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Cheer up, the worst is yet to come. PHILANDER CHASE JOHNSON Scott fully understood the danger of his position. Even if his army succeeded in procuring food and other staples from the surrounding countryside , everything else had to pass along the road from Veracruz—the replacements for soldiers whose terms of enlistment expired; the reinforcements to maintain and then to expand the size of his force; the cartridges, shells, and powder for his weapons; and the money to fund his operations. He acknowledged the “danger of having our [supply] trains cut and destroyed by the exasperated rancheros, whose houses are thinly scattered over a wide surface, and whom it is almost impossible, with our small cavalry force, to pursue and to punish.” Given that menace, he faced “the consequent necessity of escorting trains seventy odd miles up, and the same down, with a meager cavalry that must from day to day become, from that intolerable service, more and more meager.”1 Barely two months after Scott penned those words in April 1847, the partisans had developed into a force so formidable that the task of escorting a single major general, John Anthony Quitman, from the forward lines SUCCESS, FRUSTRATING SUCCESS Levinson_Wars_text_new_WarsLayoutNew4.11.05 10/18/13 2:08 PM Page 43 back to Veracruz proved beyond US capabilities. Scott ruefully acknowledged to Secretary of War William Learned Marcy that “at that time, (end of May and beginning of June), it was impossible to send Major General Quitman in safety to his new division, (understood to be on the Rio Grande frontier) inasmuch as 1,200 or 1,500 men would have been necessary to escort him, and I have not had the means of sending a detachment down to Vera Cruz [sic] since that time.”2 US Army records detailed continuing light corps attacks during that month. On June 4, 1847, a supply convoy under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James S. McIntosh left Veracruz with 128 wagons and 688 men. The partisans attacked this convoy three times on June 6. On the following day, McIntosh halted the column at Paso de Ovejas and requested reinforcements, having lost twenty-four wagons (12 percent of the total) and having taken twenty-five casualties. When 500 reinforcements arrived on June 11 under the command of Brigadier General George Cadwaladar, the convoy’s soldiers successfully attacked the National Bridge at a cost of thirty-two dead and wounded. They then proceeded to La Hoya, where the guerrillas attacked them on June 20 with a force that Cadwaladar estimated to consist of 700 men.3 A Mexican account of the same attack also notes the loss of twenty-four US wagons. However, this record cited additional US losses of 417 cargo mules and 114 [mule] carts.4 A third account confirms these additional losses.5 The original escort and the reinforcements for this particular convoy totaled 1,188 soldiers, which was very close to the estimate of 1,200 given by Scott in his explanation to Marcy.6 In July 1847, another supply convoy departed Veracruz with a far larger escort than its predecessor. Led by General (and subsequently President) Franklin Pierce, this train included 2,500 troops, 100 wagons, 700 mules, 44 Wars within War Levinson_Wars_text_new_WarsLayoutNew4.11.05 10/18/13 2:08 PM Page 44 and $1 million in specie. Some 1,400 Mexicans attacked this convoy at the National Bridge, killing thirty US soldiers. Pierce then returned to Veracruz for artillery and additional troops and then set out for Puebla. During the same month, a Mexican military officer’s summary of the battle claimed that the light corps killed an additional sixty soldiers in various actions between Santa Fe and Paso de Ovejas.7 These attacks took place in spite of the fact that some partisan units found their scope of action limited by shortages of materiel. For example, toward the end of July 1847, the Santa Fe–Paso de Ovejas command reported that it had exhausted all of its supplies and that the morale of its troops suffered as a consequence.8 On July 12, 1847, partisans also attacked a US column at the Ules River near the village of Huejutla (de Reyes) in northeast Hidalgo. In this confrontation, 550 members of the national militia ambushed a column and forced it to retreat. Although Lieutenant Colonel José María Mata did not state the size of the US force he attacked, he reported that his militia captured sixty loaded mules...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780875655727
Related ISBN
9780875653020
MARC Record
OCLC
60718455
Pages
216
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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