Night still overhung the east when the Mexicans were roused from their slumbers by the roar of Huger’s 24-pounders, and the crashing of the balls through the roof and walls of the Molino.
Continuing Scott Captures Mexico City,
our selection from a special article to volume 17 of the book Great Events by Famous Historians by John Bonner. The selection is presented in seven easy 5 minute installments. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
Previously in Scott Captures Mexico City.
On the evening of September 7th Worth and his officers were gathered in his quarters at Tacubaya. On a table lay a hastily sketched map showing the position of the fortified works at Molino del Rey, with the Casa Mata on one side and the castle of Chapultepec on the other. The Molino was occupied by the enemy; there was reason to believe it contained a foundry in full operation, and Worth had been directed to storm it next morning. Over that table bent Garland and Clarke, eager to repeat the glorious deeds of August 20th at the tête de pont of Churubusco; Duncan and Smith, already veterans; Wright, the leader of the forlorn hope, joyfully thinking of the morrow; famous Martin Scott, and dauntless Graham, little dreaming that a few hours would see their livid corpses stretched upon the plain; fierce old M’Intosh, covered with scars; Worth himself, his manly brow clouded, and his cheek paled by sickness and anxiety. Each officer had his place assigned to him in the conflict; and they parted to seek a few hours’ rest.
At half-past two on the morning of the 8th the division was astir. ‘Twas a bright starlight night whose silence was unbroken as the troops moved thoughtfully toward the battlefield. In front, on the right, about a mile from the encampment, the hewn-stone walls of the Molino del Rey — a range of buildings five hundred yards long, and well adapted for defense — were distinctly visible, with drowsy lights twinkling through the windows. A little farther off, on the left, stood the black pile of the Casa Mata, the arsenal, crenelled for musketry, and surrounded by a quadrangular field work. Beyond the Casa Mata lay a ravine, and from this a ditch and hedge ran, passing in front of both works, to the Tacubaya road. Far on the right the grim old castle of Chapultepec loomed up darkly against the sky. Sleep wrapped the whole Mexican line, and but few words were spoken in the American ranks as the troops took up their respective positions: Garland, with Dunn’s battery and Huger’s 24-pounders, on the right, against the Molino; Wright, at the head of the stormers, and followed by the light division under Captain Kirby Smith, in the center; M’Intosh, with Duncan’s battery, on the left, near the ravine looking toward the Casa Mata; and Cadwallader, with his brigade, in reserve.
Night still overhung the east when the Mexicans were roused from their slumbers by the roar of Huger’s 24-pounders, and the crashing of the balls through the roof and walls of the Molino. A shout arose within their lines, spreading from the ravine to the castle; lights flashed in every direction, bugles sounded, the clank of arms rang from right to left, and every man girded himself for the fray. With the first ray of daylight Major Wright advanced with the forlorn hope down the slope. A few seconds elapsed; then a sheet of flame burst from the batteries, and round shot, canister, and grape hurtled through the air. “Charge!” shouted the leader, and down they went, with double-quick step, over the ditch and hedge, and into the line, sweeping everything before them. The Mexicans fell from their guns, but soon, seeing the smallness of the force opposed to them and reassured by the galling fire poured from the azoteas and Molino on the stormers, they rallied, charged furiously, and drove our men back into the plain. Here eleven out of the fourteen officers of Wright’s party, and the bulk of his men, fell killed or wounded. All of the latter who could not fly were bayoneted where they lay by the Mexicans.
Captain Walker, of the Sixth, badly shot, was left for dead; he saw the enemy murdering every man who showed signs of life, but the agony of thirst was so insupportable that he could not resist raising his canteen to his lips. A dozen balls instantly tore up the ground around him; several Mexicans rushed at him with the bayonet, but at that moment the light division, under Kirby Smith, came charging over the ditch into the Mexican line and diverted their attention.
Garland meanwhile moved down rapidly on the right with Dunn’s guns, which were drawn by hand, all the horses having been wounded and become unmanageable. These soon opened an enfilading fire on the Mexican battery; and some of the gunners flying, the light division charged, under a hot fire, and carried the guns for the second time. Their gallant leader was shot dead in the charge. But the enemy could afford to lose the battery. From the tops of the azoteas, from the Casa Mata and the Molino, a deadly shower of balls was rained crosswise upon the assailants. Part of the reserve was brought up; and Dunn’s guns and the Mexican battery were served upon the buildings without much effect at first. Lieutenant-Colonel Graham led a party of the Eleventh against the latter; when within pistol-shot a terrific volley assailed him, wounding him in ten places. The gallant soldier quietly dismounted, pointed with his sword to the building, cried “Charge!” and sank dead on the field.
As fiercely raged the battle at the other wing where Duncan and M’Intosh had driven in the enemy’s right toward the Casa Mata. M’Intosh started to storm that fort, and, in the teeth of a tremendous hail of musketry, advanced to the ditch, only twenty-five yards from the work. There a ball knocked him down; it was his luck to be shot or bayoneted in every battle. Martin Scott took the command, but as he ordered the men forward he rolled lifeless into the ditch. Major Waite, the next in rank, had hardly seen him fall before he too was disabled. By whole companies the men were mowed down by the Mexican shot; but they stood their ground. At length someone gave the word to fall back, and the remnants of the brigade obeyed. Many wounded were left on the ground; among others Lieutenant Burnell, shot in the leg, whom the Mexicans murdered when his comrades abandoned him. After the battle his body was found, and beside it his dog, moaning piteously and licking his dead master’s face.
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