CHAPTER IX. WAR WITH MEXICO.
General Zachary Taylor—General Ampudia's Declaration of Hostility — Attack of American Dragoons—Declaration of War by United States—Army of the West—General Stephen W. Kearny—Colonel Alex W. Doniphan—Mormon Battalion—Capt. P. St. George Cooke — Governor Armijo—Ambassador James Magoffin—General Kearny's Instructions — Civil Government of New Mexico—Kearny Code—Doniphan's Expedition — Kearny's Expedition to California—Kit Carson's Devotion to Duty—Pima Indians—Captain Cooke's March With Wagon Train and Mormon Battalion—Wild Cattle—Game—Arrival at Tucson—Letter to Don Manuel Gandara, Governor of Sonora—Maricopas—Crossing the Colorado—Colonel Price—Revolt in Mexico—Killing of Governor Bent and Other Officials—Punishment of Revolutionists.
On the 28th of March, 1846, General Zaxhary Taylor took up his position on the banks of the Rio Grande opposite Matamoras, and strengthened himself by the erection of Field works. Texas, at that time, claimed the Rio Grande as the western boundry of the republic, which not only embraced what is now known as Texas,
General Taylor was notified by General Ampudia of the Mexican Army to break up his camp and in twenty-four hours to retire beyond the Nueces River. To this, General Taylor made no reply, and General Arista, who had succeeded General Ampudia in command of the Mexican army, on the 24th of April, advised General Taylor that ‘‘he considered hostilities commenced, and should prosecute them.’’ After this notification was received, General Taylor sent a party of dragoons, sixty-three in number, up the valley of the Rio Grande to ascertain whether the Mexicans had crossed the river. They encountered a larger force than their own, and after an engagement in which seventeen of the Americans were killed or wounded, they were surrounded and compelled to surrender. Intelligence of this affair raised the war spirit of the United States. Our country had been invaded; American blood had been spilled on American soil, was the cry heard on every side. In response to public opinion, President Polk, on the 11th of May, sent a message to Congress, ‘‘invoking its prompt action to recognize the existence of war, and to place at the disposition of the Executive the
The story of the successful campaigns of General Taylor into the heart of Mexico, and the capture of Mexico City by General Scott, does not belong to this history. We deal only with that portion of it which ended in the subjugation of New Mexico, Arizona and California.
War, or its existence, having been declared, the Army of the West was organized at Fort Leavenworth, in June, under the command of General Stephen W. Kearny, its mission the occupation of the broad territory stretching from New Mexico to California, and co-operation with other branches of the army in expeditions farther south. The advance division of this force consisted of 300 regulars of the first United States dragoons, under Major Edwin V. Sumner, afterwards a Major General in the Union Army, accompanied by a regiment of mounted volunteers called out by Governor Edwards of Missouri for this campaign, and commanded by Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan, and five additional companies of volunteers, including one of infantry and two of light cavalry, or a total of nearly seventeen hundred men. The reserve division comprised another regiment of Missouri volunteers under
The advance of the army left Fort Leavenworth late in June with a supply train of over 1,000 mules, which was soon augmented by 400 wagons of the annual Santa Fe caravan. All the companies, except that of the artillery, encamped at the beginning of August near Bent's Fort on the Arkansas, after an uneventful but tedious march of some 650 miles across the plains. From Bent's Fort Captain P. St. George Cooke, with twelve picked men, was sent in advance as a kind of ambassador to treat with Governor Armijo for the peaceful submission of eastern New Mexico, ‘‘but really,’’ says Bancroft, ‘‘to escort James Magoffin, the venerable ambassador, intrusted with a secret mission at Santa Fe.’’
Of this expedition, Cooke, in his Conquest of New Mexico and California, says: ‘‘My mission * * * was in fact a pacific one. The general had just issued a proclamation of annexation of all the territory east of the Rio Grande; the government thus adopting the old claim of Texas; and thus, manifestly, in a statesmen's view, a bloodless process would lead to its confirmation in the treaty of peace; and the population would be saved from the bitterness of passing subjugum. The difficulty of a half measure remains; it cuts the isolated province in two! There must be an influential Micawber in the cabinet. At a plaintive complaint that I went to plant the olive from which he would reap a laurel,
The mission of Magoffin was, in part, successful, in so far that there was no armed resistance on the part of Governor Armijo to the American advance. Cooke's party arrived on the 12th of August at Santa Fe, and was hospitably received by Armijo, who seemed to think that the approach of the army was "rather sudden and rapid." He concluded to send a commissioner, in the person of Dr. Connelley, with whom the Captain set out the next day on his return to meet the army. Magoffin easily prevailed on the governor to make no defense at Apache Canyon, ‘‘a point on the approach to Santa Fe, which might have been held by a small force.’’ He had more difficulty with Archuleta, the second in command, but by appealing to his ambition, and suggesting that by a pronunciamento he might secure for himself Western New Mexico, he at length overcame that officer's patriotic objections, and thus secured an open road for the army.
Kearny's army left Bent's fort on the 2nd of August. His route was nearly identical with that traveled by the later line of stages, and differed but slightly from that of the modern Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. On the 14th, 15th and 16th, respectively, the army reached Las Vegas, Tecolote and San Miguel del Vado. At these places Kearny, now a brigadier-general, made a speech from a house-top, absolving the people from their allegiance to Armijo,
Should you conquer and take possession of New Mexico and Upper California, you will establish temporary civil governments therein, abolishing all arbitrary restrictions that may exist, so far as it may be done with safety. In performing this duty, it would be wise and prudent to continue in their employment all such of the existing officers as are known to be friendly to the United States and will take the oath of allegiance to them. * * * You may assure the people of these provinces that it is the wish and design of the United States to provide for them a free government, with the least possible delay, similar to that which exists in our territories. They will be called on to exercise the rights of freemen in electing their own representatives to the territorial legislature. It is foreseen that what relates to the civil government will be a difficult and unpleasant part of your duty, and much must necessarily be left to your own discretion.
A code of laws, founded mainly on the laws of Missouri and Texas, was prepared by Colonel Doniphan, who was an accomplished lawyer, and this code of laws was in force in New Mexico as late as the year 1885. This code, known as the Kearny code, was submitted to Congress, and with it there was also submitted an organic law for the territory of New Mexico, which provided for a permanent territorial organization under the laws of the United States, naming the first
After performing this work in New Mexico, General Kearny sent Colonel Doniphan south with a thousand men, to capture Chihuahua. About two thousand men, including many invalids, were left in command of Col. Price, to hold the territory already conquered, and General Kearny himself, with a force of about a hundred and fifty dragoons, started for California, and Captain Cooke, promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, was ordered to take command of the Mormon Battalion, and follow General Kearny to California.
On September 26th, 1846, General Kearny, with his small company of dragoons, commenced his march to California. On the 6th of October, he met Kit Carson with fifteen men, carrying important mail and dispatches for Washington. He gave General Kearny the great news of the subjugation of California by Commodore Stockton and Captain Fremont. Six of Carson's party were Delaware Indians; he had started with fifteen riding animals; the most of them had been ridden down and abandoned; others swapped two for one, with friendly Apaches. Carson had come by way of the Gila River, and advised General Kearny that no news of the invasion of New Mexico had been received in California. General Kearny determined that Carson should return with him and be his guide over the route he had just passed, but Carson resisted this attempt to make him turn back, and the General did not prevail until he
On October 14th, General Kearny once more resumed his march, and, next day, being about two hundred and thirty miles below Santa Fe, he left the river, turned westward toward the copper mines on the Gila, and wrote to Colonel Cooke, assigning to him the command of the Mormon Battalion, and the task of opening a wagon road to the Pacific. From the copper mines, the General's route was nearly due west along the course of the Gila River. His train consisted entirely of pack mules, in addition to which he had two mountain howitzers, but no wagons. His journey across what is now the State of Arizona was uneventful. He traded mules with the Apaches headed by Mangus Colorado, and had several meetings with the Pimas, of whom his chronicler says:
On the 25th of November, having reached the Colorado River, they forded that river, some of the horses swimming when its crooked course was lost; they camped fifteen miles below, at the first well, where only the men got water, and on the 12th day of December, General Kearny and his column reached San Diego.
The Mormon Battalion, which General Kearny had ordered Colonel Cooke to assume command of, arrived at Santa Fe on October 12th, 1846. It had been commanded by Lieutenant A. J. Smith, First Dragoons, on its long march from Fort Leavenworth. Everything conspired to discourage the extraordinary undertaking of marching this battalion eleven hundred miles, for the greater part of the journey through an unknown wilderness without road or trail, and with a wagon train. It was enlisted too much by families; some were too old, some feeble, and some too young. It was embarrassed by too many women; it was worn by travelling on foot, and marching from Nauvoo, Illinois, where it had been organized; they had little clothing, there was no money to pay them, or clothing to issue; their mules were entirely broken down; the quartermaster department was without funds, and its credit was not good, and mules were scarce. Those procured were inferior, and
Upon this expedition Colonel Cooke had a large wagon train and his expedition was, as far as the country through which he passed was concerned, of more importance than that of General Kearny, because it demonstrated the fact that wagons could be used in crossing what is now the State of Arizona. Twenty-two miles from Santa Fe, Cooke turned south, continuing in a southwesterly direction some twenty-five or thirty miles to the Santa Rita Copper Mines, crossing the Mimbres River a little north of
Upon this expedition, Colonel Cooke had the services of several guides, the chief of them being Leroux, and another Pauline Weaver, of whom further mention will be made later on in this work. Leroux thought the country to the west was an open prairie and a good route to the San Pedro River, if water could be obtained in sufficient quantity. Colonel Cooke, however, continued his route in a southwesterly direction, to a point about fifteen miles north of Fronteras, Sonora, Mexico, thence in a northwesterly direction to the headwaters of the San Pedro River in Arizona. He followed this river about forty miles in a northerly direction, and from thence struck off to the northwest to Tucson, from which point, still going northwesterly, he struck the trail that General Kearny had made to the Pima Villages, and followed the Gila down to its junction with the Colorado.
In this march, which was made in the winter of 1846, the command suffered much hardship from lack of food and water, and also suffered from cold at night and heat by day. It met with no hostile forces of Indians or Mexicans but it was harassed a good deal by the wild cattle near the old abandoned ranch of San Bernardino, of which St. George Cooke says:
On December 3rd, the command passed the day at San Bernardino and was disappointed in not obtaining mules from the Apaches. Along the San Pedro River, Colonel Cooke found bands of wild horses, herds of cattle and antelopes. Following this stream, on December 11th, the command had quite an engagement with bulls. Of this the Colonel says:
I had to direct the men to load their muskets to defend themselves. The animals attacked in some instances without provocation, and tall grass in some places made the danger greater; one ran on a man, caught him in the thigh, and threw him clear over his body lengthwise; then it charged on a team, ran its head under the first mule and tore out the entrails of the one beyond. Another ran against a sergeant who escaped with severe bruises, as the horns passed at each side of him; one ran at a horse tied behind a wagon, and as it escaped, the bull struck the wagon with a momentum that forced the hind part of it out of the road. I saw one rush at some pack mules, and kill one of them. I was very near Corporal Frost, when an immense coal black bull came charging at us, a hundred yards. Frost aimed his musket, flintlock, very deliberately, and only fired when the beast was within six paces; it fell headlong, almost at our feet. One man, charged on, threw himself flat, and the bull jumped over him and passed on.
A bull, after receiving two balls through its heart, and two through the lungs, ran on a man. I have seen the heart. Lieut. Stoneman was accidentally wounded in the thumb. We crossed a pretty stream, which I have named 'Bull Run'.’’
On December 14th, Colonel Cooke rode in among four or five Mexican soldiers, cutting grass, their horses, arms and saddles nearby. The sergeant in command of the Mexican party said that reports had been spread which alarmed the people who were about to fly, and he was sent by the commandant to request the Americans not to pass through the town (Tucson); that he had orders to prevent it, but that the Americans could pass on either side. Colonel Cooke told him to return and inform the commander of the garrison, that if it was very weak, he would probably not molest it, but to tell the people that the Americans were their friends and wanted to purchase flour, etc. He soon left. Before reaching Tucson, a commission was received by Cooke from the Commandant at Tucson, authorized to make a special armistice. ‘‘After a rather long conference, they were dismissed with the proposition that a few arms should be delivered as tokens of a surrender, which only
At the last camp, about sixteen miles from the town, a cavalryman, well mounted and armed, was met, who delivered a dispatch refusing the terms offered. He was allowed to retire without answer. The battalion made ready for engagement, when soon thereafter two Mexicans were met, who gave the information that the post had been evacuated, and that most of the inhabitants had been forced to leave by the military, who had also carried off two brass cannon. About a dozen well mounted men met and accompanied the battalion into the town, some of whom were said to be soldiers. The command encamped about half a mile beyond the town. About a hundred of the perhaps five hundred inhabitants had remained. The barracks were situated upon high ground, enclosed by a wall with abutments and battlements in bad repair. Some provisions were brought to the camp for sale. The battalion was now without salt and only three bushels of that commodity could be obtained there. A quantity of wheat found in the forts was used for food, and as much as could be carried was ordered to be taken both for mules and men.
A note was left to be delivered to Captain Comaduran upon his return, enclosing a letter for the Governor of Sonora, at Ures, Don Manuel Gandara, who was said to be well disposed to the United States. It is here given:
Your Excellency:—The undersigned, marching in command of a battalion of United States Infantry, from New Mexico to California, has found it convenient for the passage of his wagon train, to cross the frontier of Sonora. Having passed within fifteen miles of Fronteras, I have found it necessary to take this presidio in my route to the Gila.
Be assured that I did not come as an enemy of the people whom you represent; they have received only kindness at my hands. Sonora refused to contribute to the support of the present war against my country, alleging the excellent reasons that all her resources were necessary to her defence from the incessant attacks of savages; that the central government gave her no protection, and was, therefore, entitled to no support. To this might have been added that Mexico supports a war upon Sonora. For I have seen the New Mexicans within her boundary trading for the spoil of her people, taken by murderous, cowardly Indians, who attack only to lay waste, rob and fly to the mountains, and I have certain information that this is the practice of many years; thus one part of Mexico allies itself against another.
On the 18th, the march was resumed, and on the 21st they struck General Kearny's route on the Gila, and there went into camp. Here they were visited by many Indians from the Pima villages, which were eight miles away. The Indians flocked into camp, some being mounted, bringing small sacks of corn, flour, beans, etc. One brought letters from General Kearny and Major Swords, quartermaster-general, which mentioned eleven broken down mules and two bales of Indian goods left for him with the Pimas. Of the mules five had died, and the rest were, with the bales of Indian goods, turned over to the Colonel. The principal chief of the Pimas, Juan Antonio, stated to Colonel Cooke that the commander of Tucson had sent to demand the mules and goods left with them; that he refused to surrender them and declared that he would resist force with force. ‘‘He said I could see they were poor and naked, but they were content to live here by hard work, on the spot which God had given them, and not like others to rob or steal; that they did not fear us, and run like the Apaches, because they made it a rule to injure no one in any way, and therefore
Colonel Cooke says: ‘‘The Pimas are large and fine looking, seem well fed, ride good horses, and are variously clothed, though many have only the center cloth; the men and women have extraordinary luxuriance and length of hair. With clean white blankets and streaming hair, they present mounted quite a fine figure. But innocence and cheerfulness are their most distinctive characteristics. I am told the Mexican officers offered every persuasion, and promise of plunder, to excite hostility toward us. A few bushels of sweet corn were bought, and issued as rations.’’
Continuing, he says: ‘‘Several miles short of the village, groups of men, women and girls were met, coming to welcome the battalion. These last, naked generally above the hips, were of every age and pretty, walking often by twos with encircling arms; it was a gladdening sight, so much cheerfulness and happiness. One little girl, particularly, by a fancied resemblance, interested me very much; she was so joyous that she seemed very pretty and innocent; I could not resist tying on her head, as a turban, a bright new silk handkerchief, which I happened to wear to-day; the effect was beautiful to see—a picture of happiness.’’
‘‘The camp is full of Indians, and a great many have some eatables, including watermelons, to trade; and they seem only to want clothing or cotton cloth, and beads. I am sorry they will be disappointed. It reminds me of a
The march was resumed on the 23rd. The colonel stopped for a few moments at the house of the chief and told him that among the many Indians he had seen, the Pimas were the happiest and most prosperous, and that as long as they adhered to their principles of industry, honesty, peace and cheerful content, they would continue so; that while they never injured their neighbors, their true safety lay in uniting to resist vigorously every aggression; that wishing them well he desired to add to their comfort and welfare by introducing sheep among them, and gave him for the use of his people, three ewes with young, which was the best he could do.
At this point a letter was received from General Kearny, written at Warner's rancho, California, indicating that his arrival had been very important, not only to the welfare of California, but to its conquest.
The next camp was made at the village of the Maricopas, of whom this is said: ‘‘Notwithstanding a different language, all that has been said of the Pimas is applicable to them. They live in cordial amity, and their habits, agriculture and manufactures are the same, as also
The hospitality and generosity of these allied tribes is noted; they feed and assist in every way travellers who are in need; fortunately, perhaps, these have been few. I observe them parching grain in a basket, by throwing in live coals and keeping all in motion, by tossing into the air.
They have the simplicity of nature, and none of the affected reserve and dignity characteristic of other Indians, before whites. At the sound of a trumpet, playing of a violin, the killing of a beef, they rush to see and hear, with delight or astonishment strongly exhibited. About a half bushel of corn was procured for each animal, and three days' rations of corn meal.’’
While General Kearny and Colonel Cooke were on their respective marches to California, Colonel Price, left in command of some two thousand men, many of them invalids, at Santa Fe, received information that efforts to excite a general revolt in New Mexico were being made. A former officer of the Mexican army was arrested, and a list of all the disbanded Mexican soldiers was found on his person. Many others, supposed to be implicated, were arrested, but the two leaders, Ortiz and Archuleta, made their escape to the south. A full investigation revealed that many influential persons in the territory were involved in the insurrection, but the prompt measures taken were effective in crushing it before it assumed proportions which would render it a menace to the United States. In this revolt, however, the newly appointed governor and other of the officers appointed by General Kearny lost their lives, and of this portion of the history of the newly acquired territory, St. George Cooke says: ‘‘Charles Bent, the Governor, appointed by General Kearny, was an able man; amiable and married to a native of the country, he was considered quite popular; January 14th, he left Santa Fe to visit his family at San Fernando de Taos, near the Pueblo de Taos, about seventy miles north of Santa Fe, and near the top of the great southern promontory of the Rocky Mountains. There, January 19th, the governor, the sheriff, the circuit attorney, the prefect, and two
Immediately upon receipt of this news, Colonel Price commenced an active campaign against the insurrectionists. He bombarded the town of Cañada, one of their strongholds, and also had engagements with the enemy at Embudo and the Pueblo of Taos. The loss to the enemy was so great that they sued for peace, which was granted by Colonel Price on the condition that the leaders of the insurrection should be delivered to him, which was done. Of the fate of these leaders, Colonel Cooke says:
‘‘The principal leaders in this insurrection were Tafoya, Pablo Chavis, Pablo Montoya, Cortez and Tomas, a Pueblo Indian. Of these, Tafoya was killed at Cañada; Chavis was killed at Pueblo; Montoya was hanged at San Fernando on the 7th instant, and Tomas was shot by a private while in the guard room at the latter town. Cortez is still at large. This person was at the head of the rebels in the valley of Mora.’’
The campaign was vigorously prosecuted by Colonel Price, and the insurrection was effectually quelled, with great loss of life to the rebels, and some loss to the Americans. At the end of this chapter describing this insurrection and campaign, St. George Cooke says: ‘‘And New Mexico then submitted.’’