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Monterrey Is Ours!

Monterrey Is Ours!: The Mexican War Letters of Lieutenant Dana, 1845-1847

Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Monterrey Is Ours!
    Book Description:

    "Here we are on the banks of the Nueces in the grand camp of the army of occupation." So wrote Lt. Napoleon Jackson Tecumseh Dana when in 1845, not many months before the outbreak of the Mexican War, he joined the white-tented encampment of General Zachary Taylor in Texas. And so he continued writing during the uncertain life of camp and campaign for the better part of the next two years. In these letters to his wife, published here for the first time, Dana provides a detailed, firsthand view of the United States' war with Mexico -- fighting off the Mexicans from within Fort Brown during the initial attack; hearing the distant thunder of artillery as Taylor's army marched to the rescue of the beleaguered Seventh Infantry; occupying Matamoros; taking Monterrey, street by street with the defenders firing from the housetops. After Monterrey, Dana was at the siege of Veracruz and on the march to Cerro Gordo. Badly wounded in the attack on Telegraph Hill at Cerro Gordo, he was left on the field for dead, but was rescued by a burial party a day and a half later. Following the Mexican War, Dana went on to become a major general during the Civil War and later to have an illustrious career as a railroad executive. Nearly one hundred of his letters about the Mexican War survived and are now in the archives at West Point. From them Robert Ferrell has edited this vivid, eyewitness narrative.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6136-5
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    Napoleon Jackson Tecumseh Dana—what a name, so fully reminiscent of his time!—was born in Eastport, Maine, on April 15, 1822, and died in this present century, July 15, 1905, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. His life thus bridged most of the nineteenth century, if one defines it historically, from the final defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo in 1815 until the First Battle of the Marne in 1914. Dana came from an illustrious family, the descendants of Richard Dana who settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1640. The Danas were lawyers, clergymen, poets, essayists, and novelists. Napoleon Dana was the...

  5. A Note on the Editing
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. 1 On the Nueces August-October 1845
    (pp. 1-21)

    The antecedents of the Mexican War of 1846-48 need no recital. Suffice it to say that during the presidential election of 1844, between the supposed dark horse candidate of the Democrats, James K. Polk of Tennessee, who had actually been a prominent member of the House of Representatives, having occupied the post of Speaker, and the Whig candidate Henry Clay of Kentucky, the issue became the annexation of Texas—which was likely to produce war with Mexico. The Texas issue was nothing if not complicated. The Mexican government claimed Texas as its rightful northern territory. Texas, however, had made itself...

  7. 2 Tedium October-November 1845
    (pp. 22-35)

    October 10 ✤ When I come home …, I shall want to kiss you all over, and won’t you let me do it? I know you will, for you told me on the steamboat you would do everything I want. May I kiss you over and over again on your lips, titties, belly, legs, and between them too? Yes, I must. Tell me, dear one, if I may.

    You don’t know how anxious I am lest you are in a delicate situation. Tell me all about it, Sue. It is possible that nursing may make your courses irregular, and they...

  8. 3 The Rio Grande April 1846
    (pp. 36-54)

    Sue’s melancholia became so great that Dana took a leave of absence and went back to Jefferson Barracks to see her. The cause of her troubles was perhaps nothing serious, quite possibly the result of her confinement and the birth of Mary, together with the miserable living conditions at the barracks, where she was unable to keep house and took meals with officers. For a young girl recently married, with her husband in Texas, it was too much. In a military sense the leave fortunately caused no difficulties. During the time Dana was away, nothing happened along the Texas border....

  9. 4 War April-May 1846
    (pp. 55-71)

    April 29 ✤ All goes on well here. True, the enemy are getting a little saucy and daring, but we will tell them a severe tale in a day or two if they stop to hear it. We cannot complain so far of them in the least, for they have as far as we can understand been remarkably kind and attentive to our people who are in their hands. They say that we entertain a very erroneous idea of them, that they are barbarous and cannot do a generous deed, but they mean to review their character. We will see...

  10. 5 Matamoros May-June 1846
    (pp. 72-90)

    May 14 ✤ We are all hearty and well this morning, my darling one, and nothing has occurred of the least interest since I finished my letter last night. The Mexicans kept up a great tolling of bells, blowing of trumpets, and beating of drums all night. I expect they are dreading lest any moment we will open our batteries on them and cross the river to take their town. They are hard at work trying to barricade their passages to the best advantage. But the general has two heavy mortars coming from Point Isabel, and when our big shells...

  11. 6 To Reynosa and Camargo June-August 1846
    (pp. 91-105)

    June 19 ✤ Since I last wrote you, dearest one, I have looked into a Mexican fandango. I heard that there was to be a “high-flung” fandango last Tuesday night, something extra above the ordinary things of the kind at which all the beauty and fine dresses and so forth and so forth were to appear. Well, I thought I would go over among the rest and take a look. So I went with Captain Ross, Porter, and Clitz.¹ I went in, and one look was enough for me. I remained about two minutes and declared my determination to come...

  12. 7 To Monterrey August-September 1846
    (pp. 106-121)

    August 9 ✤ General Taylor came up yesterday with his staff. I have not seen him yet but understand that he intends to move in three weeks on to Monterrey. The volunteers, I believe, are coming up from below both by land and water, and we shall soon have a large force here. We shall probably move on to Monterrey with a force of eight thousand men in the first column, about half regulars and half volunteers. We don’t know yet who will get there first, we or Paredes….

    The whole army is in fine health and spirits, that is,...

  13. 8 Monterrey Is Ours September-October 1846
    (pp. 122-139)

    September 24 ✤ Monterrey is ours.

    I can hardly describe to you with my pen what difficulties, dangers, and labors we have gone through to gain it. We have been fighting hard, hard for four days. The place is a second West Point in strength, and the Mexicans have defended it to the last, but we have fought them too hardly, and they were at last obliged to give in and capitulate. We have carried all their strong places by storm except two, and we have them now penned up in those with all our murderous weapons pointing them in...

  14. 9 Life in Monterrey October-December 1846
    (pp. 140-154)

    October 5 ✤ I am on guard today, my dearest wife, and in what time I am unemployed by my duties I will pick up snatches and employ them in talking to you.

    First, let me tell you how I am living just now. The day after the articles of capitulation were signed, General Worth’s division went into quarters in the city. The Fifth and Seventh Regiments took possession of two large, fine houses belonging to rich people who had probably gone into the country to wait till the fighting was over. But all the officers of our regiment lived...

  15. 10 The Long March December-January 1846-47
    (pp. 155-173)

    First halt out from Monterrey, December 13 ✤ We are playing “sodger” again at our [illegible] game, and it is really delightful for variety sake. It feels as if we had got out of a prison, getting out of the city.

    It is night here, a bright, starlit night. We have made our march, and all are resting from the fatigues of the day. But our company is on guard, together with a company of the rifles. There are four officers of us, so that we will only have to keep up three hours each. My watch is in the...

  16. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  17. 11 Tampico January-February 1847
    (pp. 174-184)

    Camp near Tampico, January 24 ✤ Yesterday I left a letter at the quartermaster’s office in Tampico for you. It contained a draft on Colonel Hunt for fifty dollars. It may be that the quartermaster has sent that letter in a sail vessel, and I understand that today theMassachusettsis to go with the regular mail. So I just write these few words for fear theM. might get first to New Orleans, and you would be disappointed if you did not receive a word. The letter I have sent by the quartermaster is one of two sheets, and...

  18. 12 Veracruz February-April 1847
    (pp. 185-200)

    February 20 ✤ It is just a year, dearest, since we embarked on board theHighlanderat St. Louis. What a different embarkation this is! We left our camp bag and baggage at eight o’clock this morning and marched through town with colors flying as usual, and we reached here after a tramp of seven or eight miles through the sand about one o’clock. And I acknowledge that I for one was pretty well tired. After we had been in camp some time and I had taken a nap, Whiting and myself took a nice bath in the sea, which...

  19. 13 Cerro Gordo April-May 1847
    (pp. 201-212)

    Second halting place from Veracruz, April 14 ✤ Here we are again on the march, and mighty hard marching it has been. The sun has been and must always be excessively hot in this climate, and we ought to do all our marching in the night. If we do march in the daytime, we must expect our men to break down, as they have been doing for the last two days. We have just strewed the road with men, and when we arrive at our halting place for the night, not two-thirds of the men are up.

    I would have...

  20. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 213-214)
  21. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 214-214)
  22. Index
    (pp. 215-218)