Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

sist Garland at Molino del Rey, where the combat was not yet ended. The buildings of the foundry were all in our possession-the enemy had been forced to retire ; Drum pursued them with one of his guns, for several hundred yards, on the northern road to Chapultepec, along the aqueduct over which he fire l upon them in grove. But they rallied again, and, with an 18-pounder, returned to make another effort to recover the Molino. Drum continued his discharges upon their advance, until, having no support, he was ordered to the corner of the buildings, where, joined by one of Huger's 24-pounders and a captured piece, they played fiercely into the head of the approaching column. Several regiments arriving at this juncture, a charge was made on the enemy, who was repulsed, and his 18-pounder taken and spiked. An advanced redan under the walls of Chapultepec was occupied and held, until our troops were ordered back, to remove from the field the wounded and the killed. Pillow, at this period, appeared on the ground at the head of Pierce's brigade, with Riley's not far in the rear. He had marched three miles to take part in the battle, setting out about the time that Gen. Scott sent an order for both Pierce and Riley to advance. The fresh troops arrived in season to aid in repelling any new onset on the part of the enemy, had they the heart to make one after such a complete and disastrous defeat. But they were present, more opportunely, to lead an assault upon the castle; which, with a garrison demoralized by the accession of a wearied, beaten, and cowering multitude from Molino, would have offered a very trifling resistance. A single hour would have sufficed for the work; and two such blows, following the armistice which had aided to fortify the Mexicans, might have opened the gates of the Capital without an after struggle! Yet the effort, perhaps, would have been rash. The defences of Chapultepec were unknown-its accesses were a labyrinth for future study and solution, and the possibility—nay in our ignorance, the probability-of repulse was enough to check the enterprize. Still, during the armistice, might not inquiries have been made of all the approaches to the Castle and the city ? Would this have been any violation of the terms? And, having the information, which wise forecast and an energetic and enterprising soldier would not have

omitted to acquire, unless from scruples with which we do not sympathize, how easy and how brilliant in result, to have improved the hour of good fortune!

The battle beginning between four and five o'clock, was concluded between nine and ten, and Worth's division retired from the scene of terrible slaughter, yet of glorious victory, to their quarters at Tacubaya.

Santa Anna's loss, in killed and wounded, has been estimated at 3,000 men, and we know of the desertion, the same night, of 2,000 more from their prostrate colours, and from the declining fortunes of their country. Gen. Leon, Colonels Balderas, and Gelaty, and other distinguished officers, were among the killed.*

The American casualties amounted to 787, aggregate. Sumner's command lost 43, and 27 horses killed and 77 wounded,—the large proportion of them, in his daring wheel within range of the Casa Mata. McIntosh's brigade, including his portion of the storming party, numbered 383–Garland's brigade, less numerous, lost 163, showing how heavy and how fatal the Mexican fire was at Casa M ta. The officers killed and wounded were 58.

Three of the enemy's guns, one 9, and two 6-pounders, were carried in-the fourth, an 18-pounder was spiked and abandoned. A number of small arms was taken and destroyed, and some ammunition captured. Eight cannon moulds were broken up by Capt. Hoffman, 6th infantry, who, from the Casa Mata, entered the Molino at the close of the action. Fifty-three officers and 632 soldiers were made prisoners.

The battle of Molino del Rey was unfortunate in its inception, and, barring the triumph of our arms and the moral degradation of the enemy, most melancholy in its resulting losses. It should never have been fought for the merely insignificant objects indicated, and, if a blow were to be struck, full acquaintance should have been had, at whatever delay, of the character and force of the position, and an adequate power have been applied, not only to subdue, but to reap some harvest of fruits. Literally, no progress was made towards occupying the enemy's Capitol. A barren field was won, and, as if to prove its utter

* “ The Other Side” ascribes the defeat of the Mexicans to the want of a general commanding officer, and asserts positively, that Santa Anna was not on the ground during the affair.

barrenness, it was immediately abandoned to its original occupants. Blame rests somewhere, whatever extenuating circumstances may be presented in palliation. Passionate indignation may have ruled the hour, in the conception of the conflict, but it should have yielded to fuller information and to the calls of sound and sober reason. At least, on contradictory reports there should not have ensued hasty and inconsiderate action-but more careful examination, more cautious deliberation.

An individual, carried away by excited temper, may resist all appeals-rush forward under his own impulses, and meet the consequences reckless of his own person. But the commander of an army has other interests to consult--a higher duty, than that to selfish inclinations, to dischargeshould elevate himself so as to take a calm, broad view of affairs, and when, from a state of repose, he is prompted to performance, it should be accomplished under the fullest possible attention to controlling circumstances. Gen. Scott illustrated the evils which frequently flow from an obstinate pride of opinion—the adherence absolutely to a first judgment, however crudely formed. Such tenacity is often the effect of a vain egotism (we speak generally) which sacrifices everything to the indulgence of its morbid impulse. Worth differed throughout-Pillow disagreed on a statement of facts, which he was convinced was reliable; Scott rejected every thing but his pre-conceived notions, and these, the more forcibly they were combatted, the more fondly he cherished and the more tenaciously he clung to them. Additional to Pillow's

argument, is serted, that a Mexican of high rank “for gold” betrayed his Chief, and told our General of the great strength of position and numbers of the Mexican. All was discredited. The combat had to be delivered. The first division of the army, equal to the same number of troops over the world for courage, discipline and efficiency, was inpelled to a merciless slaughter pen. The flower of chivalry was uselessly destroyed. Honour, bravery, prowess, were nobly vindicated—but an empty victory was all that they gleamed by their devoted heroism.

Molino del Rey, by long odds, was the severest battle of the Mexican war. As glorious as was the victory of Buena Vista, for various ulterior contingencies, yet the disparity of the contending forces was not so great, and it

as

was won on open field. Here, there was a select and

powerfully fortified field. The stone buildings, with Chapultepec on one hand, and a difficult ravine on the otherthe intervening breastworks protected by ditches and trees--the re-entering angle guarded by cannon, and 16 or 17,000 defenders—the ground sloping to their advantage, and, to heighten all, the assault to be made on them in position by one-fifth of their numbers, and over a naked pluin for 600 yards ? None but a veteran force, led by daring officers, with a reciprocal confidence, could have at all succeeded, and few would have repeated the attempt at conquest, after the annihilation of the storming party, and the bloody repulse of McIntosh's brigade.

With the means at his disposal, and the not thorough acquaintance which he had of the strength of the stone buildings, particularly the fortified Casa Mata, Worth's dispositions were very good. Yet, notwithstanding Semmes' defiance of criticism (and it may be a provocative), with becoming diffidence we would suggest an improvement, which in fact, is rather insinuated by a conditional order to McIntosh (see his report, McIntosh's) to cut the enemy's line in two, to the right of the centre. Knowing the Molino range to be the strongest point, and beyond the fire of the Casa Mata, which mounted no cannon, might not Worth, after guarding his flank with Duncan's battery, supported by a portion of Cadwallader's reserve, have concentrated the bulk of his forces on Molino, and have promptly carried it—and, isolating Casa Mata, have leisurely battered it into the desertion of its defenders, as he did after McIntosh's repulse ?-or, instead of the 2d brigade charging against impregnable stone walls, had he directed them, as at first designed, to break the lines behind the maguey trees, and, turning to the right, to take their centre and left in flank, would not the Molino, with Garland among its rooms and yards, have surrendered in an hour, and the Casa Mata have equally fallen from isolation ! And, with the same success which was achieved, how many gallant fellows might have been saved to mingle in the joyous shouts of a triumphant entry into the Mexican Capital ! We have not space to enter into all the reasons adducible to fortify this assumption. Nor, had we the whole subject at command, would we care to discuss such a proposition. NEW SERIES, VOL. VI.--No. 12.

21

Worth executed his task most brilliantly. His orders, in general, after the opening of the contest, were welltimed and excellently judicious. And, we have too much regard for his memory, and too much respect for our humble self, to cast even the shadow of disapproval on his bright escutcheon, through an after-thought suggestion. Molino del Rey was his great battle-his grand triumphand, history will decorate him with, and immortalize the ever green wreath, to which he aspired, and for which he struggled through a long, eventful and useful career.

While commending the conduct of the battle, in the main, it appears very clear that the storming party of Wright was not supported with sufficient promptness. When the light battalion advanced, that party had been overwhelmed, and its fragments were 200 yards from the scene of their defeat. This could only have been obviated, and it is submitted that it should have been done, by sending the battalion and Garland's brigade along, almost simultaneously. The first check might not have occurred, and the Mexicans, subsequently, resisting obstinately from partial success, might have been earlier subdued, and at less sacrifice on our part.

It is now seen how Worth could have conquered the position, with, perhaps, less than half his loss; and the delay of a day or two in the attack, might have exposed the mode. For strong buildings, like the Molino and the Casa Mata, having but few pieces of artillery to defend them, bombarding was the true method tv assail them. Had all our siege guns and mortars been directed upon them, and our light batteries been poured upon the lines first and next the azoteas, in a short time, the position would have been really “shaken" or "loosened," (which it was not) for the rapid and successful onset of our infantry. But Scott, expecting a mere skirmish, and a loss of probably“ twenty men,” furnished only two 24-pounders, and these, to play upon Chapultepec. Besides these, Worth had but six light pieces.

All the circumstances of the preparations for the combat, on the part of the Mexicans, conduce to the belief, that the affair was premeditated and designed by Santa Anna, and that he actually brought us in collision at the very point chosen by himself, and strengthened with all his means to obtain a victory. Two men informed Scott

« ElőzőTovább »