網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

incurred in the attempt to divorce that unscathed, but perhaps revels in the eclat union which God himself hath made; the

of being a

"capital shot.” Such is the union of soul and body.

restitution which this last relic of barbaThe choice of position, and the giving rism and chivalry yields to wanton insult of the word, were determined by the toss and personal outrage. And thus right of a dollar: on such chances man chooses and justice become shuttlecocks, to be to fix the destiny of human life! The bandied about by the criminality of soparties were stationed at a distance of ten ciety, and thus is human life sported with paces from each other, back to back; the by the hypocrisy, the weakness, and the fire of both to be delivered between the charlatanry of enlightened civilization, not words "Fire!-one-two-three." As the subject to the teachings and restraints of principals take their positions, a cloud Christianity. suddenly appears in the cast, and the Duties of all sorts were multiplied as rising sun is veiled before such a scene. the time of departure drew near, and inBut there is one solitary star yet blazing creased activity prevailed throughout all above the horizon, and perhaps many of the departments. General Wool's long those who saw it at that moment were experience as inspector-general of the reminded of the lines here so sadly, but army, seems to have given him a knowtruthfully, illustrated :

ledge of the details of service, scarcely to

be acquired in any other capacity; and "Between two worlds life hovers like a star, "Twixt night and morn upon the horizon’s verge."

this knowledge was in daily requisition in

the organization and preparation of his The word was distinctly and deliberately troops for the campaign. With a view given : the challenger fired immediately, to a proper determination of the extent of and without effect; his antagonist appear his resources, he appears to have estabed startled for an instant by the shot, re lished a complete surveillance over every covered himself in time, and discharged his corps and department of his command, pistol as the word “three" fell from the

requiring the most minute details to be lips of the second. A moment later, and given him of the daily condition and proit is said the fire would have placed him gress of affairs in the various supply beyond even the pall and panoply of the branches of the service, and which, from "code of honor." His opponent stood the grumbling that was not always whiserect for an instant, his face assumed a pered, many staff gentlemen did not seem pallid hue, and an expression of extreme to digest with peculiar delectation. agony; he took one step forward, and The genius of a commander may be sunk to the ground. His friends rushed displayed not only in his capacity to grasp to him, and bore him away. It was found at once the complicated materials, and that the ball had entered the right side comprehend the varied machinery of an just above the hip, and passed out in army, but in the facility with which he front: the wound was not mortal.

traces out the details, and discovers the I have no disposition to indulge in any lesser wants, which are lost sight of by reflections, common-place as they must the incompetent officer. But it is not to be, over the scene of which I have given be presumed that the most insignificant but a brief and imperfect description. The matters of execution require his personal facts in themselves suggest more thought attention, or that such attention is given than can be written. Like ninety-nine them, if the proper industry and capacity cases out of the hundred, of resorts to this exist in other quarters. General ideas Draconian code, the verdict is against the and directions in relation to these matters, injured or challenging party. In this in ought, it is supposed, properly to come stance, we have seen an individual sub from head quarters; but the chief of an jected to a most cruel and mortifying army should not be harassed with the assault, and in the effort to obtain "satis issue of a ration of beans, or of a cartridge, faction by the laws of honor ”—for the the purchase of a few bushels of corn, or laws of the land afford no compensation the expenditure of a few feet of plank: for wounded pride and insulted feelings, these matters might be intrusted to qualiif society would not laugh to scorn the fied officers of the proper departments. innocent victim who might seek such re The necessity that has apparently comdress — be is severely, if not mortally pelled General Wool to take these affairs wounded, by the same hand. He is thus to a certain extent, into his own hands, is compelled by the tribunal to which he has to be regretted, as there are those who are resorted, to wash out the injury which he not indisposed to complain, under a small has received with his own blood, while pretext, of improper interference with the transgressor not only leaves the field their own duties. Some who appear to

think that a general has nothing to do, but to lead his troops against the enemy, may be surprised at the unexpected qualities which are found necessary to constitute the chief of an army:

It is true that his mere attention to the minutivehowever necessary-may not have convinced the grumblers of his fitness for a commander, any more than the fact that he happened to have “men about him that are fat,"* like Julius Cæsar, demonstrated that he must therefore be as bald as that illustrious hero, or that he must be slaughtered in the Senate chamber.

The great blunder — originating at Washington and growing out of an insane desire to concentrate troops in advance as rapidly as possible—in ordering us to San Antonio, before a proper accumulation of supplies, was with much difficulty finally overcome, even by the energy of General Wool. The governmental folly of marching more than two regiments from Labaca, a month before their services were required, was not only ruinously expensive, but materially retarded the operations of the campaign. The consequence was, that for a time rations were consumed as fast as they arrived; whereas if we had remained at Camp Irwin, where we might have been equally well instructed, the wagons employed in hauling provisions for our daily consumption, could have been engaged in adding that quantity -probably not less than forty thousand rations—to the supplies destined to accompany the army.

Preparatory to a speedy advance, a general review of all the troops was ordered to come off on Sunday, the 20th of September. The commanding general, in costume and bearing worthy of his position, with a portion of his staff

, appeared in full uniform; the remaining portion might have been taken for harlcquins, such was the ridiculous variety of their uniformity. One thing or the other ought to prevail. If the full dress is not to be taken into the field and worn by all, it ought to be abolished. It is the popular opinion that an army is intended for war rather than for peace, and a style of dress adapted only to the latter vocation, ought to be banished from the service. Whether caps or chapeaus, dress coats or frocks, pompons or plumes, are worn, all should faré alike in the finery. It is certainly more in accordance with the dictates of good taste, if not with military propriety, to make a display of uniform

simplicity, rather than of mongrel magnificence.

With the thermometer stretching to ninety-six degrees of Fahrenheit, and evcry sunbeam plunging torrents of caloric upon the earth, the motley cavalcade left town about 2 o'clock, P. M. Half way to the camp, an ugly cloud made its appearance, and before the party came in sight of the tents, every member of it was thoroughly drenched. Polished steel sabres were for the time lustreless, and epaulettes wept in sorrow over the destruction of their brightness; plumes, which a few moments before rose with conscious gracefulness above the arched necks of gallant steeds, now drooped mournfully towards the earth, and white pantaloons were starchless, which, when donned, had the form and pressure of a Corinthian column. The sun, however, soon dispelled these watery appliances—though without restoring the starch-and before the grand exhibition commenced, the moisture had almost entirely evaporated from the reeking limbs of horse and rider, and the party entered upon the field almost as brilliant -if not quite as beautiful—as a rainbow from the shower.

The display, considering the character of the troops—the volunteers constituting much the larger portion, and from necessity but imperfectly drilled—was respectable and imposing. Having passed from the right down the front of the line, and back by the rear, the general took his position opposite the centre. The line then wheeled into column, preparatory to passing in review. The battery of artillery was in advance; their bronze pieces and glittering sabres flashing back the rays of the sun as proudly as they were received; while the martial bearing of the men, and their precise and accurate evolutions, vindicated their right to the post of honor. Then came the two squadrons, one from each regiment of dragoons. Armed with pistol, carbine, and sabre, whose bright blades and barrels gleamed in the sunbeams, each man seemed a host and looked the hero. After these followed the infantry with measured tread and stately bearing: each company moving as if by machinery, controlled by an invisible power. To those familiar with army operations, this may have seemed a small affair, but the effect during the march of the column far surpassed in beauty the military displays to which we are accustomed at home. In the background rose

* The reader may perhaps bo reminded of tho inspector-general, the chief quartor-master, the aide-decamp, &C., &c.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66

a range of hills, carpeted with verdure, which had monopolized certain brains for and relieved by groups of trees, pictu- weeks, and then an adjournment. Pens resquely planted by the hand of nature. were probably often dipped into ink and Prairies stretched away to the right, far applied to paper, and the higher orders as the eye could reach, swelling into hil of arithmetical addition and subtraction inlocks or sinking into valleys, in a series voked;

suggested the weight of of lively and romantic undulations. In a ration, and

that of a cartridge, front the silver waters of the San Anto for discussion; the motive power of a mule nio flowed in quiet beauty, through banks afforded an appropriate topic for the owlgorgeously decked with the varied foliage like eloquence of

whose disof autumn. Upon a plain thus bounded, course may be supposed to have abounded the column moved to the stately notes of in many grave suggestions touching the martial music, with waving plumes and number of wagons on hand, and how many floating banners; rattling sabres and glit- might probably be wanted;

- pertering bayonets; the “war horse whose haps inquired how many common tents a neck is clothed with thunder," champing common wagon will carry, while at his bit, and the "ear-piercing fife and was curious to know how many shirts an spirit-stirring drum," all contributed to officer should take into the field, and probit the perfection of the spectacle, and made ably quoted the example of Frederick the one that will not soon be forgotten by the Great : these themes having afforded lookers on-nor by those probably who matter for serious thought and speculawere so thoroughly soaked in the prelimi- tion, the assembled military wisdom naries.

doubtless dispersed to their respective But there is ever but one step between quarters to dream of

“ fifth-chains," the sublime and the ridiculous, and our 6 mule-wagons,” hard-bread," gunreview was but another illustration of the

powder," and glory. fact. There is no way of controlling the The weather did not smile upon our curiosity of a recruit; it runs through all incipient effort at the conquest of Mexico. the feminine degrees, from fifteen to fifty, For weeks we had had no rain, and the and such turning, and twisting, and dodg- troops that marched the 26th, were anticiing, and squinting, to see all that was pating fine roads and a pleasant promenade going on, while the general was riding to the Rio Grande. Their hopes suddenly up and down the line, could only be rival submerged, as on the night of the 24th led by a battalion of the happy inmates of we were visited with a miniature deluge, another Capsicum Hall. One cocks up and the streets for two days were mudthe visor of his cap here, and another no one knows positively how deep-but throws back the broad brim of a chip hat to the depth of every man's specific gravity. there; a third performs a semi-revolution Wagon masters, teamsters, and muleto the great peril of his perpendicularity in drivers, and every other camp retainer one place, while perhaps a fourth whirls busy for the march, wore visages as long entirely around upon his axis, causing the and wo-begone, as Don Quixote's in his whole company, like the plane of the

greatest tribulations.

San Antonio was ecliptic, to make a very variable angle perhaps never before the scene of so with the regimental equator.

much life and activity, but in the midst The order for the advance to march on of the bustle, all was dejection and the 26th, was issued on the 22d: the body disgust. The speedy prospect of

ento consist of the artillery, 2d dragoons larging the area of freedom,” an object (one squadron), three companies of the so dear to many of our patriotic hearts, Oth infantry, one Kentucky company, two was incapable of relaxing any man's companies from each of the Illinois regi- grim visage into a smile. The effect of ments, and six companies of the Arkansas the weather was too deep, and so was the cavalry.

mud. A sort of cabinet council-a conclave The troops left in the morning, as preof the “ten"_was ordered to convene scribed in the order of the 22d. The the same evening at head quarters. The roads were bad, but the temperature was commanding general appeared determined much improved by the rain. The differto shake the staff napkin, to discover if ent detachments were directed to meet at possible what gem was hidden in it. If the Medio. When united they came under all were present, it would not be difficult the command of Colonel Harney, whose to fancy the character of the proceedings. patriotic exertions a few weeks before, in We may imagine that the same stale sug attempting on his own hook,” the congestions, the same sage questions, the quest of Coahuila, were not crowned with same solemn responses, were repeated complete success. He is a dashing officer,

[ocr errors]

however, but, acting from impulse, he may leg; participated in the gyrations of a sometimes err in his views of duty.* fandango, with those who a few weeks

The order of march was promulgated later became the victims of his barbarity. in a “memoranda," from the adjutant These heights are also famed as the scene general's oflice, in which the “ pioneers” of a conflict which occurred in 1814, bewere placed nearly in the rear. From the tween the troops of two rival Mexican position to which they were thus assigned, factions. it may be presumed that they had in some After leaving this place, the country way forfeited their proper functions, as a becomes higher and broken, but except "pioneer » is defined to be “ one who

where relieved at distant intervals by the marches in advance of an army, to hew vegetation which skirts an occasional down woods, clear roads, &c.” If these stream, is one vast prairie, treeless, herbless, were mere nominal pioneers, it was of lifeless, -diversified, it is true, by hill and little consequence perhaps, whether they dale, but suggesting no ideas save those were in front or rear; but if they were of sterility and desolation. Several fires intended to be of practical utility, the were blazing amid the grass, and the propriety of their position must be found flames were whirled aloft in spiral columns, in the apparent slip of the pen, to which as the wind caught the fire, creeping snakethey must be indebted for it.

like over the ground; but there was noApropos of pioneers: and thing of the frightful rapidity which Mr. had a favorite way of pronouncing this Cooper so graphically describes; nothing word, as if the o preceded the i; and to produce frantic terror, even in a though no order was issued regulating child, nor an approach to the sublimity the orthography, we of the “optics” ex of horror which he has so vividly and pected one making the word “poineers," fearfully portrayed. Night perhaps would by “particular request as the play bills have added to the magnificence of the have it.

scene, but unfortunately we could not At 8 o'clock on the morning of the 29th, pause—our motto being, business before the escort of the commanding general beauty. was drawn up in line in the lower plaza. The picturesque valley of Culebra, The town was of course agog. Streets, through which flows a small stream that doors, and windows, were lined with falls into the Medina, lies a mile or two wagons, carts and cattle, loafing Texans, from the Wool † road, and about fifteen and sombreroed Mexicans, señoras and miles northwest from San Antonio. It señoritas, muchachas naked and half was formerly occupied as an extensive naked, all staring as if an event as won stock rancho, attached to the Mission of derful as the inauguration of a President San Jose. This rancho was near the

occurring. The result probably centre of eleven leagues of land granted disappointed many, as the affair passed by the Spanish government to the Indians off quietly and without display. The of this region, subject to the control and cavalcade moved from town a few minutes ministrations of the pious fathers, who before nine, with clanging arms but with celebrated their orgies and their orisons out music or banners.

within the consecrated walls of that grand Three miles from San Antonio, we and gloomy structure. Immense berds crossed the bed of the arroyo Alazan, now of sheep, goats and cattle, at that time reduced to a dry mass of gravel. Near covered the plains, over which barrenness the rising and open grounds in the vicinity, flourishes now in uncontested dominion. which derive their name from the some We forded the Medina about four o'clock time stream, Santa Anna encamped with in the afternoon. It is a beautiful little his army, in 1836, prior to his descent stream, rolling over a bed of solid limeupon the town, and the siege of the Alamo. stone at the crossing place, clear as crystal, It is affirmed, by the way, of this most and flowing with a very rapid current. remarkable shuttlecock of fortune, that a Our route lay through the village now night or two before the arrival of his growing up here, to the spot chosen for forces at the heights of Alazan, he entered our encampment, about a mile beyond. San Antonio in disguise, was present at, This village (Castroville) was founded and, not being then troubled with a wooden in 1844, by Mr. Henry Castro, of Paris.

was

* In the daring charge at Cerro Gordo—perhaps the most brilliant single achievement of the war-compared with which the celebrated canter at Resaca sinks into comparative insignificance, Ool. Harnoy has established his claims to the first rank as a cavalry officer, and there his

-“Sabre's whirling sway,

Shed fast atonemont for its first delay." + so called becauso cut by Gon. Wool on his march into Texas in 1842.

The location, considered in reference to The call of the ladies was returned in the romance of reality, is very beautiful. the evening by General Wool and his It lies in a lovely valley, the pellucid aide-de-camp, the latter, it is said, an acwaters of the Medina tumbling over the complished French scholar, whose fluency, rocks on one side, and gracefully undulat for a while, may have beguiled the damsels ing plains and hills stretching in every into the sweet delusion that they were direction on the other. The settlement is once more in the land of their nativity. in extreme infancy, and one cannot well Thus auspiciously closed the first day of judge how the experiment will terminate, our advance, distance marched twentybut at present, the evidences of prosperity seven miles. are not very satisfactory. The buildings The stars were yet twinkling when our are all small, of gossamer materials and camp was first in motion the next mornrudely put together, the timber of the ing The air was raw and chilly, and country being hardly large enough for the long rank grass drooping with the rails. The products of the last year bave heavy deposits of dew. The river here consisted mostly of a few hundred bushels is about three feet deep, foaming like a of corn, and it is not probable that the torrent, and the music of its waters rollquantity will soon be materially increased. ing over the white pebbles of its bottom, Notwithstanding the apparently liberal gives to the wild and romantic scene a offers of the proprietor-three hundred singular fascination. Many of us made and twenty acres to every married man our toilet on the bank, the river forming who will domiciliate himself—the popula a natural mirror, and the foliage above tion increases but slowly, the inducements and around, a more magnificent boudoir for agriculturists to settle here being so than art has ever conceived. The deep few. The soil is only of moderate fer repose and quiet grandeur with which tility, and the means of getting produce nature was here imbued gave new force and to market, worse than wretched.

beauty to Bryant's exquisite thoughtThe camp was honored about sunset

“Tho groves were God's first temples.” by a visit from the daughter and granddaughter of Mr. Castro, to pay their re On such a morning as this, and with the spects to the commanding general. They scene before me as memory now recalls were apparelled in neat riding costume, and it, seated upon the bended trunk of an mounted on small Mexican ponies, and overhanging ash, there is a sense of awe, accompanied by several attendants.

The of reverence, and of devotion excited, surdaughter had all the complimentary exu passing any which has its origin in the berance of the French character, and with loftiest and proudest structures of man. less experienced veterans, there might The place seems formed for prayer and have been fears for their blushes. There meditation, and I could not resist offering was no difficulty, however, in this instance an humble invocation to the Supreme in appreciating the fine things that were Ruler of the universe, for strength and said, as General Wool having himself guidance for the future, and presenting flourished in the salons of Paris, was the offerings and acknowledgments of a quite able to repay them in kind.

grateful heart for the blessings of the past. The incident just related,

sug

All would fain have lingered longer gests, presents a strong invitation to in round the lovely spot, but breakfast had dulge in a little classical pedantry, by to be disposed of, when the tents were way of introducing some very pretty and struck and the wagons loaded, and we profound reflections upon the striking re were off at seven o'clock. Soon after semblance of this visit to that of Agrippina leaving camp we ascended the highest to the Roman legions. But as we are in point yet seen in Texas, the view from Texas now and not on the Tiber, our which presented a grand panorama of troops Steen's cavalry and not Cæsar's hills clothed with verdure, and valleys cohorts, the occasion must pass unim garnished with rich foliage of varied hues, proved. Neither is it conceived necessary almost equal to a prospect from the tops to indulge in a chapter of lamentations of the Alleghanies. In descending this over the troubles, and inconveniences, and eminence, however, the poetry was experplexities, and privations incident to a tinguished by the breaking down of a transition from the halls of Paris to the

wagon. huts of prairiedom: this was doubtless a After a three hours' march, we rested matter of choice and speculation, and those a short time at the Quihi, a small stream who seek notoriety or profits from such about nine miles from thé Medina. It is migrations, must find their recompense in said to abound in fish, though our stop the particular gratification.

was not long enough to prove the fact.

« 上一頁繼續 »