Battle of Monterrey
Captain William S. Henry
23 September 1846
From our camp we had the pleasure of hearing General Worth open upon the town from the castle about 7 o'clock. A report was circulated that the enemy were attempting to escape. The whole command was immediately under arms, and marched almost within range of the enemy's guns. So many commanding points were in our possession that we were momentarily in expectation of their capitulation. It was cheering to see Worth pouring it into them, and that, too, with their own pieces and ammunition. The rapid discharge of small-arms at the eastern end of the city gave notice that the engagement had again commenced. The regiment of Texas cavalry under Colonel Wood had dismounted, and, with the Mississippians under Colonel Davis were sharply at work. The Mississippians at daybreak took possession of Fort Diablo (from which we had received such a destructive fire on the 21st and 22d), without any resistance, the enemy having abandoned it, taking with them their guns during the night. General Quitman was in command. These troops fought most gallantly, driving the enemy before them from house to house, their rifles picking them off wherever a Mexican's body or head presented itself.
Bragg's battery was ordered into the city, and the 3d Infantry was ordered to support it. When we got within range of the guns of the citadel, the battery crossed the field of fire at full gallop; not one was injured. The 3d took a more circuitous route, and came up under cover. When we arrived the city had been cleared of the enemy on a line with and within two squares of the Cathedral which is situated in the main Plaza, and in which they had been concentrated. General Quitman, General Henderson, General Lamar, Colonel Wood, and Colonel Davis all displayed distinguished gallantry; several of their men were wounded, and some few killed. Bragg's battery and the 3d Infantry dashed in among them, and shared the fight for the remainder of the day. The firing was very severe, but nothing compared to that on the 21st, except at one street running directly from the Cathedral. To cross that street you had to pass through a shower of bullets. One of Bragg's pieces played up this street with very little effect, as the weight of metal was entirely too light. Sergeant Weightman, Bragg's first sergeant, worked his piece like a hero, and was shot through the heart while aiming his gun. The Mexicans whenever the piece was pointed at them would fall behind their barricade, and at that time we could cross without a certainty of being shot; as soon as it was fired, their balls (as if bushels of hickory nuts, were hurled at us) swept the street. Our men crossed it in squads. "Go it, my boys!" and away some would start; others would wait until the enemy had foolishly expended at space their bullets, and then they would cross.
General Taylor was in town with his staff, on foot, walking about, perfectly regardless of danger. He was very imprudent in the exposure of his person. He crossed the sreet in which there was such a terrible fire in a walk, and by every chance should have been shot. I ran across with some of my men, and reminded him how much he was exposing himself, to which he replied, "Take that ax and knock in that door." When we commenced on the door the occupant signified, by putting the key in and unlocking it, if we had no objection, he would save us the trouble. It turned out to be quite an extensive apothecary-shop. The proprietor, Doctor San Juan (there are more St. Johns in this country than stones), was a very respectable-looking Esculapius, and offered us some delicious, ripe limes and cool water. I took some of the former, but declined the latter, as it was hinted it might be poisoned. One of the men, not so sensitive, made himself a governor lemonade, and told me it was "first rate," and advised me to take some. The doctor said Ampudia was in the Plaza with four thousand men, and that two thousand were in the citadel. The house on the opposite corner had been broken open. It was a grocery store; in it the men found bread and other edibles. Bursting open another door, we came upon five rather genteel-looking women, with some children, and one or two men. They were on their knees, each with a crucifix, begging for mercy. As soon as they saw me, the cry was, "Capitano! capitano!" I reassured them by shaking hands, and, by the expression of my countenance, signified there was no danger. They appeared very grateful to find their throats were not to be cut. Although we are fiercely fighting, and the blood of our officers and men has freely flowed, yet not one act of unkindness have I heard reported as being committed by either regular or volunteer.
General Taylor, finding the field-pieces of little use, ordered us to retire to camp as soon as the volunteers had withdrawn. Their withdrawal was ordered upon the supposition that General Worth would commence throwing shells into the city in the afternoon. The mortar was sent to him yesterday. It was a difficult matter to get the volunteers out; they were having their own fun. The enemy sent in a flag of truce today, asking a cessation until the women and children could be removed. The general, of course, declined; such a degree of politeness should not have been expected at this late hour. The flag is a good symptom; their time is drawing near. I hardly think they will hold out another day. It is reported many were leaving the heights with pack-mules this morning. Had not General Worth taken possession of the Saltillo road, I question whether many would not have been off yesterday. Thus far they have fought most bravely, and with an endurance and tenacity I did not think they possessed.
On our march back to camp, I was very much amused at a remark of an Irishman: "Faith, boys, we have had a Waterloo time of it; three days' fighting! The French fought against the combined powers of Europe; we are the combined powers of Europe and America! We have a little of all among us, and the whole can't be bate!"
William Seaton Henry. Campaign Sketches of the War with Mexico. (New York: 1847), pp. 206-209.