Correspondence of John Sedgwick, Major-General, volume 1 [Digital Version]

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Sedgwick, John, 1813-1864 and Curtis, George William, 1824-1892, Correspondence of John Sedgwick, Major-General, volume 1 (Carl Stoeckel, 1902)

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Title: Correspondence of John Sedgwick, Major-General, volume 1 [Digital Version]
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  • Sedgwick, John, 1813-1864
  • Curtis, George William, 1824-1892
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Description: Printed document, 198 pp. Volume 1. Covers the period between 1846 to 1864.
Source(s): Sedgwick, John, 1813-1864 and Curtis, George William, 1824-1892, Correspondence of John Sedgwick, Major-General, volume 1 (Carl Stoeckel, 1902)
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Correspondence
of
John
Sedgwick
MAJOR
GENERAL
I
1902









This copy of the "Correspondence of
Major-General John Sedgwick" is
one of an edition of three hundred
copies printed at The
De Vinne Press, on handmade
paper, from type,
in May, nineteen
hundred and two

∵ ∵


CORRESPONDENCE OF
JOHN SEDGWICK
MAJOR-GENERAL




[Figure] JOHN SEDGWICK

From a lithograph made about the time of the
Mexican War

Gibson Del Dielman se.



CORRESPONDENCE
OF
JOHN SEDGWICK
MAJOR-GENERAL
VOLUME I

PRINTED FOR
CARL AND ELLEN BATTELLE STOECKEL
MCMII


Copyright, 1902, by
CARL STOECKEL

THESE VOLUMES ARE
DEDICATED TO
MRS. EMILY SEDGWICK WELCH
THE ONLY SURVIVING SISTER
OF GENERAL SEDGWICK



xi

INTRODUCTION

As the world goes on, and the
present time passes into history,
a constantly increasing
interest attaches to the words
and acts of those who have
made that history.

Biography is becoming more and more the
most fascinating of general reading. More and
more we love to mark by a tablet the spots of
earth where, by individual effort, a forward step
has been taken or a turning-point reached in the
life of the nation. More and more we delight
to commemorate the birthplaces and the final
resting-places of our great men. Within due


xii

bounds, hero-worship is a generous passion.
The desire to learn the details of the lives of our
noble dead, what were their likes and dislikes,
their favorite and familiar habits,—not their
graces only, but even their foibles,—is a craving
common to eager natures. It is an honorable
instinct as well as a just tribute. Moreover,
the letters of our vanished friends are like their
living voices—they bring the writers as if from
the grave to our minds and hearts.

For these reasons we deeply regret that the
records of Major-General John Sedgwick's life
are so scanty, but we are proportionately grateful
that so much of his correspondence has been
saved as appears in these few pages. It adds,
also, to the interest of these letters that they were
written without the least idea that they might
ever reach a somewhat wider circle. With the
charm of unpremeditation they have the careless
ease which belongs to untrammeled family
correspondence. Though adding little to our
knowledge of either the Mexican or the Civil
War, it is very interesting to observe the writer's
personal connection with both. Those military


xiii

movements which, under the leadership of Taylor
and Scott, met with such extraordinary success,
become vivid when we read his incidental
and off-hand account of them, though so fragmentary
and incomplete. We thrill with his
righteous indignation at such disgraces as the
two Bull Runs, and those disheartening failures
at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, which he
did all that one man could do to prevent. We
share his sense of relief in the gracious salvation
of Gettysburg, and his renewed anxiety in the
desperate struggles of the Wilderness. As we
read the letters these feelings come to many of
us with a keener sense of reality than at second
hand in the historian's narrative.

When the idea of printing the correspondence
first suggested itself, the only letters which were
known to exist were those written during the
Mexican War, about ten years after Sedgwick's
graduation from West Point. Even those,
modest as they are, are of much interest. Many
of us to-day do not like the way in which the
quarrel with Mexico was provoked by the United
States. It recalls the story of the wolf and the


xiv

lamb. But this, as a matter of national ethics,
concerns only the crafty politicians who devised
the war in the interest of slavery.

The officers and men who won at Palo Alto
and Cerro Gordo were entitled to the same praise
with those who fought at Antietam or Spottsylvania.
But no more wars, it may be safely and
thankfully said, will be waged by Anglo-Saxons
on this continent, for generations at least, to promote
any cause or extend any area but those of
freedom. We are glad that the later correspondence
has come to light. While the sense of
duty which carried Sedgwick through our earlier
strifes was honorable to him, it is satisfactory to
have also a personal record of his connection
with a war more honorable to the country.

Though the story of these wars has been so
often told and retold since these letters were
written, they still have the interest that attaches
to all the words and acts of a noble actor in both
military dramas. In the second series they have
the weight which belongs to mature experience
and high command.

Sedgwick was a born soldier. Throughout


xv

his correspondence we recognize the simplicity,
modesty, straightforwardness, and courage which
made him, in the hearts of his command, a not
less beloved officer than any in the Federal army.
In almost every one of these letters we catch
also a glimpse of the tenderness of his brave heart.
Had he survived the American conflict, it would
have been his wish to end his days, like Cincinnatus,
on his farm. He would have beaten his
sword into a plow-share, and digged in the soil
where he now lies.

But it was otherwise ordered. In the "Cornwall
Hollow," under the shadow of the Cornwall
Hills, rest his honored remains. A noble but
simple monument, the tribute partly of loving
friends and partly of a grateful country, marks
the spot. No soldier has a purer record; few
soldiers have a more beautiful resting-place or
a more appropriate memorial.

HENRY D. SEDGWICK.



1

1846

My dear sister:

I have a moment to tell you of my safe arrival
at this place. We land to-morrow morning and
proceed to Matamoras, when I will write the
news. We have had a long and tedious passage
of forty-five days, with light winds, and generally
ahead; but since last Saturday it has been blowing
a gale, and kept us from hearing any news
from the shore, so that we have not a word from
the world for forty-five days. This will go to
New Orleans in this ship, where it will be mailed,
and possibly have the luck to reach you. I shall
take occasion to write a line by every mail, and
hope to receive as many.

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.


2

My dear sister:

I wrote you a line from the ship that brought
us here, with the expectation that it would be
mailed at New Orleans, and, I hope, reach you.
We sailed from New York on the 13th June,
and had a very long passage—forty-five days—
but with this exception: quite pleasant, light
winds, generally ahead, which did not advance
us much, but kept us cool, and verified the old
saw, "That it is an ill wind," etc. On the evening
of the 16th we made Grace light,—two
thirds of the passage, and at the point that they
cross the Gulf Stream to Key West. We were
anticipating a speedy trip, but here the wind became
dead ahead, and drove us back around the
island; and eleven days after we made the same
light, in the very track we had previously passed
over, and with no more reason to suppose we
should succeed better again. This time the Captain
concluded to try it across the Bahama Banks.
He knew that his ship drew over thirteen feet of
water, and that he could not expect to find but
thirteen and a half feet, and this for a distance
of seventy miles. We had now a fine breeze in
the right direction, and before morning found
ourselves nearly over, the ship occasionally grating


3

along on the bottom, and the Captain fearful
of grounding; but good luck brought us over.
We had the same wind for ten days, that brought
us in sight of the Brazos (this place), when the
wind came out ahead, blowing a gale for three
days, moving us off a hundred and fifty miles,
which took us three days more to make. After
reaching here, we could not land for want of a
steamboat to take us off; and there, during quite
a gale, we lay rolling about like a log, all seasick.
About the fourteenth day out a man fell
overboard, and there appeared little prospect of
saving him; he caught a fish-line that was towing
behind, but the vessel was going with such velocity
that it drew him under, and he was obliged
to let go. Several planks were then thrown him,
one of which he caught and sustained himself
while a boat could be lowered. By this time he
was out of sight, except as he rose on the waves.
The Captain thought that it would be impossible
to save him, as he was fearful the boat would not
hold together; but after a manful struggle he
was brought on board. The Captain then said
that this was the sixth man he had had fall overboard,
and the first saved, as the sharks generally
seize them before they are long in the water.
We spoke several vessels, from one of which we
learned of the Oregon treaty, which surprised us

4

some. Think— we were more than forty days
without hearing anything like news, or knowing
that there was any such place as we had just left!
On our arrival here, and before we landed, we
could see the trains leaving the Point for Matamoras
with supplies. They were in companies
of from one hundred to two hundred and fifty
wagons, with six to eight oxen or mules to each,
reaching a distance of two miles. Everything
here looks warlike. Between seven and eight
thousand troops are here, in camps of five hundred
and a thousand each. At night the campfires
make a brilliant appearance, lighting the
whole country for miles around. We landed
about dark and without our baggage. After
marching to the ground where we were to encamp,
we piled our arms, the men made some
coffee, when we lay down and slept like old soldiers.
The next day we pitched our tents, and
are now waiting orders to join the main body,
which lies at Camargo, about a hundred and fifty
miles up the Rio Grande. There, it is expected,
we shall remain for a month or six weeks, and
then, if there is no change in our relations with
Mexico, to proceed to Monterey, about a hundred
and seventy miles further in the interior.
Here it is conjectured a last stand will be made,
and, if defeated, they can make no further opposition.

5

So far I like the country very much; it
is not by any means as hot as I expected to find
it. It is perfectly healthy, and I do not fear as
much for the climate as I do that I may be kept
here for a long time. I did not find a letter here
as I had hoped, and I am afraid many will miscarry;
mine will be more likely to reach their
destination than yours. If anything happens to
me, you will be made acquainted with it immediately;
yet I hope to join you, and that before
many months. Till then, believe me that I love
you the same as I ever have.

Your brother,
JOHN.

My dear sister:

I intended to have written you again before
leaving Point Isabel, but I was ordered to leave
at an hour's notice. I am now en route for
Camargo, some two hundred miles up the river,
with two companies of my regiment and two of
the 4th Artillery, numbering about three hundred
and sixty men. Yesterday we marched
down on the shore of the Gulf, with a delightful
sea breeze—but withal very hot. At Camargo,
report says, we shall remain for six weeks or two
months, when a demonstration is to be made on


6

Monterey, an interior city of twenty-five thousand
inhabitants. Rumor says that the enemy
are fortifying very strong, but little reliance can
be placed on any of their stories. I have received
no letter yet, but have heard that there is one
for me at Matamoras. If this is so, I shall get
it to-morrow. So far I have been agreeably disappointed,
both in the soil and climate of this
country. It is one of the most luxurious countries
in the world. Everything grows without
any cultivation. By sticking the seed into the
ground, it grows and ripens itself; but the people
are too lazy to do even that, and the consequence
is that you get nothing except what is
self-sown. The country is filled with cattle,
sheep, hogs, and horses, worth little but for their
hides. Everybody owns as many as he chooses
to brand. The cattle are the largest I have ever
seen, and the horses the smallest, and perfectly
worthless. The people are too lazy to tame
their cows, and it is with the utmost difficulty
that we can get a drop of milk. This morning
a little Mexican was selling milk in the camp at
twenty-five cents a quart, and it went very quick
at that. You don't know the luxury of having
milk till you are deprived of it, or the pleasure
of having a table to write on till you are compelled
to write on your knees. I have not written

7

to father yet, knowing that you are at home,
and that he will most likely see all I have to say.

I bid you adieu until I arrive at Camargo.

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

I received your kind letter written while at
Saratoga on the 3d of this month, on my way
to this place, while passing Matamoras. At
the same time I received one from Emily,
who informed me of your trip to Saratoga. I
cannot but hope from the tone of your letter,
and from my own most ardent wishes, that
you will find it beneficial, and that you have
returned before this, if not well, at least so far
improved as to be able to enjoy the blessings
with which you are surrounded. My last letter
to Emily informed her that I was on my
way to join the main body of the army at Camargo,
about forty-five miles further up the
river. Since then, our destination has been
changed, and we have been detained here to garrison
this town, much to our chagrin. Our only
consolation is, that it is to be temporary, and we
shall soon join the army in the field, to share with


8

them the honors and hardships. Of the future
movements of the army, no one is certain, although
every one has his opinion; and the general
one is that, having concentrated at Camargo,
it will move upon Monterey and Saltillo and take
possession of these towns. The former of these
contains about ten thousand inhabitants and is
the key of the interior. Here it is thought the
Mexicans will make a stand, the result of which
will dispose them to continue the war or make
peace. This result no one can predict, but here
everybody is as sanguine as if it was known.
Our privates speak confidently of success, and
would defy any Mexican force that could be
brought against them. This speaks well, if their
confidence in themselves and in their officers is
not carried too far. We now hold possession
of all the principal towns on the river, and a defeat
cannot be more disastrous than it would be
in our own country. It looks and appears as
little as can be that we are in an enemy's country.
This town, of more than two thousand inhabitants,
is held by three hundred soldiers.
Everything goes on as usual. Persons attend
to their own business. Our camp is thronged
with country people with milk, eggs, etc., to sell.
They say our soldiers treat them much better
than their own, that we pay them for everything,
while they take everything they want without it.

9

In fact, I think we treat them too well, that they
will like us so well, they will petition for annexation.
This town is only about one hundred
miles from the mouth of the river in a direct
line, although it is more than three hundred by
water. The river has such a current that it is
almost impossible for a steamboat to stem it.
We were four days in coming that distance.
General Thompson says that it is five hundred
feet above the sea, but this seems almost impossible,
as a steamboat can barely overcome eight
inches in a mile. Our Captain, who is from
Norwich in Connecticut, and a regular Yankee,
said that "it was mighty well that it ran so
crooked, for if it did not, a streak of lightning
could not go up it." You will hardly believe
the ignorance and superstition of the people
here. When the matin and vesper bell rings,
the people all without exception, no matter what
they are doing, prostrate themselves and tell their
prayers till the bell stops. A day or two since
I saw the funeral of a child. The corpse was
placed upon the coffin, so that the head and body
were visible to all, and carried on the shoulders
of a man through the streets, followed by two
others, one playing on a violin, the other on a
clarinet, then the mourners chanting a sort of
wail. After leaving the church the music played
lively marches, waltzes, etc. I asked the reason

10

of this, and was told that after the ceremony at
the church the child was absolved and received
among the blest and their wailing was turned
into rejoicing. The principal priest of this town
was at the battles, urging the soldiers to exterminate
the barbarians of the north. He was
drowned in crossing the river at Matamoras on
the eve of the 9th of May. It is said that between
one thousand and twelve hundred were
drowned in that retreat. Everybody here believes
it,—Americans that have lived here for
years say that there is no doubt of it, and all
the reports that we have of the condition of
Arista's army, as he retreated, agree that it was
totally disorganized and that he could not assemble
more than three thousand five hundred
men. Yet they may give us a great deal of
trouble yet. It is not hotter here than at New
York this season. As I am writing, the breeze
is blowing freshly, and showers every day, which
keep the air cool. Our mails are very irregular;
I suppose my letters have a better chance of
reaching you, and I will let you know of my
whereabouts whenever I have an opportunity of
sending. Give my love to all, and believe me
to be,

Your affectionate son,
JOHN SEDGWICK.


11

My dear sister:

I avail myself of a boat waiting to go down to
Matamoras to write you again. From there,
there is weekly intercourse with New Orleans.
I have as yet received but one letter from father
and one from you, but I have just heard that
there is a mail at Matamoras, and am looking
for letters every day. I can hardly realize that
I am in an enemy's country, and were it not for
the strange and outlandish-looking horses and
carts, and, in fact, everything Mexican, I could
not persuade myself that I was not in some out-of-the-way
frontier town. The houses are all
stone, and generally one story high, the roofs
flat (cement and stone), the sides projecting
about three feet above the roofs, making a sort
of promenade on them. But everything looks
as if it had been built for centuries, and has the
appearance of those old tumble-down ruins that
you see in old pictures. The town is situated
on a ridge running back from the river, and
about a mile from it. In the center is a large
square, the streets coming in at the angles. On
the sides facing the plaza are the public buildings,
stores, and the aristocratic residences. The
troops are quartered in the public buildings and


12

some private ones hired for the purpose; the
officers in tents on the square. My tent is directly
opposite the Cathedral, at about two hundred
yards' distance. Every morning at sunrise
the bell rings for prayers, and you will see all
sorts of people hurrying back and forth for about
an hour, when it closes, and the same in the
evening. On Saturday the bells (there are four)
ring for hours— a sort of tune. I asked what it
was for; was told that it was to let the people
know that the next day was Sunday. People of
every grade, when passing the church, remove
their hats, and carry them in their hands; and
now, as I look out, I see a dozen with their hats
off— by the way, this is about the only article
of dress they have. Children of all sorts run
about with nothing on. The better class dress
with some taste, and always neatly; in fact, I
have never seen anything filthy in their persons.
There are some few Yankees here. Do you
remember seeing in some of Sydney Smith's
writings this fact, that Yankees were found
everywhere?—and after mentioning several
instances, he winds up with one: that some
English naval officer thought he had discovered
a valuable island, and was sailing into an inlet to
anchor, when he saw a boat put off from the

13

shore and come alongside, and heard in a nasal
twang, "Do you want a pilot? "The first person
I saw at the mouth of the river has that same
twang, and is from Norwich. The first one
here is the interpreter and is from New London.
There is also a lady here from Connecticut
whose husband is from the North. I have not
seen her yet. I just asked the interpreter's wife,
who is quite a pretty Mexican lady, if she spoke
English. She said, "Little, no more." The women
all bathe every day; they go down to the river
about four o'clock with a large earthen vessel,
which they carry on their heads filled with water,
take a bath, and bring back their water for the
next day. The country here is perfectly healthy.
The yellow fever was never known here, and
was never known to be at Matamoras more than
three or four times, and the farther you get into
the interior the healthier it is. I say this because
all physicians say that there never was so
large a body of men with so little sickness, and
this only amongst the most intemperate. I never
was in better health in my life, although I have
been a little down. I shall probably remain here
whilst the army are gone into the interior. It is
now at Camargo, and is to move about the first
of next month. I have no fear of the result;

14

they can't be beaten. Hoping to see you next
spring, if not sooner, I am,

Your affectionate brother,
JOHN SEDGWICK.

My dear sister:

I wrote you but two days since, but as the
conveyance to Point Isabel was very doubtful,
I avail myself of another opportunity to send
you a line. I have nothing particularly interesting
to write, either about myself or this most
uninteresting country. You will perceive that
I am still where I was when I wrote you last,
with no prospect of leaving—at least, until some
new base of operations has been decided on.
The army are pushing on into the interior, in
different directions, and without meeting the
enemy. At one time hopes were entertained of
bringing them to an engagement at Monterey,
but the latest accounts say that there are few or
no troops there. Our troops now occupy all
the towns of any size, not only on the river but
in the interior, and volunteers are continually
flocking in. General Taylor says he has thousands
more than he knows what to do with.


15

Unless some indications of peace are soon shown
by Mexico, impressions seem to be that, garrisoning
all the towns we hold now, the regulars
and some volunteers will proceed to Vera Cruz
by sea, and then to the City of Mexico itself, if
possible. I have just spent a few hours with
Lieutenant Chase of the 2d, whose letter you
have seen, and from him learnt many most interesting
anecdotes of the battles of the 8th and 9th.
One related to a very intimate friend of mine,
Lieutenant Blake of the engineers. He was on
the staff of General Taylor. When it was understood
that the enemy were in front prepared for
battle, he was sent forward to ascertain their
position. This he did in the most gallant manner.
He went to within four hundred yards of
their line, drew a diagram of their position, the
position of batteries, their cavalry and the reserve.
When returning, he passed near where
the battalion of our regiment was stationed, and
sung out to them: "Gentlemen, you have got
a big army to fight; there are not less than six
thousand men." After the battle, as he returned
to his tent, in dismounting from his horse one
of his pistols fell and shot him. He lived but
a few hours, was perfectly sensible, and said, "It
was hard to live through such glorious battles
and then be killed by such an accident." He

16

died regretted by the whole army, and more
particularly by General Taylor, who attributes
no small share of the success of the day to his
bold reconnoissance. Lieutenant Chase said
that during the heat of battle, when everybody
was very doubtful, he was sent with a message
to General Taylor that the enemy were making
their way to the rear, evidently to cut off the
retreat. He found the General writing, in midst
of his staff, with his leg over the pommel of his
saddle, the most unconcerned man in the crowd.
He delivered his message; the General very
calmly told him to "keep a bright lookout for
them." On the evening of the 8th a council
was held, to see if they should advance, or wait
till the expected reinforcement came up. A
great majority of the officers were for waiting.
At that time Captain Duncan was riding by, and,
although not one of the Council, was called by
the General and asked his opinion; he answered,
"We have whipped them to-day, and we can
again to-morrow." The General answered,
"That is my opinion, Captain Duncan. Gentlemen,
you will prepare your commands to move
forward; the Council is dissolved." There
probably never were so many personal feats of
daring and gallantry performed by so few. I
can speak of them without prejudice or vanity,

17

as I was not one of them, but feel excessively
proud by being associated with them. You see,
I have spun out one of my usual letters with
this old story. I have received but three letters
from home yet—two from father and one from
you. I have been trying to write to Olive, but
then I think she is so near you that she will see
everything she cares about. Hoping that you
will write often, and not forget your brother, I
will remain,

Yours,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

I avail myself of another opportunity of sending
you a word. I am still here at the same
place as when I last wrote, with but little prospect
of going with the army this campaign; this
I very much regret, but it cannot be helped,
and I resign myself with a better grace as it is
altogether the pleasantest depot in this country,
and I have only to complain of a want of something
to do. General Taylor is at this time at or
near Monterey, with an advance of six thousand
men and a reserve at Camargo of some four or
five thousand,—the last volunteers,—and a still
further reserve of three thousand at the mouth


18

of the river—enough, if properly disciplined, to
march to Mexico. There is a great difference
of opinion about the prospect of a battle near
Saltillo. Many think that they will make a
stand there, for the honor of the magnanimous
nation; others think they will retire upon our
advance; but of this I am sure, if they make a
stand, it will be another Palo Alto affair. There
never was so fine an American army as General
Taylor has with him. It is better organized,
has a greater proportion of artillery, and is better
equipped, than any army we have ever sent into
the field; and no one fears the result with any
numbers that the Mexicans can bring against
them. The only difficulty is, that they can't
be found when wanted. General Ampudia has
just issued his proclamation, forbidding all citizens
furnishing any articles of produce, horses,
mules, or wood for steamboats, under the penalty
of being shot; says he has eight thousand soldiers
to drive the rebels from the country, and
that General Santa Anna is coming with eight
thousand more. This is probably more bombast
than truth. At all events, in a month we shall
see the truth or falsehood of his declarations.
We live on very friendly terms here with the
citizens; they furnish us everything we want at
a reasonable price, the same as our own citizens

19

would. The civil authorities exercise all the
authority they did before the invasion, and to a
spectator no difference can be seen between this
and an ordinary garrison. We occasionally have
a blow up of a steamboat to add to the other
sorrows of war. A few days since a steamboat
burst her boiler a few miles from here, killing
several instantly and scalding a great many terribly.
Seventeen were brought to this place,
the most horrible-looking objects I ever saw;
they were all without clothes, except shirts. Many
were so black and crisp that the skin and flesh
came off together; others that the water had
taken all the skin off; and then others with
broken arms, legs, ribs, etc. Of this number
two have died, the others are slowly recovering.
The boat was loaded with volunteer troops, portions
of different regiments that had been left
sick below here. No one can tell the number
lost; all agree in saying that the river was full
of persons who were knocked or jumped overboard,
and that but few could have got ashore.
The hands of the boat were most of them lost.
Write often, as I hear but little I care about
except from home. Emily must n't wait for my
letters, but write, write.

Your affectionate son,
JOHN SEDGWICK.


20

My dear father:

I received your letter of August 29 this morning.
You inform me of the receipt of my first
three letters, and also of my baggage sent home,
etc. I think you will find in one of those letters
I acknowledge the receipt of one of your
letters; also, that there is one at Matamoras for
me. I have now up to this date received four
letters from you, and only two from Emily. I
think some of her letters have gone on to Monterey,
and I probably shall receive them some
time or other. I wrote you by the steamer New
York
, which, you will have learned before this,
was lost, near Galveston, with nineteen passengers,
all her cargo, etc. I also sent one to Emily
by the Telegraph which sailed on the 10th inst.
There is some alarm felt for her safety, as she
was out in the same gale that the New York was
lost in.

There will probably have been fought, long
before you receive this, a great battle at or near
Monterey, the result of which will materially
affect us here, as it will decide the fate of the
campaign. That the Mexicans are determined
to fight there can be no doubt, and that there
are assembled a large number of troops (say,


21

eight thousand) there can be as little. Our officers
write in the greatest spirits, and are confident
as to the result, and hail it with the more
pleasure as it will very likely lead to overtures
of peace. The Mexicans were equally as confident
before Palo Alto as we are now, and we
may experience as sad a disaster. Before the
Mexican army left here on their way to Matamoras
they were so confident of victory that
they borrowed money, promising to return horses,
mules, arms, etc., to be taken from the American
army,—some stipulating that the horses
should be American. General Taylor has with
him between six and seven thousand men, most
of them regulars, and a large number of volunteers
here, that he can call on if he receives any
checks. I trust this will not be the case, as it
would, in all likelihood, prolong the war, of which
I am heartily tired, unless I can have more of a
finger in it. I shall give you the result as soon
as possible to learn. The first accounts are always
exaggerated, but I shall soon know. I am
rejoiced to hear that you are recovering your
health, although slowly; and that you may live
for many years to be a blessing to your children
and friends, is the most earnest prayer of your

Affectionate son,
JOHN SEDGWICK.


22

My dear sister:

I was in hopes by this time to have something
interesting to write you, but must disappoint
you again. General Taylor is in Monterey,
without firing a shot. The enemy, after so many
orders of the most bravado kind, have evacuated
their largest city this side of the mountain to
the mercy of the robbers, as they call us. I did
not think, after so much boasting, they would
give up without an effort to redeem the trick
lost at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma; but
so it is, and we are now in possession of every
place of any importance (except Saltillo) this
side of the mountains that divide this department
from Mexico itself; and by this time another
division of the army, under General Wool,
has possession of Chihuahua, and still another,
under General Kearny, of Santa Fé. If there
is any truth in the old Spanish proverb that
"between two stools, a person is in danger of
coming to the ground," Mexico is in a bad fix.
We have been prepared here for an attack several
days. It was first concerted for the 20th,
but they did not get ready, and then fixed yesterday
at eleven o'clock, but finally concluded
to have a night attack last night, but did not


23

make it, although they kept us under arms all
night. The people here expected it, as most of
them that are able have left town. Others came
up last night and placed themselves under our
protection. They fear their own soldiers much
more than they do our own, and say, if the
town is attacked, it will only be for plunder, and
instead of molesting us in the square, they will
only plunder the outskirts of the town. There
are plenty of friendly Mexicans here to warn us
in time, and we desire nothing better than the
proposed attack. But the same threats have
been made towards Camargo, Matamoras, and
other places, and this for the purpose of drawing
off some of General Taylor's forces; but they
will find themselves mistaken, as he has more
men than he knows what to do with. I still indulge
the hope that the war will be closed this
winter, and I shall be ordered north again, but
it looks rather doubtful now. I have been in
excellent health since I have been here, lost a
little of my flesh—this I can afford. I will try
and write a short letter by every mail.

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.


24

My dear sister:

I was rather premature in writing you, in my
last letter, that the army had taken Monterey,
without firing a shot; but as it was currently reported
here, and generally believed, I gave it to
you as a fact. It is now, however, in our possession,
but after a hard battle of four days'
length and very severe loss. We have no particulars
yet. General Taylor's aid passed through
here yesterday, on his way to Washington, bearer
of despatches. He was in such a hurry that he
could give us but a few words; but such as they
were, were enough to cheer the heart of every
American. He says the first battles were nothing
when compared to this. The loss on our
part was great. Thirteen officers killed, fourteen
wounded, and five hundred killed and wounded
of the rank and file. This is not the accurate
loss; it may be more or less. As he left immediately
after the battle, he only knew the general
result, which is most glorious to our arms. We
are waiting most anxiously to hear more, when
I will write. I am too anxious now to write
more.

Your affectionate brother,
JOHN SEDGWICK.


25

My dear sister:

I have just returned from a tour up the river
to Camargo, having been absent for some days,
and on my return found your letter, and up to
this time I think I have received all of yours
and father's. I saw Lieutenant Myers at Camargo,
who told me of his visit at our house. You
likewise mention it in your letter. He is on his
way to Monterey, to join the army in the field.
I did not mention to you in my last (in consequence
of the more important news of the battle)
that, for some days previous to the battle,
we were besieged here by some three or four
hundred men, and every moment expecting an
attack; for several nights we were kept on the
alert. Several times they approached, with the
hopes of surprising us, but finding us on our
guard, retreated. Our garrison consisted of one
hundred and fifty men, but we were well entrenched,
and could easily have driven off some
two or three times our number. This attack
was no doubt to be in anticipation of the victory
to be gained over General Taylor at Monterey.
I can give you but few more particulars of this
battle than when I last wrote. The battle was
very obstinate, and very bloody. Our loss was


26

five hundred and sixty-one, killed, wounded, and
missing—probably two hundred killed, fourteen
officers killed, and one died since of his wounds.
I wrote you the number was ten in my last. The
Mexican loss was between seven and twelve hundred—the
exact number cannot be ascertained.
It was a great battle, when the gallantry and obstinate
courage of the Anglo-Saxon blood showed
itself, overcoming numbers, position, and everything
else. On the morning of the 24th the
enemy showed a white flag and offered terms of
capitulation; after modification, these were accepted.
They were permitted to march out with
their small arms, and six pieces of artillery, fifteen
rounds of ammunition; to retire thirty miles
towards Saltillo, and not to cross a line drawn
to Tampico, and General Taylor not to advance
beyond this line. This during a period of sixty
days. After the expiration of this time, if negotiations
are not going on, each party was left
to pursue the war. Since this there has arrived
from Washington a special messenger, with instructions,
but what they were no one knows.
There are various conjectures: some think they
are pacific; others, that they are for pushing the
war with vigor, changing the base of operations
to Tampico and Vera Cruz. What change this
victory will make, if any, no one can tell. I

27

hope they will succeed in negotiating, for I am
tired of this country. I long to be luxuriating
on ice-creams and mint-juleps in Broadway. I
had many particulars of the battle from an eyewitness,
a dragoon officer who had nothing to
do. He saw my regiment engaged, the first
attack that was made, and said that he never expected
to see such another sight. They marched
up to within musket-range of the trench that
had previously been made by the battery, as if
they were on drill, and halted for the signal that
was to be made (a bomb from a mortar) for the
attack. At the signal, they rushed up the trench,
and within four minutes all was still. The flag
was then hurled down, and the stars and stripes
went up. The men went to the ramparts and
cheered. This was returned by the dragoons
and a Texan regiment that was on a hill that
overlooked them. This was the first fort that
was taken. There were three others taken by
the artillery brigade, without any loss of consequence
(only 23 men, I think)—one officer
killed and two wounded. In one fort more than
one hundred were found dead, out of three hundred
garrison. Our loss was almost all in a part
of the town where it was intended to make a
false attack, but the brigade was pushed on into
the streets and cut to pieces. One regiment

28

brought out only seventy-nine men, the officers
almost all lost. The Mexicans expected to cut
the army to pieces; so sure of it were they, that
they made arrangements to attack all the towns
in turn. But it has proved another Palo Alto
to them.

My love to all, and write often to your
Affectionate brother,
J. S.

My dear father:

I am about to leave this post, to join the first
division of the army at Monterey. There has
been no change, since the battle, in the disposition
of the enemy. The special messenger of
whom I wrote brought the information that
Santa Anna had refused to treat till the meeting
of Congress which he had called on to meet the
6th of December. It is the general impression
here that there will be no more fighting, and that
Santa Anna is sincere in his wish for peace, but
is afraid to conclude one on his own responsibility.
What change the capture of Monterey
will make remains to be seen. The battle was
not so disastrous as I thought when I wrote to
Emily; instead of five hundred and sixty killed,


29

wounded, and missing, there were one hundred
and twenty killed and three hundred and sixty
wounded, making four hundred and eighty killed
and wounded,—disastrous enough, certainly.
Of this number seventeen were officers: one for
every eight,—a greater number than was ever
heard of before. General Ampudia says in his
proclamation to the people that he was "out of
ammunition and provisions, and that the American
army was innumerable—their camp extended
nine miles; and that, out of compassion to the
citizens, he capitulated." Now for the truth,
as it was told me by a major of the ordnance,
who took an inventory of the stores. There were
more than eighteen thousand pounds of powder,
two hundred and fifty thousand rounds of
cartridges, several thousand pounds of lead, and
a great many balls,—enough to supply our army
a year. Of provision, there was a great number
of cattle, and large quantities of corn—the only
food they have. And as to numbers, General
Ampudia marched out of Monterey with more
troops than General Taylor had with him. As
to the extent of the camp he was nearer right,
as the reserve was encamped some distance off,
and was not brought into action. He says also
that he killed fifteen thousand; this he has published
to the people, and two thirds are ignorant

30

enough to believe it. Their national vices are
lying and stealing. They will steal everything
they can lay their hands on, and lie when the
truth will answer better. These vices they almost
all have; there are very few exceptions.
Colonel Taylor (a brother of the General) told
us here that if we had possession of the town,
sixty thousand Mexicans could not take it;
and that belief is held by every officer and
soldier in the army, and such confidence in the
soldiers makes them irresistible. There is no
way of ascertaining the number of Mexicans
killed; from best information that we can get,
there are between seven and ten hundred, but
General Taylor will not report so high. I need
not tell you that I would not like to have this
seen by many, as it looks too much like boasting,
and I feel myself perhaps too much interested
to be unprejudiced. The country is becoming
more healthy for the volunteers; they are becoming
more acclimated and habituated to take
care of themselves. But the loss of life has been
terrible; no epidemic ever swept off so great a
proportion in New York. In some regiments
one in ten have died, and nearly one fourth have
been sent home sick. Many have died of homesickness
alone. The weather is becoming quite
cool, but it makes little difference with the vegetation;

31

they raise two crops of everything a
year; they plant from February till August, and
are gathering almost every month. You will see
planting and gathering in the same field. I
presume in ten years this country will be filled
with Americans, and then there will be more
annexation. California is sure to be ours, but
it will all eventually come. I will write again
from Camargo; after that you may not hear from
me. The communication is not regular beyond
Camargo, except for despatches. I still think
that the war will be over this winter, and that I
shall see the north early next summer; but in
this the wish may generate the opinion. I trust,
long before this, you have been restored to your
usual health; it is more on this account that I
desire to be at the north, to be near you if any
are sick. Give my love to all, and believe me
to be, as ever,

Your affectionate son,
JOHN SEDGWICK.

My dear sister:

It is now nearly two months since I have had
a letter from home, yet I am certain you have
written several within that time, and that they


32

have miscarried, and more than likely some of
mine have shared the same fate. I have endeavored
to write home as often as every week,
even if I had nothing to write. In my last I
wrote that we were daily expecting orders to
proceed to Monterey, to join the main division
of the army. Since then the orders have arrived,
and we are about leaving, probably to-morrow.
This has been a great desire within me. Ever
since I have been here, I have wanted to see a
large army in the field, to become acquainted with
the officers, and have some more experience in my
profession than can be acquired elsewhere. Not
that I expect to reap any glory, except such as
will be attached to an association with such gallant
fellows as our officers have proved themselves
to be. There has been no movement
since my last letter, and for fear you did not receive
that, I will just mention that General Taylor
is still at Monterey, organizing for a forward
movement, receiving reinforcements, supplies,
etc. The battle was not so disastrous as we had
first feared, and from the accounts you will first
get in the papers, but sad enough at the best.
There were only one hundred and twenty killed
and three hundred and sixty wounded, most of
them slightly. Many think that twenty-five will
cover the deaths of those dying of their wounds.

33

If we estimate the victory, as the English do,
by the number of the killed and wounded, we
cannot call it a great one; but if we estimate by
the results and look at the disparity of numbers
and their entrenchments, it is one of the greatest
victories of the age. There were many incidents
during the fight, but interesting only to
those acquainted with the actors. One was
told by a Lieutenant of my regiment, who was
an aid there. General Taylor had advanced
with his staff too far into the city, and the balls
were falling very thick around him. He was
thumping at a door which was fastened by the
persons inside. The Lieutenant suggested he
had better cross over the street, where he would
be under shelter. The General looked, and
seeing a soldier passing, said to him, "Bring me
an axe. I'll see if these Mexican devils won't
open the door when I order them." An axe was
brought. The General took it and said, "Now
if you don't open it, I will break it down." The
door was opened, and they found it a large rich
store, and what was of still more importance to
them, a large table set out with refreshments
ready for use. These, no doubt, were intended
for a very different purpose, but which were
diverted by the chances of war. Nobody talks
of peace now, the general opinion being that the

34

war will last for months. I hope not. I had
indulged the hope of seeing you all next spring,
and trust I may not be disappointed. The
weather here is still warm. Vegetation is not
suspended at any time. We have corn ripe,
green, and just coming out of the ground, and
so with all vegetables. Plenty of large ripe
oranges, figs, limes and other fruits, but no
apples. The nights are cool and delicious,
the atmosphere at all times clear and pure,
and but little sickness among the regular
troops. The volunteers have suffered a great
deal, and all for the want of knowing how to
take care of themselves. I will write you a line
from Camargo. Give my love to all at home,
and remembrance to those enquiring, from your

Affectionate brother,
JOHN SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

I have just received your letter of October
13th, written the day of the receipt of the taking
of Monterey in New York. When I wrote
Emily last, we had been ordered to join General
Taylor; but the order has been suspended for the
present, and the probability is that we shall join


35

a division to act against Vera Cruz or Tampico.
They do not appear to know their own minds
at Washington, from the number of orders and
counter-orders they are continually sending out.
The first order, after the reception of the news
of the taking of Monterey, was to push the war
with vigor. On the heels of this came others
to act entirely on the defensive, to hold all the
country now in our possession, embracing all to
the Sierra Madre. This much we know, and it
is believed a division is to be organized to act
on the coast. If the war is to take this turn, it
probably will protract it, but will make it much
less expensive for the United States. You cannot
imagine how disastrous the war has proved to
the volunteers. Many regiments, of seven or
eight hundred strong, have lost one hundred by
deaths and hundreds by discharges, not half of
which will probably ever reach home. You can
hardly believe that hundreds have died with
nostalgia (homesickness), yet such is the fact
attested by many surgeons. On the contrary,
the regulars are as healthy as if they were at
their posts, and it is believed by all that the
country is healthier than any of the southern
states. The reason of the difference between
the regulars and volunteers is that the latter
know nothing about taking care of themselves,
about cooking, change of diet, change of habits,

36

etc.; while the regulars make themselves as comfortable
as if they were in garrison. This year
the floods have destroyed most of the vegetables
and much of the cotton. Fruits are abundant:
oranges, figs, limes, apricots, pomegranates
— two or three crops a year. Apples and
peaches do not grow, partly because they do not
cultivate them. Everything that grows, grows
in spite of the people. They plant their corn
or cotton, and never touch it again till ripe.
You will see corn green and ripe in the same
field, and they say you cannot exhaust the land.
Our Consul told me, pointing to a piece of
ground, that it had raised two crops of corn since
he had known it, some fifteen years, and the
land appeared now as good as ever. It wants
nothing but the Anglo-Saxon here to make it
the finest country in the world, and it is filling
up. Matamoras is filled with Americans, and
they will never leave it. The traffic is almost
entirely with horses and mules. These can be
raised without trouble, and it is not unusual for
one man to own five or six thousand horses,
worth from five to twenty-five dollars; mules,
twelve or fifteen. The horses are small and
worthless for American use, yet the Mexicans
are the best riders, and ride more than any other
nation in the world, and take less pride in their

37

horses. The natives have no religion; it is a
mixture of Indian idolatry and superstition with
the Catholic. All their ceremonies are different
in every particular from the Catholic,
which is the only religion tolerated. Many
of the ceremonies are entirely Indian in their
character; their feasts and rites are the same.
The priests that come from the States say they
could not recognize the Catholic religion in the
mummeries practised here; and their moral character
is quite on a par with their religious degradation,
but their military qualifications and
courage have been greatly underrated. All here
say that the rank and file are of superior material,
and only want educated officers to lead them,
and they could cope with any troops in the
world. I have filled this almost entirely with
the Mexicans, and I can hardly believe it will
prove interesting to you, yet I have nothing
else.

Your affectionate son,
J. S.

My dear sister:

I have just received father's letter of 22d
ultimo, and yours of the 24th, and the same mail
brought a note saying that I had several letters


38

at Monterey, probably some of yours amongst
them. I wrote you on the 27th of September,
giving such an account of the battle as I had then
received. Since then I have sent you such incidents
as I could rely on, and as I thought would
be interesting to you. To account for the letter
I wrote on the 24th September, viz.: "that
we had entered Monterey without firing a shot,"
arose thus: General Worth left S——, with his
division, two days before General Taylor, and encamped
within four miles of the city of Monterey,
waiting the arrival of General T——. From this
circumstance arose the report, which we believed
was true, that he had entered the city. If you
have received my later letters, you will see that
the loss of life has not been so great as was at
first supposed and is now going the rounds of
the papers. Four hundred and eighty was the
total number killed and wounded, and it is believed
that two hundred and forty will cover the
number killed,—a great loss truly, but this is
small when compared to the loss sustained by
the volunteers. One man in every ten has died,
three have gone home sick, one half of these
will probably never reach there, two of those
left are on the sick report, unable to do any duty,
making six men, out of ten, a total loss to the
service. And not one word can be said in favor

39

of those left; they certainly did not come up to
the scratch at Monterey. There are exceptions
to this: the Texans fought well, and others, after
they got in where they could not get out, did
well. One regiment of regulars is worth three
of volunteers, and this will be acknowledged except
by those politically infatuated. Mr. Polk, in
parting with Colonel Watson and his Baltimore
regiment, is reported to have said, "Remember
that you are not the hirelings of Government, but
brave defenders, ready to step into the trench,"
etc. And now the papers say that the brave
Watson was killed fifty yards in advance of his
men, which was true; but they might have added
that his men broke and ran and left him, and,
with few exceptions, did not again get into the
battle. It is to be hoped that such defenders
will be kept to protect Washington, and that
they may be as successful as they were in the
last war. You have probably heard of the taking
of Tampico by the navy. They have requested
a force of five hundred men or more to
garrison it, and there is about this force available
here. There is a prospect of our going there. I
had rather join General Taylor, but I can have
no choice—or, rather, I will not be consulted. I
long for this war to be over, to go back to the
North; yet I see less prospect of it than two

40

months ago. The people are too well satisfied
with the treatment they have received to wish
for such peace as they have had with their own
Government; and if it were possible to satisfy
them that they would be protected in their religion,
I think they would gladly embrace the
change.

Your affectionate brother,
J. S.

My dear father:

Since I wrote you last we have received orders
to hold ourselves in readiness to proceed to
Tampico. Consequently, we expect to move in
the first boat to the mouth of the river; from
there, in a larger boat, to Tampico. Appearances
indicate that a large force is to be assembled
at that point to operate either against
Mexico or San Luis Potosi. About one thousand
have already embarked, a column of four
or five regiments go from Matamoras, another
of about the same number from Camargo, and
General Taylor takes with him such troops as he
can spare, after leaving a sufficient force at Saltillo
and Monterey, united with General Wool's
command. This is the present plan, but may
be altered by circumstances, or may be changed


41

at Washington. General Worth remains at Saltillo
with his brigade, the best troops in the
service, because all regulars and have been thoroughly
tried. I think it is the impression at
Washington that propositions for peace will be
received from Mexico soon after the meeting
of their Congress; this is now close at hand, and
we shall see. This, however, on my part is but
mere conjecture; and, on the contrary, we may
have a long and disastrous war. Disastrous it will
be, even if there is no fighting, for the climate
and change of habit of our volunteers will show
a frightful chasm in their ranks. But I still encourage
the hope that I shall see the North next
summer. Tampico lies within the tropics, and,
of course, we shall have all the fruits that grow,
many of which do not grow here. Oranges are
abundant here, and the largest and finest you
ever saw. Those that you get north are picked
when young, and lose as much by it as an apple
does. Figs and pomegranates grow very fine;
in addition to these, they have at Tampico dates,
banana, plaintain, cocoa, etc. Since I have commenced
this a mail has arrived bringing papers,
but no letters— a great disappointment, as I
looked for a letter in every mail. Things look
bad for the Loco Foco's, and I cannot account
for it, unless it is the voters are out here; but

42

things looked worse in forty-four, and I do not
despair. The cause of the people will eventually
triumph. The "Litchfield Enquirer "of
the 5th inst. has exaggerated the losses of the
battle at Monterey very much. All the letters
published, with few exceptions, come from those
that know nothing about it, generally from those
that could not be found during the fight. The
exact number of killed and wounded is four
hundred and eighty, but this is a small number
when compared to the list of ordinary deaths. I
have received but one short letter from Philo
since I have been here; I have written him two
or three times. I know that we both are bad
correspondents, but, I trust, do not love each
other the less. I have endeavored to write home
once a week because I hoped that you would be
anxious to know that I was well, if nothing more.
I received your letter of October 24th, Emily's
of 22d, both of which I have answered. I will
endeavor to write again before I leave the river,
or, at all events, as soon as I arrive at Tampico.
In haste,

Your affectionate son,
JOHN SEDGWICK.


43

My dear sister:

When I wrote you last I was expecting every
day to go to Tampico, as we had orders to proceed
there in the first boat; but the first
boat brought re-orders to come to this place,
but where we are to go, and when, is more
than I can tell. I may have told you Camargo
is on a branch of the Rio Grande
called the San Juan (St. John), about six miles
from its mouth, and about one hundred and
twenty from Reinosa, and is the dirtiest place in
all Mexico. You can imagine something of the
filth when I tell you that the supplies for the
whole army pass through here, and are all overhauled,
and no small quantity found decayed.
This employs some five or six hundred men,
and the river is not large enough to carry off
the damaged matter. Add to this the dust, which
is about six inches in depth (and a little deeper
around my tent), with an extra number of waggons
continually driving about it,—imagine all
this, and you have some idea of my sufferings—
or, as somebody said, "Our sufferings is in-tents."
I was in hopes of going to Tampico to see more
active service, if there is to be more, but this
for the present is denied; but unless a speedy


44

peace is made, I shall yet have my share. We
have had no mail for more than two weeks, but
are expecting one daily, as we have heard of the
arrival of a boat at the mouth of the river. Although
we have no magnetic telegraph here, we
always hear of the arrival of a boat some two or
three days before the mail. This we look upon
as an era, for besides hearing from home, we get
all the news of the campaign, of which we would
remain in ignorance were it not for the papers.
These are read for their extravagance, as no one
acquainted with the facts ever thinks of publishing
them, or looking there for them. Yet they
are devoured to be laughed at; when some poor
devil is found as the author, that is an end of
him — he can't stand the ridicule that is heaped
upon him. The weather is very warm in the
daytime, the nights cool, but no frost, no rain
for three months, which accounts for all the dust
that I mentioned. The dews are very heavy
— so much so that you think there has been
a shower when you rise in the morning. The
main reliance for vegetation is the dew, as frequently
for months they have no rain. This is
more particularly the case as you proceed towards
the Pacific in this latitude. But as you
proceed south one hundred and fifty miles, you

45

come to a chain of mountains called the Sierra
Madre, whose climate assimilates to our own.
They raise grain, apples, peaches, etc. Monterey
lies at the base, and from the top you can
look down and see showers pouring down upon
the city copiously whilst you are far above them.
Here you find springs boiling up, and streams
like our own pouring down the sides of the
mountain, and here is ice. This chain runs from
Tampico to Saltillo, and on, I believe, to the Pacific,
and there is no crossing except through the
gorges; one is at Tampico around the base, one
at Victoria for mules only, and one at Monterey.
Transportation is almost entirely by mules, frequently
in droves of five hundred, carrying
about three hundred pounds. They have no
waggons, but a sort of cart drawn by oxen
yoked by the horns as you have seen represented
as the custom in Spain. The absurdities of the
old country are all they have retained except
the religion, and that is so mixed up with Indian
superstition that it has lost its character of
Catholicism. Our Catholics will not acknowledge
it as their religion, but as you get into the
interior I suppose it approaches nearer to it; at
all events, it is under the sway of the Pope. I
have had no letter from home for two months;

46

I hope mine go more regular. I hear of two or
three for me at Monterey. Write often, don't
be discouraged, and believe me, as ever,

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

After being without a mail for five weeks,
last night we received one, and after waiting
till thirty bushels of letters and papers were
assorted I found a letter from home, and after
reading it nearly through, I looked at the date
and found it was written the 19th of August, having
received two or three later. It is now more
than six weeks without a word from home, yet
I know you write often, and this is consolation.
We have had a good deal of excitement for the
last three days from apprehension for the safety
of General Worth and his command. To give
you a slight idea of the position of troops since
the battle of Monterey, and movements now taking
place: General Worth had gone to Saltillo
with his brigade, numbering twelve hundred men.
This, you will recollect, is seventy miles in advance
of Monterey. General Wool had taken
a position at Parras, sixty miles in advance of


47

Saltillo; his force is about twenty-three hundred
men. General Taylor, after leaving a small force
at Monterey, left there on the 15th inst., with
about three thousand men, to proceed to Victoria.
Following the chain of mountains here, he
was to have been met by General Patterson with
his division from Matamoras, numbering somewhere
about twenty-five hundred; and, after leaving
a sufficient number to guard the pass of
Victoria, the rest were to march to Tampico.
Two days' march from Monterey would bring
General Taylor to Montemorelos, where there
was a depot with one regiment of regulars and
two or three companies of volunteers. Between
this place and Monterey was stationed a regiment
of volunteers; at this place, one brigade of
volunteers consisting of three regiments, numbering
about sixteen hundred, and one mounted
regiment about five hundred; these, with two
companies of regular dragoons, were the disposable
force at this place, leaving as a guard here
one company dragoons, one artillery (mine), and
a regiment of volunteers. This was the position
of the troops on the 15th, the day General Taylor
was to leave Monterey. Early on the morning of
the 19th an express arrived here from General
Worth, directing all the troops to move up to
his assistance with the upmost dispatch. He had

48

information of the advance of Santa Anna with
a large army, variously estimated at from twelve
to thirty thousand men, and within twenty
leagues of him, endeavoring to come between
General Wool and himself. He immediately
dispatched an express to General Wool to join
him, also to General Taylor and this place. On
the arrival of the express at Monterey, all the
troops at that place made forced marches to
join him. General Taylor had left on the 15th,
and this was the 19th, consequently he could
not reach Saltillo before the 22d. The regiment
stationed between this place and Monterey
would reach there about the same time, and
probably General Wool's army a little sooner.
This would make a force of seven thousand five
hundred if he is not attacked before the 22d,
and if not before the 24th the brigade from this
place will have reached there, increasing it
two thousand. With this force he could repel
any attack made on him, but everybody feels
that he is in the most dangerous position—more
so than General Taylor was before the battles of
the 8th and 9th. Yet I have great faith in
General Worth and his troops; he has the best
troops in the service, but he may be overpowered.
Some think he will fall back to the
pass, and eventually to Monterey, to give time

49

for all his troops to join him. I think he will
fight at Saltillo, and the next news will be of a
most bloody battle. What the result will be, I
dare not predict. It was a great mistake to divide
our troops up, as has been done; but this plan
was matured at Washington and must be right.
Nine more regiments have been ordered out,
so I conclude there is no prospect of an end to
the war at present. I was in hopes of seeing
home early in the spring, but they begin to dissipate.
There is a great deal of sickness among
the volunteers, but very little among the regulars.
I have had uncommonly good health
since I have been here. There is no news now
but General Worth's dangerous position. Several
couriers have gone urging on the troops to
his assistance. I will give you the earliest news
that can be relied on. I have expected to go to
Tampico, and still hope to leave this place. I
had forgotten to mention that General Patterson's
command had not been changed.

Your affectionate son,
J. SEDGWICK.


50

1847

My dear father:

When I wrote last, 20th of last month, there
was every probability that General Worth had
been or soon would be attacked by the Mexican
army, but it did not turn out so. The General
was right in everything but the numbers. It
proved to be a reconnoitering division of some
three or four thousand men, of which General
Taylor had perfect knowledge, but General
Worth brought him back by what he considered
better information. All the movements took
place as I wrote you, and almost the whole
army were concentrated there (Saltillo) for a few
days. We were in great alarm here at the time,
and put up additional works, mustering the


51

citizens, etc., ready to meet them should they
undertake to take the place, as they undoubtedly
would if they had met with the least
success. A mail arrived last night, but I did
not get a letter. It has now been nearly three
months since I have had one, and I do not
know what has become of them. I am going
in the first boat to Tampico; probably shall be
there in about fifteen days. General Scott has
arrived here, with, it is understood, all the
powers the President can confer on him, both
diplomatic and military. This, it is hoped, will
have a happy effect upon the Mexican Government
and bring about a speedy peace. This,
for one, I heartily wish. I am tired of this vagabond
sort of life; 't is not so pleasant as playing
the soldier in New York. General Scott has
gone to Tampico, and will probably be there
when we arrive. Then I may hear something
more definitely about the prospect of remaining
here another year. We have just received the
President's message, but none of the reports.
We are looking with some anxiety for Mr.
Marcy's, to see what he has recommended for
the army.

Your affectionate son,
J. SEDGWICK.


52

My dear sister:

On leaving Camargo on the 3d inst., I
received your letter of November 10th, the
first one that I have had for nearly six weeks.
I had one from Eliza and Henry at the same
time; by these I learned that they had written
several times before, but which I have not
received. It is a pleasure to know that you
are not forgotten by your friends, even if you
do not have the satisfaction of receiving their
letters; yet this is one of the cases where the will
will not answer as well as the deed. General
Scott arrived at Camargo on the 2nd inst.; at the
time we were embarked for Tampico, but he
detained us one day to escort him. We are now
waiting for him at this place, and probably shall
not sail for two weeks. Troops are arriving
daily and organizing here and at Tampico for
some expedition, probably Vera Cruz. Everything
indicates that it is to be a vigorous one;
no expense has been spared in perfecting its
organization. More than fifty staff officers
have been sent, and those of the highest rank, to
complete the general's staff. The most perfect
siege-train ever seen in our country has arrived,
and a corps of rocketeers and mountain howitzers.


53

It now seems that the Government has at last
determined to bring Mexico to her senses; and
if these exertions had been made early in the
fall, it is more than likely that the campaign
would have closed the war. Everything has
been done, with the limited means furnished
General Taylor, the most sanguine could expect,
but they have been nothing like proportionate
to the object to be attained. No one, of course,
knows the General's plan of operation; but it is
believed, from movements of troops and other
indications, that the expedition is to be against
the city of Vera Cruz. I think that all the
available troops are to be concentrated here and
at Tampico and embarked from the nearest
point to Vera Cruz practicable and take the
city. The fortification can only be taken by
cutting off the supplies; this is done by taking
the city, cutting off the supplies by land and the
navy by water. The best engineers think it
impossible to reduce it by water; all this of
course is mere conjecture. The Mexicans all
along the river have a report that the Mexican
Congress are disposed for peace, and have
opened negotiations; I pray that it may be so,
but do not place any reliance upon it. I have
suffered more with the cold since I have been
here than I ever did at the North. Last week

54

we had what the Mexicans call a "norther"
that lasted two days; it was wet, and the rain
froze as fast as it fell; our tent was one sheet of
ice, and by placing a small pan of coals in it and
sitting on it you could keep from freezing, but
if you attempted to warm the tent the ice thawed
and came dripping through, making it more uncomfortable
than the cold. The third day after
this was so warm that we all sat outside of our
tents with our coats off. The night that it came
on I went to bed without any covering, and in
an hour's time I could not get enough to keep
me from suffering; this is the character of the
weather at this place. In the interior, as the
wind sweeps over the warm sand it becomes
warm, and as far as I have seen seldom makes
ice; still farther, as you approach the mountains
the climate partakes of that of Virginia. It
hardly seems credible that this river which you
can easily throw a stone over rises in the latitude
of Boston. I have been up it four hundred and
fifty miles in a steamboat, and boats have gone
three hundred farther, and it has a current of
from four to six miles an hour. I miss very
much the proceedings of Congress. We have
as yet only the President's message and rumors
of some increase of the army, just enough to
make us uneasy, and not enough to satisfy curiosity.

55

I had some idea of making an effort to
push for one of the new regiments, but I have
come to the conclusion not to do it. If a reduction
takes place after the war, it must be by
disbanding these regiments, and I prefer taking
my chance with my own regiment, hoping some
more ambitious officer above me may get it,
so as to place me near a captaincy. The sun
shines bright to-day, and it is as warm as September
with you. In about a week we may expect
another "norther," and then I shall talk
as much about leaving this vile place as I now
do about promotion. With such ups and downs,
"who would not be a soldier?"

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear sister:

You will perceive that I am still at this place,
although when I wrote last I expected to have
left before this. The whole regular force is encamped
near here, and the old saw, "large bodies
move slowly," is fully exemplified. Everything
indicates that we are to have a sharp and
perhaps bloody campaign. It is more than
probable that it is to be directed against Vera


56

Cruz. Who can tell or foresee the result? I
have no evil forebodings—on the contrary, feel
that I shall see you all again; but our destiny is
in the hands of the All-Powerful, and if I fall,
I hope I shall fall like a soldier. A few days
will decide the campaign. The transports are
waiting to take the troops off, and in ten days
we shall move. I will write again soon—no time
or convenience now.

Your affectionate brother,
J. S.

My dear father:

You will perceive that I am still here where
I last wrote you, with not much prospect of
leaving soon. The troops are slowly embarking,
but the means and the unsheltered coast
present great obstacles to their rapidity. More
than a thousand horses are to go with forage
and water, and every horse has first to be
slung into a lighter and from that into the vessel
in which he is to go, and it is in pleasant
weather only that these lighters can proceed
outside the breakers. General Scott is growing
impatient to be off, and hurrying everybody,
but time and tide will not be hurried. This is


57

to be a most magnificent expedition; no expense
has been spared in getting it up; every contingency
that it was possible to foresee has been
guarded against. Yet many predict its want of
success. A failure it cannot be, as the means
furnished can be turned to other accounts.
Every vessel brings officers, men, ammunition,
stores, etc. Yesterday the steamer Edith passed
within a few yards of us, so near that we recognized
and spoke to Colonel Bankhead and
Lieutenant Nichols, who have just arrived from
New York. Lieutenant Nichols came out in
the same vessel that I did last spring, was at
Monterey, and afterwards was appointed adjutant
of the regiment and joined headquarters at
New York, and is now ordered out the second
time. He was transferred from my company
when we left New York to equalize the officers
in the companies.

This vessel (when she sails) goes to Tampico.
The others rendezvous behind Lobos Island,
sixty miles south, and from thence to Vera Cruz
with the whole regular force; some three or four
volunteer regiments now here and five of the
six regiments are to go there, viz.: two regiments,
New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania,
and South Carolina. Many of them have already


58

proceeded to their place of rendezvous.
The captain of the vessel tells us that we have
seen nothing to compare with the fruits of Tampico
and its vicinity, and from his description I
should think not, although I have seen some
and could tell stories that would seem incredible.
One is, that cotton grows on the banks
of this river, after planting, for three years,
producing every year. In the States it requires
as much cultivation as corn, and never produces
but once, the first winter killing the stalks. And
it is so with the fruits, many kinds producing
two and three crops in a year. The New Orleans
papers are filled with the outrages of the
volunteers, and the governor has called out
the militia to preserve order, and has requested
Government not to send any more troops
through there. If such has been the conduct of
men who sacrifice their lives for their country
before they reach the enemy's ground, what can
be expected from them when here? What has
already happened? Rape, plunder, murder,
and everything else abominable; and these are
the men who decry a standing army as being
dangerous to the liberties of the people. They
ought to be dangerous to such liberties. I am
no longer a democrat. I go for an empire,
governed by a strong hand, reserving the right

59

of revolutionizing—when opposition becomes
too hard. But opposition is better than the
liberties we see and read of. I will send again
from Tampico. In a month you will hear of
great things, either a retreat or a glorious victory.

Remember me as ever your dutiful son,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear sister:

I left the Brazos on the 17th inst. in the
steamship Massachusetts, having on board General
Scott and staff, numbering some thirty
officers, some colonels, majors, captains, etc.,
with about two hundred fifty soldiers. We
arrived at this place yesterday morning, making
the passage in three days (two hundred eighty
miles), having most of the time slight breezes,
and those not favorable. Although this is a
steamship, she does not use her steam excepting
in calms or where the wind is very light and
ahead, but depends principally upon her sails,
like an ordinary sailing vessel. Most of the time
we were in sight of land, which presents, till
within a few miles of Tampico, the same sandy,
arid appearance that the whole coast does from


60

New Orleans to the Brazos. For the last few
miles, say forty, the shore presents a bold, rugged
line, apparently rocky and covered with large
timbers. Some of the mountains loom up as
large as some of the Cornwall Hills. I have not
been ashore yet, consequently know nothing
about Tampico, except from reports, which
speak very favorably of it. Plenty of all sorts
of fruit, and of the finest kinds, oranges, figs,
pomegranates, prunes, etc., and just now the
climate is delightful, but the long summers and
extreme heat are very debilitating and require a
Northern winter to invigorate and strengthen
a person to enable him to commence again.

General Scott and suite have gone on shore
to hurry on matters there, and expect to leave
in a day or two, but the great strike will not be
made in a month or more, as everything moves
very slowly. Vessels arrive very slow, and
troops still slower, and after all arrive it will
take a long time to organize so large a force
collected from so many different places. There
are about three thousand already assembled,
and about ten more expected, that are on
the way from the Brazos, all to meet at an
island about sixty miles below here—Lobos.
From there we sail in company,—in all, ninety-six
vessels,—proceed a few miles below Vera


61

Cruz, and effect a landing if possible. This
I believe to be the intended expedition; circumstances
may change it. Nothing has been
spared in perfecting it, and I ardently hope it
may be a successful one, yet so many little
things may change the operations that it may
prove very hazardous; I long to see the end.

On arriving here we learned of the death of a
young officer of our regiment who died at this
place on the 6th instant. He was graduated in
'42 and had been promoted but a few months;
when his company left New York in September
he was dangerously ill, as they did not tell him
till after the company had sailed. This had a
great effect on him, and he insisted upon coming
out long before his physician thought he was
able; his death may be attributed to his zealous
devotion to his duty. This is the first death in
my regiment for five years and the third natural
one in this army since its arrival at Corpus
Christi, twenty months since. I receive but
few letters from home—not more than twice for
the last four months, and these very old. I
hope mine do not receive the same fate. I
generally write about once a month home, and
occasionally to Philo or Eliza; but if hereafter
you do not receive them so often, do not be
alarmed, as perhaps no opportunity for sending


62

will occur, if I should be enabled to write; and
you are indebted for this to a calm, which gives
me a short interruption in my seasickness. I
suffered very much for a few days before we
sailed; we had a heavy "norther," which blew
us out to sea and made sad havoc amongst the
lubbers. I had a letter some time since from
Henry, offering his services in procuring promotion
into any new regiment that may be raised,
which I declined, merely because I thought they
would be disbanded at the end of the war, and
I might then want his services in retaining my
commission. His friend Lieutenant Peck is
now on board with me, and we are talking of
concocting a letter for Henry.

Your affectionate brother,
J. S.

My dear sister:

I have a few moments to spare before the
vessel sails that will take letters to Tampico
for the States. I last wrote you from Tampico
about the 19th instant. We sailed from there
the next day and arrived here the following
one, making the passage in about sixteen hours.
We found about twenty vessels of the expedition


63

already here, and since then about ten more
have arrived, and others are daily arriving. The
regulars are now all here, with about three thousand
volunteers, and the General says he shall not
wait for more troops, but as soon as General
Worth and one more vessel bringing ordnance
arrive he shall proceed to Vera Cruz. This
island contains about one hundred acres, sandy
soil and covered with thick wood, consisting of
mesquit and other trees common to the country
that I have already been in, and also the
india-rubber tree, that I have never before seen.
It grows usually about the size of a tamarack
tree in our yard, but an infinite number of
branches, covering over nearly as much ground
as the whole yard; its leaf, shaped like a diamond,
very dark green, is thick and sticky. I drew
my knife through the bark and a thin white
substance oozed out, looking very much like
milk, sticky, but not much odor. I am told
that this is collected and spread with a brush
over some surface, making the india rubber.
Water is found by digging a few inches, usually
near the foot of some tree. It is not very fresh,
but enough so to make it drinkable. The island
is surrounded by a coral reef, some two or three
hundred yards from shore, which breaks the
breakers, and between this and the shore is clear,

64

smooth water of about two or three feet in depth,
making the finest sort of fishing. All sorts and
all sizes, from the shark to the minnow, are
congregated here, being probably the first visit
they have received from either the barbarian
or the most humane, and they are suffering
some. We had hardly dropped our anchor
here before a small schooner was alongside from
down East, having on board chickens, apples,
eggs, onions, cabbages, etc., almost everything
that grows down there. A pilot came on board
our vessel a few miles out; his first words told
where he was from: "Clus up that mainsail."
He came down here a few days before us, found
out the anchorage, and is now making from
twenty to fifty dollars a day for his service. To
hear one pointing out the vessels, you would
suppose they were all from down East. Ques.
"Do you know what vessel that is?" pointing to
one. "That is the Mary Jane, from Portland."
"Well, what vessel's that?" "Why, that is the
Anna Maria, from Stonington." And so on
through half the fleet, but it is the most beautiful
sight I ever saw—the vessels covered with
troops—and every evening to hear the music of
six or eight bands is delightful to even so unmusical
an ear as mine. My servant, George,
died at Tampico a few days since. I left him

65

there sick, but expected him to join me here,
and to-day I heard he was dead. I have had
him so long (eight years), and I believe he was
so faithfully attached to me, that I regret his
death very much, but I hope he is better off.
You will not, probably, hear from me again till
I am in Vera Cruz. We sail in a day or two,
and much will depend on the weather where we
land, and some, perhaps, on the Mexicans; but
I have every confidence in our troops and the
success of the expedition. Yet something will
depend upon good luck, and Eliza says I have
plenty of that. There are now sixteen officers
seated at the table, writing letters home and to
their sweethearts. I am thinking what a jolly
time somebody will have when they get them,
although, as Mark Tapley would say, "there
is no credit in being jolly under such circumstances;
't is only when you don't get letters
you get credit for being jolly."

As ever yours,
J. S.

My dear sister:

We sailed from Lobos Island on the 2d inst.
and anchored at this place, twelve miles south


66

of Vera Cruz, yesterday morning, and are only
waiting for two or three vessels to come up before
we commence disembarking. Before you
receive this you will have seen that General
Taylor has had another great battle, and, we all
agree, a victory, although we have had no account
of this except through the Mexicans.
From Santa Anna's own account I am satisfied
that he is well licked; this comes in the right
time for us, as the ball will open in a few days.
We sailed from Lobos about twelve o'clock on
the 2d. Our ship gave the signal to weigh anchor
and proceed to this anchorage by firing a
gun. At the same time this vessel got under
weigh and, with her steam, sailed through the
squadron, and as we passed each vessel the men
sent up such cheers as made the air ring, and
those vessels that had bands on board (and there
were seven or eight) had them playing; at one
time there were four heard distinctly, and this,
taken with the enthusiasm exhibited by the soldiers,
was cheering indeed, and, as the General
said, "was the sure presage of victory." The
last vessel we passed was that of Colonel Bank-head
with four hundred of the 2d Artillery (my
regiment), which gave him (the General) cheer
after cheer. I was standing by his side, and remarked
to him that the 2d had not forgotten

67

him; he said, "No, the rascals want to fight;
they are no better than they were thirty-three
years ago, when I commanded them; they were
always for getting into the hottest part of it
then."

The second day out, early in the morning,
we were about two miles from the Castle of San
Juan, when it commenced blowing, and by ten
it blew a hurricane. The next morning we
found ourselves about thirty miles south of this,
and, by steam, at one o'clock we anchored here.
There were about forty sail already here, besides
some eight naval vessels, and that day as many
as twenty more joined us. There are now about
seventy-five here; the whole fleet consists of a
hundred sail, but as soon as two light batteries
arrive the disembarkation will commence. Today
the General, with his staff, proceeded in a
small steamer to reconnoiter the position of
town, castle, etc., and when opposite the castle
and about one and a half miles from it, the
enemy opened out fire upon the boat and fired
some twenty shots without doing any injury.
After finishing this reconnoissance the steamer
returned. We could see distinctly the flash of
their guns and hear the report, and of course
looked with some anxiety to see the fate of the
little steamer that held "Caesar and his fortunes."


68

This shows something of what they
intend for us, but fox the results there can be
but one anticipation, and that is victory. After
writing this much I was called away to prepare
the boats for disembarking, and the order is to
commence at sunrise to-morrow. It is getting
quite warm—as hot as it is in Connecticut in
May. If everything goes well I hope to be up
in the table-lands in a month or six weeks; there
it is cool and healthy. We have a good many
luxuries here in the way of living; generally
the first vessel that boards us is some Yankee
steamer loaded with notions. On some of them
they will not only bring, but raise poultry for
sale, and keep them for eggs. There has been
no communication with the shore yet; as soon
as there is we hope to get plenty of fruit.

Remember your affectionate brother,
J. S.

My dear sister:

I have time to give you but little news save
to tell you of our safe landing, meeting but
little opposition till we had nearly invested the
town; since then they have kept up a continual
fire upon us, doing little or no injury


69

Our batteries are to open upon the town at
two o'clock to-day, and it is the impression
that we shall have possession of it in forty-eight
hours. So far they have had all the fun on their
side; now comes our turn. We landed thirteen
days ago, and have had some duty since—in
fact, I have been up every other night and on
duty almost every day. I did not intend to
write again till we had Vera Cruz; but hearing
that the Princeton was to sail within an hour, I
send this line. I will give you a minute account
of everything since landing. So far we
have lost one officer and six or eight men, and
in all probability we shall get the town with
very little loss. In great haste,

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

I wrote Emily a line on the 23d inst. informing
her of my safety, etc., and I now can give you
the more pleasing information that the city of
Vera Cruz and the castle of San Juan de Ulloa
are now in our possession. Commissioners are
now in session arranging minor details of capitulation.
They are on our part Generals Worth,


70

Pillow, and Colonel Totten. This protracted
siege of sixteen days has been accomplished with
the loss of two officers and not to exceed ten
men, and perhaps forty wounded, on our part.
On theirs it cannot be ascertained accurately,
but is supposed to be much greater. I will give
you, as far as possible, the occurrences from day
to day as they fell under my own observation. I
wrote you last about the 8th instant, while lying
at Anton Lizardo, an anchorage about nine or
ten miles from the city. All arrangements were
made and orders issued for debarking the next
morning. The first brigade, composed of the
2d and 3d regiments artillery, 4th, 5th, 6th and
8th regiments of infantry, was the first line
(under General Worth); the second were the
volunteers, three brigades (under Major-General
Patterson, Brigadiers Shields, Pillow,
and Quitman); and the reserve, 1st and 4th
artillery, 1st, 2d, 3d, and 7th infantry (under
General Twiggs); the whole, under General
Scott, amounted to about eleven thousand,
some two or three regiments not having arrived.
At about ten o'clock the signal was
made for weighing anchor, and as our ship
passed through the fleet everybody appeared
in the highest spirits. The General said he
wanted no better evidence of success than

71

what he saw. As we came in sight of our
landing-place dinner was announced. The
General said all officers of the first line must go
down, and promptly, as it might be several
days before we got another good dinner. While
we were at dinner the General came down, and
calling for a glass of wine, said that he would
give us a sentiment, remarking before he offered
it that he looked upon it as a perilous thing to
land in the face of an enemy, organize under
fire, attack and drive him from his position,
etc., but that he had all confidence in our Generals
and soldiers, etc., and then gave this toast:
"The glory of our country and success to the
first brigade." Just at this moment we heard the
anchor fall, and in ten minutes all the vessels
had come to anchor and the signals were made
to get into the surf-boats and prepare to land.
As fast as they got in, the boats fell behind the
frigate Raritan and held on to her till the signal
should be given to land. This, I think,
was the most beautiful sight I ever saw, as the
boats fell in their places, the colors flying, the
bands playing, etc. When the signal was made
to land, as the boats cast off and stood for shore
the navy and 2d and 3d lines sent up cheer
after cheer that might have been heard for miles.
On our part nothing was heard but the oarsmen,

72

as each boat and regiment rivalled each other as
to who should first reach the land. Just as we
reached the land we raised a cheer that made it
ring, and which was returned from the fleet.
Some small vessels of the navy had gone in
close to shore and opened their fire to ascertain
if there were any batteries—if so, to draw their
fire; but we landed without firing a shot, and a
glorious opportunity for the enemy was lost forever
—for after we had formed our line of battle
ten thousand Mexicans could not have broken
it, whereas one thousand previous to our landing
would have annoyed us seriously, if not have
prevented it. It was now nearly sundown.
The line of battle was formed, and after taking
possession of some heights we were wheeled
into columns to the right. Our regiment (the
2d) found themselves in advance. Our company
was ordered forward as skirmishers. In
this order one half the men were permitted to
lie down at a time, and the officers prepared to
take such rest as circumstances and our wet
condition would allow. Everything remained
quiet until about three o'clock, when a brisk firing
in front brought us to our feet. This soon
ceased, and we began to think it a false alarm,
when another discharge, accompanied by an
unintelligible whistling over our heads, convinced

73

us it was no joke, if so intended. As
might be expected, no more sleep that night,
and at daylight we prepared to move forward.
One light company moved forward, and the
regiment was ordered to support it. The company
moved forward slowly until they reached
the second ridge, when a body of lancers and
infantry were discovered in the valley, and a
party deployed upon an adjoining hill. As
these fellows showed no disposition to move,
Captain Taylor was ordered to bring up a field-piece,
a shot or two of which sent them off
double quick. Our regiment then moved forward
and took position on the hill just vacated
by the enemy, and the rest of the brigade came
up and took possession on our left by regiments,
as they arrived. On this hill we remained all
day watching the progress of the second brigade,
each detachment of which, in taking up its
position, had to drive the enemy before it. As
we showed ourselves on the hill the castle and
three forts opened their fire upon us, though
none of them reached us to do us any damage.
At sunset we withdrew to the base of the hill
and took the position which we now occupy,
being the right of the line of investment. We
remained quiet during the night; about daylight
a smart firing on our left told us that the

74

second division had some work to do. General
Pillow to-day took a magazine with some six
hundred pounds of powder and twelve hundred
rockets. The other regiments moved on to
take their position. The third day the line of
investment was completed and all communication
was cut off between city and country. This
day we had the misfortune to lose Captain Alburtis
by a cannon-ball, and two riflemen. The
loss of the Mexicans up to this time was seventeen.
This included three days. In my next
I will continue the progress of the siege. I
shall have more time in a day or so, certainly
more conveniences. I have been extremely well
ever since I have been here, although I have
been up nearly every other night.

Adieu!
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

Before you receive this you will probably receive
a note from Captain Swartwout, who left
here a few days since, very unexpectedly to me,
as I did not know he was going till he had gone
on board the vessel. I had not time to write
even a line, but requested him, when he arrived


75

in New York, to drop you a line letting you
know I am well. When I last wrote I told
you of the surrender of this place; I think I
gave you the events up to the 12th, and I now
continue them as nearly as I remember. From
the 12th to the 16th but little was done on
either side except skirmishing by parties out
reconnoitering. On the 16th strong parties
were ordered out to drive in all the enemy's
pickets, which was done with little loss; at
this time our engineers selected positions for
our batteries. As this was done within reach of
the enemy's batteries, nothing could be done by
daylight. At night the trench was opened and
continued, with strong guards out to assist the
working party if attacked. On the night of the
19th the batteries were nearly ready for the guns.
I was ordered out in advance to watch any movements
that might take place and to retire to
the trench at daylight. Just at break of day I
entered the trench; the working party, consisting
of three hundred men, were about being relieved
by another party to continue the work during
the day. The parties were passing each other
in different directions, the guards at each end,
when an officer and perhaps fifty men (Mexicans)
rode up to us, discovered our work, fired
their pieces, and retreated to the town. Up to

76

this time they had kept up a continual random
firing, but had not discovered exactly our position.
As soon as it was fairly light they opened
all their batteries upon us, and kept it up all
day; but the trench was so far advanced that it
completely sheltered us from all direct firing,
but the shells flew over us and burst over us
for more than twelve hours without killing any
one and only wounding five or six. At dark I
was relieved, for before this no one could leave
the trench with safety. From this time to the
22d the time was occupied in bringing up the
mortars, guns, etc., making magazines, filling
them, etc. On the 22d we had eight mortars
and six thirty-two pounders ready to open their
fire. At twelve o'clock the General sent a flag
demanding the surrender of the town and castle,
to which he received a very polite answer from
the Governor, saying he had been entrusted
with the safety of the place and would defend it
with all his means, etc. You will recollect up
to this time we had not fired a shot, but they
had kept up a continual firing since the morning
of the 19th. At four o'clock we opened
fire upon them with all the guns we had in
position, and kept up an incessant fire during
the night and following day. This night four
more mortars were placed ready to open, but,

77

a "norther" blowing, we could not get ammunition
from the ship to supply them. On the
23d and 24th ammunition was landed, a battery
of twenty four-pounders was established,
and on the morning of the 25th all opened and
continued during the day, and such destruction
as was made you cannot conceive—almost every
shell striking a house demolished it. I had
charge of a battery of four mortars at daylight
on the 26th; the evening previous eight more
mortars had been placed but were not fixed.
We kept the fire up till three o'clock, when
a flag was sent into town with some message.
The enemy had not fired since nine o'clock in
the morning, but till that time they had thundered
away at our batteries with all their might.
Firing on our part was not resumed till two
o'clock in the morning. Very soon after we
heard a bugle from the walls blowing a parley.
Some man told me it was one; I immediately
ceased firing and sent word to the commanding
officer in the battery to order the
batteries to cease, but, hearing nothing more,
they commenced again. The bugle and flag
proceeded to camp, and orders immediately
came to cease firing, but a few minutes before I
had been relieved by another firing party. The
flag requested that commissioners might be appointed

78

to arrange the conditions of a surrender;
this was done, and arrangements made and
signed on the 27th, and on the 29th we took
formal possession of the town and castle. The
conditions were that the enemy were to give up
all guns, ammunition, and public property of
every description, to march out and stack their
arms, and surrender themselves prisoners of
war. The officers were paroled and pledged
that the men should not serve till the close of
the war unless exchanged. Their number, as
near as possible to guess, was five general officers,
sixteen colonels, more than two hundred
company officers, more than four thousand nine
hundred rank and file, making in round numbers
five thousand two hundred. This with a
loss on our part of not to exceed twenty killed
and sixty wounded. On their part, by the estimate
made by themselves, there are from two to
five hundred; they cannot tell, as so many had
left the city previously. It is the most complete
victory of science in modern warfare. At no
time did we have more than six hundred men
engaged, except to invest the place. I have a
great deal more to say at some other time; till
then believe me to be

Your affectionate son,
J. SEDGWICK.


79

My dear sister:

My last three letters were directed to father,
as they were so intimately connected with the
events here that I thought it best not to separate
them; and I would here request, if I have
not before done it, that you would preserve
them, as there are some things in them which I
might like to refer to. I hardly remember
where I left off, but it was about the time of the
capitulation, the terms of which I have sent you
in a paper called the Vera Cruz "Eagle." The
scene was one of the most brilliant I ever witnessed.
Not alone for the novelty of seeing a
vanquished foe laying down his arms, although
this might have added to the effect, but it was
the tout ensemble, the chivalry of the armies
meeting on a vast plain, one marching out of
the city which they had gallantly defended and
laying down their arms; the other receiving
their arms and marching in. Our troops were
drawn up on this vast plain, several miles in
extent, the right resting near to the principal
gate of the city, through which their troops were
to leave. At a given signal their flags were
lowered from the forts and castle and the gates
thrown open and the troops issued out; each


80

regiment, preceded by its band of music, halting
when opposite our line, stacked their arms and
hung upon them their accoutrements and then
resumed their march in the direction indicated
in the terms of capitulation. As each regiment
or detatchment evacuated a fort, our troops
marched in, raised the Stars and Stripes, and
saluted them with the same guns which but a
few days previously had been thundering death
and destruction to us.

This town is an old Spanish one, with but
very few modern houses. The old ones were
once splendid, most of them very costly. The
cathedral is two hundred years old, and its
style of architecture is of that period; very
magnificent. There are the usual number of
saints and other decorations, but not so rich as
in most of the cathedrals. Outside of the walls
of the city is the cemetery, a most beautiful
place surrounded by a high wall. At the corners,
large stone pyramids, and at the entrance
a highly ornamented gateway with marble flagging
walks. In the center there is a small but
most beautiful church, all the interior of which,
including the altar, is of the most highly polished
marble. All this was destroyed by their
own guns. Our batteries, being established in
advance of this, were connected by a trench to


81

cover the men. Almost every gun fired at two
of our batteries struck either the wall or church,
and as this was kept up for ten days or more
you can imagine how much it was riddled. This
was certainly to be regretted, but could not be
avoided, as we could not change the position of
our batteries to protect their property. The
destruction caused by our guns in the town is
incalculable. Houses whose outer walls seem
whole have been struck by a bomb in the roof,
then falling to the basement, bursting and tearing
out all the interior. Many of the bombs fell
into the handsomest buildings, almost entirely
demolishing them, but you will see enough of
this in the papers. We expected to have gone
to Jalapa before this. Two divisions have gone,
and ours, the only one left, will go in four
days. Probably I shall not write again until I
get there. All travellers say that it is a cool,
healthy, and delightful country, the climate assimilating
to our own, with fruits and vegetables
corresponding. You will hardly believe me
when I tell you I can look out of my tent and
see the mountains covered with snow, yet such
is the fact. It is a chain called the Orizaba,
about fifty miles from here, and seventeen thousand
feet above the sea. Yet all the ice we get
here comes from Boston, when with a little energy

82

it might be brought with one-tenth the
cost. I think it high time some country took
possession of this, and I should be in favor of
doing it were it not for keeping the army here.
I am anxious to see the North again, although
I would not have missed seeing this.

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear sister:

You have probably heard before this that we
have had a battle with Santa Anna, and that the
result has been victory to our arms. I cannot
give you any of the particulars, and you will excuse
me, I know, when I tell you that I have
marched fifteen miles to-day, eighteen yesterday,
and so on. I will give you the result in a
few words: We left Vera Cruz on the 13th
instant, marched one day, when it was ascertained
that the enemy occupied a strong position
in front and was determined to give us a
hard battle. On the fourth evening we arrived
within five miles of the pass (Cerro Gordo),
rested the next day, attacked Santa Anna on the
morning of the 6th, and in two hours had entirely


83

routed him, killing and dispersing one
thousand men, taking six thousand prisoners
with all their arms, forty pieces of cannon, a
great quantity of ammunition, etc. Santa Anna
escaped, it is said, with four thousand men.
The next day we commenced the pursuit,
reached Jalapa, driving them through, and
through another pass, which they had strongly
fortified, where a few determined men might
have held a large army. The gun carriages
were burning when we passed through; they
abandoned this place, one of the strongest and
finest I ever saw. Day after to-morrow we follow
them to Puebla, a city of seventy-five thousand
inhabitants; and it is believed they will
make some resistance, but they are so completely
panic-stricken that there is no telling what
they will do. The distance to Puebla is seventy-five
miles, and thirty-three from here to Jalapa,
General Scott's headquarters. The city of
Mexico is only seventy miles from Puebla, and
with a few more troops we might soon be there.
I am so tired that I can hardly hold my pen;
the express comes in two hours, or to-morrow,
or I would send you a long letter; but I will, as
soon as we get to a stop, give you the particulars
of the battle and such other observations as I

84

hope you will find interesting. There are three
of us writing around one tallow candle, and writing
pretty much the same sentence.

Your brother, in great haste,
J. S.

My dear sister:

I left Perote, as I wrote in my last note, on
the morning of the 25th, and after two days'
march reached this place, about thirty miles distant.
Last evening, about dark, we were gratified
by the appearance of a large five-mile train
loaded with letters and papers from the States,
and perhaps such a busy time never before was
seen, unless it was in mounting the hill of
Cerro Gordo. Amongst them was yours of the
26th of March, the only one from home. I
promised to give you a detailed description of
our last battle, but you will have to content
yourself with a very imperfect one, as the field of
operations was so extended, and the immediate
dispersion of the different columns in pursuit
of the enemy renders it impossible to give a
correct one. General Worth's division of the
army left Vera Cruz on the 13th inst., four
days after the division under General Twiggs,


85

with orders to proceed by easy marches on
Jalapa, as no opposition was then expected; but
on the second day out an express brought the
news that the enemy had fortified a strong
position in front and that General Twiggs was
waiting for reinforcements to force it—but our
troops were not to be forced—in order that they
might be fresh on their arrival. On the evening
of the 16th we reached General Twiggs'
camp, Plan del Rio, about five miles from
the battle-ground. The order of the attack
was to be on the 18th, but the positions were
to be taken on the 17th. The ground had
been previously reconnoitered, roads cut, positions
selected, and all arrangements made. On
the 17th a hill from which many observations
had been made by our officers, and upon which
a battery was to be placed, was found to be in
possession of the enemy, and a severe struggle
with severe losses on both sides was necessary
to obtain it; this was carried and the troops
rested here for this day. So far nothing had
been gained, but the moral effect of driving the
enemy inspired our troops. The Cerro Gordo
is a high hill, supposed to be impregnable,
crowned with five guns and defended by several
hundred troops—enough, it was supposed, to
hold it against any number that could be brought

86

against it. The possession of this hill was indispensable
to our success, and after gaining it
their whole works must fall. Then there was to
be the terrible struggle. The hill was a perfect
cone, the summit covering about an acre, the
sides covered with thick underbrush, and within
range of musketry from the top, the brush cut
off and thrown down, making it almost impassable.
The taking of this hill was assigned to
General Twiggs' division, consisting of the 1st
and 4th artillery, rifle regiment, 2d, 3d, and 7th
infantry. The volunteers, two brigades, were
to attack the batteries on the left and one brigade
and a battery on the right. General Worth
was to get possession of their rear, cut off
their retreat, and if necessary secure the column
attacking the hill. The success of the
volunteers was thought unimportant, as the
fall of the hill would give us command
of all their works, but the attack was necessary
to prevent the enemy from reinforcing
the hill. The attack was made at nine
o'clock, our column moving around to the rear,
General Twiggs attacking with great fury, and
after a struggle of half an hour carried it, losing
many valuable lives, but gaining the battle.
As our column was moving around, word was
brought that reinforcements were wanted, and
the head of the column was turned up the hill.

87

We arrived just in time to see the enemy run,
and the head of the column gave them two
broadsides, hastening their flight. We then
took our position, the other column following
the enemy. As soon as we had gained our
position a white flag was sent offering terms of
surrender. The General sent word that the
terms must be unconditional, that he had them
in his grasp, and that fifteen minutes would be
allowed them to consider it. They took only
five, and surrendered, and were marched back
to our camp at Plan del Rio, numbering six
thousand, where they gave their parole and were
disbanded. Our division encamped on the field,
collected the wounded, took them to hospitals,
etc. Our wounded were taken from the field
as soon as wounded. They sent surgeons immediately
to take care of their own, and all vied
with each other in rendering assistance. Our
loss is four hundred and twenty-five killed,
wounded, and missing; many were wounded so
slightly as not to require dressing; probably a
hundred are now attending to duty. Their loss
is variously estimated from six to ten hundred,
probably about eight hundred; over two hundred
were buried on the hill, and when I was on
it, it was covered with the dying and wounded.
It was truly a horrible sight, and no description
can equal the reality; within a few yards of my

88

tent lay seven dead Mexicans, and this was half
a mile from the battle-field—killed probably in
the pursuit. One of my men brought me a splendid
saddle, holsters, etc., worth forty dollars
here; another a pony, a very fine one. Santa
Anna's carriage, with between twenty and thirty
thousand dollars, was captured, which furnished
an easy conveyance for our wounded officers.
Much private baggage was captured, which was
restored when called for. It is unnecessary to
say that the volunteers were repulsed in every
effort, except the brigade on the right (General
Shields), which took a battery. We took forty
pieces of cannon, between seven and eight thousand
stand of small arms, more ammunition
than we have in the country, dispersed and captured
their best and only organized army, and
may possibly contribute to bring peace; but
who cares?—only the poor devils of the army
suffer. I am within forty miles of a mountain
covered with snow. The peak looks as if you
were looking into the skies. I have never suffered
more with the cold than I have the last
month; but the weather is, I am told, unchangeable
—the same in January and in July. All the
fruits and vegetables are like the North.

Your affectionate brother,
J. S.


89

My dear sister:

When I wrote you last from this place, a move
onward was contemplated in two or three days,
but the difficulty of obtaining supplies for such
a large number has delayed our movement; besides,
it is understood that no opposition will be
made to our entrance into Puebla, a city of sixty
thousand inhabitants. When the army left Vera
Cruz, General Scott did not intend going farther
than Jalapa; but the signal defeat of the enemy
at Cerro Gordo, leaving them no time to rally
their troops, persuaded him to follow them with
vigor. By doing so the strongest places have
been seized by our troops, and all Mexico cannot
drive us out of them. The fortress at Perote,
with an ordinary garrison of our troops, is impregnable.
In my last I endeavored to give you
an account of the battle of Cerro Gordo; this,
of course, must have been very imperfect, but
what I wrote I believe to be facts, except the
number of prisoners. This I had from the Adjutant-General;
but the result will not vary but
a few hundred,—say five,—and this discrepancy
arose from their escape after they had surrendered.
Many interesting anecdotes might be
related, but they would have but little interest


90

for you. One, however, I will relate. When
Colonel Harney was leading the column up that
terrible hill, it was reported to him that three
thousand Mexicans were attacking his flank and
rear. He replied: "Let them attack; we will carry
the hill, then their whole force can't budge us a
foot." I met a young officer—Lieutenant Bee,
3d Infantry—and, observing his hand bleeding,
remarked to him that I was sorry to see him
wounded. He said: Yes, he was sorry too;
but that, to save himself, he was obliged to kill a
soldier. Then, looking at his sword, found it
bloody to the hilt. On entering the fort, a soldier
ran at him with his bayonet, which he parried,
receiving the wound in his hand. The sides of
the hill were literally covered with the dead and
dying, but such horrible pictures can have no
interest for any person. The road from Vera
Cruz to Mexico is the only one deserving the
name in the country, and this was built by the
old Spaniards. Its expense must have been
enormous—they say at least a hundred thousand
dollars a league, two and five eighths of a mile.
It was built by their forcing the Indians to labor.
The bridges, etc., are made of the most expensive
material, and after the same plans that are studied
at West Point, remarkable for their strength
and beauty. Since the revolution of 1821 it has

91

had but few repairs, but it would be a good road
a hundred years from now. The National Bridge
is one of the finest pieces of architecture of the
kind known. After leaving Vera Cruz, for
eight or ten miles the country is low and
sandy; it then grows rolling, fertile, and much
more interesting. The second night we reached
the National Bridge; this is over a stream nearly as
large as the Housatonic, and the country resembles
somewhat that about the Hollow at Cornwall.
General Santa Anna has a country house
built in modern style, and very expensive; a
guard was placed over it to prevent any one from
defacing it. From this place we marched to Plan
del Rio; this is a stream much smaller than the
other, but, like it, running through a deep chasm.
This is from four to five miles from the battle-field.
After passing it, the country is better cultivated,
and you see large fields fenced with strong
stone walls, people hoeing their corn, picking
fruit, large droves of cattle, sheep, etc. As you
approach Jalapa, you can almost imagine yourself
in a New England city. It has from twelve
to fourteen thousand inhabitants, the streets are
large and clean, the houses many of them old,
but of a most magnificent appearance. A great
many foreigners are here. You must recollect
that we have been rising ever since we left Vera

92

Cruz, and are now toward five thousand feet
above the sea. The nights are cool, the days
far from being hot, so that it is comfortable
marching at midday. If we should not leave
here for a week, you will probably hear from
me again.

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.

CONVENT SAN FRANCISCO,

My dear father:

We have heard of the capture of our last two
couriers, and I had sent a letter by each: one
written after our arrival here, the other at Amasoque,
a few miles from this. General Scott has
arrived with the whole army. He says he has
cut himself loose from the States, and can provide
everything he wants for the army here. All he
wants is men, men, money, money, and his communications
will be very uncertain. I shall,
nevertheless, continue to write, hoping some
letter luckier than the rest may reach you.
After leaving Tepeyahualco, for four days we
passed through a very delightful country, well
cultivated, the finest water—generally brought
from the mountains; and at distances from


93

twenty to thirty miles there are mountains
whose tops are covered with snow; others, at
lesser distances, are covered in the morning, but
it disappears during the day. And from here I
can see, in every direction, banks that never disappear,
and some, to appearances, not more than
five or ten miles distant. Yet the weather is mild
and uniform. A thin summer dress, or our thick
coats buttoned up to the chin, and you do not
feel the heat or cold. For the first four days nothing
happened to disturb us but reports continually
coming in of large bodies of troops in front
determined to give us a fight. The second day
we heard they had fortified a pass called El Pinal,
and had mined the road, determined, if obliged
to retreat, to blow us up. We arrived within two
miles the evening of the third day. The next
morning we sent forward an advance, the main
body moving soon after, and found their troops
had left, but had not completed their mines.
This day we went to Amasoque, where it was expected
a commission would meet for the surrender
of Puebla; none arrived, and we expect to
remain here. One day, at about ten o'clock, news
came that Santa Anna, with the Mexican army,
was upon us. In ten minutes the troops were
under arms, marching out of the town to give
them battle. This report proved true. As we

94

marched out, Santa Anna had reached the suburbs
at the head of from three to four thousand men,
all mounted. As my regiment marched out,
they were filing along nearly in a parallel direction,
and about one thousand yards distant.
After leaving the town we halted, and opened
upon them with two pieces of artillery, just as
they were forming for a charge. After a few
rounds (seventy), they broke, and our regiment
was ordered to proceed back to meet General
Quitman, who was hourly expected with his brigade.
We met him about three miles from town,
returned, cooked our dinner, ate half of it, and
were ordered in pursuit. We marched, however,
but three miles, encamped in a corn-field in a cold
rain, with no tents, no baggage, no supper, and,
as I thought, a fairer prospect for a battle than
we had had yet. At midnight a delegation came
from the town, offering to surrender it; but it
was well understood by us that Santa Anna with
his troops was there, and we thought it more than
likely would fight us, as the civil authorities had
no control over him or his army. The next morning
we started before daylight (lay on our arms
all night), marching about seven miles. As we
approached the town we met the civil functionaries,
come to escort us into the city, and it was
here that we learned that the troops had all left.

95

After going into the heart of the city, and resting
for an hour, we were all marched to our quarters,
the second artillery occupying the same barrack
that the second battalion had just marched out of.
And now the first prospect appeared, for a long
time, of having a little rest in comfortable quarters;
and it is not so pleasant now as you might
suppose, as we have daily reports of troops ready
to pounce upon us if caught napping; but after
General Scott's arrival we felt more at our ease.
In my next I will say something about the city,
of the magnificence of which you can have no
conception.

Your affectionate son,
J. SEDGWICK.

CONVENT SAN FRANCISCO,

My dear sister:

My last letter to father, dated 25th of May,
will go with this, as I have had no opportunity
to send it, and to-morrow a train goes to Vera
Cruz. I have more hopes of your getting this,
unless it would furnish more satisfaction to the
bandits than I trust it will to you. In my
letter to father I have given all that I thought
might be interesting up to my arrival here; now
I will tell you of some of the sights already


96

seen. In the first place, I hope you have
Mr. Poinsett's or Waddy Thompson's notes on
this country, as it would help me very much, or
rather make my statements more credible. We
arrived here on the 15th, and after displaying
our ragged selves to the natives and receiving an
occasional shout, from a still more ragged urchin,
of "valiente Americanos," who immediately disappeared
amid the kicks and blows of two others,
we were ordered to our quarters. This was a
barrack recently occupied by the second battalion
of their troops, a modern building after
the style of many of our own. In this we
only stayed a day or two, when we were removed
to a nunnery not occupied since 1825.
This was a very large building attached to a
still larger church, or rather the wings of the
church, which had never been completed. You
can imagine something of its size when I tell
you we had two regiments of foot troops and a
battery with all their horses quartered in it, and
it was only two stories in height. It was probably
built not long after Cortez' conquest, and
after the style then in vogue in Spain; at least,
no labor was spared, and the materials—brick and
stone—were close at hand. You know it was the
fashion in those days to bring in all persons that
they could make use of, keep them as long as

97

wanted, and then turn them loose. It was in
this way that they were enabled to build all those
splendid buildings that are still the admiration
of all visitors; but little money changed hands
except to those citizens that came from Spain.
Directly in front of this is the Alameda, a principal
public work. It is a large square with fine
shade-trees, very thick, and on the outer side a
carriageway, and walks with several fountains,
around which are stone seats where the upper
"ten thousand" assemble to smoke their cigarettes,
etc.; and at almost any time any number of
carriages and horsemen are seen driving around,
and previous to our coming the "canaille" were
not permitted to enter it. We were removed to
this place in order to make room for General
Twiggs' troops. This is very much in the same
style; we occupy one floor of one wing with our
five hundred men, and the lower story is generally
occupied for stables. The building stands
upon arches in the form of a square, the center
of which is a courtyard; the masonry is generally
very rough, floors either brick or stone, and
very little woodwork about them, roofs flat and
covered with cement. This is very much the
style of all the buildings here; there are few
modern ones. The cathedral is perhaps the most
splendid building on the continent. All the

98

magnificence of Aladdin's cavern or "Arabian
Nights'" history does barely equal the reality
here. It is said to have cost six millions of dollars,
and I should think could not have cost less.
Chandeliers weighing hundreds of pounds of pure
silver, the railing around the altars the same,
pictures in frames of gold, inscriptions in letters
there can be no mistake in, and everything in a
style of magnificence you have no conception
of. When we arrived I have no doubt but
there were seventy-five thousand persons looking
at us—an anomaly in the history of all war,
to see a force of less than five thousand soldiers
take possession of a city of nearly one hundred
thousand people, and with more wealth than the
whole State of Connecticut—by this I mean in
gold and silver. It is probable we shall move
in the course of a month for the "Halls."
There is but little said about peace, but everybody
agrees that things look very much like it.
The peace party is on the increase. Santa Anna
has resigned, and the report is that Almonte is
in prison; he has been one of the most hostile
of any of their public men, and if this be
true it looks encouraging. I am in excellent
health, never better, and enjoying all the luxuries
that you have at the North, and many that
you have not. Ice, ice-creams,—think of that in

99

this latitude!—bananas, pineapples, oranges,
and many other kinds of fruit I never heard of
before I came here. Remember me to all my
friends, and I know you will not forget

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.

CONVENT SAN FRANCISCO,

My dear sister:

I wrote you about a week since, but no opportunity
has yet occurred for sending it, yet I
suppose some means will be found soon. In the
last Mexican papers are copious extracts from
letters from the States, from all sorts of people,
fathers, brothers, wives, sweethearts, etc., having
been captured after leaving Vera Cruz. Among
them are two from Mrs. Childs, wife of Colonel
Childs, who distinguished himself at Cerro
Gordo. Information has been received of the
landing and advance of General Cadwalader
with reinforcements, consisting of portions of
the new regiments and recruits, and they will
probably join us in the course of a week. Soon
after a forward movement will take place (it is
supposed), for you must know that all is mystery
to those to be engaged, until the moment the


100

movement is to take place. You will wonder
what this is for; but it has never been discovered,
unless it is to increase the confusion. Secrecy
was supposed to be the great element in the
success of Napoleon, and he must be imitated
by all great-little men. Amongst these I do
not mean to include General Scott, for I look
upon him as one of the great men of the day,
and it would be the greatest misfortune to this
army if anything should befall him. From all
reports, the enemy intend to make a stand this
side of the city of Mexico, and have already
collected a large force to oppose us: but the
larger it is the more disastrous it will be for
them; for with our well-appointed army, and
the enthusiasm existing in it, no force, however
large, can, in my opinion, stand against us. Yet
I may be mistaken, and the next action may tell
a different story. If so, you may hear of our
arrival at Vera Cruz sooner than you expect.
Nobody talks of peace now. Campaigning
here is altogether a different thing from what
it is on the Rio Grande. You can scarcely
imagine the delightful climate here. I have
been told that the thermometer does not change
ten degrees in a year. Yet this I hardly believe;
but it is certainly most delicious at this
time. No extreme heat, no sudden changes

101

that you experience at the North. The sun
comes out warm and bright in the morning, and
at this season (which is called the rainy one)
showers come up in the afternoon, and after they
are over you have the same mild temperature
as before. The nights are cool, and fine for
sleep. It is not unusual in the morning to see
the mountains covered with snow within a few
miles distance; although at greater distances, in
every direction, they are perpetually covered, at
the base of which vegetation is always growing
in perfection. General Scott arrived here about
the 25th of last month, with his division of the
army. Previous to his arrival we had many
reports of the designs of the enemy either to
attack us or to get between us and cut off the
second division. Fortunately for them and for
us, they did not attempt it. But on the very day
of the General's arrival this report was received
and our regiment marched out to meet him, and
warn or assist, as the case might be. But it
proved a false alarm, and we had the pleasure of
doing what the King of France had done before,
except we did not have twice ten thousand men
"to march up the hill and then march down
again." General Scott's arrival quieted everybody;
all felt safe and confident in the discretion and
sound judgment of the hero of '13 and '14, and

102

in the gallantry of the troops at Cerro Gordo.
The cry is now "The Halls! the Halls!"— the
Democrats demand it. They will not be satisfied
unless their soldiers have one revel in the
"Halls of the Montezumas." If this would satisfy
them we would be content, in a week we
would be there, but with all our hard knocks it
does not seem that we are any nearer peace. I
forgot to tell you that the Lieutenant Gibson
that died at Tampico was a young officer that
had joined the regiment but a few months previous,
and not my old friend of that name. He,
however, has met with an accident that will
render him hors de combat for some months.
It was the accidental discharge of a pistol, the
ball passing through the ankle, coming out on
the opposite side. It makes it still more severe
after having undergone the fatigues of a long
march, and so far into the interior as to render
it impossible to go back to the States. Besides,
it is very different campaigning here from what
it is on the Rio Grande. It partakes more of
the civilized way of carrying on war. Here the
ladies' eyes are almost as fatal as the climate
there. One word for them en passant: generally
speaking, they are not pretty, but have fine figures,
beautiful glossy hair, liquid eyes, with very
small hands and feet; but with all these beauties,

103

there is something about them which you cannot
fancy. Their manners are very attractive,
more so than our ladies; excessively fond of
dress, particularly of jewelry; the dress is much
the same style as the ladies of the States, excepting
a bonnet is never worn, instead of which
they wear a long shawl (called reboza) thrown
over the head and held under the chin, sometimes
thrown back when they have a handsome
pair of earrings to display, but that is a weakness
many ladies have. Probably my next will
be from Mexico; but who knows? Whether
here or there, believe me,

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

Some time yesterday I received your letters of
May 5th and 27th, one from Olive, and one from
Dr. Gold, and in all of them I am greatly rejoiced
to hear of your continued good health.
You little know with what anxiety I look for letters,
now that I am separated so far from you.
Heretofore I have felt that I was at home, or
could be there in a few hours; now I have not
the satisfaction of knowing that a letter will probably


104

reach you. This was one reason for requesting
Captain Swartwout to drop you a line to inform
you that the siege was over, and with so little
loss to our troops. If I had had half an hour,
I should have written myself. Captain Swartwout
is my Captain, and a very high-minded officer and
gentlemen, with whom I have always had the
most pleasant intercourse. He left Vera Cruz
the day our troops first took possession of the
town. I was left at our old encampment till the
next day, and on coming to town I learned, somewhat
to my surprise, that he had gone. I knew
that he had applied and expected to go but did
not think of going till the army marched into the
interior, as his health was not such as to endure
the fatigues of a campaign. As to my punctuality
in writing, he ought to know something about
it, as I have had two long, interesting letters from
him since he left, neither of which have I answered.
I think he may well complain, as I am
now in his company, and probably shall be during
the war. All is conjecture as to the prospect
of peace. You probably know that Mr. Trist is
now here, ready to enter into negotiations; and
the report was last week—and it was generally
believed—that some overtures had been made,
but they appeared to have died away, although
some still believe that negotiations are now going

105

on. I wish I could, for one. If such is the case,
it is going on very quietly. With yesterday's
mail came large reinforcements under Generals
Pillow and Cadwalader,—upwards of four thousand
men. General Pierce is on the road with
twenty-five hundred men; this will make our
force upwards of twelve thousand,— enough, if
they are all effective; but the casualties that are
continually taking place soon reduce an army in
the field. There is a good deal of sickness here,
but nothing serious,—diseases that are common
to a camp continually changing, but seldom
proving fatal. The detachments just arrived
had several skirmishes on the road, and lost, in
all of them, seventy men killed and wounded;
many of the wounded are already fit for duty.
As I have written you before, the climate here is
delightful. We live in sight of perpetual snow,
and that in every direction; or, as some more
poetical genius said, "The people live in eternal
spring, and can throw a cannon ball into regions
of perpetual snow." To-morrow our brigade
leaves here to occupy a pass some twenty miles
back, said to be now occupied by a few Mexicans
who intend to annoy General Pierce. We shall
return with him, and, it is thought, a forward
movement will soon after be made. If, after our
occupying the city, peace does not follow on immediately,

106

I think the Mexican nation is doomed,
but I have no desire to remain here to see that;
yet I think it not only for their benefit, but for
all nations, that such should be the result. With
a climate the most delicious, and a soil the most
fruitful, it is so sadly neglected as to barely furnish
the common necessaries of life. The only
luxuries—or what we call comforts—are furnished
by foreigners, mostly Frenchmen, and
these at such exorbitant prices that few can afford
them. The only pride that they appear to take
is in their horses and riding. This they bring to
perfection; when two ride on the same horse,
the usual way is, the lady rides in front on the
contrary side from our ladies, the gentleman
behind holding the rein in his left hand, his arm
supporting the lady. The carriages are generally
of American manufacture, but meaner and more
clumsy than ours, drawn by two mules, with postillions
and servant behind; sometimes five or
six mules are used. Their diligences or coaches
are drawn by eight,—two on the tongue, then
four abreast, then two to lead, with a postillion
on the near wheel mule and near leading one.
They move regularly between this and Mexico,
but not between this place and Vera Cruz, probably
because we might make use of them in sending
despatches, etc. The roads are now so infested

107

with robbers that it is almost impossible to get
any one to risk the attempt. Several have been
shot in the undertaking. Now the only ones
employed are the most notorious robbers, who,
as they cannot get as much by carrying the
despatches to their own government, prove faithful.

Your affectionate son,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

The news has probably reached you before
this will of the great battle that has been fought
in front of the gates of Mexico, and that our
arms have again by the help of God been triumphant.
I will now go back to Puebla and
give you a short history of our march and an
imperfect idea of the battle. We left Puebla on
the 9th instant, and for the first two days nothing
particular happened. The country was
open and rich and gently ascending. On the
third day we reached the top of the mountain
that divides the two cities from the valleys that
surround them and from which they take their
names. Here we found that works had been
erected to stop the further progress of our advance,


108

but had been abandoned for stronger
positions nearer the city, from which they must
draw all their supplies. We encamped this
night on the top of the mountain, ten thousand
five hundred feet above the sea. The air here
was so rarified that it was with great difficulty
that a person could breathe, and almost every
one felt a pressure or pain in the head. From
this point we commenced descending rapidly,
and after a few hours' march the luxurious valley
of Mexico burst upon us, lying nearly five thousand
feet below us and at a distance of about
twenty miles. You can imagine how rapid the
descent was. After reaching the valley we
came up with one division that had preceded
us by one day — General Twiggs'. There the
roads branched, one going direct, which General
Twiggs had taken, until he had reached their
guns; this was called Peñon Grande and was
supposed to be their strongest work. In front
of this work he encamped, as if the intention
was to force it. Worth's division went to the
left to a small town named Chalco. Our division
was still behind — could select its position
at either place. From the cross-roads Lake
Chalco extends to the city, and it was reported
and believed that the side we had taken was
impracticable for anything but infantry. The

109

next day reconnoissances were commanded; two
hundred and fifty men were selected for their
endurance, to push on and see how far it could
be penetrated. I, with fifty men of our regiment,
was of this command. We went fourteen
miles and returned the same day. The commanding
officer reported the road as practicable,
and urged strongly that the whole army should
take this route. The next day the whole army
was put in motion, Twiggs' division was recalled,
the others moved up, and ours pushed
ahead. The first two days we went only about
four miles further than we had been before;
here we met the enemy's advanced guards and
obstacles in the road, immense rocks rolled in,
ditches dug across, etc. The next day there
was skirmishing during the whole day, the hills
were lined with irregular troops, and together
with driving them and clearing the road for our
guns and wagons, we had advanced only a few
miles. We stopped at a small town called San
Augustin, drove a few troops out, and found
that many citizens had retired to this place from
Mexico for safety. Santa Anna had been here
three days, was concentrating his army and
bringing his guns from Peñon Grande to oppose
us, but had evidently been disconcerted by our
movement. His works had all been erected,

110

and everything that could be foreseen prepared,
but he had evidently thought that General
Scott would force the Peñon. Our troops were
now rapidly coming up, engineers were out in
all directions reconnoitering, and things were
evidently coming to a crisis fast. Everybody
was in the highest spirits, perfectly certain of the
result: one reason was because General Scott
was with us, directing everything. On the morning
of the 18th our division marched out and
we planted ourselves in front of the batteries
of San Antonio. Two or three officers went
out to look at a battery, when a ball came,
killing Captain Thornton of the dragoons and
wounding one man. This was the first gun of
the fight, and it cast a gloom over the whole
camp. Nothing was done this day, the enemy
occasionally firing a shot, but doing no injury.
At the same time, other divisions were placing
themselves in position to attack other batteries.
On the 19th, as General Twiggs was taking his
position, a heavy fire was opened upon him from
a battery of twenty-two guns. His orders were
to storm that battery, whilst a brigade of our
division was drawn out to amuse the enemy and
prevent them from sending reinforcements. He
did not make his arrangements till the next
morning, when the attack was made and forced

111

in a few minutes, capturing all their guns, taking
several hundred prisoners, and killing upwards
of five hundred men; and all this with but little
loss on our side—less than fifty men in killed
and wounded. Whilst this was going on, our
division was comparatively idle, and we had the
most alarming reports that we had been defeated,
could not carry the work, etc. This was
partly confirmed by the enemy rejoicing in front
of us: they were cheering, blowing trumpets, and
beating drums all night on the 19th. Early on
the morning of the 20th (the morning the battery
was carried), our brigade was ordered to the
support of General Twiggs, but found that we
had it all our own way. We were then ordered
back to force the batteries of San Antonio.
This was done in a few minutes; their guns
were taken and they were driven from all their
positions and pursued to a place called San
Pablo, where they made their last and desperate
stand. Here their works were strong, and their
forces, after being joined by those defeated by
General Twiggs and our division, amounted to
thirty thousand strong. The two divisions
met and decided to attack them before their
panic was over. This was done, and with such
impetuosity that we carried all their works, capturing
their guns, ammunition, and dispersing

112

their entire army. This was done in a little
more than two hours, and with about two thirds
of our own force (six thousand men). I have
thus given the general result, and have room to
add but little more. Our loss has been great —
very great. Our regiment lost nearly one third
of its number; my company, every sergeant,
two corporals, and two privates. Total loss is
not yet known, but is supposed to be about
eleven hundred in killed and wounded. I thank
God that I am yet spared, although I had a
narrow escape.

Your affectionate son,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear sister:

I have just written father, giving some incidents
of the march from Puebla, also the final
result of the battle of the 20th instant. We are
now at a small town three miles from the same
"Halls" that we have all heard so much about,
with no obstacle to prevent our entering and
having the "Revels" that we have heard equally
as much of; but political considerations have decided
General Scott not to enter yet. Negotiations
are now going on, and it is fervently hoped


113

with sincerity on both sides. I do think we have
blood enough spilled to satisfy the most avaricious.
I have just heard of the death of one of
the most promising young officers in the service,—
died of wounds received in the action. One of
my men also died last night. I lost, during this
conflict, my sergeants, two corporals out of three,
and eight privates, and nearly one third of my
regiment is cut down. It seems a wonderful interposition
that we were not all cut down. History
does not furnish a parallel when less than ten
thousand men (and of those not more than seven
thousand) attacked, with the bayonet, an army
of about thirty thousand men, strongly intrenched.
General Scott says: "I am an idiot to
bring artillery so far, and at such an expense,
when I have such soldiers." After the fight was
over, I was with others detailed to go for the
wounded. In passing over the battle-ground,
General Scott and staff rode up. The soldiers
welcomed him with shouts and cheers. After
they had become silent, so that he could speak,
he said, with a good deal of feeling: "I thank
Almighty God for this glorious and brilliant victory,
— not only for the glory conferred upon our
arms, but for the honor of our beloved country;
and I thank you, my brave soldiers," etc. The
rest I do not remember, but it was well calculated

114

to inspire the soldiers. He has entirely won the
affection and confidence of every officer and soldier
in this army. You will continually be hearing
some one say, "General Scott says so, and it
must be right." Among the prisoners are about
sixty American deserters,—deserted from Corpus
Christi and Matamoras. A court-martial
is now in session, trying them. It is possible
some of them will be shot,— enough to make an
example. Our soldiers are highly exasperated
against them, and it was with difficulty they could
be restrained from killing them after they had
surrendered. Many were killed rather than surrender.
Our greatest loss was occasioned by
them. They were in a work, and fought with the
greatest desperation, knowing that little mercy
was due them if taken. None of our officers have
yet been in the city, but I understand an opportunity
will be given them before long; the people
at home expect and demand it, but if it
delayed or disturbed negotiations, I would willingly
yield my wishes of gratifying my curiosity
or to satisfy the people. I think the people, if
J. K. Polk represents them, have treated the
army most shabbily. It is believed now that the
army will soon be on its way home. It is known
that commissioners are in session to adjust
terms, and it is hoped that they will come to some

115

arrangement. Notwithstanding the climate here
is delightful, and all the fruits the earth grows
are here, yet it is not the States. Many officers
here have been absent about two years from their
families, and the anxiety they have suffered is
beyond calculation. The prospect now brightens
for their wishes to be realized. I hope we shall
not be disappointed. Since I have written this
much, everybody is cheered with the belief that
negotiations are going on encouragingly, and all
are in high spirits, and would willingly give up
the idea of visiting the city if it delayed negotiations
one hour. During the action our colors
received a twenty-four-pound shot and numerous
balls; the bearer fell, and the colors were seized
and carried by one of my corporals. As we were
about to mount the enemy's work the corporal
said: "Lieutenant, shall I shake out the colors
and let them see who are after them?" I said:
"Yes." But soon after they were in full flight.
Our regiment, with the 6th infantry, were the
first in pursuit, and followed them nearly to the
gates of the city. During the hottest part of the
action, General Worth said to the commanding
officer of the brigade: "It is reported that your
brigade is giving way." One of the staff officers
said: "I have just come from them; the 2d artillery
are in advance, and driving the enemy before

116

them. Not a man has fallen back, though
they have lost many men." This was the case
with all the regiments; none had gone back.
To enable you to understand the organization:
General Scott is commander-in-chief; the army
is divided into four divisions, each commanded
by a Major-General; each division into two or
more brigades, commanded by a Brigadier-General.
Each brigade is composed of three or four
regiments, battery, and squadron of cavalry. I
have just seen a list of the captured property.
It consists of more guns, small arms, and ammunition
than we have in the country. The
ordnance officer told me he had destroyed one
million of cartridges, and still kept enough to
supply us for any campaign. Thirty-seven guns
have been captured. We had only sixteen; eight
of those did not go into action. Our loss has
been severe; it is not yet known how many,—
less than was at first supposed: eleven hundred.
The enemy's loss in killed, wounded, and missing
is reported by them to be over six thousand;
over seven hundred have been buried by our
troops, and of our own probably not two hundred
are dead. Yet this contrast is no consolation
to the friends of the gallant men who fell.
I was afraid to inquire who was killed and who
wounded. I am sure to hear of some very dear

117

friends,—some that had passed through all the
actions of the war, and have been cut down here.
Major Mills from New Haven, Connecticut,
but I believe connected with the Kent Mills,
was killed; he belonged to the levies. Believe
me,

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear Emily:

I have been kindly offered an opportunity of
sending a note by an English gentleman who
leaves here to-morrow morning for Vera Cruz.
I am (thank God) in excellent health, having
escaped the perils of the last three great battles
that have swept off many of my dearest and most
intimate friends. After the battle of the 20th
of August an armistice was entered into, and
commissioners appointed to arrange the terms
of a treaty, and we all indulged the hope that a
short time would see us on our way home. But
this was of short duration, for there was no sincerity
on their part; delay was their object, and
they were every day violating the essential terms
of the armistice in adding to their defenses and
receiving reinforcements. As soon as General
Scott ascertained this beyond a doubt, he broke


118

off the armistice, and made his arrangements
for entering the city. This was on the 6th of
September; on the 7th the Mexican army was
drawn out between our position and the city in
a very strong position, their right resting on
Molino del Rey, their left extending about two
miles, resting on a large hacienda and a ravine,
and all under the fire of a regular fortification
of ten guns. General Scott had received false
information about this mill being a foundry at
which they were daily casting guns, and he supposed
that their army was drawn out to cover it,
and, determining to get possession of it, made
his dispositions for attack on the morning of the
8th, Worth's division to do the fighting, to be
supported by General Pillow; the whole number
not one half our force. I have no room to write
particulars. Suffice it to say that we attacked,
broke and drove off the whole Mexican army —
believed to be from ten to twelve thousand
strong — and all this without the help of our reserve.
Our loss was very severe,—greater in proportion
than that of the English at Waterloo,—
between eight and nine hundred in killed and
wounded. Their loss was, in killed, wounded,
and missing, between four and five thousand; it
is said whole regiments dispersed. We took one
thousand prisoners, all their artillery, and great

119

quantities of ammunition— do not understand
that we took the fort (Chapultepec), as no attack
was made on it; that was reserved for another and
more glorious day. I have written as if you had
received all information about the previous battle,
the 20th of August; and no doubt you have
seen many accounts in the papers, some tolerably
correct, others all lies. Believe not one half you
see. On the 11th General Scott, having made
all arrangements, determined to bombard the
fort the next day, assault it early on the morning
of the 13th, carry all their works, and enter the
city. This was done exactly as he had arranged
and ordered; their works were all stormed and
taken, their whole army dispersed, and we bivouacked
that night in the suburbs of the city.
In the night we threw a few bombs into the city
to let them know we were there, but before morning
the city capitulated, and we entered the next
morning. There was some resistance in the
streets from their dispersed soldiers, but nothing
of account; the next day all was quiet, and in
three days stores were opened as if nothing had
happened. Chapultepec was their military school,
and one of their best generals, Bravo, commanded,
who, with all the cadets, was captured.
We are now in the "Halls of the
Montezumas," and I hope the good people are

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satisfied with the sacrifice it has cost to come
here. We have twenty-five hundred in killed and
wounded,—three hundred more than General
Taylor had at Palo Alto,—amongst them many
of the bravest of our officers and best of our
soldiers that have been in all the battles. We
are now more comfortably situated than we ever
have been before since the war commenced, and
were it not that we are cut off from the coast
and all communications with our friends, would
be tolerably happy. Nobody thinks the war
over, but all think the hard fighting is. You
will not think me vain or egotistic when I tell
you that I have been flatteringly noticed by
General Worth for my conduct at Molino del
Rey and on the 13th, all of which you may
see in time. I have written from time to time
what I thought might be interesting to you,
which I will send on the first opportunity. Believe
me to be ever

Your affectionate brother,
JOHN SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

I have just sent a note by the English courier
through the kindness of a friend, trusting you


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will receive it, and, if so, that it may relieve you
of any anxiety you may have felt for my safety.
Believing that accounts and generally exaggerated
news will get to the States of such important
actions as have recently been fought near
this city, I was very anxious till I sent a word
to relieve you. In my last letter, written after
the action of August 20th, I gave you as true a
narration as possible of such events as fell under
my own observation and with my own division
(Worth's). The next day our division occupied
the small town of Tacubaya, about three
miles from the city, in consequence of having
received propositions from Santa Anna for suspending
hostilities to enable them to make some
definite treaty of peace. In this it was supposed
that they were sincere, for their army was
completely routed, and there was nothing to
prevent us from entering into the city that
night. But General Scott was induced to hold
back by representations that it would wound
their pride and drive the Government out if he
entered it, and thereby delay any chance there
was for peace. Their principal fort commanded
the town of Tacubaya, and General Scott insisted
that it should be placed in his possession.
This was refused, and the reason given was
that if Santa Anna lost, his power would be

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gone, as it was believed to be already on the
decline. To this reasoning General Scott gave
in, as he did not wish to lose a shadow of a
chance to secure peace. Things remained in
this way till the 6th of September, when the
armistice was broken off and hostilities commenced.
In the meantime commissioners had
been appointed and were in daily session with
Mr. Trist, and everything appeared to be going
on smoothly, and we were all rejoicing that we
should soon be on our way home. At the same
time, reports were in circulation that they were
humbugging us; that Santa Anna was using every
exertion to organize his army, and was strengthening
his works. Yet General Scott could not
believe in such duplicity. But on the 6th of
September he had such undoubted evidence of
it, that he notified Santa Anna that in twenty-four
hours (the condition in the armistice) hostilities
would commence. So well had Santa Anna
taken his measures and estimated the time necessary,
that on the 7th he drew out his army and
took a strong position between us and the city,
his right resting on a strong work called Molino
del Rey, and under the fire of the work before
mentioned, called Chapultepec; and his left, extending
more than three miles, rested on a large
hacienda, protected by an impassable ravine.

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General Scott had been told that this mill was a
foundry from which they were daily turning out
guns, and was strengthened in this opinion from
the circumstance of their occupying it with all
their force. He then deemed the destruction of
this mill highly important. He did not wish to
bring on a general engagement, as he had not
determined on which road he should force his
way into the city. He intrusted this duty to
General Worth, to be supported if necessary by
General Pillow with his division of new levies.
General Worth's orders were, as I understand,
to drive the enemy from the mill, destroy everything,
and retire. The attack was commenced
at daylight on the morning of the 8th, by the
opening of our large guns, and after a few discharges
the order was given to charge. It was
now pretty well ascertained that a general engagement
had to be fought to get possession of
the mill; and to retire without it would give
them all the moral effect of a victory, and ours
that of a defeat. The battle lasted for more
than four hours. The enemy, knowing that only
one division of our army was engaged, stood
better than they ever had before, but were finally
obliged to give way. We succeeded in driving
them from every position, for we were not satisfied
with the mill after the warm blood was

124

up. We captured all their guns, took one
thousand prisoners and a great quantity of ammunition.
The loss on our side was irreparable:
many of our most gallant officers and soldiers
fell. I had a very narrow escape: a ball
struck me on the shoulder and knocked me
down, but did not disable me for a minute. An
officer of my regiment, and a classmate, was
blown up in the magazine after the fight was
over. He had charge of renewing the ammunition,
and after taking most of it out he asked
permission to blow up the rest, which was
granted. He laid the train, but it not going
off as soon as he expected, he returned to see
the cause, and was blown up with it. After
gaining possession of the mill, it was ascertained
that there was nothing there of any consequence
to the enemy. Some old molds were found
that had been formerly used, but the machinery
had all been removed to the city. All this time
they were pouring a continual fire into us from
Chapultepec, but doing little injury, as the fort
was much higher than our position. Having
accomplished everything, we returned to our
position at Tacubaya. Up to this time and
subsequently, although lying under the guns of
this work, they did not fire a shot at us. Having
nearly filled my sheet with this battle, I will

125

reserve for another the glorious one of the 13th,
the day on which the Stars and Stripes were
first hoisted on the "Halls of the Montezumas."
I will now relate quite an incident, and a very
pleasant one to me. When we first went to
Tacubaya, our regiment was quartered near a
gentleman's house in which our officers were
assigned quarters. We found an old gentleman
and his family, who appeared delighted to have
us there, and it seemed as if they could not do
enough to make us comfortable; they placed all
the best rooms and the richest of furniture at our
disposal, and when our wounded were brought
in they had all the servants running for them.
After the capture of the city our regiment was
quartered near a splendid house that was taken
for the officers. The family had left it in charge
of the servants, with all the furniture, etc. After
being here a day or two, we ascertained it belonged
to the same gentleman that we had lived
with at Tacubaya, and the next day brought his
son, who has taken a room and devotes his
whole time to making it agreeable for us. All
his plate, furniture, and servants are at our disposal.
You can have little idea of the extent
of a gentleman's house and the number of his
servants. Such a house has a large court, the
lower floor for stables and servants' rooms, the

126

second for the family. In a few they have a
third floor for bedrooms, etc. A man of ordinary
wealth keeps from six to ten servants; they
are paid little or nothing, and they are the best
servants in the world. They want a little watching,
to be sure. Who will not say that this is
the worst slavery in the world? The rich are
the richest, and the poor are the poorest.

Your affectionate son,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

I will now give you a short detail of the operations
of the 12th and 13th of September,
that brought us into the city. From the intercepted
letters published soon after the battle
of the 20th of August you will perceive the depressed
feeling that existed in all classes in the
city, and how easy it would have been for General
Scott to have marched his army into the
city on the 21st; but various considerations determined
him to wait, and give time for the Mexican
government to reflect, before we took possession
of their capital. In my last I gave you
the history of the breaking of the armistice,
and of the battle of Molino del Rey, fought on


127

the 8th of September. After the battle General
Scott had not fully decided by which route he
should enter the city, either to take Chapultepec,
or a road near Churubusco, where the first
battle was fought. He sent a brigade to occupy
the latter position, and determined to storm the
former. On the night of the 11th three batteries
(heavy guns) were erected, ready to open
early in the morning. I was sent, with fifty
men and two small guns, to protect one of
these batteries, and was kept there till the attack
was made. The batteries kept up an incessant
fire all day the 12th, and opened again early on
the 13th. The firing was returned from the
fort, but no effort was made to take our guns,
consequently I had nothing to do. About
seven o'clock, the 13th, I was ordered to join
my regiment, then about to take a position
preparatory to the attack. This position was
behind Molino del Rey, and the brigade of
which my regiment formed a part was to pursue
the enemy as soon as driven from the hill. The
fort stands on a hill surrounded by large trees.
About eight o'clock two or three regiments deployed
and drove in their light troops, the batteries
at the same time keeping up a lively fire
on the fort, and, as we afterwards found, with
great effect. The storming party then pushed

128

forward, with scaling-ladders, and in twenty
minutes took possession of the hill, capturing
all their troops, cannon, and munitions of war.
Amongst the prisoners was General Bravo,
their most distinguished leader, who commanded
them. This was one of the finest sights ever
seen, and one of the handsomest exploits of the
war. Upwards of two hundred and fifty of the
enemy were killed and buried on the hill. Our
loss was only twenty-seven killed. We took ten
guns and seven hundred and fifty prisoners. As
soon as the hill was taken the whole army started
in pursuit, except the regiment left in the fort. It
was here that Colonel Ransom of the New England
regiment was killed. From this place there
are two causeways leading to the city. We pursued
the enemy so close, and their panic was now
so great, that they abandoned their works till we
arrived near the gate where they had a strong
work, but defended by infantry alone. By this
time our men thought themselves invincible,
and dashed at them, and in a few moments drove
them out with the bayonet. After pursuing about
half a mile, we found ourselves within reach
of the guns at the gate of the city, and they,
opening at the same time, obliged us to take
cover while the position could be reconnoitered.
After some delay, light troops were put on each

129

side to attack the main body gradually approaching
by the main road. At about sunset the
main charge was made, the guns captured, and
the first division was inside the gates of the
city. The troops were halted and kept under
arms. In the course of the night heavy guns
were brought up and opened upon the city,
which soon brought out a deputation who said
that the Mexican forces were leaving the city,
and that no resistance would be made, at the
same time wanting to make terms. General
Scott told them that he would be at the palace
the next morning, and would there dictate
terms. Our loss was small till we reached the
guns in front of the gate of the city. At this
last affair I had command of my regiment,
all the seniors (three) having been sent off
on detached duty. The other divisions were
not so successful; their loss was much greater.
This was the last effort made by the army
to keep us out of the city. Santa Anna moved
his army out three miles to a strong work,
Guadalupe, ready to take any advantage that
might occur to fall back and try his luck
again. On the 14th there was firing from the
houses all day, but little injury done, our
soldiers scattering them as soon as they could
get near them, and by night all was quiet; and

130

the next morning some lancers rode into town to
endeavor to excite the people, but were soon
driven out, and in two days the city was as quiet
as if nothing had happened. Santa Anna left
the city with about six thousand men, but it is
believed that most of them are at this time dispersed.
When we left Puebla I had fifty-four
men. In all the actions I have lost, in killed
and wounded, twenty-seven. I have escaped
wonderfully. In the battle of August 20th a
ball went through two thicknesses of my India-rubber
cloak, and at Molino del Rey a ball
struck me on the shoulder, knocking me down;
but I looked and saw that my coat was not
cut, and concluded that I could not be badly
hurt, and as it was a pretty hot place I thought
it best to get out of it. I did not feel the
effects of the ball again till I got home, when,
to make sure, I pulled off my shirt, and
found my shoulder black and blue and growing
stiff. On the 13th, at the gate, my first
sergeant was badly wounded by a grape-shot,
close by my side, my drummer killed, and I
escaped. It is beyond a doubt that we cannot
have much more fighting. The action of August
20th was a severe one, but that of September
8th, at Molino del Rey, in which Worth's

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division, three thousand strong, attacked and
drove from their position the whole Mexican
army, and that from under the fire of a regular
fortified work, has no parallel. In the storming
party, out of fourteen officers, eleven were either
killed or wounded; in the regiment of infantry
(5th), seven officers were killed out of fourteen;
our regiment lost one officer killed, three
wounded—one of the wounded since dead.
Two of them were very intimate friends of mine,
one a classmate, the other a year before me. The
rank and file of the regiment have suffered severely
since we entered the valley of Mexico, a
great many of our oldest and best soldiers having
fallen. But we have accomplished what we
were sent here for, and I hope the loss has been
sufficiently great to satisfy the most bloodthirsty
in the States. We are now enjoying the fruits
of our victory, and if we only had the gallant
spirits that have fallen, back with us to enjoy
them, it would add much to our happiness.
Troops are now coming that will enable General
Scott to keep open the communication with
Vera Cruz. No mail has yet gone. Rumor
now says that one is to go soon; but she has
lied so much lately that she cannot be believed.
When one does go it will take forty letters that

132

I have already written. I hope you will be
lucky enough to receive one.

Your affectionate son,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear sister:

General Scott has said this morning that a mail
shall start for the United States in a day or two,
so at last we have a prospect of again writing to
our friends. In this mail I shall send a hundred
letters written since the 20th of June, among
them a series to our dear father and Emily, giving
as correct an account of our march from
Puebla, and the different actions fought since the
army entered the valley of Mexico, as it was possible
for me. I hope none of them will miscarry,
as they have cost me a good deal of time in writing
them; and, as the events had transpired so
recently that they were fresh in my memory, and,
as I keep no notes, I should not dare to trust to
my after recollections. We are now occupying
the capital of the Aztecs, and were it not for
the loss of so many near and dear friends,—
friends with whom we have enjoyed all the
pleasures of a long peace, and with whom we
have shoulder to shoulder encountered and vanquished


133

the enemy,—I say, were it not for these
losses, our situation would be pleasant. The
climate is delightful; the army enjoys good
health. We have all the amusements of our
own cities. As for myself, I have not been in
better health for years, nor so good since I have
been in this country, although I am not so fleshy
as I have been. By this train go all the wounded
that are able to go, except those that will recover
and be fit for duty in a month or so. I think
the people of the States would stare a little if they
were all thrown into New Orleans at once—the
one-armed, one-legged, one-eyed, and those that
have neither. I do not know the number, but
suppose it must be from fifteen hundred to two
thousand, since we first entered the valley. We
have lost near (over, I think) three thousand men,
in killed and wounded, out of a force of ten
thousand men. I have no way of ascertaining
accurately, but think that it is a fair estimate to
say about eight hundred killed, four hundred
very slightly wounded, that did not go on the
surgeon's list; two hundred that were wounded
twice, and put down on the report; the others,
with perhaps two hundred exceptions, will go
down on this train. Reinforcements are daily
arriving from the States, and are taking positions
on the route to Vera Cruz, so that in a short

134

time our communications will be safe and our
mail regular. It is now believed by all, both
Mexicans and Americans, that no regular organized
army can be brought into the field again.
This is the center of all their resources, both
men and money, also of intriguing; and as long
as it remains in our possession they cannot obtain
the means; besides, we now have most of
their cannon, and without them they are nothing
but a rabble. It is true that a large number
of the bells of the city were taken to mold cannon,
and these same cannon are now in our
possession. I have written so much military
news that I fancy everybody is as fond of hearing
it as I have been of writing it. One word
more in regard to myself and regiment, which I
hope you will not take for vanity. In all the
engagements, Contreras excepted, my regiment
has played a conspicuous part, and its loss bears
evidence that if it was not in the hottest, it was
in hot positions. And it is with pride, not
vanity, that I boast of having been noticed by
every one of my commanding officers. If I
could leave the country now I should be satisfied,
but I would not have been out of these
battles for any consideration; not that I feel
any great desire to see my name in a despatch, but
to have returned home without being in any of

135

these actions would be like being a lawyer without
briefs, or a doctor without patients. We
have all the amusements here that you have in
New York; theaters of all kinds. If you do
not understand Spanish, you have the French.
If you do not like that, you have American.
Bull-baits and cock-fighting take the place of
horse-racing and cricket in the States. Our
soldiers fraternize with the "greasers," have
their balls, and take wonderfully with the señoritas.
It is not so with the better classes; they
shun everything like an officer in public, for
fear of their own Government, which takes its
revenge out of their pockets. It is one of the
finest countries, but the worst governed in
the world, filled with royal magnificence and the
most abject poverty; in fact, there is no middle
class. No artizans; everything that requires any
nicety in workmanship is either imported or
made here by foreigners. All of this class of
luxuries bring the highest prices, and none but the
wealthiest can afford them. The houses of the
rich are furnished with more splendor than those
of our richest nabobs, while the poor lie huddled
together without beds, chairs, tables, and only a
few earthen vessels to cook their tortillas in; and
they are the most temperate people in the world,
and I have a theory that this is one of the causes

136

of their degeneration. If one of them gets drunk
you will see him slip off without noise, while if
one of our soldiers gets drunk it takes half a
dozen sober ones to get him home. It requires
something to rouse a man's faculties and his
energy. We are the greatest go-ahead people
in the world, and we beat the Jews in getting
drunk. It is so with the English and Irish.
The real Indians, the cross of the Castilian and
Indian, are the meanest people living; they have
all the cunning, treachery, and the vices of the
Indian without any of the virtues of the Spaniard.
I think it is the greatest misfortune in
the world that Cortez was not annihilated here,
and the country would then have fallen into the
hands of the Anglo-Saxon. As it is, these people
are no better than the aborigines, except in
their idolatry, and I doubt if their religion is much
better.

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

I know that you have felt great anxiety to
hear from me since our arrival in the valley, and
of the sanguinary conflicts that have been fought
here. I sent a note by an English gentleman,


137

who took it to Vera Cruz; but whether it succeeded
in reaching you is doubtful. I also sent
another by express, just as we left Puebla, from
which I never heard, but think it went safely.
The army is enjoying itself as much as could be
expected after the loss of so many of its brilliant
ornaments. The city is perfectly quiet, and the
people do not think us quite such vandals as
they were told we were. Occasionally an assassination
takes place, but generally through
the fault of our soldiers. At night the streets
are much more quiet than one of our own cities
of half its size, and you will see no persons but
soldiers strolling home from the theaters or
other places of amusement. The Mexicans
have their papers published as usual. Many new
ones have sprung up, as Santa Anna shut up all
but two, "El Moniteur" and "El Republicano."
One of these, whose editor was horsewhipped
by an officer for a violent attack upon a young
lady for receiving the visits of American officers,
complained to General Scott of a violation of
the liberty of the press. General Scott told
him that the liberty of the press was inviolable
only so far as political opinions were entertained,
and that if he slandered young ladies he must
expect chastisement, as the American officers
were as jealous of the honor of ladies as they

138

were of their country. Nothing more has been
heard of violating the liberty of the press. I do
not remember that I have mentioned to you
that in the different actions, but mostly at
Churubusco, an entire battalion, called the
"Sons of St. Patrick," composed of our deserters,
were taken prisoners. They have all been
tried by court-martial, some eighty hung, and a
a few shot, and others that deserted before the
war were let go. We had some few more that
fought gallantly at Molino del Rey desert after
the fight was over, so desperate they thought
our situation, and things did look bad, for most
of our loss was previous to this time, and the
strong work of Chapultepec had yet to be
taken. The lines around the city were known
to be strong, and had to be forced against all
the troops they had, and what a city of two
hundred thousand could raise animated by a desire
to save their capital. I do not think it is
known here where Santa Anna has gone, but it
is believed he is making his way to some southern
port to leave the country; others think that
he has gone to Querétaro, the seat of government.
He left here for the purpose of cutting
off a train that was on its way up. He met
General Lane, who was in command somewhere
the other side of Puebla, and was signally defeated,

139

losing two of his six guns. Afterward,
it is said, his troops had dispersed. General
Lane had arrived, without further molestation,
at Puebla, from whence he had made an excursion
to Atlixco, the capital of Puebla, driven
off the few troops there, and brought off all the
public property—some three hundred wagon
loads. Believe me to be your

Ever affectionate son,
JOHN.

My dear father:

At last we have been gratified by the receipts
of another mail bringing letters from our friends
up to the 1st of August; but in the mail I only
found one, yours of the 8th of July, but it
brought the gratifying information that you were
all well and enjoying all the blessings so bountifully
bestowed upon our favored country.
Although I am deprived of many of them, the
greatest of which is the intercourse with my dear
friends, I still am thankful for the enjoyment
of excellent health, for being spared while those
above and below have been cut down. Since I
last wrote, which letter left here the 1st instant,
no move has been made by the army, and none


140

is contemplated till reinforcements arrive in
such numbers as will insure the line of operation,
and leave a movable force to operate where-ever
it is needed; and then rumor says a small
force is to be sent to Querétaro, where the Congress
is now in session, about one hundred and
twenty miles farther in the interior, another to
Toluca, the capital of this State, which is about
thirty miles distant. With one of these commands
I am sure to be, and every move takes
me farther and farther from the coast, and diminishes
the prospect of a speedy return. We
had all indulged the hope of eating our Christmas
dinner in the States, but this hope fled when the
armistice was broken, and the army had to force
its passage into the city. Of the battles fought
that led the way to our entrance to the city, I
wrote as fully as I was able, and I can add nothing
now that could make it more explicit. You
will see a thousand accounts pretending to give
an accurate history of the proceedings, none of
which will probably be correct. General Scott's
reports are the only records to be relied on, and
even in them inaccuracies may occur. As there
are always contending interests, even in so small
an army as this, it is hardly possible for the
commanding General to do justice to all. We
now see the bad effects of not having a sufficient

141

force here in time. Although this army has
done all that it was possible to do, or even for
one of larger numbers to do, in the way of fighting,
yet it carries no moral force with it. We
have always had so small a force, wherever we
have moved, that the Mexicans have indulged
the belief that they could overwhelm us and
drive us out of the country. If General Taylor
had had ten thousand soldiers at Corpus
Christi this war would never have happened; or
if he had had means to follow up his victories
of the 8th and 9th he would have brought the
Mexicans to terms; but soldiers were sent him
in handfuls, and supplies in less quantities. If
General Scott had had means to follow up his
success at Cerro Gordo the war would, in all
probability, have been at an end; but he had no
transportation, the terms of enlistment of one
half his army expired within a month, and then
he was obliged to remain, one half of his army at
Jalapa, the other at Puebla. The same system
was pursued of sending men by handfuls, and the
administration blaming General Scott for not
moving on the capital. I have the best reason
for knowing that if General Scott's judgment
had been consulted he would not have moved
from Puebla with less than twenty thousand men;
but he was forced to do so by the administration,

142

and had to go with little more than half that
number. If any disaster had befallen this army,
the sins of some persons would have been too
heavy to have been borne. Now that it is believed
that the fighting is over men are sent out
in any numbers. We hear of some eighteen or
twenty thousand on the way, but it may turn
out like a report published in the "Union,"
about the time of our leaving Puebla, saying
that General Scott had twenty-two thousand
men, leaving it to be inferred that he had that
number to move on Mexico with; that there
was not a sick man; that General Taylor, with
his force, was with him; and that it was not necessary
to have any garrison at Vera Cruz, Jalapa,
Perote, or Puebla. When will such follies
cease? It is proverbial that the army are the
greatest set of grumblers in the world, and I
suppose I am blessed with my share; but I think
any reasonable person will admit that there is
some justice in this, particularly as we are the
persons that have to suffer. I have just had
my valise stolen from my room, containing some
money, and little trinkets that I valued more,
among them a gold pencil that was the gift of
a dear friend. With this mail just received
came out one of the officers of our regiment
who left New York on the 4th of August, and

143

brings the latest news to us, all the chit-chat.
It is amusing to see the crowd continually about
him asking half a dozen questions at the same
time. One officer inquired about the news of
his family; he had not heard that his father died
last June. This was Captain Nichols, who died
from the effect of a wound received thirty-four
years ago on board the Chesapeake, the ball
never having been extracted. All the reports
have reached Washington before this, and you
will soon have them published. In them I have
been told my name appears several times very
handsomely. General Worth, Colonels Galt
and Belton, Captains Hoffman and Brooks
have all noticed my conduct. If I had any influence
at Washington I might expect a brevet,
which would be of great use to me at this time,
as it would give me the pay, and prevent juniors,
who are daily getting their promotion, from ranking
me. It is very likely that I shall remain
here for months, or possibly go farther into the
interior, unless the stand taken by the United
States should bring the Dons to reason, of which
I see but little hope. General Scott says there
is but a small speck of peace on the horizon.
His ideas of carrying on the war are, I fancy, not
known here; probably to take possession of
the country. General Taylor, I am told, goes

144

for a line, and holding all north. Two months
must decide. Mr. Trist will leave here in a few
days. I have sent to Vera Cruz for my trunk,
expecting to stay here some time.

Your affectionate son,
JOHN.

My dear sister:

A train is to leave here to-morrow, Monday
the 29th, and I avail myself of it to send all
that I have written since the last one left, the
first of the month. It is the intention of the
General to have communication with the coast
at least once a month, and oftener if practicable.
It is believed that the safety of the mail to and
from Vera Cruz is secured, as the most dangerous
passes are now occupied by our troops. You
must not suppose, however, that we are to be
idle here all winter. If the troops arrive that
are reported to be on the route, several expeditions
will leave here to take possession of the
larger towns within, say, two hundred miles from
here. I do not think at this time there is any
force that can oppose one of our brigades, or
that will attempt it; their morale is too far gone
to make any resistance, even when they have


145

such immense numbers in their favor. You
will (perhaps) receive with this a theater bill, just
to show you how we get up such things here.
The company play three times a week, and the
beauty of the thing is, everybody goes that does
not understand a word of the play. No Mexicans
of any standing attend, as our soldiers
partly frighten them away. The rich are glad to
have our officers visit them at their houses, which
they say that they cannot prevent, but if they associate
with us in public, ride or walk, there are
plenty ready to denounce them to the government,
and they will have to pay dearly for it
after we are gone; but perhaps they will not be
so scrupulous now, if they think that we will
keep possession of what we have got, and get
what we can. You may be assured that the
army generally are not so anxious for this result.
They are hardly willing to expatriate themselves,
which will be the result if they are obliged to
come to this God-forsaken land. If, however,
the change is to be, this country will soon fill up,
and quite a different race will take the place of
these descendants of Cortez, as they call themselves,
but which descent has been so rapid that
but little similarity can be traced between the cavaliers
that followed Cortez and the present
mongrel race at this time. By the way, nearly

146

the same route that Cortez pursued in coming
into the city was taken by us; that is, on the
further side from the coast, and the one by which
he left is the one we shall probably leave by,
if we ever return to the coast. You can still
find many images that the Aztecs once worshiped,
but as soon as it was known that they
were being picked up as relics by some of our
people, the market was at once supplied by forming
and burning the clay found here, in which
the Indians are very expert, and antique-looking
figures are soon made. The Indians have a
great fancy for this kind of work, and, for a small
coin, will swear that it was dug up some ten feet
from underground near some favorite place of
sacrifice. I believe at a place near Puebla, called
Cholula, many of these relics are still found. I
had intended to say, on the last page, that if the
Anglo-Saxons once get their feet here, not all
the Mexican nation can drive them away. The
country is too rich, the climate too mild, for
them to give it up without an effort; and when
was it ever known that they made an effort without
succeeding? The weather at this time is as
mild as your May; we never want fires, neither
are we uncomfortable with thick woolen clothes.
These people at all seasons wear thin dresses,
but never go out without a cloak—those that can

147

afford it; others with a blanket wrapped around
them. Now that it is thought the fighting is
pretty much over, our old officers have commenced
fighting among themselves. It is mostly
what was done by this and that division in the
different battles, each claiming the lion's share of
the honor. General Scott has differed with many
of his officers upon some points, at first unimportant,
but by growth they have now become
serious. I am afraid this will have the effect of recalling
him, as they will attempt at Washington
to twist everything into a political channel. This
I should look upon as a serious evil, as in my
opinion, no officer in this army of the rank
of General has the capacity to supply the place of
General Scott. However, I suppose we shall
soon have a civil Governor to put the wheel in
motion that will find out the democrats and
make this an integral part of our beloved Republic.
If you write Cousin Bessie, tell her that the
young officer she became acquainted with, whom
we called the "Corporal," but whose name was
Daniels, died of wounds received at the battle of
Molino del Rey. I was with him when he died.
He had previously made all his arrangements,
partaken of the sacrament, and showed every evidence
that he was a Christian. He said: "You
will write to my friends at Governor's Island.

148

Tell them that my only regret is with parting
from friends whom I loved so well; that I bid
them adieu, hoping to meet them in another
world." Our regiment has lost but few officers
in the battles in the valley of Mexico. God
knows whose turn it will be next. I pray that
He who has preserved me through so many
fields of danger will restore me to my friends
unscathed.

Yours,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

In my last letters I have given you a short
narration of the different battles fought here in
the valley—that is, so far as my observation
went. You have probably long before this had
the official reports in the papers, and ten thousand
other accounts more graphic than mine, but
I doubt if more accurate. Everybody has a different
version to suit his own views, some blowing
their own trumpets, others that of some
favorite upon whose shoulders they are like to
rise. General Patterson is bringing reinforcements
—some say several thousand men. These
are very much needed, and the more the better,


149

but they always dwindle down from one third
to one half. It is always safe to calculate that
one third who leave the States will never reach
here. General Butler is behind with a still
greater number. When he reaches here, speculation
will begin about a move. Report now
says that no move will take place till about
February or March. This will give time for
the new Congress, which, I believe, meets in
January, to decide upon what course they will
pursue, if they are for peace. Our Government
has at all times shown too great a desire for
peace, and has treated these people much too
leniently. If contributions had at first been
levied upon the country, in my humble opinion
peace would have followed, but it may be too
late now. If, on the contrary, Congress is determined
to carry on the war, the consequences
must rest with it. We are certainly in a much
better condition now than we ever have been before.
Up to this time every battle that we have
fought has been looked upon by us as a forlorn
hope; in no one has there been a greater equality
than three to one. General Worth's division attacked
some eighteen hundred or two thousand
cavalry with Santa Anna at their head, and dispersed
them without any loss on our part; but this
is hardly mentioned in the States, as if not worth

150

a newspaper paragraph. General Lane has lately
had a skirmish, in which he was entirely successful,
bringing off the enemies' guns, destroying
all their ammunition, other stores, etc. But this
is to be expected; their morale is too much gone
to make much defense, unless well sheltered
behind parapets, and having the advantage of
numbers. Santa Anna is one of the greatest
men living, say what you will of his defeats.
After providing, as he did, for the defense of
this city, no one can say that he did not do
everything that a man in his situation could do,
and if his troops had defended the works with
as much ability as he showed in erecting them,
we should never have got into the city. It is
folly to say that he was bribed—money is no
object to him; it is military fame, it is power,
that he wants, and I believe that as soon as the
wishes of the people are known he will make
peace. I had kept a little memorandum of
events that had occurred since I arrived in this
country, but which was lost in my valise, about
the loss of which I wrote you; but I lost that
which I valued still more—all my shirts, diploma,
commission, and other little things that
I valued very much. I have written to West
Point to have a copy of my diploma sent to you.
My commission I care little for. Hoping this

151

will reach you, and find you all enjoying health
and other blessings, I remain, as ever,

Your affectionate son,
JOHN SEDGWICK.

My dear sister:

You will perceive from this that I have again left
the "Halls," and am now quartered at the same
little place, near the city, that we occupied after
the battles of Contreras and Churubusco and
during the armistice; but this is supposed to be
only preparatory to a move into the interior, but
to what place, or how far, is not known yet. It
is thought by many that no move will take place,
and that the two Governments are rapidly conceding
something that will bring about peace,
and no one is more sanguine than General Scott
himself. He expresses himself openly that it is
his opinion that the troops will all be out of the
country by next April. I hope we may not
again be deceived, and what object they can have
for deceit is hard to tell. Before it was quite
visible their object was delay, to put their city
in a better state of defense, to rally their troops,
and to recover the move which they had lost
with the two actions just fought. The old saw


152

says that "drowning men catch at straws," so
it is with us; we seize everything to twist it into
something favorable for peace. Since our entrance
into the city we have received large reinforcements
that make our position perfectly safe,
and our communication with Vera Cruz open.
Now a small company, say fifty men, can go
through with safety; but we do not get the
mails regularly. There have been none since
General Patterson arrived on the 3d inst. Another
is now on the road, and will probably be
here in a few days. My last letter was dated
October 28th, from father. Is it not terrible to be
deprived of one of our greatest blessings, that of
writing to and receiving letters from our friends?
When we are near each other we feel it less.
This is one of the principal objections I have
for going farther into the interior. I cannot expect
to hear or send a letter for three or four
months. More troops will have to arrive to
establish posts on the road to secure the safety
of the trains, but the farther we go from here
the nearer we shall be to Tampico, and if the
road is opened to that place the mail will come
from there. This is the only month in the year
in which you want an overcoat, and I have felt
the want of one severely, so much so that I have
sent to Vera Cruz for mine. Ice is making

153

every night, but disappears with one hour's
sun. The houses here, you know, have no
chimneys, but the way they have been put up
by us astonishes the natives. They have no idea
of comfort; they sit all day shivering, with their
blankets on, or have a little furnace of charcoal,
which is enough to suffocate white people.
They never have dinner parties or sociable
meetings; their visits are all made at the theaters
or morning calls. At the theater all the upper
ten thousand have boxes, for some of which
they pay from fifteen hundred to two thousand
dollars a year; these they fit up like drawing-rooms
and receive all their visitors. If you see
a family that desires a call you go to the box,
and, standing, repeat some of those complimentary
lies that are so common at home; you
then move to another box, and this is kept up
till the play is over. It astonishes them not
a little to hear and see our soldiers, men that
are never still two minutes in the day; to hear
them yell, hang their legs over the seats, call for
"Yankee Doodle," "Hail Columbia," "Star-Spangled
Banner," and never give up till it is
played. If they take a fancy to an actor they
applaud him upon all occasions. This the
Mexicans cannot understand, but always sit bolt
upright, and anything that they like they applaud

154

with their feet or cane. But the most
common thing here is never seen with us —
smoking; but do not imagine that the vile pipe
or huge cigar that we have is ever seen here.
They use the most fragrant tobacco, rolled up
in scented paper, the odor of which is delicious.
The theater is better attended on Sunday evening
than any other. One officer told me that
he lived at a house with several ladies who went
to mass every morning as regularly as they got
up, and with equal regularity to the theater.
They have no such amusements as we have at
home; they drive out in the evening to the
fashionable drive, and circle around the fountain
looking at the equipages, scandalize a little, and
go home; in this, however, they differ very little
from our own people. Generally the women
here, of all classes, are kind, generous, and very
much so toward the unfortunate. Our prisoners
have always spoken of the kind treatment
received from the women and the harsh treatment
from the men. The President's message has
just arrived, and I believe gives general satisfaction;
at all events, much better than the official
reports of the battles here have done.
Everybody thinks he has done much more
than he gets credit for; complains that he was
not reported as being first in Chapultepec or
some other battery. But this wrangling is confined

155

mostly to those who had the least to do,
but also, generally, got all the credit. Times
have not changed in this respect; at least there
is just as much grumbling, just as much boasting
now as ever. I believe that Goldsmith says
that virtue that always required guarding was not
worth the sentinel. It is so with some people's
character; if it requires you to blow your own
trumpet all the time it is not worth keeping. I
sent letters home by the train that left here on
the 6th inst.; but, to be sure that you should
hear from me, I requested Lieutenant Peck to
write father a line, which he promised to do.
Lieutenant Gibson also went home; you remember
that he was accidentally wounded at
Puebla in May last. He wrote me from Vera
Cruz that probably he should be a cripple for
life. This is a pleasant prospect for a man that
is about to be married — provided that the lady
should not think it a sufficient cause to break
off the engagement. I shall write again before
the mail leaves. You are now, I conclude, enjoying
all the dis-comforts of sleighing. I hope
that long before this you have been fully restored
to health and to the enjoyments which
health brings. I will bid you all good-by.
Wishing all happiness of the coming year.

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.


156

1848

My dear father:

I had not intended to write you again by this
mail, which leaves to-morrow, but a mail has
arrived from home, and brings your letter of
November 11th. I had about four weeks previously
received one as late as November 3d,
which contained an account of dear Emily's sickness;
also her relapse, from which she was then
recovering. Since then you may imagine my
anxiety to hear again. From day to day we had
reports of a mail being on the road, but they
did not come; but to-day, as we came from dinner,
we found a table loaded with letters—an
unexpected treat. I had only one from home,
none from Emily, none from Olive, and none
from Philo or Eliza, but I have the consolation


157

to believe that there are some somewhere, and
that I may get them yet. I received several
from the friends of soldiers in my company that
have been killed in battles here—one from the
brother of Lieutenant Daniels, who was wounded
at Molino del Rey and died some time after
we entered the city. This I shall answer tonight,
and what I can say I don't know. What
can be said to console a brother for such a loss?
Yet he died (as General Worth said in his report)
as all gallant soldiers wish to die. I will here
mention a little incident, although a trifle: In
this battle two officers from our regiment were
detailed for the storming party; these were Lieutenants
Shackelford and Daniels. Soon after the
stormers advanced, Garland's brigade was ordered
up,—my company was the leading one of the
brigade,—and when within a few paces of the
Mexican lines, I heard some one call me by name,
and giving the Second a cheer. I turned, and saw
Lieutenant Shackelford a few feet from me leaving
the field. This circumstance I could not
account for, for I believed that not a man of our
regiment would ever have left the field until the
victory was gained, and I knew this to be the
commencement of the battle. I thought of this
for two hours, while balls were falling as thick
as they ever fell on a battle-field. It gave me

158

great uneasiness, and not till the battle was over
did I learn that he was wounded, and was making
his way on one leg out of the fire. After
going to our quarters we found those two officers
lying in bed, wounded. We embraced, and
thanked God that so great a battle had been
fought and won, and we had all escaped death.
It was then that Daniels told me that he was a
few feet behind Shackelford; that he saw me;
that I was going, as we went side by side at
Churubusco, and that he did not think that I
could escape the shower of balls that were then
pouring down the road where we were. In a
few minutes word was brought that one of our
officers had been blown up in a magazine. This
was the first casualty of the day. In our regiment,
in a short month, three out of the five
then present had died, and their bodies are now
on their way to Governor's Island to be claimed
by their friends. This was a cruel and unexpected
stroke to us all, who thought their wounds
slight. Any of us would have exchanged places
with them rather than go through the fight that
we knew had to be fought before we could enter
the city. There is a great deal of talk about
peace; everybody speaks as if it was a certain
thing; yet we have been disappointed so often,
we may be again. Their Government is so

159

weak, so unstable, that any treaty made with
them might not be respected by the party that
succeeded the present one. But in this respect
our Government has but little the advantage.
The eighteen thousand additional troops which
have joined since the battles began, turn out to be
men in buckram. General Scott has not twelve
thousand men here in the valley, and not more
than two thousand to join him; and yet it is believed
in the States that he has thirty thousand.
The movement that I spoke of in another letter
is postponed, and it is believed because the last
proposition of Mr. Trist has been accepted.
General Scott says we shall be afloat in April;
a wag says the rainy season is coming on earlier
than usual. I have never enjoyed better health.
Since I entered the valley I have not lost a tour
of duty or a good dinner, though the former
came oftener than the latter. You speak in
your letter of trying for promotion. I would
not accept a Captaincy in a new regiment, as I
am so close to one where I am, and am with
those I have served with so long. With respect
to a brevet, I don't care a fig; they are obtained
in such a way that it is no great credit to get
one. The staff and the particular friends of
the General are all sure to get one, and then if
there are any left, others that happen to be in

160

Washington get them. I don't care, as I said,
a fig about it. If I stay in the army after the
war, I prefer remaining in my own regiment. I
hope earnestly to see you all in the spring; till
then I remain, as ever,

Your affectionate son,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

You will see from the heading of this that I
have taken up my quarters in this far-famed castle.
I do not remember that I have ever told
you that this was formerly the military school
(the West Point of Mexico) and, going back still
further, the residence of the veritable Montezuma
himself. The castle itself stands upon the
summit of a ledge of rocks of one hundred and
fifty feet in height, on three sides very abrupt—
almost perpendicular; on the other the ascent
is very gentle, but all rock, the road cut in and
winding, avoiding the steeper parts. At the base,
and covering several acres, is the forest of cypress,
which is said to be centuries old, and from the
size of the trees I should think it very probable.
One of them is fifty-two feet in circumference,


161

several of them forty, and a great number of
them twenty and upward. They are not of great
height, but the branches cover a large surface,
and are covered with long hanging moss, making
it almost impossible for the rain or sun to
get through. As you may not be able to swallow
all this, I will tell you that I encamped
under the largest two nights, and can assure you
that I never saw any tree that could compare
with it. By leading a horse near it you could
plainly see that his length was not equal to the
breadth of the tree. This is called "Montezuma's
Tree." Another thing which is regarded as
one of the greatest curiosities here is "Montezuma's
Dial." It is a large circular stone worked
in the corner of the cathedral, ten feet in diameter.
In the center is a human head with the
tongue hanging out, cut in relief, while around
this are five circles of hieroglyphic figures, intended
for the computation of the different divisions
of time. Among the Aztecs the civil year
was divided into eighteen months of twenty days
each, the year commencing in February, the 26th,
I believe. Nobody has yet been found wise
enough to read Mexican hieroglyphics. There
is also standing in the court of the museum a
bronze equestrian statue of Charles IV. This
has the reputation of being one of the most

162

beautiful pieces of statuary in the world. I am
too poor a judge to give any opinion. They have
an institution under the control of the Government
something like one of our pawn-brokers'
shops. I do not exactly know the workings of it,
but it is something like this: A person wishing
to pawn anything, no matter what, takes it there,
and it is appraised by directors appointed by the
Government, and the person receives two thirds
of its value in cash. If he returns in a certain
time—say a month—and pays what he received,
he takes the article. If he should not return in
two months, he pays a small interest—two per
cent; if in one year, six or seven per cent. At
the expiration of a certain time, if the article is
not called for, it is sold at auction, and the money
goes into the fund. In this way, if honestly conducted,
the poor that are temporarily in want,
receive the benefit, and the Government likewise
receives an income which comes from the
spendthrift, etc. I have been told that it is
quite a curiosity to go there and see the articles
which have been pawned. Everything which
can be named—Indian blankets, knives, gold
watches, diamond pins, etc. The sale takes place
once a month, and it is no unusual thing for the
proceeds to amount to several thousand dollars.

I wrote this much last night, and will now


163

conclude. I don't know when a train will leave,
but as this is the only method of sending letters,
we must wait patiently for it. I hear that there
is a mail at Puebla which will be up in a few
days; if it comes before I send this I will write
again. I never have enjoyed better health than
I have since I entered the valley. I have not
lost a day's duty, and, with one or two exceptions,
have not been out of sorts. I have seen
it proved here that our Northern troops stand
this climate much better than the Southern.
While the New York, Massachusetts, and two
Pennsylvania regiments have performed the
same services with the South Carolina and other
Southern regiments, they have not lost half the
number of men. This is in some measure owing
to their being a more hardy set of men. It is
very hard for wealthy men to sustain the fatigues
and hardships of the private soldier. They know
nothing about taking care of themselves, or
about cooking. They get low-spirited, neglect
themselves, become filthy and dirty. More die
from these causes than from any disease of the
country. I have not lost a soldier, except from
his wounds, since we left Puebla, and I take no
particular credit to myself, for it is owing to the
way they take care of themselves and to their
hardy habits. Colonel Duncan was just saying,

164

in looking at the big tree which I have mentioned
in this letter, that he was at the Hospital
de Jesus, the only building now standing
erected by Cortez, and among other curiosities
shown him was a table made of cedar cut at this
place, and said to be thirteen feet in diameter.
He had a rule in his pocket with which he
measured it, and found that it was barely seven.
This is one of the exaggerations of travelers. I
have mentioned, in a former letter, my apprehension
of going to San Luis. If a column should
move in that direction it is very probable now
that this regiment would not go. Peace is all
the talk, and there is no doubt but that the
treaty has been signed and gone to Washington;
but whether the Government here is strong
enough to satisfy it and carry it out is doubtful;
but if they can hold together long enough for
us even to get out of the country, I do not think
they will ever want us back.

Your affectionate son,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

Yesterday we had the pleasure of receiving
another mail from the States, and in it I found


165

yours of January 1st, 13th, and 15th. Also one
from Dr. Gold, for all of which I am very thankful.
No mail has left here for more than a
month, and all of our letters for that time have
been collecting in the post-office. Rumor says
that the mail will leave here day after to-morrow.
The first order issued after General Butler assumed
the command was that a mail should leave
on the 1st and 15th of every month, at each end
of the line. This gives great satisfaction to all.
General Scott had always sent and received all
his letters by the English courier, to the neglect
of all the other officers. This has given great
dissatisfaction. The road has been open, so
that a small escort could easily pass through,
and no good reason can be seen why we have
not had a mail at least twice a month. General
Scott will probably not leave this country for
several months. The court before which he is
to appear has not yet met, and it is likely will
be in session for some time. The difficulty between
him and Generals Worth and Pillow appears
to have created a greater sensation in the
States than here. No one here says or cares
anything about it, unless it be their personal
friends. As to the merits of the case, I know
little, and care still less, about it. I think it was
bad policy to relieve General Scott at this time.

166

It may have a bad effect upon the treaty. The
order reached here the 22d inst., and as we
were celebrating the birthday of Washington.
The Indians about in the towns flocked in, thinking
it was a pronunciamento by the soldiers in
favor of General Scott. They cannot understand
how the orders of the President can triumph
over the military. When General Worth
was arrested they wanted to know if his troops
would return to the States or join the Mexicans.
It is reported that an armistice has been concluded,
the return of which is not known. This,
it is supposed, is preparatory to the ratification
of the treaty at Washington, and the probability
of its being ratified here. Of this there is no
certainty; it is doubtful whether the Government
is strong enough to carry it through. I believe
the Government and the best part of the population
are anxious for it, but the military chieftains
and the rabble oppose it. The working
classes are benefited by the war; the rabble take
good care to save themselves when hard blows
come. Some one said that we ought to continue
the war and whip them until they consented
to take back all Texas to the Sabine. It may
come to that yet.

Your affectionate son,
J. SEDGWICK.


167

My dear father:

I received your letter of February 2d day before
yesterday; and although I have nothing
more to say than I wrote and sent on the 4th
inst., yet I have made it a rule to answer all
letters the first leisure time I have after receiving
them. In that mail I sent letters to Philo,
Eliza, Emily, Dr. Gold, two to yourself, and
numerous others on public business, and to other
friends. I did not write to Olive as I conclude
she sees most or all of my letters home. The
prospects of peace are every day brightening,
and the treaty probably reached Washington
about the 1st of March. If accepted, and no
unnecessary delay detains it in the Senate, it will
be here in the course of two days. I think there
will be no doubt about its being ratified by this
Government, but whether the Government will
be strong enough to sustain itself to carry out
its measures is very problematical. I speak now
the opinion entertained by those of high rank,
and whose information is no doubt correct. If
everything turns out as we now anticipate, we
shall be able to leave this God-forsaken country
in two months. An armistice was entered into


168

on the 29th ultimo, the terms of which I sent you
by our last mail. I wrote you that I did not wish
you to make any effort to obtain reward for any
services I may have done here, though, upon reflection,
I am not sorry that you wrote to Mr.
Niles. Such things are done every day, but I
dislike to ask for anything which I have not the
right to demand. If Mr. Niles should take any
interest in the matter, no doubt he could obtain
it, for I feel (without vanity) that I have done
as hard duty, and done it as well, as any officer
of the line here. The staff officers often receive
rewards for services done by their chiefs,
and when they have not been under fire at all.
I have been in every battle from Vera Cruz here,
excepting Contreras, and, not the least, a campaign
on the Rio Grande; but it will be of no
material benefit if I get my promotion, as I hope
to in a few months. The court meets to-day
to investigate the difficulty between Generals
Scott and Pillow. I believe General Worth's
and Colonel Duncan's cases do not come up.
It will be a long and tedious trial, probably as
long as the Fremont case. Of the merits of the
case I know very little, and care still less. Nobody
thinks or cares anything about it here, not
half as much as they appear to in the States.
We look upon it as a private quarrel in which,

169

as is always the case, both are wrong. General
Worth thinks that great injustice has been done
him and his division by General Scott, in his last
report, by saying that they did not enter the
city on the evening of September 13th. Now,
it is a well-known fact that the enemy's last battery,
Garita San Cosme, was taken before sundown,
and that there was nothing to prevent
him—General Worth—from marching direct to
the main place but the lateness of the day. And
it is well known that General Quitman had not,
nor ever could have, taken the citadel and another
battery that did him so much injury on
the 13th. They fell in consequence of General
Worth's success. Some two hours after San
Cosme had fallen, Santa Anna sent an aid to ascertain
if that work could sustain itself. This
aid rode into our lines before he was aware of it,
and was taken prisoner. As soon as Santa
Anna learned this he commenced evacuating the
city. So palpable and unpardonable an error as
this General Worth could not overlook. He
had no objection to General Quitman's marching
into the city first. He was satisfied with
what he had done, and this was General Quitman's
first battle after Monterey, and he was
willing that he should have the honor to first
plant the flag on the "Halls." The battle of

170

Molino del Rey was another question of difference.
There is a great responsibility somewhere
about fighting three thousand men against
fourteen thousand, and then, after complete success,
in not giving credit where it is due. After
the battle became general other troops were ordered
up and, as General Scott says, "interposed
between Garland's brigade and the enemy." Now
these troops did not arrive till after the battle
had been over two hours or more, and we had
complete possession of the field. There was no
enemy there except the garrison at Chapultepec,
and they had but little idea of attacking us, as
they believed that we were about to attack them,
and it is thought if we had we should have gone
into the city on the 9th without much loss; but
this has become an old story. General Pillow's
difficulty has nothing to do with General Worth
or his division. He is a lawyer and a politician,
and can probably manage his own case—bad as
it is. I am, thank God, enjoying most excellent
health. The climate agrees with me, and were
it not that I am so far from home, I should be
contented to remain two years longer.

Your affectionate son,
J. SEDGWICK.


171

My dear sister:

I wrote father day before yesterday, and this
morning I learned that a mail will leave to-morrow.
Just after closing father's letter the English
courier arrived from Vera Cruz, bringing
the gratifying intelligence of the probability
of the ratification of the treaty. A special messenger
is expected to-day, bringing more particular
and authentic information. He also brought
the news of the death of J. Q. Adams. What
a glorious death for the "Old Man Eloquent," to
die with his armor on, amid the friends and
foes with whom he had so often broken a lance,
and where he had so often poured forth those
burning words that have disturbed the harmony,
and at the same time done so much to raise the
character of the nation! Who will dare to assume
the mantle of the sage, statesman, poet,
and still prouder title of the "Old Man Eloquent"?
I hope to be out of this country by
September; prospects brighten every day. It
is believed that the treaty ratified by our Senate
is now on its way here, and will be here in a day
or two. It is also thought that it will be ratified
at once by the Mexican Congress. Their


172

Congress is not like ours,—a deliberative body,
—but only to do the will of the Government. It
is understood that one of the articles requires the
American army to leave the country within three
months after the ratification, if the yellow fever
does not prevent its embarkation at Vera Cruz.
General Butler has said that if he could not embark
it before the 1st of June, he would keep it
in the highlands until after the sickly season is
over. In that case we would not be able to
move till September. The volunteers, and those
regiments enlisted during the war, may be able
to go before. General Worth has demanded
that his division be the last to leave the city,
and the last to embark from Vera Cruz; for
this, you may be assured, he will not receive
many blessings. But I am forgetting the fable
of a certain milk maid with a pail of milk on her
head; while making some very pleasant reflections,
her foot slipped. There will be a greater
disappointment if the treaty is not made now.
I have just received a letter from Lieutenant
Gibson, an old friend of mine, whom you may
have heard me mention. He is now in New
York, and is still unable to bear any weight
on his foot. He accidentally shot himself last
May in Puebla, and what was then thought a
slight wound has proved a serious one, which

173

will probably make him a cripple for life. He
says: "Before you receive this I shall be married.
My intended is not handsome, but good,
amiable, and has some money." This is the first
case that I have ever heard of that a man did not
swear that his sweetheart was the handsomest
woman living; the other qualities come in as a
matter of course. No very good feeling exists
here between the old army and the new levies
and the volunteers. The old army (officers) feel
that they have had the brunt of the fighting to
do, and the least they ought to expect was that
no claims should be made by the volunteers.
But when letter after letter comes from the States
claiming all the credit of every action, and often
when there was not a volunteer there, it has
drawn a reply which has led to some sharp words.
As General Pierce says: "It has astonished
every one that the new levies did as well as they
have done." This was enough; all ought to be
satisfied; but to say that some have even done
such hard service, or have stood to the rack in
battle, is preposterous. General Pillow said at
Cerro Gordo, when his brigade was repulsed:
"Oh, that General Scott would send me some
regulars, even if it was only one company," and
sent an aid requesting it.

Herr Alexander, the celebrated German magician,


174

has been astonishing the natives here for
the last two days. They say he is the very
Diablo himself. He has a fine intellectual face,
but his body and legs are very much deformed,
which might strengthen people in their
opinion of him. But he does perform some
wonderful tricks. I dined with him at a gentleman's
house here, and the way he could deceive
us was astonishing. I did not wonder at the
Mexicans thinking him the devil.

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.

CASTLE OF CHAPULTEPEC,

My dear father:

I have just received your letter of February
23d, giving the most gratifying intelligence of
the recovery of Emily. I had been much cheered
by your last, but a relapse so often occurs that
I had still some apprehension that her recovery
might be protracted. I trust by this time she
has regained her usual health! for what a blessing
is the enjoyment of good health, We do not
appreciate it, even when we have it ourselves, if
those around us are enjoying it too. It is only
when half of those about us, with whom we are


175

associated daily, are prostrated by disease, that
we feel grateful that we are excepted from the
pains and sufferings of the sick-bed. I have
been so far wonderfully spared, having, with but
few exceptions, enjoyed most excellent health
ever since I have been in the country. Since I
left Puebla, in August last, I have not lost a
day's duty. I have become, in a great measure,
a teetotaler—very seldom drinking anything. I
have found that in this climate it is better to
drink little and to be sparing in your diet. The
doctors of this country say that the pulque is
very healthy to drink in moderate quantities.
Few of our people are fond of it at first, but
soon become accustomed to it. Like all the
Anglo-Saxon race, they fall in with, improve, and
go ahead of everything they see. The court-martial
is now going on here. Nobody appears
to take much interest in it, excepting those immediately
concerned. I went in one day for a
few minutes; did not see more than a dozen
persons present. I know but little of the merits
of the case, and care still less. General Scott
has a mind as gigantic as his body, but he alienates
his warmest admirers by some unfortunate
remark—some "hasty plate of soup." He has
no tact, is hasty in his disposition, and, I think,
rather vindictive in his hatred. In his personal

176

quarrel with General Worth he has carried his
enmity to the whole division, and has done it an
injustice that can never be forgiven. It was
rumored that the treaty was received here by the
Mexican authorities five days ago, but this is not
certain. It is certain that some important despatches
were received and forwarded immediately
to Guerrero, where the Mexican Congress is
now in session. Four letter-writers at Washington
had the treaty signed here the 1st of February,
and that was within two days of the time, it
having been signed here on the 3d. How it was
possible for them to have learned this is more
than I can tell. The men were ignorant of it
till after the treaty had left, and then they only
knew of it through the Mexican papers. The
same papers now give the rumor that I have
mentioned above. I hope it may prove as correct.
We are all looking with much anxiety for it, hoping
to be in time to pass Vera Cruz before the
winter sets in; or, at all events, to go down to
Jalapa, where we can have constant intercourse
with home. A few weeks more and the rainy
season will set in, which will prevent our moving.
Everything goes on smoothly; no complaints
as yet of the violation of the armistice;
and I am encouraged to hope something will
come out of it. I correspond regularly with

177

Captain Swartout. He is now in Baltimore, but
says he is daily expecting orders to come out. I
am afraid he will not be able to stand this climate.

The same mail that brought your letter brought
one Litchfield paper containing the proceedings
of the county convention. I am glad to see that
Albert has obtained the nomination. The Whigs
stumble on a good thing occasionally. I was
afraid at one time that the Whigs might do something
at the next election, but they are wearing
away. As much as I am disgusted with the
Democrats, I am still more so with the Whigs.

Your affectionate son,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear sister:

I received your very welcome letter of March
3d this morning. I had but a few days previously
received one from father, and had answered
it (by sending it to the office), when a
courier arrived, bringing the intelligence that the
treaty had passed, and that another courier
would soon be here with an authentic copy.
Accordingly, the next day, the 3rd, he arrived,


178

and brought us what was about as welcome,
news that a mail left with him and would be
here in a few hours. This came last night, only
four days from Vera Cruz— almost with the
speed of Johnson's express. Your letter relieved
me of much apprehension that I had felt for
some time in consequence of your terrible sickness,
although father and Olive both had written
that you were slowly recovering; but now that
you are able to ride so far, I hope your recovery
will be more speedy. I shall not now feel half
the anxiety to return to the States that I had
previously, for, aside from seeing and knowing
that you were all well, I am very well contented
to spend the summer here. I may here make
a virtue of necessity, for it is out of the question
now to leave the country before autumn, provided
everything succeeds to our most sanguine
expectations. Everything here now looks as
favorable as we could wish. A large hospital is
ordered to be established at Jalapa, and the sick
here are to go on at once next Saturday. The
mail leaves on the 9th. Since the armistice
large numbers of the Mexicans of the higher
classes have returned to the city. Many of
them are officers, both civil and military, and
it is no unusual thing to see small bodies of

179

troops passing without taking notice of each
other — a very different state of things from
what there was during the armistice in August
last. Then there were continual complaints of
its violation; and, although they had an army
of fifteen thousand men, none were ever to be
seen, and the people had a sort of defiance in
their looks, which is seldom seen now. If straws
show which way the wind blows, this may be an
indication that we may finally leave the country.
A large party started last Monday for the volcanic
mountain some fifty miles from here. I
had half a mind to go with them, but as I heard
some doubts expressed about their ever reaching
the top, I concluded to postpone my visit.
Humboldt says that no one has ever reached
the top on the first trial, and Prescott says that
some of Cortez's officers went up and descended
into the crater in a basket, and collected sulphur,
which was used in making powder. This, I
think, may well be doubted; as some one said,
after relating a big story, "I did not see it, and
therefore cannot vouch for its truth." The
rainy season is just setting in. For about a week
we have daily a gentle shower in the afternoon,
and the fields that could not be watered look
fresh as ours the last of May. In the valley,

180

and near the base of the hills which surround
it, it is watered by artificial means from the hills,
and therefore produces crops the year around.
In the market you will find the same vegetables
and the same fruits fresh at all seasons. These
frequently are brought a long distance by the
Indians on their backs. I see that a Lieutenant
W——is allowing himself to be lionized in Hartford.
I took the trouble to inquire about him,
and learned from an officer of his regiment that
he was sick all of the time he was in the country,
and that, so far from being in any of the
actions here, he has not even smelled powder
since he came into the country. This was his
misfortune and not his fault, as it was of some five
others of the same regiment that had conscientious
or other scruples about fighting; but this
they did not find out till too late to save their
credit. If you make lions out of such stuff, I
think I have capital enough to set myself up.
I am afraid, however, that I shall not be able
to leave here until there have been too many
triumphal tours made. Captain Wessels is
here, and I see him frequently. He is a very
clever gentleman and a fine officer; there are
but few better of his rank in the service. The
court-martial is driving its slow length along;
it will adjourn in a few days to New Orleans, and

181

from there to Washington. Nobody thinks or
cares anything about it here.

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

Last Sunday I received your letter of March
18th, having received some days previously that
of Emily from Kent—the one you refer to.
Mr. Sevier arrived last Sunday. The Mexican
Congress has not yet assembled. It is wanting
some sixteen to make a quorum. These have
been elected from this state and Puebla, and it
is believed will go on immediately, giving them
a quorum, and then there can be no excuse for
their not acting on the treaty. Mr. Sevier has
said that they shall show their hands at once,
and declare whether they are for peace or not.
If for peace, they shall ratify the treaty at once,
and the army shall move toward the coast. But
if they are for war, they shall have it to their
hearts' content. Everything looks favorable yet,
and I can hardly think that anything will happen
to change this desirable result. Yet they are a
strange people. I was a little surprised to see
that Morris, Webster, and Baldwin voted against


182

the treaty. Mr. Benton went against it because
his son-in-law had recently been found guilty
of mutiny, and had been dismissed from the service.
The court here adjourns next Friday to the
States, stopping a few days at New Orleans to
take evidence, and then will proceed to Washington
for the final result. So far there is not
much direct proof against General Pillow, and I
think he must be acquitted by the court; but the
sentiment of the army will never acquit him.
General Scott always makes some faux pas that
derogates from his high position, and takes
one half the éclat from the brilliant military
achievements he performs. A court of inquiry
has followed every campaign he has conducted,
yet he has been wonderfully successful in all except
that of Florida. His luck better not be
pushed further; the Whigs better let him alone.
The mail has arrived, but brought no letters for
me. The French revolution is all the topic now.
Louis Phillipe, with all his shrewdness, does not
appear to have been able to curb the democracy
of the French. The English may yet see a
model Republic under their very noses, and it
may give them much trouble. We shall see
some great events there yet.

Your affectionate son,
J. SEDGWICK.


183

My dear sister:

I had hoped before this that I should have
been on my way to Vera Cruz, or could at least
have named a day when we were to start; but I
cannot. Although the peace prospects are as
bright as they ever have been, it may be some
weeks before we leave the city. Rumor says
now that as soon as the treaty is ratified by the
Mexican Government, the whole army is to leave
the country immediately, and not wait at Jalapa,
as has been heretofore supposed. This, I think,
the best way, as we should not lose as many
men by passing through Vera Cruz, provided
there was no delay, as we should by keeping all
the volunteers here during the summer. I don't
know where my regiment will be sent after the
war—probably somewhere on the coast, and, I
hope, in the vicinity of New York. A strong
force will be left on the boundary line, but principally
infantry, for the safety of our frontier, to
prevent any invasion either from Indians or
Mexicans. There is much more intercourse between
the citizens and the officers than formerly.
It is now no difficult thing to approach the best
society socially; formerly this was impossible,


184

but, I believe, through no fault of the ladies,
who have always been disposed to encourage the
visits of the officers, but have been prevented
by the interference of the men; and this interference
has often been from political considerations.
What must be the Government who will
persecute its citizens for performing the ordinary
decorums of life! And yet many of the citizens
here will tell you that they are afraid to ask
you to dine, for fear of the consequences after
the army leaves. In the same way, if a man has
a large quantity of flour or corn to sell, he will
request that a force be sent to take it, and then
charge one third more for it than he can get
from his own people. I wrote you some time
since that a party had gone to Popocatapetl.
The first effort to reach the top failed, the party
suffering terribly. Some of them returned to
the city, others concluded to wait for more favorable
weather. The second party had better
success, and reached the top, planting the Stars
and Stripes on its very summit, and this without
any difficulty, except what they experienced from
the cold. The first party failed in consequence
of the snows, reaching two thousand feet lower
than usual, and the guides can only go as far as
the snow, or a short distance into it. They then
give the directions that you are to pursue, and

185

return to conduct you back. This party, as I
said, suffered severely, two or three becoming
totally blind, and were so for days, while the
blood gushed out of the noses, ears, and eyes of
others, their veins swelling so as to burst; and
one became so benumbed that it was with great
difficulty that his life was saved. He afterward
went up with the other party. They represent
it as the most magnificent sight in the world.
The crater is said, by some travelers, to be from
twelve hundred to two thousand feet deep; but
these gentlemen did not think it to be more
than six hundred. They did not see any sulphur,
but saw the smoke, and perceived a sulphurous
smell. They think it extremely doubtful
whether Cortez could ever have obtained
sulphur from there, but of course great changes
may have taken place. The cities of Mexico
and Puebla, and other smaller places at a distance
of one hundred miles, more or less, looked
as if they were on the same level as the top of
the mountain. In looking down into the valley,
it seemed a great distance, and very steep, but
in casting your eye from the base of the mountain
out, everything appeared to rise, until, as
I said, you get to the distance of the city, sixty
miles, when everything appeared to be on a
level with you. You must remember that I was

186

not one of the party, and am therefore relating
what was told me by one who was; but I believe
that he described things as they appeared to
him; besides, all of them could not agree as to
distance, etc., which shows that travelers may
differ, and yet be sincere in what they write—
one in stating that it appeared to be twelve hundred,
another that he thought it two thousand
feet deep.

Your affectionate brother,
J. SEDGWICK.

My dear father:

I have nothing to write in addition to what
I have said to Emily in my letter of the 4th
instant, which goes by this mail to-day. We received
a mail a few hours after I had finished
her letter, but I received no letter from home.
The peace news is very flattering. It is understood
that a quorum is in attendance, and will
act on the treaty without delay. Some of the
members have threatened to leave, thereby depriving
the Government of the number to transact
business; but it is believed that the Government
will coerce their attendance, or make such


187

examples of them as will deter others. It is
said they can pursue another method: the President
can declare that California, and such other
States as have not sent delegates, shall be deprived
of their representatives, thereby reducing
the number so that the present house can
go on with business; but it is hoped that they
will not be pushed to this resort, but will act
promptly. One month will decide whether we
are to have peace or to remain in possession of
their whole country. For myself, if they do not
make peace now, I would never consent to give
them another chance, but go to work in earnest
and nationalize the whole country. It is our
destiny to have it sooner or later, and the sooner
the better. I wish you would write to Truman
Smith for a copy of the public documents. They
contain all the sub-reports of the officers in the
valley. You will find them interesting, and I
should like to preserve them for reference. They
are bound up with the President's messages, and
contain all the correspondence, etc. I presume
there will be no difficulty in your getting them.
I have written you that, some time since, a great
robbery was attempted here, in which a murder
was committed, and that two or more officers
were implicated. It now appears that another
officer has been arrested, and, I am sorry to say,

188

one of the old army and a graduate of the military
academy. His trial is now going on, and
many think that he is guilty, although his friends
are confident of his being acquitted. He has
always borne a good character, but has been rather
fond of money, although he was never a gambler.
I have seen no paper since your election, and
only know through the New York papers that
you have had one. Write me who are the representatives
from our town. Albert, I conclude,
is elected. Give my love to all, and believe
me, as ever,

Your affectionate son,
JOHN SEDGWICK.






Rice University
Date: 2010-06-07
Available through the Creative Commons Attribution license