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Letter of the Secretary of War to General Kearny.
Washington, June 3, 1846, Sır: I herewith send you a copy of my letter to the governor of Missouri for an additional force of one thousand mounted men.
The object of thus adding to the force under your command is not, as you will perceive, fully set forth in that letter, for the reason that it is deemed prudent that it should not, at this time, become a matter of public notoriety; but to you it is proper and necessary that it should be stated. .
It has been decided by the President to be of the greatest importance in the pending war with Mexico to take the earliest possession of Upper California. An expedition with that view is hereby ordered, and you are designated to command it. To enable you to be in sufficient force to conduct it successfully this additional force of a thousand mounted men has been provided, to follow you in the direction of Santa Fé, to be under your orders, or the officer you may leave in command at Santa Fé.
It cannot be determined how far this additional force will be behind that designed for the Santa Fé expedition, but it will not probably be more than a few weeks. When you arrive at Santa Fé with the force already called, and shall have taken possession of it, you may find yourself in a condition to garrison it with a small part of your command, (as the additional force will soon be at that place,) and with the remainder press forward to California. In that case you will make such arrangements, as to being followed by the reinforcements before mentioned, as in your judgment may be deemed safe and prudent. I need not say to you that, in case you conquer Santa Fé, (and with it will be included the department or State of New Mexico,) it will be important to provide for retaining safe possession of it. Should you deem it prudent to have still more troops for the accomplishment of the objects herein designated, you will lose no time in communjcating your opinion on that point, and all others connected with the enterprise, to this department. Indeed, you are hereby authorized to make a direct requisition for it upon the governor of Missouri.
It is known that a large body of Mormon emigrants are en route to California, for the purpose of settling in that country. You are desired to use all proper means to have a good understanding with them, to the end that the United States may have their co-operation in taking possession of, and holding, that country. It has been suggested here that many of these Mormons would willingly enter into the service of the United States, and aid us in our expedition against California. You are hereby authorized to muster into service such as can be induced to volunteer; not, however, to a number exceeding one-third of your entire force. Should they enter · the service they will be paid as other volunteers, and you can allow
them to designate, so far as it can be properly done, the persons to act as officers thereof. It is understood that a considerable number of American citizens are now settled on the Sacramento river, near Suter's establishment, called “Nueva Helvetia,” who are well disposed towards the United States. Should you, on your arrival in the country, find this to be the true state of things there, you are authorized to organize and receive into the service of the United States such portion of these citizens as you may think useful to aid you to hold the possession of the country. You will, in that case, allow them, so far as you shall judge proper, to select their own officers. A large discretionary power is invested in you in regard to these matters, as well as to all others in relation to the expeditions confided to your command.
The choice of routes by which you will enter California will be left to your better knowledge and ampler means of getting accurate information. We are assured that a southern route (called the Caravan route, by which the wild horses are brought from that country into New Mexico) is practicable; and it is suggested as not improbable that it can be passed over in the winter months, or at · least late in autumn. It is hoped that this information may prove to be correct.
In regard to the routes, the practicability of procuring needful supplies for men and animals, and transporting baggage, is a point to be well considered. Should the President be disappointed in his cherished hope, that you will be able to reach the interior of Upper California before winter, you are then desired to make the best arrangement you can for sustaining your forces during the winter, and for an early movement in the spring. Though it is very desirable that the expedition should reach California this season, (and the President does not doubt you will make every possible effort to accomplish this object,) yet, if in your judgment it cannot be undertaken with a reasonable prospect of success, you will defer it, as above suggested, until spring. You are left unembarrassed by any specific directions in this matter.
It is expected that the naval forces of the United States, which are now, or will soon be in the Pacific, will be in possession of all the towns on the sea coast, and will co-operate with you in the conquest of California. Arms, ordnance, munitions of war, and provisions, to be used in that country, will be sent by sea to our squadron in the Pacific for the use of the land forces.
Should you conquer and take possession of New Mexico and Upper California, or considerable places in either, you will establish temporary civil governments therein-abolishing.all arbitrary restrictions that may exist, so far as it may be done with safety. In performing this duty it would be wise and prudent to eontinue in their employment all such of the existing officers as are known to be friendly to the United States, and will take the oath of allegiance to them. The duties at the custom-houses ought, at once, to be reduced to such a rate as may be barely sufficient to maintain the necessary officers, without yielding any revenue to the government. You may assure the people of those provinces that it is the wish and design of the United States to provide for them a free government, with the least possible delay, similar to that which exists in our Territories. They will then be called on to exercise the rights of freemen in electing their own representatives to the territorial legislature. It is foreseen that what relates to the civil government will be a difficult and unpleasant part of your duty, and much must necessarily be left to your own discretion.
In your whole conduct you will act in such a manner as best to conciliate the inhabitants, and render them friendly to the United States.
It is desirable that the usual trade between the citizens of the United States and the Mexican provinces should be continued, as far as practicable, under the changed condition of things between the two countries. In consequence of extending your expedition into California, it may be proper that you should increase your supply for goods to be distributed as presents to the Indians. The United States superintendent of Indian affairs at St. Louis will aid you in procuring these goods. You will be furnished with a proclamation* in the Spanish language, to be issued by you, and circulated among the Mexican people on your entering into or approaching their country. You will use your utmost endeavors to have the pledges and promises therein contained carried out to the
I am directed by the President to say that the rank of brevet brigadier general will be conferred on you as soon as you commence your movement towards California, and sent round to you by sea, or over the country, or to the care of the commandant of our squadron in the Pacific.
In that way cannon, arms, ammu. nition, and supplies for the land forces will be sent to you. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. L. MARCY,
Secretary of War. Colonel S. W. KEARNY,
Fort Leavenworth, Missouri.
Extract of a letter from the Secretary of War to General Taylor.
Washington, July 9, 1846. Sir: The proclamation which you were directed to spread among the Mexican people, will have put you in possession of the views
• Note.- No proclamation for circulation was ever furnished to General Kearny. A few copies of that prepared for and sent to General Taylor, were forwarded to General Kearny, but he was requested not to use them. These copies were the only proclamations sent by the War Department to him, and I am not aware that he ever used any of them. See letter of the Secretary of War to General Kearny of the 6th of June, 1846, a copy of which is with the papers sent to the President, in answer to the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 15th of December, 1846.
W. L. MARCY.
of the government in relation to the mode of carrying on the war, and also in relation to the manner of treating the inhabitants. The war is only carried on to obtain justice, and the sooner that can be obtained, and with the least expenditure of blood and money, the better. One of the evils of war is the interruption of diplomatic communications between the respective authorities, and the consequent ignorance under which each party may lie in relation to the views of the other. The natural substitute of these interrupted diplomatie communioations, is the military intercourse which the usages
of war allow between contending armies in the field, and in which commanding generals can do much towards re-opening negotiations, and smoothing the way to a return of peace.
The President has seen, with much satisfaction, the civility and kindness with which you have treated your prisoners, and all the inhabitants with whom you have come in contact. He wishes that course of conduct continued, and all opportunities taken to conciliate the inhabitants, and to let them see that peace is within their reach the moment their rulers will consent to do us justice. The inhabitants should be encouraged to remain in their towns and villages, and these sentiments be carefully made known to them. The same things may be said to officers made prisoners, or who may visit your head-quarters according to the usages of war; and it is the wish of the President that such visits be encouraged; and, also, that you take occasions to send officers to the head-quarters of the enemy for the military purposes, real or ostensible, which are of ordinary occurrence between armies, and in which opportunity may be taken to speak of the war itself as only carried on to obtain justice, and that we had much rather procure that by negotiation than by fighting. Of course authority to speak of your government will be disavowed, but a knowledge of its wishes will be averred, and a readiness will be expressed to communicate to your government the wishes of the Mexican government to negotiate for honorable peace, whenever such shall be their wish, and with the assurance that such overtures will be met in a corresponding spirit by your government. A discreet officer, who understands Spanish, and who can be employed in the intercourse so usual between armies, can be your confidential agent on such occasions, and can mask his real under his ostensible object of a military interview.
You will also readily comprehend that in a country so divided into races, classes, and parties, as Mexico is, and with so many local divisions among departments, and personal divisions among individuals, there must be great room for operating on the minds and feelings of large portions of the inhabitants, and inducing them to wish success to an invasion which has no desire to injure their country; and which, in overthrowing their oppressors, may benefit themselves. Between the Spaniards, who monopolize the wealth and power of the country, 'and the mixed Indian race, who bear its burdens, there must be jealousy and animosity. The same feelings must exist between the lower and higher orders of the clergy; the latter of whom have the dignities and the revenues,
while the former have poverty and labor. In fact, the curates were the chief authors of the revolution which separated Mexico from Spain, and their relative condition to their superiors is not much benefited by it. Between the political parties into which the country is divided, there must be some more liberal and more friendly to us than others; the same may be said of rival chiefs, political and military; and even among the departments there are local antipathies and dissensions. In all this field of division-in all these elements of social, political, personal, and local discord
- there must be openings to reach the interests, passions, or principles of some of the parties, and thereby to conciliate their good will, and make them co-operate with us in bringing about an honorable and a speedy peace. The management of these delicate movements is confided to your discretion; but they are not to paralyze the military arm, or in any degree to arrest or retard your military movements. These must proceed vigorously. Policy and force are to be combined; and the fruits of the former will be prized as highly as those of the latter.
It is seen from the Mexican papers, that great attempts are made to prejudice and exasperate the minds of the people against us. The war is represented on their part as one of "national existence;' as if it was our wish to destroy the Mexican nation! It is represented as a war of “rapine and plunder;" as if we intended to rob and oppress the people? It is represented as a war of “impiety;" as if we were going to rob churches and pull down altars! The conduct of yourself, your officers, and men, has shown to all Mexican citizens that you have met, and as far as you have gone, the injustice and absurdity of all these imputations; but they are still systematically propagated through the country, and must find believers in a country where ignorance is so great, and the means of disseminating truth so small. The counteraction of these injurious imputations will be your particular duty; first, by a continuation of your just and honorable conduct towards the people, their property and religion, and kindness to prisoners; and next, by making it a point in your interviews with the commanders of the army of the enemy to speak of these unjust imputations, for the purpose of correcting them. It is the President's wish not only to bring the war to a speedy conclusion, but so to conduct it as to leave no lasting animosities behind to prejudice the future friendship and commerce of the two countries; nor to permit injurious reports to go forth to excite the ill will of the other republics, of Spanish origin, against us.
Availing yourself of divisions which you may find existing among the Mexican people-to which allusion has been made-it will be your policy to encourage the separate departments or States, and especially those which you may invade and occupy, to declare their independence of the central government of Mexico, and either to become our allies, or to assume, as it is understood Yucatan has done, a neutral attitude in the existing war between the United States and Mexico. In such of the departments or states as may take this course, you will give the inhabitants assurances of the