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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. Impatience was
expressed at his tardiness in getting his troops ready on the transports
at New York. To all such complaints, the grim old soldier replied that
he would embark when everything was ready and not a single hour before.
As a consequence, his men landed at Vera Cruz in the best condition,
there was not the slightest accident, and every soldier when he stepped
ashore had three days' rations in his knapsack. Twelve thousand men were
landed, and in three days the investment of Vera Cruz was complete. Then
a Mexican train was captured and the troops had provisions in abundance.


CAPTURE OF VERA CRUZ.

The city having refused to surrender, the bombardment opened on the
morning of March 22d. The water-side of Vera Cruz was defended by the
castle of San Juan d'Ulloa, built a century and a half before by Spain
at enormous cost. Commodore Conner assisted throughout the four days
that the cannonade lasted. The success of the bombardment made the
Americans confident of capturing the castle by assault, and they were
preparing to do so when the authorities proposed satisfactory terms of
surrender, which took place March 29th.

The direct march upon the capital now began, with General Twiggs in
command of the advance. The road steadily rises from the coast and
abounds in passes and mountains, which offer the best kind of natural
fortifications. When Twiggs reached one of these passes, named Cerro
Gordo, he found that Santa Anna had taken possession of it with 15,000
troops. The whole American army numbered only 9,000, and it looked as if
they were halted in front of an impregnable position, but it must be
captured or the whole campaign would have to be abandoned.


BATTLE OF CERRO GORDO.

There was no hesitation on the part of our troops, who, under the lead
of the bravest and most skillful of officers, attacked with their usual
energy and daring. The Mexicans made the best defense possible, but
within a few hours they abandoned every position and were driven in
headlong confusion from the field. They lost 3,000 prisoners, among whom
were five generals, while the escape of Santa Anna was so narrow that he
left his cork leg behind.

The American army pressed on to Jalapa, which made no resistance, and
furnished a large amount of supplies, and Puebla, a city of 80,000
inhabitants, was occupied on the 15th of May. There the ground was high
and the air cool and salubrious. The men were exhausted from their
arduous campaign, and Scott decided to give them a good rest, so as to
be fully prepared for the final struggle. Besides it was necessary to
receive reinforcements before venturing further. Santa Anna, realizing
that the critical period of the struggle was at hand, put forth every
energy to collect an army to beat back the invaders.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF CERRO GORDO.

"Captain Lee led the way, and showed the men just what to do. They
lowered the cannons by ropes down the steep cliffs and hauled them up on
the opposite hillside."]

Early in August the American army had been increased to 11,000 men, and,
leaving a small garrison at Puebla, Scott set out for the beautiful city
of Mexico. No serious resistance offered until they reached Ayotla,
fifteen miles from the capital. There it was found that the regular
road bristled with forts, and, although there was no doubt that all
could be carried, the American commander wisely decided to move his army
around to the south, where he could advance over a comparatively
undefended route. Without any difficulty he reached San Augustine, which
was within ten miles of the capital.

Had the positions been changed, a force ten times as great as the
Americans could not have captured the city of Mexico, and yet it fell
before a force only one-third as numerous as the defenders.


A DAY OF VICTORIES.

The fighting began before sunrise, August 20, 1847, and when night came
five distinct victories had been won. The fortified camp of Contreras
was captured in about fifteen minutes. Shortly after the fortified
village of San Antonio was taken by another division of the army. Almost
at the same time, a division stormed one of the fortified heights of
Churubusco, while still another captured the second height. Seeing the
danger of his garrisons, Santa Anna moved out of the city and attacked
the Americans. The reserves immediately assailed, drove him back, and
chased him to the walls of the capital, into which the whole Mexican
force crowded themselves at night.

It was in accordance with the nature of Santa Anna that he should set
2,000 convicts loose that night on the promise that they would fight
against the Americans. Then he stole out of the city, whose authorities
sent a delegation to Scott to treat for peace. This trick had been
resorted to so many times by the Mexicans, who never kept faith, that
the American commander refused to listen to them. An advance was made,
and in a short time the city was completely in our possession.


SANTA ANNA.

At Puebla there were 2,000 Americans in the hospital under charge of a
small guard. Santa Anna attacked them, thinking that at last he had
found a foe whom he could beat; but he was mistaken, for reinforcements
arrived in time to drive him away. This terminated for a time the career
of the treacherous Santa Anna, with whom the Mexican people were
thoroughly disgusted.

It is proper to state at this point that Santa Anna while in command of
the Mexican army made a direct offer to General Taylor to betray his
cause for a large sum of money, and he actually received an installment,
but circumstances prevented the completeness of the bargain. This
miscreant was president and dictator of Mexico in 1853-55, was banished
and returned several times, and was still plotting to recover his power
when he died, in his eighty-second year.

The capture of the capital of Mexico completed the victorious campaign.
The entrance into the city was made September 14, 1847, the American
flag raised over the palace, and General Scott, with a sweep of his
sword over his head, while his massive frame made a striking picture in
front of the palace, proclaimed the conquest of the country. All that
remained was to arrange the terms of peace.


TERMS OF PEACE.

In the following winter, American ambassadors met the Mexican congress
in session at Guadalupe Hidalgo, so named from the small town where it
was situated. There was a good deal of discussion over the terms; our
ambassadors insisting that Mexico should surrender the northern
provinces, which included the present States of California, Nevada,
Utah, and the Territories of Arizona and New Mexico and portions of
Colorado and Wyoming, as indemnity for the war. Mexico would not
consent, and matters drifted along until the 2d of February, 1848, when
the new Mexican government agreed to these terms. The treaty was
modified to a slight extent by the United States Senate, adopted on the
10th of March, ratified by the Mexican congress sitting at Queretaro,
May 30th, and proclaimed by President Polk on the 4th of July. Thus
ended our war with Mexico.

By the terms of the treaty, the United States was to pay Mexico
$15,000,000, and assume debts to the extent of $3,000,000 due to
American citizens from Mexico. These sums were in payment for the
immense territory ceded to us. This cession, the annexation of Texas,
and a purchase south of the Gila River in 1853, added almost a million
square miles to our possessions, nearly equaling the Louisiana purchase
and exceeding the whole area of the United States in 1783.

It may sound strange, but it is a fact, that the governing of the new
territory caused so much trouble that more than once it was seriously
proposed in Congress that Mexico should be asked to take it back again.
General Sherman was credited with the declaration that if the identity
of the man who caused the annexation of Texas could be established, he
ought to be court-martialed and shot. However, all this changed when the
vast capabilities and immeasurable worth of the new countries were
understood. The section speedily developed a wealth, enterprise, and
industry of which no one had before dreamed.


THE SLAVERY QUESTION.

The real peril involved in the acquisition of so much territory lay in
the certainty that it would revive the slavery quarrel that had been put
to sleep by the Missouri Compromise, nearly thirty years before. The
North demanded that slavery should be excluded from the new territory,
because it was so excluded by Mexican law, and to legalize it would keep
out emigrants from the free States. The South demanded the authorization
of slavery, since Southern emigrants would not go thither without their
slaves. Still others proposed to divide the new territory by the
Missouri Compromise line. This would have cut California in two near the
middle, and made one part of the province slave and the other free.
Altogether, it will be seen that trouble was at hand.

Before the outbreak of the Mexican War, Congressman David Wilmot, of
Pennsylvania, introduced the Proviso known by his name. It was a
proposal to purchase the territory from Mexico, provided slavery was
excluded. The introduction of the bill produced much discussion, and it
was defeated by the opposition of the South.


THE OREGON BOUNDARY DISPUTE.

Great Britain and the United States had jointly occupied Oregon for
twenty years, under the agreement that the occupancy could be ended by
either country under a year's notice to the other. Many angry debates
took place in Congress over the question whether such notice should be
given. The United States claimed a strip of territory reaching to
Alaska, latitude 54 40', while Great Britain claimed the territory
south of the line to the Columbia River. Congress as usual had plenty of
wordy patriots who raised the cry of "Fifty-four forty or fight," and it
was repeated throughout the country. Cooler and wiser counsels
prevailed, each party yielded a part of its claims, and made a middle
line the boundary.



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