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Of the three divisions, General Kearny, with
the army of the west, was to cross the Rocky Mountains and conquer the
northern Mexican provinces; General Scott himself, with the army of the
centre, was to advance from the coast into the interior of the country,
making the city of Mexico, the capital of the republic, his objective
point; while General Taylor, with the army of occupation, was to seize
and hold the Rio Grande country. The work of mustering in the troops was
intrusted to General Wool, who, some time later, established himself at
San Antonio, and sent many soldiers to the different commands.


CAPTURE OF MONTEREY.

Within less than two weeks after his victory at Resaca de la Palma,
Taylor crossed over from Fort Brown and captured Matamoras. Then he
turned up the right bank of the Rio Grande and marched into the
interior. The Mexicans retreated to the fortified town of Monterey,
where they were so powerful that Taylor waited for reinforcements before
attacking them. His forces amounted to 6,600 by the latter part of
August, and he then advanced against Monterey, which was defended by a
garrison of 10,000 men.

The city was invested on the 19th of September. Two days sufficed for
General Worth to capture the fortified works in the rear of the town,
and on the next day the remaining defenses on that side were carried by
storm. At daylight, on the 23d, the city in front was captured by
assault. The Mexicans maintained a vicious defense from their adobe
houses, but the Americans, charging through the streets, battered in the
doors, chased the defenders from room to room and over the housetops
until they flung down their arms and shouted for mercy. The commander
was allowed to evacuate the city, and fell back toward the national
capital.


OTHER VICTORIES.

Taylor was about to resume his advance when the enemy asked for an
armistice, saying the authorities wished to negotiate for peace. Taylor
agreed to an armistice of eight weeks, but the proposal was a trick of
the enemy, who spent every hour of the respite in making preparations to
resist the Americans' advance. Santa Anna, who was undergoing one of
his periodical banishments, was called back and given the presidency.
When the armistice granted by Taylor expired, the Mexicans had an army
of 20,000 in the field, and, under orders from Washington, the American
commander moved forward. The first town captured was Saltillo, seventy
miles southwest of Monterey. It was taken by General Worth, with the
advance, on the 15th of November, 1846. In the following month Victoria,
in the province of Tamaulipas, was captured by General Butler, who,
advancing from Monterey, united with Patterson at this place. Their
intention was to move upon Tampico, on the coast, but they learned that
it had surrendered to Captain Conner, commander of an American squadron.
Meanwhile, General Wool, marching from San Antonio, arrived within
supporting distance of Monterey. Such was the situation when General
Scott reached the army and took command.


GENERAL KEARNY'S OPERATIONS.

General Kearny, in command of the army of the west, left Fort
Leavenworth, in June, 1846, on the way to conquer New Mexico and
California. He had a long and laborious march before him, but he reached
Santa Fé on the 18th of August, and it was easily captured and
garrisoned. New Mexico was powerless, and the whole province
surrendered. Then Kearny, at the head of 400 dragoons, set out for the
Pacific coast, but he had not gotten far on the road when he met a
messenger who informed him that California had been conquered by Colonel
John C. Fremont, acting in conjunction with Commodores Sloat and
Stockton. Kearny sent most of his men back to Santa Fé and pushed for
the Pacific coast, with a hundred dragoons. He arrived in November, and
joined Fremont and Stockton.


CONQUEST OF CALIFORNIA.

Fremont acquired the name of the "Pathfinder" because of his exploring
expeditions in the far West. He explored a portion of the Rocky
Mountains in 1842, and, in the following two years, conducted an
expedition with much skill and success through the regions of Utah, the
basin of the Columbia, and the passes of the Sierra Nevada. He was in
charge of a third expedition in 1846, and was in California when the
Mexican war broke out. He received the dispatches as if they were news
to him, but there is good reason to believe that the government had sent
him thither, in order that he might be on the ground and do the very
work he did. He urged the pioneers to declare their independence. They
ardently did so, raised the "Black Bear Flag," and gathered around
Fremont, who continually defeated the superior forces of Mexicans.

The town of Monterey, eighty miles south of San Francisco, was captured
by Commodore Sloat with an American squadron, and San Diego was taken
soon afterward by Commodore Stockton, in command of the Pacific
squadron; learning which, Fremont raised the American flag in the place
of that of California, and, joining the naval commanders, advanced upon
Los Angeles, which submitted without resistance. In a short time the
immense province of California was conquered by what may be called a
handful of Americans.


THE WONDERFUL MARCH OF COLONEL DONIPHAN.

Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan had been left at Santa Fé with his small
force of dragoons. At the head of 700 men, he performed one of the most
remarkable exploits of the war. Riding directly through the enemy's
country for nearly a thousand miles, he reached the Rio Grande on
Christmas day and won a battle; he then crossed the river and captured
El Paso, and, heading for Chihuahua, was met by a Mexican force on the
banks of Sacramento Creek. They outnumbered Doniphan's force four to
one, and displayed the black flag, as notice that no quarter would be
given. The Americans lay flat on the ground, and the first volleys
passed harmlessly over their heads. The Mexicans made the mistake of
believing they had been decimated by the discharge, and charged upon
what they supposed were the few survivors. They were received with a
withering volley, and assailed with such fierceness by the Americans
that they were utterly routed. Chihuahua thus fell into the possession
of Colonel Doniphan, but, since the term of the enlistment of his men
had expired, he could advance no further. He then conducted them to New
Orleans, where they were mustered out of service. They had marched a
distance of 5,000 miles, won several victories, suffered not a single
defeat, and were back again in their homes all within a year.

General Scott had landed on the coast for the purpose of marching into
the interior to the national capital. In order to make his advance
resistless, he withdrew the larger part of Taylor's army and united it
with his own. Taylor felt he was used unjustly, for both he and Wool
were threatened by Santa Anna at the head of 20,000, men, but bluff "Old
Rough and Ready" made no protest and grimly prepared for the danger. The
greatest number of troops he could concentrate at Saltillo was about
6,000, and, after placing garrisons there and at Monterey, he had only
4,800 remaining, but, undismayed, he marched out to meet Santa Anna.
Four miles away, he reached the favorable battle ground of Buena Vista,
posted his men, and awaited attack.

The Mexican commander was so confident of overwhelming the Americans
that, in his message to Taylor, he assured him he would see that he was
personally well treated after his surrender. General Taylor sent word
that he declined to obey the summons, and the messenger who carried the
message to Santa Anna added the significant words: "General Taylor
_never_ surrenders."

[Illustration: BATTLE OF RESACA DE LA PALMA

Captain May leaped his steed over the parapets, followed by those of his
men whose horses could do a like feat, and was among the gunners the
next moment, sabering them right and left. General La Vega and a hundred
of his men were made prisoners and borne back to the American lines.]

The American army was placed at the upper end of a long and narrow pass
in the mountains. It was flanked on one side by high cliffs and on the
other by impassable ravines, which position compelled the enemy to
attack him in front.


BATTLE OF BUENA VISTA.

The battle opened early on the morning of February 23d, with the
Mexicans swarming through the gorges and over the hills from San Luis
Potosi. The first assault was against the American right, but it was
beaten back by the Illinois troops; the next was against the centre, but
it was repelled by Captain Washington's artillery; and then the left
flank was vehemently assailed. A mistaken order caused an Indiana
regiment to give way, and for a time the whole army was in danger; but
the Mississippians and Kentuckians gallantly flung themselves into the
breach, the Indiana and Illinois troops rallied, and the Mexicans were
driven tumultuously back. In this brilliant exploit Colonel Jefferson
Davis, with his Mississippi regiment, played a prominent part.

[Illustration: GENERAL WINFIELD SCOTT.]


"A LITTLE MORE GRAPE, CAPTAIN BRAGG."

The next charge was upon Captain Bragg's battery, but that officer, in
obedience to General Taylor's famous request, "A little more grape,
Captain Bragg," scattered the Mexican lancers in every direction. The
success was followed up by a cavalry charge, which completed the
discomfiture of the enemy, who fled with the loss of 2,000 men.

Buena Vista was a superb victory for the Americans, but it cost them
dear. The killed, wounded, and missing numbered nearly 800. Among the
killed was Colonel Henry Clay, son of the Kentucky orator and statesman.
The battle completed the work of General Taylor, who soon afterward
returned to the United States. The glory he had won made him President
less than two two years later.

Returning once more to General Scott, he entered upon the last
campaign, March 9, 1847. Old army officers of to-day contrast the
admirable manner in which he did his preliminary work with the
mismanagement in the Spanish-American War of 1898.



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