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of this movement, that the Mexican ministry, probably to propitiate the malcontents, postponed negotiations with Mr. Slidell upon frivolous pretexts of irregularity in his commission. At the close of the following December, President Herrera resigned his office to Paredes, and all efforts of the United States' envoy to open, in accordance with further instructions from home, friendly communi cations with the new government, proved fruitless. He therefore left Mexico, leaving the purposes of his mission unaccomplished.
Under the military dictator who now wielded the destinies of Mexico, immediate preparations were made for the rēconquest of Texas. A considerable force was already stationed at Matamoras, and thither General Ampudia was dispatched, in April, 1846, with a body of cavalry. Two thousand more troops were ordered to the same station.
General Zachary Taylor, who had been for some months previous stationed, in command of United States' troops, at Corpus Christi, having received orders to march to the mouth of the Rio Grande, reached Point Isabel on the 25th of March; and leaving a portion of his troops to occupy a position at that place, moved up the river until opposite Matamoras. He there caused works to be erected, and stationed a battery which commanded the town. Generals Arista and Ampudia were soon upon the spot, in command of a large and constantly.increasing force. Upon communication being 'established between the commanding officers of the respective forces, General Taylor was commanded to draw off his troops, as having infringed the Mexican rights of territory.
Although, as has been truly remarked, the claims of Mexico extended not only to the district lying between the Nueces and the Rio Grande, and traversed by the United States' forces on their march to Matamoras, but to every portion of the revolted province of Texas, the occupation of this tract by the United States has been laid down by many as the true cause of the Mexican war. There is some slight conflict of authorities upon the question of the ancient boundaries of Texas, but the weight of authority seems to point to the Rio Grande as the dividing line. The Texans had always claimed this as the limit of their territory since the time of the revolt, and had included the disputed ground in their assignments of representative districts.
That it was ever deliberately proposed by the Mexican govern. ment to undertake a war with so powerful a nation as the United States for the purpose of maintaining its claims to this unsettled district, as distinct from the national sense of injury sustained by the Texan annexation, cannot be for a moment believed. “The true origin of the Mexican war," says Mayer, "was not this march of Taylor and his troops from the Nueces to the Rio Grande through the debatable land: the American and Mexican troops were brought face to face by the act, and hostilities were the natural result after the exciting annoyances on the part of the Mexican government which followed the union of Texas with our confederacy."
The first encounter took place on the 24th of April, when a com. pany of United States' dragoons, under Captain Thornton, were waylaid while out upon a scouting expedition up the river bank, and, after some fighting, in which sixteen of their number were killed or wounded, were obliged to surrender. A small party, commissioned on similar service, had been, previous to this, cut off or taken prisoners by the Mexicans.
This irregular commencement of open hostilities could hardly fail to produce the greatest excitement throughout the United States. General Taylor's small force had been ordered to the Rio Grande merely as a check upon precipitate action by the Mexican force, without, perhaps, any anticipation of the immediate results. Throughout the Union opinions were various, both in regard to the policy of Texan annexation and to the wisdom of the movement which gave direct occasion for a rupture; but when the news of this first bloodshed was spread through the country, the general feeling was that the honour of the nation required an immediate and vigorous response to the call of our isolated force on the Rio Grande for
protection and assistance.
Congress was at the time in session, and an immediate appropriation of ten millions of dollars was made to meet the expense of the existing war, and the enlistment of fifty thousand volunteers was provided for. It was proposed to invade Mexico simultaneously from several quarters. The “Army of the West," under Kearney, was to penetrate to the western coast, after the reduction of New Mexico; a large force, under General Wool, was to enter the hostile territory from San Antonio de Bexar, as the “Army of the Centre;" and the conquest of the eastern provinces was to be assigned to General Taylor. The naval forces of the United States, both in the Gulf and in the Pacific, also received general directions for coopera. tion in the war.
General Taylor, meantime, threatened as he was by a vastly supe. rior force, in accordance with his instructions in case of emergency, made a requisition upon the states of Louisiana and Texas for a rëinforcement of volunteers. He then marched to Point Isabel with the most effective portion of his army, to procure provisions and supplies for the forces opposite Matamoras. While this service was being effected, General Arista transported his army across the river to intercept the escort upon its return. He was in command of some six thousand regular troops, besides a very considerable body of raw recruits. On the 8th of May, the day after its departure from Point Isabel, the army under General Taylor, numbering only two thousand two hundred and eighty-eight men, was encountered at Palo Alto by the forces of Arista.
Against such overwhelming odds our troops maintained their position from two o'clock P. M. until night-fall. The Mexicans, having drawn off their forces, a council was held, at which there was some conflict of opinion as to the prudence of further advance. The gallant commander decided, however, that the necessity for affording relief to the garrison was sufficient to justify the hazard of the attempt, while the day's experience of the comparative efficiency of the two armies gave reasonable encouragement of success.
On the day following, Arista was found to have retreated to a strong position at the "Resaca de la Palma," a ravine through which the road led, and which was almost impenetrable on either side from the rank growth of tropical plants and underwood, commonly called the "chapparal.” Notwithstanding their favourable position and superior numbers, the Mexicans were unable to defend the pass. Broken and disordered by the fire of the artillery and infantry, they gave way in mass before a charge of cavalry, and, retreating to the river, left the way open for the passage of the army with its supplies to the fort. The 18th of May saw Matamoras in possession of the American forces.
During the summer, which was passed by General Taylor in strengthening his position, establishing lines of communication, and gradually extending his occupation of the country, an important political change took place in Mexico. A revolutionary movement in favour of Santa Anna, then an exile in the West Indies, overthrew the power of the usurper Paredes. The ex-president was allowed to pass the United States' blockading squadron by express orders from government, in the hope that his influence would be exerted to restore a friendly communication between the belligerent countries and to cement an honourable peace. This piece of policy has been greatly condemned by many, and the implacable animosity since evinced by Santa Anna towards the United States has con. tributed to render it unpopular. There can, however, be no doubt but that the act was in accordance with what then appeared the exigencies of the case, so far as information could be procured as to the purposes and probable conduct of the able but unprincipled leader, who has so long held the most prominent place in Mexican history.
In the month of September, the divisions under Generals Worth and Taylor, having penetrated to their future head-quarters, the Walnut Springs, not far from Monterey, the capital of New Leon, preparations were made for an attack upon this important city. The place was well defended by artillery, and the flower of the Mexican army, to the number of not far from ten thousand men, was there quartered.
On the 21st of September, the American forces, only seven thousand strong, were led in two divisions to the attack of the city. General Worth's detachment, after cutting off communication from the south, gained an important position upon a height which commanded the city, and on which was a fortification known as the Bishop's palace. The other division, the command of which was intrustec to General Butler, penetrated the city from the north, and notwithstanding the deadly fire of the enemy, who were enabled to fight from covert, and whose artillery raked the streets, continued to extend their occupation until night-fall. On the 22d, the American troops, taking possession of the buildings on either side of the avenues through which they had penetrated, cut their way from house to house through the walls, driving the occupants before them. In this manner, with comparative safety, they gained the great central square.
As the city was now virtually in the power of the assailants, negotiations were opened by Ampudia, and on the 24th, a surrender was agreed upon, with the provision that the Mexican troops should be allowed free exit. That General Taylor did not insist upon severe terms, or follow up his victory by the capture of prisoners, has been made a ground of causeless reproach. No one can accuse the old warrior of a want of decision, energy, or bravery, and his conduct in this instance was fully in accordance with his character as a skilful and prudent general. He had gained an important post; his forces were still numerically inferior to those of the enemy; and from what could be gathered from the reports of the Mexican officers, there appeared reason to hope for the speedy establishment of a peace, without further bloodshed. A temporary armistice was therefore arranged between the belligerent armies.
CH A P I ER X X I I I.
SANTA ANNA'S CHANGE OF POLICY.-GENERAL SCOTT'S PLAN
MARCH INTO THE INTERIOR. -BATTLE OF CERRO
UPON THE CAPITAL.
SANTA ANNA, on his return to Mexico, soon perceived that the views of centralization which he had ever entertained must now be abandoned, if he would maintain his position as a popular leader. He therefore published his intentions to favour the federal system and the rëestablishment of the constitution of 1824. With an affectation of modesty and of self-sacrificing devotion to his country, he declined the acceptance of proffered dictatorial powers in the civil government, and avowed his determination to lend his whole ener. gies to the duties of a military commander. After a most enthusiastic reception at the capital, and a prompt and energetic response to his requisitions for troops, he established himself at San Luis Potosi, withdrawing himself for the time from the political agitations which distracted the city of Mexico, and spending his time in preparing and equipping his fine army. Early in the winter of 1846 his available force amounted to about twenty thousand men, and he rightly judged that by confirming his military authority he more effectually secured supremacy than by mingling actively in factious politics. He nevertheless accepted office upon his election to the provisional presidency, which took place on the 23d of December.
The United States' government having appointed General Winfield