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would be in courting it. Accordingly, he began his march, and making a détour of over a mile, conducted by Engineer Lee,* he approached the barn alluded to The ground was difficult, and Gen. Pierce,t hurt by a fall the day previous, became faint from exhaustion, took shelter in or beside a ditch, and was unable to render any assistance during the conflict. It was unfortunate for him, and partially so for his brigade, who would, reasonably enough, achieve more under their proper leader. The 15th infantry, and four companies of the 12th, led the advance, the New Yorkers next, the Palmettos following, and the battery and the 9th infantry brought up the rear. The foremost troops, on reaching the vicinity of the barn, received a heavy fire from the enemy, which they endured and tried to return for a short time. But, while forming line parallel to the road, Morgan, of the 15th, fell wounded, and Howard, I assuming command, directed the men to shelter themselves in the building and enclosure. Considerable execution had been done, and they promptly sought cover, to await for support. The New Yorkers coming up, were formed in line along a ditch in rear of the barn, with their right opposite the prolongation of the northern wall, and fronting the causeway; and the Palmettos, by the very strange manœuvre under the circumstances, the slowest in tactics—“on right by file intoline”||-
*Gen. Scott says of this gallant officer, “ as distinguished for felicitous execution, as for science and daring." See report.
+ This fact is stated with regard to Gen. Pierce, in order to render proper justice to Shields, and not by any means to disparage. Men fight better under their own officers, and had Pierce been present, his brigade might have been more prompt in repairing to the field. The 15th, particularly, were reluctant to face the murderous bullets, and after the first brief heat, it was only at the last moment that a portion of them emerged from cover. at their barn and yard that the prisoners, fleeing from the works, were made.
† Lt. Col. Howard's report. All the reports of this division are confused, and, in some respects, contradictory. We have gleaned some facts from other
| The slow evolution by which the Palmettos came into line, was practised likewise by the New-York regiment. The colonels are, perhaps, responsible for it, although we cannot assert that Shields did not give the order. It was
A counter-march would have been almost as promptly performed. This order had much influence on the withdrawal of the New-Yorkers from the combat. Could the two regiments have formed line of battle quickly, or together, they would have dispersed the enemy at once, and there would have been no flinching, intolerable almost as the fire was. A regular officer under Worth gave the same order, (“on left, &c.;') but when two companies were in line, they advanced without the other two. Report, Lt. Col. C. F. Smith, Doc. No. 1, p. 44. It is disapproved in both instances.
were ordered to take position on their left; both regiments having marched to the field by the right flank. It was Shields's design (he says) to turn the enemy's right at Portales, and cut off their retreat to the city, by an extension of his line to the left; but, whether detected or not, the Mexicans moved to their right, which the shorter time required, and better ground, enabled them to do more readily; and Shields's desire was defeated. The New Yorkers became at once engaged in the struggle. The enemy, 10 or 12 to 1, delivered upon them rapid and destructive discharges; the range was great for muskets, but large charges rendered them effective ; ours were of little service. The cavalry, now on our left, poured in their escopette fire, and our men suffered severely. They had never before encountered, or perhaps conceived, such “sharp-shooting;” their endurance, and at a halt, too, was taxed to the utmost. As their losses increased, it became more galling, until Burnett, their colonel, falling, (wounded) they broke, and found security in the barn or behind the wall. The Palmettos continued and completed their formation, and moved forward, firing in order, without support.* Three hundred men opposed to seven thousand ! The soil marshy; the enemy in front and on the left flank ; the distance too great for their arms to tell effectively, it required the proudest examples of their officers, and the noblest self-devotion on their part, to maintain so unequal a contest. But all grades felt it to be a duty to their high-toned, yet much traduced State, to make every sacrifice to her honour. The State was their war cry; and they resolved that the scorned "chivalry” should boast, at least, one monument, in these days, of its real existence ! They moved forward to their probable doom with regularity and with calmness, the result of unalterable determination. But this very firmness saved them for other fields, and for the display of future heroism. Shields was impressedt with the sympathy of a brave man for their undaunted cour
* Col. Ransom, of the 9th, speaks of forming on the right, during the first formation. If so, it was behind or in the enclosure. At the second, he moved against cavalry, and very gallantly dispersed them.
+ Shields mentioned this to the writer. His speeches in South-Carolina would justify much more than has been said here. We have gone far enough for the occasion; and, if too minutely, the apology is sought in the great interest of this battle. The local or regimental chronicler will find ample materials for a more extended and a more particular description. The present design is more general,
97 age, and, after a 'march of only thirty or forty paces, and a few minutes firing at a halt, he ordered them to retire. They withdrew by companies, and with as little disorder, as if dismissed from ordinary parade. About this period, the 9th infantry and the battery appeared on the ground; the former protected themselves about the barn,--the latter opened fire, from its right, upon the causeway. Shields now sent to Scott for reinforcements. Without a rally to the attack, he saw that his mission would fail; the causeway would continue in possession of the enemy, and they could strengthen the works, or retreat from them, at plea
His own reckless daring in the field had not incited all his followers, and he had recourse to his eloquence. He harangued the troops who were sheltered in the barn and the yard, appealing alternately to their American courage, and to their sense of shame; but the effect did not correspond to his hopes. There was no responsive enthusiasm,--no spontaneous burst of applause, with an expressed readiness to meet all hazards for the achievement of victory. Mortified and indignant, he passed before the Palmetto regiment, and inquired, “who would follow him ?" Butler* replied to him, “ Every South-Carolinian here will follow you to the death !”-a sentiment to which the entire regiment responded. Rejoiced at this second evidence of the stamina of these men, he ordered them promptly to the field. He says: “I selected the Palmetto regiment as the basis of my line, and this gallant regiment moved forward firmly and rapidly under a fire of musketry, as terrible, perhaps, as any which soldiers ever faced.” The line was no longerf parallel to
* Shields again is one of the authorities. This speech is notorious. Other spoke, and some, perhaps, earlier than Butler. Where all were of the sam mind, it matters little who first found utterance for the common sentiment, and it would be invidious to designate any by name. Butler said it, too, and possibly without attending to others; and as he was the colonel, and represen tative of the regiment, it is just and proper that he alone should be named. Besides, he was probably the first of those, who spoke out, who sealed the heroic sentiment with his life blood. Let the honour be his !
The extract is from Shields's report. The italics are ours. The word “this” implies a world of meaning, and reveals the secret of the mystification of nearly his entire report.
+ The first line was near the edge of a ditch which ran parallel to the causeway, and was almost one hundred yards in rear of the building. The second formation was on the north side of the barn, and nearly at right angles with the causeway. Moving on the village, the causeway would be continually approached. NEW SERIES, VOL. VI.—NO. 11.
the causeway, but at an angle, and facing the village, which was now to be carried. A few* of the New-Yorkers joined on the right-the 9th infantry and part of the 12th were despatched along the ditch, now on our left, to check the cavalry, which threatened to charge our flank--the battery continued its practice, and the line advanced. At about one hundred and fifty paces it halted, to open fire upon the Mexicans, who, at good range now, concentrated their discharges. Our return fire was effective; the tug of desperate war was now waged; our ranks were rapidly thinned ; many of the troops in the rear, animated by the spirit which had impelled the Palmettos, rushed with cheers to their assistance; the battery followed the movement, vomiting death upon the enemy; Butlert fell, shot through the head from a cavalry escopette, and Shields, calling to his regiment to avenge his death, ordered the “charge!" The "remnants" (as Semmes terms them) eagerly obeyed the call ; they rushed forward to overwhelm the foe; some stragglers dashed at the ditch along the causeway, and crossed it, mounting to the highway; the main body steadily advanced, officers bearing the colours of their companies; the regimental colour-bearer was prostrated. Dickinson, in command, held the colours aloft ; he, shot down in turn, Gladden (Major) seized and waved them through the fight; Lt. Adams, bearing those of his company, was killed, and Lt. Moragne (in command of it) took them from his dying grasp, and carried them through the conflict. All were heroes now; the enemy perceived that annihilation only would check the onset, and, yielding ground, at length turned their backs, and retired towards the city. Shields pressed on-passed the village-entered upon the causeway, and, receiving there the last fire from the enemy, forced them
* All the New.Yorkers did not rejoin the line. At first, a few did so, among whom was Mayne Reid, who conducted himself handsomely, and had good ground for subsequent boasting. Ransom remarks, (see report,) The South-Carolina regiment and my own, (9th,) together with a batallion of the 12th infantry, were speedily in order, the former regiment advancing towards the road to the city, and my own, together with the 12th, advancing against the ranchero, &c." Doc. No. 1, Appendix.
+ Butler behaved with distinguished bravery. At the first formation, his horse was shot under him. At the second advance, he was wounded in the leg, but finding that it was not broken, he refused to retire. At the halt alluded to, he was shot through the side of the head, and instantly died.
to flight. The pursuit was soon suspended, in consideration of the numerous wounded. Worth's advance appeared,-a light, captured gun, under Brevet Captain Ayres, in the lead ; three of Shields's companies joined them in the chase, the others returning to the field. The cavalry had retired before the 9th infantry, which drove them into the field to the left of the village, and turned towards the causeway to engage the infantry. Finding them in flight, this regiment withdrew to the barn.
When the tête-de-pont was captured, and the way to the city opened, Capt. Kearney, who had followed Pillow to Churubusco, and found no possibility of employing his dragoons, now dashed down the causeway,* in pursuit of the fugitives. Joined by Harney, with other companies, still leading, he passed on at rapid speed, cutting down the enemy as he passed, even to the gatet of Mexico. Encountering there a battery of two pieces, he resolved to take it, and, with a handful of men, dismounted for the purpose, but on looking around for other aid, he discovered that the rear were not following; the recall, repeatedly sounded, had reached them, and now him, and he was compelled reluctantly to forego his prize. The charge was one of the most daring feats of the war, and not being supported, the penalty was paid. Kearney lost an arm, two other officers were wounded, a third had two
* Kearney (in report) does not say by whose order he charged. Ripley says it was by Pillow's. Ripley relates that the ammunition wagons (only two the “ Other Side” say) of the enemy still blocked the road from Churubusco to the bridge-head, to the delay of Kearney, and that one was on fire threatening an explosion. Our soldiers near by leaped into it, and threw the powder into the ditch! An act which showed both presence of mind and courage. Many would have fled to
it. + " The Other Side,” pp. 286-7, speaking of the charge, remarks: “ At this moment, an American officer, in a uniform of blue, penetrated through the low earthen rampart, mounted on his horse, sword in hand, dealing sabre blows, and falling wounded upon the esplanade. Many swords were drawn to kill him ; but the others (Americans ?) also hastened to defend him on seeing him fall
. He rose crippled, radiant with valour, and smiling al the felicity of being at the gates of the capitol.” The editor says this allusion is meant for Kearney. While justly merited and handsomely expressed, this is perhaps the only prominent instance of such generous praise coming from the Mexicans. They made no such charge as to permit a return of the compliment, but as a slight set off, an example of heroism on their part will be extracted from their own account. D’Elizio Villamar, an officer at the convent, “from the first shot, stood upon the parapet, and remained there, exposed to the enemy's fire, encouraging his soldiers, without ceasing one minute to shout for the Republic, &c.” p. 293. He must have become monstrous hoarse from such severe practice.