Title:
The Mexican War Journal of Henry S. Lane

Author:
Graham A. Barringer

Date:
1957

Source:
Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 383-434

Article Type:
Article

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The Mexican War Journal of Henry S. Lane

Contributed by Graham A. Barringer

Henry S. Lane was born in 1811 on a farm in Bath County, Kentucky, about thirty miles east of Lexington. After attending a country school and an academy he read law in the office of Colonel James Suddeth and assisted in the county clerk's office. Three years later he was admitted to the Kentucky bar and began the practice of law in his native commonwealth.

In 1834 young Lane and his bride moved to Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Indiana, where he formed a law partnership with Samuel C. Wilson which became well known in that section of the state. In 1842 his first wife died and three years later Lane married Joanna Elston, daughter of Isaac C. Elston, prominent Crawfordsville businessman.

Politics soon lured Lane, eventually weaning him from the practice of law. He served in the Indiana House of Representatives (1837–1838) and in the lower house of the United States Congress (1841–1845). An ardent Whig, he stumped the state for his political idol, Henry Clay, during Clay's campaign for the presidency in 1844.

Although most Northern Whigs denounced the Mexican War as a Democratic ruse to gain slave territory from Mexico, Lane supported it. Instrumental in raising a company of volunteers from Montgomery County, he was elected captain when the company was organized at Indianapolis, June 3, 1846. When the Montgomery volunteers were mustered into service in the First Regiment of Indiana Volunteers on June 20 at Camp Clark, near New Albany, Lane was elected major of the regiment. While in service he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel.


  • Graham A. Barringer was chairman of the history department at Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, Nebraska, from 1923 until his retirement in 1952. His interest in Henry S. Lane, which he has maintained for many years, stems from his work under the direction of Professor Logan Esarey at Indiana University.

Lieutenant Colonel Lane received his discharge on June 16, 1847, at New Orleans. Enroute home with Mrs. Lane he made a stirring speech in defense of the war at Madison which doubtless aided materially in securing recruits for the Indiana regiments. He favored General Zachary Taylor for the presidency in 1848 despite the lukewarmness of many Hoosiers because of Taylor's criticism of the Indiana volunteers following the battle of Buena Vista.

After the war the Lanes resided in Lane House, a pioneer mansion they had erected before the war, and he resumed the practice of law. In 1853 he retired from the law because of ill health and thereafter divided his time between politics and business, devoting considerable attention to banking in association with his father-in-law.

Politics soon beckoned him again and during the fifties he was perhaps the most popular advocate of the new Republican party in Indiana. Although he had made an unsuccessful race for re-election to Congress in 1849, by 1852 he was prominently mentioned as a Whig nominee for governor though he would not allow his name to go before the state convention. In 1854 he served as chairman of the initial state convention of the People's party and two years later he served in a similar capacity for the first national convention of the Republican party. Late in 1858 the Indiana legislature elected him to the United States Senate in an unsuccessful Republican maneuver to oust Indiana's two Democratic senators whom the Republicans claimed had been illegally elected.

In 1860 the Republicans, as the People's party had been known in Indiana since about 1860, chose him to be their nominee for governor. As a conservative old-line Whig he suited the temper of the party better than did Oliver P. Morton, the 1856 nominee. Morton, however, was selected as his running mate, apparently with the understanding that if the ticket were successful Lane would become Senator and Morton would succeed to the governorship. In the presidential campaign of 1860 Lane vigorously opposed Seward and with equal vigor advocated Lincoln's nomination.

Thus Lane became Indiana's first Republican governor, though he actually occupied the office for only a few days during January, 1861. His inaugural address expressed intense devotion to the Union. From 1861 to 1877 he served in the Senate, where he was a partisan and faithful supporter of Lincoln, then later of the Radical Republicans against President Johnson. When his term expired he did not seek re-election and he spent nearly all his time after 1877 in business at Crawfordsville until his death in 1881.

The Journal of Henry S. Lane covers the period from June, 1846, to June, 1847, the year he participated in the Mexican campaign.1 It is of interest both for its description of the war from the point of view of an Indiana officer and for the insight it gives into the personalities of a number of prominent participants in the war, notably General Zachary Taylor, as well as the eminent author himself.

The journal has been reproduced in its entirety as accurately as possible. No changes have been made either in original spelling or wording, although a few additions have been made in brackets. However, in order to facilitate easier comprehension, an effort has been made to standardize both capitalization and punctuation.


  • 1 For an account of Indiana's participation in the Mexican War see R. Carlyle Buley, "Indiana in the Mexican War," Indiana Magazine of History, XV (September, 1919), 260–292; ibid., XV (December, 1919), 293–326; ibid., XVI (March, 1920), 46–68; Oran Perry, Indiana in the Mexican War (Indianapolis, 1908). For a general account of the Mexican War see Justin H. Smith, The War With Mexico (2 vols., New York, 1919).
[Figure]

Sample Page from the Lane Journal

Memorandum of the Mexican Campaign kept by Henry S. Lane & beginning at his departure from Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Left Crawfordsville on Thursday, July2 the 11th, 1846, in the midst of a violent shower of rain. Left the town in tears & to be honest that day was one of the dark days, not that I regretted the step I had taken but leaving home & all its sweet influences filled my heart with sadness.

June the 12th. Reached Indianapolis. The Governor & suit as well as the citizens treated us with marked kindness. The citizens turned out en masse to receive the Montgomery volunteers. Hugh O'Neal Esq.3 made a speech to us to which I responded; the kindness & sympathy cheered & warmed our hearts & nerved our arms for a struggle worthy of ourselves & our country.

June the 15th, 1846. Left Indianapolis for New Albany. Reached New Albany on the 17th. On the way at Madison I made a speech in answer to the loud & repeated calls of the citizens. Speech well received. At New Albany found things all in confusion, & came to the conclusion that the office of captain was the most arduous post in the army (which opinion I shall hold for the present.)

On June the 20th my dear wife, my noble Joan, came to see me at New Albany; & about this date I am the happiest man alive & so is she whose happiness is more to me than life.

June the 22d, 1846. We were mustered into the service of the United States & took upon ourselves new duties & obligations to the faithful discharge of which we are bound by every consideration of pride, patriotism, & duty.

July 2d, 1846. Lt. George D. Powers killed. This event casts a gloom over our whole company. We mourned for him as a comrade, a friend, & fellow soldier, & we mourned for his father & mother at home; this accident brought to our minds forcibly the sad & stern realities of grim-vizaged war.

June 25th.4 I was elected major in the 1st Regiment today. I left my old company with great regret & was


  • 2 Undoubtedly Lane meant to write "June" here.
  • 3 Presumably the noted criminal lawyer of Indianapolis.
  • 4 This entry and the one for July 2 (above) occurred out of order in the original manuscript.
doubtful as to the true point of duty, but finally concluded that I could do more for the company as major than I could as capt.

July 5th. Left New Albany & reached New Orleans on the 11th of July, 1846; the wealth, magnificence, & commerce of this great city far surpassed all my expectations. Encamped on the ever memorable battle ground of New Orleans, & thought of Genl. Jackson until our hearts were filled with the mingled love of glory & love of country. Left New Orleans on the 17th for Brazos St. Iago, Texas5; on the 22d about 3 o'clock in [the morning] we experienced all the horrors of ship wreck; but I hope I am thankful to a kind & ever watchful providence for our narrow yet safe escape from all the perils of the deep deep sea. The boys all behaved well.

On the 24th of July I reached Brazos St. Iago from Padri Island, the scene of our ship wreck.6 The water at Brazos St. Iago was as disagreeable & unhealthy as words can describe. It made almost all of the regiment sick, more or less; it gave me the dysentery of which I nearly died. My whole recollection of Brazos St. Iago is not refreshed with one single pleasant incident. It [is] a grave yard, a very hell upon earth.

On the 28th left Brazos to travel to Metamores7 for the improovement of my health. Traveled two days in Mexico & reached Metamores. This town is much delapidated. At one time it seems to have had 10 or 12 thousand inhabitants; but now it is a poor, poor place, a den of gamblers, drunkards, & cut throats.

The 1st of August, 1846. Returned to the mouth of the Rio Grande.

On the 2d of August we left the mouth of the Rio Grande & reached the encampment opposite Barita, in the disputed territory.8 2d a letter from my dear Joan.


  • 5 Brazos Santiago, Texas.
  • 6 The boat carrying the Crawfordsville and Peru companies of the First Regiment Indiana Volunteers was wrecked on Padre Island. See Buley, "Indiana in the Mexican War," 275; Perry, Indiana in the Mexican War, 83.
  • 7 Matamoros.
  • 8 La Burrita on the south bank of the Rio Grande. The disputed territory here referred to is the territory between the Rio Grande and the Neuces River farther north. The United States claimed the Rio Grande as the boundary, Mexico claimed the Neuces. Smith, The War with Mexico, I, 138, 162.

On the 3d of August wrote a letter to [my] wife & thought much of home. Remembered that today is our election day in Indiana but felt much indifference as to the result. We are here either above or below all political excitement except what is connected with the war & its influences & consequences. I have sunk for the time my character as a citizen in my new character as a soldier, yet I love peace & shall gladly return to its charm if my country so orders.

4th August, 1846. A dull rainey day & considerable sickness in camp. Prospect of marching for Carmmargo9 in 15 days. My health much improved & I am getting along very well in my new mess. Today bought a fine horse for $95, & much trouble about forage. I am much pleased with our encampment & I now prophecy that we at this time occupy what in a few years will be the seat of a great city, the 1st city in wealth & importance in the State of Texas. Our flag, the ladies flag, was selected by the field officers of the 1st Regiment as one of the regimental colours, which was hailed with pride & joy by our company. God bless all ladies but more especially the ladies of Crawfordsville.

August 5th, 1846. This is clear but we are in great trouble about a supposed order for our regiment to go back to the mouth of the Rio Grande. It all ended in smoke. There is no order as yet, but all still fear such an order. I now think we shall not be ordered to go any farther into Mexico & that [we] shall not see a single hostile Mexican, but that we shall have to encounter a much more terrible [enemy], the southern climate and camp fevers.

August 6th. Still a dull rainey day. It rains, rains, rains, & nothing else to chronicle except a constant firing of cannon on the river about which caused some excitement in the camp. Sickness seems to day on the increase & the desire among the soldiers for discharges is also on the increase. The life of a soldier is a hard one & it ought to be one of glory. No coffee & no sugar in camp.

August 7th, 1846. A bright sunshiney day & the health & spirits of the men rather better. The first dress parade today. The turnout very respectable. The prospect for a fight rather more gloomy. We are now assured that we shall remain for at least five weeks in this neighborhood, eating


  • 9 Camargo.
rather poor rations & daily parades & guarding bagg[ag]e. A dicidedly dull business.

August 8th, 1846. Another day in which there was no rain. The boys generally sick of the volunteer service. My health good & an uncontrollable appetite. Cooked some today, ground coffee, tried to learn to make beef soup with rice in it. But Bohon10 can beat me all hollow. Thought much of my dear Joan & the kind friends in my far off home. If I can have health I shall like camp life with all its bustle & noise & false alarms & false rumors; but to be sick in camp is a terrible trial on one's fortitude & phylosophy.

August 9th, 1846. It is the Sabbath but oh how unlike the sweet Sabbath of our home afar off. We miss here its sweet refineing & holy influences upon our hearts. A Sabbath in camp upon the Rio Grande differs essentially from the same blessed day in Crawfordsville, but the change is in us & not in the institution, for all the divine institutions partake of the character of of their author for immutability. Instead of the sound of the church bells & the hum of prayer & thronging thousands of Christian votaries, we have here the sounds of mirth, of rioting, of blasphemy, & all manner of irreverence & ungodliness. It is strange that men become more & more hardened & obdurate as the chances for sudden death are increased. A camp life is demoralizing in all its tendencies. Men who at home are moral, kind, & humane, here in too many instances become immoral, unkind, & morose men. Who at home can weep over every tale of imaginary here have no tears for the death of a friend or messmate. The reason for which change may be found in the fact that so much of personal comfort of the soldier must necessarily depend on himself that he is taught to rely on himself alone & becomes unsocial & selfish. When we left home a case of serious sickness or a case of death made a vivid & most painful impression, but now men sicken, die, & are buried, & forgotten almost, in the same day; & still war seems the natural trade of men, the pathway of glory marked with the foot prints of the great ones of our sincrushed world. I


  • 10 Private Daniel Bohon, Company K, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers. All names of United States soldiers in the Mexican War which have been completed have been located either in Francis B. Heitman, The Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (2 vols., Washington, 1903), or in Perry, Indiana in the Mexican War.
close as I began this day by thinking of one whom I know is thinking of me. May the God of the Christian's hope & the Christian's promise bless & protect her.

August 10th, 1846. Wrote a letter today to my dear Joan in answer to one received from her last night. It is sweet to receive a letter from one we love at any time, but here there is a pleasure in it which is indiscribable. I read & read & reread & each successive reading is almost equal to a new letter. A letter from home—oh how it calls up all of the sweet memories of the happy days spent in sweet communion with kindred spirits in the home of the heart's best & holiest affections. Last [night] I heard a sermon, the first since I left Indiana. It was preached by Lt. Poe11—a plain feeling & practical discourse. He is a Methodist preacher. His sermon had a fine effect. The service was most imposeing. It was in the open air with the officer[s] and soldiers grouped around the minister, with the clear blue sky over us & the bright stars nightly sentinels of the upper encampment looking down upon us & a full moon silvering over with its mild effulgence hill top & valley & river. At the close of the sermon the preacher referred to our distant homes & the kind friends who at that same hour were praying for us & the perils of our present service & the uncertainty of life, & the eye of many a rough soldier glistened with tears. I am daily becoming more & more partial to the Methodist Church & its form of worship. Oh how I do wish that I was good enough to join that church where my dear wife worships, & to adorn that faith which she illustrates in her practice.

August 11th, 1846. The warmest day we have yet had. No breeze until after dinner this evening. At 2 o'clock summoned upon a brigade court martial—my first appearance as a member of a criminal court. Today we have heard that our regiment are to go to the mouth of the Rio Grande & that no Indiana troops are to be marched upon the enemy until the last of Sept. Bad policy to bring troops here in the heat of the summer without any provisions or transportation for them. Many, very many of our troops will die here from fevers long before they can be of any use to the


  • 11 Second Lieutenant Richard M. Poe, Company I, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
country. For this state of things the President is alone responsible, that is, responsible in theory; in practice there is no holding of a President to account. He is, as long as he has a great party for him, secure from even his masters.

August 12th, 1846. All day today engaged upon a court martial as judge advocate. It was a new business & came awkward at first, but I now have the hang of the matter. It is a laborous business, but $3 per day as judge advocate in addition to regular pay is something. I have written today seven hours. Being judge advocate is a much slower way to make money than practicing law. Sent a letter this morning to the loved one, the star of my heart & hope.

August 13th, 1846. Warm, sultry day. All in. Day spent in court martial. Great sickness in camp.

August 14th. The weather more pleasant. On a court martial again. Health of self good. An order come for our removal to the mouth of the Rio Grande. Prospect for a battle rather more gloomy.

August 15th. Began remooveing to the river over a pond, 1/2 mile wide & waist deep, the men carrying baggage on their shoulders.

Sunday the 16th, 1846. Remooved from Camp Belknap to the bank of the river—a serious job. The troops had to pack all the bagg[ag]e for two miles, the most of the way in water waist-deep; it was done without a murmer. I helped to make the moove & then read 6 chapters in the Testament & thought much of home & the dear wife. The troops caught four catfish weighing from 20 to 30 lbs.—a great treat. Wished for the major12 to be here to enjoy the sport.

August 17th, 1846. A fine bright morning. Helped to get breakfast. I then done my part towards eating it. Fine health & spirits. Sent to the Point for letters & live today in the hope of hearing from my dear Joan. Dear indeed to me is she, far dearer than I had ever conceived when at home. What is she doing this bright morning? Perhaps she is at this moment sending up prayers for my welfare, spiritual & temporal, & I feel while I write that her prayers are being answered, that I am happier & better on account of intercessions


  • 12 Probably a reference to Major Isaac C. Elston of Crawfordsville, Lane's father-in-law.
for me, & I form new resolutions of reformation for the future.

August 18th, 1846. Sick headache. The mess very kind & I got over the spell as well as usual, but oh how I missed the kind ministrations of my Joan. The mess was much shocked by her [hearing?] of the death of the father of our excellent messmate Mr. James F. Harney.13 A great deal of sickness in camp. One of the Indianapolis volunteers drowned in the Rio Grande to day. Discontent in camp & great apprehension of pestilence of some kind [of] yellow fever or vomits.

August 19th, 1846. Nothing to mark this day except the date & one other matter which made a sensation. We had to day fine fresh fish & beef steak—a great rarity after the pork & bacon & bacon & pork.

August 20th. Capt. Powers14 discharged on account of ill health. He never was fit for duty morally, mentally, or physically. The company have been much injured by his conduct. It has been only kept up by the exertions of May,15 Harney & Goss,16 with Hanks17 & a few others. I hope in future better things of & for it. Lt. May elected capt. & Orderly Goss was elected 1st It. Good selections.

August 21st. A little sick from eating too much fresh beef. In daily expectation of going to the mouth of the river. All are anxious to be allowed to moove up into the interior of the country. The health of our regiment better. The climate of this country is decidedly more pleasant than Indiana or indeed any place I have ever been in. It is one of the richest countries in the world. The necessaries & comforts of life are produced spontaneously. All the tropical fruits could be produced here in perfection, but the present inhabitants are altogether unworthy of such a country. It is an abuse of the bounty of providence to let such a race of drones & slaves [cumber?] so goodly a heritage, but they are do[o]med to be


  • 13 Quartermaster-Sergeant James F. Harney, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 14 Captain William Powers, Company K, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 15 Lieutenant Allen May, Company K, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 16 Private Fenelon Goss, Company K, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 17 Second Lieutenant Romulus L. Hanks, Company K, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
swallowed up in the all-engulphing vo[r]tex of Anglo-Saxon enterprize & ambition. Wrote to day to my dear Joan.

August 22d, 1846. A visit from the Revd. Mr. Belote and a talk of Indiana & old times & the Methodist Church. Fine clear day & fine sea breeze. Disappointed in not getting a letter from my dear Joan, but hope to get one on tomorrow & that hope holds me up for another day. Laying plans for a trip to Carmargo & if possible to Monterey18 on a furlough, for our troops will not be ordered to march for five or six weeks.

August 23d, 1846. Another Sunday has passed. I hope I have not been wholly unmindful of its obligations & privileges, but again I have to lament the impiety & blasphemy which reigns in our camp & I suppose in all camps. Wars are the very engines by which the prince of evil peoples Hell.

August 24th, 1846. Received the news of our election19 & it created more sensation than I should have supposed from the indifference that seemed to prevail in camp on the subject, but it only shows that politicks, like sin, is a natural element in human character, or perhaps both are but modifications of the same thing. At all events, you can not distroy either with[out] distruction to that strange [thing?] called man. Mr. Harney is prepareing to leave. He carries with him our warmest wishes for his success & prosperity in life. He is an honest man & an unpretending gentleman of fine talents. He has been sorely tried but bears it like a man.

August 25th, 1846. An exceedingly warm day with no breeze & a head ache & little tendency to fever. Heard of a revolution against Paredes20 in Mexico & the defection of the garrison & city of Vera Cruz. The prospect of peace before Christmas is rather brightened. Give us a peace with the Rio Grande for a present boundary & the full possession of California & full payment of all claims for indemnities!

August 26, 1846. A dull day with nothing to mark it from its fellows & nothing to cause it to be remembered by me except this memorial of its its tedium & dullness.


  • 18 Monterrey.
  • 19 The state election of 1846 in which James Whitcomb was re-elected governor and the Democrats were generally victorious as they had been in 1843.
  • 20 President Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga.

August 27th. A very hard rain & I have serious apprehension of an overflow of the river & consequent fever from miasma. A low grade of congestive fever has appeared in camp & the doctors think it dangerous if not taken in time. They [think] it will not do to give calomel, that the patient commences to sink on the first attack, & instead of depletion they give stimulants from the start. My experience here confirms this theory.

August 28. A very oppressive & warm morning. My health is good. I am at length clear of dysentery, at least I hope so. I am a good [deal] enfeebled with tendency to cholic & headache & a morbid appetite that cleans out rations of any kind good or bad, sound or rotten. Last night wrote Col. Willson [&] to my brother.21 A little anxiety getting up in camp about the election. Not much with me.

August 29th, 1846. Started to the mouth of the river with Genl. Lane22 to see Commodore Webster about the plan for an attack on Tampico in which he wishes our brigade to cooperate, if Genl. Taylor will consent (which he never will do). Had to turn back. Could not get the horses over the canal. Genl. Lane went down afoot. He is a man of great energy, which is the secret of his success. I like him. He is very kind to me, grants all my request[s], & treats [me] with great respect & seems to court my friendship. I prophecy to day that the war is over & that within 60 day[s] from today we shall be disbanded. For the next month we shall have a great amount of sickness. A number of new cases of fever in camp today. The prospect of peace seems to depress the spirits of the troops & renders them indifferent about discipline & drill. They still talk large about fighting, but the news of peace would be welcome to the most of us. An honerable peace would be hailed with joy by me, for one, for anything is preferable to our present state of inaction & suspense. I am satisfied that we shall never see a hostile Mexican. Then why in the name of justice, policy, & common sense are we kept here to die of fevers & to swell the expenses of the government? It is to make a hero of Taylor, to save Folk's administration, & to


  • 21 Colonel Samuel C. Wilson of Crawfordsville, and Higgins Lane of Putnam County.
  • 22 General Joseph Lane of Evansville, nominee for the Vice-Presidency in 1860 when John C. Breckenridge was the presidential nominee of the Southern Democrats.
feed the lean & hungry democrats who swarm around the army in the shape of commissaries, quarter masters, sutlers, id omne genus to the end of the chapter.

Sunday morning, August 30th, 1846. A violent storm of rain commenceing before day & flooding our tents & suspending the cooking business until a late breakfast hour. Some apprehensions of a rise in the river & the overflow of our camp. Sickness in camp still increasing. Oh that October were here! Wrote this morning to my dear Joan. I have here two unfailing sources of consolation & they are writing to my wife & looking at her picture. I find my thoughts recurring often towards home. It is barely possible that I am getting home sick; indeed for the last few days I have rather suspected that such is the case.

Monday morning, August 31st. A warm, very warm day & a return of dysentery. The news from above looks like peace, but we shall probably be detained here until winter or spring. If I was sure that the fighting was over I should be anxious to go home, for anything rather than a life of inactivity & suspense. The glitter & tinsil & romance of war is completely worn off, & my patriotism or ambition or both are sensibly decreaseing, & I look back to Crawfordsville with a longing desire to be there again at the home of the heart.

Sept. 1st, 1846. First day in our new camp. Got an order for lumber to make me a cot or bed from Capt. Ogden,23 & also for lumber for a cot for Capt. May. Capt. Ogden is a good officer & clever fellow. Loaned me a bacon ham last night when I was out of meat. Today fresh beef & onions & oysters. A. Morrison24 arrived this morning. He will suit this campaign.

Sept. 2d, 1846. Got a letter last night from my dear wife & father-in-law. It was better for me than all medicines & doctors in camp. Our present position is a pleasant one in some respects but in others Good Lord deliver us. The loose drifting sand is in our eyes, mouth, noise [nose] on our beds, in our victuals & drinking water. We are most truly & emphatically on a sandy foundation but I hope our position is favorable to health. I am gaining strength every day. This night will be the first on my new cot. Quite an improovement


  • 23 Probably Captain Edmund A. Ogden of the regular army.
  • 24 Second Lieutenant Abisha L. Morrison, Company A, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
upon the sand bank, at least I hope so. In a campaign a few comforts go a long way. Ridge Goddard25 has just caught a cat fish weighting 40 lbs.

Sept. 3d, 1846. Nothing. Still have great cause to thank for good health. Much speculation as to the duration of the war, & the desire to return home is getting far more general owing to the fact that there is no present prospect of any active service.

Sept. 4th, 1846. Great trouble in the medical department. This department has been the subject of great complaint & not without abundant cause. It could not have been worse. Indeed, I have no doubt that more would have recovered without medicine. Dr. Miller26 has laboured but has not been sustained & could not do as well as he otherwise would. He is a gentleman. More news of peace, & it was gladly received by me, for one, for if the war is over, in God's name why not let us go home from this barren sand bank & grave yard? Wrote again to day to my dear wife Joan. This is one of my comforts, to tell her at least all that I do & think & feel, for without perfect confidence & true sympathy there can be no happiness in the holy estate of matrimony, the sweetness & holiest state or relation instituted by God on earth for his creatures. At all events so I myself think.

Sept. 5th, 1846. Bright & beautiful morning & fine pleasant breeze from the gulf, but every breeze seems freighted with death & disease. Fevers encrease both in the number of cases & violence of the attacks. Lts. Hanks & Goss both sick. The Administration is justly chargeable for all the suffering & all the deaths incident to this campaign for a great many reasons, but two is sufficient. In the first place, the volunteer force was not needed, & secondly if needed they were not needed & could not be used until fall.

Sept. 6th, 1846. Sunday. Read the Bible & thought of home, but was a dull day. Heard of James Wray's27 death. He died at Point Isabel on the 4 instant.

Monday, 7th. Mustered into the service of the United States for payment, & the anxiety for payment very great among the troops. No money in camp.


  • 25 Private Resin F. Goddard, Company K, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 26 Perhaps Dr. John L. Miller, surgeon with the Sixth Regiment Illinois Volunteers.
  • 27 Private James Wray, Company K, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.

Sept. 8th. Lt. Goss very sick with a low grade of congestive fever, the same form of fever which has carried off so many of our troops. Thomas also quite sick with same fever. We hope to save them. My own health not so good. Some tendency to fever & fullness in the head.

Sept. 9th. On last evening got a letter from my dear wife in answer to mine of the 24th of July, 1846, in which I gave her an account of our shipwreck. I was much affected by the simple pathos, deep feeling, & unaffected piety which pervaded her letter. If ever I feel the power of religion it will be under Heaven owing to her gentle & sweet influence exercized upon my harsh & stubborn nature. I feel that I am better while I read her words of wisdom & truth. Nothing new in camp. Sickness about as usual. I am preparing to go to Metamores to get pay. Shall remain probably a week for my health, & to see the country, &c.

Sept. 10th. Went to Matamores on the steam boat. Col. Cross in company with Capts. May & Roberts.28

Sept. 18th. Returned from Matamores having been absent one week & during that week Lt. Goss died on the 14th. On the 13th John Bratten29 died. On the 15th William Hopper30 died. They were all good men & their death caused gloom in the company. They all died of fever. Our physicians have not been able to manage this disease. We shall bury a great many of our best men before we leave this miserable camp. Drew at Matamores the pay &c. for two months & ten days—$320.19. A draft on New York for $220.19 cents which I have put in a small pocket book in my trunk & one hundred in silver. Paid my servant, Frederick Eller, $10.00 on yesterday.

Sept. 19, 1846. We are looseing out of the regiment from congestive fever about two each day & no medicines in the hospital & so far as our surgeon & assistant surgeon is concerned we would be far better without either. They do not & cannot arrest the disease. Oh for a thousand tongues to curse the madness & folly of Folk's administration in bringing


  • 28 Captain John H. Roberts, Company A, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 29 Private John Bratton, Company K, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 30 Private William N. Hopper, Company K, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
northern troops here in the most sickly season of the year & when we were not needed & could not be used.

Sept. 20. Sunday & rather more quiet than usual. The sickness has one good effect—it seems to sober the minds of men & officers. Our position is alarming on account [of] the malignant fever now prevailing, & if men can be brought to think upon their latter end our situation must induce serious reflection upon the frail tenure of our life in camp. Today Goddard, Morgan, Mandy, Capt. Powers, Gott, Bratten, & Chambers & Dickey.31 Some of them were sick and should have gone. Others were afraid of the Mexicans & others merely homesick.

Sept. 21st, 1846. The equinoctial storm has commenced in good earnest & many of the tents were blown [down]. The wind was accompanied with torrents of rain which seems to have cooled the air. I hope this change in the air will be favorable to health, at least so far that there will not be so many new cases of fever, but I fear all the old cases will terminate fatally & that in a short time. I have been for 3 days afflicted with a pain in my head from the influence of the heat & light of the sun. I fear such is the fact but may be deceived.

Sept. 22d, 1846. The spirits of the troops is fast failing & they are giveing way to gloom & desponding & God knows they have enough cause. Last night I was thinking of home & the dear one there & just as I had fixed the whole scene in my imagination the sad, solemn, & wild wail of the funeral march struck upon my ear. I had heard it often before, alas, too often, but never before with such feelings. I thought of the gallant young men whom I had induced to leave their home & all its comforts for the pestilential vapours & poisonous breath of a southern clime until every note of the funeral sunk like a leaden weight upon my heart & allmost stilled its pulsations. I could not help thinking that I in some sort was responsible for their death, & the thought planted daggers in my soul & I became a very child. Tears came to my relief. I tried to call up reason, fortitude, phylosophy to my aid but all in vain. At last I thought of religion & the blessed light of revelation shone full upon God's providence making


  • 31 Privates Resin F. Goddard, James R. Morgan, Philip Mandy, Jonathan Gott, George Bratton, William G. Chambers, Robert S. Dickey, and Captain William Powers were all discharged.
all light with faith & hope and bidding me to hope & trust in him who is stronger than strength, to fear not though the clouds are dark & the storm rages never so fiercely. For we have an interest in the mighty master of the storm, an interest as sure & steadfast as the foundations of His throne. The habit of playing the dead march at funerals in camp is, I think, decidedly unfavorable upon the sick. It needs all their strenghth & manhood to sustain them under their trials here, & the influence of the music is deeply depressing upon their spirits, & they are reminded of the great probability that the next time their comrades shall march to the sad notes of that most gloomy air their steps will lead to their graves. Another custom we have in camp here it is to bury at night. The effect of this is also injurious. The funeral of a fellow mortal is gloomy enough when surrounded by friends & in the full glare of broad day light, but it is rendered doubly solemn, impressive, & affecting when it is performed at night with no one to sympathize but strangers, nothing to interrupt the felt silence but the wailing of the dead march, & the far off & bright stars, those constant & everlasting witnesses of human woe & misery, looking down as if ready to melt with pity for man's passion, madness, & crime. When will man learn that he is the brother & friend of man & [not] his natural & sworn enemy? Never, until the mild spirit of the gospel which is the spirit of peace shall pervade our sin-crushed world.

Sept. 23d. We still look with anxiety to hear from Genl. Taylor's advance upon Monterey. If he takes the place without a fight I shall conclude that there is no fight in the Mexicans, & if they make fight & are defeated, with as large a force as they are represented to have, they cannot embody another force sufficient to arrest Taylor's march, & the prospect of peace will be increased. Before this time Buckhannan's letter of the 27th of July has been received in Mexico & we shall know how it was received there.32 Two months will determine whether we are to have peace before Christmas or whether we shall prosecute the war more vigorously. If the city of Mexico is ever invaded successfully it


  • 32 A reference to James Buchanan, then Secretary of State, whose request of July 27, 1846, inviting negotiations with the Mexican government, was answered in a "lofty and cutting strain" by Mexican minister Rejón. Smith, The War with Mexico, II, 122.
must be from Vera Cruz or Tampico. It never can be on Taylor's present line of operations from the Rio Grande owing to the difficulty of transportation, the character of the country, & the distance from the Rio Grande to the city. The plan of the campaign has been wrong if Mexico was the object, but well enough if peace is made at the end of the present campaign. The volunteers should have been kept at home & drilled until the last of Sept. & then taken direct to Vera Cruz & Tampico & from thence been marched direct to the city of Mexico. In that way one campaign would have ended the war & the troops would not have been exposed to the dangers incident to the southern climate. Our regiment has lost over forty brave & noble fellows, & nothing gained by it. The Administration has been guilty of gross folly, premeditated wickedness.

Sept. 24th, 1846. The fevers are on the increase & no medicine in camp. Jones33 has managed the medical department in my opinion as badly as it could have been done. Last night heard of the taking of Monterey.34 The prospect of peace brightens. God grant a speedy and an honorable peace, for this campaign has presented scenes over which stern manhood has wept & could not refuse the deep tribute of its tears.

Sept. 25th, 1846. Fixed the price on the sutlers' goods. All sutlers are extortioners, at least my experience of them induces me to believe so, for Paris C. Dunning, Lt. Governor,35 & that thing Kent surely belong to that class so heavily denounced in holy writ. They sell whiskey at 50 cents a pint, cheese at 50 cents per lb., rice at 30 cents a pound, & potatoes at 5 cents a piece, loaf sugar at 35 cents per lb. If this does not amount to extortion there is no use or meaning in words. But enough of these creatures.

Sept. 26th, 1846. A continued & violent wind & great apprehension of our whole camp being overflowed & in that event the whole regiment will be lost unless by some chance a part of them should be fortunate enough to escape on boats. There is no kind of necessity for incurring such risks. There


  • 33 Surgeon C. V. Jones, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 34 Monterrey was finally captured September 28, 1846. For an account of the battle, see Smith, The War with Mexico, I, chap. XII; Brainerd Dyer, Zachary Taylor, (Baton Rouge, 1946), chap. IX.
  • 35 For an account of Paris C. Dunning's activities during the war see Buley, "Indiana in the Mexican War," 269–270.
is no Mexicans to fight & will not be, & the whole war cry on the part of the administration has been a regular blow.

Sept. 27th, 1846. Sunday & rather more quiet than common owing to the fact that a great number of the troops are sick. The violent northers have prevailed for three days & blown the water of the gulf out into the river above our camp & rendered the water brackish & salt. It has brought bowel complaint on the men again & is as unpleasant as water can be. The men & officers are all, with the exception of Col. Drake,36 very anxious to moove our camp up the river. This should be done by all means. We are nearly all sick here & without wood or water fit to drink, & the drifting sand gets into everything we drink or eat, & the effects of it is most seriously & injuriously felt on the eyes. A worse encampment for the fall or winter cauld not have been selected. The whole volunteers corps have been treated like dogs in this campaign & the Indiana brigade has been worse used than any other, probably because they have been more uncomplaining. The Drs. say that men cannot live as we are situated. We are in a fair way to try the experiment as there seems no present prospect of things getting better. We shall, I hope, have more sense the next time than to put ourselves in such a position.

Monday 28th. The same as yesterday only all the evils of this cursed camp is getting more & more intolerable. It is enough to make the most patient complain & the most pious swear. Why are we here? Why has our brigade been left behind all the rest? Some one must answer these questions.

Sept. 29th. Heard of Taylor's victory or rather of Ampudia's37 capitulation, for it was hardly a victory as I understand the report of the battle. Taylor gained possession of Monterey, to be sure, but on such terms as shows plainly that the enemy were not in his possession. It is rather a drawn battle, but the truce agreed on will, I think, end in a peace.

Sept. 30th. Wrote to day to my father-in-law, Major Elston, an account of Taylor's victory, for I can find no other name for it, although it was not much of a victory after all.


  • 36 Colonel James P. Drake, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 37 General Pedro de Ampudia of the Mexican army.
The health of the regiment is thought to be rather better, but God knows we have suffered enough.

Oct. 1st, 1846 is here, & oh how I have looked for the first of October in the hope that sickness would abate, & the result seems to proove that the worst of our sickness is over. There has been no new case of fever for 7 or 8 days. Our fevers now be intermittent & not of so dangerous a type.

Oct 2d, 1846. We have now cold nights & heavy dews & very warm days. There is great desire among the troops to return home, believing that there is to be no fighting. I am looking for a letter from my dear wife. I am anxious to learn whether she is comeing to New Orleans so as to make my arrangements for meeting her there.

Oct. 3d, 1846. No letter from my dear wife for three weeks. Oh how I do long to hear from her. Married men ought not to go to war. It is not required of them by any consideration of duty [or] of public policy, & for one I am satisfied that I am on my last campaign.

Oct. 4th. Another Sunday but no day of rest. The camp is all in a stew about four companies getting off to guard a train of wagons to Monterey. Rumors are rife of our removal up the country. All are anxious to go. We have been most rascally treated in not being allowed to go up in the time for battle a[t] Monterey. Gross favoritism has prevailed over justice & propriety. Our brigade left home before the Illinois troops & part of the Ohio troops & before the Illinois brigade, & still all these troops have been ordered up the country before us & we have been left to die here on this accursed sand bank. We also crossed the gulf first & our brigade is composed of as good material as theirs. Political considerations & influences have decided our fate & in time the world shall know how our state has been degraded in the persons of her volunteer officers & troops. But enough of this sickening subject.

Oct. 5th, 1846. Received a letter from my dear Joan. She wrote rather gloomily & I reproached myself most bitterly for ever haveing left her. Oh how she suffers from all the combined horrors of suspense, fear & hope defered. But if it is the will of the Lord to let me return I will devote the remnant of my days to his service & to promote the comfort & happiness of my dear devoted wife.

Oct. 6th, 1846. Another mail is in & I am anxiously looking for a letter from my Joan informing me when she will be at New Orleans so that I can go over to see her. A trip across is to me not a very pleasant one & frought with danger, but to see her I would brave all the perils of any gulf of which we read except the gulf which divides the sick man & Lazarus, & oh I pray & hope that the day of destiny will find us both on the same side of that impassible gulf.

Oct. 7th. Had a spell of cramp cholic & afterwards fever. A cure for cholic [is] heated plates or boards to the stomack & a mustard plaster & opium & camphor or strong brandy taken inwardly & constant rubbing of the stomack, hands, & feet & if necessary mustard plaster of hot applications to the extremities.

8th Oct. From this date to the 15th sick at Matamores & taking medicine all the time. Write to my dear mother. Fear that Joan will be uneasy about my health from the tenor of my letter to Mother. Oh how I miss the kind nurseing of my dear Joan when I am sick.

Oct. 15th, 1846. Returned to the camp of the mouth of the river in improved health. Got a furlough from Genl. Lane for fifty days for the purpose of traveling for my health & going over to see my dear wife at New Orleans.

Oct. 16, 17, 18, 19, & 20th. Waiting anxiously to get a letter from my wife informing me as to when she would be in New Orleans & on the 20th received three letters from her filled with love & tenderness & noble sentiments. She wrote to me that she had abandoned the idea of comeing south. This was to her a great sacrifice & grievous disappointment. She is the best woman extant. This she done to obey me & for fear that I might be lost in the gulf in comeing over to see her. Oh if love, pure, unmixed, & undyeing, can repay her for such devotion she is & shall be repaid.

Oct. 21st. Started to New Orleans. Got as far as the Brazos & concluded not to go for my conscience told me that the step I was about to take was wrong, that I ought not to leave the gallant boys whom I had induced to volunteer. I found that I could not leave them. I was as anxious as I could possibly be to see my dear wife & had a great struggle between my duty & my inclination, but thank God in this case my duty prevailed & I have the approbation of my conscience—more to me than the all else besides—for what is the approveing shout of the million compared with the still small voice of the man within?

Oct. 22d. Wrote two letters to my dear Joan, one directed to Crawfordsville & one to New Orleans, explaining to her the reason why I could not come to see her.

Oct. 23d. Rode up to Palo Alto where I joined Capts. May & Roberts & their companies whither they had gone for the health of the troops. The place is a very pleasant encampment & is certainly healthy if there is any healthy situation on this cursed river.

Oct 24th. The boys are killing plenty of game & catching fine fish. Yesterday Capt. May's company brought in 3 rabbits & seven geese & two very fine fish. We have now plenty of sweet milk, corn bread, & roasting ears & fresh eggs & our liveing is decidedly good compared with any thing we have had before on the river. I had forgotten to except as to musketoes & seed ticks. They are here in great force.

Oct. 25th, 1846. Sunday. The boys spent in fishing, hunting, & feasting. I spent it helping Major Cravens38 hunt his horse & in visiting the Mexican ranches to get something good to eat. Got green corn, eggs, corn bread, & sweet milk, & Eph Woodruff39 gave us a part of a fine catfish.

Oct. 26th. A rainey morning morning with the appearance of the commencement of long rainey spell, which God forbid, as we have poor protection from it in our old thin worn out tents. But we must take it as it comes, & therewith try to be content.

27th of Oct. Went to Matamores to wait on Capt. Roberts & remained there until the 5th of Dec. during which time I had a very severe spell of congestive fever succeeded by chills. Gambling, drinking, & all the kindred vices seemed to be on the increase in Metamores. This place seems to be as ripe for God's vengeance as Sodom & Gomorrow were when the Brimstone began to fall.

Dec. 5th. Returned home, that is to camp at the mouth of the Rio Grande. Brought down the news of the order from Genl. Patterson40 for us to moove towards Monterey. The


  • 38 Major James A. Cravens, Second Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 39 Sergeant Ephram Woodruff, Company K, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 40 Major General Robert Patterson of the Volunteer Army.
order was most joyously received. I made to the regiment about 10 o'clock at night a short speech which the boys responded to most cordially.

Dec. 6th. Sunday. Wrote a letter to my Joan & fixed up some shells to send to her by Mr. Bohon. Spent this day in reading & in think[ing] of home & all of my dear friends there & in building air castles to be inhabited in future.

Dec. 7th, 1846. Nothing of interest except a spell of sick headache which lasted until late at night. The boys of the mess very kind but no one can wait on me as well as My Joan.

Dec. 8th, 1846. A very sudden change in the weather from very warm to quite cold accompanied by a severe northern wind as such changes always are in this country. The boys are all exceedingly anxious for a moove & so am I for any change from this miserable grave yard must be for the better.

Dec. 9th, 1846. Last night a small portion of the Cass Company went over the river & burnt up a grocery & a shed attached. This was done to revenge a beating which had been inflicted upon two of that company by the Mexicans. Yesterday being pay day about one third of the boys were drunk. The regiment had been suffered to do as they please for so long a time that anything like restraint sets hard upon the troops. The example of the officers upon the privates is anything but wholesome. When officers get drunk & forget the office they hold it is not strange it is not strange that men imitate them.

Dec. 10th, 1846. Left the mouth of the Rio Grande for Monterey. The troops, officers & men, in fine spirits. The prospect of a fight seemed to put new life into them. The[y] marched towards the battlefield as to a place of amusement, but in a few short months or weeks many hearts that now beat high with hope will be still in death. Reached Mata-mores in the morning of the 11th.

Dec. 11th. Left Metamores for Carmargo. There seems no bounds to the buoyancy of the troops. There is after all is said about the privations of a soldier's life something deeply exciting in camp life. The pageantry & eclat of arms will interest man as long as his nature remains unchanged. Warfare seems to be our natural trade, & the history of the world is but a recital of heroes & their butcheries.

Dec. 12th. Still on our winding way to Carmargo, & it is most emphatically a winding way for no river in the world is more tortuous than the Rio Grande. Passed Reynosa, a small village situated on the river on fine rising ground. Here we encounter the first rock formation as we pass up from the gulf. The rock is a kind of soft like stone. The population of this village is about 1500 or 2000. It is of no great importance in a military point of view but on the passage up the river by Genl. Taylor it was in the beginning of the war a convenient depot for munitions of war & provisions. It is now garrisoned by two companies of regulars.

Dec. 13th, 1846. This day is Sunday. Read in the Bible & thought much of home & the loved one there & lived over again the happy days now passed & gone. Very pleasant traveling companions but most wretched fare on the boat, & I must chronicle the name of our steamboat, the "J. E. Roberts"— a fine running boat but with the Capt. money seems the only object, as indeed it is with all contractors, sutlers, camp followers, & government agents. The government seems to be considered fair prey by the gentry above specified.

Dec. 14th, 1846. Reached Camargo, a town situated on the San Juan four miles above its junction with the Rio Grande. This town has, as all Mexican towns has, a plaza & Catholic church. It is a very poor place & accounted very sickly. It is much dreaded on account of dust in dry weather & rain in wet. It is altogether the least desirable place to reside that I have seen in Mexico.

Dec. 15th. Spent this day in getting mules & breaking them for our march to Monterey & saw Genl. Marshall41 & purchased his fine duelling pistols for $35. Found the Genl. very clean & kind. All is anxiety to be on the moove.

Dec. 16th, 1846. Wrote to my dear wife in the morning & then was very busily employed in assisting to get the regiment ready to march. Shot with Genl. Lane with pistols & beat him. It was, however, an accident as he is a fine shot & I shoot but indifferently well.

Dec. 17th, 1846. Still at this general depot of all the dust in Northern Mexico but with fair prospects of leaving on tomorrow or the next day. While writing I am suffering


  • 41 Brigadier General Thomas Marshall of the Volunteer Army.
from a most intolerable attack of sick headache & get no place out of the reach of the dust & the heat of the sun. Oh for the quiet of home & the dear one to nurse me.

Dec. 18th. As yesterday only more so if possible.

Dec. 19th, 1846. Left Camargo with the regiment for Monterey & after going on six or eight miles met an order from Genl. Butler42 made in ignorance of Genl. Patterson's order & ordering us back, 8 companies to Matamoros & two companies to the mouth. Genl. Lane & Col. Drake very promptly & very properly refused obedience to the order & also an order of Genl. Marshall made out. It would seem on his own hook our Col. ordered the regiment to which they most readily obeyed.

Dec. 20th, 1846. Left the regiment in company with Genl. Lane & escort for Monterey. Took dinner at Mier, a small but beautiful village celebrated for a sanguinary battle fought there between the Texans & Mexicans & also for the beauty & modest deportment of its women. They are very fair for Mexico, but oh how different from our women. From Mier we proceeded to Pont Aquada,43 a small village where we staid all night. The country from Mier is generally barren.

Dec. 21. Left Pont Auquada & travelled over a most barren & desolate country forty five miles & staid all night at the deserted ranche with the Third Regiment. During this day's travel we had the first sight of the mountains & a most georgeous & magnificent sight it was. Sunrise upon Sierra Madre range— it surpassed in gradeur & loveliness any view I have seen among the Alleganies of my own loved land.

Dec. 22d. Saw Genl. Taylor at his camp. He was very polite & affable, complimented Indiana & her volunteers, & I prophecy that he was thinking of the Presidency. He is plain in his dress & appearance & his countenance does not indicate great talent. But great talent for military affairs he certainly has. But still he does not fill my idea of a hero.

Dec. 23d, 24th, & 25th. Remained at Monterey. This in a military point of view [is a] very strong place & it was a most brilliant affair to take it. But the takeing of that place has not advanced us towards a peace one inch. It is an injury to us. Monterey is a very beautiful city haveing a population of 15 or 20 thousand inhabitants. It is situated in


  • 42 Major General William O. Butler of the Volunteer Army.
  • 43 Perhaps Lane is referring to Puerto de Agua.
the midst of lofty mountains & is surrounded by a small, well cultivated valley & it one time was a place of great wealth. It is now on the decline, but its former oppulence may be seen in its splendid cathedral & extensive public improovements. The remains of the Bishop's Pallace is well worthy the attention of the traveller. It must have cost in its erection $50,000. In this country all the wealth seems to flow into the coffers of the church as naturally as water flows down hill.

Dec. 26th. Left Monterey for Saltillo & staid all night with Col. Lane's44 regiment five miles from town.

Dec. 27th, 1846. Started for Saltillo in company with Lt. Brown45 of Logansport who is an excellent officer & first rate gentleman. Staid all night at the celebrated pass half way from Monterey to Saltillo. This is now deserted but there has been a rich farm here & a fine hacienda.

Dec. 28th. Reached Saltillo, a city built of unburnt brick plastered. It [is] very finely watered & is surrounded by a fertile valley of small extent. It is larger than Monterey & shows more evidence of style & wealth. It is over two thousand feet higher than Monterey & is said to be healthy. Saw fine wheat growing here. The people in this mountain region are superior in body & mind to the inhabitants of the low lands along the Rio Grande. Saw Butler. He was very polite & attentive to us.

Dec. 29 & 30th. Remained at Saltillo & saw Genl. Worth.46 More pleased with his appearance and conversation than I have been with any officer in the regular army. He is all out a soldier & has in his nature all the elements of a hero, & if our country is to be cursed with a long continued state of war, Worth is after Genl. Scott47 the best man who could be selected to lead our armies.

Dec. 31st. Left for Monterey on my return & travelled the same route that I had passed which is the most barren & undesirable of any country of the same extent I have ever seen.

Jan. 1st, 1847. Staid at Monterey.


  • 44 Colonel James H. Lane of the Third Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 45 First Lieutenant William L. Brown, Company G, First Regiment ment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 46 General William J. Worth.
  • 47 General Winfield Scott.

Jan. 2d, 1847. Left Monterey for Matamoros where I arrived after a tedious journey on the 12th of Jan., haveing experienced cold weather, snow & ice—two things very rare in this genial or rather burning climate. The regiment in good health & fine spirits & all seemed glad to see me.

Jan. 13th. In camp. Attended drill & got letters & presents from the dear one at home. God bless her.

January 14th, 1847. Today reviewed the regiment by order of Col. Drake. The boys acquitted themselves, both officers & men, with great credit in my poor judgement.

Jan. 15th, 1847. Attended drill & had a spell of sick headache.

Jan. 16th, 1847. Received a letter from my dear Joan dated Dec. 15th, and answered it. It was just such a letter as I like to get. It made me it filled the eyes & warmed the heart; it spoke of anxiety & love & devotion which woman, fond devoted woman, can alone feel or properly express. Men may write essays, history &c., but give me a woman for a letter.

January 17th, 1847. Sunday. Wrote to the dear one & also to Ben Ristine [and] Alexander Thomson.48 Read some & attended drill. This I did not think right but it is the order & we are sworn to obey orders. It is said that in the midst of arms laws are silent. It might be said with equal truth that in the midst of arms religion & morals are silent.

Jan. 18th, 1847. Wrote to Col. Willson, my old well tried & devoted friend, & also to my respected brother-in-law Walter Bowen of Kentucky, and was mustered into service for payment. In Capt. May's company up to this date there has been ten deaths. Oh the horrors of war & oh [the] iniquities of unjust war.

19th Jan., 1847. The usual parades. A cold norther blowing & the camp very uncomfortable. I have, however, good quarters in town at Mr. Gilmore's. They are very kind & very attentive, partly I suppose on account of my money & partly because I am a favorite with them all.49 They made to be sure an effort to be free in 1824 but the dark cloud of Catholic intolerance & ignorance has long since rested on the grave of their nominal freedom. They have never been free


  • 48 Ristine and Thompson were prominent Crawfordsville attorneys.
  • 49 At least a part of the entry for January 20 has been cut from the original manuscript.
in fact. A nation cannot be free with the popular mind enslaved. A man cannot be free with his soul in chains, whether spiritual or temporal. The only hope for Mexico is that she may be Americanised & religious toleration prevail. Then she may be free & never before.

Jan. 21st, 1847. No drill today on account of the cold weather & the boys were being paid off.

Jan. 22d, 1847. The cold weather still prevails & I still remain in camp. Capt. May quite sick & took up to my quarters in town, & with a little selk [self] control & with a great deal of control on the part of the others he controlled his appetite & is nearly well.50

Janry 24th, 1847. The Sabbath. Staid at Mrs. Gilmore's in town. Fine dinner. Reading, writing &c. Beautiful morning like spring. I left in camp rumors of the moovement of troops. Nothing known yet.

January 25th, 1847. Commenced boarding at Mr. Gilmore's today at $16 per month. Very heavy fog, damp & disagreeable. The appearance of opening spring. Oppressive heat in the middle of the day.

January 26th, 1847. Visited the battlegrounds of Palo Alto & Resaca de la Palma. These battles under all the circumstances reflects the highest honor upon our regular army, both officers & men. I could not but feel some pride in the recollection of the 8th & 9th, but this pride as an American was dashed with some bitter reflections which I felt as a man. At Palo Alto the Mexican lines can yet be plainly traced across the open prairie by the unburied & whitening bones of her slain soldiery & their scattered uniforms & equipments. While gazeing upon the skeletons my imagination was busy in filling up the history of each mouldering remnant of manhood. I asked myself which or whether all of the dear social & household ties were severed when they fell; whether they left he left a fond mother to watch & pray for their return to that home they were distined never to see; whether he left a devoted [wife] to weep & wither in his absence; whether she believes the story of his death or yet watches for the dear form & listens for the well known footsteps which never more shall gladden her ear; whether the wild wail of the orphan mingles with the cry of the wife & the mother; or


  • 50 Here the entry for January 23 has been cut from the page.
whether he was only betrothed & the idol of his heart yet hopes for & believes he will yet return. Alas he is no bridegroom of hers. He is the bride groom of death, stern relentless. I thought also of the sorrow-stricken & bending form of the aged father & then I thought of the clenched hand & knit brow & bursting heart of the bereaved brother. Before I had half filled this heartsickening picture I turned with horrow & disgust from the humiliating scene. Oh there is a most fearful responsibility rests upon the heads of rulers who madly involve nations in war. One little incident upon the battleground touched me more than anything else. I found around the neck bone of a Mexican soldier a brass image of the Saviour with his string of beads upon which he told his prayers. I gazed upon this simple memento of his faith until I could allmost see the mortal agony which convulsed his manly frame in the death struggle & hear the thick breathing foretelling speedy dissolution, & then I saw the eye as it grew dim to all other impressions, grow bright as it gazed upon the image of the blessed Nazarine. I thought of the hasty, yet soul-felt prayer which he breathed in that dread hour to the blessed Saviour. Did he pray for himself? Oh no, his faith was confirmed by one look at his crucified Lord. He prayed for the dear loved & lost ones whom he left behind. I left these scenes of bloodshed & violence asking of myself if this was indeed glory, the glory of rational immortal man, if it is always to be accounted honerable to butcher our brethren. It cannot be. The dawn of a bright day is upon us when nations shall learn war no more forever. A visit to a recent battlefield speaks more eloquently of the horrors of war than all the books ever written or sermons ever spoken.

Jan. 27th, 1847. Very sudden change. Cold norther. Caught a severe cold & confined to bed.

Jan. 28th, 1847. The norther has ceased, the cold moderated. My cold better. Returned to camp disappointed in not getting a letter from my Joan but know it is no fault of hers but of the rascally post masters. Wrote to Capt. Powers about the claim of William W. Hopper.

January 29th, 1847. Wrote to my excellent young friend James Harney. Fine warm day. The peach & orange trees in bloom, but to me they have small beauty or fragrance for they only remind me of the bright & balmy spring which will soon open upon my far off home & bring no gladness to her who mourns my long delay.

Janry 30th, 1847. Drill as usual. Received a letter from my friend Dr. Herndon & answered it. The weather fine & warm. The boys rather down in the mouth because they are not to be taken to Vera Cruz. I very much regret that we are not to be permitted to represent our state upon at least one glorious battlefield. I see now no prospect for active service before our time expires. It is better to deserve than to command good fortune. There is comfort in that maxim at all events.

January 31st, 1847. Sunday. Went to church & heard a fine sermon from Father McIlroy, a Catholic priest. There is charm in even the worst form of Christianity far surpassing the best form of heathenism. In this land of the stranger it is sweet to hear the strains of Gospel peace and grace.

Feb. 1st, 1847. Cold norther & nothing else.

Feb. 2d. Same as yesterday.

Feb. 3d, 1847. I was elected It. col., receiving 236 votes & Dr. Miller 84 & Capt. Milroy51 69. I should have had no opposition I think but for one D. R. Eckles,52 but I am pleased that they shewed their hands & gave my friends an opportunity of rallying to me. I feel under grateful obligations to the regiment & under special obligations to Col. Drake, Capt. May, Lt. Hanks, Capt. Roberts, Mr. Albin.53 The Fountain, Montgomery, Marion, Hendrix, & Putnam companies went for me enmasse, & I receiv[ed] a good vote from the other companies. I care nothing for the office, but disliked to be superceded by an inferior in rank.

Feb. 4th, 1847. An election for major in my place. Wm. Donaldson of Capt. Evans'54 company elected. A fine clever fellow & a good & true friend of mine. I go for friends. Mooved into my new quarters with Col. Drake. Again I say he is a gentleman, a true gentleman.

Feb. 5th, 1847. Commenced with Col. Drake to help organize the town. The tippling houses & gambling houses


  • 51 Captain Robert H. Milroy, Company C, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 52 Captain Delana R. Eckles, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 53 Quartermaster-Sergeant William M. Albin, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 54 Captain R. M. Evans, Company D, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
must be suppressed & then good order follows as a matter of course.

Feb. 6th, 1847. Fine day, warm & pleasant. Drill. Thomas Owens55 died— a noble clever man. His brother in great distress. Oh the horrors of war. Ten deaths in my old company to this date. Am I not in some sort accountable for the lives of these young men? I did not intend them harm when I urged them to enlist; I thought of patriotism, honor, & glory, but to them what are all these things? They lost their homes, their relatives, their country; they died in the stranger's land. I hope they were prepared for the solemn & awful change. Few tears water their graves, & no stone points out the place of their rest, but in my heart their memory is fixed & time's effaceing fingers can never blot it out until life itself shall become extinct. Visited today the Senior Alcalde Mr. Manchacka, a gentleman, a scholar, & man of high talents & fine accomplishments. Had music on the harp & guitar & singing in Spanish. Gave us fruits &c for supper. Left much pleased with the evening's entertainment.

Feb. 7th, 1847. Sunday. Helped to enforce the closeing of all the stores, Mexican & American, in the city. To day the city did indeed present a Sabbath stillness. Read 15 chapters in the Bible. Thought of home & the dear good angel presiding there. Some how or other my dear becomes dear[er] as I feel more & more inclined to try to be good enough for her sweet society here & here after.

Feb. 8th, 1847. The usual routine of drill, plans for fortifying the city. Become acquainted with Col. Joseph Taylor,56 brother of Genl. Taylor whom he very much resembles. He was very kind to me. He is the son-in-law of Judge McLean.57 The Col. is very kind to me. He is a plain man of sense & a good officer. He mingles some little politicks in his military opperations, but on the whole is a noble, fine gentleman.

Feb. 9th, 1847. This day is only worth remembering because on it I received a letter from my dear Joan.

Feb. 10th, 1847. Visited in company with Col. Taylor Father McIlroy, a Catholic priest appointed by Mr. Polk. He


  • 55 Private Thomas Owens, Company K, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 56 Colonel Joseph Taylor was chief officer of the commissary department.
  • 57 Associate Justice John McLean of the United States Supreme Court.
is a man of great intelligence, of great suavity of manner, & he lives in style, has good wines & brandies. He does not neglect the creature comforts in his anxiety for the spiritual. He [is] I think the best informed man whom I have met in Mexico. He visits the sick & afflicted & I think will do much good in his present position. If all Catholic priests were like him there would be not half so much prejudice again[st] Catholism.

Feb. 11th, 1847. This is the aniversary of my wedding with dear Joanna. I have thought today much of her & of all the circumstances of becoming acquainted. Wrote her a letter in which I gave vent to some of [my] thoughts & feelings on the occasion. Commenced to fortify the town considerable of an attack from the Mexicans. My only fear is of a surprize. If we have notice we will make their visit anything but pleasant.

Feb. 12th, 1847. An alarm at night caused by the sentinel in the upper plaza fireing his gun. He saw 12 or 15 Mexicans in double file defileing past him. They were probably a party of robbers who have been appointed to collect a tax on goods imported into the interior, or it may be that they were a scouting party of Canales'58 men. The regiment here under arms in a few minutes & in good order & anxious for a fight. I was suddenly aroused out of bed, & my feelings were calmer than I had supposed they would be under such circumstances. I have no fears for our regiment in a fight in the day time if they stand a night alarm as they did tonight. Lt. Wallace59 of the day.

Feb. 13th. Still progressing with our fortifications. If the Mexicans wait on us two days longer they may bring on their bears. We have today a report that there are fifteen hundred Mexican cavalry in our vicinity. We can take care of them if they come, but it is necessary to keep a sharp look. The men now disposed to work & to all duty with promptness. They now think there is something to do. I had rather not die, but let them come.

Feb. 14th, 1847. Brought to the city three pieces of ordinance, one from Point Isabel & two from Fort Brown. Today


  • 58 General Antonio Canales of the Mexican army.
  • 59 Second Lieutenant Lew Wallace, Company H, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers, well known later as a lawyer, Civil War general, and novelist, and brother-in-law of Henry S. Lane.
is the Sabbath but no one from the states would have supposed from the appearance of things that this is the holy Sabbath. We were busy all day at work upon our defences & in placeing our cannon. Oh if the spirit of the Poor Nazarine universally prevailed, these barberous preparations for death & devastation would all cease forever; if men in our Republic would only take as much trouble to spread the area of Christian civilization as they do to spread what they are pleased to misname the area of freedom, what a different state of things would prevail. If all the money which has been expended in this war had been expended to give the Gospel to the poor & deluded Mexican, oh what a glorious conquest we should make. Not a conquest of barren territory which if it is ever annexed to our Republic will only introduce dissention & end in a dissolution of our glorious confederacy, but a conquest of souls, immortal souls, a conquest over ignorance, intolerance, & the mental thraldom of the Mother of Harlots.

Feb. 15th, 1847. Continual alarms in the city but I think there is no danger if there is any considerable for it is an irregular ranchero party organized for plunder.

Feb. 16th, 1847. My health not very good for three or four days—billious. Sold my horse to Lt. Simmons60 for $50. Capt. Roberts very sick. I fear he will never see Indiana. He is an honest man & a good officer.

Feb. 17th, 1847. Rain & cold north wind, the spring rains commenceing. Received a letter from my brother-in-law James A. Elston. He is a noble fine boy. Wrote to me of my dear Joan & of course his letter was very welcome & very interesting.

Feb. 18th, 1847. Rain & cold weather today. Witnessed the funeral of Senor Siron, former Alcade of this place. It was a very imposeing parade & [a] great crowd attended of Mexicans & Americans. It like every other ceremony or institution or sacrament of the Catholic Church seemed wholly addressed to the senses of the crowd & was well calculated to captivate & lead astray the unthinking. It did not seem to me to have any of the stern simplicity & sublime spirituality of the true religion of the Poor Nazarine, but in charity let us hope that although we differ in many, very many respects


  • 60 Perhaps First Lieutenant Seneca G. Simmons of the regular army.
from these poor Catholic brethren, we may finally all find rest in the embraces of a common & all powerful Saviour.

Feb. 19th, 1847. Capt. Roberts & W. Hawkins61 died. A sad gloomy day. They died in the stranger's land far from home & all its sweet associations, but they fell like soldiers at their post in discharge of their duty & their grave was bedewed by tears from many a manly eye. They will rest as securely here as tho they had fallen in their own land. The loss of friends is deeply painful to me now but not so much as formerly, for now I have the sweet & blessed hope that I shall be united to my dear friends in a brighter & better world.

Feb. 20th, 1847. Wrote my dear Joan & attended Capt. Roberts' funeral— a mournful occasion. The soldier has many, very many more trying things to do than to face an enemy in the field. Oh the horrors, the manifold & countless horrors of war. No one can know them with actual experience. Still some alarms of an attack from the Mexicans. Slept none last night on account of the flees. It seems to me that if all the flees in the world could be collected together, at least one half of them would claim residence in Matamoros.

Feb. 21st, 1847. Beautiful weather. Nothing to register.

Feb. 22d, 1847. Capt. Lascelle62 gave a dinner to his company in honor of Washington's birthday to which I was invited, & being called on made a short speech. The company requested a copy for publication. Furnished a copy for them to be published at home. This was perhaps the first celebration of the kind in Mexico.

Feb. 23d. The Mexicans have not yet paid us a visit to retake the city & all alarm on their account has ceased. The[y] will not come, I think. We are too well prepared to receive them.

Feb. 24th, 1847. My birthday to day. I am thirty seven years old. Done nothing to signalize it. My time upon earth is in the ordinary course of things more than half past & yet how little I have done to prepare for death. I will if the Lord will[s] do more in future. Yes, I will begin now. Resolutions to take effect in the future never do any good. It


  • 61 Private Washington Hawkins, Company K, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 62 Captain Stanislaus Lasselle, Company G, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
is the improovement of the present moment which is incumbent on us & which really makes us better & happier. "Now" is the word big with our character & our faith.

Feb. 25th. Wrote to Menchaca the Alcalde for Col. Drake. Menchaca is a man of very respectable abilities but I would not trust him. Slight head-ache. The usual routine of duties. This day as past ones the same round of [drudge?] & dulness & drill.

Feb. 26th, 27th, & 28th, 1847. Continual alarms at Matamoros, but no news as yet from Genl. Taylor & no Mexicans have come to attack us. The Administration in their effort to ruin the reputation of Genl. Taylor have endangered this whole line of communication & probably distroyed Genl. Taylor's whole army, & in this unholy warfare upon Taylor I very much fear that Genl. Scott has lent himself the willing instrument. Received a letter from

March 1st, 1847. Every Mexican has a report of the battle between Taylor & Santa Anna. Nothing reliable. We can't get a word from the army & our condition is most painful, but we all believe that old Zack has done it up brown if he has retired, as I hear he has, before superior numbers. He has been like a lion mangling in his lair and leaveing a track of blood to mark his pathway.

March the 2, 3, 4th, 1847. We [are] all still apprehensive of an attack on this place & Brazos St. Iago. When it will come no one can tell. I think we are ready.

March the 5th, 1847. The Mississippi Regiment arrived at Matamoros under the command of Col. Davis.63 The men are fine looking & in a bowie knife fight they would be some[thing?] but they are not drilled or disciplined for service.

March 6th, 1847. Capt. Ogden sent a letter from the mouth of the river to Matamoros that the Mexicans in great force were crossing the Rio Grande to attack that place. Eight companies were ordered on steam boats immediately to that place, & I was by the order of Col. Drake placed in command. We ran all night & very early in the morning arrived there. It turned out all smoke. They were more scared than hurt.

On the 7th of March we returned again to Matamoros. Found all quiet.


  • 63 The First Mississippi Regiment, called the "Mississippi Rifles," commanded by Colonel Jefferson Davis, later of the Confederacy.

March 8th, 1847. I embarked on the boat "J. E. Roberts" with five companies, Wilson's, May's, Lascelle's, Lewis', & Milroy's,64 for Camargo & thence to Monterey. We all anticipated a fight between Camargo & Monterey as we shall have to open communications for Genl. Taylor. It is a dangerous & glorious service & we are the boys who can do it.

March 11th, 1847. Reached Camargo after a long & tedious passage up the river, the boat often grounding.

March 12, 13, & 14th. Remained at Camargo.

March 15th. Left Camargo for Monterey & marched to the nine mile ranche & remained there one day.

March the 17th. Reached Mier after a very fatigueing march. Saw about thirty lancers at Mier and considerable apprehension of an attack, but all safe during the night.

March 18th. Left Mier & marched to the creek 15 miles where we met Col. H. Marshall's Kentucky Cavalry65 & encamped together for the night.

March 19th, 1847. Came from last camp to Pont Aqueda & on this day's march a large number of lancers were seen & all supposed we were to be attacked. The boys were all panting for the fray & would have disposed of two thousand lancers without any trouble.

March 20th. Reached Seralvo66 where we were most kindly treated & hospitably entertained. The ladies in the morning came out to see us start & expressed the liveliest gratitude for the kind & respectful treatment of our troops. The[y] were apprehensive when we reached there that the town was to be burned & all manner of excesses committed, but to the great credit of our regiment nothing of the kind was done or thought of.

March 21st. Sunday. Travelled nine miles to the burnt ranche which presented a most gloomy spectacle. Every house was roofless & no human being in sight, where two months before all was life & activity & cheerfulness—such is war, in part, & not the worst part either.

March 22d, 1847. March [to] the deserted ranche where we met a portion of the Virginia Regiment under Col.


  • 64 Captain John M. Wilson's Company B, Captain Allen May's Company K, Captain Stanislaus Lasselle's Company G, Captain D. W. Lewis' Company F, and Captain R. H. Milroy's Company C.
  • 65 Colonel Humphrey Marshall, First Kentucky Cavalry.
  • 66 Cerralvo.
Randolph67 & encamped with them. Saw Thos. F. Marshall.68 He was as drunk & also as brilliant as usual. Col. L. P. Cook, my cousin, was there. He was very glad to see me & I to see him. We have the same blood & were raised together & now after being separated for 15 years we met three thousand miles from home in the wilds of Mexico in quest of a common object. Fame, fleeting fame, "which is a life in others' breath." Oh the folly & madness of man, rational man.

March 23d, 1847. This day passed over the ground. Capt. Smith's train was captured by Genl. Urea.69 Saw the whitening bones of our waggoners who were murdered in cold blood & unarmed by the savage, treacherous, & ignorant Mexicans. Most fearfully has this massacre been repaid by our troops. We passed Ramus & Marinn70 today, fine flourishing towns which have been burned & not an inhabitant remains in either. They look as if they had been visited by the angel of desolation. My feelings in passing them was gloomy beyond discription. This day encamped at Agua Fria.

March the 24th. Left our last encamped & marched on for seve[r]al hours when about 11 o'clock our troops saw about one hundred lancers & we all again prepared for an immediate attack in high glee at the prospect of a fight. But again we were doomed to be disappointed, for the lancers retired & we pursued our journey quietly to Genl. Taylor's camp [at] the Walnut Springs where we arrived about an hour by sun & pitched our tents in a most beautiful grove abounding in fine springs of fresh water. This camp is six miles from Monterey & is altogether the most pleasant encampment we have yet had in Mexico.

March 25th. Visited Genl. Taylor. He received me very kindly & promised that if there was another fight during our term of service our regiment should bear a part in it, when I saw before me a plain farmer-like looking old man with nothing like military dress on, in a coarse check shirt, grey pants, & slouched hat. I could hardly realize that he was the hero of a nation & age & that I then saw a future President


  • 67 Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Beverly Randolph of the First Virginia Volunteers.
  • 68 This may be a reference to Captain Thomas F. Marshall of the Kentucky Cavalry.
  • 69 General José Urrea of the Mexican army.
  • 70 Perhaps Los Ramones and Marin.
of the proudest nation & mightiest republic upon earth before me. Yet such he is & is to be.

March 26th, 1847. Revisited the hot sulphur springs & bathed in them. The spring is nearly boiling hot & if we are to believe the Mexican reports has performed some cures almost miraculous. They would be beneficial in chronic rheumatism & some such deseases, I have no doubt.

March 27th, 1847. Wrote to day to my dear Joan, looked at her portrait, read her letters, & thought of home, built castles in the air, lived over again the happy hours we have spent together, resolved & reresolved that if we are again united nothing shall part [us], never, no never. We are one & one home should & shall hold us. Oh the happiness I have thrown away in pursuit of a shadow!

March the 28th. Visited Monterey & took dinner. Got tired & returned to camp.

March the 29th. Remain[ed] in camp & drilled the regiment.

March the 30th. Drilled the regiment & lounged about camp.

March the 31st. Rode out in the morning with James Wilson71 on our Mexican poneys. This day the regiment was paid off & all kept sober with perhaps a few exceptions.

April 1st, 1847. A fine spring morning. Again rode out with James for five miles towards the mountains. Enjoyed the fine air & fine mountain prospects which opened upon us.

April 2d, 3d. Nothing worthy [of] note. Rode out morning & evening. As usual in the evening Col. Drake received an order from Genl. Taylor to march the regiment to Caderita72 to defend a train which he had heard was to be attacked.

April 4th. The regiment took up the line of march & travelled 20 miles. Saw no hostile Mexicans. Had a stampede at night. Slept on the ground in the open air. Got up at 3 o'clock in the morning & bathed in the San Juan River with Col. Drake.

April 5th, 1847. Learned that there was no danger of the train's being attacked. Turned back and the regiment


  • 71 Assistant Quartermaster James Wilson of the First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 72 Cadereyta.
encamped at a small village called Wardeloupe.73 I came on to camp being uneasy about Capt. May whom we had left sick. To day received a letter from my dear dear Joan. I can see in every letter a great improovement in her style of composition, an increased vigor of thought, and enlarged views of things, but in all that relates to the heart she is, thank God, the same. All love & trust, truth & tenderness. Received also today her presents, those dear testimonials of love & regard which to me have a value beyond all the world's wealth. Received presents also from the family & protestations of friendship which I most fully reciprocate & highly prize. A letter also from Sylvia & the buttons, [from] Grandma & the darning kneedles & yarn, some smart sayings from Mary & [Lou ?]. Joan wrote to me that Ma was going to New York to take Lou & the two youngest children. I regret this as it will prolong the time of my seeking them several weeks or perhaps months. Thought of home until I am decidedly home sick & what is still worse I have my fears as to whether I shall get any better until I try the effect of a northern climate. Capt. Evans lost the pamphlets my Joan sent me to read, which is quite a loss here.

April 6th, 1847. Spent to day in reading "The Poets & Poetry of America." A great treat here, but at home no great shakes of a book after all. The weather warmer here today than in Indiana in August.

April 7th. Went [to] San Nicholas,74 a fine pleasant village five miles from the camp, in company with Col. Drake & Lt. Wallace. The houses & gardens here neat & tasteful, the women handsomer than Mexican ladies generally are, but oh that word "but," there is always some but. But I had almost forgot to tell what the present war is. Well, the women— candor compels me to say that much for them— but I must tell they all wear their petticoat so as to show their breasts to the lewd or conniveing gaze of all beholders, but it is only a way they have & I fear they have some other ways which would be rather disreputable in the states.

April 8. Took a ride with Capt. May. A thunder shower in the evening— the first rain we had seen for 8 months & the first thunder we had heard in the country. Our boys


  • 73 Guadalupe.
  • 74 San Nicolas Garzas.
cheered the thunder most vociferously & were answered by the Mississippi troops.

April 9th. Went to Monterey with Col. Drake & also to see Genl. Taylor to get him to furlough some of our officers for the purpose of going thru Texas to take home the remains of Genl. T. A. Howard.75 The Genl. agreed to furlough four officers for that purpose to be designated by Col. Drake. Got wet comeing back from town.

April 10th, 1847. Went hunting in the morning. Killed nothing. Returned & wrote to Joan, then went with Col. Drake to Warloupe to see a fine horse. Dull cloudy day threatening rain. All the talk in camp is of being discharged & going home. Oh the thought of going home, how it does gladden & warm one's heart!

April 11th. Rode out to see Col. of the 2d Mississippi Regiment.76 That regiment has to day eighty men on the sick list. We have twenty. They spree more than we do, that accounts for the difference in the health of the two regiments. Capt. Evans' company started to Saltillo to escort a train.

April 12th, 1847. Have a bad cold & sick headache. Am homesick, heartsick, & sick generally. Oh the beauties & comforts of Campaign in Mexico! When will this war so fraught with misery to two nations have an end? If the defeat of Santa Anna at Bonavista & the takeing of Vera Cruz by Scott77 do not incline the Government towards a peace I can see no prospect for it for years, & oh the untold miseries of a protracted war, such a war as we must have erelong with Mexico. We began to fight about questions of abstract right, but mutual wrongs & aggressions have changed the character of the war & individual animosities & vengeance has largely mingled in the contest. Things are now done by each army that one year ago were not dreamed


  • 75 Tilghman A. Howard of Rockville had been a member of Congress (1837-1840) and a Democratic candidate for governor in 1840. He was sent to Texas in 1844 as charge d'affairs and died there. A Biographical History of Eminent and Self-Made Men in the State of Indiana (2 vols., Cincinnati, Ohio, 1880), I, district 8, p. 30.
  • 76 Colonel Charles Clark.
  • 77 On February 23, 1847, Taylor's troops defeated Santa Anna at Buena Vista. Smith, The War with Mexico, I, chap. XX. Vera Cruz was captured by General Scott's forces on March 27, 1847. Ibid., II, chap. XXII.
of & the bare mention of which would have sent the warm blood freezing & curdling upon the heart.

April 13th, 1847. The same as yesterday only more anxious if possible to return home to my sweet home & the dear little wife. I think of her until my weak & tired brain reels with the consciousness of the time & space which separates us. Absence is now no longer a mere uneasiness or disquietude but is a sense of postive pain & conscious & liveing agony. But I deserve it for seeking abroad that which can only be found at home.

April 14th, 1847. My usual rides & drills. Time begins to hang heavy. Think nothing else but going home.

April 15th, 1847. Remained in camp today & read Shell[e]y. To metaphysical for me & too dark too. There is in his works a vein of infidelity more dark & more dangerous than I had ever discovered before. I was not in the proper frame of mind to read this book & never was so little pleased with it before. In genius he is an angel but an angel fallen. His only object seems to be to shut out the light of God's revelation & leave mankind to grope their way thro this vale of tears in night & in darkness. There is a brilliancy about his imagination but it is a brilliancy caught from the false light of French phylosophy & haveing no kindred with the true light which is from Heaven, the sun of righteousness which alone can pierce the deep gloom which overhangs sin-bruised mortality.

April 16th, 1847. Dined by special invitation with Genl. Taylor. Was much pleased at my reception. He is a plain man in his manners & has the rare faculty of making everyone, however humble, at ease in his presence. He does not fence himself in by any false dignity. He talks rather clumsily but his excellence is that he can do. He spoke freely of the Administration, of of Genl. Scott, & their conduct towards him in the conduct of the war. He is no politician in any party sense of that word but he is what is far better—an American. He loves his whole country too well to give himself to any portion of it. His predilections are for the Whig policy & his associations are with the Whig party. He is Whig enough for me & patriot enough for any & every American. If he lives he will be our next President & woe, woe to the mere politician who attempts to stand between the people & the man on whom those choose to bestow their gratitude for signal military services. The people will after all have a hand in the makeing of their own great men & when they make no clique can unmake.

April 17th, 1847. Tired waiting for a mail from home. It has been more than two months since the date of my last letter from the one loved one. Wrote to my wife today. Just recovering from a severe spell of sick head ache. I love my wife at all times but oh I do feel the want of her presence when I am sick. My messmates May & Hanks & Owens78 are as kind as men can be, but what is that to woman's kindness? Nothing less than nothing.

April 18th, 1847. Sunday. Read 6 chapters of the Book Ezekiel. Could make nothing of [it] except a vague shadowing of the fall of Jerusalem. The heart described is past finding out. Rode to Monterey in the evening. Disappointed in the arrival of the mail. Mailed a letter to Joan.

April 19th, 1847. Ten months since we were mustered into service. Hope to [be] at New Orleans in two months more. In doubt as to the propriety of writing to Joan to meet me at New Orleans the 20th of June. Have abandoned the idea of going thru Texas for Genl. Howard's remains. If I can manage so as to get an intimation from Genl. Taylor as to when we shall start for home, I will write to Joan to come south to meet me. A slight touch of rheumatism in the right shoulder. Getting up a trip in company with Col. Drake to see the battlefield at Bona Vista. Getting homesick & that right smartly too. Still, if I get home in my present state of health I shall not regret the campaign altho I shall not make it when I expected or intended. Rode out. There is one thing which must strike the most casual observer here, & that is the air of decay which seems to pervade everything here. The town seem to be out of order & prematurely old. Their are no new houses or improovements of any kind. Their farms & ranches seem to be going fast to ruin; no young orchards or fruit trees; gardens neglected; their implements of agriculture are all of primitive patterns, rude, awkward, & unserviceable; their domestic animals for want of attention are of poor breeds & almost worthless. There is a word nothing like improovement, or progress in the arts [of] agriculture [or] of manufactures. All seem at a dead standstill or rather


  • 78 First Lieutenant James Owen, Company K, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
everything seems going back. This melancholly state of things is superinduced or brought about by the unstable & violent character of the government, its frequent revolutions & revulsions. There is here no security for personal property or personal rights. The people only feel the hand of the government in its confiscations & oppressions. The Army declares in favor of some leader who promises that if successful he will pay up all their arrearages. He then commences a revolution & all who refuse to join are in the end forced to pay the soldiers their property confiscated, & [are] often imprisoned themselves. Opposition to violent rule of these temporary despots is construed into opposition to the Republic & made treason. A government thus forced the joint result of fraud & force cannot be permanent. Another revolution soon succeeds, of the same character. The people have nothing like a permanent government. They have no security that their industry or enterprize will enure to their own benefit. They [have] no inducement to labour for the purpose of acquireing any property more than a bare subsistence. Those who sow in peace have no security that they will be permitted to reap in peace. Hence, a kind of national indolence pervades the whole people. Another reason for the depressed state of agriculture is that those who till the soil do not own it; it is cultivated by peons who are enslaved for debt, a slavery worse by far than the slavery of the African race in the United States. Unless men are interested in the result of their labours they do but little, nor do that little well. The frequent revolutions which distract & desolate this unhappy country seem peculiar to those provinces which were originally settled by the Spaniards & when that social, political, religious, & moral incubus (Catholicism) prevails no people can ever be free with a religion established by law. If men are taught from their infancy to believe that they have spiritual superiors, that the priest stands between them & their God, they will be easily persuaded to recognize temporal superiors. This seems to follow as a natural if not an inevitable consequence. If you would fit men for self government make them free, body & soul, at the same time that you give them freedom in temporal affairs. Break every chain which fetters the soul. If there is any cure for the manifold evils which curse this illfated country, it will be found in the principle of universal toleration. Religion thus free, unfettered, & unconnected with the State is the harbinger of free government & free institutions, but that monster which is miscalled religion, which connects itself with temporal power, userps high places, & whose sceptre is the blood-stained sword, is the most stupendous & monstrous evil which has ever blighted & blasted the fair face of human society. If the time shall ever come when all the various sects of Christianity shall be tolerated here, then & not till then may we hope for the establishment of a permanently free government in Mexico. But judgeing from present appearances that happy event is yet afar off.

April 20th, 1847. A heavy rain. The rainy season is upon us. Rumors of another fight at Saltillo which I do not believe, but if there is to be another fight, God grant that the 1st. Indiana Regiment may be in it. I am threatened with a return of dyspepsia. It cannot be the result of high living, for the camp fare does not afford much to tempt the appetite. But my theory is that too much food of any kind will cause dyspepsia, especially if no exercise is taken. Preparing to leave for Saltillo to see the Bona Vista battlefield, that of Taylor's glory & volunteer chilvalry. It is hard to be permitted to see great battlefields only after the battles have been fought which have made them memorable. Much has been said about the conduct of the Second Indiana Regiment in the Battle of Bona Vista. I have listened to all that has been said, I think as impartially as any Indianian could, & have come to this conclusion: that the regiment fought as well as any regiment in the field & that if Col. Bowles79 had not given that ill advised & unfortunate order to retreat, no possible reproach could have attached to the regiment. The court of enquiry has set all to rights. The honor of the regiment & state is safe & Col. Bowles is ruined.

April 21st, 1847. Went to Monterey on my way to Saltillo. Abandoned the trip. Waited for letters. Got none. Become acquainted with Col. Hamtramck.80 Much pleased with him. He seems to be an excellent gentleman & is said to be a fine officer. Last night wrote to my dear Joan to meet me at


  • 79 Colonel William A. Bowles, Second Regiment Indiana Volunteers. For an explanation of the Buena Vista controversy and Colonel Bowles' part in it, see Buley, "Indiana in the Mexican War," 46-68.
  • 80 Colonel John Francis Hamtramck of the First Regiment Virginia Volunteers.
New Orleans on the 20th of June. I am most anxious to see her, & I desire that she shall visit New Orleans. Mrs. Col. Drake is also comeing. We shall, I hope, have a pleasant time of it. I know I shall if Joan comes, for if she is present I am content, come what may. She is my whole world. I have no thought but of her, no heart but for her, no wish of which she is not the object. If the eye of a stranger should chance to light on this page, if I he is a husband he will understand it & forgive me; if he is not a husband I do not regard his criticism a feather. At all events, I have a right [to] open my heart to myself & to my wife. My other self no one else will perhaps ever see it, & if they do I don't care.

April 22. Went to Monterey with Wilson. Dress parade.

April 23d, 1847. Wrote to Joan again by James Willson. Received a letter from her, a good sweet letter just like her. The man who has a good wife needs nothing else to make him happy, nay blessed.

April 24th, 1847. Quite sick of billious cholic. Took opium in large quantities. The cholic succeeded by bowel complaint, very bad. This country is filled litterally with murder & battle & sudden death.

April 25th. Sunday. Yet sick. Stayed in my tent all day. Better towards evening. Lost my Mexican poney. Bad luck in horses. Col. Nave81 first cheated me out of $50 & then I purchased a poney for $25 & now he has run off. I have, however, good luck about everything else & I can afford to be unlucky in horses.

April 26th, 1847. A dark dull rainey day. Eckels & Wilson & Maddox82 & McManaway83 & Col. Drake are all absent & I am lonesome, or if the truth must be told I am, I suspect, homesick. I do want to see Joan & I don't care who knows it. The 1st Mississippi Regiment leaves today for Camargo. I suppose it will not return but will go home to be discharged. They were mustered into service only ten days before us. Our time will come after a whole poco tempo. Oh that will be a joyful time when we shall leave the stranger's land for our sweet home!


  • 81 Lieutenant Colonel C. C. Nave of the First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 82 First Lieutenant Finley L. Maddox, Company D, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 83 Probably Second Lieutenant James McManomy, Company D, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.

April 27th, 1847. An attack of ague & fever, quite severe. Broke it up with quinine. Took calomol in small quantities to excite the liver to a healthy action. Not much effect on the liver but the effect very visible upon my gums— badly salivated.

April 28th. No appetite, getting weaker, tendency to fever, very sore mouth, & weather intolerably hot. Every thing about the [camp] anything but comfortable for a sick man, but to go to Monterey [would be] still worse.

April 29th. Found my horse. Wrote a letter to Joan. Rather better, but the heat most oppressive & the fleas worse than any person unacquainted with this wretched country can possibly imagine. Before going to bed we caught over fifty which did seem to lessen the number only to exasperate the survivors, for this night it seemed as tho we were to be taken "bodeaciously," if I may use a Kentuckism.

April 30th. Mustered in for pay. The health of our troops good. My own health improveing. The 2d Mississippi Regiment, however, are dredfully scourged by sickness, having 11 persons in forty eight hours last past. Oh the glories of the war! Poetry, painting, & eloquence will be involved to teach a gapeing world the splendid achievements & brilliant results of our victories, but who shall sing the horrors of this campaign? Who will enter the small, heated, & crowded tent of the poor soldier & say how he died; wipe the death damps from his cold brow; catch the last glance of his dimned eye, that fearful glance where struggles hope, difiance, & mortal agony; hear the last half-breathed wish to be kindly remembered by those dear & loved ones afar off whom he shall never see? This picture is always overlooked in our account of war, but if it could be seen & felt it would melt the icy & stoney heart of even political intreague itself. Creatures who for selfish ends embroil great nations in needless war should have the indignant thunders of outraged humanity sounding in their ear during this life, & during the life to come they should have the unending Hell of bitter remorse & deep dispair.

May the 1st, 1847. May day. Oh what a happy day is this in my own loved village. I can almost hear the sweet chime of the bells & the sweeter voice of innocence & childhood, & I can almost see the smiling faces of the happy groups as the[y] are assembling under the old forrest trees, & I seem to breathe the odours of those flowers which kind Nature has with more than maternal kindness in my own, my native land. Oh well do I remember May day three years ago. It was then that I first found among a gay & happy throng her who has since been the flower of my existence, the adored object of my devotion. But now I am afar off where no sweet faces smile upon me, no music greets my ear, no flowers breathe for me their sweetness. Still I will live upon the memories of the past. Whatere bitide, I have been blessed. I will listen to the angel melodies of the sweet singer hope until by fancies' magic touch all those bright & winged hours are mine again.

May the 2d, 1847. Cool, pleasant day & my ague over. Rode into town with Col. Drake & Capt. Evans after supper. Got a cup of chocolate very far superior to any chocolate I ever before had tasted. Either the material is very superior or there is an art in the makeing which our people have not found out. Heard reports in town comeing from the Mexicans of a decissive battle having been fought between Genls. Scott & Santa Anna in which both generals were killed & in which our army was greatly worsted. Do not believe it, but if this report should turn out to be true we shall yet have plenty of hard fighting on this line as the enemy if they have checked Scott will no doubt attack our posts on the Rio Grande, & then our government may perhaps wake up to the importance of the war in which we are engaged & cease to carry it on in [the] pickeune way which they have done heretofore if they intend to invade the city of Mexico. We now have in the field at least seventy-five thousand troops. The war can never be ended as it is at present conducted unless the Mexicans choose to terminate it.

May the 3d, 1847. Went to town. Called to see Cols. Mitchel,84 Weller,85 & Hamtramack—all very courteous & clever. Hamtramack is the best officer, Weller a man of the most talents, & Mitchel dresses better than either of the others. Mitchel is governor of the town & he takes the office very hard, but he is young & very good looking, & a long way from home, has been in a battle, & is to be excused.


  • 84 Colonel Alexander M. Mitchell, First Regiment Ohio Volunteers.
  • 85 Lieutenant Colonel John B. Weller, First Regiment Ohio Volunteers.

May 4th, 1847. Rumours are still afloat of the battle between Scott & Santa Anna. We are all anxiety to hear the truth. We do not credit the Mexican reports in full but still have our fears. A great battle has in all probability been fought & I fear our forces have suffered repulse; tho truth is, after occupying Vera Cruz & Alvarado, Scott had not force enough to march upon Mexico, & if he has done so I can but dread the result. Our uninterrupted success has spoiled the Administration & spoiled our generals too. They underrate the enemy & all hands will, I fear, before long be taught a sore lesson. Why not bring an army here instead of a handful of men? Why not make a demonstration of power which will awe Mexico & show the world what Americans are? We should make this a short & glorious war for the moral effect it would have upon Europe, & we should look to that & be ready for that great conflict of opinion which will come in our day & generation.

May 5th. Dull day, drizzelling rain. Got two letters from Joan, the first cheerful but the last gloomy, oh how gloomy. What a sin I have committed in leaveing her the prey to such gloom & despondence & all the horrors of suspense. She imagines the worst. Oh that she could this moment know that all is well. I shall, I hope, soon be permitted to rejoin her, never more to be parted never, no never. How foolish it was in me to leave her & all the sweet endearments of home in quest of fame which ever flies when most we pursue. But enough of vain regrets. I will do so no more. I am cured of ambition & do not fear a relapse.

May the 6th. Pleasant mild weather. Good health &c.

May 7th, 1847. Went to Monterey. Rumors that Scott has defeated Santa Anna.

May the 8th, 1847. Called to see Genl. Taylor. The anniversary of the Battle of Palo Alto. We have been one year engaged in war, have gained seven battles, have lost many men & killed many more of the enemy, have taken more than half of their territory including a great many important towns, all of their sea ports, & still we have not conquered a peace & our government is more sick of the war & more desirous for peace than are the Mexicans. It is a war waged by us at vast expense bringing no results fruitful in what men call military distinction but in nothing else except in bearing unmixed evil.

May 9th, 1847. Sunday. Heard from Genl. Scott's column. Our arms have again triumphed.86 The Mexicans are even worse defeated than ever, haveing lost all their arms, artillery, munitions of war, & lost besides many prisoners. This victory will place Scott on high ground as a general & it may be that it will exercise a happy influence upon our prospects of peace. From the Mexican account their army has been totally routed & is disorganized. They cannot for some time get up another force large enough to meet either Scott or Taylor, but if they choose they may make gurilla war upon us & protract this war for long years to come. Visited to day Cols. Mitchel & Weller of Ohio. Very clever. Wrote to Major Elston.

May 10th, 1847. Dined by special invitation with Col. Weller, Major Boyd,87 & Dr. Chamberlain.88 All very kind & hospitable & waiting very anxiously for an order fixing the time for our leaveing for home, but as yet no order comes. We hope that we shall soon leave.

May the 11th. Went to Monterey with Major Morrison89 & Lt. Smith.90 Had something like sunstroke. Near fai[n]ting, become blind, succeeded by severe head ache—the effect [of] a most intensely hot sunshine. Nearer dicing perhaps than ever before. Most anxious to leave this cursed country.

May the 12th, 1847. Genl. Taylor today decided that our regiment should be disbanded on the Rio Grande. That will give me about a hundred more pay, but I would rather get home or to New Orleans ten days sooner than to have a hundred dollars. I will, if I can, get a furlough ten or fifteen days before the regiment gets of[f]. I am doing no good by staying & might just as well go where I know I can at least make one true & gentle heart happy & at the same time make my own happiness complete.

May the 13th, 14th, 15th. Homesick, fever, & ague.


  • 86 Doubtless a reference to the routing of the Mexicans at Cerro Gordo, April 18, 1847. Smith, The War with Mexico, II, chap. XXIII.
  • 87 Major Alfred Boyd of the Kentucky Volunteers.
  • 88 Dr. Edmund Kirby Chamberlin, surgeon with the Volunteer Army.
  • 89 Perhaps Major Alexander P. Morrison of the commissary department, Volunteer Army.
  • 90 First Lieutenant Charles C. Smith, Company H, First Regiment Indiana Volunteers.

May the 17th, 1847. Genl. Taylor gave Lt. Col. McCar-ty,91 Lt. Hanks, & myself a furlough for the ballance of our time to go to New Orleans & await the arrival of the regiment that will leave camp at the Walnut Springs one week from today. Started for New Orleans & came on to Ramus. Slept on the ground but still slept soundly.

May the 18th. Come to Seralvo very much fatigued. Remained all night at the house of a Mexican. They were very kind. Had fever. His wife made me a good cup of chockolate [and] gave me cordials, & what was still more grateful to me the whole family seemed to sympathize with me & sympathy is the best of all cordials to a sick man away from home & friends & [in] the stranger's land. Lt. Hanks was very kind to me. He is an honest, brave, clever boy.

May the 19th, 1847. Came to Canales's run. Found a Mexican with some fine honey which we purchased of him. Still sick & worn out with travel but the thought of going home kept me up.

May the 20th. Reached Mier. Bought a black shawl for the "one loved one." Had spell of sick headache.

May the 21st. Arrived at Camargo. Had a severe chill & high fever. Remained four hours & came on down the river to the depot 10 miles below Camargo. Stayed all night. Slept on some bags of corn in an old ware house.

May the 22d. Came on & stayed all night at the camp of the 1st Mississippi Regiment.

May 23d, 1847. Started at 2 o'clock in the morning & travelled on to Reynosa today. Remained all night there on the bank of the river.

May the 24th, 1847. Embarked on the steam boat "Warren" for the mouth of the Rio Grande where we arrived on the evning of the 26th after a pleasant & for the stage of water a quick trip. No appearance of ague on the passage.

May the 27th, 1847. Left the mouth of the Rio Grande & proceeded to Brazos St. Iago, & late in the evening embarked on the schooner "Wm. Thompson" for New Orleans. Had a very pleasant trip, passage of four days to the Balize.92 Came over without ever having to shift sails. Not much sea sick. Arrived at New Orleans on the second of June. Anxious


  • 91 Lieutenant Colonel William M. McCarty of the Third Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
  • 92Balize Battery, Louisiana, at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
to hear from Joan as to what time she would reach the city. Went the first thing to the post office. Got a letter from her written before she had received my letter of the 20th of April desireing her to meet me at New Orleans. She informed that she was makeing arrangements to meet me in Louisville but she will change her plans & come on to this place & I shall soon see her & again be happy, be blessed, & forget the darkness & sorrow of the past in the joy & gladness of the present. Stopped at the St. Charles Hotel.

June 3d, 4, & 5th. Dull times waiting for the regiment. No letter from my wife yet. Last evenening had a chill succeeded by fever. Today, the 5th, well again. Find that the Washington Union & a great many other Democratic papers are eulogiseing my Matamoros speech. It is strange to read my praises in Democratic papers, & stranger still to see my self abused in Whig papers. I have said & done in reference to the Mexican war what I believe to be right. I have the approbation of my own conscience. I walk at peace with the man within & regard not what the world may say or think in reference to my conduct. Met last night Major Gaines of Kentucky [and] his wife.93 He is a noble, fine gentleman & she seems to be quite as clever a fellow as he is. I find myself a little awkward & embarrassed in the company of ladies af[ter] my year's exile, but all this will soon wear off & my usual gallantry & polite bearing again [will] prevail.


  • 93 Major John P. Gaines of the First Kentucky Cavalry.



Published by the Indiana University Department of History.