MEXICAN-AMERICAN WARTHE MEXICO CITY CAMPAIGN.
"I AM AFRAID DEAREST YOU WILL TIRE OF THIS CONSTANT RECITAL OF WARLIKE MATTERS, BUT I THOUGHT IT WOULD INTEREST COMING FROM AN EYE WITNESS WHO RELATES ONLY FACTS...."
WOODBRIDGE, FRANCIS. 1816-1855. 66 Autograph Letters Signed ("Frank") and 1 Autograph Document Signed ("Francis Woodbridge"), 371 pages recto and verso, 4to (conjoined leaves, many with franked integral address leaves), various places (Bellevue OH, Louisville, New Orleans, Tampico, Vera Cruz, Tepeyahualco, Puebla, Mexico City, Tacubaya, Jalapa, and camps and transports in these environs), December 11, 1846 to July 11, 1848, to his wife, Eliza Cass Woodbridge, two pen and ink sketches showing troop placement in a battle on the road to San Antonio (one of these with a pencil sketch on verso), occasional losses where seals opened and a very few closed tears and areas of fading, some modern pencil emphasis marks, but overall in very fine condition.
EXTENSIVE EYE-WITNESS ACCOUNT OF GENERAL WINFIELD SCOTT'S MEXICO CITY CAMPAIGN BY AN AMBITIOUS LIEUTENANT. Woodbridge wrote detailed, emotive and open letters to his young wife at home in Detroit. His correspondence totals nearly 400 pages, densely packed with information on troop movements, life in camp, battle scenes, impressions of Mexico, political griping, personal views on the war, et cetera. It provides a narrative of the journey down the Mississippi, impressions of Cleveland, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, delays in outfitting, a first glimpse of Mexico, speculation on the reasons for the war, the possibility of privateers, impatience for General Scott's arrival, a description of Tampico, an American flag replacing a statue of Santa Anna, camp rumors, leaks to the press, a detailed description of General Scott rallying the troops, the treatment of local civilians, the effects of cannon fire on the men, the fall of Vera Cruz and the Castle of San Juan d'Ulloa, thirsty marching, the battle of Cerro Gordo, amputations, description of Tepeyahualco, the cold at high elevation, geologic observations, hospitable reception in Puebla, Santa Anna's resignation of the Presidency, guerrilla attacks, entry into Mexico City and the advent of peace, description of Tacubaya, arrangements for sending daguerreotypes, and plans for settling in Mexico, all interlarded with dozens of informative anecdotes. Many of the letters bear rare cancellation marks, including the stamp of the Mississippi steamship Peytona, dated Christmas Eve, 1846, upriver from Memphis and several little-known Mexican cancellations.
Tampico, Feb 9, 1847: "A vessel containing some 400 Louisiana volunteers had been wrecked about 35 miles south of here. They saved the tents and some of their baggage with only 80 effective muskets for the use of the whole command. Soon after landing they found themselves surrounded by about 1000 Mexicans commanded by General Cos who sent them a summons to surrender with a promise of fair treatment and every luxury they could imagine. Fortunately they were commanded by an officer who had been in the army: he requested until 9 o'clock next morning (this was at 4 in the afternoon) to decide. About this time an express arrived from John Miller with the intelligence that he was within 20 or 25 miles of them with 40 men and provisions. Upon the receipt of this intelligence Col. DeRussy ordered a candle to be placed in each tent, the baggage to be buried, and off they started leaving General Cos to catch them if he could. I presume it was a specimen of 'tall walking' that night. When they joined Miller most of their muskets had been thrown away or broken and the prevailing idea seemed to be every man for himself.So much for volunteers, composed of the very best material yet without discipline, they cannot be depended on in desparate circumstances."
Tampico, Feb 15, 1847: "I have just heard that Santa Anna has possession of the whole plan of the coming campaign taken from an officer, whom they murdered, who was taking it to General Taylor from General Scott. The officer, Lt. Richlin, was in a small town near Monterey, he left his party and went a short distance down a street to purchase forage ... As he did not arrive at General Taylor's Head Quarters, inquiries were made, and a Mexican informed them that he had been lassoed and murdered and conducted them to a field where his body was found stripped and dispatches gone, probably ere that time with Santa Anna."
Woodbridge gives detailed information on the eve of the Siege of Vera Cruz as to brigade orders and artillery placement, specifying that "the following is for you and those that you can trust.It is from orders and I would not therefore give it publicly ... I hardly know what I have written, I have been hurried so by the continual cry of hurry hurry the mail is waiting or rather ready, for General Scott waits now for on one" (Off Lobos Island, Ship Main of Bath, Feb 28, 1847).
Ship Main, between Lobos and Anton Lizardo, Mar 3, 1847: "General Scott, Com. Connor, and their respective staff, went yesterday in a steam boat reconnoitering, while laying to about a mile and a half from the castle, examining it and the city they were fired upon from the castle! ... They say the General was in ecstasy at hearing the sound of shot fired in earnest, rubbing his hands and saying it was the first time he had heard the like since 1814."
Describing the first major amphibious landing in U.S. History: Camp, about 3 miles from Vera Cruz, Mar 13, 1847: "Early Tuesday morning boats were along side to put us on board the Frigate Raritan for conveyance to Sacrificios where we were to land in surf boats prepared and sent here for the purpose. We arrived off here about 2pm all got an board the boats and landed in fine style about dark. It was truly an exciting scene to see 4 or 5 thousand men rushing ahead all anxious to be the first to land while they were entirely ignorant whether they were to be opposed or not ... They had made preparations to oppose us at Anton Lizardo, but we disappointed them by coming here. Had they opposed our landing we must have met with great loss of life as we were obliged to come in boats and the beach is surrounded by hills on which cannon could have been placed to great advantage. Even Miss Katy could have reached us from there...." As it was they saw limited fire and one friend was killed. He continues with speculation on how long the siege will take and an account of cutting of Vera Cruz's water supply. Three days later Woodbridge has greater time and writes a 12-page letter which includes a blow-by-blow description of events on the day of the landing (March 9) and the very early morning of March 10 when some advance parties were fired upon.
Battle of Cerro Gordo: Castle of or de San Carlos de Perote, Apr 23, 1847: "Santa Anna, foreseeing how matters were going, made his escape leaving his state carriages and military chest containing between 30 and 40,000 dollars which we captured. The officers who took the carriage found in it Santa Anna's luncheon and being hungry made a hearty meal from it, a different use from what the Mexican Napoleon imagined would be made of it in the morning. Santa Anna was confident of defeating us, he had made all his preparations and to look at the pass it seems really wonderful we were not all cut to pieces."
Index of letters available on request.