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which was seen advancing in splendid order the enemy's column. It was the most splendid sight I had ever witnessed. The yellow cloaks, red jackets and caps of the lancers, and the bright blue and white uniforms of the infantry, were most beautifully contrasted with the green of the barley-field. Our line of battle was soon formed, and we deployed through the grain to turn their left, and cut them off from the mountains. A few shots, however, from the battery, showed them that they were observed; and countermarching in haste, they left their dead on the field. Thus ended our fight of Buena Vista. That night we stayed at Chalco.
“ The next day we made a long and toilsome march over a horrible road, through which, with the utmost difficulty, we dragged our wagons, by the assistance of both men and mules. The next was nearly the same, except that the road, if possible, was worse than before, as the Mexicans had blocked it
with large stones, rolled down from the neighbouring hills."*
The route thus laboriously traversed, lay on the left, along the base of a mountain range, whose sides, often precipitous, would have afforded an enterprising enemy frequent opportunities of annoyance, or the road itself might have been effectually obstructed by blocking up the way with rocks rolled from the summits of the hills, a task of easy accomplishment; for, on the right of the road, the ground was frequently marshy and insecure, and occasionally bounded by the actual waters of the lakes.
The bed of the road was covered with loose rocks and rugged land, and intercepted by ravines, over which, in many places, the artillery had to be dragged by hand; and slow, and painful, and fatiguing in the extreme, was the toil by which these difficulties over a circuitous route of twenty-seven miles were at length suc cessfully overcome.
On the 18th, all the divisions were again concentrated in the vicinity of San Augustine and the Acapulco road.
* Letter to the New York Courier.
CONCENTRATION UPON THE ACAPULCO ROAD.
By changing the line of march from the Vera Cruz or National Road to the Acapulco road, the formidable defences of the Peñon and Mexicalcingo were avoided altogether ; but there were yet many
fortifications to be turned, or taken by assault, and an army of thirty thousand Mexicans to be routed before either of the approaches to the capital would be open to the advance of the American troops.
The Defences around Mexico-National Road; El Peñon, Mexicalcingo-Aca
pulco Road; San Antonio, Churubusco, and Contreras—Toluca Road; El Molino del Rey, Chapultepec—Interior Defences-Position and Force of the Mexicans-Movement of Worth’s Division upon San Antonio-Reconnoissances across the Pedregal—Twiggs marches upon Contreras-Valencia's Fortifications -Indecisive Result of the Day-Smith bivouacs in the Village of ContrerasPerilous Position of our Troops- Victory of Contreras.
THE defences of the three great roads which approach the city of Mexico, were as follows:
On the Vera Cruz or National Road, was the mound of El Peñon with its three tiers of works, containing twenty batteries that mounted fifty-one guns, and commanding the causeway by which the Americans were expected to advance, and at its base were fifteen infantry breastworks. It was also, as we have seen, surrounded by a deep ditch filled with water, while the causeway beyond, though broad, was flanked to the right by the waters of Lake Tezcuco, and to the left by marshy grounds.
As there was a road turning off to the left of the National Road at Los Reyes, leading to a causeway at Mexicalcingo, five miles from the city, the approach to the capital in that direction was defended by eight batteries for thirty-eight guns, and one infantry breastwork; and the difficulty of an advance beyond, was still great, from the causeway being narrow, and flanked to the right and left by water.
The movement upon the capital by the National Road, either by storming El Peñon and following the direct route, or by passing to the left at Los Reyes and forcing the batteries at Mexicalcingo
DEFENCES OF MEXICO.
and the causeway beyond, was found too hazardous to attempt with so small an army, and was therefore most wisely abandoned.
The Acapulco road was then selected, as being protected by defences of somewhat inferior strength, and as affording a better opportunity for our troops to manæuvre with advantage.
The defences upon this road were those of San Antonio, Churubusco, and Contreras. San Antonio was a village approachable only in front by a causeway flanked by wet ditches or by difficult grounds, composing the outskirts of a field of broken lava, called the Pedregal.
Its works consisted of seven batteries for twenty-four guns, and two breastworks for infantry.
Churubusco was a strongly fortified hacienda, surrounded on all sides by a high and thick wall, within which was also a strong stone church.
In front of the hacienda, without the wall, and embracing two sides of it, was a field-work mounting seven pieces of cannon, which commanded the approach in all directions. Besides these, at a distance of five hundred yards, and directly across the causeway by which it is approached, was a tete-du-pont, or bridge-head, at the crossing of a canal: this was defended by a deep ditch, and mounted three large pieces of cannon.
To the left of San Augustine, and distant from it about four miles, was the hill of Contreras, a strongly fortified position commanding a difficult pass through which, by means of a cross road through San Angel and Cuyoacan, the fortifications of San Antonio might have been turned, and those of Churubusco more favourably approached. Upon this hill were twenty-two pieces of cannon, surrounded by a breastwork.
On the third approach to the capital, the Toluca road, where the mountains most closely approach the city, were the works of Molino del Rey, and the fortress of Chapultepec. The first consisted of the strong stone buildings of the maga
zine, called “ Casa Mata,” and the foundry of Molino del Rey, protected by a field-battery, the guns of Chapultepec, and infantry breastworks.
The second, of the hill of Chapultepec, crowned with the military college, an immense building well fortified; surrounded at its base by a thick stone wall fifteen feet high, protected at different points by seven batteries mounting nineteen guns, and seven infantry breastworks; and further defended by mines which perforated the hill in all directions, and by broad and deep wet ditches.
Such, then, were the exterior defences commanding all the approaches to the capital.
The interior defences, or those more immediately round the city, were of a slighter character, and consisted mainly of the narrow causeways flanked by water, or wet ditches, and upon which breastworks had been hastily thrown up. At the head of these causeways were the Garitas, or small forts immediately protecting the entrance to the capital.
Of the positions and force of the Mexican troops, by which these various works were to be defended, we shall now take occasion to speak.
General Valencia occupied the hill of Contreras with seven thousand men, the best and bravest of the Mexican army.
A corps of reserve, consisting of twelve thousand men under the immediate command of General Santa Anna, was stationed in front of the village of Contreras, an intermediate point between the hill of Contreras and Churubusco, and so situated as to be able to reinforce the one or the other as circumstances might require.
Three thousand troops under General Bravo garrisoned San Antonio, while at the hacienda and the tete-du-pont of Churubusco were from seven to nine thousand men under General Rincon.
On the 18th, Worth’s division and Harney's brigade of cavalry,