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CAPTURE OF FORT ITURBIDE.
No sooner was the landing effected, than the enemy abandoned the position of Calmena," and fell back to a breastwork nearer the city, where Colonel Hidalgo had stationed himself in force.
The naval army, led by the gallant commodore in person, moved forward over a narrow trail, preceded by a pioneer party under Lieutenant Maynard. The distance to be traversed was about seven miles. The route lay for the most part through dense chaparral, with occasional cane-brake and marshy ground.
About one o'clock, the advance came within sight of Hidalgo's breastwork at Acachapan. This was a strong position, defended by cavalry and infantry, and strengthened by a battery mounting two guns. Here the enemy opened a harmless fire at long range, which being returned by the field-pieces under Mackenzie, Hidalgo was soon thrown into confusion; and the men, dashing forward with loud shouts, possessed themselves of the work just as the last of the enemy
had evacuated it. The command was now halted to refresh. An hour previous to this, the steamers had been seen to pass up the river, and firing was afterwards heard in the direction of the city. This soon ceasing, it was conjectured that the city had surrendered; a supposition which was verified some three hours later by discovering the American flag displayed from the walls of Fort Iturbide, a work of considerable strength, erected on the skirts of the city, and commanding a long reach of the river below.
It was now ascertained that the Scorpion, having no boats in tow, passed the Spitfire and was the first to come within range of the guns of the fort.
The steamers soon silenced the fort, and when the Mexican flag was hauled down, the Scorpion passed up and received from the alcalde an offer for the surrender of the city. In the mean time, as the enemy had treacherously reopened a fire from the fort
upon the Spitfire, Lieutenant Porter was despatched with a small force to storm the work. This duty was gallantly performed,
and resulted in driving the enemy, and capturing two brass fieldpieces and three long 28-pounders, with a considerable quantity of small arms and ammunition.
No sooner had Perry entered the city with his command, than, stationing the artillery and marines in the plaza, so as to command the principal streets, he drew off the rest of his men and quartered them on board the steamers for the night. At eight o'clock on the morning of the 17th, the colours of the United States were hoisted over the city of Tabasco, and a national salute fired.
The armory and magazine were then taken possession of by one detachment, while another party under Captain Mackenzie, dismantled Fort Iturbide, and removed the large guns to the river ready for embarkation. The arms were burnt; and the captured powder, not being of good quality, was destroyed, together with the magazine.
The next day, the mud walls of Fort Iturbide were mined and blown
up, and then, the object of the expedition being successfully accomplished, the flotilla prepared to return, leaving Commander Van Brunt to hold possession of the city, with the bomb brig Etna, the steamers Spitfire and Scourge, and a detachment of seventy marines.
Consequences of he Occupation of the Capital-Condition of the Mexican Government-Disorganration of its Army-Santa Anna retires to Guadaloupe Hidalgo - Circular of Señor Alcorta to the Commandants-General-Resignation of the Presidency by Gene al Santa Anna-His Letter to the Mexican People-Circular of Señor Pacheco-Reasons for abandoning the Capital--The future intentions of the Government developed--Santa Anna sets out for Puebla-Reflections upon his Reverses.
The occupation of the capital by General Scott was an event from which the peace party in Mexico were soon to reap the most beneficial results.
The advocates for a contimiance of the war still, indeed, predominated, both in numbers and in authority, but day by day the chiefs of this faction found their adherents grow more lukewarm, as their confidence of redemption by means of the national prowess gave way before the stern reality of the Anglo-Saxon conqueror quietly reposing himself in their very midst, and by his lion port frowning down all opposition.
It was now for the first time that the government began to feel the effects of its own treachery in regard to the unfortunate armistice. Grown bold in the strength of the defences by which the capital was surrounded at all points, and fully aware that the final struggle must take place long before any additional troops could arrive to strengthen the meagre force of their antagonist, the Mexican rulers were so inflated with the hope of a final and glorious success that the possibility of so disastrous a contingency as the loss of their capital seems scarcely to have been entertained at all. 62
When, therefore, it was found that the heroism of the Americans, rising with the occasion, had forced all the obstacles to the city, and at length penetrated the city itself, the government dispersed in dismay, and all concert of action was lost in the general confusion that ensued.
Of that boasted army, which on the morning of the 12th of September numbered upwards of twenty thousand nen, within two days afterwards a few fragments alone remained; and though the defection was glossed over in the official reports, and the disorganization systematized into imaginary divisions under different military chiefs, it was well known that the orderly retirement from the capital degenerated into a complete rout, long before the remains of the panic-stricken troops reached the appointed place of rendezvous.
At Guadaloupe Hidalgo, General Santa Anna concentrated about his own person the few cavalry that yet were faithful to their colours. From this place also, the government commenced the first of a series of spasmodic efforts, ostensibly to sustain the fagging zeal of its adherents, but in reality for the purpose of retrieving its own waning popularity, and of defending the General-in-chief from the fierce denunciations by which his civil policy and military skill had been relentlessly assailed.
On the 14th of September, Señor Alcorta, immediately after reaching Guadaloupe Hidalgo, addressed a circular to the commandants-general of the departments, in which he informed them that, after the events which had taken place, it was found necessary to abandon the capital in order that other means might be adopted and pursued for harassing the enemy.
He further notified them that the General-in-chief was still firmly resolved to prosecute the war, and, whatever might be the consequences, to wage it by all possible means; expressing at the same time a hope that each commandant would endeavour to preserve and reanimate the public spirit in his particular depart
SANTA ANNA'S LETTER TO THE MEXICAN PEOPLE.
ment, in order that the war might be carried on with that vigour and energy so imperiously demanded by the national honour.
But the fatal reverses which had attended his efforts to beat back the invaders, had so weakened the popularity of the Mexican chief, that, foreseeing he should be unable to control the storm of indignation now boldly launched against him, General Santa Anna sought to shield himself from its fury by formally resigning, on the 16th of September, the presidency of the republic. By the same document he transferred the executive power into the hands of General Herrera and Señor Alcorta, and appointed Queretaro as the seat of government, subject to the decision of the National Congress, which was then about to meet.
On the same day he addressed the following letter to the Mexican people :
“ The President of the Integral Republic of Mexico to his fellow
countrymen : “ With the most poignant and profound grief do I announce to you that it was after repeated and extraordinary efforts, and after fifteen hours' incessant fighting, I saw myself under the necessity of abandoning the capital, with my ranks considerably thinned by the projectiles of the enemy, which penetrated our nearest lines, strewing the way with their bodies and with those of the noble Mexicans who so gloriously defended, inch by inch, the rights and honour of their country.
“ You have been witnesses that I have created resources at a time when there were none ; that I laboured day and night; that I erected fortifications around Mexico; that I organized and assembled a powerful army, in order that I might wrest some favour from fortune, which has been so adverse to us.
“ The insubordination of one general subverted my entire plan of operations—a thing which you already know. In the convent and bridge of Churubusco the enemy received some very severe