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Scott receives information of the Battle of Buena Vista-The course of Santa Anna
-Forced Levy attempted by Gomez Farias-Civil War in the Capital-March of Santa Anna upon the Capital from San Luis Potosi-He is met by a Deputation from the City-Enters Mexico in triumph-Is installed President of the Republic-Reconciles conflicting Parties Collects a new Army-Fortifies the Road to the Capital-Formation of Guerilla Bands-Address of Santa Anna to the Mexican People.
On the 15th of March, two days subsequent to the complete investment of Vera Cruz, Scott received information of the wonderful victory of Buena Vista, and immediately issued a general order apprising his troops of the same. In this order, after congratulating the army upon this glorious achievement, he hazards the opinion, that Santa Anna having already fallen back upon San Luis Potosi, would probably not stop short of the capital.
In this opinion he was correct; but even his sagacity could scarcely have imagined the fatal tenacity with which, notwithstanding his late disastrous expedition, the war party in Mexico still clung to the fortunes of its favourite chief.
The false bulletin issued by Santa Anna immediately after that great battle, could scarcely have deceived his most credulous adherents. All must have been aware that, while claiming a victory, he retreated in such confusion that his wounded were left to the tender mercy of the victor, while his troops were so utterly discomfited and disorganized, that thousands deserted by the way.
Meanwhile, as if under the influence of that madness which the ancients imputed to those forsaken of the Gods, while Taylor held
CIVIL WAR IN THE CAPITAL.
undisputed possession of the country from Matamoros to Saltillo, and Scott was surrounding Vera Cruz with a belt of fire, civil war broke out in the capital.
Gomez Farias, the acting President, having with the authority of Congress attempted, by a proposed sale of church property, to levy the sum of five millions of dollars for the purpose of carrying on the war, found himself thwarted by the resistance of the priesthood, and their adherents among the masses, supported by the “guarda nacional,” or enrolled militia. These latter raised the standard of revolt, and for three weeks the city of Mexico was the theatre of one of those disgraceful scenes which have so often shamed that turbulent republic.
Houses were fortified-convents and public offices seized as barracks and places of defence-the stones of the streets were torn up, and barricades erected; and then both parties, as if unwilling to test their strength in bold and open encounter, retired behind their defences, and kept up for many days a desultory firing upon each other, with unfortunately less loss to themselves than to the unoffending citizens, whom duty or necessity compelled to be abroad.
At this juncture, all eyes were again turned upon Santa Anna, as to the only man who could reunite the shattered fragments of the nation, and perhaps retrieve, by the prestige of a single victory, some portion of that glory which seemed to have departed for ever.
How far that able but unscrupulous chief might himself have assisted in bringing about this state of things, we have no means of knowing. Well versed in all the chicanery which belongs to political intrigue, the use of base means, where his own purposes were to be served, was not uncommon to Santa Anna; and to act as mediator between parties in a storm of his own raising, was a species of diplomacy for which he is known to be well qualified.
We may therefore regard it as certain that he was at least kept well advised of the progress of things at the capital, and was prepared, at any moment, to act as circumstances might dictate.
That moment at length arrived. Finding that both parties now looked to him for the adjustment of their mutual differences, he took leave of his troops, and quitting San Luis Potosi on the 14th of March, proceeded to the city of Mexico. His progress was hailed by the people with enthusiasm. Addresses of confidence from various states met him by the way. Deputations from Congress were sent out to conciliate him. His march was as the march of a conqueror, binding and forgiving, dictating and dispensing.
He entered the capital on the 20th, amid the acclamations of the multitude; and, on the 23d, was formally installed President of the Republic, at Guadalupe Hidalgo.
In the general joy elicited by his presence, party animosities were hushed, at least for a time, and all seemed disposed to unite once more in a vigorous attempt to revive the drooping fortunes of the republic.
Money was subscribed, arms and munitions of war collected, the city and its immediate environs placed in a state of the most formidable defence, and all the principal points of the route between Vera Cruz and the capital—points in themselves offering great natural advantages
were so strongly entrenched and fortified as to become almost impregnable.
In addition to this, the citizens enrolled themselves for home service, and a new army was rapidly organized under approved leaders, while a partisan warfare of guerilla bands was authorized, in which no quarter was to be given to those who fell into their hands, and the plunder of our trains was to be divided among the victors.
All things being thus satisfactorily arranged, General Santa
SANTA ANNA'S ADDRESS.
Anna assumed command of the army, and previous to leaving the capital issued the following address to the Mexican people:
“ Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, President ad interim of the Mexican Republic, to his compatriots.
“Mexicans: Vera Cruz is already in the power of the enemy. It has succumbed, -not under the influence of American valour, nor can it ever be said that it has fallen under the impulses of their own good fortune. To our shame be it said, we ourselves have produced this deplorable misfortune by our own interminable discords.
« The truth is due to you from the government; you are the arbiters of the fate of our country. If our country is to be defended, it will be you who will stop the triumphant march of the enemy who occupies Vera Cruz. If the enemy advance one step more, the national independence will be buried in the abyss of the past.
“I am resolved to go out, and encounter the enemy. What is life worth ennobled by the national gratitude, if the country suffers under a censure the stain of which will rebound upon the forehead of every Mexican!
“My duty is to sacrifice myself, and I well know how to fulfil it! Perhaps the American hosts may proudly tread the Imperial Capital of Azteca. I will never witness such an opprobrium, for I am determined first to die fighting.
“The momentous crisis is at length arrived to the Mexican Republic. It is as glorious to die fighting, as it is infamous to declare oneself conquered without a struggle, and by an enemy whose rapacity is as far removed from valour, as from generosity.
6 Mexicans! you have a religion-protect it! you have honour —then free yourselves from infamy! You love your wives, your children—then liberate them from American brutality. But it must be action—not vain entreaty nor barren desires—with which the enemy must be opposed.
“The national cause is infinitely just, although God appears to have abandoned us; but His ire will be appeased, when we present as an expiation of our errors the sentiments of a true patriotism, and of a sincere union.
« Thus the Almighty will bless our efforts, and we will be invincible! for, against the decision of eight millions of Mexicans, of what avail are the efforts of eight or ten millions of Americans, when opposed by the fiat of Divine Justice ?
« Perhaps I speak to you for the last time! I pray you to listen to me! Do not vacillate between death and slavery, and if the enemy conquer you, at least they will respect the heroism of
your resistance. It is now time that the common defence should alone occupy your thoughts! The hour of sacrifice has sounded its approach! Awaken! A tomb opens itself at your feet! Conquer a laurel to repose on it.
« The nation has not yet lost its vitality! I swear to you, I will answer for the triumph of Mexico, if unanimous and sincere efforts on your part second my desires. Happy will have beena thousand times happy—the unfortunate event at Vera Cruz, if the destruction of that city may have served to infuse into the Mexican breast the dignity and generous ardour of a true patriotism!
“ Thus will the country have been indubitably saved; but if the country succumb, she will bequeath her opprobrium and her censure to those egotists who were not ready to defend her-to those who traitorously pursued their private turmoils to trample upon the national banner!
« Mexicans! Your fate is the fate of the nation! Not the Americans, but you will decide her destiny! Vera Cruz calls for vengeance follow me, and wash out the stain of her dishonour.
ANTONIO LOPEZ DE SANTA ANNA. MEXICO, March 31, 1847.”