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Taylor leaves Corpus Christi.
vicinity, in the judgment of high military experience, are the proper stations for the protecting forces of the government. In addition to this important consideration, several others have occurred to induce this move
Among these are the facilities afforded by the ports at Brazos Santiago, and the mouth of the Del Norte, for the reception of supplies by sea; the stronger and more healthful military positions; the convenience for obtaining a ready and a more abundant supply of provisions, water, fuel, and forage; and the advantages which are afforded by the Del Norte, in forwarding supplies to such ports as may be established in the interior, and upon the Indian frontier.” General Taylor left Corpus Christi on the 11th of March, and marched toward the Rio Grande.* The troops marched through a sandy desert, infested by venomous reptiles, until they
* In this march, says a late writer, the army encountered the most appalling hardships, both from the heat of the sandy deserts over which they passed, and the want of food and water. The discipline acquired in camp, where large portions of the troops had for the first time an opportunity of seeing and learning the evolutions of the line, was here amply tested ; and it should be recorded to the honour of the soldiers, that throughout their whole march they bore their hardships with patience and cheerfulness.
The sufferings on this march were rendered the more painful by contrast with the agreeable sojourn of the army at Corpus Christi, which is described by Captain Henry in his entertaining Campaign Sketches, as one of the most delightful regions in the world. “ From the top of the bluff,” he says, “ the view is magnificent in the extreme. Far off to the east the scene was bounded by the white caps of the beautiful bay; to the south-east, the Flower Bluffs stood out in bold relief; in the north-east, the distant highlands of Maylone's Bluff were dimly visible; to the northwest, the land near the mouth of the Nueces; in the west, one unlimited plain presented itself, extending to the mountains, the home of the mustang and buffalo."
Crosses the Colorado.
reached the Arroya Colorado, thirty miles eastward of the Rio Grande. On the opposite bank of this river a body of soldiers and rancheros was stationed, apparently for the purpose of disputing the passage. This place was favourable for opposing the passage of the army, and General Taylor expected that war was now about to begin. He made his preparations for crossing, however, but soon after received a message from the governor
of Matamoras, stating that an attempt to cross the Colorado woul! be considered a signal for war.
Notwithstanding these warlike demonstrations, General Taylor crossed the river in face of the foe. He experienced no opposition, although an excellent opportunity was afforded from the position in which the Mexicans were stationed.
Being thus unexpectedly delivered from a disagreeable collision, General Taylor spent a day in refreshing his troops, and then [March 22d] resumed his march for the Rio Grande. On the 24th, news was received that the Mexicans had taken possession of Point Isabel, on the Brazos Santiago, which place the general had previously selected as a military depot. Knowing the advantages to be derived from this station, General Taylor determined to occupy it; and accordingly, leaving his main army with General Worth on the Matamoras road, he pushed toward the Brazos with the dragoons and artillery train. When near the place, he was met by the prefect of Tamaulipas, and other citizens, who protested against the occupation of their territory, and intimated that their government considered it a declaration of war. While General Taylor was considering this protestation, he observed a column of smoke in the
Excitement in Matamoras.
direction of Point Isabel, and conjecturing that the Mexicans had fired it, he dismissed the prefect, with the promise of an answer when the Americans would arrive near Matamoras. Colonel Twiggs was sent forward with the dragoons to stop the conflagration, and arrest those who had caused it. He found the station deserted by the soldiery and many of the citizens, and succeeded in saving a few of the burning houses. General Taylor arrived soon after, and commenced the construction of a fortification subsequently known as Fort Polk. Major John Munroe was intrusted with the command. Six brass six-pounders, two long eighteens, large quantities of powder and ball with about four hundred and fifty men, were left for its defence.
Having completed such other arrangements as were thought necessary, in order to guard against attack, General Taylor continued his march with the main army, and reached the Rio Grande opposite Matamoras on the 28th.
At the first appearance of the American army the city of Matamoras was thrown into the greatest excitement. Exaggerated reports both of its strength and intentions had preceded its coming; and our troops were regarded as lawless banditti, whose sole intention was spoil and plunder. In a few days, however, this feeling seems to have subsided; the good behaviour of the American troops dissipated previous fears; and the citizens at least became willing to wait for the result of the natural course of events, rather than immediately rush
upon the American army, as was at first their intention. The Americans were now situated in a beautiful coun.
Description of the Country.
try—the more grateful after their fatiguing march. “Fai as the eye can reach,” says a volunteer, one level surface presents itself to view, dotted with cotton and sugarcane fields, interspersed with lovely gardens after the Spanish fashion, the whole cut up and divided in all sorts of ways, by groves of the finest trees, among which the lignum vitæ figures largely; and the entire picture is cut in twain by the muddiest, crookedest, and swiftest river in North America. Neither mountain, hill, nor elevation of any sort, varies the everlasting level of the country around. The scene is rich and peaceful, with nought to mar its appropriate character save the armies of the two nations. Our nights here, for the most part, are remarkable for their serenity. The stars stand forth in numerous crowds, with rare brilliancy; not a leaf is moved, not a cloud is seen; while ever and anon a meteor of surpassing brightness shoots across the azure vault."
When the army reached the Rio Grande, and had planted the American flag upon its banks, General Worth crossed to the Mexican side, in order to have an interview with the city authorities, and deliver to them despatches from General Taylor. He was met by General la Vega, the Licenciado Casares, Juan Garza, an interpreter, and two officers, who had been appointed by the authorities to confer with him. After considerable altercation, the reception of the despatches was refused, and a like result attended a request for an interview with the American consul. Worth then returned
to the camp.
After this event, the Mexicans, withheld all supplies from General Taylor, and commenced the erection of
Mexican Proclamation Inviting Deserters.
batteries and fortifications opposite his position. He had previously begun the construction of a fort, intended to defend his camp and afford a depot for such stores as would be drawn from time to time from Point Isabel. A gloom now settled over both armies, and speculations upon a dark and uncertain future filled the mind of both friend and foe.
The following proclamation of “ The commander-inchief of the Mexican army, to the English and Irish under the orders of the American General Taylor,” was distributed in the American camp, in the early part of April. It was the first display of that unmanly craft, for which the Mexicans seem to be characteristically adapted:
“Know ye :—That the government of the United States is committing repeated acts of barbarous aggression against the magnanimous Mexican nation; that the government which exists under the flag of the stars, is unworthy of the designation of Christian. Recollect that you were born in Great Britain ; that the American government looks with coldness upon the powerful flag of St. George, and is provoking to a rupture the warlike people to whom it belongs. President Polk boldly manifesting a desire to take possession of Oregon, as he already has done of Texas. Now, then, come with all confidence to the Mexican ranks; and I guarantee to you upon my honour, good treatment, and that all your expenses shall be defrayed until your arrival in the beautiful capital of Mexico.
“Germans, French, Poles, and individuals of all natians! Separate yourselves from the Yankees, and do not contribute to defend a robbery and usurpation, which,