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SKIRMISH AT THE PASO DE OVEJAS.
To restrain the depredations of the guerrilleros, it was deemed advisable to obtain possession of the National Bridge. Colonel Hughes was despatched for that purpose with two pieces of artillery, and some companies of infantry. He succeeded readily in dislodging the enemy, and by his promptitude held them in check in that vicinity. Soon after his occupation of the place, his command was strengthened by some recruits for the 2d infantry, which were brought up by Captain Heintzelman. The captain left Vera Cruz on the 11th of September with a battalion of six companies, and a train of wagons with provisions and money for the army. On reaching the Paso de Ovejas, about nightfall, he anticipated an attack from the enemy, and placed sentinels around his camp, and posted a picket of forty men upon the heights to prevent any sudden surprise.
During the night the enemy made a descent upon them, drove in the party posted upon the heights, and poured a destructive fire into the camp which disconcerted the raw troops. Captain Hays, who had seen considerable service, perceived the danger of leaving the enemy in possession of the heights, and advanced to dislodge them from their position. He took with him about two hundred men, and after a sharp conflict, in which many of the enemy fell, succeeded in repelling them and regaining the lost position. Checked by the loss which they met, the enemy fell back and did not again attempt to molest the picket, which was now reinforced to the number of a hundred. This was the first conflict in which the battalion was engaged, and the result in killed and wounded evinced their bravery under a first fire, while it afforded an opportunity to its newly-appointed surgeon, Dr. R. T. Spence, for the exercise of his skill and humanity.
In the morning the army proceeded onward, and reached the National Bridge; from which place it did not move until the 25th, when it proceeded on with the army of General Lane, of
Indiana. It had arrived from Vera Cruz on the 23d, and consisted of twenty-eight hundred infantry, horse, and artillery.
In the mean time, Lally, who had reached Jalapa, did not venture out upon the road, but remained at that place until the arrival of Lane with his command.
Thus, by active parties of guerrilla bands, the road between Vera Cruz and Puebla was continually infested, and no one could travel without a powerful escort. The most active and daring of the partisan leaders of these bands was Father Jarauta, a priest, who had laid aside the pastoral crook of the ministry of peace for the sword of strife and the sanguinary spear.
American Army in Mexico-Quitman appointed Governor-Scott's General Orders
-A Contribution levied on the Capital-Arrangement of the Troops-Difficulties of General Scott-Approach of Reinforcements-Establishment of new Posts along the line-Peace Prospects—Circumstances favourable to NegotiationMexican Prisoners-Correspondence between the Archbishop of Mexico and General Scott-Arrival of Reinforcements-Assessment of the Mexican States Contemplated Operations-Condition of General Santa Anna-Increase of the Peace Party-Election of Herrera-Negotiations-Recall of Scott.
The American army having at length obtained undisputed possession of the city of Mexico, General Scott established his head-quarters at the National Palace.
His first act was to issue an order, dated September 14th, cautioning his troops against excesses of every kind, and urging the importance of the strictest military discipline. By the same order Major-General Quitman was appointed civil and military Governor of the city.
On September, the 16th, he promulgated a second order, in which he « calls upon his brethren-in-arms to return, both in public and private worship, thanks and gratitude to God for the signal triumphs" which he had vouchsafed to the American arms. In this order, he reiterates the necessity of the strictest discipline, lest the discomfited enemy, reuniting with the populace, should attempt to make himself once more master of the capital.
The following day he caused to be republished, with additions, the General Orders of February 19th, 1847, declaring martial law, and sing a contribution of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars upon the city of Mexico, to be paid by the corporate
authority in four weekly instalments of thirty-seven thousand five-hundred dollars each.
Of this levy, twenty thousand dollars were appropriated to the purchase of extra comforts for the wounded and sick, ninety thousand dollars to the gratuitous distribution of blankets and shoes among the rank and file, and forty thousand dollars reserved for other military purposes."
On the 18th of September the army was ordered to be quartered over the city as early as practicable, in the following manner:
• The first division on or near the direct route from the gate of San Cosmé, towards the Cathedral, and extending a little beyond the east end of the Alameda.
« The second division about the Plaza Mayor, extending towards the gate of San Lazaro, or the Peñon.
( The third division on or near the direct route from the gate of Peravilla, or Guadaloupe, towards the Cathedral.
The volunteer division on or near the direct route from the gate of San Antonio, towards the Cathedral.”
On each of these gates a competent guard was ordered to be detailed from the respective divisions, protected by two pieces of artillery.
From this time, up to the second week in October, General Scott was busily engaged in preparing his despatches, detailing the operations around the capital. This appears to have beenparticularly at this time—a task of great labour. Not only were discrepancies to be reconciled, and errors corrected, but the more delicate office of discriminating between rival claims, and awarding to each gallant soldier his due share of honour, imposed the necessity of much material investigation. These labours resulted, as is generally the case, in the disappointment of many aspirants for military fame.
As if to imbitter still more this unpleasant state of feeling, the
* General Orders, 287.
PROSPECTS OF PEACE.
republication of some letters from the United States, professing to give an account of the battles of the 19th and 20th of August, and most unjustly claiming for Major-General Pillow the chief honour of those victories, widened the breach between the General-in-chief and some of his nearest subordinates, and led to charges and recriminations as dangerous to the “ morale” of the army, as they were injurious to its efficiency.
By the middle of October, having learned unofficially that reinforcements ranging in number between four thousand and seven thousand men, were on their route from Vera Cruz towards the capital, General Scott issued a circular to the commanders of posts along the line, directing three military posts to be established between Vera Cruz and Jalapa, the regarrisoning of the latter city with twelve hundred men, and the garrison at Puebla to be strongly reinforced. The line of communication was still further strengthened by the establishment of a new post at the pass of Rio Frio, about midway between Puebla and the city of Mexico.
Nothing now remained to be done until the arrival of additional troops at the capital. In the meantime, the duties of the military and civil government of the city were ably fulfilled by MajorGeneral Quitman.
The most perfect order was rigorously maintained, and a quiet courtesy and decorum strictly enforced towards the citizens generally. By this generous course of conduct, the wealthy were induced to return to the homes they had timidly abandoned, and the customary pleasures and avocations of a luxurious city were resumed, with a spirit and confidence which the presence of the American flag floating from the walls of the national palace seemed rather to heighten than subdue.
The prospects of peace, however, were still clouded. Some faint hopes, indeed, were entertained from the Congress about to assemble at Queretaro, but the elements of discord among the