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understanding between the two countries to the commencement of actual hostilities; and, notwithstanding the belligerent attitude which Mexico assumed by recalling her minister immediately after the annexation of Texas to the United States, it is evident, from the subsequent actions and correspondence of the Mexican authorities, that war would not have occurred, had it not been for the advance of the American army into territory which Mexico believed to be, and which was, a part, not of Texas but of Mexico. But we not only invaded the territory of the Mexican republic; we first commenced hostilities, when on the 18th of April “ Lieutenant Porter, at the head of his own detachment, surprised a Mexican camp, drove away the men, and took possession of their horses.”* Though we are obliged, in candour, to make these admissions, we would not be understood as holding the opinion that there were not just grounds for war against a country which had outraged the American flag, imprisoned our citizens and confiscated their property, and violated the solemn faith of treaties. But, while there existed so many causes, all or any of which would have justified a declaration of war on our part, it is a matter of supreme regret, that, after the magnanimous forbearance which we had exhibited towards Mexico, and unwillingness to appeal to the last resort of nations, war was at length brought on by an act, and in a manner, totally unjustifiable.
When the Mexican minister Almonte, after the annexation of Texas, demanded his passports and menaced war, all usage, both ancient and modern, of civilized nations, would have justified the American Congress in declaring immediate war, and ordering the armies of the republic into Mexico, without waiting for her to strike the first blow. But, while the Congress of the United States is disposed to continue the exercise of that magnanimous forbearance which had characterized her intercourse with a sister republic, the Executive, by an assumption of power not warranted in
* General Taylor's Letter to the Secretary of War, April 23.
CAUSES OF THE WAR.
103 the Constitution, and without the knowledge and consent of Congress, orders the American army into the territory of Mexico and precipitates the country into war. Had it not been for this, no conflict in arms between the republics would have arisen, and the outpouring of blood and treasure expended upon this contest would have been avoided; for it is evident, that, although Mexico felt herself aggrieved by the annexation of Texas to the United States, neither the people nor the government would have seriously con-, templated war on that account, had not the invasion of the Mexican territory been superadded.
It is true, Mexico had no just cause of offence in the case of Texas, for that republic, free and independent, had a right to dispose of her own territory as she pleased; but some degree of allowance and forbearance was due even to the prejudices of a country which had seen a portion of its territory dismembered by those who had formerly been citizens of the United States, and afterwards annexed to that country. If a little time had been allowed for the wounded pride of Mexico to heal, and we had abstained from aggression upon her territory, better feelings and better counsels would have prevailed with her, and a treaty alike honourable to both would have arranged all difficulties between us. If the Rio Grande was desirable as a boundary, instead of the great desert, which was the true boundary, a very small part of the money that has been expended in the war, would have secured it to the nation by purchase.
I love my country much–I honour her brave sons—I admire the gallant chiefs and their soldiery, who throughout this war have wreathed their brows with the laurels of victory-I venerate the mighty dead, who with garments dyed in blood,' have made their beds of glory upon the battle-field, and have bequeathed names of immortality to the republic; but the love of truth with a historian should be paramount to the love of country. The eye of justice should not be blinded by the blaze of glory; and, what
ever splendour has crowned the achievements of our troops in this war-however widely the power and majesty of our arms by means of it have been spread abroad among the nations, I can but feel that the manner in which it was brought on, was unjust, and reprehend as dangerous to the republic the precedent that has been set by the Executive, of involving the nation in war without the privity and consent of Congress.
Of what avail are the guaranties of the constitution that Congress alone shall declare war, when the American Executive can, at any time, bring on a war, by ordering the troops of the republic into foreign territory, or even into territory which we claim that lies in dispute? In the case of this weaker neighbour, though great have been the sacrifices of life and treasure, the consequences have not been serious; but who can imagine what the end would have been, if, in the dispute about Oregon, the President, without consulting Congress, had ordered the American army to the boundary as claimed in 54° 40' ?
Another serious evil is, that a war thus brought on without preparation has for a time to be sustained with the inadequate men and means of a peace establishment; and thus, at the onset, the prestige of victory may be in favour of the enemy, and to some extent influence the future contest.
In 1845, with that prudent forecast for which he is remarkable, General Scott had recommended an increase of the army by filling up the skeleton regiments, but his prudent suggestions were neglected both by Congress and the President. In everything there was a want of due preparation. The meagre force comprising the Army of Occupation, was collected by withdrawing the troops from the forts and military posts, which in many cases upon the seaboard and the frontier were thus left without a garrison, while even for this small force, thrown forward into an enemy's territory, like a forlorn hope, to provoke and bring on a war, the provision for munitions, subsistence, and transportation, was totally insufficient.
Capture of Captain Thornton's Command-Exultation of the Enemy--Council-ofwar-Contemplated Attack of Arista-Arrival of Captain Walker-Skirmish with the Mexicans-Arista crosses the Rio Grande-March of General Taylor to Point Isabel-Garrison of Fort Brown-Religious Ceremonies-Bombardment of Fort Brown-Death of Major Brown-Arista's Summons to surrender-Hawkins's Reply-Battle of Palo Alto heard at Fort Brown-Resaca de la Palma-Mexican Fugitives.
REPORTS having reached the American camp, that the Mexicans were crossing the river above and below, in great force, Captain Ker was despatched to the lower ford with a body of dragoons to ascertain the truth of the report, and on the evening of the 25th Captain Thornton was despatched to the upper ford, for the like purpose, accompanied by Captain Hardee, Lieutenants Kane and Mason, and sixty-one non-commissioned officers and privates. Captain Ker returned with his party without discovering any of the enemy. Thornton proceeded with his command up the river about twenty-four miles, and as he supposed within about three miles of the camp of the enemy, when his Mexican guide refused to proceed further, from a belief that the whole country was occupied by Mexican soldiers. Thornton with his command pressed on about two miles further, when he reached a farm-house enclosed by a thicket of chaparral, except on the side lying next to the river. The ground in this direction was boggy and impassable. Entering the enclosure through a pair of bars, Thornton with his command approached the house, when by a sudden firing from the surrounding chaparral, the Americans perceived that they were encompassed by the enemy, who were
afterwards found to be about twenty-five hundred in number. Promptly wheeling his command, Thornton ordered a charge, and attempted to escape by the way he had entered, but the dense files of the enemy prevented. Captain Hardee now rode up to offer some suggestion, when a shot struck Captain Thornton's horse, and the beast, maddened by the wound, ran with him towards the chaparral, cleared it at a bound, and plunging down a precipice with his rider, fell to the earth. The captain lay insensible for some hours, after which his consciousness returned, when, mounting his charger, which like himself was badly wounded, he endeavoured to make his way to the American camp. Before he reached it, however, he was taken by a party of the enemy, and carried to Matamoros. As soon as the misfortune occurred to Thornton, Captain Hardee assumed command, and dashing towards the river bank, with the view of swimming the river, he found that the marshy ground prevented escape. Determined then on a vigorous resistance, he dismounted his men, and examined their pieces; but while thus engaged, a Mexican officer came up and demanded a surrender. Hardee agreed to surrender, provided he and his men would be treated agreeably to the usages of civilized warfare. The message was borne by the officer to his commanding-general, who gave assurance that the prisoners should be treated with humanity. Captain Hardee then surrendered, and he and his men were carried to Matamoros, where they were kindly treated by the Mexicans. General Torrejon commanded the enemy's forces in this engagement. Their success was owing to their numbers and the complete concealment afforded to their ambuscade by the chaparral. The American loss was one lieutenant, two sergeants, and eight privates killed, and fifty-three prisoners. The loss, inconsiderable as it was in numbers, was notwithstanding important, depriving the American commander of nearly one-third of the mounted force on the Rio Grande. General Arista, on receiving the news