Imagens das páginas

[No. 30.]


Camp near Matamoras, Texas, April 26, 1846. SIR: I have respectfully to report that General Arista arrived in Matamoras on the 24th instant, and assumed the chief command of the Mexican troops. On the same day he addressed me a communication conceived in courteous terms, but saying that he considered hostilities commenced and should prosecute them. A translation. of his note and a copy of my reply will be transmitted the moment they can be prepared. I despatch this by an express which is now waiting.

I regret to report that a party of dragoons, sent out by me on the 24th instant to watch the course of the river above on this bank, became engaged with a very large force of the enemy, and after a short affair, in which some sixteen were killed and wounded, appear to have been surrounded and compelled to surrender. Not one of the party has returned, except a wounded man sent in this morning by the Mexican commander, so that I cannot report with confidence the particulars of the engagement or the fate of the officers, except that Captain Hardee was known to be a prisoner and unhurt. Captain Thornton, and Lieutenants Mason and Kane, were the other officers. The party was 63 strong.

Hostilities may now be considered as commenced, and I have this day deemed it necessary to call upon the governor of Texas for four regiments of volunteers-two to be mounted and two to serve As some delay must occur in collecting these troops, I have also desired the governor of Louisiana to send out four regi1ents of infantry as soon as practicable. This will constitute an auxiliary force of nearly 5,000 men, which will be required to prosecute the war with energy, and carry it, as it should be, into the enemy's country. I trust the department will approve my course in this matter, and will give the necessary orders to the staff departments for the supply of this large additional force.

If a law could be passed authorizing the President to raise volunteers for twelve months, it would be of the greatest importance for a service so remote from support as this.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brev. Brig. Gen. U. S. Army commanding.


Washington, D. C.

[No. 32.]


Point Isabel, May, 3, 1846.

SIR: Since the date of my despatch No. 30, advising you of the state of things in this quarter, the enemy has made demonstrations on this side of the river, leading to the belief that he intended an enterprise against our depot at this place. Owing to the peculiar nature of the country, and our deficiency in the proper description

of light troops, I have been kept ignorant, to a great degree, of his movements. It was known, however, that he had crossed above in considerable force, as the unfortunate result of the reconnoissance conducted by Captain Thornton clearly showed Owing to the unfinished state of the field work at our position, I could not prudently attempt any enterprise against this force for several days. In the meantime I received information, on which I could rely with tolerable certainty, that the enemy was preparing to cross below my position, with the view of effecting a junction with the force from above. I could not believe that even with 4,000 men he would make an attempt upon my camp opposite Matamoras, and I was therefore compelled to suppose that the depot at this point was the object of his movement. I was strengthened in this belief by the knowledge that provisions had become exceedingly scarce in Matamoras since the blockade of the river. I therefore hastened the operations on the field work, and was able, by great exertions on the part of the troops, to bring it into a good state of defence by the 1st of May. The 7th infantry, under Major Brown, with Captain Lowd's and Lieutenant Bragg's companies of artillery, and the sick of the army, were left in the work, and the main force marched under my immediate command at 31 p. m. on that day. At 11 o'clock the army bivouacked in the prairie about ten miles from this depot, which it reached the next day without discovering any signs whatever of the enemy. Some scouts, from a company of rangers sent forward last night, report a large force encamped in the road, and even surprised one of its pickets, shooting several men.

I propose remaining here, if not necessarily called back to the river, until the arrival of some ordnance supplies, and perhaps recruits from New Orleans.

I respectfully enclose the reports of Captain Thornton and Captain Hardee of the recent affair, in which, with nearly fifty dragoons, they were made prisoners of war. Captain Hardee's, which alone gives particulars, was of course made under the supposition of Captain Thornton's death. A copy of my instructions to Captain Thornton, which will be furnished as soon as I can again have access to my papers, will show that nothing was wanting on my part in the way of caution to that officer. I abstain from further comment, as a judicial investigation will no doubt be finally had in the case. There seems no doubt that Lieutenant Mason was killed.

I regret to be under the necessity of reporting that the camp of Captain Walker's company of rangers, between this point and Matamoras, was surprised on the morning of the 28th instant, by a party of ranchero cavalry. Five rangers are known to have been killed, and five others are missing. The enemy sustained some slight loss, but of what extent is not known. The officer of the company and about half its strength were absent on detached service at the time the surprise occurred. Had the men who were left obeyed the injunctions of the captain, a tried frontier soldier, they would never have met such a disaster. Our men and officers

have spirit enough, but lack prudence, which a little active service will soon teach them.

I enclose a sketch, showing the position of the fort and the lines occupied by the corps of the army from the 13th April to the 1st May.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brev. Brig Gen U. S Army commanding.


Washington, D. C.

MATAMORAS, MEXICO, April 27, 1846.

SIR: I have the honor to report my arrival at this place to-day, and to state that agreeably with your orders I proceeded to within three miles of La Rosia, when I was informed that the enemy had crossed in large numbers. Upon receiving this information, our guide refused to go any farther. I was therefore compelled to move on without him, in order to carry out your instructions to me. The advanced guard was increased, and Lieutenant Mason placed in command of it, with orders to keep about one-quarter of a mile. ahead. When he had gone about two miles, I discovered some Mexicans near a house in a large field. I halted the advanced guard, and went into the field myself to see them. I had not gone more than a hundred yards when they fled; I turned round and motioned to the advanced guard to come on. In the mean time the main body . of the squadron had come up to the advance guard, and, mistaking my order, followed in after them; and while I was questioning a Mexican the enemy appeared. I immediately ordered a charge, in order to cut my way through them; but finding their numbers too large to contend with any longer, I ordered a retreat; and although entirely surrounded, we endeavored to cut our way through to camp. In the retreat my horse fell upon me, and I was unable to rise..I am now fully convinced that we were watched from the time we left camp, and that preparations were so made as to prevent our ever returning. It affords me great pleasure to say that the officers and men under my command, both individually and collectively, behaved in the most gallant manner.

As a prisoner of war, I am happy to inform you that attentions and kindness have been lavishe upon me; as a proof of which, I will state that upon my reporting to General Arista that a dragoon had treated me rudely, he ordered him immediate punishment. I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant, T. B. THORNTON, Captain 2d dragoons.

Captain W. W. S. BLISS,

Assistant Adjutant General.

MATAMORAS, MEXICO, April 26, 1846.

SIR: It becomes my painful duty to inform you of the circumstances which led to our being brought to this place as prisoners of war. Captain Thornton's command, consisting of fifty-two dragoons, left camp, as you know, at night on the 24th instant; it marched 15 miles and halted until daylight, when the march was again resumed. Captain Thornton's orders, as I understood them, were to ascertain if the enemy had crossed the river above our camp, and to reconnoitre his position and force. All his inquiries on the way tended to the conviction that the enemy had crossed in strength. About 28 miles from our camp our guide became so satisfied of this fact that he refused to go any further, and no entreaties on the part of Captain Thornton could shake his resolution. About three miles from this latter place we came to a large plantation bordering the river, and enclosed with a high chapparal fence, with some houses at its upper extremity. To these houses Captain Thornton endeavored, by entering the lower extremity, to approach; but failing to do so, he was compelled, to pass round the fence, and entered the field by a pair of bars, the house being situated about 200 yards from the entrance. Into this plantation the whole command entered in single file, without any guard being placed in front, without any sentinel at the bars, or any other precaution being taken to prevent surprise. Captain Thornton was prepossessed with the idea that the Mexicans had not crossed; and if they had, that they would not fight. I had been placed in rear, and was therefore the last to en


When I came up to the house I found the men scattered in every direction, hunting for some one with whom to communicate, At last an old man was found; and while Captain Thornton was talking with him, the cry of alarm was given, and the enemy were seen in numbers at the bars. Our gallant commander immediately gave the command to charge, and himself led the advance; but it was too late; the enemy had secured the entrance, and it was impossible to force it. The officers and men did every thing that fearless intrepidity could accomplish; but the infantry had stationed themselves in the field on the right of the passage way, and the cavalry lined the exterior fence, and our retreat was hopelessly cut off. Seeing this, Captain Thornton turned to the right and skirted the interior of the fence, the command following him. During this time the enemy were shooting at us in every direction; and when the retreat commenced, our men were in a perfect state of disorder. I rode up to Captain Thornton and told him that our only hope of safety was in tearing down the fence: he gave the order, but could not stop his horse, nor would the men stop. It was useless, for by this time the enemy had gained our rear in great numbers. Foreseeing that the direction which Captain Thornton was pursuing would lead to the certain destruction of himself and men, without the possibility of resistance, I turned to the right and told the men to follow me. I made for the river, intending either to swim it or to place myself in a position for defence. I found the bank too boggy to accomplish the former, and I therefore

rallied the men, forming them in order of battle in the open field, and without the range of the infantry behind the fence. I counted twenty-five men and examined their arms, but almost every one had lost a sabre, a pistol, or carbine: nevertheless, the men were firm and disposed, if necessary, to fight to the last extremity. In five minutes from the time the first shot was fired, the field was surrounded by a numerous body of men. However, I determined to sell our lives as dearly as possible if I could not secure good treatment, and accordingly I went forward and arranged with an officer that I should deliver myself and men as prisoners of war, to be treated with all the consideration to which such unfortunates are entitled by the rules of civilized warfare. I was taken to General Torrejon, who by this time had his whole force collected in the field. I found that some prisoners had already been taken; which, together with those I had and those which were subsequently brought in, amounted to 45 men, exclusive of Lieutenant Kane and myself. Four were wounded. I know nothing certain of the fate of Captain Thornton and Lieutenant Mason: the latter I did not see after the fight commenced. I am convinced they both died bravely. The former I know was unhorsed, and killed, as I learn, in single combat, Romano Falcon. Lieutenant Mason's spurs were seen, after the fight, in possession of the enemy. The brave Sergeant Tredo fell in the first charge. Sergeant Smith was unhorsed and killed. The bodies of seven men were found, including, as I believe, the two officers above mentioned.

I was brought to Matamoras to-day about 4 o'clock, and I take pleasure in stating that since our surrender I and my brave companions in misfortune have been treated with uniform kindness and attention. It may soften the rigors of war for you to be informed fully of this fact. Lieutenant Kane and myself are living with General Ampudia: we lodge in his hotel, eat at his table, and his frank, agreeable manner and generous hospitality almost make us forget our captivity. General Arista received us in the most gracious manner; said that his nation had been regarded as barbarous, and that he wished to prove to us the contrary. Told Lieutenant Kane and myself that we should receive half pay, and our men should receive ample rations, and in lieu of it for to-day 25 cents a piece. On declining the boon on the part of Lieutenant Kane and myself, and a request that we might be permitted to send to. camp for money, he said no; that he could not permit it; that he intended to supply all our wants himself. These promises have already been fulfilled in part.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Captain 2d Dragoons.

[No. 33.]

Point Isabel, May 5, 1846.

SIR: On the morning and during the day of the 3d instant, a

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