Page images

General addressed a letter to the Secre- of the war. For what purpose else were tary, which in due time, though not imme they to be created ? Not certainly to be diately, was seized upon as affording a suffi kept at home, and out of employment. cient pretext for the treachery which the And after providing Major-generals and President had been meditating.

Brigadiers, in full complement, from the The foregone design of the President States, for the command of all the volunin this matter is too plain to admit of ques- | teers, it was not certainly intended to place tion, and the active part taken by the all the Major-generals and Brigadiers of the Secretary does not leave us at liberty to regular service in the field-numbering, as believe, as we should have been glad to do, they then would, three of the former to that he was not cognizant from the begin- say nothing of Brevets) and six of the ning of that design. We proceed with latter, to command a body of not more our exposition of the case.

| than 7000 men—for that was all the regAt the very outset of this business, on ular force, as the law then stood, which' the 15th of May, an understanding was would be brought into the field for the had between the President, the Secretary, contemplated campaign. Some Generals, and General Scott, that General Wool then, were to be left at home, and nobody should be called on to take the command can be stupid enough to believe that they of one of the three columns destined for would be the new-made Generals. The the invasion of Mexico, and accordingly he Secretary told General Wool, that if was immediately written to by the Secre this project of a law, concocted and urged tary. He arrived in Washington on the by him, was passed, it was doubtful if he 17th, and was informed by General Scott would be employed as it had been proposed of the service designed for him. A day he should be ; and we have not a doubt or two afterwards, probably on the 19th, that he might have said the same thing to he was told by the Secretary that his ulti- | General Scott with equal, if not greater mate assignment to such command was truth. It was General Scott, no doubt, doubtful, inasmuch as it was probable that at whom the plan was mainly aimed. As “other generals might be authorized and soon as it became known in Washington appointed for the army, and called into in the political circles of the President's service from the States.” On that day, partisans and confidential friends, that he (the 19th,) a Bill was introduced into the had it in contemplation to send the GenSenate at the special instance of the Sec- eral-in-chief to the field, a clamor is well retary of War, if not directly drawn by known to have been raised against the him, to provide for the appointment of two policy of such a procedure. This clamor, new Major-generals, and four Brigadiers, so far as it came to the General's ears, took for the regular army, and, in addition, the direction of a complaint against him authorizing the President to select State for his delay and stay in Washington. The Generals for the command of the volun real meaning of the whole of it was, teers. Here, then, was a disclosure alto- which the President understood very well, gether unmistakable in its import. No that he was committing a great error in increase of the regular army had been proposing to give General Scott an opauthorized, or was then contemplated, be portunity, in some brilliant actions, of yond the filling up of the ranks as it then * conquering a peace" in this Mexican existed; and yet the President and Secre- business, who would then, it might be, tary demanded two new Major-generals, with the prestige of his victories and exand four Brigadiers—not for the volun- ploits, turn round and push him, and his teers—it was proposed that the President party, from their stools. Even the remote should select Generals for them from the hazard of such a consummation was to be States—not for the volunteers, but for the devoutly avoided. Mr. Polk was of this regular army. Nobody can doubt, who opinion, and hence, beyond all question, his considers the political character of the Ad- sudden change of front. Hence this Bill ministration, that the design at that time thrown into the Senate, and dry-nursed was to make these appointments chiefly, if by the Secretary, for the appointment of not wholly, from civil and political life, and new Generals. to give such new-made officers the conduct. It is true that they waited four days,

after General Scott's letter of the 21st of therefore given him the highest displeas. May, before giving him notice that he was ure. There was something plausible in not to be allowed to command in Mexico ; this, though it was wholly without any but this delay is easily accounted for. The real foundation. The other pretence was Bill for the creation of new Generals merely contemptible: it was that General could not be hurried through Congress, as Scott's object in writing the letter of the the Bill adopting the war had been. It 21st, desiring ignobly to escape the remet with delay, and symptoms of oppo- sponsibilities of command in the field, had sition were manifested. Without a new been to induce, or compel, the President batch of Generals, the President might be to change his determination of sending forced, after all, to send General Scott to him to Mexico. This was so utterly at the field. Taylor was as yet, so far as variance with all probability, and with the was known at Washington, comparatively known truth, as to be merely ridiculous. untried, and it was too soon to determine As to the first pretence, that was bottomthat it would do to intrust him with the ed on a studied and ingenious perversion command of a large army, and the conduct of the language and plain intent and purof an important campaign. But on this pose of the letter of the 21st. point, all doubt was suddenly dispelled by The truth is, that in writing that letter, the news of his splendid victories of Re General Scott, though feeling that he had saca de la Palma and Palo Alto, the par- | suffered an egregious indignity, was, at ticulars of which reached Washington on the time, so far deceived in regard to the Tuesday, the 24th. The resolution of the real motives and designs of the President President was then taken, and the Secre- and Secretary, as to believe that, under tary was set to work to concoct his letter the influence and complaints of those about of the 25th. Taylor had now shown him- | them to this effect, they had really begun self to be a skillful and able commander, to feel, at least in some degree, the imand the conduct of the war, in the new patience they expressed on account of his campaign, at least if the President should delay in Washington. He gave them be unable to give the command to some credit for sincerity; and his letter was an new pet General of his own creation, effort to remove the unfounded and injurimight be safely confided to him-espec- ous impression which he believed was beially as it was not then dreamed of, that ginning to possess their minds, and which, his victories, however multiplied and glo- if left unchecked and subject to the clamor rious, were going to make him a danger- | against him out of doors, would grow into ous popular candidate for the immediate an intolerable evil, not merely annoying to succession to the Presidency. On this him, but interfering with and disturbing conclusion it was, that the Secretary's let his plans and operations, and utterly deter of the 25th of May was written-a let stroying his efficiency, and perhaps his ter, having as little to do with truth, can success, in the arduous service he had endor, and honest dealing, as any that Ma tered upon. It was likely to begin with chiavelli, or Talleyrand, or Ignatius Loyo. | driving him from his position in Washla, ever wrote, or instructed others how to ington before his necessary preliminary write. If ever language was employed, arrangements could be half completed, either in speech or on paper, according to and, following him to the field, compel him the Prince's notion of its true use—to dis to do everything, or attempt everything guise or conceal the real sentiments and there, with only half the necessary preDesigns of the party using it--it was so caution for efficient action and assured sueemployed on this occasion.

cess; and of course, in all cases, to win Two pretences are set forth in this let. | success, if at all, at such a dreadful and ter, as the grounds on which the President unnecessary cost of human life, as no huhad determined to keep General Scott at mane and Christian commander would home. First, it was pretended that the willingly be responsible for. Going to the President had discovered that the Gen- field, he would leave his superiors behind eral's letter of the 21st contained “the him-those who had, or would assume, a most offensive imputations against the Ex- constitutional right to interfere with his ecutive Government," and which had plans and operations, and who, if indulg.

ing in prejudice against him, if disposed | ington, and the proper period for his deto prejudge him and condemn him before- parture, he put on record, in this letter, hand, would not fail to give him infinite this explicit declaration :trouble, on account as well of their prejudice as of their ignorance of military affairs,

“My intentions have been, after making all and perhaps to bring him and the arms

preliminary arrangements here, to pass down and honor of the country together, into

the Ohio and Mississippi, to see, or to assure

| myself by correspondence, that the volunteers, disgrace and degradation. His letter was

on whom we are mostly to rely in the prosecuwritten expressly to deprecate, and if pos- tion of the existing war, are rapidly assembling sible to counteract and remedy, such an for the service; to learn the probable time of unhappy and desperate state of things. their readiness to advance upon Mexico; to No honest and unprejudiced mind could ascertain if their supplies, of every kind, are give any other meaning or character to it.

or character to it , in place, or are likely to be in place, in suffic

ient time ; to hasten one and the other; to har“Not an advantageous step can be

monize the movements of volunteers, and modtaken,” says this letter, “in a forward

ify their routes (if necessary) so that all, or at march, without the confidence that all is least a sufficient number, shall arrive at the inwell behind. If insecure in that quarter, | dicated points on the Mexican frontier, at the no General can put his whole heart and best periods, and, as far as practicable, about mind into the work to be done in front. I the same time.” am, therefore, not a little alarmed—nay, crippled in my energies--by the knowledge Now it was this letter of General Scott, of the impatience in question." * * * * sent in from his office, a room in the War As a soldier, I make this assertion with- | Department, to the Secretary's room in the out the fear of contradiction from any same building, which, after four dayshonest and candid soldier. Against the the news of Taylor's victories on the Rio ad captandum condemnation of all other Grande having arrived in the mean time persons—whoever may be designated for was discovered by the Secretary to be a the high command in question--there can paper “reflecting upon the motives and obbe no reliance (in his absence) other than jects of the President in tendering to you the active, candid and steady support of his (General Scott; the command in Mexico," Government.

and conveying “the strongest suspicion, It was in this connection, and directly not to say a direct imputation, of most following these explicit declarations, that unworthy inolives in the Executive Governhe spoke of, and deprecated, “a fire upon ment—of bad faith towards yourself-of his rear from Washington," while he a reckless disregard of the interests of the should be engaged with the enemy in country-of a design to carry on a war Mexico. This fire upon him had been be- against you, while you are sent forth to gun already by the expression of a most carry on a war against the public enemy." unreasonable impatience at his stay in We do not hesitate to affirm, that not a Washington; and it proceeded from the line, phrase, word or syllable, can be found President and Secretary, who, from their in General Scott's letter, which by any inpersonal knowledge of the indispensable genuity can be tortured into a reflection on necessity of his engagements at general the motives and objectsof the President, Head-quarters, ought to have met and or as casting upon him an imputation, or silenced the senseless clamors against him suspicion, of “unworthy motives,of bad from without, instead of yielding to them faith,of a "reckless disregard of the inand joining in them, as they had done—or terests of the country," or of any design. professed to do. This sort of treatment, if whatever, to carry on a war against Genit was to be continued when he should be eral Scott. The motives—the faith-the in the field, would be “a fire upon his designs of the President were not within rear,” paralyzing his efforts and his ener- the possible scope of the plain objects of gies, instead of that “active, candid and this letter. The letter assumes, in perfect steady support of his Government,” which good faith, that the President and Secrehe had a right to expect and demand. To tary were sincere and honest, though very make his plans distinctly known to the unreasonable, in the fault they had beExecutive, in regard to his stay in Wash- gun to find with him ; at any rate their sincerity and honesty in the matter are in a close, and peace seemed no nearer being no way impeached or questioned. And obtained than when the war began. The this, undoubtedly, is the very mistake, and President became alarmed at last, at the the only mistake, the letter makes. If obstinacy of the enemy, at the enormous General Scott had flatly told the Presi- cost of the war, and the heavy sacrifice of dent--Sir, you are acting towards me from life made in prosecuting it. The prospect most unworthy motives, and in bad faith ; / was a gloomy one, and the President was I understand your design perfectly, in deep perplexity. which is nothing less than to find, or make, On the 11th of October he received the some plausible excuse for withdrawing news and particulars of the capture of from me your tender and promise of the Monterey, after three days of hard fightchief command in Mexico; if he had ing, and a great loss of life. But this said this, it might not have been very re- victory, any more than previous ones, did spectful to the Constitutional Commander- | not bring peace, or any prospects of peace. in-chief, but it would have been literally | This was the constant disappointment after true. And it was only the consciousness every victory, and every successful moveof unworthy motives, and bad faith, and ment of the army; and still the Govera dishonest design, which enabled the ment went hoping on, and expecting peace President, or the Secretary in his behalf, from the next and the next isolated moveto fancy that they could discover any impu- ment. They thought peace would come tations of the sort in this letter. The if Taylor would send a force to take milicharge is a self-betrayal, and a confession tary possession of the State of Tamaulipas, of guilt. The whole case stands just here: and occupy Tampico, and they sent him The President had come to think that instructions to this effect, written on the sending General Scott to Mexico might day on which he began the battles of result in endangering his own succession, Monterey—the 22d of September. Two or that of his dynasty, to the Presidency. days after receiving the news of the fall of He resolved to endeavor to get on without Monterey—the 13th of October—these inhim in the field, and to keep him at home, structions were renewed, and General Tarwhere he could have, without any hazard, lor was informed that they had also under all the benefit of his great capacity and consideration a plan for investing Vera experience in the formation of plans, and Cruz. Finally, on the 22d of October, in the home management of details and explicit instructions were prepared and sent operations for prosecuting the war. To to Taylor, unless it should materially insome new Major-general, if he could get terfere with his own plan of operations, one-which was his first plan--or to Gen- or weaken too much his present position, eral Taylor, on whom he settled down after “ to make the necessary arrangements for his victories on the Rio Grande, he resolved having four thousand men, of whom fifteen to intrust the command—at least of the hundred or two thousand should be reguforces destined to enter Mexico by the way | lar troops, ready to embark for Vera of that river.

Cruz, or such other destination as may be With the clear exposition which we have given them, at the earliest practicable pehere made of the insincerity, bad faith, riod.” and false pretences, practiced towards But at this period, and earlier indeed, General Scott by the Executive Govern- the President was laboring under another ment, in this first transaction, at the com- embarrassment, besides what concerned mencement of the war, we are prepared to merely the successful prosecution of the enter on some inquiry into the treatment war. Taylor was becoming too popular, he has received at its hands since he has and was already much talked of for the been actually in the field.

| Presidency. The Government was getting And the first inquiry which presents it- tired of his successes. They promptly sent self is, how came General Scott to be em him a rebuke for his temporary truce at ployed at all in the field, after what had the capitulation of Monterey. They adtranspired in May, 1846 ? The explana- vised him pretty strongly against making tion is not difficult.

any further attempts beyond Monterey, The campaign of 1846 was drawing to while, for the expedition to Vera Cruz, they instructed him to give the command | October, and the others following on the to General Patterson and General Worth. 12th, the 16th and the 21st of November. They had previously, by an order from This measure was to strike directly at the home, assigned the command of the expe- Capital of the Mexican empire, entering by dition to Tamaulipas and Tampico to way of Vera Cruz, and first reducing that General Patterson. And thus it was city and the Fortress of St. John.* He set cunningly arranged, that by detaching down the number of men for this enterfrom Taylor's column the best part of prise at 20,000 as the least number, and his army, for an enterprise in which the he proposed that this force should be raised, command was to be given to another, he including volunteers, by adding ten or should be left to stand merely on the de- twelve new regiments of regulars, and fensive, and, so far as they could see, in a filling up and increasing the ranks of state of inglorious inactivity. At the same the old regiments. This was his plan, and time, it must be observed, that the pro in the night of the 18th of November, the jected enterprise itself--that of investing General received an intimation that he Vera Cruz, with four thousand men--was might prepare himself for the field, in puerile and contemptible in a military point reference to the execution of it. On the of view. The notion was, that the city | 23d he received his written orders, and might be taken with that force, and then, immediately left Washington to put himself with time enough, if the enemy around ) en route for the seat of war. them would lie still, the Castle of San Juan And here two things may be observed : d'Ulloa might be starved out. And First, that the President had manifestly nothing was proposed beyond; it was not resolved that he would not, willingly, put to strike at the Capital by way of Vera General Taylor in the way of winning any Cruz, but only to take Vera Cruz, as Mata- more battles. By the orders already moros and Camargo and Monterey had given, before General Scott's plan for a been taken, and then sit down, and hope march to the city of Mexico had been thus again for peace. In reply to these notable adopted, Taylor had been effectually replans of the Government, General Taylor duced to stand on the defensive; and on told the Department, that he would march adopting that plan, Taylor was to have himself on Victoria--the capital of Ta- nothing to do with it. And next, we find maulipas—which he did; and would send the President seemingly so far reconciled a detachment to garrison Tampico; and he to General Scott, notwithstanding the inwould then hold 4,000 men, of which subordination and disrespect of which he 3,000 should be regulars, ready to embark was accused in the preceding month of for Vera Cruz; but he warned the Gov- May, as to call him to the field for the high ernment that these 4,000 men must be and responsible service of conducting a joined by 6,000 more from home, if large army to the Capital of Mexico. It they meant to take and hold Vera Cruz, is sufficient to say, in this connection, that till the Castle of St. John should fall; and at this time, the impression was nearly if there was any purpose of marching on universal-so fickle is popular sentimentthe Capital, the expedition should not be and shared no doubt by the President, that undertaken with less than 25,000 men. General Scott, by a “hasty” letter, con

Before, however, this last dispatch could taining an unlucky, because unstudied exhave been received, which was dated the pression, though in all else a letter of 21st of November, the Executive Govern- characteristic candor, truth, dignity, and ment had waked up to the necessity of sterling sense, had effectually cut himself some change in its policy, in regard to this off, past all redemption, from any pretenwar. It now professed to come into the sions to the Presidency. measure, apparently with entire acquies. Now when General Scott left Washing. cence and cordiality, which General Scott ton, everything wore a smooth and fair aphad been urging upon it in four several pearance. We have reason to know that memorials,* beginning with one on the 21st

* General Scout wanted 15,000 men for his land

ing and attack on Vera Cruz and the Castle; but it * When these memorials come to be read by the he had 8,000 men he would go on, though he expublic, they will testify very strongly to the great pected to be obliged to meet and fight a large army military capacity of General Scoti.

Tat his landing.

« PreviousContinue »