had arrived; the Second, Third and Fourth Divisions were coming rapidly. When the First headed out of San Augustine, upon a broad road leading to the north, Jerry himself felt a queer little thrill. In that direction lay San Antonio, only two miles and a half; beyond San Antonio was Churubusco; and beyond Churubusco, Mexico City.

From San Augustine nothing could be seen of the country north. The view was interrupted by a great mass of blackish volcanic rock, thrown up like lava, and cooled into all kinds of ugly shapes. It was named El Pedrigal; was two miles north and south, and three miles east and west.

The road turned northward around the east end of the lava bed. In another mile the west end of Lake Xochimilco opened, opposite on the right—and the column suddenly halted. The road continued, but half a mile before there stretched across it the Mexican batteries of San Antonio.

Now the general officers consulted. In the column heads wagged. With the marshes of the lake upon the one hand and the jagged lava ridges upon the other, and the road running between straight into the breastworks, it did not look like a very happy prospect.


“Order—arms! Battalion—rest!” barked Major Francis Lee to the Fourth Infantry.

The whole column might stand at ease while General Worth and his staff, riding to a better position, examined the ground through their glasses. An aide came with orders for the brigade.

“The general’s compliments, colonel, and you will please encamp your brigade on the right of the road,” he shouted, to Colonel Garland.

The regiments were moved over. The Second Brigade also went into camp behind. The companies were cautioned to stay near their stacked arms in readiness for action. The flags of the Mexican batteries could be seen plainly; the notes of their bugles could be heard. A cannon boomed, and a round-shot whined down the road.

“B’gorry, this day we make a horn or spoil a spoon,” Corporal Finerty declared. “Who’s for climbin’ over thim breastworks?”

“I!” and “I!” and “Here’s your man!” were the replies.

“Less noise there, sergeant,” called Captain Gore.

“You hear? Hould your breaths, for you’ll nade ’em,” Sergeant Mulligan rebuked.

“Sure, sergeant, wan Cerry Gordo shout an’ thim beggars’d be showin’ us their heels,” Corporal Finerty grinned.

“Here he comes! Old Fuss and Feathers himself! ’Tis like a smell o’ powder—the sight of him. Are ye all primed, boys? We’re in for a fight.”

General Scott and staff galloped up. General Worth received him at division headquarters in a ranch house near the rear; they all proceeded to examine[205] the country again from the roof of the house. Pretty soon the engineers under Major J. L. Smith and Captain James Mason (said to be almost the equal of Captain Lee in cleverness) set out to reconnoitre over the lava bed on the left; Captain Seth B. Thornton’s company of the Second Dragoons detachment filed along the edge of the lava to support them.

Both parties disappeared. The camp waited; had dinner beside their stacked arms, the remaining detachment of dragoons loafing likewise. Some of the men slept in the warm sun. Jerry was dozing off like an old campaigner, his shoulders bolstered against his drum, when a “Boom! Boom” awakened him with a start. The men around him were listening and gazing, their faces a little paled. The officers had stiffened, alert.

A cavalry horse galloped down the road, its saddle empty, its stirrups flapping.

“Cap’n Thornton’s horse! It’s Cap’n Thornton’s horse!”

As the horse swerved for the dragoons, all might see that the saddle was bloody. When the Thornton troopers rode in, they brought Captain Thornton’s body, cut almost in two by a cannon ball. They had reconnoitred too close to a masked battery.

The Mexican batteries were sending an occasional shot in the direction of the division, bidding “Stand off!” The engineers toiled back. They evidently had found no route either by the left or the right of the road, for toward evening the First Brigade was moved a short distance aside and everybody knew that the attack had been postponed. The Fourth[206] Regiment secured quarters in a large stone barn—and just in time. A cold rain began to fall.

The Mexican batteries kept firing at the barn with a twenty-four-pounder; once in a while a round shot landed upon the mud roof or shook the solid walls, but the rain and the gathering dusk made poor practice for them, and after a time the men grew used to the bombardment.

Finally the shots ceased. Up the road the San Antonio soldiers were having a celebration. There was much singing and howling and squawking of bands, together with the firing of muskets.

“Now I wonder what’s the reason of all that?” Henry Brewer of Jerry’s mess remarked. “Is it because they killed one man, or do they think they’ve beaten us off? Seems to me it takes mighty little to make those fellows happy.”

“Aye; and to-morrow they’ll be singing a different tune,” said John Doane.

“Did soombody obsarve this marn that we’d be makin’ a spoon or spoilin’ a horn?” asked Scotty MacPheel. “Faith, whin we carry yon batteries I doot soom of us’ll no hae muckle mair use for a spoon or any ither tool except a spade.”

“Right-o, Scotty,” Corporal Finerty agreed. “For me military eye tells me there’s a job ahead of us, though I’m not sayin’ the First Division can’t handle it. Sure it’s no secret what the ingineers reported; all the officers know it, an’ I’ve an ear on either side o’ my topknot. The Mexicans ferninst us are snug an’ tight, wid a reinforcement o’ two regiments from the north, an’ thray thousand men all tould, an’ batteries fetched clear from El Peñon an’[207] that other place, Mexicalcingo. Their right rists on the lavy that only infantry can travel; their lift ixtends clean into the bogs, where no man nor horse can make way around. An’ in front we got to charge in along this same open road, an’ belike have to put up scalin’ ladders to get in wid for use o’ the bayonet.”

“You talk like an officer, Finerty.”

“Yis, an’ I’m givin’ yez officers’ talk. If I had me desarts a gin’ral I’d ha’ been before this. An’ somethin’ else I’ll tell you. Yonder at the other side those lavy ridges, an’ only thray miles, is another set o’ batteries, an’ we can’t pass betwixt. There’s another road, too, west’ard, an’ a cross road connectin’ this and that, by way o’ Cherrybusco beyant San Antonio. So if we do take San Antonio, an’ Cherrybusco, won’t we have thim fellows on our backs? Now I’m figgerin’ that the gin’ral staff is thinkin’ a bit on how to carry the batteries yonder, first.”

The night passed peacefully. Duncan’s battery had been posted to command the road, the sentinels regularly sang: “All’s well,” and the camp slept. In the huge stone barn the Fourth Regiment was as comfortable as could be.

August 19, the next day, dawned bright and warm. Word came that all the divisions were now up as far as San Augustine. By the number of aides and orderlies dashing back and forth between the First Division headquarters and San Augustine, something was due to happen.

The orders of the day kept everybody close. Jerry had no opportunity to look up Hannibal, and Hannibal was unable to look him up, either. The[208] air seemed filled with suspense. The Mexican batteries up the road stayed very alert, expecting an attack. But the brigade officers, within sight of Jerry, constantly trained their glasses upon the lava field to the west—really paying more attention to that than to San Antonio.

Then about the middle of the afternoon the dull booming of artillery and the crash of musketry came rolling across the bristling lava. Speedily two clouds of smoke rose toward the sun; both were three or four miles away. The larger one veiled a hill that just showed itself above the lava field.

It was a battle at last. The large cloud was from the Mexican batteries, the smaller cloud from the American guns.

General Worth and a group of officers had issued upon the flat roof of the ranch house headquarters to gaze at the smoke. Division Adjutant Captain William Mackall galloped in from the headquarters to Colonel Garland; Brigade Adjutant Nichols bore the orders to Major Lee of the Fourth Regiment.

“The battalions are to stand in line, at rest, major, prepared to move.”

“Battalion, attention!”

Officers ran to their places; the men, who had been sitting down, sprang up.

“Right—dress! Front! Order—arms! Battalion—rest!”

So the regiments waited for the command to march.

“We’ll be going yonder and lend a hand.” This was the hope. But although the firing grew heavier[209] and the smoke clouds denser, no further orders arrived from headquarters.

Nevertheless it was plain to be seen that things were not altogether right in the west. General Worth and staff still stood outlined upon the flat roof of the ranch house, peering steadily through their glasses; the brigade and regimental officers were anxiously gazing, too; and presently the company officers drifted into little knots and gazed and murmured.

The smaller black cloud was stationary; it had not advanced, the Mexican cloud had lessened not at all. By the sounds the American batteries were lighter in metal. The smoke clouds remained separate—the American forces seemed to be getting nowhere.

The faces of the officers lengthened; the men in the ranks began to mutter restlessly.

“Send in the First. Sure, we’re the boys. Leave those fellows in front of us, and we’ll tend to ’em later.”

The First Division stood ready until sunset. When the firing died away, the positions of the two smoke clouds had little changed. The Mexicans upon the hill certainly had held out.

“You may break ranks, major,” the adjutant called to Major Lee. “The men are to be dismissed for supper.”

This left matters very unsatisfactory. Before supper Jerry sallied out from the barn. The officers still were in little groups, talking earnestly. Whenever any of the enlisted men came near to them, they immediately quit talking, as if they had been discussing bad news. Jerry waited until he had a chance[210] to catch Lieutenant Grant alone. Then he went up to him.

“Excuse me, lieutenant, but could you tell me anything about the battle? The men are afraid it hadn’t gone right.”

“We don’t know much more than the rest of you,” the lieutenant answered. “General Worth probably is expecting news. But if you’ll promise not to spread discouraging word among the men, I’ll explain the best I can.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very well. As far as I understand, General Scott is operating on a triangle. The base of the triangle is formed by this road, from San Augustine to Churubusco, with San Antonio at about the middle of it. The lava field occupies the inside of the triangle. The point of the triangle, west across the lava, is a hill called Contreras, which the Mexicans have fortified strongly. We cannot pass San Antonio by the road, without much difficulty, in order to get at Churubusco beyond and open the way to the capital. But while we mask San Antonio and keep it on the alert, General Scott purposes to throw the other divisions from San Augustine out along the south side of the triangle, carry the Mexican fortifications at the point, and then by marching eastward again along the north side of the triangle strike Churubusco and San Antonio at their rear, or in reverse. We, of course, will be called upon for a frontal attack at the same time. Now by the appearance of things I fear, myself, that the general has run against a stronger position than he anticipated, and that matters have not gone according to plan.[211] He had the engineers under Captain Lee reconnoitring the enemy yesterday. They found a mule trail leading from San Augustine through the lava to the batteries at Contreras. Evidently the ground has proved difficult for artillery, as I noted the reports of only three light guns on our side.”

“Do you think we’ve been whipped, lieutenant?” Jerry asked, his heart sinking.

“N-no, not exactly whipped, in the true sense of the word,” Lieutenant Grant soberly said. “There’s been no call upon us for reinforcements, and it did not sound like a very heavy battle. But the way this army is fixed, cut loose from communications and over two hundred miles in the enemy’s country, if we don’t take a place when we really attack it we might as well be whipped. We can’t afford to lose men for nothing.”

“We’ll win yet, then; won’t we, sir?”

“General Scott is there. You may be sure that he’ll find a way. A small force can hold San Antonio in check. It is acting strictly on the defensive.”

“If troops are sent for, I hope they’ll be the First Brigade,” Jerry blurted.

“Yes,” smiled Lieutenant Grant; “so do I.”

The regulation night’s rain was commencing to fall. Jerry hastened back for the stone barn and supper. That was rather a gloomy mess. They all somehow knew that the attack over at Contreras had failed; all wondered what Old Fuss and Feathers would do next; what regiments had been cut up, why the First Division had not been given a chance, and so forth, and so forth.

“Ah, weel, to-morrow’ll be a bludy day, I’m[212] thinkin’, lads,” spoke Scotty. “The gen’ral’s no mon to gie oop. I vote for a gude sleep, mysel’, an’ I sartainly peety them who hae their bivouac in the starm. Gude sakes, leesten to the pour doon!”

The rain had merged into a terrific storm of thunder and lightning and gusty wind that lashed the barn with giants’ flails. Luckily the Fourth Regiment was snug within the dripping eaves; but what of the troops camped in the open, covered by only their blankets? They would be drenched! And what of the men on the battlefield? The wounded, and the weary!

While thinking and listening to the rain, and drowsily watching the smouldering campfires in the great barn, Jerry dozed off. He awakened to the sound of low voices. A group of non-commissioned officers was squatting near him, beside a fire, and talking guardedly among themselves—or seemed to be interested in a story. All through the barn the ranks were stretched under blankets upon the floor, snoring and gurgling. Jerry promptly rolled out and crept to the group. Sergeant Mulligan and Corporal Finerty were there from his company.

They stopped murmuring.

“Who’s that?”

“Jerry Cameron, is all.”

“Get back to bed. We want no young rascal of a drummer sittin’ in with us.”

“’Asy, now. He’s not as bad as the rist of ’em,” Sergeant Mulligan said. “He’s all right; knows how to kape a still tongue in his head. Sure, I see him talkin’ wid Left’nant Grant, betimes, an’ niver a word did I get out of him. Let him stay.”


“Mind you, then, nothin’ of this to the men,” Corporal Finerty warned. “Go on, Murray.”

The center of the group was Corporal Murray, of Company A, who had been orderly at headquarters.

“Well, as I was saying,” proceeded Corporal Murray, “the story of the battle is like this—just as I got it with my two ears when the orderly from Old Fuss and Feathers rode in with dispatches to division headquarters and I listened through the door. General Valencia, who ranks next to Santy Annie himself, is over on Contreras hill, with twenty-two pieces of artillery, mainly heavy guns, and with six thousand infantry and lancers, blocking the way around by the west the same as those fellows at San Antonio are blocking our way north’ard. So this morning the general-in-chief sent Pillow’s division of new regulars, with Cap’n Magruder’s light battery of the First Artillery from the Second Division and Left’nant Callender’s howitzers, to open the trail discovered by the engineers; and the Second Division under Twiggs was ordered to support.

“Well, and a time they all had, sure enough. The engineers hadn’t been able by reason of the nature of the ground to get clost enough to count the batteries, or quite figger their positions, but they’d took a scattering of prisoners before being driven back, and Old Fuss and Feathers examined these. Now the trail was fierce, in the open, like, all heaved up into sharp rocks and broken by holes, and never a bit of shelter once our men had climbed atop the lava field. And at two thousand yards the Mexican eighteens had a fair sweep, whilst Magruder and Callender couldn’t reply at all.


“But the men and horses dragged at the guns and took their medicine. The Mounted Rifles afoot were sent forward to clean out the Mexican skirmishers, and that they did. ’Twas not the sharp rocks and the holes alone, but the cactus was something scandalous, and down in front of the hill there were ditches and corn patches, fine for skirmish work. Never mind, the Rifles kept at it. Sure, boys, if Magruder and Callender didn’t get their guns to within nine hundred yards, and there they planted ’em, and opened up.

“Persifor Smith’s First Brigade of the Second Division formed our left o’ line; that new general, Pierce, marched into right of line with his Second Brigade of Pillow’s Third Division, being the Ninth, Twelfth and Fifteenth Infantry; the other new general, Cadwalader, moved in to support with his First Brigade, the Voltigeurs and the ’Leventh and Fourteenth regiments; old Bennet Riley with the Second and Seventh Regulars and the Fourth Artillery of the Twiggs’ Second Brigade was sent around by our right flank to take the Mexicans in reverse and occupy a village north’ard on their left rear.

“There was a ravine in front of the line, and all cleared of brush, with the Mexicans up the opposite slope entrenched, their lancers and infantry covering their flanks and a road leading north for the City of Mexico. ’Tis the road which connects by a crossroad with this road of ourn, at Cherrybusco. Our infantry stood no show of storming the hill from in front—not across that ravine; and for two hours the batteries had a fearful time with twenty guns pounding[215] ’em. Left’nant Callender, of the howitzers, was bad wounded, Lef’nant J. P. Johnston, of Magruder’s, got his death, and we could work only three guns together, owing to the nature of the ground. The Rifles lay flat, supporting the batteries; and so did the gunners, and jumped up when they served the pieces. ’Twasn’t long before the whole two batteries were put out of action; hadn’t made any impression upon the breastworks with their twelve-pounders, and had to be withdrawn.”

“Where was Scott all that time?”

“Right there, up toward the front. Riley was getting through, ’midst the lava, ’round the enemy’s left, so as to take the village north’ards on the road, and put a wedge betwixt Valencia and Santy Annie. For I tell you Santy Annie himself was up the road about two miles with twelve thousand more Mexicans, ready to reinforce if necessary. He’d been feeding in troops right along. Now to nip that in the bud and to help Riley, Scott ordered Cadwalader forward by like route, sent for Shield’s brigade of Mohawks—the New Yorkers and South Caroliny Palmettos in waiting at San Augustine—and added Pierce’s Fifteenth Infantry. Pierce’s horse fell in the rocks and hurt the general’s knee, but Colonel Morgan took the Fifteenth to position. Old Davy (Twiggs, you know) on his own hook had detached Persifor Smith with the Rifles, First Artillery and Third Infantry, to the same point. And at dark there they all were, every regiment, under Smith: posted near the village at Valencia’s left and rear—thirty-three hundred of ’em, cut off from Twiggs on the south by the six thousand of Valencia,[216] and threatened on the north by Santy Annie’s twelve thousand.”

“What’s to be done nixt, wud ye think?”

“Cap’n Lee, of the engineers, made his way back to general headquarters at San Augustine. He got in about eleven o’clock with dispatches—the only officer out of eight that tried to open communication between Smith and Scott. He came all the way from Smith, some four miles across the lava, and through the Mexican scouts—had to feel with hands and knees, for it’s black as the inside of your hat, out doors, and raining pitchforks. Smith intends to attack by the rear at daylight, before Santy Annie gets down from up the road; asks for a frontal attack at same time to help him out. So I guess we’ll all be in it, for Twiggs’ll need every man.”

A little silence fell on the group. Jerry’s heart beat rapidly. The situation seemed serious.

“I pity those poor fellows yonder acrost the lava,” Sergeant Mulligan uttered. “Hark to the rain, now! It’s a crool night. An’ they’ve been marchin’ an’ fightin’ all the long day, an’ likely the most of ’em are lyin’ out soakin’ wet an’ hungry besides. Did we lose many, have you heard?”

“Haven’t heard exactly, sergeant. The batteries lost fifteen officers and men and thirteen horses. The infantry got off better, for the batteries took the brunt of it. But to-morrow——. You see, at San Augustine there are only the Marines and Second Pennsylvania; and here we are. That’s the reserve, except the dragoons—and they’re no good on the lava. Twiggs has only the Ninth and Twelfth Regulars of Pierce’s brigade in Pillow’s Third Division[217] in front of Valencia. To make a proper diversion there and support Smith and mebbe hold off Santy Annie he’ll need help. I’ll go you a month’s pay we’ll be called on before daylight.”

“Faith, if we’re in for a fight, I mane to sleep,” Sergeant Mulligan growled.

The group broke up. Jerry crept back to bed. He scarcely had dropped off into an uneasy sleep himself when the galloping hoofs of a horse aroused him—just as if he had been expecting the very thing.

The horse passed the barn in a hurry; bound for Colonel Garland’s headquarters, perhaps. Orders! In five minutes the sentry on post outside the barn challenged again:

“Who comes there?”

A voice answered shortly. Then the door opened, and the same voice—that of Adjutant Nichols—shouted:

“Men! Men! Wake up, all hands! First sergeants, parade your companies and call the rolls immediately. The officers will then take command.”



There was something in the ring of the adjutant’s voice which wakened every man in a jiffy, as though they all had been dreaming of battle.

“Beat the long roll, drummers!”

But already the vast room was astir with voices and figures. Fires were being kicked together, lanterns and candles being lighted; the companies formed in half darkness; they called off. Outside, the rain was still pouring.

“Where we going now?”

“What time is it, anyhow?”

“Two o’clock, my lad.”

“B’jabers, we’ll nade cat’s eyes.”

“Weel, there’ll be licht enow whin the powder burns.”

“Be it to San Antonio or to Contreras, I wonder.”

“What difference to you, whether up the road or down?”

“’Tis to Contreras, wid this early start. I’m thinkin’.”

“An’ do we go on empty stomicks?”

“We’re to help out the other lads at Contreras, boys,” said a sergeant. “Five or six miles is all. So what does the matter of an empty stomach count? You can eat from your haversacks as we march; and by breakfast time we’ll be sampling the camp fare of those Mexicans. We’ll be fair in time for[219] breakfast with ’em, and the fires’ll all be made to save us the trouble.”

The company officers had bustled in; got the reports from the first sergeants. There were orders.

“Company A, by the left flank! Left—face! For’d—march!”

“Company B, by the left flank! Left—face! For’d—march! Right oblique—march!”

And so on. Thus they all filed out of the barn door into the rain and the darkness, where the regimental officers were waiting.

“By company, into line—march! Left wheel—march! Company—halt! Right—dress!”

“Sure, how can a man right dress when he can’t see?”

“Silence in the ranks!”

“Form platoons—quick—march!”

“Close up on the leading company, captains!”

It was a jumble. Jerry found his place with the rest of the music by guesswork.

“Is that you, Jerry?” little Mike Malloy, drummer of Company A, whispered. His teeth were chattering.

“Yes, Mike.”

“An’ are we goin’ into battle?”

“Looks like it, Mike.”

“Oh, murther,” Mike groaned. “We’ll all be dead wid cold before we get kilt entoirely wid bullets.”

“Battalion, forward—route step—march! Close up, men; close up,” shouted Major Lee. “Don’t straggle. Drum major, sound a march.”

“How can we sound a march wid the drums soaked an’ the fifes drownded?” Mike complained.


The First Brigade was in motion, marching back down the road for San Augustine. The music proved a dismal failure. Presently, stumbling and slipping in the mud, with clothes and knapsacks weighing a ton to the man, the column was passing the camp of the Second Brigade. The Second Brigade’s fires had long been quenched, but sentries could be dimly seen; beside the road figures were lying rolled in blankets, lights were glimmering feebly in the guard tent and brigade headquarter’s tent.

The Second Brigade was not going! The First Brigade had been selected! Hooray! And the Clarke men would be sick when they knew. Jerry chuckled to himself, thinking of Hannibal, who was missing out. At the same time he wondered whether he would see Hannibal again. But General Worth was with the First. His voice had been heard. And no doubt Old Fuss and Feathers was impatiently waiting, bent upon victory.

Slosh, slosh, slide and stumble, in the downpour and the blackness.

“Close up, men! Close up! Keep in touch.”

After what seemed to be a long, long time they were trudging heavily through silent San Augustine, south of the lava field. Except for cavalry pickets, it appeared to be deserted. The reserve there—the Marines and Second Pennsylvania—had gone. General Scott of course had gone. All the infantry and artillery were being gathered at Contreras for a decisive fight.

Slosh, slosh, slide and stumble and grumble. After another long time the darkness began to thin. Pretty soon the column might see the muddy road[221] and the outskirts. The clouds were breaking over the mountains in the south and the lava field in the north. The road was thickly marked by footprints and by furrows filled with water, where the artillery wheels had cut deeply.

The way veered sharply north into the lava field, amidst curious ashy cones high with flat tops as if they had burst open; the brush had been hacked down and leveled and crushed. General Worth and staff spurred ahead. The sun was reddening the east. Jerry could see the men’s faces, pinched and dirty, white and unshaven. The ranks were panting—their shoes clogged with mud, their uniforms drenched and smeared, their guns and knapsacks dripping. How far were Contreras and the Mexican army now? A fight would be warming, if nothing else. Any instant a halt might be ordered to recharge the muskets and get ready.

Hark! The fresh morning air was set atremble by another roll of cannon and musketry fire. Smoke arose before, maybe two miles distant in the northwest. The battle had opened again; the men strained forward. Adjutant Nichols galloped back along the ranks.

“Hurry, men! At the double! Sound the double, there, drum major! Come, come, men! Double time—march!”

Colonel Garland had turned and shouted and waved his sword. Jerry essayed to join in beating double time. The men tried to respond. They surged into a shambling trot, but they could not keep it up on the slippery road, carrying their soaked[222] clothes and knapsacks, their muskets and mud-laden shoes.

They grunted and panted and wheezed and stumbled. The firing had increased under the smoke cloud. It continued furiously for about a quarter of an hour, while the First Brigade toiled at its best and the officers urged. Then the battle tumult died almost as quickly as it had been born; and there were cheers, instead, not the shrill “Vivas” of the Mexicans, but the hearty “Huzzahs” from American throats.

“Hurrah, boys! The works are taken. Hear that? It’s victory!”

“Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah!”

The column actually quickened pace over the wet brush and lava rocks, with faces flushed by excitement. The sun beams touched the tips of the lava cones—and see! Away off there, where the smoke cloud swirled in the morning breeze, the Stars and Stripes gleamed from the top of a hill. The firing still persisted, lessened by distance, as if the Mexicans were being pursued northward.

Here came General Worth, splashing recklessly down the rough trail, his horse lathered with sweat, his dark, handsome face shining as he waved his hat.

“Contreras is taken. Halt your column, colonel.” Then his face stiffened. “What’s this, sir? The orders were to leave the knapsacks on a forced march. Now instead of being fresh for a hard day’s fight my men are broken down already! This is no way to bring soldiers upon the field. Counter-march, sir, as soon as possible, to our old position, and await further orders to advance on the[223] enemy. Deposit the knapsacks there and let the men rest, sir.”

He spoke loudly and angrily. Colonel Garland answered not a word, but whitened and saluted. The general had been heard by half the brigade. They gave him a cheer. He was a leader to be depended upon when it was a matter of fighting. Rather nervous, beforehand, but a reliable commander in the field.

Now for San Antonio, no doubt. Back they were marched, through the mud, five miles—and every foot of the way they feared that the Second Brigade might be in ahead of them, after all. But it was not. It was only under arms. They exchanged cheers with it, as grimy and tired and hungry they plodded by. Jerry saw Hannibal standing, drum slung, in the field-music ranks of the Eighth, and reported to him with a flourish of the arm.

At the old camping place, near the big barn, the First Brigade took time to swallow hot coffee, scrape some of the mud off, and dry in the warm sunshine. But all too soon orders were given to fall in, with blanket rolls, and with two days’ rations of beef and bread in the haversacks. The lieutenants and first sergeants passed along behind the ranks, inspecting every cartridge box, weeding out the cartridges that looked wet, and inserting fresh ones. The loads were withdrawn from the muskets; dry loads were rammed home. Serious business was ahead.

The ranks were closed. The regimental commanders made short speeches to their men. Major Francis Lee addressed the Fourth.

“Men,” he said, “we are going into battle. The[224] First Division has the honor of forcing San Antonio from the front, to open the road for the heavy artillery, while the Pillow new regiments are taking it in reverse or at the rear. But they have the longer way to come, from Contreras, and the First Division must get in first. Then we shall push right on to Churubusco and join the fight there.”

“Huzzah! Huzzah!”

“We have good news to support us, and do not need any help from the Pillow men.”

“No, no!”

“Contreras entrenchments were taken in seventeen minutes by only two thousand men. The Riley Brigade of the Second Division, composed of the Second and Seventh Infantry, the Fourth Artillery, with the Rifles added, took it alone at the point of the bayonet. General Cadwalader’s Eleventh Infantry and Voltigeurs followed close. The remainder of the Second Division, being the Third Infantry and First Artillery, led by Major Dimick in place of General Persifor Smith, who commanded the whole movement, arrived in time to break the last resistance, and the rout was received by General Shield’s New Yorkers and Palmettos on the road north. But the colors of the Seventh Infantry were again the first to be raised. The Fourth Artillery captured two of its guns that had been lost at Buena Vista last spring. The entire Mexican force of seven thousand troops, called the ‘flower of the Mexican army,’ was dispersed, leaving two thousand dead, wounded and prisoners, all the artillery, ammunition, provisions, and the military chest. Our own loss is less than sixty. The only fortified points between us and[225] the capital, seven short miles, are San Antonio and Churubusco; and these are being enveloped by the victors of Contreras. Let us push on, so that our comrades of the other divisions shall not do all the fighting. Now, three cheers for victory!”

They cheered thunderously. The drums rolled. The two other regiments—Second and Third Artillery—were cheering. But see! The Second Brigade had passed—was obliquing out over the lava field, on the west or left, as if to make circuit and attack the enemy’s flank. The ranks and their flags dipped amidst the sharp ridges.

“Companies, right wheel—march! Forward, quick—march!”

Huzzah! The First Brigade also was off. The time was about eight o’clock in this morning of August 20.

In a few minutes the breastworks of San Antonio village were plainly visible not half a mile up the road. They extended to the lava on the west; on the east they stretched through marshy ground in shape of a long quarter circle bending back so as to front the bogs of the lake.

The lava side was bad enough, but the other side was worse. The First Brigade kept on by the road.

“Fourth Battalion, by the left flank—march! Hurry up, men!”

Assistant Adjutant-General Mackall, of the division staff, had shouted. The ranks of the Fourth immediately left-faced. In double file they scrambled down from the high road and formed company front again in the muddy cornfield that lay between the road and the lava field.


“Battalion, forward—quick time—march!”

The drums tapped quick time. Now the Second Brigade was well out in the lava, its line of battle resembling a great flock of goats. The Fourth Infantry was next, at the same side of the road but below, hurrying through the boggy cornfield. The remainder of the First Brigade stretched across the road and was forging straight on.

“Bang! Bang! Bangity-bang-bang-bang-g-g-g!”

The Second Brigade was in action—perhaps driving the Mexican skirmishers. Hannibal was there with the Eighth. The firing increased to battle din; cheers echoed, smoke drifted, and in the corn the Fourth Infantry could see little except the green stalks and the mud and the ditches that had been cut.

“Trail arms! Double time—march!”

How they hustled, almost dead with the ten and more miles marched already, and with stomachs curiously empty again. Beating the double, Jerry and the other drummers had hard work to hold their places. They and the fifers formed two ranks behind the left center company; this was the field music position in order of battle.

“Battalion, ready! Stoop, men!”

The musket locks clicked. Close before, between the stalks of corn, breastworks could be seen, the muzzles of cannon staring blackly. The Mexicans were reserving their fire here; but out to the left the firing had grown fiercer and was traveling on toward San Antonio. Farther in the north other firing swelled louder and louder. But here——! Why didn’t the Mexican breastworks open? Anything[227] was better than this suspense, when a sheet of flame was expected every moment!

“Forward, men! Forward! Steady!” And suddenly: “Fourth Infantry—charge!”

“Hooray! Huzzah! Huzzah!”

The drums beat the charge, Jerry pounding lustily as he ran. The men yelled—a Cerro Gordo shout. They stumbled, fell, splashed into ditches four feet wide. Lieutenant Grant was running and waving his sword in front of his company. All the officers were cheering on their men. The breastworks loomed higher, the cannon muzzles gaped wider.

The line swept on; the front rank began to climb—the men slipping and clutching and clinging, and ever advancing their muskets to pull trigger. Over they went with yells renewed; up and over went the rear rank, and over went the fifers and drummers, tumbling into the cheering mass.

The breastworks were empty. Onward extended the road, with the Mexican artillery and infantry, mingling with horses and women, legging pellmell in a mass for San Antonio town—through the little town and out again.

“On, men! On!”

Now it was a race. Look! The Second Brigade was closing in and firing. So rapidly it descended from the lava, beyond the village, that it struck the rout right in the middle—cut the mass in two. The first portion broke and fled east, across the fields; the Second Brigade halted in the gap, while the other half of the Mexicans scurried faster up the road for Churubusco.

The Fourth Infantry joined the Second Brigade[228] at the instant when the remainder of the First Brigade came in. Everybody was laughing and cheering, but there was no time to be lost.

“To the color! Beat to the color, drummers! Battalions, form companies! Forward—double time—march!”

The First Division ran on. The whole elevated road before was a sight. The two miles to Churubusco, lined by shade trees, was a solid jumble of Mexicans—infantry, artillery, lancers, camp followers and baggage wagons, flying for dear life. Wounded were dropping out, guns were being abandoned, teamsters and cannoneers were lashing their horses. It was a rout indeed.

And yonder in the northwest another rout pelted in: Santa Anna’s reserves, from near Contreras, pursued hotly by the Twiggs Second Division, all aiming for Churubusco.

The First Division was right upon the heels of the San Antonio fugitives. The men were wild with excitement; nobody thought now of weariness.



Churubusco, into which the Mexicans from the south and from the west were pouring, bristled with defenses. They seemed to be mainly on the left or west of the road. First, there was the straggling village, half encircled by breastworks, with an immense stone church rising high above everything, and already spouting smoke from its cannon mounted upon the walls and the flat roof. There were cornfields and fruit trees upon both sides of the road, and beyond the church there was a stone bridge carrying the road across what appeared to be a large canal, reaching from the lake on the east into the cornfields and meadows of the west. It was at least a mile in length, piled with earth on either bank, like a dike, and absolutely filled with infantry and artillery, protected by the earthen parapets.

The end of the bridge in front of the earthworks, at the middle of the dike, had been built up into a regular stone fort, containing a battery under cover. While farther on, occupying the road after it had left the village and the bridge, there were thousands more infantry and lancers, swelled by the Santa Anna force.

The column had halted, the men ceased cheering, and General Worth and staff surveyed Churubusco through their glasses.

It was an anxious moment. The enemy certainly numbered twenty thousand, well stationed. The[230] bridgehead and the dike had opened with cannon balls which came ricocheting down the road and splashed the mud and water of the cornfields. But the men paid little attention to them. Hooray! Here was General Pillow, at last, with the General Cadwalader brigade of Voltigeurs and Eleventh and Fourteenth Infantry—toiling in from the west and uniting with the First Division on the road. He had arrived too late for San Antonio, but was in time for Churubusco.

The men were growing impatient. Within a few minutes the gunfire from Churubusco had risen deafening. The church was being attacked; it fairly vomited smoke and shot and shell; every inch of it seemed alive. The fields to the west of it were answering. Infantry in thin lines could be seen stealing forward; a battery was hammering hard.

“Twiggs! Old Davy’s there, with Taylor’s battery!”

How the men knew, nobody could tell; but know they did. The word passed that General Persifor Smith’s First Artillery and Third Infantry were attacking the church. They appeared to be suffering, for they were within point-blank range of the roof-top and the cupola, and had no cover except the corn.

Another brigade—Colonel Riley’s Second and Seventh Infantry—was hastening to the support of General Smith. The firing had spread to the north, as if an attack was being made all along the line of the road. The time was nearing noon but the smoke welled in such a cloud that it hid the sun. Amidst the terrific uproar of artillery and small-arms the orders[231] of the First Division officers could scarcely be heard, here half a mile away from the battle.

“Column, attention! Forward—march!”

The cannon balls tore in more and more viciously. The musketry of the bridgehead also opened. Men were falling.

“Column, right half wheel—march!”

In column of companies they left the road and descended into the muddy cornfields again on the right. One company stayed upon the road. It was the gallant Sixth Infantry, advancing alone, moving very steadily, the men gripping their muskets at right shoulder shift. The bluff old Major Bonneville, that bald-headed veteran who, on leave of absence in 1832, had been a fur hunter across the Rocky Mountains, commanded the Sixth. He was a Frenchman, but had graduated from the Military Academy in 1813, so he was no new hand at the fighting game.

The Cadwalader Voltigeurs had been stationed in reserve. The two other regiments—the Eleventh and Fourteenth—had joined the Second Brigade. The First Brigade, Colonel Garland leading a-horse, swung out wider to the right, and on through the corn, at the double, came the Second Brigade, to march between the First Brigade and the road.

Unless the Garland brigade hurried, the Clarke column would strike the bridgehead first, on the shorter inside track.

The Sixth Regiment was drawing the bridgehead fire. The companies were rushing forward, muskets at a ready, but they met such a storm of iron and lead that they crumpled, stopped, and firing furiously, took shelter along the sides of the road.


“On the first battalion, deploy column! Battalions, right face—quick—march!”

It was a wonder that the order, issuing from the red face of Adjutant Nichols, could be heard at all. The First Brigade extended to the right at a run, and front-faced on line of battle. Jerry and the field music of the Fourth were behind again; now the positions of the lieutenants was two paces in the rear of the rear rank of their companies. It chanced that Lieutenant Grant was directly before Jerry’s place in the rank of drummers. Jerry kept an eye upon him.

These cornfields were cut by ditches of water as the others had been. The double line grew ragged as the men leaped the ditches. The bridgehead and the dike were firing—with patter and hiss the grape-shot and bullets ripped through the corn. The Mexican works were higher than the cornfield, so that the division’s advance could be seen while the Mexicans themselves were concealed.

Oh, but it was frightful in that cornfield! “Center guide, men! Keep up with the colors. Center guide!” Lieutenant Grant and the other officers shouted constantly. The color guard of the regiment pressed stanchly, braced and holding the Stars and Stripes and the flag of the Fourth Infantry above the murderous hail. Men were falling fast; they plunged, or reeled and sank, some of them in the mud and some of them into the water. As quickly as gaps occurred in the front rank, men from the second rank sprang forward and filled the spaces. The corn bowed to the withering blast. Ahead, Mexicans were jumping up and dodging for cover[233] after firing. The enemy’s skirmishers were being dislodged from their holes.

What a noise! Thousands of guns, large and small, near and far, speaking at once! The whole American army, except a tiny reserve, was engaged with the whole Mexican army in the field. It was a fight to a finish of eight thousand against twenty thousand. Somewhere General Scott directed. It was safe to say that Old Fuss and Feathers knew just what was going to happen; his plans had been made; and although the First Division, with the help of General Cadwalader’s two regiments, seemed to have been given the toughest job in the taking of the bridgehead and the opening of the road, Jerry for one had not the slightest doubt of the result. The Mexicans would be threshed, of course.

On surged the double line and on; bending and weaving and staggering, but ever on. The wounded and the dead were left. There was blood, and ghastly sights. A bullet sang so close over Jerry’s head that he ducked. A shower of grape spattered all around him. Drum Major Brown was down—his leg had collapsed under him.

“Never mind me, boys.”

Jerry heard a cry—“Help! For th’ love o’ Hiven, help, wan o’ yez!”

He glanced behind. Corporal Finerty was bleeding and struggling, on hands and knees, in a ditch with the water almost over him. Jerry hustled back and dragged him out; then ran forward. It was no joke being a drummer boy in a battle, for a fellow could do little with a musician’s short sword fit only for frying bacon.


“Double time, men! Hurrah!”

How they all panted, and what a sight they were, muddy and smeared with blood and sweat.


“Huzzah! Give ’em Yankee Doodle, boys!”

The darkly scowling faces of the rows of Mexicans behind the dike breastworks could be seen. Their white teeth flashed from their lips parted in the swarthy countenances flattened against the gunstocks. The musket muzzles belched smoke; so did the cannon of the bridgehead to the left. The soldiers in front of Jerry were aiming, firing, pausing to load—to tear their paper cartridges with their teeth, dump a little of the powder into the opened pan under the raised flint, pour the rest into the muzzle, ram the paper and the three buckshot and a ball home with the ramrod; aim, fire, and run again, loading.

The blue line was slowly moving in. The men worked like Trojans. Now the buttons of the rows of red-capped Mexicans were showing, so near were the trenches. Jerry stumbled along right behind Lieutenant Grant, who never ceased shouting, never ducked nor dodged, and somehow had not been hit yet.

The First Brigade advance had come to a standstill, while the ranks fired more rapidly. The Mexicans were leaking away—wounded and staggering, or running scot free. A tremendous cheer arose above even the other tumult. The Second Brigade was into the bridgehead! A torrent of blue blouses, firing and charging with the bayonet, the officers leading and waving, had crossed a wide ditch at its[235] base on this side. The men were diving in through the battery embrasures or scaling the walls like cats. In they went—in by the road went the Sixth Infantry. The flags of the Eighth and Fifth disappeared over the top; soon the flag of the Sixth was dancing to meet them. Out boiled the Mexicans, artillery and infantry, and streamed in a tossing tide up the bridge and into the north, or else into the trenches on the west. The bridgehead had been taken by front and side.

“Now, men! On! Charge!”

“The bayonet, lads! The cowld steel!” shrieked old Sergeant Mulligan to Company B.

The drummers beat the charge; with a volley and a yell the Fourth Infantry and all the line ran for the dike. The Mexicans in it answered with one volley; out they bolted. Right through the canal, shoulder deep with mud and water, the men scrambled, and leaped over the other bank. The Mexican red-caps, throwing away muskets and knapsacks, were frantically crowding the built-up road where it crossed the lowlands beyond the bridge.

The bridgehead had been the key. The enemy’s left was emptied; the trenches along the dike west of the road were still fighting, but Duncan’s battery had come into action. It had been unable to advance through the cornfields; had continued by the road, under cover of a mass of abandoned wagons from San Antonio. It was firing from the road—never had guns been served faster. The four pieces made one continuous roar, cannonading the west trenches that reached all the way to the great stone church set in the midst of other field works.


The bridgehead’s captured guns also were being turned. That was too hot for the Mexicans. Out they, too, boiled, fleeing madly through the fields to the rear.

Duncan’s battery and a four-pounder in the bridgehead changed to the church and battered the walls. The Second Division, with Taylor’s battery of the First Artillery, was still battering from the other side. A white flag fluttered in the smoke upon the church’s flat roof. It vanished—it had been hauled down. Now the Second Division line sprang to its feet and charged. The church was surrounded by double walls—the blue figures mounted the first wall—the church cupola was crumbling under the solid shot—the church was about to be taken—no! The wall was cleared by the Mexican sharp-shooters upon the roof. Yes! The wall filled again, the men vaulted over and down and rushed for the second wall—the sharp-shooters were leaping from the cupola and off the roof—the Mexican cannon had been silenced—there were more white flags—“Cease firing!” pealed the artillery bugles, for the standard of the Third Infantry, blue and gold, had unfurled from the balcony. In a moment the standard of the First Artillery was displayed beside it.

The First Division, jumbled all together, the men cheering and waving and even crying with joy, had paused to watch—had paused for orders, maybe, to assault the church itself. Jerry found himself grabbed by Hannibal—a grimy, excited Hannibal, wild with excitement, like the rest.

“We did it, we did it! Hooray! And you and I aren’t hurt.”


“But we lost a lot of men,” Jerry panted.

“Fall in! Fall in! Form companies. Beat the rally, drummers.” Those were the orders. Hannibal scooted. General Worth was waiting no longer. There was heavy firing in the north, where Santa Anna was standing off the left of General Scott’s line.

“Who’s yonder?”

“Shields and his Mohawks, and the Pierce Brigade. They’re hard pushed.”

“Forward—double time—march!”

The Cadwalader men had joined again. They had entered the bridgehead closely behind the Second Brigade. In column of platoons all doubled up the road, which was strewn with bodies and plunder. The rout was on before and extended as far as eye might see; but a desperate battle was raging only a mile distant.

The column was in time; in fact, may not have been needed. The flight from the bridgehead and the church proved too much for the Santa Anna soldiers. General Pierce’s Ninth, Twelfth and Fifteenth Regulars, and General Shields’ New Yorkers and South Carolinans, two thousand men, were having a give-and-take with General Santa Anna’s reserve of four thousand infantry and three thousand lancers. But before the General Worth and General Pillow column arrived, the Mohawks were seen to charge—the Mexicans did not stand—their line wavered, the Pierce Regulars struck it on right and left—the center burst apart, all the line broke into fragments, fleeing for the road; and when the First Brigade, led by General Worth and Colonel Garland, panted in the Santa Anna troops had mingled[238] with the vast throng of refugees from Churubusco.

The Pierce Regulars and the Shields’ Volunteers met the van of the First Division.

“On, men! To the city!”

No time was granted to the Mexicans to re-form; their infantry, artillery and camp followers jammed the road and flowed out upon either side. Lancers protected the rear, and threatened the pursuit. Matters looked good. The First Division, both of General Pillow’s Third Division brigades (General Cadwalader’s and General Pierce’s), and the Shields Mohawks were united, a victorious little army, and cared nothing about the lancers; the road to the capital was open. Hooray!


“Column, halt!”

The drums beat, the bugles rang.

The column was two miles and a half from Churubusco, and only a mile and a half from the city gate. The Mexican rout had attempted no stand; the foremost of its dense mob were already jostling in. General Worth evidently was uncertain what to do—whether to follow right on or wait for orders. He and General Pillow and General Shields consulted together, sitting their horses. Huzzah! Huzzah for the dragoons! Here they came at a gallop, from behind, under Colonel Harney, and tore in to General Worth.

Colonel Harney checked them for a moment, and exchanged a word with the general. General Worth nodded. On spurred the little detachment—Captain Phil Kearny’s company of the First, half a company of the Second and two companies of the Third.[239] Captain Kearny led. Their pennons streamed, the riders leaned forward in the saddles, sabers were out and flashing.

Plain to view they struck the Mexican rear guard—dashed the lancers to one side and the other, wielding their sabers cut a lane clear to the city gate, and disappeared in the midst of a seething mass. Colonel Harney’s orderly bugler pelted vainly after, blowing the recall. The Kearny detachment did not hear. The battery and the muskets of the city gate began to fire upon friend and foe alike. It looked as though the dragoons were entering the gate itself. No—back they galloped, Captain Kearny with his left arm dangling and bloody, two other officers wounded, and several troopers reeling in the saddle.

An aide from General Scott hastened in with dispatches. General Scott directed that the pursuit cease. The column was counter-marched a short distance and bivouacked. Dusk was descending from the mountains, announcing the end of a long, long day. Suddenly Jerry and everybody else felt exhausted. They had been upon their feet since before daylight; had been marching and fighting for sixteen hours, with not much to eat.

The first thought was “coffee.” As soon as arms were stacked the First Division bustled to gather wood. Down the road other divisions were doing the same. The hospital men could be seen searching the field of battle, far and near, for the wounded.



Before supper was finished the clouds had gathered; darkness set in early, with every prospect of rain again; the men were still too excited to lie down—they collected in groups around the campfires and talked things over.

Jerry simply had to find Hannibal and compare notes. On his way to the Second Brigade he met him coming on. They returned together to the campfire line of the Fourth Regiment and squatted there.

The Fourth Regiment would never be the same again. Just how many it had lost in killed and wounded was not yet known, but in Jerry’s own little mess Corporal Finerty was greatly missed. He and Drum Major Brown had been put in hospital back at Churubusco, it was said, and were due to recover.

All agreed that of the Regulars the First Division had suffered the most severely. In the Second Division, which attacked the church from the open, the First Artillery had lost five officers; the Second Infantry had lost four; reports from the Third and Seventh Infantry were not in.

There was much praise for the new Third Regular Division, and the Mohawks, of the Fourth Division. In the Cadwalader brigade of the Third, which supported the First Division against the bridgehead, Lieutenant J. F. Irons, aide-de-camp to General Cadwalader, had been killed. General Franklin Pierce, leading the other brigade in the[241] march to oust Santa Anna, had fainted from pain. That fall from his horse at Contreras had proved to be very serious. The Shields Mohawks and the Pierce Ninth, Twelfth and Fifteenth Regulars had outbattled Santa Anna’s seven thousand. The South Carolina Palmettos had formed center of line. Their colonel, Colonel P. M. Butler, had been wounded, had refused to leave, and then had been killed; their Lieutenant-Colonel Dickinson had been mortally wounded next, and Major Gladden had commanded. Colonel Burnett, of the New Yorkers, had been carried from the field. So had Colonel Morgan, of the Fifteenth Infantry. Of the two hundred and seventy-two Palmettos in the final charge one hundred and thirty-seven had fallen. But General Shields had taken three hundred and eighty prisoners.

Out of the seven cavalry officers who charged with the one hundred dragoons to the city gates, three had been badly wounded (Captain Kearny’s arm had been amputated at the hospital), and Lieutenant Ewell had had two horses shot under him. Major Mills, of the Fifteenth Infantry, who had joined as a volunteer, had been killed.

The whole army had been in action, except the Second Pennsylvania and the Marines, who had been kept at San Augustine with General Quitman to guard the supplies; and the Fourth Artillery, who had been ordered to stay at Contreras.

“’Twas this way,” old Sergeant Mulligan explained to the listening group at the campfire: “In wan day we’ve done what no mortal army ever did afore. We’ve fought foive distinct battles, by daytachments, so to speak—eight thousand of us divided[242] up to lick thirty thousand Mexicans. An’ lick ’em we did, ivery time, in spite o’ their breastworks an’ forts an’ their chosin’ their own positions. We give ’em the field, an’ then we tuk it. First there was Contreras: thirty-foive hundred Americans ag’in seven thousand active enemy wid twelve thousand standin’ ready to pitch in. Second, there was San Antonio, where twenty-six hundred of us saw mainly the backs o’ thray thousand. Third, the bridgehead an’ thim entrenchments, where we were outnumbered not more’n two to wan; an’ fourth, the church, wid the Second Division stormin’, say thray or four to wan; an’ fifth, the Gin’ral Shields foive rigiments of belike two thousand breakin’ the hearts o’ Gin’ral Santy Annie’s siven thousand. Now I’d like to hear whut Old Fuss an’ Feathers has to say.”

“You’ll hear him,” asserted a man from a searching detail, who had come up from the rear. “At Cherrybusco he is, still; proud as a king, the tears of him choking his voice. He’s thanking every division in turn; he’ll not forget the First that opened the way.”

“And where was he during the fracas?”

“In the rear of Twiggs, directing the fight and sending in the regiments. So fast he sent ’em forward after Contreras that b’gorry he found himself left all alone, and had to get some dragoons for an escort.”

“An’ whut does he say about the desarters, I’m wonderin’?”

“Desarters?” exclaimed several voices.

“Sure, lads. Sixty-nine were taken: twenty-seven at the church and the rest by Shields. The artillery[243] battalion o’ Saint Patrick they’re called—an insult to the name. Every man once wore the United States uniform, and this day they turned the guns upon their own comrades. Tom Riley is their captain. The most of ’em desarted from Taylor, in north Mexico, with hopes of better pay and positions. ’Twas they who held out longest at the church. Three times they pulled down the white flag, for they well knew they were in a tight place. Hanged they’ll be, as they desarve.”

“I dunno,” spoke somebody. “Old Fuss and Feathers has a soft heart in him for the enlisted man. Now if they were officers he’d give ’em short shift.”

“Did you find many wounded, poor fellows?” the detail man was asked.

“Not near enough before darkness. There’s like to be a hundred of the First lying now in the cornfields—and the rain closing down.”

“That’s bad, bad. What with the mud and the corn and the ditches, it must be a sore place to search.”

“We’re doing our best.”

“Well, lads,” Sergeant Mulligan uttered, “I’m wet through already, an’ I’m goin’ to turn in, for to-morrow we’ll likely take the city. An’ why we didn’t go for’d an’ take it this evenin’, on the heels o’ that mob, I dunno. Wid the help o’ Shields an’ Pillow, the First could ha’ walked right along.”

“An’ walked into a trap, maybe. But the gin’ral had no orders, an’ he waited too long, undecided.”

“Yes; and the gen’ral-in-chief stopped him, too. Like as not that United States commissioner, by name o’ Trist, who’s been followin’ with headquarters all the way from Puebla, is instructed ag’in any[244] more fightin’ than is necessary. ‘Conquer a peace’; that’s the word. And if we’ve conquered it this day, we’ll give Santy Annie a chance to say so, after he’s calmed down a bit.”

“Right, then,” Sergeant Mulligan agreed. “Let ’em think it over. For if we entered in too much of a hurry ’twud be only a half-baked p’ace after all.”

The group broke up.

“Good-night,” said Hannibal. “Whew, but I’m tired. It’s been a great day, though. Oh, my eye, didn’t we thrash ’em!”

“Rather guess,” Jerry answered. “I kept track of Lieutenant Grant. He was right near me most the time.”

“Where’s Pompey?”

“Haven’t seen him. He’s hunting another money chest, like as not.”

This night Jerry slept under a wagon, while the rain beat down. But the thought of the wounded lying out in the dark and storm bothered him. Battles were not pleasant.

After breakfast the First Division was marched back to Churubusco. The other divisions were encamped nearby. And what a sight that field of Churubusco was! The bodies of Mexicans were piled everywhere—in the road and in the breastworks and in the muddy fields. All the trenches and the causeway and the road north was a mess of muskets, pistols, swords, bayonets, lances, haversacks, cartridge boxes, knapsacks, great coats, blankets, hats and caps, and drums, horns, fifes and the like, enough to equip fifty bands.

The Mexican loss was estimated at four thousand[245] killed and wounded and three thousand prisoners. Thirty-seven pieces of artillery had been taken, together with an enormous quantity of small arms and supplies.

The division was moved to the walls of the ruined church. General Scott waited here, sitting his horse, his rugged face now glad, now sad, but lighted proudly. The church balcony contained a number of captured Mexican officers, gazing down as if interested. The general lifted his hand, while the division cheered him. He seemed about to make a speech.

“Silence, men! Silence in the ranks!”

“Fellow soldiers,” the general shouted in his loud voice—which trembled. “Fellow-soldiers of the First Division. Your general thanks you from the bottom of his heart. But a reward infinitely higher—the applause of a grateful country and Government—will, I cannot doubt, be accorded in due time to so much merit of every sort displayed by this glorious army which has now overcome all difficulties of distance, climate, ground, fortifications and numbers. To the First Division I say, as I have said to the other gallant divisions, that by the abilities and science of the generals and other officers, by the zeal and prowess of the rank and file, you have, in a single day, in five battles as often defeated thirty-two thousand of the enemy. These great results have overwhelmed him. The larger number of our own dead and wounded are of the highest worth; the wounded under treatment by our very able medical officers are generally doing well. Again your general and fellow-soldier thanks you, and he will add that this work so well accomplished will not be concluded until[246] we place the flag of our country upon the Halls of Montezuma.”

“Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!”

The front rank broke; before the officers could stop them the men had rushed forward and were fighting to grasp General Scott’s hand, and even his stirrups. He could only spur his horse in careful fashion, and bowing and smiling, his wrinkled cheeks wet, finally galloped away. In a few minutes he was riding across country into the west, escorted by Harney’s dragoons.

About noon it was announced that all the wounded had been found and the bodies of the slain had been buried. The roll calls of the divisions were tabulated. Out of twenty-six hundred men the General Worth command had lost, in killed, wounded and missing, thirteen officers and three hundred and thirty-six rank and file; total, three hundred and forty-nine. The Mohawks of General Shields had lost two hundred and forty out of the two regiments. The Second Division, Regulars, had lost two hundred; the Pillow Regulars about the same. The grand total was one thousand and fifty-six, in which there were eighty-four officers.

The First Division was marched west out of Churubusco by a crossroad about two miles to the next main road, which had been opened by the capture of Contreras; then from this road, four miles by another road northwest to a town named Tacubaya, on the north slope of a hill only a mile and a half from the southwestern walls of the city itself.

General Scott was already here with the Harney dragoons detachment. They and the First Division[247] had the advance position. It looked as though the general was side-stepping again. Instead of moving upon the city by the Acapulco road (the road from San Augustine through San Antonio and Churubusco), he was slipping around to the west and keeping Santa Anna guessing.

This evening word was spread that Santa Anna had proposed a truce for the purpose of talking surrender. The men grumbled somewhat. A truce appeared to them a Mexican trick, in order to gain time while guns and soldiers were shifted. The United States Peace Commissioner, Mr. Trist, who had accompanied the army from Puebla, held long meetings with the Mexican commissioners, but the two parties did not agree upon terms.

The peace talks continued for two weeks. During the truce neither army was to fortify further against the other. Both were to get food supplies without being interfered with. The Mexicans were to send out for provisions; the Americans were to purchase provisions wherever they could, even in the city.

The First Division occupied the advance position of Tacubaya, and had a good rest. Drum Major Brown and Corporal Finerty, of the Fourth Regiment, were able to hobble about and would soon be fit for duty. The General Pillow Third Division was a short distance south, at another village; the Twiggs Second Division was farther south, at San Angel; the Quitman Fourth Division of Volunteers and Marines was down at San Augustine, in charge of the prisoners and the extra supplies.

In Tacubaya General Scott and staff were quartered in the magnificent palace of the archbishop of[248] Mexico, which from the western outskirts of the town overlooked the whole country below. Tacubaya itself was a kind of summer resort for Mexico City; a number of English gentlemen and wealthy city merchants lived here in great style, with villas and out-door baths and large gardens, enclosed by walls.

The slope of the hill fronted the capital. After duties Jerry and Hannibal and the other First Division men paid considerable attention to that view from the slope, for many of the city defenses were clearly outlined.

To the north, directly in front of Tacubaya, on the Tacubaya road to the city and only one-half a mile distant by air, there was a huge mass of grey rock, connected with the city walls by two short roads. The rock mass was fortified from bottom to top by breastworks, and fringed at its base by a long wall and embankment. On the flat crown, about one hundred and fifty feet up, there was a great stone building—the Military College of Mexico. The rock fell away steeply on the south and the east sides. The engineers said that it was as steep on the north side. The west side had a more gradual slope, covered with cypress trees. The name of the rock was Chapultepec—or in English, Grasshopper Hill.

At the foot of the west slope—the timbered slope—there was a long group of stone buildings, with flat roofs and one or two towers. At night red flames seemed to issue from one of the roofs, as if the place was being used as a foundry, casting guns and solid shot. The place was called El Molino del Rey—the King’s Mill; and according to the people in Tacubaya, it was indeed an old mill and a foundry.


The western half of the group was the Casa-Mata, or Casemate. And this was reported to be a powder storehouse.

The King’s Mill and the Casa-Mata were located not only at the western foot of Chapultepec but also at the foot of the hill-slope of Tacubaya village. The guns of Chapultepec covered them; covered the Tacubaya road which at the base of the rock mass ran into the two short roads onward into the city—one entering the city at the southwest corner, the other farther north, on the west side; covered the main road east of Tacubaya—the Contreras road.

To silence Chapultepec—perhaps to climb to its top with only eight thousand men—looked like a job. The King’s Mill and the Casa-Mata at its base might have to be taken. The city gates were defended by batteries, and they, too, would have to be stormed.

Lieutenant Grant good-naturedly lent his spy-glass to Jerry; through it there might be seen the faces and costumes of the Mexican soldiers upon Chapultepec. The castle or college itself loomed menacing with cannon, and thick high walls and the Mexican coat of arms in colors over the wide portico. Numbers of boys were moving about in neat uniforms. These were the military cadets, being educated for Mexican army officers. Some did not appear more than fourteen years old.

Evidently they had practiced on Chapultepec hill, for as said, there was no end of ditches and breastworks, from the college buildings down to the last wide ditch and wall at the bottom.



“Dar’s trouble hatchin’.”

It was afternoon of September 7. The men of the First Division were lying around. Pompey had come forward to where Jerry and Hannibal were sitting with several others, debating the course of events. There had been no fighting since August 20, when Churubusco fell.

“Gwan, you black crow!”

“Yes, sars. But I knows what I knows, gen’i’men. Dar’s trouble hatchin’. Dat armorstice done busted an’ we gwine to pop it to ’em ag’in.”


“Sartin. Dis chile don’t mix up with offercers for nuffin’. The armorstice done been busted by Gin’ral Scott hisself. Dose Santy Annies been fortifyin’ ’gin the rules, an’ gettin’ reinforcements; an’ Gin’ral Scott he sent a note dis berry mornin’ sayin’ dar ain’t any armorstice any mo’ an’ Santy Annie better look out fo’ hisself. Santy Annie, he a big liar, but Gin’ral Scott, he a big strateegis’ an’ nobody gwine to fool him. I heah offercers talkin’; I heah Lieutenant Smith an’ Lieutenant Grant talkin’, same as odders. Dar’s gwine to be a monster fight, sars.”

“B’gorry!” old Sergeant Mulligan exclaimed, slapping his thigh. “That’s right; sure, that ixplains matters. ’Tis why Cap’n Mason, of the ingineers, was off yonder to the front this mornin’ rayconnoiterin’; an’ there go Mason an’ Colonel Duncan[251] an’ Worth an’ Gin’ral Scott himself on another trip. I’ve a feelin’ in me bones that a fight’s due.”

“Guess we’ll have to take Grasshopper Hill for exercise,” said Hannibal, lazily.

“Faith, then why don’t you tell Gin’ral Scott?” the sergeant rebuked. “Belike he’s only waitin’ for some smart drummer boy to make his plans for him.”

“Well, we’ve got to take it, haven’t we?” Fifer O’Toole asked.

“Yis, barrin’ a better way. ’Tis the city we’re after, an’ what wid? Wid an’ army o’ less than eight thousand, to-day, outside a walled city o’ two hundred thousand an’ dayfinded by twinty thousand, snug beyant ditches an’ stone. A job that, me lads, to open the gates. Thim dons know we’re up to somethin’. Did yez mark quite a movement o’ troops down below this mornin’? Says I to meself: ‘Gin’ral Santy Annie is startin’ out to envelop our lift, or else he’s rayinforcin’ the mill so as to get his cannon matayrial finished up.’ Faith, there’s a storm brewin’, but I’ve been in the service too long to daypind on camp gossip. I’ve my own ways o’ findin’ out.”

So the sergeant arose and strolled off.

“Same here,” Hannibal declared. He darted away for his brigade camp.

“I’ll get the correct news meself at the hospital when I ask the doctor to take wan more look at my leg,” Corporal Finerty, asserted, starting out with a great pretense at hobbling.

“Well, I’ll bide a wee jist where I am,” spoke Scotty MacPheel, smoking his pipe. “I’ve gotten a dream, this nicht past, an’ I ken mysel’ there’ll be[252] gey hot wark soon. When it coomes, I’ll no be the last up yon hill.”

All seemed very peaceful in town and camp and upon Chapultepec rock. The flags floated languidly above roofs and tents and battlements. But danger brooded in the air. The armistice had been broken; everything indicated that. The engineers were reconnoitring, as they always did before a battle. The Mexican forces appeared somehow more alert. Now Jerry himself got up and started out. Pompey followed him.

“Where you gwine?”

“Oh, just taking a walk.”

“You gwine to find Lieutenant Grant, huh? You gwine to pester him. Lookee hyar, white boy. Don’t you say nuffin’ ’bout me. If he or Marse Smith find out I been tellin’ ahmy secrets, I get coht-martialed. Understan’? Mebbe I get hanged up, like dem desarters gwine to be.”

“Are they to be hung?”

“Sartin. Dat’s what. A coht-martial done try ’em, an’ done say dey’s to be hanged up, fo’ desartin’ in face ob the innimy an’ shootin’ deir own men.”

“Whew!” Jerry whistled. He hastened on.

He did not find Lieutenant Grant; Corporal Finerty had learned little, Hannibal did not come back, and Sergeant Mulligan kept mum. But all the remainder of the afternoon the excitement in the camp increased; the old soldiers there “smelled powder.” The reconnoitring group returned, and there was a council of general officers at commander-in-chief’s headquarters. Furthermore, in the early evening General Cadwalader’s brigade of the Voltigeurs and[253] the Eleventh and Fourteenth Infantry with Captain Drum’s battery of the Fourth Artillery had marched in from the General Pillow’s Third Division camp, three miles south.

After retreat old Sergeant Mulligan plumped himself down at the supper mess with the words:

“We attack at daylight to-morrow, lads.”

“Where, man?”

“The King’s Mill an’ the Casa-Mata.”

“And Chapultepec?”

“Not as I know of. The Mill an’ the Casa-Mata be the First Division’s job, helped out by the Cadwalader brigade. Sure, the ould man—an’ I’m manin’ no disrayspect—had been a-lookin’ at yon mill from headquarters, an’ he says, snappin’ his glass together, says he: ‘I must daystroy that place.’ Whereby he sends in the First Division, o’ course, wid the Cadwalader troops to watch an’ see how it’s done.”

“An’ what does he want of those old buildin’s, when we might better be takin’ Chapultepec?”

“Becuz he can l’ave Chapultepec to wan side, if he likes, an’ march into the city by another way. But Santy Annie’s short o’ guns an’ solid shot—haven’t we captured most of his movable artillery?—an’ the report is that he’s been meltin’ up the church bells for cannon iron. Faith, we’ll go down an’ take them, too, before he can put ’em to use.”

“Wid Chapultepec firin’ into us?” Corporal Finerty asked.

“Oh, what do we care for the likes o’ Chapultepec? Ain’t ye soldier enough to know that downhill firin’ is mighty uncertain work, especially wid[254] Mexican gunners? An’ they’ll be killin’ their own men, wance we’re inside the walls. Then wid the fut o’ the hill cleared, we can march up all the ’asier, in case such be the orders.”

“How many Mexicans this time, I wonder?”

“Well, the ingineers an’ Ould Fuss an’ Feathers, not to spake o’ Gin’ral Worth himself, haven’t discivvered many, for all their reconnoiterin’ the long day. Seems like there are cannon in the mill, an’ in that ramshackle Casa-Mata; an’ a line o’ breastworks are connectin’ the two. But scarce a sign o’ much of a supportin’ force of infantry. An’ I’m thinkin’ that by an ’arly mornin’ attack we’ll walk in after the fust scrimmage. Annyhow, we’ll get our orders; an’ it’s soon to bed, for me, an’ a bit o’ sleep.”

Jerry managed to get over to the Eighth Infantry and find Hannibal; a rather sober Hannibal.

“Couldn’t see you before,” said Hannibal. “I’ve been on detail. But you know now; we’re to take the Mill and Casa-Mata. Three o’clock in the morning is the hour, and no reveille. So good-by and good luck, if we don’t meet up again.”

“Why’s that. Will it be much of a fight, you think, Hannibal?”

“I dunno. But I’m in the storming column—five hundred picked troops from all the regiments. We charge first and break the center. Major Wright, of the Eighth, commands. About half the Eighth is chosen. The Eighth is General Worth’s own regiment, you see, and he knows what we can do.”

“Maybe I can get in it, too,” Jerry blurted.

“Don’t think so. The First Brigade has only seven hundred and fifty men; the Second had eleven[255] hundred and fifty, so we’ll furnish the most stormers. You fellows will have enough to do, anyhow.”

With a “Good-by and good luck—see you later,” Jerry shook hands and hustled back for his company. But the men from the Fourth had already been picked.

Fortunately there was no rain this night. When Jerry, like the others, was aroused by the non-commissioned officers passing from mess to mess, the stars were shining brightly. The First Brigade formed by itself, under Colonel Garland, in the early morning gloom, and presently was marched down the slope by a road, as if straight for the King’s Mill. By the slight rumble of artillery wheels a battery (Drum’s battery, it was, from the Cadwalader brigade) followed. The other brigades might be heard, also moving, with creak of belts and cartridge boxes, dull tramp of feet, and low lurch and rattle of cannon carriages and caissons. Somewhere on the left cavalry equipment faintly jangled.

Colonel McIntosh, of the Fifth Infantry, was said to be commanding the Second Brigade; Colonel Clarke was ill. Major Wright, of the Eighth Infantry, commanded the storming column of five hundred men picked from all the regiments of the division. General Cadwalader commanded the Third Division regiments. Colonel Harney had supplied six companies of the Second Dragoons and one company of the Third, which with one company of the Mounted Rifles, were under Major Sumner. There were two twenty-four-pounder siege guns, under command of Captain Benjamin Huger, chief of ordnance, and three guns of Colonel Duncan’s First Division[256] celebrated battery, which accompanied the Second Brigade.

At San Antonio the First Division had numbered twenty-six hundred officers and men; now it was down to nineteen hundred, or two thousand, when one included the Colonel C. F. Smith battalion of Light Infantry attached to the Second Brigade. General Cadwalader had brought about seven hundred and fifty in his three regiments; Major Sumner’s dragoons and Mounted Rifles numbered two hundred and ninety, the three batteries one hundred; so that General Worth was attacking the Mill and the Casa-Mata with some thirty-one hundred and fifty men.

After a march forward of about a mile down the hill slope from Tacubaya, the First Brigade was halted in line of battle.

“Lie down, men. Silence in the ranks.”

While they lay, the east brightened slowly over the City of Mexico and the citadel of Chapultepec. The towers and steeples of the city began to be outlined against the sky; Chapultepec caught the glow; all the east became gold and pink, with the mountain ranges black along the high horizon. Down here it was still chill and dusky. Colonel Garland, dimly seen from his horse, addressed the line.

“My men,” he said, “the First Division is going into battle as soon as there is light enough. General Scott has appointed us to brush the enemy from those buildings yonder. The First Brigade is to handle the mill, where the enemy’s left rests. The Second Brigade will assault the enemy’s right at the Casa-Mata. The general assault will be opened after the[257] artillery has prepared the way by the Major Wright storming column, which will break the enemy’s center and cut the communications between the mill and that powder store-house. Our own job is to isolate El Molino and prevent aid from Chapultepec. So we must work fast. But once in there, you know very well that we can’t be driven out. No, no; don’t cheer. Silence! All I ask of you is to uphold the honor of the First Brigade and the American arms.”

The lower country was lightening, now. They all could see the arrangements for themselves. The First Brigade occupied right of line. Captain Drum’s battery section of three six-pounders was posted a little to the right of the brigade. Not far on the left, or west, were the two twenty-four-pounder siege guns of Captain Huger, with the Light Battalion drawn up behind them in support. Beyond, in the broken line that curved to the north so as to envelop the breastworks and the Casa-Mata, there were the five hundred men of the Major Wright storming column, crouched in column of platoons, and behind them the General Cadwalader brigade, in reserve. Farther on in the west there was the Second Brigade, and beyond it the Duncan battery section, waiting in front of the Casa-Mata. And away on the left of line in the northwest, there were the three squadrons of cavalry.

Nothing had been heard from the enemy; not a movement had been sighted. Then, suddenly, a bugle pealed; drums rattled like a volley. The sound made everybody jump, but it was only the regulation Mexican reveille upon Chapultepec. Never had[258] it seemed so loud, it fairly echoed against the mountains back of the city.

“Boom, boom-m-m!”

A flare of flame and a great shock in the air took one’s breath.

“Steady, men!” Lieutenant Grant and other officers were warning.

Huger’s siege guns had opened; and how they bellowed, blasting the still air so that the city crashed and the mountains rumbled.

“Boom! Boom!” The solid shot might be heard smashing through the stone walls of the old mill five hundred yards before. Up on Chapultepec the bugles and drums had ceased, as if frightened. The mill did not reply. General Worth and staff, back of the storming column, could be seen watching the effect of the bombardment; from the mill dust was rising into the dawn.


The First Brigade had been craning anxiously; the men scrambled to their feet at the command. An aide from General Worth had galloped to the battery; it stopped firing, and—huzzah!—the Wright column was rushing forward at the double, down the slope, for the bottom and the breastworks connecting the mill and the Casa-Mata.

That was a stirring sight to witness: this little column of blue-jacketed, round-capped soldiers charging, guns at the ready, their officers leading, and the colors streaming overhead in the fore. Everybody cheered—waved caps and hands; the cheering spread from the First Brigade clear to the farthest left.


On dashed the Wright five hundred—and that Hannibal was there, Jerry well recalled. They slackened—an officer ran forward (he was Captain Mason, of the engineers, who guided with Lieutenant Foster)—he ran back, beckoning as if he had seen nothing beyond the lines of cactus which screened the trenches; the column hastened again, was almost there when from a few yards the whole fringing cactus spumed flame and smoke and a great gush of grape and musket ball mowed the ranks down like ninepins.

But they didn’t stop. No, no! The ranks closed, with bayonets leveled they plunged straight forward into the cactus and over the embankments and into the trenches. The Mexican infantry and artillery were diving right and left for shelter in the Casa-Mata and the mill.

“Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!”

Now for the First Brigade and the seizure of the mill! But look! A tremendous gunfire had belched from the roof and the walls of the mill, directed into the main trench; and a column of Mexican infantry, numbering one thousand, had charged in counter-attack from the rear ground.

Out came the Wright fragments, driven back and back and back, and lessening rapidly. There looked to be scarcely any officers left. Major Wright and both the engineers were down.

Huzzah, though! The Light Battalion and the Eleventh Regulars of General Cadwalader had been launched by General Worth to the rescue—

“Column, forward—trail arms—center guide—double time—march!”


It was the word for the First Brigade at last.

Chapultepec had opened with a plunging fire into the valley. The First Brigade sped steadily down the slope for the smoking King’s Mill.

“Charge—bayonets! Run!”

And run they all did, with a yell, Jerry and the drummers and fifers pelting behind, the officers to the fore, Drum’s battery following by the road. Grape and canister and musket ball met them; men fell; the firing was worse than that of the bridgehead at Churubusco, but the Fourth Regiment luckily found itself in an angle of the wall surrounding the mill yard and could rally under protection. The enemy was inside, sheltered by the walls of the mill buildings and by sandbag parapets upon the flat roofs. The shouting and the rapid firing announced thousands of Mexicans.

All the bright morning was dulled by powder and rent by the cheering, the yelling, and the continuous reports of muskets and cannon. From the angle of the wall where the Fourth crouched, the battlefield to the west stretched full in view—the soldiers charging down across it, staggering, limping, crumpling, but closing ranks as they tore on, their bayonets set. The Cadwalader reinforcements and the Light Battalion had mingled with the shattered Wright column; they were bearing on together, and disappeared in the cactus-fringed trenches. What of Hannibal, Jerry wondered.

But here was Drum’s battery section, dragged forward by hand to a nearer position in the road. It scarcely had been pointed and the linstocks applied to the touch holes when every gunner was swept[261] away by the Mexican balls, leaving the guns alone. Led by Corporal Finerty, out rushed a squad of the Fourth, reloaded one of the guns and discharged it again and again.

The men plastered within the angle of the wall were firing with their muskets whenever they had the chance. Old Sergeant Mulligan was right out in the open, lying behind a large cactus with broad spongy lobes, and aiming and shooting and loading and aiming once more. He did not seem to know that the Mexican bullets were riddling the cactus lobes as if they were paper.

Amidst the hurly-burly orders came to leave the cover of the wall.

“Up, men! Battalion, by the left flank, left face, double time—march!”

That took them to the road again.

“Battalion, forward! Through that gate, men! Break it down! Hurrah!”

“Huzzah! Huzzah!”

Another great cheer had arisen. The Wright and Cadwalader column had won the trenches connecting mill and Casa-Mata; the Mexicans were pouring out, as before—their own cannon were being turned upon them. Now was the time for seizing the mill at one end and the Casa-Mata at the other.

“Huzzah! Inside wid yez!” Sergeant Mulligan bawled, his face red and streaming dirty sweat.

Fast work was made with the gate. Battered by musket stocks and rammed by flying wedges of human bodies it crashed apart. Through the opening and over the walls on either hand the Fourth Infantry surged inside.


All was confusion. Jerry tried hard to stick close to Lieutenant Grant. The yard had to be crossed first—a very maelstrom of smoke and lead—before the buildings themselves might be stormed. The Mexican soldiers, firing from windows and roof-top, gave way never an inch. They were obstinate to-day; brave, too. But shooting, shouting, darting by squads, the Fourth Infantry bored in. On the other sides the rest of the brigade was fighting stoutly also.

It did not seem possible that anybody could live to reach those angry buildings. Jerry—somehow not a whit afraid, so excited he was—wormed after Lieutenant Grant, who surely had a charmed life. The Grant detachment rammed through a door and into the first room of the first building. A pioneer with an ax had joined. Lieutenant Grant pointed, and the pioneer hacked a hole through a wall of the room; the lieutenant vanished into it—they all pursued, Jerry wriggling with the others, his drum slung on his back, his eyes smarting and watering.

Mexican soldiers were upon the roof above. They could be heard yelling and firing. A door from the second room led into an open corridor from wing to wing. The lieutenant sprang back just in time—a loud report had greeted him, and a bullet had splintered the plaster in front of his nose. Scotty MacPheel bolted forward, musket ready; another bullet toppled him. They dragged him into shelter.

“’Tis nathin’, lads,” he gasped. “But bide a wee, for if there’s ane there’s a dozen, jist a-waitin’ above.”


“Careful, men. Watch for a red cap, and when you fire, don’t miss,” panted the lieutenant.

The squad ranged themselves within the doorway and peered; now and then fired. Two Mexican soldiers tumbled asprawl into the corridor. After a few moments there were no answering shots. One of the men—Corporal John Hale—saluted.

“All clear, lieutenant.”

“Follow me, then. On, boys.”

So they passed through the corridor into the next wing.

By the noises the other troops were ransacking rooms in the same way. The tumult, now loud, now muffled, was filled with American cheers.

The next room contained Mexican soldiers driven to cover. At sight of the entering squad they dropped their guns, even fell upon their knees, holding up their empty hands. “Amigo, amigo—friend, friend!” they cried.

“Disarm these fellows and take them outside, four of you,” the lieutenant ordered.

On through a door and another room, and the remainder of the detachment was outside also. The mill yard was a mass of panting blue-coats and of herded Mexican prisoners. The guns of Chapultepec could not fire in with safety. The battle here was over.

Staring about in the north end of the yard Jerry noted a group of red caps upon a roof.

“There are some more, lieutenant.”


“On that roof.”

“I see.”


The lieutenant ran for the building, Jerry after. There was no way of climbing atop.

“Here, you men! Place that cart for me.”

A broken cart was trundled to the wall of the building; the heavy tongue just reached the top. Lieutenant Grant used this as a ladder. He shinned up, Jerry following, while the men below formed file to join.


But somebody had been ahead of the lieutenant. He was one man: none other than Fifer O’Toole, parading back and forth with a musket. Fifer O’Toole grinned.

“Sure, I’m saving ’em for you, lieutenant,” he reported.

They were a fat Mexican major and several subalterns, with full a dozen privates; and they were quite ready to surrender, for at sight of Lieutenant Grant’s drawn sword they unbuckled their belts and dropped their guns.

“The fortunes of war, señor,” the major said in good English, shrugging his shoulders. “We fight like men, but you Americans fight like demons.”

“Very good, sir,” the lieutenant answered shortly, stacking the scabbards in his arms. “Crack those muskets over the edge of the wall, lads, and conduct these prisoners to the proper guard.”

He himself lingered a minute upon the roof. Jerry breathlessly waited. The mill had been taken. There were only a few scattered shots among the buildings, as the soldiers below or ranging the roofs jumped Mexican skulkers from hiding places; but to the west the battle was still raging furiously. From the roof-top a good view might be had.


The trenches connecting with the Casa-Mata had been seized; their cannon were being used to quicken the rout hastening into the wooded west slope of Chapultepec. All the Casa-Mata, however, was aflame with rapid discharges, and the Second Brigade was recoiling in confusion from before it. The Casa-Mata turned out to be a solid stone structure, built like a fort, housing cannon and infantry, and surrounded by ditches and breastworks.

Lieutenant Grant chanced to mark Jerry, standing behind him.

“They’re being cut to pieces,” he exclaimed. “General Worth, and Scott, too, have been deceived. We should have attacked in greater force.”

The Second Brigade was in the open—could not penetrate past the ditches and to the Casa-Mata walls. The field was blue with bodies. Where was Duncan’s battery? Then a sharp word from the lieutenant, who had leveled his spy-glass, drew Jerry’s eyes also to the northwest at very end of line.

A dense body of lancers had sallied from the Mexican right, and sweeping around was forming to charge and turn the American left. The Duncan battery section, with the Voltigeurs running to keep up, was galloping to head the lancers off. And the Sumner dragoons and Rifles were changing front to meet the charge.

The battery was there first—unlimbered in a twinkling—the lancers, a mass of red and yellow, their lances set, tore in for it. Colonel Duncan waited—waited—and when his guns at last burst into canister and grape, with gunners working like mad, the close ranks of the Mexican cavalry melted[266] away in the manner of grain before a giant scythe. The horses reared, fell, or, whirling, bore their gay riders right and left and in retreat.

A new gunfire crashed from the Casa-Mata. At the Second Brigade again? No! The Second Brigade was still streaming rearward in blue rivulets, which swirled, eddied, jetted smoke as the men desperately tried to stand and fight, then slowly flowed on. The new gunfire had issued from a blind trench along which the Sumner column was racing. Down went horse and rider. Major Sumner pointed with his saber, and never wavering, the little column, terribly thinned, dashed on for the lancers, who had re-formed as if to charge again.

Back came the Duncan battery, leaving the lancers to the dragoons and Rifles. Colonel Duncan wheeled his guns into position before the Casa-Mata once more. Quick work this was. He had not been able to do as he wished here, because the Second Brigade infantry had masked his fire, but now, with his field cleared, his three pieces delivered one constant sheet of smoke, out of which the solid shot and canister sped, ripping through the walls and deluging the parapets.

In a moment, as it seemed, the Casa-Mata fire slackened; the doors and windows and roof vomited Mexican soldiers, fleeing helter-skelter, losing hats and knapsacks and muskets; veering to the north out of reach from the mill, they pelted on for the San Cosme gateway of the west city wall.

With a resounding cheer the Second Brigade charged into the defenses. The flag of the Eighth Regiment broke from the roof-top.


Lieutenant Grant closed his glass.

“The battle is over,” he rapped. “Now we can take Chapultepec. If General Scott has the rest of the army in readiness we can take the city itself before night.” Then, as he glanced quickly about: “Aha! A counter-attack!”

Another body of the enemy had appeared—five or six thousand infantry, marching in along the north side of Chapultepec. And the lancers were threatening the Sumner column in the northwest.

“We’re getting reinforcements, too, lieutenant!”

Down from Tacubaya village a fresh American column was hurrying, the Stars and Stripes dancing at the fore. Now Duncan’s battery section, Drum’s section, the Huger twenty-four-pounders, and the guns of the captured Casa-Mata were all thundering at the retreating Mexicans. Bugles were blowing, drums rolling.

“We’d better find our stations, boy,” said the lieutenant. They two piled down by way of the cart shafts.

Jerry was scarcely in time to help beat the recall for gathering the men. The reinforcements arrived. They were the General Pierce brigade—Ninth, Twelfth and Fifteenth Infantry—of the Pillow Third Division. Advancing at the double, amidst cheers, they deployed beyond the mill, challenging the enemy to come on. The new Mexican column hesitated, and well it did so, for here was still another brigade, sent by General Scott; the Riley Fourth Artillery, Second and Seventh Infantry, of the Twiggs Second Division, who from the south had[268] marched four miles, mostly up hill and at the double time to Tacubaya, and thence over and down.

Magruder’s battery, which had done such service at Contreras, was with it; swerved to the west and opened upon the lancers; dispersed them in disorder.

The Mexican flight continued; the Mexican reinforcements countermarched around Chapultepec. The battle had been won—won by the First Division, the Cadwalader brigade of the Third, six companies of cavalry, Huger’s two twenty-four-pounders, Drum’s three six-pounders, and the Duncan spit-fires.

The hour was ten o’clock. Who would have thought that so much time had passed? General Scott had come upon the field. He could be seen, congratulating General Worth. It was not until noon that the dead and wounded had been placed in wagons for Tacubaya. And it was a tired but triumphant column that finally trudged—many a man using his musket for a crutch—up the hill and back to camp.

At the start the Casa-Mata powder magazine exploded with loud burst, according to plan. The smoke drifted into the faces of the Mexican garrison of Chapultepec, who peered down but stuck tight.



This afternoon the camp of the First Division and Cadwalader Brigade was proud but saddened: proud, when the men learned that with their thirty-one hundred they had defeated fourteen thousand concealed within ditches and behind walls or massed for support, with General Santa Anna himself looking on; saddened, when they learned what the victory had cost.

“The bloodiest fight, ag’in fortifications, in American hist’ry,” old Sergeant Mulligan pronounced.

General Worth had acted rather blue. Out of his thirty-one hundred he had lost one hundred and sixteen killed, six hundred and fifty-seven wounded, and eighteen missing—probably dead or wounded; total, seven hundred and thirty-one, almost a fourth of his whole number. And the list of officers was appalling: fifty-one of the one hundred and seventy had fallen.

Of the First Brigade, Lieutenant Thorn, Colonel Garland’s aide-de-camp, was severely wounded; so were First Lieutenant and Captain Prince and Second Lieutenant A. B. Lincoln and Assistant Surgeon Simons, Fourth Infantry; Lieutenants Shackleford and Daniels, of the Second Artillery, were dying, Lieutenant Armstrong had been killed outright; Captain George Ayers and Lieutenant Ferry, of the Third Artillery, had been killed; Captain Anderson wounded.

In the Second Brigade brave Colonel McIntosh,[270] who commanded, was wounded mortally; his aide, Lieutenant Burwell, was dead. Lieutenant-Colonel Martin Scott, leading the Fifth Infantry, had been killed. Major Waite, commanding the Eighth Infantry, was wounded. And so on, down through the captains and lieutenants.

In the storming column Major Wright, commanding, and the two engineers, Captain Mason and Lieutenant Foster, had been wounded. One volley from the Mexican breastworks had felled eleven out of the fourteen officers!

The Eleventh Infantry had lost its commander also—Lieutenant-Colonel Graham—killed. Major Savage, of the Fourteenth, and Major Talcott, of the Voltigeurs, had been wounded. Four officers of the Sumner squadrons had been struck down.

Lieutenant Grant had escaped again; but Lieutenant Frederick Dent, of the Fifth Infantry, whose sister was said to be Lieutenant Grant’s sweetheart, had been wounded, and the lieutenant was much concerned.

Jerry, too, was on tenterhooks until he found out that Hannibal Moss, drummer boy, was not among the casualties. He and Hannibal met while looking for one another. A number of comrades were looking for one another this evening. They, too, shook hands thankfully, and sank for a talk.

“Well,” said Hannibal, “the First Division did it again, but it was awful. Did you fellows have a hard time?”

“Did we! Not a one of us expected to get away alive. Expect you other fellows had it worse, though.”


“The poor old Eighth Regiment Foot,” Hannibal murmured soberly. “That hurt General Worth, I guess, to see us cut up so. We’ve lost ten out of twenty officers. The storming column didn’t hear a sound from those breastworks—didn’t see a sign of life, hardly, beyond the cactus. It was the same with the Second Brigade at the Casa-Mata. Then when we were right at the trenches, the Mexicans opened on us, just mowed us down. Eleven officers of the fourteen! Think of that! I got two bullets through my uniform and a handful through my drum. See those holes? Talk about ‘brushing away the enemy!’ My eye! Old Fuss and Feathers was fooled for once. We didn’t gain much.”

“We showed what we could do again.”

“You can’t show those Mexicans anything. Listen to that music?” For the bells of the City of Mexico were ringing madly. “The bells weren’t in the mill at all. Now they’re being rung for victory, because we didn’t take Chapultepec. The Mexicans think we stopped short, and they’re celebrating.” Hannibal shook his grimy fist at the city. “You wait till we get breath,” he warned.

“Suppose we’ll take Chapultepec next.”

“I dunno.” And Hannibal wagged his head. “This division ought to be given a rest. We’re reduced almost to fourteen hundred. Since we started in at San Antonio we’ve lost eleven hundred men, some sick, but mainly killed and wounded. The whole army’s lost only nineteen hundred. I guess the First has done its share of fighting.”

“That leaves General Scott with about eight thousand.”


“Nearer seven thousand in the field. And Santa Anna has twenty-five thousand still, I’ll bet a cooky.”

“We’ve licked that number before. Odds don’t make any difference to Scott men.”

“Not much they don’t,” Hannibal agreed. “One more of these little ‘brushes’ and we’ll be in the Halls of Montezuma.”

All the able-bodied troops were paraded at nine o’clock the next morning, September 9, to witness burial. A long trench had been dug just outside the village of Tacubaya. The wagons, covered with United States flags and bearing the bodies of the killed in the battle of the eighth, were escorted by funeral squads from each of the regiments. The fifes and drums and a band, playing the funeral march, accompanied; the troops followed with muskets at a support. The tattered battle flags had been draped with crape. The cannon fired minute guns in solemn fashion.

General Scott and staff, and all the general and field officers, stood with heads bared; the troops, in a half square, presented arms, while the Episcopal church burial service was read by Chaplain “Holy Joe” Morrison. Then the sappers and miners filled in the trench.

It was a bright day. The high parapets of Chapultepec, to the north, were thronged with Mexican soldiers looking down upon the ceremony.

“B’gorry, you’d better be attindin’ your own funerals,” old Sergeant Mulligan growled at them, when the parade had been dismissed.

Following the battle of Molino del Rey, General Scott seemed to be in no hurry to take Chapultepec.[273] Rather, he acted as though he might side-step Chapultepec. The First Division and the Cadwalader brigade rested at Tacubaya. The other Third Division brigade—that of General Pierce, who was still in the hospital with his crippled knee—under General Pillow himself had been moved about two miles east, where with the Riley brigade of the Twiggs Second Division it was covering the city’s southern gates.

The engineers of Captain Lee were down there, also reconnoitring.

“Dar’s gwine to be anodder big battle,” Pompey kept insisting. “Gin’ral Scott, he got somepin’ up his sleeve.”

Before daylight of September 12, Jerry, in the camp of the First Brigade, was half-awakened by the tread of marching feet in the dusky outskirts of Tacubaya. At reveille they all might see that there were two camps between Tacubaya and the city. The Pillow camp had been transferred nearer and was established down toward the King’s Mill in front of the town; while a second bivouac appeared not far on the east or right of it under Chapultepec.

The General Quitman Fourth Division had arrived at last from San Augustine: Brigadier-General Shields’ New Yorkers and South Carolinans, and Lieutenant-Colonel Watson’s Marines and Second Pennsylvanians! Now the only troops left in the rear were General Persifor Smith’s brigade of the Second Division, being the First Artillery, the Third Infantry, and the dismounted Rifles. But Taylor’s light battery of the First had come up, it was said, and so had General Twiggs.

There was another suspicious sight. During the[274] night batteries had been emplaced down in front of Tacubaya and facing Chapultepec. They seemed to be four sections, in pairs. One pair, about to open up, was located on the right of the hill slope, near the Quitman division and the road leading from Tacubaya to the eastern foot of Chapultepec. The other pair, not yet quite ready, was located near the King’s Mill and the Pillow brigade. The engineers and the artillerymen had worked all night planting the batteries.

It was Sunday morning, but—

“Boom! Boom-m-m!” The heavy reports jarred the breakfast cups and platters, and rolled back from the castle and the city walls and the mountains. Everybody sprang up to see the shots land.

“Boom! Boom! Boom-m-m!” They were two eighteen-pounders and an eight-inch howitzer of Captain Huger’s ordnance—a twenty-four-pounder. Dust from the pulverized stone and mortar floated above the castle of Chapultepec—dirt and rock spurted from the breastworks of the hillside—the Mexican soldiers were ducking and scampering. The men cheered.

“Now let ’em tend to their own funerals, and we’ll play ’em Yankee Doodle.”

The other battery joined. The bombardment of Chapultepec continued steadily. The Riley brigade of General Twiggs remained in the east upon the first main road from the south there, which entered the gate in the southwest corner of the city wall—the Belen gate. Old Davy’s two batteries, Taylor’s, and Steptoe’s Third Artillery detached from the Fourth Division, were peppering the gate and also firing[275] upon the Mexican batteries protecting the Contreras and Churubusco roads, still eastward. The ringing of musketry faintly chimed in with the loud booming of the cannon.

And this was Sunday!

Just what General Scott had “up his sleeve” nobody among the rank and file knew. The officers refused to talk. Matters looked as though Chapultepec was to be shaken first, and when it had been well battered, then of course there would be an assault. But where? Perhaps upon the southern gates, in defiance of the weakened Chapultepec.

From the hill of Tacubaya the bombardment was pretty to witness. The American guns poured in their shot and shell with perfect aim, so that after every discharge the stones and dust and dirt were lifted in showers. From half a mile the citadel replied lustily, at first with ten pieces, but the firing was wild. Gradually the guns were being silenced; the garrison was drifting out for safety, and a large body of reinforcements from the city had halted part way to the hill, waiting for a chance to enter.

The First Division men off duty began to sift down nearer to the batteries to get, as Corporal Finerty remarked, “a smell o’ powder.” Jerry, Fifer O’Toole and Hannibal caught up with the corporal on the Tacubaya road. They four stood behind battery Number 1, which was the two eighteen-pounders and the twenty-four-pounder howitzer, commanded by Captain Drum, of the Fourth Artillery.

A group of the Palmettos was here. It was good[276] to see the Mohawks again. Palmettos, New Yorkers, and Keystoners—they had a fighting reputation.

“Howdy?” the South Carolinans greeted easily. They were a set of men who usually said little.

“Same to you,” Corporal Finerty answered. “An’ faith, you’ve been a long time comin’. For why do yez trail through by night, wakin’ up a camp that’s tired wid hard fightin’?”

“Well, pardner, you talk like you want to hawg all the fun,” they replied. “To-morrow we’ll see who’s first up that hill—the Volunteers or you Regulars. Even start, my bucko.”

“If you know annything, out wid it,” Corporal Finerty demanded. “Do we storm Chapultepec, you say?”

“Would we make a forced march by night for less, Mister Regular?”

“Sure, now, what’s the use o’ foolin’ wid Chapultepec?” retorted the corporal. “Let the ar-r-tillery tind to that, an’ wait a bit an’ we’ll open thim southern gates for yez, so yez can come in at ’ase.”

“Never you mind those south gates. It’s Chapultepec or nothing, for the army’s going in by the west. The engineers decided that long ago. We heard the talk at the battery before you fellows were up. Those roads from the south are no good, Mister. Every one leads through marshes and is flanked by ditches and cut by batteries and other ditches, and there’s a thundering big canal running ’round the city walls. And the marshes and the ditches and the canal are full o’ water. So ’tis this way, Mister: we-all and the Pillow men scouted about yesterday, backing up Twiggs, for a showing[277] ag’in the south. But we were ordered to trapse hyar in front o’ Chapultepec by night, leaving only Old Davy and his Riley brigade for a feint. And to-morrow we-all are going to see the elephant on top o’ yonder hill.”

“B’gorry, you could fetch no better news, lads,” spoke the corporal. “There be fourteen hundred o’ the First Division lift, to turn their backs on the rist o’ the army an’ their faces on the enemy.”

“Nary, corporal,” they answered. “The Palmettos have something to say to that. It’s been powerful slow, pardner, sitting in the south whilst you fellows in the north have been burning powder. The Fourth Division will be first up that hill or bust.”

An aide from Captain Huger, who directed the general bombardment, rode along the line of batteries waving the spectators back.

“You can’t stay here, men. By orders of Captain Huger the field must be cleared. You’re furnishing the enemy with too large a mark.”

So they all had to leave.

The bombardment, increased by the batteries on the mill side, continued all day and closed only with darkness. The citadel of Chapultepec appeared to have been pretty well “shaken.”

“’Tis cruel hard on thim young cadets,” said old Sergeant Mulligan at supper mess. “I hear tell that some of ’em are mere lads scarce able to showlder a musket. Now I wonder if they aren’t bein’ sint down to the city to their mothers, where they belong. I’m hopin’ so. We don’t want to be after killin’ boys.”


Lieutenant Grant passed along the line of company fires.

“Parade the men for inspection at eight o’clock, sergeant,” he instructed, “in light marching order, with cartridge boxes filled and two days’ rations.”

“For the love o’ Hiven, left’nant,” the sergeant pleaded at salute, “tell me: Do we be takin’ Chapultepec?”

“The First Division has orders to support the Pillow assaulting column on the west. The Quitman division, supported by the General Smith brigade of the Second, will assault on the south.”

“Support, ye say, left’nant? But we get into it, don’t we, sorr? They won’t l’ave out the ould First Division?”

“We haven’t been left out of anything lately, as I notice,” Lieutenant Grant grimly replied.

The sergeant reseated himself.

“To-morrow, lads,” he said. “We’ve wan or two good fights raymainin’ in our packs, I guiss. Enough to shame those daysarters wid, I’m thinkin’. You’ve heard they’ve been put through—a part o’ thim—already?”


“Two days since, back at San Angel in the Second Division camp. Sixteen of ’em hanged, an’ nine dishonorably dismissed by order o’ Gin’ral Scott, wid a big ‘D’ branded on their cheeks. The rist’ll be attinded to soon, now. But sure, boys, I’d rather be amongst those who be hanged than amongst the traitorous livin’, condemned to hear the sound o’ the guns o’ Chapultepec firin’ on brave men bearin’ the flag o’ my country.”



The First Division spent the night at the King’s Mill. The Cadwalader brigade joined its comrade brigade of the Third Division, and General Pillow moved down to the mill also, in readiness for the assault by the west slope of Chapultepec rock.

Before the First Division companies had been dismissed for the night, by orders of General Worth two hundred and fifty men and ten officers had been told off as a storming party to serve with the Third Division in attacking Chapultepec. Captain McKenzie, of the Second Artillery, was to be the commander.

Old Sergeant Mulligan figured among the happy ones accepted.

“Hooray! Thirty years I’ve worn the uniform, an’ to-morrow’ll be the best day o’ my life. Ah, boys! I’d climb that hill by meself wid only a shilaly, rather’n stay below.”

“You have the luck of the mess, sergeant,” they admitted. “Now, couldn’t you sneak a few of us along with you?”

“Faith, mebbe there’ll be work for you the same. Not into the city we are yet. But I’ll have a grand view of it from atop the big buildin’ high on yon rock.”

Except for the two hundred and sixty as storming column, the First Division was to remain below in reserve. That was a disappointment. Jerry heard[280] himself growling about it with the others. Hannibal had not got in on the attack either—but Hannibal had been with the storming column of September 8, when the mill and Casa-Mata had yielded, and he ought to be willing to give place to somebody else. Captain Gore, and Lieutenant Smith, and Lieutenant Grant had missed out also. The Fourth Regiment had supplied Lieutenants Rogers and Maloney; and Company B had supplied Sergeant Mulligan, the “top” sergeant of the whole division.

Jerry cogitated. The column had been made up—was under orders to report to General Pillow before the engagement in the morning. There seemed no hope for the rest of them.

The night was rather noisy, with considerable skirmishing by outposts, and a constant movement upon the hill, as though the enemy was getting ready, too, for the morrow.

In the pink of the morning the bombardment by the heavy batteries reopened. General Twiggs’ guns, on the roads from the south to the city gates, likewise went into action. The Mexicans were trying to reinforce Chapultepec again, and they had occupied a long trench behind the wall at the foot of the cypress grove just east of the mill.

The two heavy batteries here, one in the mill and one south of it, were firing away upon Chapultepec, but General Pillow made other preparations. He stationed two pieces from Magruder’s First Artillery battery, under Second Lieutenant Thomas J. Jackson, to watch the same cavalry column that had threatened in the northwest at the battle of September[281] 8 and now seemed inclined to come in[2]. And he directed that two of Lieutenant Reno’s mountain howitzers (of the Callender battery which had won fame at Contreras) be placed to shell the Mexican long trench.

[2] Second Lieutenant Thomas J. Jackson became the celebrated “Stonewall” Jackson, Confederate general in the Civil War.

The storming column of the First Division stood formed, carrying scaling ladders, fascines or bunches of fagots for filling ditches, pickaxes and crowbars. The Voltigeurs and the Ninth and Fifteenth Infantry under General Cadwalader were to support the storming column. The Eleventh and the Fourteenth were to support Lieutenant Jackson’s battery section and head off the cavalry gathered in the northwest. The other regiment of the Third Division, the Twelfth Infantry, and the Third Dragoons had been left to guard Tacubaya and one of the supply bases south.

Soon after breakfast another American column appeared, marching in for the south side of Chapultepec. It was the General Persifor Smith brigade of General Twiggs’ Second Division: the First Artillery, the Third Infantry, and the Mounted Rifles afoot. The Quitman Fourth Division of Volunteers and Marines and the Smith brigade were to assault the rock of Chapultepec from the south and the southeast, while the Pillow men assaulted it from the west. The Colonel Riley brigade of the Second Division—the Fourth Artillery, the Second Infantry and the Seventh Infantry, with Taylor’s First Artillery battery and Steptoe’s battery of the Fourth[282] Artillery—were to hammer the south gates as a blind.

The army for action numbered about seven thousand. The Mexicans were supposed to be defending Chapultepec with seven batteries and seven breastworks, manned by two thousand to six thousand troops. And Santa Anna had fifteen or twenty thousand troops in reserve.

The wait proved very long. The heavy batteries thundered, sprinkling the castle of Chapultepec and the entrenchments with solid shot and shell. The Lieutenant Reno howitzers paid especial attention to the wall at the foot of the hill and the ditch behind it. The roof-tops of Tacubaya and of all the buildings extending along the Tacubaya road to Chapultepec were black with spectators; the walls and roofs of the City of Mexico were crowded like the seats of an amphitheater.

The sun was high when, at a quarter to eight o’clock on this morning of September 13, two aides galloped out from General Scott’s headquarters in Tacubaya. Down they came, the one straight for the Quitman column, the other for the mill. They paused an instant to say something to the heavy batteries, and continued at full speed.

“General Pillow! The commander-in-chief’s compliments, and he directs that when the batteries cease firing, in a few minutes, you will at once proceed with your column to the attack.”

General Pillow faced his troops.

“Attention! We are about to storm the hill, my lads. We shall take it with the bayonet in thirty minutes, remember.”



Suddenly every battery was quiet. The silence fell like a blanket.

“Voltigeurs, forward! Run!”

In two detachments, led by Colonel Andrews and Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph E. Johnston, the eight companies of Voltigeurs or Light Riflemen sprang out, rifles at a trail.

“Ready, Captain McKenzie. Ready, General Cadwalader.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston’s detachment had charged on the right for a break made by the howitzers in the wall. The Colonel Andrews detachment charged straight ahead. So quick they all were that they had received only one volley from the ditch at the edge of the cypresses before the Johnston men were through the break and inside the defenses, and the Andrews men were scrambling over the wall itself. The ditch had been enfiladed in a twinkling; the Mexican infantry dived out and scampered into the trees.

The howitzers changed fire to the trees; one gun limbered up to advance by rushes—

“Stormers and infantry, forward! Double time!”

General Pillow dashed on with them upon his horse. The storming column, bearing their fascines or fagot bundles and ladders—two men to a ladder—passed close to the Fourth Infantry. Without a word Jerry darted from place (he simply could stand still no longer) and beating his drum ran to the head of the platoons.

He thought that he heard shouts—angry shouts; but he did not care. His heart was thumping and the[284] heavy batteries had opened again, deluging Chapultepec; so he may not have heard.

Captain McKenzie espied him.

“What’s this? What are you doing here?”

“You’ll need a drummer, sir.”

“Who sent you in?”

“Nobody, sir.”

“Then go back immediately. Fall out!”

Jerry stepped aside; the column hurried by. He heard another voice. It was that of Sergeant Mulligan.

“Sure,” said the sergeant, with a wink, “we’ve no time to waste argufyin’. Wance in the trees, an’ nobody’ll see ye.”

Captain McKenzie was before and busy; probably had forgotten all about the matter. The other officers also had eyes and ears mainly for the front. The Cadwalader regiments were close behind. In the scramble over the wall there was a mixup. Jerry stuck. Worming on again he made for the storming column once more.

Rifles and muskets were cracking ahead. The Voltigeurs, searching the trees, yelled and fired; the enemy replied. The storming column, outstripped in the race, pressed faster. Assuredly in this hubbub no one would bother about a drummer boy.

General Pillow on his horse pushed to the fore. The Mexican skirmishers and the infantry from the ditch could be glimpsed, scurrying out of the timber for shelter higher up. The howitzers were coming—they tore through, horses tugging, cannoneers shoving, and from above the Mexican guns were throwing grape and shell down the hill into the wood. The[285] boughs of the trees cracked and slithered; the twigs flew.

The storming column, laden with the ladders and fascines and tools, did not move as rapidly as the light riflemen. Jerry, excited to his finger tips, scarcely knew what he was doing, but he wished to get out of that awful mess of falling trees and blinding smoke. Soon he found himself up with the Voltigeurs, as they emerged into the rock-strewn open at the farther edge of the wood.

Now there was a redoubt or system of fortified entrenchments halfway on to the castle. That it was which was pouring out the canister and shell to sweep the slope below it. General Pillow’s horse reared and turned, while the general tried to control it and shout his orders. The Voltigeurs, leaping from boulder to boulder, taking what shelter they could get, left a wake of dead and disabled. This fire from above was fearful—a constant stream of lead and iron. Was the attack to be stopped? Where were the stormers and the two regiments of infantry? Toiling up as fast as they could.

General Pillow toppled free from his horse, which bolted. Jerry reached him where he had half set up bleeding from a grape shot through his chest, and supported by an aide.

“The reserve, quick!” he gasped. “Where’s Worth’s aide? Tell him to have Worth bring up his whole division and make great haste or he’ll be too late.”

The group scattered. Jerry, legging recklessly, as luck would have it met Lieutenant Wood, General Worth’s aide, galloping in.


“Lieutenant Wood! Here, sir. General Pillow asks help. The whole division, sir. Quick!”

“Did he say so?” demanded Lieutenant Wood, reining short.

“Yes, sir. He’s wounded.”

“Who are you?”

“Jerry Cameron, sir; drummer, Company B, Fourth Infantry.”

Lieutenant Wood whirled his horse and sped down for the mill. Jerry panted back for General Pillow, but the general had not waited. The Voltigeurs were acting as if crazy. They were shouting “Vengeance! Vengeance!” and were charging the redoubt, a squad of them carrying General Pillow on a stretcher of rifles and a blanket. He had refused to be taken rearward.

The rocky slope below the redoubt was alive with the riflemen, yelling, firing, stooping and rushing. But they slowed up—they took to cover—they could not outface the blast of musketry and grape. What next? Huzzah! Here was the support at last: the storming column and the Fifteenth Infantry. With a cheer and a volley the Fifteenth charged, bayonets leveled, straight for the redoubt, while the two howitzers, hauled by their cannoneers, unlimbered against the north angle, and the Voltigeurs rallied to storm from the right.

On went Jerry behind the gallant Fifteenth. The Fifteenth piled in, the Mexicans broke in flight to the north and the city. Jerry piled in. A Mexican officer had stooped to touch a slow-match to the fuse of a mine, but the musket balls hurled him aside, wounded.


The redoubt had been seized. What now? The ranks looked small, the castle wall was far above. The charge had advanced only half distance to it. The storming column had dropped their ladders in their mad race to join the fighting. Here came General Cadwalader to take command, his horse afoam. While waiting for the ladders with which to scale the castle walls, the men distributed themselves as best they could for shelter from the plunging fire of the castle. They and the howitzers replied briskly. But here came the panting, cheering Ninth, bringing the ladders.

The heavy batteries in the valley were still bombarding the castle.

“The enemy’s weakening, men! Forward!” General Cadwalader shouted. He may not have been heard; the men knew, anyway. The Voltigeurs, led on their left by Colonel Andrews, on their right by Lieutenant-Colonel Joe Johnston, plunged into the open, to fight up the steep slope to the castle.

The storming column was hot after; deploying, the Ninth and the Fifteenth followed hard. Jerry, shouting and beating his drum regardless of tune, ran with the rest. They were not going to wait for the reinforcements from the First Division. Off to the south another battle raged, where the Quitman men were busy.

The front line worked its way clear to the outer wall of the castle. There the Colonel Andrews Voltigeurs crouched in holes and behind rocks and picked off the gunners and sharpshooters upon the parapets. The detachment under Lieutenant-Colonel Joe Johnston filed rapidly to the right for the southern[288] face of the wall. Cheers drifted up from below. The reinforcements were nearing.

But the stormers and the Ninth and Fifteenth, with the ladders, arrived first. The Voltigeurs had been halted by a wide deep ditch at the foot of the wall. The bundles of fascines were passed forward and tossed into the ditch by the stormers for pathways; squads of men rushed with the ladders; fell; rushed again—Look! Lieutenant Armistead, of the volunteer stormers from the Sixth Regiment, had planted his ladder! Down he sank, wounded—his men swarmed up nevertheless—other ladders were in place—some lurched aside or were hurled back—the Mexicans upon the walls threw hand grenades, stabbed with swords and bayonets and fired downward, but men were climbing to them hand over hand like monkeys, paused for an instant to shoot and stab and club, then disappeared. By tens and twenties the files mounted and leaped over, faster and faster; and the next thing that Jerry knew he was inside, himself.

Huzzah! The reinforcements had joined. They were the Clarke Second Brigade—they bore the colors of the Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Infantry. Jerry dimly saw Hannibal in the ranks of the Eighth. There was a company of the Quitman New Yorkers, also—and of Marines, who somehow had got mixed in with the right of the brigade on the way up.

The space within the walls on the west and southwest of the castle formed a large yard. All the yard fumed with smoke from the belching castle and from the return fire.

The Reno howitzers had been dragged in, the captured[289] guns of the outer wall were being reversed. The storming squads with the ladders ran, heads down, across the yard for the castle walls; the Voltigeurs and the infantry regiments (the New York company and the Marines, too) fired furiously from cover or in the open, helping the cannon drive the castle defenders from parapets and windows. The clangor was prodigious.

Jerry seemed to see everything at once: the struggling flags, the waving swords of the officers, the figures, rising, falling, rising and charging on; the red caps of the Mexican soldiery and the pompons of the boy cadets fringing the parapets and the windows; the cannon and the muskets smoking, and the bodies now and then sprawling in a lax heap.

Huzzah! Somebody was up—an officer in blue, his head bare, the flag of the Eighth Infantry at his back. He was Second Lieutenant Joseph Selden, of Hannibal’s company. A moment he stood, but for only a moment. Down he fell, sweeping his party from the ladder. The wall had been saved. Not for long, though! Huzzah! The great embroidered flag of the castle had drooped; a grape shot had severed its staff. No—it was hoisted again; a slender little fellow—a Mexican military cadet—had wriggled up the staff and refastened the banner. Brave boy! The troops cheered him.

Now there was another, louder cheer. The parapets were being occupied by fighting blue coats. Two flags had been planted: a Voltigeur flag and a New York flag, upon a terrace, by two officers. The Voltigeur officer was Captain Barnard; the New Yorker was said to be Lieutenant Mayne Reid. The[290] men were battling their way through, everywhere—into the doors and windows and over the portico and the cornices. Another officer—Major Seymour, of the Ninth—springing high, tore down the Mexican colors from the broken staff; the Stars and Stripes rose in their place.

The Mexican soldiers were crying “Quarter!” or fleeing. Among them were many of the cadets. There was another hearty cheer; the banners of New York, South Carolina and Pennsylvania were tossing over a mass of blue jostling through a breach in the out-walls on the south and southeast, and charging into the yard. General Shields was here, his left arm reddened.

The castle of Chapultepec had been taken, but heavy firing continued in the east. The Marines and the General Persifor Smith brigade, of the Second Division, were being held by batteries down toward the road on that side. The cannon of the castle were turned in that direction; they and muskets and rifles volleyed into the backs of the enemy. Now the Marines were fighting hand to hand with the nearest battery. The Mexicans burst from the breastworks, went streaming for the northeast and the city. The Marines came on.

“Cease firing! Cease firing, men!” Officers were running around, striking up the musket barrels with the flats of their swords. “It’s all over. Don’t fight; cheer. Leave those poor wretches alone.”



General Bravo, commanding the castle, had surrendered his sword. A young New Yorker, Lieutenant Charles Brower, was conducting him to General Quitman, who had just arrived. General Pillow was here, pale and breathing hard and unable to stand. He had been carried right along with the column.

All was confusion, of shouting soldiers, waving their caps and capering and shaking hands; of wounded, both Americans and Mexicans—the bravest among them being the little Mexican cadets; of officers trying to rally their companies, and so forth and so forth. Eight hundred prisoners were assembled under guard.

Jerry heard excited talk. The Voltigeurs of Lieutenant-Colonel Joe Johnston claimed to have been the first to plant a flag; the New York company, of Lieutenant Mayne Reid, disputed. The Volunteers were singing their “Green grow the rushes, O!” The Palmettos had charged up the hill without firing a shot; the bayonet was their weapon. News flashed thick and fast. Colonel Ransom, of the Ninth Infantry, had been killed. So had Major Twiggs, of the Marines—brother to Old Davy—while leading a detachment of Volunteers in the Quitman two storming columns. The Quitman stormers had lost both their commanding officers, for Captain Casey, of the Second Infantry, had fallen also.


In the Pillow storming column Lieutenant Rogers, of the Fourth Infantry, was dying; so said Sergeant Mulligan; Lieutenant J. P. Smith, of the Fifth Infantry, was dead; Lieutenant Armistead, of the Sixth, who had placed the first ladder, was badly wounded.

But here was Hannibal.

“How’d you get on top?” he demanded.

“Guess I ran off.”

“And you’ll get a jolly good wigging for it. You’ll get the guard-house. No, maybe you won’t—not after a victory. But wasn’t that a fight?”

“I should rather say!”

“The old Eighth is cut up again. Lieutenant Selden was first on the castle, though. They don’t think he’ll die. Lieutenants Longstreet and Pickett and Merchant are wounded. Longstreet was carrying the regimental colors.”

“Where’s my brigade?”

“Down below. Worth had to keep somebody, didn’t he? We aren’t into the city yet. Hurray! There’s Old Fuss and Feathers!”

General Scott had arrived. What a scene that was! The soldiers acted more crazed than ever; they thronged about his horse as they had thronged at Churubusco; they cheered and waved and cried. He tried to speak—he tried to grasp their hands—he was almost dragged from the saddle. His cheeks were wet, his eyes brimming.

“Fellow soldiers!” he shouted. “You have this day been baptized in blood and fire, and you have come out steel.”


He made his way to the castle stairs, and dismounting went inside through the portico.

“Come on,” Hannibal bade. “Let’s go on up.”

They followed in with the cheering men. The roof of the castle was flat. General Scott had taken position here, and was examining the country below with his glass. It was a stirring view to all. To the right or east there was a broad smooth road, divided through the middle by a many-arched aqueduct or stone conduit for water, connecting the east foot of the hill with the city wall; to the left there was another broad road, with aqueduct, diverging northeast for the city wall farther in the north. This was the longer road, say a mile. And both roads were jammed with the Mexican troops retreating from Chapultepec in two red and blue and yellow and green currents, with the darker blue of the American reserve swirling on, after an interval, in pursuit.

The roads were dotted with smoke bursts of gunfire from batteries in action. The angle between the two roads likewise was dotted with islands of smoke, where other Mexican batteries essayed to stay the American columns by flank fire.

“Those are our fellows on that north road,” Hannibal asserted. “There’s your First Brigade, I’ll bet; ’Leventh and Fourteenth of the Third Division, too. They’re making for the San Cosme gate. Some of Quitman’s troops are following up on that Belen gate road. Must be the Smith brigade of the Second.”

“I’m going down to my regiment,” Jerry exclaimed.[294] “That’s where my place is, with the Fourth.”

General Scott had turned to an aide and was speaking rapidly. His great form had swelled, his keen gray eyes shone bright with pride and hope.

“Direct General Clarke to march his brigade at once and unite with the other troops under General Worth. The Worth column is to push on as fast as possible and clear the road to the San Cosme gate. Heavy artillery will be sent to him from the siege batteries.” And to another aide: “Direct General Cadwalader to detach his Ninth Infantry, of the Pierce brigade, to the support of General Quitman on the Belen road. The Fifteenth Infantry will occupy Chapultepec. With his own brigade he will be prepared to support General Worth.”

The two aides hastened away. Hannibal was as quick.

“Come on,” he cried to Jerry. “We’ll all be there. You can fall in with the Eighth.”

“No, I’m not afraid. I’ll go back with the storming column.”

They rushed down together into the yard.

The recall for the Second Brigade regiments was being sounded by the drums. The soldiers hustled. Jerry found the Captain McKenzie stormers and joined the ranks. The captain glanced sharply at him and half smiled.

“You’re liable to arrest, you young rascal, for deserting your company,” he uttered. “Report to your proper command as soon as we get down. What’s your regiment?”

“The Fourth Infantry, sir.”


“Very good.”

In a few minutes they all were descending from the hill top. The storming column took the route of a long flight of white stone steps leading down to the San Cosme road on the north. Several soldiers from the First Brigade had come up to see the battlefield. Jerry recognized Sergeant Reeves, of Company B, of the Fourth.

“Hello, sergeant.”

“Hello, yourself. What you doing here? Absent without leave, eh?”

“I came with Captain McKenzie in the charge. How’d you get up?”

“Oh, I just wanted to look around. The brigade halted below for orders; and after a scrimmage I ran up the steps.”

“Will we take the city, now, you think?”

“It’s the time,” said Sergeant Reeves, who was a quiet man, enlisted from Ohio. “You’ll see the First Division go in by the San Cosme gate before sundown.”

“Have you had much fighting, sergeant?”

“Considerable with what force was left us. We managed to get along after you quit us. One drummer more or less—what does that amount to? I hear that a general court-martial is going to sit on you.” And Sergeant Reeves laughed. “Well, we were ordered to turn Chapultepec by the north and cut off the enemy in that quarter. Magruder’s battery section got in a tight place in the advance. Lieutenant Jackson lost all his horses and half his men by grape. The Fourteenth Infantry supported,[296] and Trousdale, its colonel, was shot twice. But the road’s open to the next turn for the city.”

The reinforcements from the hill of Chapultepec caught up with the main column. The stormers rejoined their companies. Drum Major Brown scowled at Jerry as he fell in with the field music of the Fourth, but had no time to say anything, for there were orders.

With the First Brigade leading, and the Fourth Infantry as honor regiment at its head, the column marched by platoons on up the wide San Cosme road, divided through the middle by the stone arches of the aqueduct. Six companies of Second Dragoons, under Major Sumner, closed the rear, behind Duncan’s battery.

Mexican breastworks had been erected across the road before. They reached from ditch to ditch. The Fourth Infantry was deployed on right and left as skirmishers, and stealing from arch to arch the men advanced.

But the battery had been abandoned. In the final rush there were only a few scattered shots from skulkers. The Fourth deployed again, Company B first, and presently was fronted by a second battery, located where the San Cosme road and aqueduct entered a road from the west and turned with it straight east for the city.

The battery parapet had a single embrasure for one gun. But at the juncture of the two roads houses began, facing the south and then soon extending thicker and thicker on both sides of the road clear to the San Cosme gateway, five hundred yards. The flat roofs were protected by sandbags and fringed[297] with the red caps of Mexican sharp-shooters. The battery and the fortified roofs looked like an ugly obstacle, especially as the Fourth Regiment skirmishers were working along swiftly and leaving the column behind.

Captain Gore and Lieutenant Grant, of Company B, were well ahead of the skirmishers. Bullets droned in, glancing among the arches. On the west side of the San Cosme road, where it met the road from the west, there stood a house in a large yard enclosed by a wall. The wall skirted both roads. Now Lieutenant Grant had daringly darted across to the south end of the yard, scurried along the wall to the southwest corner, and turning it, disappeared.

He came running back to the road; must have called for volunteers. The skirmishers of the Fourth fired briskly at the red caps upon the nearest roof-tops. Under cover of the firing a dozen men bolted to the lieutenant; at a trail arms they all followed along the wall again and turned the outside corner. A company of the Second Artillery sprang out of a ditch there and joined them.

In about ten minutes there was a volley from the road beyond the one house and the battery. The Mexicans upon the roofs overlooking leaped off and scampered for positions eastward. The battery was evacuated in a jiffy. The Lieutenant Grant squad and the Second Artillery company appeared in the rear of the battery; by rushes among the arches of the aqueduct they pursued the Mexicans.

With a yell the Fourth charged to the support. Huzzah! More roofs were being emptied. The road east to the city gate opened. On, men! On! Third[298] Sergeant Bloss forged to the fore with the regimental colors. The men tore after, Jerry and nimble little Tommy Jones footing with the fastest. It was a go-as-you-please, for the field music and all. Look out! Look out! Another battery—and ready for action, too. A blast of grape whistled down the road, rattled against the arches in which the men sought cover. Steady, men! Watch sharp. He’s up to mischief this time.

“Bang!” A cry arose. Bloss was flat! The grape had met him when, bearing the colors, with the color guard he had made a dash for shelter of a vacant house across the road. The tattered blue and gold banner of the Fourth was in the dust. Out charged the Mexican infantry, yelling like Indians, to capture the flag. That would be a trophy indeed. In charged the nearest men of the Fourth to rescue it. Bullets flew, hissing and spattering.

Jerry thought of nothing but the flag. Somehow, there he was, clutching at it in the hurly-burly—helped by Tommy Jones, was dragging it aside, while bullets sang in his ears and bayonets clashed over him. And entirely out of breath he was safely behind an arch, and delivering the flag to Captain Gore!

“You’ll get mention for this, sir,” the captain panted. “The regiment would have been eternally disgraced.” He ran for the mêlée again.

“Are you hurt, Tommy?” Jerry gasped. With a word and a slap on the shoulder Corporal Finerty had taken the flag to carry it.

“No,” said Tommy. “And you saved the honor of the regiment. You were there first.”


“You helped.”

“Bet you’ll never be hauled on the carpet for skipping off this morning,” said Tommy.

And Jerry rather thought the same. Whew! If the Mexicans had got that Fourth Infantry flag, which had been pierced with twenty-six balls at Monterey and as many more at Churubusco and the King’s Mill!

The regiment and the Second Artillery company had taken the breastworks, but the drummers before were beating the recall. The Fourth numbered only two hundred and fifty men, the Second Artillery company only forty. The scant three hundred of them were here alone, fronting the garita or gate of San Cosme, not more than two hundred and fifty yards down the road.

Between the breastworks and the garita the road was lined on both sides with the stone, flat-roofed houses, defended by sandbag parapets and the Mexican infantry. Another battery at the gate commenced to pepper the road. Grape and canister whizzed by.

“Fall back, men! Fall back! We can’t hold this now.”

Running and dodging and pausing to fire, the Fourth and Captain Horace Brooks’ artillery company withdrew by way of the arches and the last houses. Laughing and puffing, they reached the head of the main column.

General Worth had halted the column at the juncture of the road from the south and the road from the west, beside a large cemetery called the Campo Santo. The cemetery was the one used by[300] the English residents of the city for burying their dead. General Scott and his staff had come up. He and General Worth were sitting their horses at the head of the column and surveying the road, which from here stretched eastward five hundred yards through the suburbs to the San Cosme gate.

“You will press right on, general,” Old Fuss and Feathers abruptly said. “Carry the gateway in the shortest time possible and penetrate as far as the Alameda, three squares from the grand plaza. General Cadwalader is on his way and will act as reserve while holding his brigade here in the Campo Santo. Siege guns have been ordered up for you.”

That was all. General Scott galloped back toward Chapultepec. The Cadwalader Voltigeurs and the Eleventh and Fourteenth Infantry were double-quicking in, bringing the Reno howitzers. The Eleventh and Fourteenth proceeded to take position in the Campo Santo. The Voltigeurs were directed to support the howitzers and attack with the First Division. The dragoons had been ordered to guard Tacubaya headquarters, it was said.

Jerry felt hungry. The sun marked mid-afternoon already. There was very heavy gunfire in the southeast around the Belen gate. Clouds of smoke enveloped the gate. The Quitman column had stormed—officers with glasses were insisting that the gate had been forced and that the Mexicans were trying to drive the Quitman column out. But the First Division had its own work now.

“Colonel Garland!” Lieutenant and Aide-de-Camp Pemberton, from General Worth, was delivering orders. “By direction of the division commander[301] you will kindly equip a sufficient detachment of your brigade with pickaxes and crowbars, advance your column by the right of the road to the first occupied building, and using your sappers hew a way straight through the line to the gate. The same methods as at Monterey, colonel. When you reach your objective break through the roof and open fire from above the gate. The Second Brigade will be doing likewise on your left.”

The First Brigade, which had been hugging the aqueduct arches, cheered the orders. The detachment of sappers was told off, and supporting the pick-and-crow men the Fourth Infantry, followed by the Second and Third Artillery, rushed for the first house. The skirmishers deployed, seeking cover behind walls and sheds while they busily popped at the Mexican red caps upon the roofs.

The sappers hacked holes through the side of the house; by squads the men dived in. Jerry stayed out with the rest of Company B, his eye again glued to Lieutenant Grant.

Through the houses, and behind walls and around corners, the First Brigade slowly traveled on. The houses stood more and more closely, so that the burrowers darted safely across the narrow spaces. The enemy atop was helpless to stop them—and had no time to attend to them anyway. Jerry soon overtook Lieutenant Grant, who had halted at one side and was gazing before from the angle of a garden wall.

He saw Jerry at his elbow.

“You’re here, are you, young bodyguard?”

“Yes, sir.”


“That’s all right. I can use you. Supposing some of us mounted a light gun in the belfry of that church yonder. We ought to do execution. What do you think?”

“Yes, sir. That would be a fine place,” Jerry agreed.

The church was located one hundred yards toward the city wall and off at the south side of the road. It had a flat roof and a belfry; but the Mexican sharpshooters favored the houses that commanded the road and had let the church alone.

Lieutenant Grant acted at once.

“Very well, we’ll try it if we can get the gun. You run back, sir, to the howitzer battery, and ask for a gun and gun crew. Tell them I’ll be responsible for the report to General Worth.”

Jerry ran, ducking, and wondering whether he would have to cross that fearful road up which iron and lead were streaming from the San Cosme gate battery. He was lucky; met, first, a lieutenant of Voltigeurs—

“Here! Where you going, bub?”

“I want a howitzer, sir. I’m under orders from Lieutenant Grant, of the Fourth.”

“You are? What’s the trouble?”

“He’s going to put it in the belfry of that church, sir. Then we’ll be above the roofs and the gate.”

The lieutenant took a look. He was as smart as a whip.

“By thunder, a good idea! I’ll get the howitzer. You wait here.”

“And a squad to serve it, sir,” Jerry anxiously called after.


“Oh, we’ll serve it, you bet!”

The lieutenant returned at full speed with the gun dismantled and a squad carrying the pieces. Lieutenant Grant’s face lighted as he saw them hustling in to him.

“Now for it, then! You’re Lieutenant——?”

“Lieutenant Fry, of the Voltigeurs.”

“I’m Grant, of the Fourth Infantry. Shall you take command, or I, sir?”

“You, of course, lieutenant.”

“Follow me with the gun, men.”

They all made a wide detour to the south to avoid bullets. The ground was a marshy meadowland, knee-deep with ooze, and cut by the usual ditches, some of them breast deep. But nobody stopped for these. When they arrived at the church they were a slimy party. The rear door was locked. Lieutenant Grant rapped with the hilt of his sword. A priest opened, for barely a crack.

“You speak Spanish?” the lieutenant asked of Jerry.

“Yes, sir.”

“Good! Tell the father that we wish to get inside.”

“He says that he’s sorry, but it’s impossible at this hour,” Jerry interpreted after the priest’s answer.

“Tell him that nothing is impossible to Americans. Tell him we regret to trouble him and we do not wish to damage property needlessly, but if he doesn’t open the door we’ll break it down and he may find himself a prisoner.”

The priest opened and stood aside. He did not look especially friendly as they trooped by him. Up[304] into the belfry they climbed, led still by Lieutenant Grant. The men had hard work to hoist the pieces of the howitzer up the ladder, but they did it. They put the barrel upon the carriage and the carriage upon the wheels, and proceeded to pass up the powder cartridges and shells.

When the gun had been assembled and the gun squad was prepared, the belfry had little spare space in it.

The gun was loaded, pointed—Lieutenant Grant himself squinted over the barrel. He stood back.

“Give it to ’em!” he barked. “Fire!”

“Bang!” The lock string had been jerked. The shell flew true; exploded in the very midst of the gateway battery.

It created a little panic. The Mexicans seemed to think that it had dropped from the sky. The belfry squad cheered and reloaded.


The lieutenant occasionally changed to the roof-tops and sprinkled them with canister. He was enjoying himself immensely. So was Lieutenant Fry. Jerry likewise was glad that he had come. Below the belfry the whole battlefield was outspread. The church was almost directly south of the breastworks that had been taken and left again. The gateway—arched over between towers, was two hundred and fifty yards at the rear of the breastworks. It had mounted a heavy gun and a howitzer, emplaced behind sandbags and stone abutments and scoured the road with shell and canister and grape. The square towers and the parapets of the wall on either side of the gate were volleying with musketry;[305] the roofs of the houses along the road gushed smoke. The figures of the Mexican defenders, lying flat or crouching, or stealing from point to point, could be plainly seen amidst smoke spume.

Up the street there were the Voltigeurs, supporting the howitzers and springing from arch to arch. Duncan’s battery, posted farther back but gradually coming nearer, was responding hotly to the Mexican battery. In the yards of the houses the skirmishers of the Fourth, and of the Second and Third Artillery, darted hither thither, picking off the Mexican sharpshooters before them; every now and then the burrowing squads burst out in a new spot.

Across the street the Clarke brigade was doing the same work. A second howitzer had been mounted upon a high roof over there, in rivalry with Lieutenant Grant’s howitzer. It, too, was dropping shells into the enemy.

And yonder, a mile and a half or two miles in the southeast at the Belen gate, the other battle was being waged, where the General Quitman column appeared to have gained a foothold.

The sun was touching the western horizon. The ammunition for the little howitzer was almost spent. But a great cheer arose from below. They gazed quickly. Drawn by galloping horses, the gunners astride and lashing, or sitting upon the caisson, a six-pounder from Duncan’s battery was charging down the road for the abandoned breastworks.

The city gate spouted flame and smoke afresh. Every Mexican musket, as seemed, was brought to bear upon the bounding, thundering gun. Would the gun make it—would it—would it? The two lead[306] horses were fairly lifted from their feet by the canister; the other two horses dragged them, a mass of mangled flesh. The gunners astride had been hurled from their seats; the caisson showed gaps, as the gunners sitting upon it wilted. Down sprawled the horse of the young officer who commanded. He staggered to his feet and ran on. An instant more and the gun was safely within the shelter of the battery parapet—was being unlimbered and turned muzzle to muzzle with the gateway guns.

Of the nine artillerists, five were out of action.

“That,” said Lieutenant Grant, breathing fast, “is Lieutenant Harry Hunt, of the Second. I never saw a braver deed.”

The roofs of the houses had been cleared well-nigh to the city wall. Lieutenant Hunt’s gun opened point blank upon the gateway battery. And listen! See! There was another great cheer—suddenly the roofs right against the wall on either side of the gate had upheaved, a torrent of blue caps and blue jackets spurted out like bursts of water, and broke white with a terrific fire into the gateway battery and even over the wall itself.

The battery was silenced in a moment as the gunners fell or frantically scuttled back through the arched passage. Lieutenant Hunt’s gun again belched grape. And here came the stormers, out from among the houses and down the road, yelling, firing, pouring through between the gate towers.

“The gate’s taken, and so is the city,” Lieutenant Grant rapped. “Come on, Fry. We’d better join our commands. Disassemble the piece, men, and report with it to Lieutenant Reno.”


He and Lieutenant Fry and Jerry tumbled below; ran for the road. The Fourth Infantry was well inside the gate; the men, breathless, laughing, peering, asking what next. Save for a few shots the place was singularly silent. General Worth arrived in haste.

“What regiment is this?”

“Fourth Infantry, sir.”

“God bless the Fourth Infantry. Where’s Major Lee? Hold your position, major; you will be supported.”

“B’gorry, first in, an’ here we stay,” cried old Sergeant Mulligan. “Hooray for the Fourth!”

The enemy was rallying. His bugles pealed, his officers were shouting and urging, a column boiled into the street before. As quick as thought the two guns of the gateway battery had been reversed—“Clear the way, there!”—and a shower of grape scattered the column.

The bugles sounded again, with the Mexican signal for recall.

The other regiments thronged in: the Second Artillery, the Sixth Infantry, the Eighth (with Hannibal rolling his drum and cheering lustily), the Third Artillery, the Fifth Infantry, the Voltigeurs; all the Worth foot. Then, after the troops had been assigned to position, Captain Huger, of the ordnance, and two heavy guns, a twenty-four-pounder and a ten-inch mortar came on; were planted in the gateway, General Worth overseeing.

Save for the tolling of bells, the distant cries of frightened people, and the muffled notes of Mexican drums and bugles, the city was quiet. Now what?


“Get your range by the map, captain,” spoke General Worth to Captain Huger. “Then throw a few shell in the direction of the plaza and capital buildings. I don’t particularly care where they land, as long as they notify the authorities that we are here and have the city at our mercy.”

“Cut your fuses for sixteen hundred yards,” Captain Huger ordered. “With shell, load!”

“Number One, ready! Fire!”

“Boom!” The twenty-four-pounder had spoken. “Crash!”

“Number Two, ready! Fire!”

“Boom-m!” And—“Crash!”

That was the big mortar bomb. Darkness had gathered. The flames from the two guns redly illuminated the gateway littered with spoil—shone upon the bodies of the Mexican gunners who had fallen, rammers in hands; the explosions of the shells lighted the roofs and towers in the center of the city, almost a mile eastward. The distant cries of alarm echoed anew. Three shells were thrown from the twenty-four-pounder, five from the mortar.

“That will do,” General Worth bade.

An aide from General Scott raced in.

“General Worth! The general commanding sends his compliments, and the information that General Quitman is in possession of the Belen gateway. You are directed to entrench yourself here before the San Cosme gate, and await further orders in preparation for a final assault in the morning, if necessary.”

General Worth smiled.

“My compliments to General Scott. As you see,[309] we have entered the city and have a clear road to the plaza. My instructions were to penetrate as far as the Alameda; but owing to the darkness we will establish ourselves where we are, and march on by daylight.”

The aide delayed a moment.

“General Quitman forced the Belen gate shortly after one o’clock, general,” he said. “But he has been held fast ever since, unable to advance by reason of batteries opposing him. My congratulations to you, sir.”

“He was simply to threaten the gate, I understood.”

“I had the honor of bearing him those very instructions,” laughed the aide; “with the commander-in-chief’s compliments. But before I had delivered the message he snapped: ‘Tell General Scott I have no time to listen to compliments,’ and on he went.”

“Well, sir,” General Worth responded, “you will please inform Major-General Scott that there is nothing to obstruct my command in a forward movement to the plaza at daybreak.”

The Colonel Riley brigade, of the Fourth Artillery, Second and Seventh Infantry, and Taylor’s battery, from the Second Division, marched in. This night the Fourth Infantry was quartered in a large house on the main street from the gateway. The men reveled in the luxury of soft beds, thick carpets, and rich food. They searched the rooms for money but found none; and they did nothing worse than pillage a pantry of sweet preserves.


Major Lee and invited officers fell heirs to a supper waiting for one of the Mexican generals.

Jerry met Pompey wandering about, his black face smeared.

“Am dis one ob the Halls ob Montyzumy?” Pompey asked.

“I don’t think so, Pompey. But we’ll be there in the morning.”

“Not dis chile. No, suh! You-all can have the rest ob dose Halls; I gwine to stay hyar as long as dar’s any platters to lick.”



At reveille it was reported that shortly after midnight the mayor and city council had surrendered the city to General Worth. They said that Santa Anna had withdrawn his army into the country. General Worth forwarded the delegates to General Scott at Tacubaya, and he had just been directed to march his troops to the Alameda. The Quitman column was to occupy the plaza and raise the flag.

This seemed hard, but General Quitman had been first to seize a gate, and had lost heavily. Besides, with his Mohawks and Marines he had guarded the rear, at San Augustine, through a long period, while other troops were winning honors.

The First Division, the Voltigeurs and the Riley brigade were halted in column of companies in the green square or Alameda. Now all the way on to the plaza, three blocks, the broad street was crowded with the Mexican citizens, jostling along the walks and thronging the balconies. The front of many of the buildings flew the neutral flags of England, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy.

At seven o’clock music was heard and cheering. The Quitman column appeared in sight: the handsome General Quitman and bluff General Twiggs, and staffs, with escort of cavalry, at its head; then in serried ranks the Rifles, with the regimental flags of the First Artillery, the Third Infantry, the New Yorkers, the Marines, and the Ninth Infantry following at the fore of their commands. Sections[312] of the Drum and Steptoe batteries rumbled behind.

The drums of the Worth regiments rolled, the men cheered gallantly. With measured tread the Quitman column passed on, its bands playing “Hail, Columbia!,” “Washington’s March,” and “Yankee Doodle.” Presently there was a still louder burst of cheers, and the united strains of the “Star Spangled Banner.” From the flag pole of the national palace the Stars and Stripes had broken out; raised, as was afterward learned, by Captain Roberts of the Rifles. He had been foremost in the Quitman storming columns up Chapultepec hill.

Lieutenant Beauregard, of the engineers, bandaged from a wound, dashed from the plaza, evidently bearing dispatches. About eight o’clock the clatter of hoofs sounded. The Dragoons were coming. Then—

“Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah for Old Fuss and Feathers!”

General Scott, plumed and girted and gloved, in full uniform complete, towered at the front. Led by Colonel Harney and Major Sumner, the dragoons, their mounted band in the advance, at a carry sabers, filled the street from curb to curb. They, too, were spick and span.

“Hail to the Chief!” That was the tune being played. The general and escort swept by at a rapid trot, while the bands and the field music of the Worth column likewise played “Hail to the Chief.” The Mexican spectators forgot themselves, and cheered and clapped. No one could deny that the chief and his cavalry made a splendid sight.

“Column—forward—quick time—march!”


The Worth men might move in at last. The street was so blocked that the end files of the companies were obliged to brush the people from the way. In the plaza the Second Dragoons band was playing “Yankee Doodle.” The plaza also was crowded. There seemed to be hundreds of blanketed, dirty beggars under foot. The dragoons rode right and left, clearing the plaza with the flats of their sabers, but careful to harm nobody.

“Column, halt!”

Just as General Worth was about to give orders a volley burst from the top of a building; the balls pelted in, aimed at him and his staff; but they passed over. Colonel Garland clapped his hand to his side, and in Company B Lieutenant Sidney Smith sank limply.

As if the volley had been a signal other shots sounded; paving stones rained down. It looked like a trap. Here were five thousand Americans, almost the whole army, in the plaza and surrounded by buildings and two hundred thousand people.

The orders were quick. In an instant Duncan’s battery and the Reno howitzers galloped to the plaza corners; Steptoe’s and Drum’s and Taylor’s guns were being unlimbered. Aides from General Scott were spurring hither thither; skirmish squads were being told off, and ordered to search the streets and buildings. The dragoons galloped. The howitzers battered the building from which the first volley had issued. Now all around the plaza there echoed the clatter of hoofs, the thud of running feet, and the ringing reports of musket and rifle.

A number of leading Mexican citizens apologized[314] to General Worth and General Scott, and offered help to put down the insurrection. The trouble-makers were two thousand convicts who had been set free by Santa Anna.

The firing in the streets continued throughout the day, while the reserves waited under arms. At night things had quieted somewhat. The First Division bivouacked in the Alameda. After strong outposts had been placed the men might talk again. What a two days, September 13 and 14, that had been! And this was the end of the campaign in the Halls of Montezuma.

The Riley men, quartered with the First, could tell the news from the Quitman column. They had been at Chapultepec, and upon the road to the Belen gate. The casualties were heavy. Major Loring, of the Rifles, had lost an arm. The Drum battery had been cut to pieces at the gate—Captain Drum and First Lieutenant Benjamin killed. Lieutenant-Colonel Baxter, commanding the New Yorkers, was dying; Major Gladden, commanding the Palmettos, was wounded. General Shields’ wounded arm was in bad shape. General Pillow would recover; was in the hospital at Chapultepec. The South Carolinans were holding the Belen gate; the Second Pennsylvanians were garrisoning the fort inside.

Colonel Garland, it was said, would get well; but Lieutenant Smith was dead.

Jerry looked at his own mess. Brave Scotty MacPheel was gone; so was Henry Brewer—he had been shot down yesterday. Corporal Finerty bore an honorable wound; Fifer O’Toole’s head was bandaged—a musket ball had scraped it.


In taking Chapultepec and the city ten officers and one hundred and twenty rank and file had been killed; sixty-eight officers and six hundred and thirty-five rank and file had been wounded; twenty-nine men were missing; total, eight hundred and sixty-two, of whom almost a tenth were officers. The loss to the army since it had marched out of Puebla was three hundred and eighty-three officers, two thousand, three hundred and twenty rank and file. Subtracting the garrisons and rear guards, Old Fuss and Feathers had marched into Mexico City with less than six thousand out of his ten thousand with which he had left Puebla six weeks before.

And according to estimates, in the same time the Mexicans had lost more than seven thousand killed and wounded, thirty-seven hundred prisoners including thirteen generals, some twenty flags, one hundred and thirty-two pieces of artillery, and twenty thousand small arms.

So here the “gringo” army was.

Instead of permitting his men to pillage the city, General Scott levied a money contribution upon it of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, for the support of the troops. Adjutant Mackall read to the First Division, paraded to listen, the following orders:

Headquarters of the Army,
Mexico, Sept. 14, 1847.

General Orders No. 284.

1. Under the favor of God, the valor of this army, after many glorious victories, has hoisted the[316] colors of our country in the capital of Mexico and on the palace of the Government.

2. But the war is not ended. The Mexican army and Government have fled, only to watch an opportunity to return upon us in vengeance. We must, then, be upon our guard. Companies and regiments will be kept together and all stand on the alert. Our safety is in military discipline.

3. Let there be no drunkenness, no disorders, and no straggling. Stragglers will be in great danger of assassination, and marauders shall be punished by court-martial.

4. All the rules so honorably observed by this glorious army in Puebla must be observed here. The honor of the army and the honor of our country call for the best behavior on the part of all. The valiant must, to win the approbation of God and our country, be sober, orderly, and merciful. My noble brethren in arms will not be deaf to this hasty appeal from their general and friend.

5. Major-General Quitman is appointed the civil and military Governor of Mexico.

By command of

Major-General Scott.

H. L. Scott,
Act’g Ass’t Adj. Gen.

“Well, boy,” said Hannibal, when he and Jerry got together after dismissal, “you heard those orders. Maybe the war’s not ended for General Scott, but it’s ended for me. I want to rest up.”

“It’s ended for Pompey, too, all right,” Jerry added. “He’s still crying about Lieutenant Smith.[317] Says he’s lost his ‘offercer,’ and he wants to go home.”

“Yes,” Hannibal mused. “And the war’s been ended for Lieutenant Smith and a lot of good men before him. That’s the way. War costs.”


Transcriber’s Notes:

Except for the frontispiece, illustrations have been moved to follow the text that they illustrate, so the page number of the illustration may not match the page number in the Illustrations.

Obvious printer’s, punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.