Today’s installment concludes Scott Captures Mexico City,
our selection from a special article to volume 17 of the book Great Events by Famous Historians by John Bonner.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of seven thousand words. Congratulations! For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
Previously in Scott Captures Mexico City.
Maddened by the recollection of the murder of their wounded comrades at Molino del Rey, the stormers at first showed no quarter. On every side the Mexicans were stabbed or shot down without mercy. Many flung themselves over the parapet and down the hillside and were dashed in pieces against the rocks. More fought like fiends, expending their breath in a malediction, and expiring in the act of aiming a treacherous blow as they lay on the ground. Streams of blood flowed through the doors of the college, and every room and passage was the theatre of some deadly struggle. At length the officers succeeded in putting an end to the carnage; and the remaining Mexicans having surrendered, the Stars and Stripes were hoisted over the castle of Chapultepec by Major Seymour.
Meanwhile Quitman had stormed the batteries on the causeway to the east of the castle, after a desperate struggle in which Major Twiggs, who commanded the stormers, was shot dead at the head of his men. The Mexicans fell back toward the city. General Scott, coming up at this moment, ordered a simultaneous advance to be made on the city, along the two roads leading from Chapultepec to the gates of San Cosme and Belen, respectively. Worth was to command that on San Cosme, Quitman that on Belen. Both were prepared for defense by barricades, behind which the enemy were posted in great numbers. Fortunately for the assailants an aqueduct, supported by arches of solid masonry, ran along the center of each causeway. By keeping under cover of these arches, and springing rapidly from one to another, Smith’s rifles and the South Carolina regiment were enabled to advance close to the first barricade on the Belen road, and pour in a destructive fire on the gunners. A flank discharge from Duncan’s guns completed the work; the barricade was carried; and without a moment’s rest Quitman advanced in the same manner on the garita San Belen, which was held by General Torres with a strong garrison.
It too was stormed, though under a fearful hail of grape and canister; and the rifles moved forward toward the citadel. But at this moment Santa Anna rode furiously down to the point of attack. Boiling with rage at the success of the invaders, he smote General Torres in the face, threw a host of infantry into the houses commanding the garita and the road, ordered the batteries in the citadel to open fire, planted fresh guns on the Paseo, and infused such spirit into the Mexicans that Quitman’s advance was stopped at once. A terrific storm of shot, shell, and grape assailed the garita, where Captain Dunn had planted an 8-pounder. Twice the gunners were shot down, and fresh men sent to take their places. Then Dunn himself fell, and immediately afterward Lieutenant Benjamin and his first sergeant met the same fate. The riflemen in the arches repelled sallies; but Quitman’s position was precarious, till night terminated the conflict.
Worth meanwhile had advanced in like manner along the San Cosme causeway, driving the Mexicans from barricade to barricade, till within two hundred fifty yards of the garita of San Cosme. There he encountered as severe a fire as that which stopped Quitman. But Scott had ordered him to take the garita, and take it he would. Throwing Garland’s brigade out to the right and Clarke’s to the left, he ordered them to break into the houses, burst through the walls, and bore their way to the flanks of the garita. The plan had succeeded perfectly at Monterey, nor did it fail here. Slowly but surely the sappers passed from house to house, until at sunset they reached the point desired. Then Worth ordered the attack. Lieutenant Hunt brought up a light gun at a gallop, and fired it through the embrasure of the enemy’s battery, almost muzzle to muzzle; the infantry at the same moment opened a most deadly and unexpected fire from the roofs of the houses, and M’Kenzie, at the head of the stormers, dashed at the battery and carried it almost without loss. The Mexicans fled precipitately into the city.
At one that night two parties left the citadel and issued forth from the city. One was the remnant of the Mexican army, which slunk silently and noiselessly through the northern gate, and fled to Guadalupe-Hidalgo; the other was a body of officers who came under a white flag, to propose terms of capitulation.
The sun shone brightly on the morning of September 14th. Scores of neutral flags float from the windows on the Calle de Plateros, and in their shade beautiful women gaze curiously on the scene beneath. Gayly dressed groups throng the balconies, and at the street-corners dark-faced men scowl, mutter deep curses, and clutch their knives. The street resounds with the heavy tramp of infantry, the rattle of gun-carriages, and the clatter of horses’ hoofs. “Los Yanquies!” is the cry, and every neck is stretched to obtain a glimpse of the six thousand bemired and begrimed soldiers who are marching proudly to the Grand Plaza. On him especially is every eye intently fixed, whose martial form is half concealed by a splendid staff and a squadron of dragoons, as he rides, with flashing eye and beating heart, to the National Palace of Mexico. But six months before, Winfield Scott had landed on the Mexican coast; since then he had stormed the two strongest places in the country, won four battles in the field against armies double, treble, and quadruple his own, and marched without reverse from Vera Cruz to the City of Mexico; losing fewer men, making fewer mistakes, and creating less devastation, in proportion to his victories, than any invading general of former times. Well might the Mexicans gaze upon his face!
This ends our series of passages on Scott Captures Mexico City by John Bonner. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
We want to take this site to the next level but we need money to do that. Please contribute directly by signing up at https://www.patreon.com/history