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CHAPTER XVIII.

Scott commences his March for the Capital-Twiggs thrown forward in advance

-Reaches Plan del Rio— Is joined by the General-in-chief- Description of Cerro Gordo-Scott determines upon turning the Position--A new Road cut Twiggs ordered to take up his Position—Is met by the Enemy-Gallantry of 7th Infantry-Dashing Charge of Harney's Brigade-They capture a Hill in the rear of Cerro Gordo-Mount a Battery in the Night-Wonderful Exertions of the Men -Morning of the 18th of April-Scott's celebrated Order-Position of the Mexicang-Battle of Cerro Gordo-Storming of the Heights-Operations of Shields's Brigade-Shields dangerously wounded-Defeat of the Enemy-Fruits of Victory -Scott's Despatch to the War Department-Worth enters Puebla.

In the face of the formidable obstacles arrayed against him, Scott commenced his march for the interior.

On the 8th of April, Twiggs left Vera Cruz, taking up the line of march by the Jalapa road, and arrived at Plan del Rio on the 11th. The next day he was reinforced by the brigades of Generals Pillow and Shields, and subsequently joined by a portion of the volunteers, under Major-General Patterson.

Meanwhile, having received information that the enemy, to the number of sixteen thousand men, under the immediate command of Santa Anna, were in the neighbourhood of Cerro Gordo, he ordered a reconnoissance. The report of the officers showed that a succession of heights, each commanding the other, had been entrenched and fortified, and the road cut up and barricaded.

In the face of these formidable obstacles, Twiggs determined to advance: and preparations were made to commence the attack on the morning of the 13th, but the morning of the 14th was

afterwards adopted at the solicitations of Generals Pillow and Shields, whose commands, though desirous of engaging the enemy, were yet too weary from their march, to do it with spirit and effect.

At this juncture, Major-General Patterson, who had been on the sick list, reported himself for duty, and assuming the command, suspended all further offensive operations until the arrival of the General-in-chief.

The division of Worth had come up in the meanwhile, and shortly afterwards Scott himself reached Plan del Rio, when a second and more extended reconnoissance being made, it was discovered that a front attack, even if successful, would occasion the sacrifice of an immense number of lives, and might possibly result in the almost total annihilation of our army. The position occupied by the Mexicans was indeed almost impregnable.

« The road, as it passes the Plan del Rio, which is a wide, rocky bed of a once large stream, is commanded by a series of high cliffs, rising one above the other, and extending several miles, and all well fortified.

The road then debouches to the right, and curving round the ridge passes over a high cliff, which is completely enfiladed by forts and batteries.

“ This ridge is the commencement of the Tierra Templada,' the upper or mountainous country.

“ The high and rocky ravine of the river protected the right flank of the position, and a series of abrupt and almost impassable mountains and ridges crowned their left.

“ Between these two points, running a distance of two or three miles, a succession of strongly fortified forts bristled at every turn, and seemed to defy all bravery and skill.” †

* Twiggs's Report, April 19, 1847.
+ Correspondent of the New Orleans Delta.

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SURVEY

of the MEXICAN LINES OF DEFENCE AT CERRO GORDO

and the Lines of Allack of the American Aretly under MAJOR GEN" SCOTT

On the 17 and 18" of April 1847

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TWIGGS ORDERED TO TAKE UP HIS POSITION.

323

« On the other side, the lofty and difficult height of Cerro Gordo commanded the approaches in all directions."*

Under these circumstances, Scott determined to turn the position of the enemy by cutting a road which, diverging from the main road, and descending abruptly a deep ravine, should skirt the base of the mountains, over rough ground and chaparral, “ along difficult slopes and over chasms, out of the enemy's view, but reached by his guns when discovered,” | until it should debouch on the Jalapa road, and in the rear of the main body of the Mexican army.

This road, after incredible labour, was only partially completed. For three days, the working parties succeeded in pushing forward unknown to the enemy; but on the 17th, while approaching the Mexican lines, they were discovered and fired upon. Their labours, however, had been crowned with success, as the Jalapa road, though not entirely reached, was known to be within easy distance.

The division of Twiggs was accordingly ordered to advance by the new route, and, supported by Shields's brigade of volunteers, turn the enemy's left, and take up the position previously designated. In doing this it was necessary to occupy the heights in the vicinity of Cerro Gordo.

Lieutenant Gardner was accordingly detached with a company of the 7th infantry, to a height on the left, for the purpose of reconnoitring the enemy. Upon observing this movement, a strong party of Mexican skirmishers were advanced towards him, supported by a reserve of some two thousand men. Under this severe fire he gallantly maintained his position, until Harney advanced to his support with the Rifles under Major Sumner, and the Artillery under Colonel Childs.

Moving rapidly up in line, these regiments reached the summit of the hill, drew the fire of the enemy, and charged. For a while the ground was obstinately disputed, but nothing could

+ Ibid.

* Scott's official report, April 23, 1847.

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