Imágenes de páginas

artillery, forced a passage over the rough plain of lava, and attacked the Mexican fortifications. Night came on, with cold and heavy rain, before any decisive result, but on the next morning the works were stormed, and a complete victory was gained by the Americans. The Mexican loss, of those who fell upon the field, or were taken prisoners, was not far from fifteen hundred, and great stores of artil. lery and small-arms, together with mules, horses, &c., fell into the hands of the victors.

The victory at Contreras was but the commencement of the bril. liant achievements of the American army on this eventful 20th of August. Santa Anna, with a powerful reserve, had approached the scene of action during the contest, but too late to offer any effectual assistance. The works at the hacienda of San Antonio were forced and occupied by a masterly movement of the division under General Worth, and the garrison of about three thousand men, in full retreat towards the capital, was met, and a second time defeated by the forces under Colonel Clarke, who had made a circuit through the Pedregal from the western road.

At the village of Churubusco, on the great road, between San Antonio and the city of Mexico, strong military works had been erected. The convent of San Pablo, at that spot, was garrisoned and strongly fortified; the bridge by which the road there crosses a stream was protected by a tėte de pont;" and every thing connected with the locality offered advantages for a stand against the invading army. Little time was given to the Mexicans to collect and dispose their forces at this stronghold ere it was attacked with the greatest impetuosity. The tète de pont was forced at the point of the bayonet, and, after several hours' hard fighting, the convent shared the same fate. A detachment under Generals Pierce and Shields had meantime been engaged in making a detour to cut off retreat to the capital. As the division of the latter approached the main road, it was encountered by some four thousand of the enemy. A severe engagement ensued, in which the fortune of the day was still with the Americans. The victorious troops under Generals Worth and Pillow, after the reduction of Churubusco, continued to press on towards the capital; and, falling in with Shields division, assisted in the pursuit of the fugitive Mexicans. The latter were now deprived of every means of defence by the southern route up to the walls of the city, and the ancient capital itself appeared already within the grasp of the American commander.

On the 21st, as General Scott was already engaged in arrangements for commencing an assault upon the city, proposals for an armistice were received from the Mexican authorities. Willing to spare further effusion of blood, and conscious of the extreme difficulty and danger of entering a crowded city, strongly built, and still containing a large force of regular soldiery, the American commander-inchief wisely consented to the temporary cessation of hostilities, for the purpose of negotiating a treaty that might end the war.

In the beleaguered capital all was tumult and confusion. The congress could hardly be said to exist, as many of its members had already left the city. Intrigues and private animosity precluded any combined and sober action, while an ignorant and infuriated mob continued to cry out for resistance to the last. The Mexicans had begun to lose faith in their president, and powerful parties were at work for his overthrow. In the negotiations which occupied the interval of truce, the American demands were considered extravagant by the Mexican commissioners and their superiors, and the latter appear to have only sought delay, by means of which they might, in defiance of stipulations, strengthen their works and rëorganize for the defence of their city.

General Scott therefore gave notice to the president, on the 6th of September, that hostilities would rēcommence on the following day, unless atonement were previously made for these breaches of treaty. He received, in reply, but threats and defiance. The American general's head-quarters were fixed at Tacubaya, a few miles south west of the city, approach to which from that quarter was intercepted by the strong castle of Chapultepec, situated upon a hill, and by strong military works at the foundry called the Molino del Rey, and the Casa Mata, both occupying commanding positions in the immediate vicinity at the westward.

To force and occupy these all-important positions became necessary before an attack could safely be made upon the city itself, lest, in case of successful assault, the enemy should have a stronghold for retreat, from which the divided and weakened forces of the victors might fail to dislodge them. The plan of General Scott was to carry wiat may be considered the out-works of Chapultepec at Molino del Rey and Casa Mata; then to make a demonstration upon the south of the city; and, having diverted the attention of the besieged, to storm Chapultepec, and enter the capital from the south-west.

The rëinforced division under General Worth was accordingly placed in position before day-light on the morning of the 8th of September. The attack commenced with the first dawn, and, after several hours' hard fighting, the object was attained. The fortifications at the Casa Mata were blown up, and the moulds and ammunition at the Molino were destroyed. So remarkable an action deserves a more particular account than we have space to bestow. Mr. Mayer remarks upon it: “This was a great but a rash victory. The American infantry, relying chiefly on the bayonet, and expecting to effect its object by surprise, and even at an earlier hour of the morning, advanced with portions of the three thousand two hundred and fifty-one men, to attack at least eleven or twelve thousand Mexicans, upon a field selected by themselves, protected by stone walls and ditches, commanded by the fortress of Chapultepec, and the ground swept by artillery, while four thousand cavalry threatened an overwhelming charge!"

The attention of Santa Anna was fully occupied by the apparent preparations for an attack upon the south, until the 13th. So well were these movements planned and conducted, that it was impossible for him to penetrate the intentions of the American commander, although throughout the 12th a heavy cannonade was kept up against the fortress at Chapultepec. The troops stationed at Molino del Rey occupied a convenient position for following up any advantage gained by the operations of the artillery, and by them the assault was commenced on the morning of the 13th. A portion of the divisions which had been previously threatening the southern entrance to the city, hastened to join in the attack, and the fortress was stormed. About a thousand prisoners were taken, and the fugitives were driven tumultuously within the walls of the city. Notwithstanding the rapid concentration of troops at the assaulted quarter, General Quitman forced his way into the city by the gate of Belen early in the afternoon; and the forces under Worth gained a secure position for the night in the buildings on the street of San Cosmé, before the gate of that name.

On the morning of the 14th, intelligence was received, by a communication from the civil authorities, that the capital had been evacuated during the night by the army and the officers of government. Promptly rejecting all proposals for capitulation, General Scott immediately proceeded to the military occupation of the city. Great difficulty was at first experienced in subduing the canaille of the capital, who for two days continued to fire upon the Americans from places of concealment. A great number of infamous wretches,.who had been turned loose from the prisons on the night of the evacuation, were the principal actors in this murderous work.

Of the whole force with which General Scott left Puebla, amounting to less than eleven thousand men, the number of those killed in battie before the complete occupation of the capital is set down at three hundred and eighty-three, and the entire loss, in killed, wounded, and missing, at two thousand seven hundred and three.

General Quitman was appointed governor of the city, and the commander-in-chief engaged with great energy, though with prudence and moderation, in the necessary labour of confirming or establishing some system of law and order. Santa Anna, having summoned a congress to meet at Querétaro, resigned the presidency to the chief justice Peña-y-Peña, and with a strong body of cavalry pushed on to Puebla to fall upon the garrison in occupation of that city. He was there joined by General Rea, with some three thousand additional troops. The little band of the besieged sustained their position with wonderful firmness and success until relieved by the arrival of General Lane, with fresh forces from Vera Cruz.

This officer gained a complete victory over each division of the Mexican army, the first, under Santa Anna, who had marched eastward from Puebla to oppose his advance, and the second under Rea, who had retreated from Puebla, and was in occupation of Atlixco. These were the last important engagements of the war. The work of reducing or disbanding the bodies of banditti who still maintained a guerilla warfare was successfully accomplished.

In the month of November a congress was assembled, but such was the animosity of the factions represented, that no important action was taken. Anaya was chosen president until the next meeting of congress, which was to take place in the ensuing January. After the close of the session, the president, through his predecessor Peña-y-Peña, now acting as his minister, opened communication with the American commissioner in regard to the arrangement of a treaty. Although he had already received notice from the United States' government of his recall, Mr. Trist judged it expedient to negotiate while opportunity offered.

At the January session of congress, as there was not a sufficient number of members to form a quorum, there could be no election, and Peña-y-Peña, according to a constitutional provision, assumed the vacant presidency as chief justice. Commissioners having been appointed by the Mexican government, a meeting was arranged with the United States' envoy, and on the 2d of February, 1848, a treaty was signed at the town of Guadalupe Hidalgo, three miles to the northward of the city of Mexico.

By the provisions of this important treaty, which, with little alteration, was approved and ratified by the United States' senate in the inonth of March ensuing, the disputed territory between the Nueces and Rio Grande was relinquished by Mexico, and the whole of l'pper California and New Mexico was ceded to the United States. On the other hand, the exhausted coffers of the conquered nation were to be replenished by the payment of fifteen millions of dollars as the price of ceded territory; Mexican liabilities for the private claims of American citizens were to be assumed to the amount of three millions two hundred and fifty thousand dollars; and the faith of the United States was pledged to protect the northern Mexican frontier from Indian invasion. On the last of May the ratification of this treaty by the Mexican congress left the belligerent nations at peace, and the United States' troops were withdrawn from the country. Perhaps in no instance in the history of the world has a victorious invading army remained so long in occupation of conquered territory without proving a burden to the inhabitants. Throughout the campaign the provisions for the army were mostly paid for at fair prices, and the only contributions drawn from the resources of the defeated nation, with the exception of some very moderate impositions, to meet particular exigencies, were derived from duties upon goods landed at the sea-ports in our possession. These duties were, moreover, cn an average, less in amount than those formerly levied by the Mexican customs.

The ex-president Santa Anna had, upon his own application, pre. viously received his passports, and permission from the Mexicau authorities and the American commander to leave the country. IIe sailed for Jamaica on the 5th of the preceding month of April. General Ilerrcra was soon after elected president of the republic.

« AnteriorContinuar »