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About 2 o'clock, we took up the march by heads of columns in the direction of the enemy, the eighteen-pounder battery following the road. While the other columns were advancing, Lieutenant Blake, Topographical Engineers, volunteered a reconnoissance of the enemy's line, which was handsomely performed, and resulted in the discovery of at least two batteries of artillery in the intervals of their cavalry and infantry. These batteries were soon opened upon us, when I ordered the columns halted and deployed into line, and the fire to be returned by all our artillery. The eighth infantry, on our extreme left, was thrown back to secure that flank. The first fires of the enemy did little execution, while our eighteen-pounders and Major Ringgold's artillery soon dispersed the cavalry which formed his left. Captain Duncan's battery, thrown forward in advance of the line, was doing good execution at this time. Captain May's squadron was now detached to support that battery and the left of our position. The Mexican cavalry, with two pieces of artillery, were now reported to be moving through the chapparel to our right, to threaten that flank, or make a demonstration against the train. The fifth infantry was immediately detached to check this movement, and, supported by Lieutenant Ridgely, with a section of Major Ringgold's battery, and Captain Walker's company of volunteers, effectually repulsed the enemy—the fifth in fantry repelling a charge of lancers, and the artillery doing great execution in their ranks. The third infantry was now detached to the right, as a still further security to that flank, yet threatened by the enemy. Major Ringgold, with the remaining section, kept up his fire from an advanced position, and was supported by the left infantry.
The grass of the prairie had been accidentally fired by our artillery, and the volumes of smoke now partially concealed the armies from each other. As the enemy's left had evidenily been driven back, and left the road free, and as the cannonade had been suspended, I ordered forward the eighteen pounders on the road nearly to the position first occupied by the Mexican cavalry, and caused the first brigade to take up a new position, still on the left of the eighteenpounder battery. The fifth was advanced from its former position, and occupied a point on the extreme right of the new line. The enemny made a change of position corresponding to our own, and after a suspension of nearly an hour, the action was resumed.
The fire of artillery was now most destructive; openings were constantly made through the enemy's ranks by our fire, and the constancy with which the Mexican infantry sustained this severe cannonade was a theme of universal remark and admiration. Captain May's squadron was detached to make a demonstration on the left of the enemy's position, and suffered severely from the fire of artillery, to which it was for some time exposed.
The fourth infantry, which had been ordered to support the eighteen-pounder battery, was exposed to a most galling fire of artillery, by which several men were killed, and Captain Page dangerously wounded. The enemy's fire was directed against our eighteen-pounder battery, and the guns under Major Ringgold in its vicinity. The major himself, while coolly directing the fire of his pieces, was struck by a cannon-ball and mortally wounded.
In the mean time, the battalion under Lieutenant-colonel Childs had been brought up to support the artillery on our right. A strong demonstration of cavalry was now made by the enemy against this part of our line, and the column continued to advance under a severe fire from the eighteen pounders. The battalion was instantly formed in square, and held ready to receive the charge of cavalry, but when the advancing squadrons were within close range, a deadly fire of canister from the eighteen pounders dispersed them. A brisk fire of small arms was now opened upon the square, by which one officer (Lieutenant Luther, second artillery) was slightly w
wounded; but a well-directed volley from the front of the square silenced all further firing from the enemy in this quarter. It was now nearly dark, and the action was closed on the right of our line, the enemy having been completely driven back from his position, and foiled in every attempt against it.
While the above was going forward on our right, and under our own eye, the enemy had made a serious attempt against the left of our line. Captain Duncan instantly perceived the movement, and, by the bold and brilliant manæuvering of his battery, completely repulsed several successive efforts of the enemy to advance in force upon our left flank. Supported in succession by the eighth infantry, and by Captain Ker's squadron of dragoons, he gallantly held the enemy at bay, and finally drove him, with immense loss, from the field. The action here and along the whole line continued until dark, when the enemy retired into the chapparel, in rear of his position.
Our loss this day, was nine killed, forty-four wounded, and two missing. Among the wounded were Major Ringgold, who has since died, and Captain Page dangerously wounded, Lieutenant Luther slightly so. I annex a tabular statement of the casualties of the day.
Our own force engaged is shown by the field-report, herewith transmitted, to have been one hundred and seventy-seven officers, and two thousand one hun. dred and eleven men; aggregate, two thousand two hundred and eighty-eight. The Mexican force, according to the statements of their own officers, taken prisoners in the affair of the 9th, was not less than six thousand regular troops, with ten pieces of artillery, and probably exceeded that number-ihe irregular force not known. Their loss was not less than two hundred killed, and four hundred wounded-probably greater. This estimate is very moderate, and formed upon the number actually counted on the field, and upon the reports of their own officers.
As already reported in my first brief dispatch, the conduct of our officers and men was everything that could be desired. Exposed for hours to the severest trial-a cannonade of artillery-our troops displayed a coolness and constancy which gave me throughout the assurance of victory.
I purposely defer the mention of individuals, until my report of the action of the 9th, when I will endeavor to do justice to the many instances of distinguished conduct on both days. In the mean time, I refer for more minute details to the reports of individual commanders. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
Brevet Brig. Gen. U. S. A. Commanding. The ADJUTANT General of the Army, Washington.
HEAD QUARTERS, ARMY OF OCCUPATION, Camp at Resaca de la Palma,
3 miles from Matamoras, 10 o'clock, P. M., May 9, 1846. Sir:-I have the honor to report that I marched with the main body of the army at two o'clock to-day, having previously thrown forward a body of light infantry into the forest which covers the Matamoras road. When near the spot where I am now encamped, my advance discovered that a ravine crossing the road had been occupied by the enemy with artillery: l immediately ordered a battery of field artillery to sweep the position, flanking and sustaining it by the 3d, 4th, and 5th regiments, deployed as skirmishes to the right and left
. A heavy fire of artillery and of musketry was kept up for some time, until finally the enemy's batteries were carried in succession by a squadron of dragoons and the regiments of infantry that were on the ground. He was soon driven from his position, and pursued by a squadron of dragoons, battalion of artillery, 3d infantry, and a light battery, to the river. Our victory has been complete. Eight pieces of artillery, with a great quantity of ammunition, three standards, and some one hundred prisoners have been taken; among the latter, General La Vega, and several other officers. One general is understood to have been killed.
The enemy has recrossed the river, and I am sure will not again molest us on this bank.
The loss of the enemy. in killed has been most severe. Our own has been very heavy, and I deeply regret to report that Lieutenant Inge, 2d dragoons, Lieutenant Cochrane, 4th infantry, and Lieutenant Chadbourne, 8th infantry, were killed on the field. Lieutenant-Colonel Payne, 4th artillery, LieutenantColonel McIntosh, Lieutenant Dobbins, 3d infantry; Captain Hooe and Lieutenant Fowler, 5th infantry, and Captain Montgomery, Lieutenants Gates, Selden, McClay, Burbank and Jordan, 8th infantry, were wounded. The extent of our loss in killed and wounded is not yet ascertained, and is reserved for a more detailed report.
The affair of to-day may be regarded as a proper supplement to the cannonade of yesterday; and the two taken together, exhibit the coolness and gallantry of our officers and men in the most favorable light. All have done their duty, and done it nobly. It will be my pride, in a more circumstantial report of both actions, to dwell upon particular instances of individual distinction.
It affords me peculiar pleasure to report that the field work opposite Matamoras has sustained itself handsomely during a cannonade and bombardment of one hundred and sixty hours. But the pleasure is alloyed with profound regret at the loss of its heroic and indomitable com
ommander, Major Brown, who died to-day from the effect of a shell. His loss would be a severe one to the service at any time, but to the army under my orders, it is indeed irreparable. One officer and one non-commissioned officer killed, and ten men wounded, comprise all the casualties incident to this severe bombardment.
I inadvertently omilled to mention the capture of a large number of packmules left in the Mexican camp. I am, sir, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
Brevet Brigadier-General U. S. A. commanding. The ADJUTANT-GENERAL of the Army, Washington, D. C.
The Mexican General Arista's account of the Battle of Palo Alto. GENERAL-IN-CHIEF,
Most Excellent SIR :-Constant in my purpose of preventing General Taylor from uniting the forces which he brought from the Fronton of Sante Isabel, with those which he left fortified opposite Matamoras, I moved this day from the Fanques del Raminero, whence I dispatched my last extraordinary courier, and took the direction of Palo Alto, as soon as my spies informed me that the enemy had left Fronton, with the determination of introducing into his sort wagons loaded with provisions and heavy artillery:
I arrived opposite Palo Alto about one o'clock, and observed that the enemy was entering that position.
With all my forces, I established the line of battle in a great plain, my right resting upon an elevation, and my left ou a slough of difficult passage.
Scarcely was the first cannon fired, when there arrived General Pedro de Ampudia, second in command, whom I had ordered to join me after having covered the points which might serve to besiege the enemy in the forts opposite Matamoras.
The forces under my orders amounted to 3000 men, and twelve pieces of artillery ; those of the invaders were 3000, rather less than more, and were superior in artillery, since they had twenty pieces of the calibre of sixteen and eighteen pounds.
The battle commenced so ardently, that the fire of cannon did not cease a single moment. In the course of it, the enemy wished to follow the road towards Matamoras, to raise the siege of his troops; with which object he fired the grass, and formed in front of his line of battle a smoke so thick, that he succeeded in covering himself from our view, but by means of manœuvres this was twice embarrassed.
General Taylor maintained his attack rather defensively than offensively, employing his best arm, which is artillery, protected by half of the infantry, and all of his cavalry,-keeping the remainder fortified in the ravine, about two thousand yards from the field of battle.
I was anxious for the charge, because the fire of cannon did much damage in our ranks, and I instructed General D. Anastasio Torrejon to execute it with the greater part of the cavalry, by our left flank, while one should be executed at the same time by our right flank, with some columns of infantry, and the remainder of that arm (cavalry].
I was waiting the moment when that general should execute the charge, and the effect of it should begin to be seen, in order to give the impulse on the right; but he was checked by fire of the enemy, which defended a slough that embarrassed the attack.
Some battalions, becoming impatient by the loss which they suffered, fell into disorder, demanding to advance or fall back. I immediately caused them to charge with a column of cavalry, under the command of Colonel D. Cayetano Montero; the result of this operation being that the dispersed corps repaired their fault as far as possible, marching towards the enemy who, in consequence of his distance, was enabled to fall back upon his reserve, and night coming on, the battle was concluded the field remaining for our arms.
Every suitable measure was then adopted, and the division took up a more concentrated curve in the same scene of action.
The combat was long and bloody, which may be estimated from the calculations made by the commandant-general of artillery, General D. Thomas Requena, who assures me that the enemy threw about three thousand cannon-shots from two in the afternoon, when the battle commenced, until seven at night, when it terminated,-six hundred and fifty being fired on our side.
The national arms shone forth, since they did not yield a hand's-breath of ground, notwithstanding the superiority in artillery of the enemy, who suffered much damage.
Our troops have to lament the loss of two hundred and fifty-two men, dispersed, wounded and killed—the last worthy of national recollection and grati. tude for the intrepidity with which they died fighting for the most sacred of
Will your excellency please with this note to report to his excellency the Presi. dent, representing to him that I will take care to give a circumstantial account of this deed of arms; and recommending to him the good conduct of all the generals, chiefs, officers and soldiers, under my orders, for sustaining so bloody a combat, which does honor to our arms, and exhibits their discipline.
Accept the assurances of my consideration and great regard.
MARIANO ARISTA. Most ExceLLENT Sır, Minister of War and Marine.
The confidence of the Mexicans previous to the battle of Palo Alto is exhibited in the following extract, from the Bulletin of the Northern Division :
“So rapid is the fire of our guns, that the batteries of the enemy have been silenced. But what is most worthy of notice, as showing the great enthusiasm of this place, is the fact that many of the inhabitants of both sexes, in the hottest of the cannonade, remained firm in front of the enemy, filled with enthusiasm; indeed, fear is always unknown to those whose mission it is to avenge an outrage upon the sacred right of their beloved country.
“ From our account of the war, the world will judge of the great superiority of our troops, in courage as well as skill, over the Americans. It is indeed wonderful to witness the dismay of the enemy; rare is the occurrence when an American ventures outside of the breastworks. There can be no doubt of this, that the Mexicans will be considered by foreign nations as the very emblems of patriotism. How evident that they inherit the blood of the noble sons of Pelayo! Happy they who have met with so glorious a death, in defending the territory bequeathed to them by their fathers !
“The nation with which we are at war is most savage in its proceedings; no regard being paid to the flags of friendly nations; even those usages and customs respected by civilized nations, to divest war of some of its horrors, have been shamefully disregarded. The enemy have fired red shot against this innocent city, and we publish it to the world in proof that, with all their boasted wisdom and liberty, they are unworthy of being counted among enlightened nations.
" His excellency, the general-in-chief of the northern division, and his intrepid soldiers, are ready to fight the enemy in any numbers, and we are certain that our arms will be successful; but the nation against whom we have to contend is excessively proud; and it is also possessed of resources which may perhaps surpass those within our reach. Let us then make an immense effort to repel their aggressions. Let us contribute everything most dear to us our persons, our means—to save our country from its present danger. Let us oppose to the unbridled ambition of the Anglo-American that patriotic enthusiasm so peculiar to us. Indeed, we need only follow the glorious example of Matamoras, that noble city, which will be known in future by the name of Heroic. Its inhabitants have emulated the examples of Menamia and Saguntum; they have determined to die at the foot of the eagle of Anahuac, defend their fort whilst they retain the breath of life-this plan is settled. The supreme government is making strenuous exertions in order to protect the territory placed under its care by the nation, and nothing is now wanting but for the people to rush in a mass to the frontier, and the independence of Mexico is safe.”
General Arista's Summons to the Commandant of Fort Brown. Mexican ARMY, DIVISION OF THE North, General-in-chief.
You are besieged by forces sufficient to take you, and there is, moreover, a numerous division encamped near you which, free from other cares, will keep off any succors which you may expect to receive.
The respect for humanity acknowledged at the present age by all civilized nations, doubtless imposes upon me the duty of mitigating the disasters of war.
This principle, which Mexicans observe above all other nations, obliges me to summon you, as all your efforts will be useless, 10 surrender, in order to avoid, by a capitulation, the entire destruction of all the soldiers under your command.
You will thus afford me the pleasure of complying with the mild and benevolent wishes above expressed, which distinguish the character of my countrymen, whilst I at the same time fulfil the most imperious of the duties which my country requires for the offences committed against it. God and Liberty! Headquarters at the Fauques del Raminero, May 6th, 1846.