by U. S. Grant


"Man proposes and God disposes." There are but few important
events in the affairs of men brought about by their own choice.

Although frequently urged by friends to write my memoirs I had
determined never to do so, nor to write anything for
publication. At the age of nearly sixty-two I received an
injury from a fall, which confined me closely to the house while
it did not apparently affect my general health. This made study
a pleasant pastime. Shortly after, the rascality of a business
partner developed itself by the announcement of a failure. This
was followed soon after by universal depression of all
securities, which seemed to threaten the extinction of a good
part of the income still retained, and for which I am indebted
to the kindly act of friends. At this juncture the editor of
the Century Magazine asked me to write a few articles for him. I
consented for the money it gave me; for at that moment I was
living upon borrowed money. The work I found congenial, and I
determined to continue it. The event is an important one for
me, for good or evil; I hope for the former.

In preparing these volumes for the public, I have entered upon
the task with the sincere desire to avoid doing injustice to any
one, whether on the National or Confederate side, other than the
unavoidable injustice of not making mention often where special
mention is due. There must be many errors of omission in this
work, because the subject is too large to be treated of in two
volumes in such way as to do justice to all the officers and men
engaged. There were thousands of instances, during the
rebellion, of individual, company, regimental and brigade deeds
of heroism which deserve special mention and are not here
alluded to. The troops engaged in them will have to look to the
detailed reports of their individual commanders for the full
history of those deeds.

The first volume, as well as a portion of the second, was
written before I had reason to suppose I was in a critical
condition of health. Later I was reduced almost to the point of
death, and it became impossible for me to attend to anything for
weeks. I have, however, somewhat regained my strength, and am
able, often, to devote as many hours a day as a person should
devote to such work. I would have more hope of satisfying the
expectation of the public if I could have allowed myself more
time. I have used my best efforts, with the aid of my eldest
son, F. D. Grant, assisted by his brothers, to verify from the
records every statement of fact given. The comments are my own,
and show how I saw the matters treated of whether others saw them
in the same light or not.

With these remarks I present these volumes to the public, asking
no favor but hoping they will meet the approval of the reader.












































Volume one begins:



My family is American, and has been for generations, in all its
branches, direct and collateral.

Mathew Grant, the founder of the branch in America, of which I
am a descendant, reached Dorchester, Massachusetts, in May,
1630. In 1635 he moved to what is now Windsor, Connecticut, and
was the surveyor for that colony for more than forty years. He
was also, for many years of the time, town clerk. He was a
married man when he arrived at Dorchester, but his children were
all born in this country. His eldest son, Samuel, took lands on
the east side of the Connecticut River, opposite Windsor, which
have been held and occupied by descendants of his to this day.

I am of the eighth generation from Mathew Grant, and seventh
from Samuel. Mathew Grant's first wife died a few years after
their settlement in Windsor, and he soon after married the widow
Rockwell, who, with her first husband, had been fellow-
passengers with him and his first wife, on the ship Mary and
John, from Dorchester, England, in 1630. Mrs. Rockwell had
several children by her first marriage, and others by her
second. By intermarriage, two or three generations later, I am
descended from both the wives of Mathew Grant.

In the fifth descending generation my great grandfather, Noah
Grant, and his younger brother, Solomon, held commissions in the
English army, in 1756, in the war against the French and
Indians. Both were killed that year.

My grandfather, also named Noah, was then but nine years old. At
the breaking out of the war of the Revolution, after the battles
of Concord and Lexington, he went with a Connecticut company to
join the Continental army, and was present at the battle of
Bunker Hill. He served until the fall of Yorktown, or through
the entire Revolutionary war. He must, however, have been on
furlough part of the time--as I believe most of the soldiers of
that period were--for he married in Connecticut during the war,
had two children, and was a widower at the close. Soon after
this he emigrated to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, and
settled near the town of Greensburg in that county. He took
with him the younger of his two children, Peter Grant. The
elder, Solomon, remained with his relatives in Connecticut until
old enough to do for himself, when he emigrated to the British
West Indies.

Not long after his settlement in Pennsylvania, my grandfather,
Captain Noah Grant, married a Miss Kelly, and in 1799 he
emigrated again, this time to Ohio, and settled where the town
of Deerfield now stands. He had now five children, including
Peter, a son by his first marriage. My father, Jesse R. Grant,
was the second child--oldest son, by the second marriage.

Peter Grant went early to Maysville, Kentucky, where he was very
prosperous, married, had a family of nine children, and was
drowned at the mouth of the Kanawha River, Virginia, in 1825,
being at the time one of the wealthy men of the West.

My grandmother Grant died in 1805, leaving seven children. This
broke up the family. Captain Noah Grant was not thrifty in the
way of "laying up stores on earth," and, after the death of his
second wife, he went, with the two youngest children, to live
with his son Peter, in Maysville. The rest of the family found
homes in the neighborhood of Deerfield, my father in the family
of judge Tod, the father of the late Governor Tod, of Ohio. His
industry and independence of character were such, that I imagine
his labor compensated fully for the expense of his maintenance.

There must have been a cordiality in his welcome into the Tod
family, for to the day of his death he looked upon judge Tod and
his wife, with all the reverence he could have felt if they had
been parents instead of benefactors. I have often heard him
speak of Mrs. Tod as the most admirable woman he had ever
known. He remained with the Tod family only a few years, until
old enough to learn a trade. He went first, I believe, with his
half-brother, Peter Grant, who, though not a tanner himself,
owned a tannery in Maysville, Kentucky. Here he learned his
trade, and in a few years returned to Deerfield and worked for,
and lived in the family of a Mr. Brown, the father of John
Brown--"whose body lies mouldering in the grave, while his soul
goes marching on." I have often heard my father speak of John
Brown, particularly since the events at Harper's Ferry. Brown
was a boy when they lived in the same house, but he knew him
afterwards, and regarded him as a man of great purity of
character, of high moral and physical courage, but a fanatic and
extremist in whatever he advocated. It was certainly the act of
an insane man to attempt the invasion of the South, and the
overthrow of slavery, with less than twenty men.

My father set up for himself in business, establishing a tannery
at Ravenna, the county seat of Portage County. In a few years he
removed from Ravenna, and set up the same business at Point
Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio.

During the minority of my father, the West afforded but poor
facilities for the most opulent of the youth to acquire an
education, and the majority were dependent, almost exclusively,
upon their own exertions for whatever learning they obtained. I
have often heard him say that his time at school was limited to
six months, when he was very young, too young, indeed, to learn
much, or to appreciate the advantages of an education, and to a
"quarter's schooling" afterwards, probably while living with
judge Tod. But his thirst for education was intense. He
learned rapidly, and was a constant reader up to the day of his
death in his eightieth year. Books were scarce in the Western
Reserve during his youth, but he read every book he could borrow
in the neighborhood where he lived. This scarcity gave him the
early habit of studying everything he read, so that when he got
through with a book, he knew everything in it. The habit
continued through life. Even after reading the daily
papers--which he never neglected--he could give all the
important information they contained. He made himself an
excellent English scholar, and before he was twenty years of age
was a constant contributor to Western newspapers, and was also,
from that time until he was fifty years old, an able debater in
the societies for this purpose, which were common in the West at
that time. He always took an active part in politics, but was
never a candidate for office, except, I believe, that he was the
first Mayor of Georgetown. He supported Jackson for the
Presidency; but he was a Whig, a great admirer of Henry Clay,
and never voted for any other democrat for high office after

My mother's family lived in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, for
several generations. I have little information about her
ancestors. Her family took no interest in genealogy, so that my
grandfather, who died when I was sixteen years old, knew only
back to his grandfather. On the other side, my father took a
great interest in the subject, and in his researches, he found
that there was an entailed estate in Windsor, Connecticut,
belonging to the family, to which his nephew, Lawson
Grant--still living--was the heir. He was so much interested in
the subject that he got his nephew to empower him to act in the
matter, and in 1832 or 1833, when I was a boy ten or eleven
years old, lie went to Windsor, proved the title beyond dispute,
and perfected the claim of the owners for a consideration--three
thousand dollars, I think. I remember the circumstance well,
and remember, too, hearing him say on his return that he found
some widows living on the property, who had little or nothing
beyond their homes. From these he refused to receive any

My mother's father, John Simpson, moved from Montgomery County,
Pennsylvania, to Clermont County, Ohio, about the year 1819,
taking with him his four children, three daughters and one
son. My mother, Hannah Simpson, was the third of these
children, and was then over twenty years of age. Her oldest
sister was at that time married, and had several children. She
still lives in Clermont County at this writing, October 5th,
1884, and is over ninety ears of age. Until her memory failed
her, a few years ago, she thought the country ruined beyond
recovery when the Democratic party lost control in 1860. Her
family, which was large, inherited her views, with the exception
of one son who settled in Kentucky before the war. He was the
only one of the children who entered the volunteer service to
suppress the rebellion.

Her brother, next of age and now past eighty-eight, is also
still living in Clermont County, within a few miles of the old
homestead, and is as active in mind as ever. He was a supporter
of the Government during the war, and remains a firm believer,
that national success by the Democratic party means
irretrievable ruin.

In June, 1821, my father, Jesse R. Grant, married Hannah
Simpson. I was born on the 27th of April, 1822, at Point
Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio. In the fall of 1823 we moved
to Georgetown, the county seat of Brown, the adjoining county
east. This place remained my home, until at the age of
seventeen, in 1839, I went to West Point.

The schools, at the time of which I write, were very
indifferent. There were no free schools, and none in which the
scholars were classified. They were all supported by
subscription, and a single teacher--who was often a man or a
woman incapable of teaching much, even if they imparted all they
knew--would have thirty or forty scholars, male and female, from
the infant learning the A B C's up to the young lady of eighteen
and the boy of twenty, studying the highest branches taught--the
three R's, "Reading, 'Riting, 'Rithmetic." I never saw an
algebra, or other mathematical work higher than the arithmetic,
in Georgetown, until after I was appointed to West Point. I
then bought a work on algebra in Cincinnati; but having no
teacher it was Greek to me.

My life in Georgetown was uneventful. From the age of five or
six until seventeen, I attended the subscription schools of the
village, except during the winters of 1836-7 and 1838-9. The
former period was spent in Maysville, Kentucky, attending the
school of Richardson and Rand; the latter in Ripley, Ohio, at a
private school. I was not studious in habit, and probably did
not make progress enough to compensate for the outlay for board
and tuition. At all events both winters were spent in going
over the same old arithmetic which I knew every word of before,
and repeating: "A noun is the name of a thing," which I had
also heard my Georgetown teachers repeat, until I had come to
believe it--but I cast no reflections upon my old teacher,
Richardson. He turned out bright scholars from his school, many
of whom have filled conspicuous places in the service of their
States. Two of my contemporaries there--who, I believe, never
attended any other institution of learning--have held seats in
Congress, and one, if not both, other high offices; these are
Wadsworth and Brewster.

My father was, from my earliest recollection, in comfortable
circumstances, considering the times, his place of residence,
and the community in which he lived. Mindful of his own lack of
facilities for acquiring an education, his greatest desire in
maturer years was for the education of his children.
Consequently, as stated before, I never missed a quarter from
school from the time I was old enough to attend till the time of
leaving home. This did not exempt me from labor. In my early
days, every one labored more or less, in the region where my
youth was spent, and more in proportion to their private
means. It was only the very poor who were exempt. While my
father carried on the manufacture of leather and worked at the
trade himself, he owned and tilled considerable land. I
detested the trade, preferring almost any other labor; but I was
fond of agriculture, and of all employment in which horses were
used. We had, among other lands, fifty acres of forest within a
mile of the village. In the fall of the year choppers were
employed to cut enough wood to last a twelve-month. When I was
seven or eight years of age, I began hauling all the wood used
in the house and shops. I could not load it on the wagons, of
course, at that time, but I could drive, and the choppers would
load, and some one at the house unload. When about eleven years
old, I was strong enough to hold a plough. From that age until
seventeen I did all the work done with horses, such as breaking
up the land, furrowing, ploughing corn and potatoes, bringing in
the crops when harvested, hauling all the wood, besides tending
two or three horses, a cow or two, and sawing wood for stoves,
etc., while still attending school. For this I was compensated
by the fact that there was never any scolding or punishing by my
parents; no objection to rational enjoyments, such as fishing,
going to the creek a mile away to swim in summer, taking a horse
and visiting my grandparents in the adjoining county, fifteen
miles off, skating on the ice in winter, or taking a horse and
sleigh when there was snow on the ground.

While still quite young I had visited Cincinnati, forty-five
miles away, several times, alone; also Maysville, Kentucky,
often, and once Louisville. The journey to Louisville was a big
one for a boy of that day. I had also gone once with a two-horse
carriage to Chilicothe, about seventy miles, with a neighbor's
family, who were removing to Toledo, Ohio, and returned alone;
and had gone once, in like manner, to Flat Rock, Kentucky, about
seventy miles away. On this latter occasion I was fifteen years
of age. While at Flat Rock, at the house of a Mr. Payne, whom I
was visiting with his brother, a neighbor of ours in Georgetown,
I saw a very fine saddle horse, which I rather coveted, and
proposed to Mr. Payne, the owner, to trade him for one of the
two I was driving. Payne hesitated to trade with a boy, but
asking his brother about it, the latter told him that it would
be all right, that I was allowed to do as I pleased with the
horses. I was seventy miles from home, with a carriage to take
back, and Mr. Payne said he did not know that his horse had ever
had a collar on. I asked to have him hitched to a farm wagon and
we would soon see whether he would work. It was soon evident
that the horse had never worn harness before; but he showed no
viciousness, and I expressed a confidence that I could manage
him. A trade was at once struck, I receiving ten dollars

The next day Mr. Payne, of Georgetown, and I started on our
return. We got along very well for a few miles, when we
encountered a ferocious dog that frightened the horses and made
them run. The new animal kicked at every jump he made. I got
the horses stopped, however, before any damage was done, and
without running into anything. After giving them a little rest,
to quiet their fears, we started again. That instant the new
horse kicked, and started to run once more. The road we were
on, struck the turnpike within half a mile of the point where
the second runaway commenced, and there there was an embankment
twenty or more feet deep on the opposite side of the pike. I
got the horses stopped on the very brink of the precipice. My
new horse was terribly frightened and trembled like an aspen;
but he was not half so badly frightened as my companion, Mr.
Payne, who deserted me after this last experience, and took
passage on a freight wagon for Maysville. Every time I
attempted to start, my new horse would commence to kick. I was
in quite a dilemma for a time. Once in Maysville I could borrow
a horse from an uncle who lived there; but I was more than a
day's travel from that point. Finally I took out my
bandanna--the style of handkerchief in universal use then--and
with this blindfolded my horse. In this way I reached Maysville
safely the next day, no doubt much to the surprise of my
friend. Here I borrowed a horse from my uncle, and the
following day we proceeded on our journey.

About half my school-days in Georgetown were spent at the school
of John D. White, a North Carolinian, and the father of Chilton
White who represented the district in Congress for one term
during the rebellion. Mr. White was always a Democrat in
politics, and Chilton followed his father. He had two older
brothers--all three being school-mates of mine at their father's
school--who did not go the same way. The second brother died
before the rebellion began; he was a Whig, and afterwards a
Republican. His oldest brother was a Republican and brave
soldier during the rebellion. Chilton is reported as having
told of an earlier horse-trade of mine. As he told the story,
there was a Mr. Ralston living within a few miles of the
village, who owned a colt which I very much wanted. My father
had offered twenty dollars for it, but Ralston wanted
twenty-five. I was so anxious to have the colt, that after the
owner left, I begged to be allowed to take him at the price
demanded. My father yielded, but said twenty dollars was all
the horse was worth, and told me to offer that price; if it was
not accepted I was to offer twenty-two and a half, and if that
would not get him, to give the twenty-five. I at once mounted a
horse and went for the colt. When I got to Mr. Ralston's house,
I said to him: "Papa says I may offer you twenty dollars for
the colt, but if you won't take that, I am to offer twenty-two
and a half, and if you won't take that, to give you
twenty-five." It would not require a Connecticut man to guess
the price finally agreed upon. This story is nearly true. I
certainly showed very plainly that I had come for the colt and
meant to have him. I could not have been over eight years old
at the time. This transaction caused me great heart-burning.
The story got out among the boys of the village, and it was a
long time before I heard the last of it. Boys enjoy the misery
of their companions, at least village boys in that day did, and
in later life I have found that all adults are not free from the
peculiarity. I kept the horse until he was four years old, when
he went blind, and I sold him for twenty dollars. When I went
to Maysville to school, in 1836, at the age of fourteen, I
recognized my colt as one of the blind horses working on the
tread-wheel of the ferry-boat.

I have describes enough of my early life to give an impression
of the whole. I did not like to work; but I did as much of it,
while young, as grown men can be hired to do in these days, and
attended school at the same time. I had as many privileges as
any boy in the village, and probably more than most of them. I
have no recollection of ever having been punished at home,
either by scolding or by the rod. But at school the case was
different. The rod was freely used there, and I was not exempt
from its influence. I can see John D. White--the school
teacher--now, with his long beech switch always in his hand. It
was not always the same one, either. Switches were brought in
bundles, from a beech wood near the school house, by the boys
for whose benefit they were intended. Often a whole bundle
would be used up in a single day. I never had any hard feelings
against my teacher, either while attending the school, or in
later years when reflecting upon my experience. Mr. White was a
kindhearted man, and was much respected by the community in which
he lived. He only followed the universal custom of the period,
and that under which he had received his own education.



In the winter of 1838-9 I was attending school at Ripley, only
ten miles distant from Georgetown, but spent the Christmas
holidays at home. During this vacation my father received a
letter from the Honorable Thomas Morris, then United States
Senator from Ohio. When he read it he said to me, Ulysses, I
believe you are going to receive the appointment." "What
appointment?" I inquired. To West Point; I have applied for
it." "But I won't go," I said. He said he thought I would, AND
I THOUGHT SO TOO, IF HE DID. I really had no objection to going
to West Point, except that I had a very exalted idea of the
acquirements necessary to get through. I did not believe I
possessed them, and could not bear the idea of failing. There
had been four boys from our village, or its immediate
neighborhood, who had been graduated from West Point, and never
a failure of any one appointed from Georgetown, except in the
case of the one whose place I was to take. He was the son of
Dr. Bailey, our nearest and most intimate neighbor. Young
Bailey had been appointed in 1837. Finding before the January
examination following, that he could not pass, he resigned and
went to a private school, and remained there until the following
year, when he was reappointed. Before the next examination he
was dismissed. Dr. Bailey was a proud and sensitive man, and
felt the failure of his son so keenly that he forbade his return
home. There were no telegraphs in those days to disseminate news
rapidly, no railroads west of the Alleghanies, and but few east;
and above ail, there were no reporters prying into other
people's private affairs. Consequently it did not become
generally known that there was a vacancy at West Point from our
district until I was appointed. I presume Mrs. Bailey confided
to my mother the fact that Bartlett had been dismissed, and that
the doctor had forbidden his son's return home.

The Honorable Thomas L. Hamer, one of the ablest men Ohio ever
produced, was our member of Congress at the time, and had the
right of nomination. He and my father had been members of the
same debating society (where they were generally pitted on
opposite sides), and intimate personal friends from their early
manhood up to a few years before. In politics they differed.
Hamer was a life-long Democrat, while my father was a Whig. They
had a warm discussion, which finally became angry--over some act
of President Jackson, the removal of the deposit of public
moneys, I think--after which they never spoke until after my
appointment. I know both of them felt badly over this
estrangement, and would have been glad at any time to come to a
reconciliation; but neither would make the advance. Under these
circumstances my father would not write to Hamer for the
appointment, but he wrote to Thomas Morris, United States
Senator from Ohio, informing him that there was a vacancy at
West Point from our district, and that he would be glad if I
could be appointed to fill it. This letter, I presume, was
turned over to Mr. Hamer, and, as there was no other applicant,
he cheerfully appointed me. This healed the breach between the
two, never after reopened.

Besides the argument used by my father in favor of my going to
West Point--that "he thought I would go"--there was another very
strong inducement. I had always a great desire to travel. I was
already the best travelled boy in Georgetown, except the sons of
one man, John Walker, who had emigrated to Texas with his
family, and immigrated back as soon as he could get the means to
do so. In his short stay in Texas he acquired a very different
opinion of the country from what one would form going there now.

I had been east to Wheeling, Virginia, and north to the Western
Reserve, in Ohio, west to Louisville, and south to Bourbon
County, Kentucky, besides having driven or ridden pretty much
over the whole country within fifty miles of home. Going to
West Point would give me the opportunity of visiting the two
great cities of the continent, Philadelphia and New York. This
was enough. When these places were visited I would have been
glad to have had a steamboat or railroad collision, or any other
accident happen, by which I might have received a temporary
injury sufficient to make me ineligible, for a time, to enter
the Academy. Nothing of the kind occurred, and I had to face
the music.

Georgetown has a remarkable record for a western village. It
is, and has been from its earliest existence, a democratic
town. There was probably no time during the rebellion when, if
the opportunity could have been afforded, it would not have
voted for Jefferson Davis for President of the United States,
over Mr. Lincoln, or any other representative of his party;
unless it was immediately after some of John Morgan's men, in
his celebrated raid through Ohio, spent a few hours in the
village. The rebels helped themselves to whatever they could
find, horses, boots and shoes, especially horses, and many
ordered meals to be prepared for them by the families. This was
no doubt a far pleasanter duty for some families than it would
have been to render a like service for Union soldiers. The line
between the Rebel and Union element in Georgetown was so marked
that it led to divisions even in the churches. There were
churches in that part of Ohio where treason was preached
regularly, and where, to secure membership, hostility to the
government, to the war and to the liberation of the slaves, was
far more essential than a belief in the authenticity or
credibility of the Bible. There were men in Georgetown who
filled all the requirements for membership in these churches.

Yet this far-off western village, with a population, including
old and young, male and female, of about one thousand--about
enough for the organization of a single regiment if all had been
men capable of bearing arms--furnished the Union army four
general officers and one colonel, West Point graduates, and nine
generals and field officers of Volunteers, that I can think of.
Of the graduates from West Point, all had citizenship elsewhere
at the breaking out of the rebellion, except possibly General A.
V. Kautz, who had remained in the army from his graduation. Two
of the colonels also entered the service from other
localities. The other seven, General McGroierty, Colonels
White, Fyffe, Loudon and Marshall, Majors King and Bailey, were
all residents of Georgetown when the war broke out, and all of
them, who were alive at the close, returned there. Major Bailey
was the cadet who had preceded me at West Point. He was killed
in West Virginia, in his first engagement. As far as I know,
every boy who has entered West Point from that village since my
time has been graduated.

I took passage on a steamer at Ripley, Ohio, for Pittsburg,
about the middle of May, 1839. Western boats at that day did
not make regular trips at stated times, but would stop anywhere,
and for any length of time, for passengers or freight. I have
myself been detained two or three days at a place after steam
was up, the gang planks, all but one, drawn in, and after the
time advertised for starting had expired. On this occasion we
had no vexatious delays, and in about three days Pittsburg was
reached. From Pittsburg I chose passage by the canal to
Harrisburg, rather than by the more expeditious stage. This
gave a better opportunity of enjoying the fine scenery of
Western Pennsylvania, and I had rather a dread of reaching my
destination at all. At that time the canal was much patronized
by travellers, and, with the comfortable packets of the period,
no mode of conveyance could be more pleasant, when time was not
an object. From Harrisburg to Philadelphia there was a
railroad, the first I had ever seen, except the one on which I
had just crossed the summit of the Alleghany Mountains, and over
which canal boats were transported. In travelling by the road
from Harrisburg, I thought the perfection of rapid transit had
been reached. We travelled at least eighteen miles an hour,
when at full speed, and made the whole distance averaging
probably as much as twelve miles an hour. This seemed like
annihilating space. I stopped five days in Philadelphia, saw
about every street in the city, attended the theatre, visited
Girard College (which was then in course of construction), and
got reprimanded from home afterwards, for dallying by the way so
long. My sojourn in New York was shorter, but long enough to
enable me to see the city very well. I reported at West Point
on the 30th or 31st of May, and about two weeks later passed my
examination for admission, without difficulty, very much to my

A military life had no charms for me, and I had not the faintest
idea of staying in the army even if I should be graduated, which
I did not expect. The encampment which preceded the commence-
ment of academic studies was very wearisome and uninter-
esting. When the 28th of August came--the date for breaking up
camp and going into barracks--I felt as though I had been at
West Point always, and that if I staid to graduation, I would
have to remain always. I did not take hold of my studies with
avidity, in fact I rarely ever read over a lesson the second
time during my entire cadetship. I could not sit in my room
doing nothing. There is a fine library connected with the
Academy from which cadets can get books to read in their
quarters. I devoted more time to these, than to books relating
to the course of studies. Much of the time, I am sorry to say,
was devoted to novels, but not those of a trashy sort. I read
all of Bulwer's then published, Cooper's, Marryat's, Scott's,
Washington Irving's works, Lever's, and many others that I do
not now remember. Mathematics was very easy to me, so that when
January came, I passed the examination, taking a good standing in
that branch. In French, the only other study at that time in the
first year's course, my standing was very low. In fact, if the
class had been turned the other end foremost I should have been
near head. I never succeeded in getting squarely at either end
of my class, in any one study, during the four years. I came
near it in French, artillery, infantry and cavalry tactics, and

Early in the session of the Congress which met in December,
1839, a bill was discussed abolishing the Military Academy. I
saw in this an honorable way to obtain a discharge, and read the
debates with much interest, but with impatience at the delay in
taking action, for I was selfish enough to favor the bill. It
never passed, and a year later, although the time hung drearily
with me, I would have been sorry to have seen it succeed. My
idea then was to get through the course, secure a detail for a
few years as assistant professor of mathematics at the Academy,
and afterwards obtain a permanent position as professor in some
respectable college; but circumstances always did shape my
course different from my plans.

At the end of two years the class received the usual furlough,
extending from the close of the June examination to the 28th of
August. This I enjoyed beyond any other period of my life. My
father had sold out his business in Georgetown--where my youth
had been spent, and to which my day-dreams carried me back as my
future home, if I should ever be able to retire on a
competency. He had moved to Bethel, only twelve miles away, in
the adjoining county of Clermont, and had bought a young horse
that had never been in harness, for my special use under the
saddle during my furlough. Most of my time was spent among my
old school-mates--these ten weeks were shorter than one week at
West Point.

Persons acquainted with the Academy know that the corps of
cadets is divided into four companies for the purpose of
military exercises. These companies are officered from the
cadets, the superintendent and commandant selecting the officers
for their military bearing and qualifications. The adjutant,
quartermaster, four captains and twelve lieutenants are taken
from the first, or Senior class; the sergeants from the second,
or junior class; and the corporals from the third, or Sophomore
class. I had not been "called out" as a corporal, but when I
returned from furlough I found myself the last but one--about my
standing in all the tactics--of eighteen sergeants. The
promotion was too much for me. That year my standing in the
class--as shown by the number of demerits of the year--was about
the same as it was among the sergeants, and I was dropped, and
served the fourth year as a private.

During my first year's encampment General Scott visited West
Point, and reviewed the cadets. With his commanding figure, his
quite colossal size and showy uniform, I thought him the finest
specimen of manhood my eyes had ever beheld, and the most to be
envied. I could never resemble him in appearance, but I believe
I did have a presentiment for a moment that some day I should
occupy his place on review--although I had no intention then of
remaining in the army. My experience in a horse-trade ten years
before, and the ridicule it caused me, were too fresh in my mind
for me to communicate this presentiment to even my most intimate
chum. The next summer Martin Van Buren, then President of the
United States, visited West Point and reviewed the cadets; he
did not impress me with the awe which Scott had inspired. In
fact I regarded General Scott and Captain C. F. Smith, the
Commandant of Cadets, as the two men most to be envied in the
nation. I retained a high regard for both up to the day of
their death.

The last two years wore away more rapidly than the first two,
but they still seemed about five times as long as Ohio years, to
me. At last all the examinations were passed, and the members of
the class were called upon to record their choice of arms of
service and regiments. I was anxious to enter the cavalry, or
dragoons as they were then called, but there was only one
regiment of dragoons in the Army at that time, and attached to
that, besides the full complement of officers, there were at
least four brevet second lieutenants. I recorded therefore my
first choice, dragoons; second, 4th infantry; and got the
latter. Again there was a furlough--or, more properly speaking,
leave of absence for the class were now commissioned
officers--this time to the end of September. Again I went to
Ohio to spend my vacation among my old school-mates; and again I
found a fine saddle horse purchased for my special use, besides a
horse and buggy that I could drive--but I was not in a physical
condition to enjoy myself quite as well as on the former
occasion. For six months before graduation I had had a
desperate cough ("Tyler's grip" it was called), and I was very
much reduced, weighing but one hundred and seventeen pounds,
just my weight at entrance, though I had grown six inches in
stature in the mean time. There was consumption in my father's
family, two of his brothers having died of that disease, which
made my symptoms more alarming. The brother and sister next
younger than myself died, during the rebellion, of the same
disease, and I seemed the most promising subject for it of the
three in 1843.

Having made alternate choice of two different arms of service
with different uniforms, I could not get a uniform suit until
notified of my assignment. I left my measurement with a tailor,
with directions not to make the uniform until I notified him
whether it was to be for infantry or dragoons. Notice did not
reach me for several weeks, and then it took at least a week to
get the letter of instructions to the tailor and two more to
make the clothes and have them sent to me. This was a time of
great suspense. I was impatient to get on my uniform and see
how it looked, and probably wanted my old school-mates,
particularly the girls, to see me in it.

The conceit was knocked out of me by two little circumstances
that happened soon after the arrival of the clothes, which gave
me a distaste for military uniform that I never recovered
from. Soon after the arrival of the suit I donned it, and put
off for Cincinnati on horseback. While I was riding along a
street of that city, imagining that every one was looking at me,
with a feeling akin to mine when I first saw General Scott, a
little urchin, bareheaded, footed, with dirty and ragged pants
held up by bare a single gallows--that's what suspenders were
called then--and a shirt that had not seen a wash-tub for weeks,
turned to me and cried: "Soldier! will you work? No, sir--ee;
I'll sell my shirt first!!" The horse trade and its dire
consequences were recalled to mind.

The other circumstance occurred at home. Opposite our house in
Bethel stood the old stage tavern where "man and beast" found
accommodation, The stable-man was rather dissipated, but
possessed of some humor. On my return I found him parading the
streets, and attending in the stable, barefooted, but in a pair
of sky-blue nankeen pantaloons--just the color of my uniform
trousers--with a strip of white cotton sheeting sewed down the
outside seams in imitation of mine. The joke was a huge one in
the mind of many of the people, and was much enjoyed by them;
but I did not appreciate it so highly.

During the remainder of my leave of absence, my time was spent
in visiting friends in Georgetown and Cincinnati, and
occasionally other towns in that part of the State.



On the 30th of September I reported for duty at Jefferson
Barracks, St. Louis, with the 4th United States infantry. It
was the largest military post in the country at that time, being
garrisoned by sixteen companies of infantry, eight of the 3d
regiment, the remainder of the 4th. Colonel Steven Kearney, one
of the ablest officers of the day, commanded the post, and under
him discipline was kept at a high standard, but without
vexatious rules or regulations. Every drill and roll-call had
to be attended, but in the intervals officers were permitted to
enjoy themselves, leaving the garrison, and going where they
pleased, without making written application to state where they
were going for how long, etc., so that they were back for their
next duty. It did seem to me, in my early army days, that too
many of the older officers, when they came to command posts,
made it a study to think what orders they could publish to annoy
their subordinates and render them uncomfortable. I noticed,
however, a few years later, when the Mexican war broke out, that
most of this class of officers discovered they were possessed of
disabilities which entirely incapacitated them for active field
service. They had the moral courage to proclaim it, too. They
were right; but they did not always give their disease the right

At West Point I had a class-mate--in the last year of our
studies he was room-mate also--F. T. Dent, whose family resided
some five miles west of Jefferson Barracks. Two of his
unmarried brothers were living at home at that time, and as I
had taken with me from Ohio, my horse, saddle and bridle, I soon
found my way out to White Haven, the name of the Dent estate. As
I found the family congenial my visits became frequent. There
were at home, besides the young men, two daughters, one a school
miss of fifteen, the other a girl of eight or nine. There was
still an older daughter of seventeen, who had been spending
several years at boarding-school in St. Louis, but who, though
through school, had not yet returned home. She was spending the
winter in the city with connections, the family of Colonel John
O'Fallon, well known in St. Louis. In February she returned to
her country home. After that I do not know but my visits became
more frequent; they certainly did become more enjoyable. We
would often take walks, or go on horseback to visit the
neighbors, until I became quite well acquainted in that
vicinity. Sometimes one of the brothers would accompany us,
sometimes one of the younger sisters. If the 4th infantry had
remained at Jefferson Barracks it is possible, even probable,
that this life might have continued for some years without my
finding out that there was anything serious the matter with me;
but in the following May a circumstance occurred which developed
my sentiment so palpably that there was no mistaking it.

The annexation of Texas was at this time the subject of violent
discussion in Congress, in the press, and by individuals. The
administration of President Tyler, then in power, was making the
most strenuous efforts to effect the annexation, which was,
indeed, the great and absorbing question of the day. During
these discussions the greater part of the single rifle regiment
in the army--the 2d dragoons, which had been dismounted a year
or two before, and designated "Dismounted Rifles"--was stationed
at Fort Jessup, Louisiana, some twenty-five miles east of the
Texas line, to observe the frontier. About the 1st of May the
3d infantry was ordered from Jefferson Barracks to Louisiana, to
go into camp in the neighborhood of Fort Jessup, and there await
further orders. The troops were embarked on steamers and were
on their way down the Mississippi within a few days after the
receipt of this order. About the time they started I obtained a
leave of absence for twenty days to go to Ohio to visit my
parents. I was obliged to go to St. Louis to take a steamer for
Louisville or Cincinnati, or the first steamer going up the Ohio
River to any point. Before I left St. Louis orders were
received at Jefferson Barracks for the 4th infantry to follow
the 3d. A messenger was sent after me to stop my leaving; but
before he could reach me I was off, totally ignorant of these
events. A day or two after my arrival at Bethel I received a
letter from a classmate and fellow lieutenant in the 4th,
informing me of the circumstances related above, and advising me
not to open any letter post marked St. Louis or Jefferson
Barracks, until the expiration of my leave, and saying that he
would pack up my things and take them along for me. His advice
was not necessary, for no other letter was sent to me. I now
discovered that I was exceedingly anxious to get back to
Jefferson Barracks, and I understood the reason without
explanation from any one. My leave of absence required me to
report for duty, at Jefferson Barracks, at the end of twenty
days. I knew my regiment had gone up the Red River, but I was
not disposed to break the letter of my leave; besides, if I had
proceeded to Louisiana direct, I could not have reached there
until after the expiration of my leave. Accordingly, at the end
of the twenty days, I reported for duty to Lieutenant Ewell,
commanding at Jefferson Barracks, handing him at the same time
my leave of absence. After noticing the phraseology of the
order--leaves of absence were generally worded, "at the end of
which time he will report for duty with his proper command"--he
said he would give me an order to join my regiment in
Louisiana. I then asked for a few days' leave before starting,
which he readily granted. This was the same Ewell who acquired
considerable reputation as a Confederate general during the
rebellion. He was a man much esteemed, and deservedly so, in
the old army, and proved himself a gallant and efficient officer
in two wars--both in my estimation unholy.

I immediately procured a horse and started for the country,
taking no baggage with me, of course. There is an insignificant
creek--the Gravois--between Jefferson Barracks and the place to
which I was going, and at that day there was not a bridge over
it from its source to its mouth. There is not water enough in
the creek at ordinary stages to run a coffee mill, and at low
water there is none running whatever. On this occasion it had
been raining heavily, and, when the creek was reached, I found
the banks full to overflowing, and the current rapid. I looked
at it a moment to consider what to do. One of my superstitions
had always been when I started to go any where, or to do
anything, not to turn back, or stop until the thing intended was
accomplished. I have frequently started to go to places where I
had never been and to which I did not know the way, depending
upon making inquiries on the road, and if I got past the place
without knowing it, instead of turning back, I would go on until
a road was found turning in the right direction, take that, and
come in by the other side. So I struck into the stream, and in
an instant the horse was swimming and I being carried down by
the current. I headed the horse towards the other bank and soon
reached it, wet through and without other clothes on that side of
the stream. I went on, however, to my destination and borrowed a
dry suit from my--future--brother-in-law. We were not of the
same size, but the clothes answered every purpose until I got
more of my own.

Before I returned I mustered up courage to make known, in the
most awkward manner imaginable, the discovery I had made on
learning that the 4th infantry had been ordered away from
Jefferson Barracks. The young lady afterwards admitted that she
too, although until then she had never looked upon me other than
as a visitor whose company was agreeable to her, had experienced
a depression of spirits she could not account for when the
regiment left. Before separating it was definitely understood
that at a convenient time we would join our fortunes, and not
let the removal of a regiment trouble us. This was in May,
1844. It was the 22d of August, 1848, before the fulfilment of
this agreement. My duties kept me on the frontier of Louisiana
with the Army of Observation during the pendency of Annexation;
and afterwards I was absent through the war with Mexico,
provoked by the action of the army, if not by the annexation
itself During that time there was a constant correspondence
between Miss Dent and myself, but we only met once in the period
of four years and three months. In May, 1845, I procured a leave
for twenty days, visited St. Louis, and obtained the consent of
the parents for the union, which had not been asked for before.

As already stated, it was never my intention to remain in the
army long, but to prepare myself for a professorship in some
college. Accordingly, soon after I was settled at Jefferson
Barracks, I wrote a letter to Professor Church--Professor of
Mathematics at West Point--requesting him to ask my designation
as his assistant, when next a detail had to be made. Assistant
professors at West Point are all officers of the army, supposed
to be selected for their special fitness for the particular
branch of study they are assigned to teach. The answer from
Professor Church was entirely satisfactory, and no doubt I
should have been detailed a year or two later but for the
Mexican War coming on. Accordingly I laid out for myself a
course of studies to be pursued in garrison, with regularity, if
not persistency. I reviewed my West Point course of mathematics
during the seven months at Jefferson Barracks, and read many
valuable historical works, besides an occasional novel. To help
my memory I kept a book in which I would write up, from time to
time, my recollections of all I had read since last posting
it. When the regiment was ordered away, I being absent at the
time, my effects were packed up by Lieutenant Haslett, of the
4th infantry, and taken along. I never saw my journal after,
nor did I ever keep another, except for a portion of the time
while travelling abroad. Often since a fear has crossed my mind
lest that book might turn up yet, and fall into the hands of some
malicious person who would publish it. I know its appearance
would cause me as much heart-burning as my youthful horse-trade,
or the later rebuke for wearing uniform clothes.

The 3d infantry had selected camping grounds on the reservation
at Fort Jessup, about midway between the Red River and the
Sabine. Our orders required us to go into camp in the same
neighborhood, and await further instructions. Those authorized
to do so selected a place in the pine woods, between the old
town of Natchitoches and Grand Ecore, about three miles from
each, and on high ground back from the river. The place was
given the name of Camp Salubrity, and proved entitled to it. The
camp was on a high, sandy, pine ridge, with spring branches in
the valley, in front and rear. The springs furnished an
abundance of cool, pure water, and the ridge was above the
flight of mosquitoes, which abound in that region in great
multitudes and of great voracity. In the valley they swarmed in
myriads, but never came to the summit of the ridge. The regiment
occupied this camp six months before the first death occurred,
and that was caused by an accident.

There was no intimation given that the removal of the 3d and 4th
regiments of infantry to the western border of Louisiana was
occasioned in any way by the prospective annexation of Texas,
but it was generally understood that such was the case.
Ostensibly we were intended to prevent filibustering into Texas,
but really as a menace to Mexico in case she appeared to
contemplate war. Generally the officers of the army were
indifferent whether the annexation was consummated or not; but
not so all of them. For myself, I was bitterly opposed to the
measure, and to this day regard the war, which resulted, as one
of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker
nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad
example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in
their desire to acquire additional territory. Texas was
originally a state belonging to the republic of Mexico. It
extended from the Sabine River on the east to the Rio Grande on
the west, and from the Gulf of Mexico on the south and east to
the territory of the United States and New Mexico--another
Mexican state at that time--on the north and west. An empire in
territory, it had but a very sparse population, until settled by
Americans who had received authority from Mexico to colonize.
These colonists paid very little attention to the supreme
government, and introduced slavery into the state almost from
the start, though the constitution of Mexico did not, nor does
it now, sanction that institution. Soon they set up an
independent government of their own, and war existed, between
Texas and Mexico, in name from that time until 1836, when active
hostilities very nearly ceased upon the capture of Santa Anna,
the Mexican President. Before long, however, the same
people--who with permission of Mexico had colonized Texas, and
afterwards set up slavery there, and then seceded as soon as
they felt strong enough to do so--offered themselves and the
State to the United States, and in 1845 their offer was
accepted. The occupation, separation and annexation were, from
the inception of the movement to its final consummation, a
conspiracy to acquire territory out of which slave states might
be formed for the American Union.

Even if the annexation itself could be justified, the manner in
which the subsequent war was forced upon Mexico cannot. The
fact is, annexationists wanted more territory than they could
possibly lay any claim to, as part of the new acquisition.
Texas, as an independent State, never had exercised jurisdiction
over the territory between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande.
Mexico had never recognized the independence of Texas, and
maintained that, even if independent, the State had no claim
south of the Nueces. I am aware that a treaty, made by the
Texans with Santa Anna while he was under duress, ceded all the
territory between the Nueces and the Rio Grande--, but he was a
prisoner of war when the treaty was made, and his life was in
jeopardy. He knew, too, that he deserved execution at the hands
of the Texans, if they should ever capture him. The Texans, if
they had taken his life, would have only followed the example
set by Santa Anna himself a few years before, when he executed
the entire garrison of the Alamo and the villagers of Goliad.

In taking military possession of Texas after annexation, the
army of occupation, under General Taylor, was directed to occupy
the disputed territory. The army did not stop at the Nueces and
offer to negotiate for a settlement of the boundary question,
but went beyond, apparently in order to force Mexico to initiate
war. It is to the credit of the American nation, however, that
after conquering Mexico, and while practically holding the
country in our possession, so that we could have retained the
whole of it, or made any terms we chose, we paid a round sum for
the additional territory taken; more than it was worth, or was
likely to be, to Mexico. To us it was an empire and of
incalculable value; but it might have been obtained by other
means. The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the
Mexican war. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their
transgressions. We got our punishment in the most sanguinary
and expensive war of modern times.

The 4th infantry went into camp at Salubrity in the month of
May, 1844, with instructions, as I have said, to await further
orders. At first, officers and men occupied ordinary tents. As
the summer heat increased these were covered by sheds to break
the rays of the sun. The summer was whiled away in social
enjoyments among the officers, in visiting those stationed at,
and near, Fort Jessup, twenty-five miles away, visiting the
planters on the Red River, and the citizens of Natchitoches and
Grand Ecore. There was much pleasant intercourse between the
inhabitants and the officers of the army. I retain very
agreeable recollections of my stay at Camp Salubrity, and of the
acquaintances made there, and no doubt my feeling is shared by
the few officers living who were there at the time. I can call
to mind only two officers of the 4th infantry, besides myself,
who were at Camp Salubrity with the regiment, who are now alive.

With a war in prospect, and belonging to a regiment that had an
unusual number of officers detailed on special duty away from
the regiment, my hopes of being ordered to West Point as
instructor vanished. At the time of which I now write, officers
in the quartermaster's, commissary's and adjutant--general's
departments were appointed from the line of the army, and did
not vacate their regimental commissions until their regimental
and staff commissions were for the same grades. Generally
lieutenants were appointed to captaincies to fill vacancies in
the staff corps. If they should reach a captaincy in the line
before they arrived at a majority in the staff, they would elect
which commission they would retain. In the 4th infantry, in
1844, at least six line officers were on duty in the staff, and
therefore permanently detached from the regiment. Under these
circumstances I gave up everything like a special course of
reading, and only read thereafter for my own amusement, and not
very much for that, until the war was over. I kept a horse and
rode, and staid out of doors most of the time by day, and
entirely recovered from the cough which I had carried from West
Point, and from all indications of consumption. I have often
thought that my life was saved, and my health restored, by
exercise and exposure, enforced by an administrative act, and a
war, both of which I disapproved.

As summer wore away, and cool days and colder nights came upon
us, the tents We were occupying ceased to afford comfortable
quarters; and "further orders" not reaching us, we began to look
about to remedy the hardship. Men were put to work getting out
timber to build huts, and in a very short time all were
comfortably housed--privates as well as officers. The outlay by
the government in accomplishing this was nothing, or nearly
nothing. The winter was spent more agreeably than the summer
had been. There were occasional parties given by the planters
along the "coast"--as the bottom lands on the Red River were
called. The climate was delightful.

Near the close of the short session of Congress of 1844-5, the
bill for the annexation of Texas to the United States was
passed. It reached President Tyler on the 1st of March, 1845,
and promptly received his approval. When the news reached us we
began to look again for "further orders." They did not arrive
promptly, and on the 1st of May following I asked and obtained a
leave of absence for twenty days, for the purpose of visiting--
St. Louis. The object of this visit has been before stated.

Early in July the long expected orders were received, but they
only took the regiment to New Orleans Barracks. We reached
there before the middle of the month, and again waited weeks for
still further orders. The yellow fever was raging in New Orleans
during the time we remained there, and the streets of the city
had the appearance of a continuous well-observed Sunday. I
recollect but one occasion when this observance seemed to be
broken by the inhabitants. One morning about daylight I
happened to be awake, and, hearing the discharge of a rifle not
far off, I looked out to ascertain where the sound came from. I
observed a couple of clusters of men near by, and learned
afterwards that "it was nothing; only a couple of gentlemen
deciding a difference of opinion with rifles, at twenty paces.
"I do not remember if either was killed, or even hurt, but no
doubt the question of difference was settled satisfactorily, and
"honorably," in the estimation of the parties engaged. I do not
believe I ever would have the courage to fight a duel. If any
man should wrong me to the extent of my being willing to kill
him, I would not be willing to give him the choice of weapons
with which it should be done, and of the time, place and
distance separating us, when I executed him. If I should do
another such a wrong as to justify him in killing me, I would
make any reasonable atonement within my power, if convinced of
the wrong done. I place my opposition to duelling on higher
grounds than here stated. No doubt a majority of the duels
fought have been for want of moral courage on the part of those
engaged to decline.

At Camp Salubrity, and when we went to New Orleans Barracks, the
4th infantry was commanded by Colonel Vose, then an old gentleman
who had not commanded on drill for a number of years. He was not
a man to discover infirmity in the presence of danger. It now
appeared that war was imminent, and he felt that it was his duty
to brush up his tactics. Accordingly, when we got settled down
at our new post, he took command of the regiment at a battalion
drill. Only two or three evolutions had been gone through when
he dismissed the battalion, and, turning to go to his own
quarters, dropped dead. He had not been complaining of ill
health, but no doubt died of heart disease. He was a most
estimable man, of exemplary habits, and by no means the author
of his own disease.



Early in September the regiment left New Orleans for Corpus
Christi, now in Texas. Ocean steamers were not then common, and
the passage was made in sailing vessels. At that time there was
not more than three feet of water in the channel at the outlet
of Corpus Christi Bay; the debarkation, therefore, had to take
place by small steamers, and at an island in the channel called
Shell Island, the ships anchoring some miles out from shore.
This made the work slow, and as the army was only supplied with
one or two steamers, it took a number of days to effect the
landing of a single regiment with its stores, camp and garrison
equipage, etc. There happened to be pleasant weather while this
was going on, but the land-swell was so great that when the ship
and steamer were on opposite sides of the same wave they would
be at considerable distance apart. The men and baggage were let
down to a point higher than the lower deck of the steamer, and
when ship and steamer got into the trough between the waves, and
were close together, the load would be drawn over the steamer and
rapidly run down until it rested on the deck.

After I had gone ashore, and had been on guard several days at
Shell Island, quite six miles from the ship, I had occasion for
some reason or other to return on board. While on the Suviah--I
think that was the name of our vessel--I heard a tremendous
racket at the other end of the ship, and much and excited sailor
language, such as "damn your eyes," etc. In a moment or two the
captain, who was an excitable little man, dying with
consumption, and not weighing much over a hundred pounds, came
running out, carrying a sabre nearly as large and as heavy as he
was, and crying, that his men had mutinied. It was necessary to
sustain the captain without question, and in a few minutes all
the sailors charged with mutiny were in irons. I rather felt
for a time a wish that I had not gone aboard just then. As the
men charged with mutiny submitted to being placed in irons
without resistance, I always doubted if they knew that they had
mutinied until they were told.

By the time I was ready to leave the ship again I thought I had
learned enough of the working of the double and single pulley,
by which passengers were let down from the upper deck of the
ship to the steamer below, and determined to let myself down
without assistance. Without saying anything of my intentions to
any one, I mounted the railing, and taking hold of the centre
rope, just below the upper block, I put one foot on the hook
below the lower block, and stepped off just as I did so some one
called out "hold on." It was too late. I tried to "hold on"
with all my might, but my heels went up, and my head went down
so rapidly that my hold broke, and I plunged head foremost into
the water, some twenty-five feet below, with such velocity that
it seemed to me I never would stop. When I came to the surface
again, being a fair swimmer, and not having lost my presence of
mind, I swam around until a bucket was let down for me, and I
was drawn up without a scratch or injury. I do not believe there
was a man on board who sympathized with me in the least when they
found me uninjured. I rather enjoyed the joke myself The captain
of the Suviah died of his disease a few months later, and I
believe before the mutineers were tried. I hope they got clear,
because, as before stated, I always thought the mutiny was all in
the brain of a very weak and sick man.

After reaching shore, or Shell Island, the labor of getting to
Corpus Christi was slow and tedious. There was, if my memory
serves me, but one small steamer to transport troops and baggage
when the 4th infantry arrived. Others were procured later. The
distance from Shell Island to Corpus Christi was some sixteen or
eighteen miles. The channel to the bay was so shallow that the
steamer, small as it was, had to be dragged over the bottom when
loaded. Not more than one trip a day could be effected. Later
this was remedied, by deepening the channel and increasing the
number of vessels suitable to its navigation.

Corpus Christi is near the head of the bay of the same name,
formed by the entrance of the Nueces River into tide-water, and
is on the west bank of that bay. At the time of its first
occupancy by United States troops there was a small Mexican
hamlet there, containing probably less than one hundred souls.
There was, in addition, a small American trading post, at which
goods were sold to Mexican smugglers. All goods were put up in
compact packages of about one hundred pounds each, suitable for
loading on pack mules. Two of these packages made a load for an
ordinary Mexican mule, and three for the larger ones. The bulk
of the trade was in leaf tobacco, and domestic cotton-cloths and
calicoes. The Mexicans had, before the arrival of the army, but
little to offer in exchange except silver. The trade in tobacco
was enormous, considering the population to be supplied. Almost
every Mexican above the age of ten years, and many much younger,
smoked the cigarette. Nearly every Mexican carried a pouch of
leaf tobacco, powdered by rolling in the hands, and a roll of
corn husks to make wrappers. The cigarettes were made by the
smokers as they used them.

Up to the time of which I write, and for years afterwards--I
think until the administration of President Juarez--the
cultivation, manufacture and sale of tobacco constituted a
government monopoly, and paid the bulk of the revenue collected
from internal sources. The price was enormously high, and made
successful smuggling very profitable. The difficulty of
obtaining tobacco is probably the reason why everybody, male and
female, used it at that time. I know from my own experience that
when I was at West Point, the fact that tobacco, in every form,
was prohibited, and the mere possession of the weed severely
punished, made the majority of the cadets, myself included, try
to acquire the habit of using it. I failed utterly at the time
and for many years afterward; but the majority accomplished the
object of their youthful ambition.

Under Spanish rule Mexico was prohibited from producing anything
that the mother-country could supply. This rule excluded the
cultivation of the grape, olive and many other articles to which
the soil and climate were well adapted. The country was governed
for "revenue only;" and tobacco, which cannot be raised in Spain,
but is indigenous to Mexico, offered a fine instrumentality for
securing this prime object of government. The native population
had been in the habit of using "the weed" from a period, back of
any recorded history of this continent. Bad habits--if not
restrained by law or public opinion--spread more rapidly and
universally than good ones, and the Spanish colonists adopted
the use of tobacco almost as generally as the natives. Spain,
therefore, in order to secure the largest revenue from this
source, prohibited the cultivation, except in specified
localities--and in these places farmed out the privilege at a
very high price. The tobacco when raised could only be sold to
the government, and the price to the consumer was limited only
by the avarice of the authorities, and the capacity of the
people to pay.

All laws for the government of the country were enacted in
Spain, and the officers for their execution were appointed by
the Crown, and sent out to the New El Dorado. The Mexicans had
been brought up ignorant of how to legislate or how to rule.
When they gained their independence, after many years of war, it
was the most natural thing in the world that they should adopt as
their own the laws then in existence. The only change was, that
Mexico became her own executor of the laws and the recipient of
the revenues. The tobacco tax, yielding so large a revenue
under the law as it stood, was one of the last, if not the very
last, of the obnoxious imposts to be repealed. Now, the
citizens are allowed to cultivate any crops the soil will
yield. Tobacco is cheap, and every quality can be produced. Its
use is by no means so general as when I first visited the

Gradually the "Army of Occupation" assembled at Corpus
Christi. When it was all together it consisted of seven
companies of the 2d regiment of dragoons, four companies of
light artillery, five regiments of infantry--the 3d, 4th, 5th,
7th and 8th--and one regiment of artillery acting as
infantry--not more than three thousand men in all. General
Zachary Taylor commanded the whole. There were troops enough in
one body to establish a drill and discipline sufficient to fit
men and officers for all they were capable of in case of
battle. The rank and file were composed of men who had enlisted
in time of peace, to serve for seven dollars a month, and were
necessarily inferior as material to the average volunteers
enlisted later in the war expressly to fight, and also to the
volunteers in the war for the preservation of the Union. The
men engaged in the Mexican war were brave, and the officers of
the regular army, from highest to lowest, were educated in their
profession. A more efficient army for its number and armament, I
do not believe ever fought a battle than the one commanded by
General Taylor in his first two engagements on Mexican--or Texan

The presence of United States troops on the edge of the disputed
territory furthest from the Mexican settlements, was not
sufficient to provoke hostilities. We were sent to provoke a
fight, but it was essential that Mexico should commence it. It
was very doubtful whether Congress would declare war; but if
Mexico should attack our troops, the Executive could announce,
"Whereas, war exists by the acts of, etc.," and prosecute the
contest with vigor. Once initiated there were but few public
men who would have the courage to oppose it. Experience proves
that the man who obstructs a war in which his nation is engaged,
no matter whether right or wrong, occupies no enviable place in
life or history. Better for him, individually, to advocate
"war, pestilence, and famine," than to act as obstructionist to
a war already begun. The history of the defeated rebel will be
honorable hereafter, compared with that of the Northern man who
aided him by conspiring against his government while protected
by it. The most favorable posthumous history the stay-at-home
traitor can hope for is--oblivion.

Mexico showing no willingness to come to the Nueces to drive the
invaders from her soil, it became necessary for the "invaders" to
approach to within a convenient distance to be struck.
Accordingly, preparations were begun for moving the army to the
Rio Grande, to a point near Matamoras. It was desirable to
occupy a position near the largest centre of population possible
to reach, without absolutely invading territory to which we set
up no claim whatever.

The distance from Corpus Christi to Matamoras is about one
hundred and fifty miles. The country does not abound in fresh
water, and the length of the marches had to be regulated by the
distance between water supplies. Besides the streams, there
were occasional pools, filled during the rainy season, some
probably made by the traders, who travelled constantly between
Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande, and some by the buffalo.
There was not at that time a single habitation, cultivated
field, or herd of do mestic animals, between Corpus Christi and
Matamoras. It was necessary, therefore, to have a wagon train
sufficiently large to transport the camp and garrison equipage,
officers' baggage, rations for the army, and part rations of
grain for the artillery horses and all the animals taken from
the north, where they had been accustomed to having their forage
furnished them. The army was but indifferently supplied with
transportation. Wagons and harness could easily be supplied
from the north but mules and horses could not so readily be
brought. The American traders and Mexican smugglers came to the
relief. Contracts were made for mules at from eight to eleven
dollars each. The smugglers furnished the animals, and took
their pay in goods of the description before mentioned. I doubt
whether the Mexicans received in value from the traders five
dollars per head for the animals they furnished, and still more,
whether they paid anything but their own time in procuring
them. Such is trade; such is war. The government paid in hard
cash to the contractor the stipulated price.

Between the Rio Grande and the Nueces there was at that time a
large band of wild horses feeding; as numerous, probably, as the
band of buffalo roaming further north was before its rapid
extermination commenced. The Mexicans used to capture these in
large numbers and bring them into the American settlements and
sell them. A picked animal could be purchased at from eight to
twelve dollars, but taken at wholesale, they could be bought for
thirty-six dollars a dozen. Some of these were purchased for the
army, and answered a most useful purpose. The horses were
generally very strong, formed much like the Norman horse, and
with very heavy manes and tails. A number of officers supplied
themselves with these, and they generally rendered as useful
service as the northern animal in fact they were much better
when grazing was the only means of supplying forage.

There was no need for haste, and some months were consumed in
the necessary preparations for a move. In the meantime the army
was engaged in all the duties pertaining to the officer and the
soldier. Twice, that I remember, small trains were sent from
Corpus Christi, with cavalry escorts, to San Antonio and Austin,
with paymasters and funds to pay off small detachments of troops
stationed at those places. General Taylor encouraged officers
to accompany these expeditions. I accompanied one of them in
December, 1845. The distance from Corpus Christi to San Antonio
was then computed at one hundred and fifty miles. Now that roads
exist it is probably less. From San Antonio to Austin we
computed the distance at one hundred and ten miles, and from the
latter place back to Corpus Christi at over two hundred miles. I
know the distance now from San Antonio to Austin is but little
over eighty miles, so that our computation was probably too high.

There was not at the time an individual living between Corpus
Christi and San Antonio until within about thirty miles of the
latter point, where there were a few scattering Mexican
settlements along the San Antonio River. The people in at least
one of these hamlets lived underground for protection against the
Indians. The country abounded in game, such as deer and
antelope, with abundance of wild turkeys along the streams and
where there were nut-bearing woods. On the Nueces, about
twenty-five miles up from Corpus Christi, were a few log cabins,
the remains of a town called San Patricio, but the inhabitants
had all been massacred by the Indians, or driven away.

San Antonio was about equally divided in population between
Americans and Mexicans. From there to Austin there was not a
single residence except at New Braunfels, on the Guadalupe
River. At that point was a settlement of Germans who had only
that year come into the State. At all events they were living
in small huts, about such as soldiers would hastily construct
for temporary occupation. From Austin to Corpus Christi there
was only a small settlement at Bastrop, with a few farms along
the Colorado River; but after leaving that, there were no
settlements except the home of one man, with one female slave,
at the old town of Goliad. Some of the houses were still
standing. Goliad had been quite a village for the period and
region, but some years before there had been a Mexican massacre,
in which every inhabitant had been killed or driven away. This,
with the massacre of the prisoners in the Alamo, San Antonio,
about the same time, more than three hundred men in all,
furnished the strongest justification the Texans had for
carrying on the war with so much cruelty. In fact, from that
time until the Mexican. war, the hostilities between Texans and
Mexicans was so great that neither was safe in the neighborhood
of the other who might be in superior numbers or possessed of
superior arms. The man we found living there seemed like an old
friend; he had come from near Fort Jessup, Louisiana, where the
officers of the 3d and 4th infantry and the 2d dragoons had
known him and his family. He had emigrated in advance of his
family to build up a home for them.



When our party left Corpus Christi it was quite large, including
the cavalry escort, Paymaster, Major Dix, his clerk and the
officers who, like myself, were simply on leave; but all the
officers on leave, except Lieutenant Benjamin--afterwards killed
in the valley of Mexico--Lieutenant, now General, Augur, and
myself, concluded to spend their allotted time at San Antonio
and return from there. We were all to be back at Corpus Christi
by the end of the month. The paymaster was detained in Austin so
long that, if we had waited for him, we would have exceeded our
leave. We concluded, therefore, to start back at once with the
animals we had, and having to rely principally on grass for
their food, it was a good six days' journey. We had to sleep on
the prairie every night, except at Goliad, and possibly one night
on the Colorado, without shelter and with only such food as we
carried with us, and prepared ourselves. The journey was
hazardous on account of Indians, and there were white men in
Texas whom I would not have cared to meet in a secluded place.
Lieutenant Augur was taken seriously sick before we reached
Goliad and at a distance from any habitation. To add to the
complication, his horse--a mustang that had probably been
captured from the band of wild horses before alluded to, and of
undoubted longevity at his capture--gave out. It was absolutely
necessary to get for ward to Goliad to find a shelter for our
sick companion. By dint of patience and exceedingly slow
movements, Goliad was at last reached, and a shelter and bed
secured for our patient. We remained over a day, hoping that
Augur might recover sufficiently to resume his travels. He did
not, however, and knowing that Major Dix would be along in a few
days, with his wagon-train, now empty, and escort, we arranged
with our Louisiana friend to take the best of care of the sick
lieutenant until thus relieved, and went on.

I had never been a sportsman in my life; had scarcely ever gone
in search of game, and rarely seen any when looking for it. On
this trip there was no minute of time while travelling between
San Patricio and the settlements on the San Antonio River, from
San Antonio to Austin, and again from the Colorado River back to
San Patricio, when deer or antelope could not be seen in great
numbers. Each officer carried a shot-gun, and every evening,
after going into camp, some would go out and soon return with
venison and wild turkeys enough for the entire camp. I,
however, never went out, and had no occasion to fire my gun;
except, being detained over a day at Goliad, Benjamin and I
concluded to go down to the creek--which was fringed with
timber, much of it the pecan--and bring back a few turkeys. We
had scarcely reached the edge of the timber when I heard the
flutter of wings overhead, and in an instant I saw two or three
turkeys flying away. These were soon followed by more, then
more, and more, until a flock of twenty or thirty had left from
just over my head. All this time I stood watching the turkeys
to see where they flew--with my gun on my shoulder, and never
once thought of levelling it at the birds. When I had time to
reflect upon the matter, I came to the conclusion that as a
sportsman I was a failure, and went back to the house. Benjamin
remained out, and got as many turkeys as he wanted to carry back.

After the second night at Goliad, Benjamin and I started to make
the remainder of the journey alone. We reached Corpus Christi
just in time to avoid "absence without leave." We met no one
not even an Indian--during the remainder of our journey, except
at San Patricio. A new settlement had been started there in our
absence of three weeks, induced possibly by the fact that there
were houses already built, while the proximity of troops gave
protection against the Indians. On the evening of the first day
out from Goliad we heard the most unearthly howling of wolves,
directly in our front. The prairie grass was tall and we could
not see the beasts, but the sound indicated that they were
near. To my ear it appeared that there must have been enough of
them to devour our party, horses and all, at a single meal. The
part of Ohio that I hailed from was not thickly settled, but
wolves had been driven out long before I left. Benjamin was
from Indiana, still less populated, where the wolf yet roamed
over the prairies. He understood the nature of the animal and
the capacity of a few to make believe there was an unlimited
number of them. He kept on towards the noise, unmoved. I
followed in his trail, lacking moral courage to turn back and
join our sick companion. I have no doubt that if Benjamin had
proposed returning to Goliad, I would not only have "seconded
the motion" but have sug gested that it was very hard-hearted in
us to leave Augur sick there in the first place; but Benjamin did
not propose turning back. When he did speak it was to ask:
"Grant, how many wolves do you think there are in that pack?"
Knowing where he was from, and suspecting that he thought I
would over-estimate the number, I determined to show my
acquaintance with the animal by putting the estimate below what
possibly could be correct, and answered: "Oh, about twenty,"
very indifferently. He smiled and rode on. In a minute we were
close upon them, and before they saw us. There were just TWO of
them. Seated upon their haunches, with their mouths close
together, they had made all the noise we had been hearing for
the past ten minutes. I have often thought of this incident
since when I have heard the noise of a few disappointed
politicians who had deserted their associates. There are always
more of them before they are counted.

A week or two before leaving Corpus Christi on this trip, I had
been promoted from brevet second-lieutenant, 4th infantry, to
full second-lieutenant, 7th infantry. Frank Gardner,(*1) of the
7th, was promoted to the 4th in the same orders. We immediately
made application to be transferred, so as to get back to our old
regiments. On my return, I found that our application had been
approved at Washington. While in the 7th infantry I was in the
company of Captain Holmes, afterwards a Lieutenant-general in
the Confederate army. I never came in contact with him in the
war of the Rebellion, nor did he render any very conspicuous
service in his high rank. My transfer carried me to the company
of Captain McCall, who resigned from the army after the Mexican
war and settled in Philadelphia. He was prompt, however, to
volunteer when the rebellion broke out, and soon rose to the
rank of major-general in the Union army. I was not fortunate
enough to meet him after he resigned. In the old army he was
esteemed very highly as a soldier and gentleman. Our relations
were always most pleasant.

The preparations at Corpus Christi for an advance progressed as
rapidly in the absence of some twenty or more lieutenants as if
we had been there. The principal business consisted in securing
mules, and getting them broken to harness. The process was slow
but amusing. The animals sold to the government were all young
and unbroken, even to the saddle, and were quite as wild as the
wild horses of the prairie. Usually a number would be brought
in by a company of Mexicans, partners in the delivery. The
mules were first driven into a stockade, called a corral,
inclosing an acre or more of ground. The Mexicans,--who were
all experienced in throwing the lasso,--would go into the corral
on horseback, with their lassos attached to the pommels of their
saddles. Soldiers detailed as teamsters and black smiths would
also enter the corral, the former with ropes to serve as
halters, the latter with branding irons and a fire to keep the
irons heated. A lasso was then thrown over the neck of a mule,
when he would immediately go to the length of his tether, first
one end, then the other in the air. While he was thus plunging
and gyrating, another lasso would be thrown by another Mexican,
catching the animal by a fore-foot. This would bring the mule
to the ground, when he was seized and held by the teamsters
while the blacksmith put upon him, with hot irons, the initials
"U. S." Ropes were then put about the neck, with a slipnoose
which would tighten around the throat if pulled. With a man on
each side holding these ropes, the mule was released from his
other bindings and allowed to rise. With more or less
difficulty he would be conducted to a picket rope outside and
fastened there. The delivery of that mule was then complete.
This process was gone through with every mule and wild horse
with the army of occupation.

The method of breaking them was less cruel and much more
amusing. It is a well-known fact that where domestic animals
are used for specific purposes from generation to generation,
the descendants are easily, as a rule, subdued to the same
uses. At that time in Northern Mexico the mule, or his
ancestors, the horse and the ass, was seldom used except for the
saddle or pack. At all events the Corpus Christi mule resisted
the new use to which he was being put. The treatment he was
subjected to in order to overcome his prejudices was summary and

The soldiers were principally foreigners who had enlisted in our
large cities, and, with the exception of a chance drayman among
them, it is not probable that any of the men who reported
themselves as competent teamsters had ever driven a mule-team in
their lives, or indeed that many had had any previous experience
in driving any animal whatever to harness. Numbers together can
accomplish what twice their number acting individually could not
perform. Five mules were allotted to each wagon. A teamster
would select at the picket rope five animals of nearly the same
color and general appearance for his team. With a full corps of
assistants, other teamsters, he would then proceed to get his
mules together. In two's the men would approach each animal
selected, avoiding as far as possible its heels. Two ropes
would be put about the neck of each animal, with a slip noose,
so that he could be choked if too unruly. They were then led
out, harnessed by force and hitched to the wagon in the position
they had to keep ever after. Two men remained on either side of
the leader, with the lassos about its neck, and one man retained
the same restraining influence over each of the others. All
being ready, the hold would be slackened and the team started.
The first motion was generally five mules in the air at one
time, backs bowed, hind feet extended to the rear. After
repeating this movement a few times the leaders would start to
run. This would bring the breeching tight against the mules at
the wheels, which these last seemed to regard as a most
unwarrantable attempt at coercion and would resist by taking a
seat, sometimes going so far as to lie down. In time all were
broken in to do their duty submissively if not cheerfully, but
there never was a time during the war when it was safe to let a
Mexican mule get entirely loose. Their drivers were all
teamsters by the time they got through.

I recollect one case of a mule that had worked in a team under
the saddle, not only for some time at Corpus Christi, where he
was broken, but all the way to the point opposite Matamoras,
then to Camargo, where he got loose from his fastenings during
the night. He did not run away at first, but staid in the
neighborhood for a day or two, coming up sometimes to the feed
trough even; but on the approach of the teamster he always got
out of the way. At last, growing tired of the constant effort
to catch him, he disappeared altogether. Nothing short of a
Mexican with his lasso could have caught him. Regulations would
not have warranted the expenditure of a dollar in hiring a man
with a lasso to catch that mule; but they did allow the
expenditure "of the mule," on a certificate that he had run away
without any fault of the quartermaster on whose returns he was
borne, and also the purchase of another to take his place. am a
competent witness, for I was regimental quartermaster at the

While at Corpus Christi all the officers who had a fancy for
riding kept horses. The animals cost but little in the first
instance, and when picketed they would get their living without
any cost. I had three not long before the army moved, but a sad
accident bereft me of them all at one time. A colored boy who
gave them all the attention they got--besides looking after my
tent and that of a class-mate and fellow-lieutenant and cooking
for us, all for about eight dollars per month, was riding one to
water and leading the other two. The led horses pulled him from
his seat and all three ran away. They never were heard of
afterwards. Shortly after that some one told Captain Bliss,
General Taylor's Adjutant-General, of my misfortune. "Yes; I
heard Grant lost five or six dollars' worth of horses the other
day," he replied. That was a slander; they were broken to the
saddle when I got them and cost nearly twenty dollars. I never
suspected the colored boy of malicious intent in letting them
get away, because, if they had not escaped, he could have had
one of them to ride on the long march then in prospect.



At last the preparations were complete and orders were issued
for the advance to begin on the 8th of March. General Taylor
had an army of not more than three thousand men. One battery,
the siege guns and all the convalescent troops were sent on by
water to Brazos Santiago, at the mouth of the Rio Grande. A
guard was left back at Corpus Christi to look after public
property and to take care of those who were too sick to be
removed. The remainder of the army, probably not more than
twenty five hundred men, was divided into three brigades, with
the cavalry independent. Colonel Twiggs, with seven companies
of dragoons and a battery of light artillery, moved on the
8th. He was followed by the three infantry brigades, with a
day's interval between the commands. Thus the rear brigade did
not move from Corpus Christi until the 11th of March. In view
of the immense bodies of men moved on the same day over narrow
roads, through dense forests and across large streams, in our
late war, it seems strange now that a body of less than three
thousand men should have been broken into four columns,
separated by a day's march.

General Taylor was opposed to anything like plundering by the
troops, and in this instance, I doubt not, he looked upon the
enemy as the aggrieved party and was not willing to injure them
further than his instructions from Washington demanded. His
orders to the troops enjoined scrupulous regard for the rights
of all peaceable persons and the payment of the highest price
for all supplies taken for the use of the army.

All officers of foot regiments who had horses were permitted to
ride them on the march when it did not interfere with their
military duties. As already related, having lost my "five or
six dollars' worth of horses" but a short time before I
determined not to get another, but to make the journey on
foot. My company commander, Captain McCall, had two good
American horses, of considerably more value in that country,
where native horses were cheap, than they were in the States. He
used one himself and wanted the other for his servant. He was
quite anxious to know whether I did not intend to get me another
horse before the march began. I told him No; I belonged to a
foot regiment. I did not understand the object of his
solicitude at the time, but, when we were about to start, he
said: "There, Grant, is a horse for you." I found that he
could not bear the idea of his servant riding on a long march
while his lieutenant went a-foot. He had found a mustang, a
three-year old colt only recently captured, which had been
purchased by one of the colored servants with the regiment for
the sum of three dollars. It was probably the only horse at
Corpus Christi that could have been purchased just then for any
reasonable price. Five dollars, sixty-six and two-thirds per
cent. advance, induced the owner to part with the mustang. I
was sorry to take him, because I really felt that, belonging to
a foot regiment, it was my duty to march with the men. But I
saw the Captain's earnestness in the matter, and accepted the
horse for the trip. The day we started was the first time the
horse had ever been under saddle. I had, however, but little
difficulty in breaking him, though for the first day there were
frequent disagreements between us as to which way we should go,
and sometimes whether we should go at all. At no time during
the day could I choose exactly the part of the column I would
march with; but after that, I had as tractable a horse as any
with the army, and there was none that stood the trip better. He
never ate a mouthful of food on the journey except the grass he
could pick within the length of his picket rope.

A few days out from Corpus Christi, the immense herd of wild
horses that ranged at that time between the Nueces and the Rio
Grande was seen directly in advance of the head of the column
and but a few miles off. It was the very band from which the
horse I was riding had been captured but a few weeks before. The
column was halted for a rest, and a number of officers, myself
among them, rode out two or three miles to the right to see the
extent of the herd. The country was a rolling prairie, and,
from the higher ground, the vision was obstructed only by the
earth's curvature. As far as the eye could reach to our right,
the herd extended. To the left, it extended equally. There was
no estimating the number of animals in it; I have no idea that
they could all have been corralled in the State of Rhode Island,
or Delaware, at one time. If they had been, they would have been
so thick that the pasturage would have given out the first day.
People who saw the Southern herd of buffalo, fifteen or twenty
years ago, can appreciate the size of the Texas band of wild
horses in 1846.

At the point where the army struck the Little Colorado River,
the stream was quite wide and of sufficient depth for
navigation. The water was brackish and the banks were fringed
with timber. Here the whole army concentrated before attempting
to cross. The army was not accompanied by a pontoon train, and
at that time the troops were not instructed in bridge
building. To add to the embarrassment of the situation, the
army was here, for the first time, threatened with opposition.
Buglers, concealed from our view by the brush on the opposite
side, sounded the "assembly," and other military calls. Like
the wolves before spoken of, they gave the impression that there
was a large number of them and that, if the troops were in
proportion to the noise, they were sufficient to devour General
Taylor and his army. There were probably but few troops, and
those engaged principally in watching the movements of the
"invader." A few of our cavalry dashed in, and forded and swam
the stream, and all opposition was soon dispersed. I do not
remember that a single shot was fired.

The troops waded the stream, which was up to their necks in the
deepest part. Teams were crossed by attaching a long rope to
the end of the wagon tongue passing it between the two swing
mules and by the side of the leader, hitching his bridle as well
as the bridle of the mules in rear to it, and carrying the end to
men on the opposite shore. The bank down to the water was steep
on both sides. A rope long enough to cross the river,
therefore, was attached to the back axle of the wagon, and men
behind would hold the rope to prevent the wagon "beating" the
mules into the water. This latter rope also served the purpose
of bringing the end of the forward one back, to be used over
again. The water was deep enough for a short distance to swim
the little Mexican mules which the army was then using, but
they, and the wagons, were pulled through so fast by the men at
the end of the rope ahead, that no time was left them to show
their obstinacy. In this manner the artillery and
transportation of the "army of occupation" crossed the Colorado

About the middle of the month of March the advance of the army
reached the Rio Grande and went into camp near the banks of the
river, opposite the city of Matamoras and almost under the guns
of a small fort at the lower end of the town. There was not at
that time a single habitation from Corpus Christi until the Rio
Grande was reached.

The work of fortifying was commenced at once. The fort was laid
out by the engineers, but the work was done by the soldiers under
the supervision of their officers, the chief engineer retaining
general directions. The Mexicans now became so incensed at our
near approach that some of their troops crossed the river above
us, and made it unsafe for small bodies of men to go far beyond
the limits of camp. They captured two companies of dragoons,
commanded by Captains Thornton and Hardee. The latter figured
as a general in the late war, on the Confederate side, and was
author of the tactics first used by both armies. Lieutenant
Theodric Porter, of the 4th infantry, was killed while out with
a small detachment; and Major Cross, the assistant
quartermaster-general, had also been killed not far from camp.

There was no base of supplies nearer than Point Isabel, on the
coast, north of the mouth of the Rio Grande and twenty-five
miles away. The enemy, if the Mexicans could be called such at
this time when no war had been declared, hovered about in such
numbers that it was not safe to send a wagon train after
supplies with any escort that could be spared. I have already
said that General Taylor's whole command on the Rio Grande
numbered less than three thousand men. He had, however, a few
more troops at Point Isabel or Brazos Santiago. The supplies
brought from Corpus Christi in wagons were running short. Work
was therefore pushed with great vigor on the defences, to enable
the minimum number of troops to hold the fort. All the men who
could be employed, were kept at work from early dawn until
darkness closed the labors of the day. With all this the fort
was not completed until the supplies grew so short that further
delay in obtaining more could not be thought of. By the latter
part of April the work was in a partially defensible condition,
and the 7th infantry, Major Jacob Brown commanding, was marched
in to garrison it, with some few pieces of artillery. All the
supplies on hand, with the exception of enough to carry the rest
of the army to Point Isabel, were left with the garrison, and the
march was commenced with the remainder of the command, every
wagon being taken with the army. Early on the second day after
starting the force reached its destination, without opposition
from the Mexicans. There was some delay in getting supplies
ashore from vessels at anchor in the open roadstead.

Book of the day: Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant [Volume One] by Ulysses S. Grant - Full Text Free Book (Part 1/7)