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nexation of Texas, seem determined to maintain as the line that shall mark the division between Mexico and her lately rebellious and troublesome province.
The advocates of Texas, in their anxieties for uniting her destinies to the Union, have deemed it a measure that should cost nothing but a few words, in the shape of enactments, in congress assembled at Washington. But the devel. , opment is yet to be made. The Mexicans may be a people which the U. S. Government may affect to despise, in their apparently low ebb of power, and internal dissensions, and the poverty of their treasury. But the love of country glows at least in the speeches of their chief men, and loud indignation towards their neighbors of the north. The United States Minister has been sent home, the great unacknowledged. An army has been gathered on the frontier of the Mexican boundary ; and battle and blood may be nearer at hand than the peaceful speech-makers suppose, who seem to think war an impossibility, with so grand a nation as the great and powerful United States. Great and powerful the United States most surely are. And a people, too, blessed in their public institutions, and domestic resources, and privileges, far beyond most other people of the earth. But there is a retributive justice, which the hand of heaven sometimes metes out, on nations as well as on individuals. And if we will remain a great and happy people, it behooves the rulers of our nation, in our legislative councils, to pursue the line of justice and morals. The ill-fated Mexico is at this moment lying beneath the frown of the Eternal, it would seem, for the high-handed course which their progenitors pursued in subjugating a peaceful and apparently an innocent and happy people. And under the apology of a hateful system of religion, misnamed the Christian, with the cross of the merciful and tender-hearted Jesus as the emblem borne on their standards, they sacrificed thousands and hun
dreds of thousands of the population, while trampling the rightful possessors of the country under their feet as their conquerors, and beneath their still severer cruelties as the inquisitors of the Church. The destiny of a people, so offend . ing, seems to me to be legibly written, in the indistinct but certain loomings up of the onward in the future of their history; and that destiny is—DISMEMBERMENT AND CESSATION TO BE! May our own government take warning, and let justice and moderation attend on her counsels.
BATTLE OF THE BRAVO DEL NORTE.
Thus had I written, and thus was I ending the preceding section, while our fleet was anchoring off the Brazos de Santiago or the Arms of Saint James—a few miles north, and in full view of the mouth of the Rio Bravo del Norte. We had been at anchor but a few moments, when the news spread through the ship that hostilities, if not already commenced, could not long be delayed ; and that a small party of our troops had been surprised and taken. The U.S. brig Lawrence was lying off the mouth of the Bravo del Norte, blockading the river, and her captain, Commander Mercer, was already aboard of us, and detailed the news. A vessel had been dispatched to Vera Cruz for our squadron, and our arrival was most opportune. Had it been on the evening previous, we should have found General Taylor, with most of his army, at Point Isabel, which he had left the afternoon before our arrival, which was on Friday morning, the 8th of May. This Point Isabel is a fortification, constructed by General Taylor for the reception of his army, on his vacating his encampment at Corpus Christi, and for a depot for the provisions of “ The Army of Occupation," having advanced by order of the Government to the river Bravo as the southern boundary between Mexico and Texas, that lone star, which yet is destined to make many a heart lonelier
still in the bereavements which the fortunes and the incidents of war bear in their desolation and havoc to the widowed and the orphan. This point is in full view of our ships, but some five miles from them, projecting into the lagoon or lake, which is a beautiful body of water, entered from the sea by a narrow pass, called the Brazos de Santiago, or Arms of St. James.* A small steamer was soon discovered coming out to us, through this narrow pass, from the lagoon, and also, a small boat, which, ere long, hailed us, saying that an officer from the fortification at Point Isabel wished to speak to the Commodore ; and soon a boat sent from the frigate to the sail-boat, brought him aboard of us. His long beard would have graced the chin of the profoundest Turk; and it seemed not so much out of keeping with the times here, for they find us amid the associations of a border war, and on Texas grounds, with the sound of cannon from the battle-field, just booming on our ears. Indeed, before this officer had left the frigate, the report of artillery came off to us, distinct and frequent, awaking the greatest interest on board, and an eagerness of solicitude for all the intelligence that could be communicated. The amount of this intelligence was, that General Taylor had left Point Isabel the preceding evening, with a large train of baggagewagons, laden with provisions for the army, and attended by the main body of his forces, amounting to about twenty-five hundred men. He had, a few days previously, left his entrenchments on the north bank of the Rio Bravo del Norte, opposite Matamoras, where he had constructed a fortification, and committed it to a force of five hundred men for its defence, while, with his main force, he marched back to Point Isabel, for provisions for his army. The Mexicans, it was known, had collected in considerable
* See the Frontispiece.
force at Matamoras, amounting, it was supposed, to the number of 7000 men. And when General Taylor had taken up his line of march but for a short distance from his encampment opposite Matamoras for. Point Isabel, the Mexicans at Matamoras opened their fire upon the American fortification. This cannonading was heard by General Taylor as he continued his march, while it awakened his anxiety to the highest pitch for the safety of this force of 500 men, which he had left for the defence of the entrenchment. Whether it had fallen or not, it was now difficult for him to ascertain, as the main force of the Mexicans had crossed the river, soon after he had taken up his line of march, that they might cut off his return, and by a sudden attack, with their overwhelming numbers, destroy the American army. In this emergency, a dragoon of General Taylor's army, well mounted, undertook to ascertain if the American fortifica. tion opposite Matamoras still held out. If it did not, but had been forced to capitulate, General Taylor felt his position to be such, that he would not attempt to move back until he should be reinforced. But this courageous horseman, finally, after periling his life, and making many narrow escapes, came back to General Taylor, who had now reached Point Isabel, with the acceptable intelligence, that the fort still maintained its hold, and had silenced the Mexican batteries at Matamoras. Thus relieved and encouraged, General Tay. lor, on Thursday evening, the 7th of May, commenced his march back from Point Isabel, with his heavy train of bag. gage-wagons, and all the available force he could command, after leaving a small body of troops for the defence of Point Isabel, where the provisions for the army were in depot. His force now mustered about 2100 men, on whom he felt he could fully rely; but it was still a small army, to meet a body of Mexicans, presumed to be six or seven thousand strong, and well equipped, with artillery, and a body of a thousand cavalry