The Man Who Won The West Mexican War By Page #
LETTER NUMBER 50
by COLONEL ALEXANDER W. DONIPHAN on FEBRUARY 4, 1850
February 4th 1850
Figure No. 50 February 5, 1850 Liberty, Missouri
To Mr. Jno Doniphan Weston, Missouri from Colonel A. W. Doniphan with 5 cent rate
February 4th, 1850
I have been confined here since you left without being in town one time. I have known for years that I was affected with Bronchitis or more accurately Laryngitis or a disease of Larynx. And ultimately I have been forced to commence a complete analgesic treatments. I have had my throat cauterized sixteen times being every second day for a month. I also take a strong decoction of wild cherry bark, blue mash occasionally & with rigid diet & great care of myself.
I am forced to desist from the practice of my profession for a time. I hope forever if I can make a living at anything else. I hope I am improving & may live long enough to educate my children. I should die hard indeed if I knew they were doomed to eat the grudged & bitter bread of dependence as their father was doomed to for years added to orphanage & poverty.
But enough of this Mrs. Thornton wishes to sow her orchard with orchard grass or as it is called sometimes “Salem Grass”. There is none here to be had their was some in the fall in your town. We wish to buy two bushels of this seed for us and send in down by the stage. I would send the money but do not know the price and feel assured they you can spend it from your savings. Make a bargain that it arrives or he will charge five prices. If I go into any speculation or business in the Spring I shall go to St. Joe or Weston. In haste from your uncle.
A. W. Doniphan
COLONEL ALEXANDER W. DONIPHAN
Letter written by Alexander W. Doniphan the Colonel of the 1st Battalion of Missouri Mounted Volunteers. He led is men to victory in the battle of Brazito north of El Paso on Christmas day in 1846, and again in a final larger battle at Sacramento in the state of Chihuahua on February 28, 1847.
Colonel Doniphan bravely led his men throughout the difficult 4,000 mile journey during the Mexican War. They were often short of supplies, with bad water and poor rations, which caused much illness.
At the end of the war Col. Doniphan and his men returned home by steamboat from Matamoros, Mexico to New Orleans where the men were paid and discharged from the service. Then by steamboat to St. Louis arriving on July 24th, 1847.
Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan
Doniphan’s Expedition and the Conquest of New Mexico
By Private John T. Hughes Published 1848
As the Army of the West gathered at Fort Leavenworth, the post took on a renewed sense of urgency and a visible dedication to its mission. The organizing of units, training recruits, and issuing and stockpiling supplies. Steamboat traffic rapidly increased as war materials arrived, and unloaded at the docks on the Missouri River. The enormous amount of wagon traffic required 75 miles of new roadway west of Independence.
During the Mexican War Fort Leavenworth served as the main departure point. Colonel Kearny and his force of 300 Dragoons and over 1,300 Missouri Volunteers led by Colonel Doniphan departed Fort Leavenworth down the Santa Fe Trail to Santa Fe, New Mexico in small groups between June 18 and June 26, 1846.
This was an impressive force consisting of more than 100 wagons, 500 pack mules, 550 covered wagons, and a large herd of beef cattle. The caravan had a number of Missouri Trader’s taking goods to Santa Fe.
Fort Leavenworth served as departure point for the three major expeditions. Colonel Stephen W. Kearny, the fort commander performed a instrumental role in this war by leading the army of 1,600 men on the long 900 mile trek
down the Santa Fe Trail. He first occupied Las Vegas (Begas) and then on to Santa Fe on August 18, 1846.
Here the forces were divided taking up three different roles in the war. Kearny’s main goal as he continued westward to California to assist the U. S. forces there. In a short time after his battle at San Pasqual he and his men took over San Diego, and Los Angeles then arriving at the capitol of Monterey, now in American hands.
The second part of this expedition was carried out by Colonel Doniphan. He moved south with his force of 1,200 men to El Paso where he fought a brief battle at a village named Brazito obtaining an easy victory. Then on into Mexico where the last decisive battle was fought at Sacramento on February 28, 1847.
Colonel Price played an important part leading the 2nd Regiment of Missouri Volunteers in a rapid march to Santa Fe. His roll was vital to secure the capitol as few troops remained in Santa Fe area. Colonel Price with his troops suppressed a well planned Mexican rebellion in Santa Fe and Taos in December 1847 where governor Bent was murdered. The Colonel with his men secured the area and again peace came to the land.
The Battle at Sacramento, Chihuahua, Mexico
Described by Private. John T. Hughes author of Doniphan’s Expedition and The Conquest of New Mexico
Serving under Capt. O. P. Moss Company “C” Age 26
Enlisted at Liberty, Missouri. June 7, 1846 ~ Honorably Discharged at New Orleans June 21, 1847
Sunday February 28, 1847. The day was bright and auspicious the American army under Col. Doniphan, arrived in sight of the Mexican encampment at Sacramento, which could be distinctly seen at the distance of four miles. His command consisted of the following corps and detachment of troops;
The 1st regiment, Col. Doniphan, numbering about eight hundred men; Lieutenant-colonel Mitchell’s; escort, ninety-seven men; artillery battalion, Major Clark and Capt. Weightman, one hundred and seventeen men, with a light field battery of six pieces of cannon; and two companies of teamsters, under Capt. Skillman and Glasgow, forming an extra battalion of about one hundred and fifty men, commanded by Major Owens, of Independence making the entire force of one thousand one hundred and sixty-four men, all Missouri volunteers.
The march of the day was conducted in the following order: the wagons, near four hundred in all, were thrown into four parallel lines with spaces of thirty feet between each. In the centre space marched the artillery battalion; in the space to the right, the 1st battalion, and in the space to the left, the 2d battalion. Masking these in front marched the three companies intended to act as cavalry, the Missouri horse guards, under Capt. Reid, on the right, the Missouri dragoons under Capt. Parsons on the left. The Chihuahua rangers under Capt. Hudson in the centre. Thus they approached the scene of action.*
*An eagle sometimes soaring aloft and sometimes swooping down amongst the fluttering banners, followed along the lines all day, and seemed to herald the news of victory. The men regarded the omen as good.
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The enemy had occupied the brow of a rocky eminence rising upon a plateau between the river Sacramento and the Arroya Seca, and near the Sacramento fort, eighteen miles from Chihuahua. The fortified approaches by a line of field-works, consisting of twenty-eight strong redoubts and entrenchments.
Here, in this apparently secure position, the Mexicans had determined to make a bold stand; for this pass was the key to the capital. So certain of victory were the Mexicans, that they had prepared strings and hand-cuffs in which they meant to drive us as prisoners to the city of Mexico, as they did the Texan’s in 1841.
The adjutants’ misapprehending the order. However, Capt Reid, either not hearing or disregarding the adjutant’s order to halt leading the way, waved his sword and rising in his stirrups , exclaimed “Will my men follow me?” Here upon Lieut’s. Barnett, Hinton, and Moss with about twenty-five men, bravely sprang forward, rose the hill with the captain carried the battery, and for a moment silenced the guns.
But we were to weak to hold possession of it. By the overwhelming force of the enemy we were beaten back and many of us wounded. Here Major Samuel C. Owens who had voluntarily charged upon the redoubt, received a cannon or musket shot, which instantly killed both him and his horse. Capt Reid’s horse was shot under him, and a gallant young man of the same name immediately dismounted, and generously offered the captain his.
By this time the remainder of Capt. Reid’s company under Lieut. Hicklin, and the section of howitzers under Capt. Weightman, and Lieuts. Choteau and Evans rose the hill and supported Capt. Reid. A deadly volley of grape and canister shot, mingled with yager balls, quickly cleared the entrenchments and the redoubt to Reid’s left, and successfully engaged with the enemy. They resolutely drove them back and held the ground.
Major Gilpin was not behind his men in bravery – he encouraged them to fight by example. The route of the Mexican army now became general and the slaughter continued until night put an end to the chase. The battle lasted three and half hours.
The Mexican army lead by Major-general Jose A. Herdia consisted of 4,200 man and aided by Gen. Garcia Conde former minister of war in Mexico.
When Col. Doniphan arrived within one mile and a half of the enemy’s fortifications after a reconnaissance of the position have been made by Major Clark. The army leaving the main road which passed within range of the batteries he suddenly deflected to the right, crossed the rocky Arroya, expeditiously gained the Plateau beyond, successfully deployed his men into line upon the highland, causing the enemy to change his first position, and make the assault from the west.
In passing the Arroya the caravan and baggage trains followed close upon the rear of the army. General Conde, with a select body of twelve hundred cavalry, dashed down from the fortified heights to commence the engagement. When within nine hundred and fifty yards of our alignment Major Clark’s battery of six pounders and Weightman’s section of howitzers opened upon them a well-directed and most destructive fire, producing fearful execution in their ranks.
In some disorder the troops fell back a short distance, unmasking a battery of cannon, which immediately commenced its fire upon us. A brisk cannonading was now kept up on both sides for the space of fifty minutes, during which time the enemy suffered great loss, our batteries discharging twenty four rounds to the minute. The balls from the enemy’s cannon whistled through our ranks in quick succession. Many horses and other animals were killed and the wagons much shattered.
Col. Doniphan immediately ordered the buglers to sound the advance. Thereupon the American army moved forward in the following manner to storm the enemy’s breastworks. Major Clark with an artillery battalion in the centre firing occasionally on the advance. The 1st battalion commanded by Lieutenant-colonels Jackson and Mitchell, composing the right wing; the two select companies of cavalry under Capt. Reid and Parson and Capt. Hudson’s mounted company, immediately on the left of the artillery.
The caravan and baggage trains, under command of Major Owens, followed close in the rear. The charge was not made simultaneously as intended by the colonel; for this troop having spurred forward a little way was halted for moment by a heavy crossfire from the enemy.
When the Mexican army left the field a vast amount of supplies were left behind that included six thousand dollars in specie, one thousand head of cattle, one hundred mules, twenty wagons, twenty-five thousand pounds of ammunition, ten pieces of cannon of different caliber from four to nine pounders, and many other things of note. Our greatest loss was Major Samuel C. Owens, killed and eleven wounded.
Thus the army of Central Mexico totally defeated, and completely disorganized, by a column of Missouri volunteers. In this engagement Col. Doniphan was personally exposed, and by reason of his stature was a conspicuous mark for the fire of the enemy’s guns. He was all the while at the proper place, whether to dispense his orders, encourage his men, or use his saber in thinning the enemy’s ranks.
The soldiers encamped on the battle field, within the enemy’s entrenchments. and feasted sumptuously upon his viands, wines and pound-cakes. There they rested.
Meanwhile Colonel Doniphan and his men collected all the booty, tended the captured animals, refitted the trains, remounted those troops who had lost their steeds in the action, arranged the preliminaries of a procession. Then having marched a few miles, encamped for the night. On the morning of 2nd of March Col. Doniphan with his military trains and caravans entered the city of Chihuahua playing “Yankee Doodle” colors flying and firing a twenty eight gun salute in the public square. This was proud moment for the American troops.
Captain Reid’s Charge at Sacramento
The Man Who Won The West Mexican War By Page #