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the city cannot hold out beyond to-day." Hence, by his own confession, and by the fact that the city did surrender on the 26th, the slaughter of women and children occasioned by the awful activity of his batteries during the whole of the 25th, there being then a “full supply" of shells, was utterly unnecessary. To the horrors of this bombardment we may advert hereafter, and at present only offer the following as a commentary on General Scott's refusal : “I heard a great many heart-rending tales which were told by the survivors with breaking hearts ; but I have neither the inclination nor the time to repeat them. One, however, I will name. A French family were quietly seated in their parlor the evening (night of the 25th), previous to the hoisting the white flag, when a shell from one of our mortars penetrated the building, and exploded in the room, killing the MOTHER AND FOUR CHILDREN, and wounding the residue.'
Truly, indeed, said Sir Harry Smith, in a speech at a late military dinner in London, “It must be confessed, gentlemen, that ours is a damnable profession."
The refusal of General Taylor to accede to the request of the Mexican General for an armistice, before he knew that either Government had recognized the war he had commenced, has been already mentioned. During the attack on Monterey, the Governor sent a flag of truce to the General, stating that “thousands of victims who, from indigence and want, find themselves now in the theatre of war, and who would be uselessly sacrificed, claim the rights which, in all times and in all countries, humanity extends." He asked that orders might be given that families might be respected, or else that a reasonable time might be granted them to leave the city. The General refused to permit any to leave the city; and, however much we may lament his decision, it must be acknowledged, that owing to the circumstances in which he was placed, his refusal is not open to the same animadversions as that of Scott.
* Letter published in the Alton Telegraph.
It is an impulse of our nature to regard scenes of suffering and of cruelty with aversion; but war, by the importance it attaches to victory, renders such scenes sources of pleasure, when their subjects are enemies. General Lane, in his despatch (22d October, 1847), thus describes his night attack upon Allixco : “I ordered the artillery to be posted on a hill near the town, and overlooking it, and open its fire. Now ensued one of the most beautiful sights conceivable. Every gun was served with the utmost rapidity, and the crash of the walls and the roofs of the houses when struck by our shot and shells, was mingled with the roar of our artillery. The bright light of the moon enabled us to direct our shots to the most thickly populated part of the town.”
This beautiful scene, so gratifying to the taste of General Lane, was most horrible to the inhabitants of this little town. The morning sun beheld, amid the ruined dwellings and encumbered streets, two hundred and nineteen mangled corpses, while three hundred of its men, women, and children, were suffering from wounds. searching the next morning,” says the General, with wonderful coolness, “.for arms and ammunition, and disposing of what was found, I commenced my return.” As he makes no other allusion to the result of his search, we infer he had no reason to be proud of the trophies acquired by this beautiful moonlight massacre.
Several of the general orders, issued by American officers in Mexico, are palpably unjust, and exhibit a painful disregard for human life. Of this nature is the following given by Colonel Gates at Tampico, Nov. 29, 1847: “As the guerilleros or armed enemies are employed by orders
to rob all persons who may be engnged in the lawful purpose of trading with the inhabitants of this town, instructions have been given to all officers of the United States army or navy within this department, to take or Kill every person of that character found so employed against the peace of the community.” Tampico was occupied by a detachment of the invading army. For Mexicans to supply the place, while so occupied, with provisions and the necessaries of life, would indeed be doing what Mr. Polk charged upon the Whigs, “ giving aid and comfort to the enemy." The guerillas, or armed militia, had therefore a perfect right by the laws of war to seize and confiscate all supplies on their way to the enemy. It was doing no more than was constantly done by the Americans in the Revolution, when their cities were occupied by the invader. These “armed enemies” might indeed be killed in battle ; but Colonel Gates's order has no reference to fighting. In the plenitude of his power, he gives every naval and military officer the option of capturing or slaying any armed Mexican who may be found attempting to intercept supplies for Tampico.
Unhappily the conduct of Colonel Gates was sanctioned by high authority. The Commander-in-Chief, seated in the conquered Capital of the Republic, issued an order on the 12th December, 1847, which adds no honor to his character as a man or a soldier. The baggage trains of the army had often been attacked by guerillas, in the long route between Vera Cruz and the city of Mexico, and the General now attempted to keep open his communication with Vera Cruz, from which place alone he could receive ammunition, &c., by a system of severity towards those who had scarcely any other method left of annoying the invaders. The preamble to his order betrays not only his object, but his consciousness that some apology was needed for his sanguinary decree. “The highways used, or about to be used by the American troops, being still infested in many parts by those atrocious bands called guerillas and rancheros who, under instructions from the late Mexican authorities, continue to violate every
rule of warfare observed by civilized nations, it has become necessary to announce to all, the views and instructions of General Head Quarters on the subject.” We are then informed, “No quarter will be given to known murderers or robbers, whether guerillas or rancheros, and whether serving under Mexican commissions or not.” Offenders of this character “accidentally falling into the hands of American troops, will be momentarily held as prisoners, that is, not put to death without due solemnity.” This due solemnity is to be the sentence of three or more officers who are to sentence to death or lashes, on proof that the prisoner belonged to any gang of murderers or robbers, or had murdered or robbed any one belonging to or following the American army. By murder, is here obviously meant, killing any of the guard accompanying a baggage train, and by robbery, carrying away any property belongto the enemies of Mexico.
The vigor displayed in these orders by “General Head Quarters” was far surpassed by one of his subalterns. Colonel Hughes, civil and military Governor of Jalapa, on the 10th December, 1847, issued the following order, viz: “ All persons who may in any way attempt to prevent supplies from reaching this port, will be sent to a military Commission for trial, and if convicted of that offence, will be shot.” Here we find a capital offence which is not alleged to be either robbery or murder. Any Mexican, priest or layman, who by persuasion or force, or in any other way, attempts to prevent his countrymen from committing the crime of furnishing supplies to the enemy, is to
be shot-to be put to death in cool blood by American soldiers, at the command of an American officer! We greatly doubt whether the history of modern warfare records an order so utterly at variance with the plainest dictates of patriotism, justice, and humanity.
We now turn to another melancholy but forcible illustration of the remarks in the commencement of this chapter. A large number of Irish emigrants to the United States bore arms in the invading army. These men were, of course, mere mercenaries. They fought, as others of their countrymen have labored on our canals and railroads, for money. They knew and cared nothing about the claims of “our much-injured citizens,” nor did they trouble themselves about “our western boundary.” On reaching Mexico, they discovered that they had been hired by heretics to slaughter brethren of their own church. The Mexicans, moreover, published appeals addressed directly to their consciences, in which was set forth, in strong language, the sin they were committing in fighting against men who had never injured them, and who were united with them in a common faith ; and liberal offers were made of land and money, if they would abandon the American standard. A portion of the emigrants accepted the invitation ; and it is reasonable to suppose that they were influenced both by religious and by pecuniary motives. Upwards of fifty of these men were taken prisoners in battle. They had unquestionably committed a crime in violating their pledged faith, and by the ordinary rules of war, were justly liable to punishment. A few of these men escaped death on account of some technical objections, and a few others on account of some unspecified mitigating circumstances; but a general order of the 22d of September, 1847, contained the appalling announcement: “After every effort of the General-in-Chief to save,