General Headquarters of the Army, General Order number 20, February 19, 1847, Tampico, Mexico [Translation]

Bibliographic Information

Scott, Winfield, 1786-1866, Cuartel General del Egercito, Ordenes generales numero 20, Tampico, Mexico, 19 de febrero 1847 (Tampico, Mexico: Imprenta de la calle de la Carniceria, February 19, 1847)

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Title: General Headquarters of the Army, General Order number 20, February 19, 1847, Tampico, Mexico [Translation]
Funding from: Funding for the creation of this digitized text is provided by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Author: Scott, Winfield, 1786-1866
Statements of responsibility:
  • Creation of digital images: Center for Digital Scholarship, Rice University
  • Creation of translation: Lorena Gauthereau-Bryson, Americas Studies Researcher, Humanities Research Center
  • Conversion to TEI-conformant markup: Roxana Loza, Student Researcher, Humanities Research Center
  • Parsing and proofing: Humanities Research Center, Rice University
  • Subject analysis and assignment of taxonomy terms: Robert Estep, Cataloger
Publisher: Rice University, Houston, Texas
Publication date: 2010-06-07
Identifier: aa00208tr
Availability: This digital text is publicly available via the Americas Digital Archive through the following Creative Commons attribution license: “You are free: to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work; to make derivative works; to make commercial use of the work. Under the following conditions: By Attribution. You must give the original author credit. For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder. Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.”
Digitization: Page images of the original document are included. Images exist as archived TIFF files, JPEG versions for general use, and thumbnail GIFs.
Translation: This document is an English translation of the "Cuartel General del Egercito, Ordenes generales numero 20, Tampico, Mexico, 19 de febrero 1847." Translated by Lorena Gauthereau-Bryson. The language of the original document is Spanish.
Provenance: The Humanities Research Center at Rice University, under the direction of Dr. Caroline Levander, purchased this material from a manuscripts dealer in 2005. The Gilder Foundation funded the development of the physical archive. Original materials are housed at the Woodson Research Center, Rice University.
Description: Notifies the Mexican people of the dictates of martial law under U.S. occupation, naming in 12 separate directives the crimes which are punishable under U.S. law. By order of the “Mayor General” (Weinfield Scott) signed in type, “N.L. Scott”
Source(s): Scott, Winfield, 1786-1866, Cuartel General del Egercito, Ordenes generales numero 20, Tampico, Mexico, 19 de febrero 1847 (Tampico, Mexico: Imprenta de la calle de la Carniceria, February 19, 1847)
Source Identifier: Americas collection, 1811-1920, MS 518, Box 3 folder 3, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University. Contact info:
Description of the project: This digitized text is part of the Our Americas Archive Partnership (OAAP) project.
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This text has been encoded based on recommendations from Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Any comments on editorial decisions for this document are included in footnotes within the document with the author of the note indicated. All digitized texts have been verified against the original document. Quotation marks have been retained. For printed documents: Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved. No corrections or normalizations have been made, except that hyphenated, non-compound words that appear at the end of lines have been closed up to facilitate searching and retrieval. For manuscript documents: Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved. We have recorded normalizations using the reg element to facilitate searchability, but these normalizations may not be visible in the reading version of this electronic text
Languages used in the text: English
Text classification
Keywords: Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus
  • Leaflets
Keywords: Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • Proclamations--United States
  • Mexican War, 1846-1848--Occupied territories
  • War--Protection of civilians
  • Military offenses--United States
Keywords: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
  • Mexico (nation)


General orders. – Number 20.

1st It can be feared that many and grave crimes not foreseen in the act of Congress establishing the rules and articles for the Government of the United States Army, approved on April 10, 10806, can be committed by individuals of those armies or against them in Mexico during the war between the two republics. Those atrocious crimes that, if committed in the United States or in its organized territories, would be precisely judged and severely punished by the Nation’s ordinary or civil courts, are mentioned here.

2.nd Murder, premeditated murder, injuries or mutilation, rape, assaults and malicious beatings; robbery, larceny, desecration of Churches, cemeteries or houses, and religious buildings; and the destruction of public or private property that was not ordered by a superior officer, are crimes of this nature.

3rd Good service, the honor of the United States, and the interests of humanity imperatively demand that all the above-mentioned crimes be punished severely.

4th Yet, the written code, commonly called the rules and articles of war, as mentioned earlier, does not prescribe the punishment for any of these crimes, even when they are committed by individuals in the army against the person or property of other individuals in the army, except in the limited case mentioned in article 9, nor does it contain any stipulations in the case of similar offenses committed by those same individuals against the persons and properties of an enemy country, if we exclude the very partial articles 51, 52, and 55; and the mentioned code is absolutely silent regarding offenses committed by individuals of the enemy country against individuals in the army or their properties, contrary to the laws of war.

5th It is evident that article 99, independent of all reference to the restriction in article 87, is null in respect to any of those grave crimes.

6th Consequently, all the offenses enumerated above in the 2nd paragraph, which can be committed in another country, in the army, or by the army or against the army, absolutely need a supplemental code.

7th This unwritten code is Martial Law, an addition to the written military code, which Congress ordered to be observed in the rules and articles of war; it is an unwritten code that all armies are obligated to follow in enemy countries, not only for their own safety, but also to protect the inoffensive inhabitants and their properties within the theater of military operations, from offenses committed against the laws of war.

8th Martial law has been declared because of this supreme necessity; it is a supplemental code for all camps, military points, and hospitals that are occupied by whatever part of the United States forces in Mexico and by all the columns, escorts, convoys, guards, and detachments of the expressed forces, while they are engaged in continuing the present war in and against the aforesaid Republic.

9th Consequently, any crime enumerated in paragraph No. 2 that is committed: first, by any Mexican inhabitant, denizen, or traveler against the person or property of any individual adherent to or dependant on the United States forces; 2nd By any individual adherent to or dependent on said forces against the person or property of any Mexican inhabitant, denizen, or traveler; 3rd By any individual adherent to or dependant on said forces against the person or property of any other individual adherent to or dependent on said forces, will be punctually judged and punished according to the expressed supplemental code.

10th With this objective, all the delinquents in the above-mentioned cases are ordered to be promptly apprehended, imprisoned, and denounced in order to be judged by a military commission that will be named to this effect.

11th All military commissions, due to this order, will be arranged, governed, and limited according to articles 65, 66, and 97 in the expressed rules and articles of war, and procedures of these commissions will be completely recorded in writing, reviewed and examined, rejected or approved, and all sentences will be executed in accordance with the court-martial, thereby preventing any military commission from judging causes that solely pertain to the court-martial; and also preventing any individual of any class from being sentenced by the court-martial to a punishment that does not fit the nature and grade of the offense, as proved by the evidence, and ensuring that it conforms to the established punishments for similar cases, in any of the United States of America.

12th This order will be read in front of every company of the United States forces that are serving in Mexico or about to enter the theater of said war.

Mandated by the Major General.
N.L. Scott.
A.A.A.G.Acting Assistant Adjutant General

Calle de la Carnicería [1] Press number 12.

Translator's Notes

Literally, “the Butcher’s shop Street."

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