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CH A P ZER X X F.
SUMMARY OP NAVAL OPERATIONS.—COLONEL KEARNEY'S PRO-
HAVING now followed out the more important events of the Mexican campaign to the close of the war, we recur briefly to the military operations in the more remote provinces. The field of action was so extensive, and so sparsely populated, that the adventures of the little detachments of American troops by which those operations were performed, although replete with interest, had for the most part too little bearing upon the grand result to require minute detail.
Upon the coast our navy had not been idle: besides its share in the reduction of the important stronghold at Vera Cruz, its independent operation resulted in the seizure of every port upon the Gulf of sufficient importance to justify retention, and, in the Pacific, by a strict blockade, trade was cut off with those not in our possession. To the unfortunate conflict of claims, upon the occupation of California by the naval and military forces of the United States, depending upon martial technicalities, and in the discussion of which such infinite confusion has arisen, we can barely allude.
As early as June, 1846, Colonel Kearney, to whom was first assigned the duty of invading New Mexico and California, left Fort Leavenworth, with sixteen hundred men, en route for Santa Fe. He gained possession of the capital of New Mexico without resistance, and having recruited his force by the collection of a considerable body of emigrants, commenced his march through the western wilderness. Receiving intelligence while on the road that he had been anticipated in his intended military operations, he ordered the
return of the principal portion of his command, and pushed on with a small mounted company.
That hardy pioneer and gallant officer, Captain (since Colonel) J. C. Fremont, was the first active agent in the reduction of California. In conformity with private orders from government, received in May, 1846, he hastened from Oregon for the Sacramento valley. The American settlers in that region eagerly lent their assistance to the overthrow of Mexican authority. Few as were their numbers, this portion of the community made open declaration of independence of Mexico, early in July, and just before the reception of the news of the opening campaign in Mexico. The revolutionary character of the movement was at once abandoned, and the insurgents gladly devoted themselves to the cause of their parent-country.
The ports of San Francisco and Monterey having been occupied by the naval forces of the United States, under command of Commodore Stockton, Fremont joined his forces with those of that officer for the purpose of an attack on Los Angelos. The Mexican troops, under Castro, abandoned the city, which was occupied without a struggle, on the 13th of August. In the following month, General Castro, with recruited forces, regained possession.
General Kearney, (he had been raised to this rank on receiving his last commission, with his little band, after a wearisome and dangerous march, reached San Diego towards the middle of December, having lost thirty-one men in killed and wounded at San Pascual, where his progress was opposed by a mounted force of the enemy. The command would probably have been entirely cut off but for relief sent out from San Diego.
General Kearney and Commodore Stockton, after some discussion as to their several powers and appropriate position in command, joined forces, and took up their line of march northward. At the banks of the river San Gabriel they encountered and defeated the Mexicans under Flores. That commander rallied his forces, and made a second stand at the level prairie of the Mesa. A second time compelled to retreat, he proceeded to the plain of Couenga to oppose the advance of Fremont. A parley was held between the respective commanders, and the Mexican general finally agreed upon a cessation of hostilities. His troops were to deliver up their arms, and during the continuance of the war, to submit to the jurisdiction of the United States. The occupation of Los Angelos was resumed, and California remained subject to the American government. Colone) Fremont, having been appointed governor by Commodore Stockton, became entangled in the controversy between that officer and General Kearney relative to their respective powers and duties in the occupation and government of the conquered territory. His long and wearisome trial, during the winter of 1847-8, "on charges of matiny, disobedience, and conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline," notwithstanding its unfavourable result, appears to have left no stain upon his character, nor to have at all diminished his deserved popularity.
At New Mexico, subsequent to the departure of General Kearney, one of the first objects accomplished was the reduction of the Navaho Indians, who had assumed a hostile attitude. This service was performed by Colonel Doniphan, in command of a body of mounted Missourians. With this force he afterwards made his way to Chihuahua, and having forcibly taken possession of the country, continued his route to the Rio Grande. This march has been not inaptly compared, from its exhibition of endurance, and the skill and pru. dence with which it was conducted, to the famous "Retreat of the Ten Thousand."
The command of the forces remaining in New Mexico was at this period committed to Colonel Price, upon the preservation of the province was soon to depend. A formidable insurrection broke out on the 19th of January, 1847, after the departure of Doniphan, which was not quelled without great sacrifice of life.
The foregoing outline of the principal events connected with the war between Mexico and the United States, although confined to the leading incidents, may appear to have occupied an undue share of our attention, when compared with the preceding sketch of colonial history. The importance of the results of this war already witnessed, and the still more momentous changes to which it may probably lead, justify this apparent disproportion. Who can over. estimate the influence upon the destinies of the nations of either hemisphere consequent upon the extension of the jurisdiction of the United States over the recent wilderness of California? or who can offer a probable conjecture as to how long the immense resources of this new state might have remained undeveloped under the weak government of Mexico, occupied only by a scattered population, born and bred in national apathy and want of enterprise?
Since the conclusion of peace with the United States the political
history of the Mexican republic presents little of permanent interest. No stability of government has been yet attained: a “Mexican rev. olution” has become a by-word: with crippled finances, a constant change of rulers, unceasing disaffection among different factions and provinces, and the decline of every source of national prosperity, unless by some unforeseen concurrence of events her prospects shall brighten, she must continue to decline until, as a separate state, blotted from the list of nations.
The strong arm, the subtle craft, and the iron will of Santa Anna, have recently been once more brought into requisition, to regulate and guide the disturbed affairs of the republic. If the same confidence could be reposed in his good faith and patriotism, as in his firmness and ability, no living man were better fitted to restore his country's languishing prosperity. He has commenced his administration by prompt and decided measures for ensuring his own supremacy; whether his foreign policy, particularly in intercourse with the United States, is to be just and conciliatory, remains to be seen.
A new dispute has arisen upon a question of boundary between this country and Mexico, which threatens to breed further difficulty, unless the controversy be conducted in a different spirit from that at first evinced by the governors of the contending provinces. The tract in dispute is the Mesilla valley, claimed by the authorities of New Mexico to have belonged to that province, and to have been consequently included in the district ceded to the United States at the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, although by an erroneous survey laid down as part of the territory of the adjoining Mexican state.
The movements of both parties may perhaps be considered rather precipitate, in a matter which should certainly in the first instance be made the subject of negotiation between the respective federal governments. It is to be hoped, however, that the hasty action which led to an armed occupation of the valley, may not so far blind the minds of the parties in interest as to make that a question of feeling which should be one of right and policy; and that such action may be taken in the premises as shall avert the monstrous folly of an appeal to arms.
CONQUEST AND HISTORY OF PERU.
C H A P T E R I.
THE CAPITAL OF THE ISTHMUS TRANSFERRED TO PANANA. -
-HIS FIRST VOYAGE IN QUEST OP PERU. GRIEVOUS
OF PIZARRO, ALMAGRO, AND LUQUE.
The daring enterprise and indefatigable exertions of Balboa, stimulated by the rumour of golden realms on the Pacific, south of the Isthmus, had laid open the way to those regions of conjectured wealth and splendor. The grand schemes of adventure and ambition which had seemed to perish with him, were, after a brief interval, revived by one fully his equal in genius, courage, and endurance, and, if possible, his superior in fierceness, in rapine, and in cruelty.
Francisco Pizarro, one of the most renowned and infamous of mankind, was born at Truxillo, in Estramadura, about the year 1471. He was the illegitimate son of Gonzalo Pizarro, an officer of the famous Cordova, and at his birth, by a piece of inhuman abandon. ment, was exposed at the church-door and left as a foundling. Nay, it is said that for some days the only nourishment he received was derived from a sow, which, in default of a more fitting nurse, was provided for his sustenance. He was bred up to the calling of a swineherd, and never learned to read or write. It is from souls of high natural genius, degraded in youth by ignorance, privation, and unnatural ignominy, that great criminals are most aptly made; and the candid observer will bestow a portion of his pity on the forlorn circumstances of Pizarro's youth, and a portion of his indignation