Into Mexico with General Scott - Edwin Sabin

In the Halls of Montezuma

At reveille it was reported that shortly after midnight the mayor and city council had surrendered the city to General Worth. They said that Santa Anna had withdrawn his army into the country. General Worth forwarded the delegates to General Scott at Tacubaya, and he had just been directed to march his troops to the Alameda. The Quitman column was to occupy the plaza and raise the flag.

This seemed hard, but General Quitman had been first to seize a gate, and had lost heavily. Besides, with his Mohawks and Marines he had guarded the rear, at San Augustine, through a long period, while other troops were winning honors.

The First Division, the Voltigeurs and the Riley brigade were halted in column of companies in the green square or Alameda. Now all the way on to the plaza, three blocks, the broad street was crowded with the Mexican citizens, jostling along the walks and thronging the balconies. The front of many of the buildings flew the neutral flags of England, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy.

At seven o'clock music was heard and cheering. T'he Quitman column appeared in sight: the handsome General Quitman and bluff General Twiggs, and staffs, with escort of cavalry, at its head; then in serried ranks the Rifles, with the regimental flags of the First Artillery, the Third Infantry, the New Yorkers, the Marines, and the Ninth Infantry following at the fore of their commands. Sections of the Drum and Steptoe batteries rumbled behind.

The drums of the Worth regiments rolled, the men cheered gallantly. With measured tread the Quitman column passed on, its bands playing "Hail, Columbia!," "Washington's March," and "Yankee Doodle." Presently there was a still louder burst of cheers, and the united strains of the "Star Spangled Banner." From the flag pole of the national palace the Stars and Stripes had broken out; raised, as was afterward learned, by Captain Roberts of the Rifles. He had been foremost in the Quitman storming columns up Chapultepec hill.

Lieutenant Beauregard, of the engineers, bandaged from a wound, dashed from the plaza, evidently bearing dispatches. About eight o'clock the clatter of hoofs sounded. The Dragoons were coming. Then—

"Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah for Old Fuss and Feathers!"

General Scott, plumed and girted and gloved, in full uniform complete, towered at the front. Led by Colonel Harney and Major Sumner, the dragoons, their mounted band in the advance, at a carry sabers, filled the street from curb to curb. They, too, were spick and span.

"Hail to the Chief!" That was the tune being played. The general and escort swept by at a rapid trot, while the bands and the field music of the Worth column likewise played "Hail to the Chief." The Mexican spectators forgot themselves, and cheered and clapped. No one could deny that the chief and his cavalry made a splendid sight.

"Column—forward—quick time—march!"

The Worth men might move in at last. The street was so blocked that the end files of the companies were obliged to brush the people from the way. In the plaza the Second Dragoons band was playing "Yankee Doodle." The plaza also was crowded. There seemed to be hundreds of blanketed, dirty beggars under foot. The dragoons rode right and left, clearing the plaza with the flats of their sabers, but careful to harm nobody.

"Column, halt!"

Just as General Worth was about to give orders a volley burst from the top of a building; the balls pelted in, aimed at him and his staff; but they passed over. Colonel Garland clapped his hand to his side, and in Company B Lieutenant Sidney Smith sank limply.

As if the volley had been a signal other shots sounded; paving stones rained down. It looked like a trap. Here were five thousand Americans, almost the whole army, in the plaza and surrounded by buildings and two hundred thousand people.

The orders were quick. In an instant Duncan's battery and the Reno howitzers galloped to the plaza corners; Steptoe's and Drum's and Taylor's guns were being unlimbered. Aides from General Scott were spurring hither thither; skirmish squads were being told off, and ordered to search the streets and buildings. The dragoons galloped. The howitzers battered the building from which the first volley had issued. Now all around the plaza there echoed the clatter of hoofs, the thud of running feet, and the ringing reports of musket and rifle.

A number of leading Mexican citizens apologized to General Worth and General Scott, and offered help to put down the insurrection. The trouble-makers were two thousand convicts who had been set free by Santa Anna.

The firing in the streets continued throughout the day, while the reserves waited under arms. At night things had quieted somewhat. The First Division bivouacked in the Alameda. After strong outposts had been placed the men might talk again. What a two days, September 13 and 14, that had been! And this was the end of the campaign in the Halls of Montezuma.

The Riley men, quartered with the First, could tell the news from the Quitman column. They had been at Chapultepec, and upon the road to the Belen gate. The casualties were heavy. Major Loring, of the Rifles, had lost an arm. The Drum battery had been cut to pieces at the gate—Captain Drum and First Lieutenant Benjamin killed. Lieutenant-Colonel Baxter, commanding the New Yorkers, was dying; Major Gladden, commanding the Palmettos, was wounded. General Shields' wounded arm was in bad shape. General Pillow would recover; was in the hospital at Chapultepec. The South Carolinans were holding the Belen gate; the Second Pennsylvanians were garrisoning the fort inside.

Colonel Garland, it was said, would get well; but Lieutenant Smith was dead.

Jerry looked at his own mess. Brave Scotty MacPheel was gone; so was Henry Brewer—he had been shot down yesterday. Corporal Finerty bore an honorable wound; Fifer O'Toole's head was bandaged—a musket ball had scraped it.

In taking Chapultepec and the city ten officers and one hundred and twenty rank and file had been killed; sixty-eight officers and six hundred and thirty-five rank and file had been wounded; twenty-nine men were missing; total, eight hundred and sixty-two, of whom almost a tenth were officers. The loss to the army since it had marched out of Puebla was three hundred and eighty-three officers, two thousand, three hundred and twenty rank and file. Subtracting the garrisons and rear guards, Old Fuss and Feathers had marched into Mexico City with less than six thousand out of his ten thousand with which he had left Puebla six weeks before.

And according to estimates, in the same time the Mexicans had lost more than seven thousand killed and wounded, thirty-seven hundred prisoners including thirteen generals, some twenty flags, one hundred and thirty-two pieces of artillery, and twenty thousand small arms.

So here the "gringo" army was.

Instead of permitting his men to pillage the city, General Scott levied a money contribution upon it of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, for the support of the troops. Adjutant Mackall read to the First Division, paraded to listen, the following orders:

Mexico, Sept. 14, 1847.


1. Under the favor of God, the valor of this army, after many glorious victories, has hoisted the colors of our country in the capital of Mexico and on the palace of the Government.

2. But the war is not ended. The Mexican army and Government have fled, only to watch an opportunity to return upon us in vengeance. We must, then, be upon our guard. Companies and regiments will be kept together and all stand on the alert. Our safety is in military discipline.

3. Let there be no drunkenness, no disorders, and no straggling. Stragglers will be in great danger of assassination, and marauders shall be punished by court-martial.

4. All the rules so honorably observed by this glorious army in Puebla must be observed here. The honor of the army and the honor of our country call for the best behavior on the part of all. The valiant must, to win the approbation of God and our country, be sober, orderly, and merciful. My noble brethren in arms will not be deaf to this hasty appeal from their general and friend.

5. Major-General Quitman is appointed the civil and military Governor of Mexico.

By command of

H. L. Scott (signed)
Act'g Ass't Adj. Gen.

"Well, boy," said Hannibal, when he and Jerry got together after dismissal, "you heard those orders. Maybe the war's not ended for General Scott, but it's ended for me. I want to rest up."

"It's ended for Pompey, too, all right," Jerry added. "He's still crying about Lieutenant Smith. Says he's lost his 'offercer,' and he wants to go home."

"Yes," Hannibal mused. "And the war's been ended for Lieutenant Smith and a lot of good men before him. That's the way. War costs."