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offered in reply—or such explanations and argumentations (apologies and excuses in reality) had accompanied the offensive acts. The General's present letter was a summary of these complaints, in which they were brought together, and placed on record, for more easy reference. And we make bold to say, in the face of all the ingenious plausibilities of the Secretary's reply, that there is not one of these complaints that has not a substantial foundation in truth, and so it will be made to appear when the facts shall be brought to light. The Secretary's Letter in reply had not so much for its object to defend the Administration over again against these complaints, as to attempt a justification before the country, in the absence of the General, for its contemptuous dismissal of him from the command of the army in the field, by this assault on his character and conduct. We shall undertake to show how much credit for candor and honesty is due to the Administration in this attempt. The substance of the complaints of General Scott, leaving all specifications out of the case, as these complaints are clearly gathered from his recent and previous communications, was this : That the confidence, and the active, candid and steady support of the Executive Government, had not been extended to him, as had been solemnly promised when he took the field, but on the contrary, he had been subjected to neglects, mortifications, disappointments, injuries and rebukes from the Government; and that the War Department, from which he had expected better things, so far from coming to his rescue or relief in the trying circumstances in which he had been placed, had wholly failed to give him its support,
or even its sympathy. This we say is the
substance of the complaints preferred by General Scott, and we are prepared to maintain and show that it is true to the letter, and that much more than this is true; though it has suited the purpose of the Secretary of War, in his defence, to talk as if he was really surprised that such notions should have found a lodgment in the General's mind, and to speak of the whole thing as “a delusion,” “a fondlycherished chimera,” and the offspring of “a mind of diseased sensibility.” We wonder a little that the Secretary should
have dared to venture on so bold a tone of defence as this, in the face of notorious facts, familiar to him certainly, and not less so to all intelligent and observing persons in the country, and which, wherever they are known, do not fail to convict the Executive Government, not only of having sent General Scott to the field without giving him its confidence, its candid support, or its sympathy, but of having acted towards him in bad faith, and entertaining towards him feelings of opposition and enmity, and a false disposition and design to betray him, and cast him off at the earliest moment at which it might be practicable or safe to do so. The treacherous, insincere and jesuitical conduct of the Executive Government towards General Scott cannot be fully exhibited and understood, without going back to the beginning of this war. When hostilities began, there had been no preparatory augmentation of our forces in the field. An Army of Observation, soon to become an Army of Occupation, was on the frontier towards Mexico, under the command of Taylor, then a Colonel in the line, but holding a brevet commission of Brigadier. It does not admit of a doubt that the President at that period was deluding himself with the notion, that a show of force on the Rio Grande, with perhaps an unimportant brush or two with any small amount of Mexican forces gathered there, would scare the Mexican Government into almost any terms of accommodation with the powerful Republic of the North which he might see fit to dictate. For such a little war, Brevet Brigadier-general Taylor, who was known already to be a judicious and brave officer, was regarded as being quite competent and sufficient. When, however, it became suddenly known at Washington that Mexico had assumed an attitude of determined resistance, and had already, by overwhelming numbers, placed Taylor and his little army in a condition of imminent hazard, a corresponding alarm was felt, and an immediate call was made upon Congress to adopt the war, and meet the exigency by authorizing the organization of a large force for the field. The act for this purpose was passed and approved on the 13th of May, 1846; and on the same day, General Scott, commanding the army in chief, by his com
mission, whether that army should be great or small, was satisfied that he would be called on to take the field in person, and to hold himself in readiness accordingly. Scott was not a man to loiter over a work like this, though he knew his business too well to rush on such an enterprise as that of a war of invasion, to be carried into a far-distant country, without some intelligent plan of operations, and some corresponding preparations. It suited the objects of the Executive Government, which had at heart the permanent conquest and acquisition of the northern and western provinces of Mexico, to lay its plans of a campaign for the invasion of these provinces by a grand army of 30,000 men, divided into three columns, and thus striking at three distinct and distant points at the same time. Scott was to command the whole, taking the immediate head of the most formidable column, that which should enter the enemy's country by way of the lower Rio Grande. In repeated interviews between him and the President and Secretary of War, this plan of operations was discussed and adopted. Let it be carefully observed that it was to the command of a new army in the field of 30,000 men, to be employed in a definite campaign, according to a definite plan of operations, that General Scott was to be assigned. The President and Secretary both knew that he would hold it to be ungenerous and unjust to Taylor to supersede him in his command of the small force with which he had entered the field. When a new army was raised, and a regular campaign was to be entered upon, Scott was ready to take the field. All this was very particularly explained to General Taylor, in a letter from General Scott, dated the 18th of May, which passed twice under the eye of the Secretary, and had his special approval before it was dispatched. And two things are to be particularly noted in this letter, as showing how exactly the main points in the arrangement between the General and the Executive Government were understood and agreed upon. One of these points was the time when the new army, or the principal column, could be placed on the Rio Grande ; the other was the time when General Scott should appear there to supersede Taylor by assuming the command.
On the first point, the letter held this very precise language:–
“I fear that we shall not be able to put on the Rio Grande, with our utmost efforts, more than ten or fifteen thousand volunteers by the first of September—the best period, we learn here, for the commencement of operations beyond, with a view to the conquest of a peace.”
On the other point the letter held language not less explicit and precise, to this effect:—
“I do not now expect to reach the Rio Grande much ahead of the heavy reinforcements alluded to above, or to assume the immediate command in that quarter before my arrival.”
On the 18th of May, then, it was perfectly understood by the President and Secretary, that the new army for the Rio Grande could not probably be placed there, organized and ready for operations, before the 1st of September, and that it was not worth the while for General Scott to be there to assume the command much in advance of the new army. In the mean time, they knew very well that he was not idle or unemployed, and that his proper position, the place where he could be most efficient, as Commander-in-chief, in setting on foot and urging forward the necessary preparations and operations for the coming campaign, was his head-quarters at Washington. This is referred to, and briefly sketched, in one of his letters:-
“From that moment [when he was told to hold himself in readiness for this service] I have occupied myself incessantly with the vast preliminary arrangements, which can only be made advantageously at this place, through the respective chiefs of the general staff—the Adjutant General, Quartermaster General, Commissary General of Subsistence, Chief of Ordnance, and Surgeon General. I have been much occupied also in the distribution of the uotas of volunteers needed among the several States; in apportioning the horse to the foot; in the study of the routes of march and water conveyances for the several bodies of troops to the best points on the frontiers of Mexico; in the study of the northern, interior, and the southern routes of that Republic; in looking at the means of transportation on the Rio Grande, and to and beyond that river; in determining the dépôts of supplies of all sorts on this side, &c. &c. As these matters are respective