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    Winfield Scott writes from Mexico City during the final days of the Mexican War

    Winfield Scott Letter Signed. Three pages, 8.25" x 10.5", "Head Quarters of the Army, Mexico [City]," December 2, 1847. General Scott, often regarded as one of the most effective officers in U.S. history, writes Commodore William B. Shubrick, "U.S.N. Comdg. Pacific Squadron, Mazatlan, Mexico," only weeks after the general marched into Mexico City and only days after the commodore captured Mazatlan. This letter is toned with a tear above, though not effecting, Scott's signature. Minor text loss where the seal was originally broken.

    Scott opens the letter by congratulating Shubrick on his recent victory: "I have had the honour to receive your letter, dated at Mazatlan, the 16th ultimo, & am happy to learn that our Pacific squadron, under your command, has, among other important points, captured Mazatlan, Guaymas, &, I suppose, San Blas." The general continues by explaining his own future course of action, as well as suggesting that Shubrick's squadron may be needed to blockade other "principal ports of the Pacific":

    "I have been waiting here, two months & a half to learn the views of the government at home --, or at least for the arrival of reinforcements, before undertaking any new & distant operation. The forces I had, under my orders, in the whole of this Republic, except the troops immediately under Major General Taylor, only gave me the means of occupying Tampico, Vera Cruz, Puebla, Chapultepec & this capital until recently. We entered this city with a fraction less than 6,000 men the morning of September 14. About the 25th of that month, Major General Patterson arrived at Vera Cruz with some - 4000 men, & Major General Butler followed with as many more. I learn that another 8,000, may be expected, at the same port, in the next five or six weeks - making, in all, 16,000 men. . . . Both of those Major Generals have been delayed - one at Jalapa, & the other at Vera Cruz - probably by the want of means of transportation. When they may be expected here, after establishing the new garrisons on the route, I am unable, at this time to say. . . . According to intimations, from the War Department, which may be changed on receiving late dispatches from me, I shall, in proportion to the arrival of reinforcements, occupy, successively, the principal mining districts of which Zacatecas & San Luis de Potosi are the respective centres; next the state-capitals within my reach & surplus means - all with a view to internal trade & the revenue that may be derived therefrom, to aid in the payment of the expenses of the occupation - that is, should the government decide upon covering the country in order to force this Republic to sue for peace, & we now have in Mexico, no minister or commissioner (since the recall of Mr. Frist) to negociate [sic] a treaty. To effect that object, by occupying the sources of trade & revenue - the mining districts, & principal cities, including state capitals & ports of entry, at least 50,000 men in the ranks - not on paper - the number I have asked for - will be indispensable. With that number I may be able to send garrisons to the principal ports of the Pacific. In the meantime, I can only suggest, if the latter cannot be occupied, that they be blockaded, by your Squadron."

    Earlier in March 1847, General Scott's army of 12,000 landed at the Mexican port of Veracruz to begin an invasion of Mexico. Scott became an American hero (and the military governor of Mexico City) when he captured the Mexican capital in September, a monumental American military achievement which insured a speedy end to the war. Two months after this letter was written, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed. At the start of the war, Commodore Shubrick was given command of the Pacific naval forces. In April 1847, he led a blockade of Mazatlan, which he finally captured in mid-November 1847.

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    October, 2010
    23rd Saturday
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