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The Mexican War
(Pioneer History of Indiana)
IN THE MEXICAN WAR
In 1800 Moses Austin went to Texas
and from that time to 1820 was engaged in lead mining. While at
Bexar, Texas, at one time he met with the Mexican Governor of that
province and they became good friends. He often applied to the
Governor for concessions which amounted to a large territory of land
where the city of Austin, Texas, now stands, and received permission
from the Governor to colonize his new possessions with people from
the United States, consisting of three hundred families. Austin
started this work, but before he had the settlement completed he
died, and his son, Stephen Austin, was made head of the Texan
colony. Though much annoyed by Indians, he was very successful in
his colonization scheme and received a great many accessions,
amounting to many times more families than the agreement between him
and the Texas Governor specified. There were so many Americans, they
concluded to form a government for themselves, making such laws as
would be suitable for their interest.
In the spring of 1833 they called a convention and framed a
code of laws and adopted them without paying any attention to the
Spanish population. They sent a commission to the City of Mexico,
asking the Mexican Government to ratify their actions. Mexico was at
that time in a revolution and paid but little attention to the
commission, While in Mexico, Austin sent a letter back to Texas
telling the Americans to organize all of their settlements and form
a State. For this advice the Mexican authorities made him a take
command of his army, while he (Austin) went to United States as a
commissioner for the purpose of creating an interest among the
people to espouse the cause of the Republic of Texas, which had
adopted the “Lone Star" the emblem of the Republic.
Austin did not succeed in his mission as well as expected. He
returned to Texas in 1836 and died very soon afterward
After the death of Austin there was no head of Texan army: The
members of the provincial government held a meeting and elected
Houston as Commander-in-’of the Texan army. Soon after this he
received a letter from Travis from the Alamo notifying him that they
besieged by a large army of Mexicans. On the sixth of March a letter
received from Colonel Travis was read in the convention and was the
last express which ever left the Alamo. Houston, with a small force,
immediately start reinforce the besieged army, but when he arrived
there the Alamo had fired its last gun and its brave defenders had
their fate, among whom were some men of national reputation
Soon after this, Houston, with his army, was attacked by a well
appointed army under General Santa Anna at San Jacinto. After a
desperate battle, the Americans fighting the enemy ten to one,
routed the Mexican army and captured Santa Anna and his chief
officers. An agreement was with Santa Anna and his officers, who
were prisoners, the Mexican army should evacuate Texas, and the
independence of the Republic of Texas was granted by the fallen
chief of the Mexican army. The Mexican Congress ignored the action
of Santa Anna and its provisions were left unratified on the
part of Mexico, but the action of the Mexican Republic after having
to submit to the heroic soldiers of Texas, was recognized by the new
Republic of Texas was recognized by many nations, and subsequently
by an annexation became a part of the United States. This action
enraged the Mexican people and they sought by many means to annoy
the people .of Texas, which had become part of the United States.
President James K. Polk, being aware of the trouble in Texas by the
threatening attitude of Mexico, sent General Zachary Taylor, in
command of a small army, into the southwest and to post his army in
Texas on the Mexican border. At the same time the American war
vessels were sent to the Gulf of Mexico.
In November, 1846, General Taylor had taken his position at Corpus
Christi, Texas, with about four thousand men. He was ordered to
advance his force to the Rio Grande. Accordingly he proceeded and
stationed himself on the north bank of that river within cannon shot
of the Mexican town of Matamoris. General Taylor had actually
invaded the Mexican territory.
INDIANA OFFICERS IN THE MEXICAN WAR.
First Regiment—Colonel, James P.
Drake; Lieutenant— Colonels, Henry S. Lane, Christian C. Nave;
Major, William Donaldson; Surgeon, Caleb V. Jones; Assistant
Surgeon, William Fosdick; Adjutant, William E. Pearsons.
Second Regiment—Colonels, William A. Bowles, Joseph Lane;
Lieutenant-Colonel, William R. Haddon; Major, James A. Cravens;
Surgeon, Daniel S. Lane; Assistant Surgeon,
John T. Walker; Adjutants, Lucien Q.
Hoggatt, David C. Shanks.
Third Regiment— Colonel, James H. Lane; Lieutenant- Colonel, William
M. McCarty; Major, Willis A. Gorman; Surgeon, James S. Athon;
Assistant Surgeon, John D. Dunn;
Adjutants, Herman H. Barbour,
Fourth Regiment—Colonel, Willis A. Gorman; Lieutenant-Colonel,
Ebenezer Dumont; Major, William W. McCoy; Surgeon, Isaac Finley;
Assistant Surgeon, J. M. Brower; Adjutants, Edward Cole, Martin M.
Fifth Regiment— Colonel, James H. Lane; Lieutenant-Colonel, Allen
May; Major,-John M. Myers; Assisant Surgeons, Philip g. Jones, R.A.
McClure; Adjutant, John M. Lord
(From the history of the Mexican War by Gen. Cadmus M. Wilcox)
The brilliant career of General Taylor and his many victories over
the Mexicans will be left for the reader to find in the histories of
the United States.
The United States declared war with Mexico in May, 1846. Placing
$10,000,000.00 at the President’s disposal, authorizing him to
accept 50,000 volunteers. The greater part of the summer of 1846 was
spent in preparations for war, it being resolved to invade Mexico at
It was during Governor Whitcomb’s administration that a call was
made for five regiments of infantry to serve for three years or
during the war. The record made by the sol¬diers of Indiana in that
war was honorable. General Joseph Lane, the commander of one of the
regiments, was made a Brigadier-General and by brevette a
Major-General for gallantry, and after returning home was made
Governor of the State of Oregon. He was elected United States
Senator from that State for one term, and in 1860 was nominated for
Vice President on the ticket with John C. Breckinridge from Kentucky
for President. He died in 1881.
In the first of 1848, on the part of the United States, war with
Mexico was brought to a close. The President of the Mexican Congress
assumed provincial authority and on February 2d that body at
Guadalupe Hidalgo concluded peace with the United States. With
slight amendments, that treaty was ratified by the Senate of the
United States on the 10th of March and by the Mexican Congress at
Queratero on the 30th of May. President Polk on the 4th of July
following proclaimed peace. The Americans, under the terms of the
treaty, were to evacuate Mexico within ninety days of that date and
paid the Mexican Government $3,000,000.00 in cash and $12,000,000.00
in three annual installments and assumed debts for $3,5O0.O00.00
more, due from Mexico to American citizens. These payments were made
in consideration of new accessions of territory, which gave the
United States not only Texas, but Arizona, New Mexico and Upper
California. The war had cost the United States, approximately.
$25,000.000.00 and 25,000 men.
While these negotiations were under way, Colonel Sutter had begun
the erection of a mill at Calona, on the American branch of the
Sacramento river. On the third day of January one of his hands,
named George Marshall, who was engaged in digging a race-way for the
Colonel’s mill, found a metal which he had not seen before. On
testing it, he found that it was gold. This was sent to Sacramento
and tested and found to be pure gold.
As soon as these discoveries became known, throughout the country
there was a great emigration started for that part of California,
and in a short time after that they were arriving in vast multitudes
from all parts of America and from many places in foreign countries.
Many thousands crossed the great western plains and the Rocky
mountains with ox teams and on foot, and yet many more thousands
crossed the Isthmus of Dairen. All of these emigrants encountered
extreme difficulties before they arrived in that far off country.
While these emigrants were arriving, there was a steady procession
of ships full of emigrants, provisions and supplies passing around
the horn and up the coast of South America and Mexico to the
Eldorado. In less than two years the population of California
increased 100,000, and still they were coming in vast numbers.
During these exciting days from 1848 to 1852 there were more than
4,000 strong and sturdy men from Indiana who went to seek their
fortunes in California. Many of them underwent great privations and
many others lost their lives in encounters with the wild savage on
the plains. In the latter part of the fifties, the old
“forty-niners” who had gone to California from Indiana were found in
every town, mining camp and on many ranches in California and
Nevada. Many of these men were successful in their search for gold,
and the powers and every part of Indiana has men yet or can recall
those who returned home with a competency and invested their means
in farms or business ventures, while perhaps a majority of those who
went from Indiana were unsuccessful or spent their hard earned means
in dissipation or gambling, as every other house in the towns of
California and Nevada in that early day was a gambling den
This new acquisition of Territory opened the slavery question, in
which Governor Whitcomb expressed himself as opposed to any further
extension of slavery. Governor Whitcomb’s administration was in the
interest of good government, and his wise actions in the affairs of
State did much to redeem the public credit, and his management of
the compromise where the State turned over the incomplete public
works in payment for claim.; against the government, was so well
managed that the State was again placed upon sound financial footing
in the nation. Governor Whitcomb in December, 1848, was elected to
represent the State in the United States Senate, and
Lieutenant-Governor Paris C. Dunning was Acting Governor until
December, 1819, when Joseph A. Wright was inaugurated. During his
administration the incomplete public works which the State retained
were again pushed forward with vigor.
In 1850 Governor Wright endorsed the compromise measure on the
slavery question, and in his message that year said: “Indiana takes
her stand in the ranks not of southern destiny nor yet of northern
destiny. She plants herself on the basis of the Constitution and
takes her stand in the ranks of American destiny.”
It was during his administration that the second Constitutional
Convention was held and a new Constitution adopted. Governor
Wright’s administration ranks with the best of Indiana's Governors.
During the time he was Governor many important measures were placed
on solid footing that have proved a great blessing to Indiana. The
free school system, by enactment of the new Constitution, was
started on its great mission of usefulness.
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