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for the purpose of checking a demonstration made upon the enemy's left. Three pieces of artillery had also been detached by Captain Washington up to the left of the plateau and placed under Lieutenant O'Brien, who was supported by the 2d Indiana regiment.
These dispositions being made, the Americans calmly awaited the attack of the enemy.
The signal for the opening strife was given at three o'clock by a shell from the enemy's howitzer, and soon after the light division under Ampudia was hotly engaged with the American riflemen. The former fired with rapidity and in continuous vollies; the latter with cool deliberation and terrible effect, while they sheltered themselves from the fire of the enemy behind the crest of the ridge, which they occupied. This and an occasional cannonade directed at our troops on the plateau, comprised the action of the 22d, which was suspended about dark by a signal shell thrown into the air by the enemy. The American loss was but four men wounded, while that of the enemy in killed and wounded was over three hundred ;* so deadly was the aim of the American rifle!
During the day, the 1st regiment of Illinois volunteers had formed a parapet along its front, and, directed by the engineers, had dug a ditch, and thrown up an epaulement with a traverse, before Washington's battery at Angostura, to occupy which Colonel Hardin detached a supporting force of two companies of his regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Weatherford.
At sunset, General Taylor left General Wool in command of the forces, and proceeded to Saltillo, with May's dragoons and the Mississippi regiment, to complete arrangements for its defence, and prepare for the reception of his wounded after the main attack by Santa Anna, expected on the morrow. The defences were arranged as follows: Two companies of the 1st Illinois volunteers,
* Santa Anna's account.
BATTLE OF BUENA VISTA.
under Captains Morgan and Prentiss, and two companies of the 20 Illinois volunteers, under Captains Hacker and Wheeler, the whole commanded by Major Warren, occupied the town. The field-work commanding its approaches was garrisoned by Captain Webster's company, 1st artillery, with two 24-pound howitzers; while the train and head-quarters camp was defended by a 6-pounder from Bragg's battery under Lieutenant Shover, supported by two companies of Mississippi riflemen under Captain Rogers.
After the close of the battle, Santa Anna made a spirited address to his troops, which was received with enthusiastic cries, distinctly heard in the American lines. After this the band of the Mexican chief struck up, and strains of surpassing sweetness floated down the mountain sides, and died away in faint echoes along the narrow gorge.
Silence and darkness now succeeded, and amid the gloom, the troops in general sank down to slumber on their arms, without covering and without fires, exposed to the chill night-winds and occasional gusts of rain; but on the mountains, where the cold was extreme, the light troops of both armies gathered the trunks of dwarfish trees, and the stalks of shrubs, and kindled fires, around which they gathered in shivering groups during the night.
Action of the 23d-Commencement on the American left-Enemy's Columns of
Attack-Advance of Lombardini's and Pachecho's Divisions-O'Brien, with his Artillery and 2d Indiana Regiment, ordered to repulse them-Retreat of the 2d Indiana Regiment-American Reserve ordered up-Second Column of Attack repulsed at Angostura— Troops on the Plateau reinforced by Artillery and Infan. try-Arrival of General Taylor on the Field-Confidence restored-The gallant Mississippi Regiment—The Enemy driven back on the American left—The con. test on the Plateau-Movement of the Cavalry on the Enemy's right checkedBatteries of Sherman and Bragg-Baggage-train threatened by Cavalry-Dangerous Position of the Enemy's Cavalry - Ruse of Santa Anna - Mexican Reserve ordered up—Terrible Service of O'Brien's Artillery-Slaughter of the Illinois and Kentucky Regiments-Deaths of Colonels Hardin, McKee, and Clay -Washington's Battery-Gallantry of Lieutenant O'Brien-Repulse of Minon's Cavalry-Close of the Battle-American and Mexican Losses.
Ar two o'clock on the morning of the 23d, the advanced pickets of the American army were driven in by those of Ampudia, whose light division was reinforced towards day-break by two thousand men from the divisions of Lombardini and Pachecho, with the view of gaining the American left and rear upon the mountains. Here the action commenced at dawn on the 23d, and was maintained with great spirit by Colonel Marshall's command, holding themselves under cover, and contending against nearly eight to one, until reinforced by Major Trail, 2d Illinois volunteers, with three companies of riflemen, including Captain Conner's Texas volunteers. About sunrise, Lieutenant O'Brien, who was stationed at the upper edge of the plateau with a 12-pound howitzer, and two guns—one a 6-pounder, the other a 4-pounder-came to their aid, and advancing his howitzer, threw with great accuracy and terrible effect six or eight shells among the troops of Ampudia, now pouring down the
BATTLE OF BUENA VISTA.
slope of the mountain that intervened between them and the American riflemen. The precision of the firing elicited the most enthusiastic cheering from the whole American line.
By this time, the chief of Santa Anna's staff, General Micheltorena, had planted his battery of 8-pounders on the high ridge lying between the contending forces, and commenced a plunging fire on the plateau, which was more especially directed against O'Brien's pieces, but with little success, on account of the great distance intervening. For this reason O'Brien did not attempt to answer the fire of the enemy, as his guns were of lighter metal than the pieces of their battery. He remained silent, therefore, until subsequently ordered by General Lane to meet the advance of Pachecho's division.
The enemy had now arranged three columns of attack. The first, to be led by General Mora y Villamil, and destined to force the pass of La Angostura, was composed of the 2d regiment of engineers, the 12th regiment, the figo de Mexico, and the battalions of Puebla and Tampico. The second column was composed of the divisions of Lombardini and Pachecho. The former division was to move across the ridge mentioned above, to the left of their 8-pounder battery, while the division of Pachecho advanced up the ravine in front of the plateau; and thus, both uniting near the mountain, together with their supporting forces of cavalry, turn the left of the American troops stationed on the plateau. The light troops, under Ampudia, were the third column of attack, and were to turn the extreme left on the mountains, and attack the American rear in conjunction with the second column, under Generals Lombardini and Pachecho. Besides these three columns, a reserve, under General Ortega, was stationed on the ground occupied by the two lines of the enemy, when first displayed on coming in sight of the American army.
While the third column was hotly engaged with the American riflemen upon the mountains, and the rattle of musketry and the rifle was intermingled with the roar of the 8-pounders directed
against the left of the plateau, Lombardini's division was moving along the ridge to unite with Pachecho, in view of the American army; his men in full uniform, his horses in gay caparison, their burnished weapons and appointments flashing in the sunlight, and every standard, colours, and guidon unfurled to the breeze.
While this pageant was passing in review, Major Mansfield, of the engineers, about nine o'clock came with the intelligence that Pachecho's division, which had moved along screened from sight, was coming up the ravine with the evident design of gaining the plateau by way of the ridge adjoining the third principal gorge, which scalloped the plateau. At this time General Wool was at Angostura, having gone thither to give some directions about the defences in that quarter. General Lane, therefore, the next in command, ordered Lieutenant O'Brien, with his three pieces of artillery, and the 2d Indiana regiment, to take position just beyond the head of the third gorge, and repel the enemy.
. By the time the guns were in battery and the regiment displayed, the Mexican infantry was ascending the ridge, and, forming in lines, opened upon it at a distance of two hundred yards. Their fire was returned immediately and effectively; and, simultaneously with it, O'Brien's guns poured their deadly discharges upon the columns of the enemy. Though struggling against a superiority of ten to one in front, and enfiladed by a cross-fire of grape and canister from the 8-pounder battery on his left, General Lane gallantly maintained the contest for twenty-five minutes; during which he swept down whole platoons at a time, and repeatedly broke the front lines of the enemy, which were as often re-formed. So murderous was the fire, that the corps of Guanajuato, which constituted the advance, was totally destroyed.
With the view of getting out of range of the enemy's guns, and driving back Pachecho's troops into the ravine, General Lane ordered O'Brien to advance about fifty yards to the front, which was immediately done, and his pieces served, as before, with