Stonewall Jackson Papers. 1847 April 22
Mexican War

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Date: 1847 April 22
Item: Letter
To: Laura Jackson Arnold
From: Thomas J. Jackson
Place: Jalapa, Mexico
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Jalapa Mexico
April 22d 1847

Dear Sister I promised in my last that I would give you a more detailed account of Mexico in a subsequent letter. I will now endeavor to comply with that promise. In doing so I will first state in general terms that the portion of Northern Mexico which has fallen under my observation is mostly a vast barren waste cities excepted. There are but two seasons in Mexico wet & dry. In consequence of the drought there is but little vegetation in the north. A person in traveling through this sterile portion of country would not suppose that the country inhabitants were able to pay their taxes. But in the cities it is different. There wealth is frequently found one person residing in Saltillo is said to own a larger area of land than the state of New York.

But passing to the south the aspect of things change. You frequently {see} elegant buildings in the country. Genl Santa Anna owns between this place & Vera Cruz 5 beautiful houses and a tract of land about fifty five miles in length. The country in the south is very similar to our own. Whilst I was in Monterey my quarters were in the outskirts of the city having a large back lot attached which contained beautiful orange orchard. Also in this lot was a fine bathing establishment the dimensions being about 25 by 30 ft. Monterey is the most beautiful city which I have seen in the North of this distracted country.

About 50 miles farther west is Saltillo the capital of Coahuila. Its [height] is about 2000 feet above the level of Monterey on an inclined plane at the edge of the table lands. The houses are generally built of sun dried brick as are most of the houses in that region. The church is the most highly ornamented on the interior of any edifice which has ever come under my observation. On entering this magnificent structure we are struck with the gaudy appearance on every side but most especially the opposite end which appears to be gilded with gold. At the bottom is a magnificent silver altar and on each side are statues which can not fail to attract the attention of the astonished beholder. The music is of the highest character. The priests are robed in the most gaudy of apparel. The inhabitants take off their hats on approaching the church and do not replace them until past it. One day whilst I was near the building I observed a señora (lady) gradually approaching the door on another occasion I saw a female looking at a statue and weeping like a child. Such is the superstition of this race.

After obtaining a [limited] transportation for General Twigg's division it set forward for Jalapa on the road leading to the city of Mexico. But on arriving near Cerro Gordo we learned that General Santa Anna held the pass in force consequently we waited for reinforcements which finally arrived and on the 17 Inst we attacked the Mexicans but did not succeed in routing them completely until the 18th when we took some thousand prisoners and completely routed the remainder. We followed close on the retreating column until night and came near enough to give the retreating enemy a few shots from the battery. But they succeeded in effecting their escape for want of our dragoons. General Scott after disarming the prisoners allowed them to retire the officers on [parole]. But General La Vega who is again our prisoner refused to except of his and I presume that he will be sent back to the U.S. Our loss has been considerable but not known neither is the Mexican. General Santa Anna escaped but in his haste left us his carriage & together with some thousand dollars in specie.

General Twiggs' division has fought the battle. General Worth has again got a division but he did not get it into action owing to its being used as a reserve and General Twiggs' as the advance. Capt Taylor in his report to General Twiggs has spoken of me in very flattering terms. I am now in Jalapa which is situated about 60 miles from Vera Cruz and 195 from the city of Mexico. General Worth is now in advance and if there is any fighting at Perote he will be apt to distinguish himself. He will probably be in the vicinity of Perote tomorrow at farthest and possibly today. It is rumored here that the Mexicans are fortifying their capital if so then we may have the grand battle there. A Mexican officer came here last evening from the city of Mexico and stated that his father had written to him from San [Louis] stating that General Taylor was there & had met with no opposition.

I can say no more as I have just learned that the escort by which I wish to send this has started because I must mount my horse & over take it or miss a good opportunity. I am in better health than usual.


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