Battle of Huamantla.|
Battle of Huamantla.
[From the Baltimore Republican and Argus.]
Messrs. Editors--Having seen so many different versions of the battle of Huamantla, and the death of Capt. S. H. Walker, in the papers, I propose to give you a correct account of the battle and his movements, from the time he left Perote castle, under the command of Gen. Joseph Lane, taken from my Diary, kept at the time, I being a member of his company, and being in all his engagements with the enemy.
Respectfully, G. W. M.
PEROTE CASTLE, MEXICO.}
Oct. 5th, 1847. }
This morning, at 9 o'clock, we took up our line of March for Puebla. Capt. Walker was put in command of the mounted men, consisting of his own company, 75 strong, Captain Besancon's company 'A,' Louisiana Mounted Volunteers, Captain Lewis' company 'E,' Louisiana Mounted Volunteers, and Captain Loyall's company Georgia troop--two hundred in all. The whole force consisted of 3,500, under the command of General Joseph Lane, with a train of wagons, for the purpose of raising the siege of Puebla. We arrived at the town of Tafraewalthe, and encamped for the night.
Wednesday, Oct. 6th--At daylight the train got underway. Capt. Walker's company invariably in the advance, and arrived at the hacienda of Veareas and encamped for the night.
Thursday, Oct. 7th--At sunrise resumed our march; after proceeding about eight miles we came to a halt, as we espied on a hill to our right a body of lancers. We expected to have an engagement but were disappointed, for they moved off over the mountain. We then proceeded on our march, and arrived at the town of Corpeastla, and a halt was also given here so as to enable the train to keep together, it raining very heavy at the time, and afterwards proceeded to a hacienda, San Antonio Samaris, about two and half leagues from the town of Nopaluca, and encamped.
Friday, Oct. 8.--Gen. Lane sent a spy to the town of Huamantla, at night he received information that Gen. Santa Anna had gone thither during the day.
Saturday, Oct. 9--This morning saddled up at 7 o'clock, cleared and inspected arms, and ammunition issued to all requiring it. Sent on sergeant and twelve men to the town of Nopaluca where it was thought information of a large party of Mexican troops might be obtained. Party returned in due time, bringing the alcalde of the place. The spy also returned, and reported that the cavalry of the enemy had left the town of Huamantla, leaving behind six pieces of artillery. Orders were immediately issued for the cavalry under Capt. Walker, Col. Gorman's regiment of Indiana volunteers, Major Lally's battalion of infantry, Col. Wynkoop's regiment of Pennsylvania volunteers, Captain Taylor's battery of artillery, Captain Heintzleman's battalion of U. S. Infantry, to be in readiness to march, as light as possible, for the town, with about 1,100 men and two pieces of artillery, under the command of Col. Brough of the Ohio regiment of volunteers.
At 11 o'clock the whole moved off in fine style. The cavalry, under the command of the gallant Walker, 197 men all told, were ordered to keep some distance in the advance. We had gone about six miles, when Captain Walker resolved to push on at a gallop and surprise the enemy. For five miles the cavalry moved on at a rapid pace, until we reached the outskirts of the town, when Captain Walker gave orders to form fours and close up. He then entered a very narrow lane, both sides of which were lined with very thick maguey plants, so narrow in a number of places, that the sets of four had to be broken, and the column moved by twos. We went at a trot until the lane opened into the main street leading to the Plaza. When in columns of fours, the order was given to draw sabres, and "charge." Here rose a wild yell, and such a charge--the flashing of the sabres, the thundering of the horses feet over the paved streets, were enough to strike terror into the hearts of the enemy. Two of their cannon were pointed up the street, another pointed down a cross street, and the fuse was burning in it. The terrified artillerymen moved merely to the side of the houses, at whom our men made their thrusts, right and left cuts, killing many in this manner. Our cavalry rushed over the cannon. The lancers, about 500, fled. We pursued them beyond the town, where a good many were killed. Capt. Walker went some distance beyond the town for the purpose of overtaking the artillery, which had left the place. Capt. Besancon, of the Louisiana mounted volunteers, was ordered to follow the road, to see if the artillery could be overtaken.--In the meantime, the most of our men having gone in pursuit, Capt. Loyal, of Georgia, with a few men, secured some fifty or sixty prisoners at their quarters, together with their arms, etc.--We captured three pieces of cannon, the six pounder we carried to the Plaza.
Lieut. Anderson, of the Georgia troop, with six or eight men, pursued and captured Major Iturbide, Col. La Vega, brother of Gen. La Vega, and a Lieutenant. These he delivered to Captain Walker. He then sent small parties out in different directions, to reconnoitre, and as soon as they heard the bugle sound, to make for the Plaza. We had not proceeded more than two or three squares, before the enemy made their charge upon us, with the whole body of the lancers. It was a splendid sight, to behold, they being well mounted and handsomely equipped. We were now completely hemmed in, for every street was blocked up with them, leaving us to our own resources, being considerably in advance of the infantry and artillery. Here the men were ordered to dismount and occupy a convent yard, together with a large house on the corner of the square, where a portion of our men were posted. The remainder, under Captain Walker, took post in the yard of the Convent, defending the entrance, where a six pounder was placed, but by some mismanagement, the piece could not be got off. The battle raged with fury for some time, our men doing considerable execution among the enemy, and suffering some loss.
At this juncture, Captain Walker, while examining the approach of the enemy for the third and last time, and looking at the fourteen pounder of the enemy that was firing at us on our right, moved out of the gateway, and was in the act of turning to give orders about the six-pounder, when he was shot from a house that displayed a white flag. He sank down upon his knees, striking his forehead against the ground. He was immediately taken up by his men and borne into the yard, and laid by the door of the convent, the men bursting into tears as the cry spread among them: "Captain Walker is killed!" The ball entered under the right shoulder, and came out through his left breast. He lived about fifteen minutes. His last words were, after giving his pistols to one of his company--"Boys, fight to the last--I am dying--do not lose time in attending to me--but never surrender this place as long as there is one of you living!" We defended our position for upwards of an hour, when the remainder of our force under General Lane, came up and dispersed the enemy then remaining about the town.--We now searched the town for our missing, and had the melancholy satisfaction of finding the dead bodies of several; some we did not find. The body of Capt. Walker was conveyed with military honors to a carriage, by the Pennsylvania regiment, under the command of Col. Wyncoop, who had formerly been at variance with Capt. Walker, and who, on viewing the dead body of the captain, burst into tears, and exclaimed, "I would give six years of my existence to have spoken with Capt. Walker before he died." The Colonel was not the only one that shed tears, but nearly every one did the same, for Capt. Walker was a man universally beloved. No one out of our company could imagine the loss we sustained. He was a father to us in his care, and one of the very best I have met with in my walks through life. Often would he be up two-thirds of the night, when we were on a scout, to see if his men were comfortably quartered, and the horses taken care of, and in the morning he would be as fresh and vigorous as any of those who had slept undisturbed all the night. I only wish the people of the United States had known him as we did. He was every thing we could wish; he was brave in battle, and with all, merciful. He preserved a number of lives at this battle of Huamantla, when he fell mortally wounded, by crying out to his men, "Spare that man," whenever he saw a Mexican hold up his hands for quarter. We destroyed a great quantity of arms and ammunition belonging to the enemy, and then returned to our camp after night, carrying with us our dead and wounded.
Sunday, Oct. 10th.--The greater part of our company were sent out after the missing Infantry; and after proceeding several miles we returned with them to camp, a squadron of lancers appearing in view during our march. On arriving at camp, the bodies of Capt. Walker and others were buried, the proprietor of the Hacienda giving security that the bodies should not be disturbed until called for by the Americans.
G. W. M., "Battle of Huamantla," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, Tuesday, 3 December 1850, p. 4.