Earliest Image of Corpus Christi, 1846

English text



The print attached to this notebook depicts the encampment of the American troops at the site of  Corpus Cristi, and we thought that it would be of interest to our subscribers.  Our newspaper should not, being purely picturesque, get involved in any political business, so we will only report the facts.

After the American House of Representatives and Senate declared the Republic of Texas annexed to the United States, in April of 1845, the executive gave the order, and troops started to set up lines along the borders of Canada and the Missouri River, and to disembark in small batches on the Texas coast, to defend a territory already belonging to the American Union.

The rest of the year they executed military operations, with such luck, that in February of the present year of 1846, a thick line of more than three thousand men, with competent artillery and cavalry, had been assembled.

During that time, and to prevent the projected addition of a strong party from Texas, General Herrera’s cabinet, also called the “December 6th Cabinet,” began  diplomatic negotiations, with the ministers of France and  England, and Capt. Elliot of the English Marines, was the one who actively toured Texas, the United States and Mexico, trying to thwart the goals of the Washington cabinet; but this diplomacy was totally unsuccessful and the French and English governments endured the most cruel sarcasms and the harshest mockery by the American press.

As to General Herrera’s administration, it was overthrown by the same troops that he had limited in the interior, to obtain, by force, a more advantageous peace.  It has been said that the American government was offering fifteen million pesos to settle the issue.

Once the following administration took over, it adopted a completely opposite policy, refusing to enter into a dispute with the American Minister, Mr. Slidell, who had remained in Jalapa.  And once his passport was issued and he sailed  to the United States, the American army took on a more imposing stance, receiving artillery, reinforcements, supplies and ammunition by sea,  and setting up camp in Corpus Cristi.

Corpus Cristi is an insignificant spot, situated on the seashore and the northern tip of the laguna madre that forms the Bay of Brazo de Santiago to the south.  It has a few wood frame houses; and the town is situated between the Bravo and Nueces rivers.  Consequently it is exposed to attacks by barbarians, and constantly threatened by the American army, situated on the border, it has never been able to progress.  Two Americans, named Kinney and Aubry, have remained at a ranch since the retreat of the first army that was dispatched over Texas, dealing in contraband and playing the role of double agents.  Due to General Taylor’s poor location in Corpus Cristi, he moved his camp to the edge of Santa Isabel situated to the N.N.W. of the lagoon, and that also forms Bravo Bay, and advancing to the edge of the river, across from Matamoros, he set up fortifications.

Under the direction of General Almonte, General Ampudia had marched with a force of about three thousand men.  Later Mr. Mariano Arista was named general in chief and by joining the forces of Ampudia with the ones from the previous army, a battery of under five thousand men was formed.

General Torrejon crossed the river with the cavalry, and during the first skirmishes and confrontations, good fortune was with the Mexicans, and the invading army saw itself compromised and almost perished.

General Arista crossed with the infantry and artillery, and on the 8th day of May was fought a bitter battle in which over one thousand cannon shots were fired by both sides.  Night separated the combatants and Taylor retreated to his entrenchments.  This action was at the point named Palo Alto.  The next day General Arista wanted to block the enemy’s crossing, which was a road and  narrow trail, and the first moments of the action indicated a happy ending; but the high caliber bullets did great destruction on the infantry, and the left wing was disbanded.  An enemy  cavalry column advanced over the artillery and took ten pieces.  Then the infantry lost its footing and was disbanded. General Arista, who was signing some orders in his tent, mounted his horse, positioned himself at the head of the cavalry and repeatedly charged the enemy to protect the retreat of the infantry, and that night he re-examined the river.

Over one thousand five hundred men, including dead, injured and scattered were lost during this action.  General Arista’s tent, papers and luggage fell into enemy hands and General D. Romulo Diaz de la Vega was taken prisoner and was shipped to Orleans, where he has received many courtesies from his enemies due to his courage and good behavior.

As the food was becoming scarce, and as Matamoros is not a city of any means, the Army prepared to leave.  Also, there was not sufficient war ammunition, nor the forces staying behind were large enough, so the Army abandoned the city on May 17th.  The Army, followed by more than two thousand women and children, arrived at the city of Linares after a shameful march through sixty leagues of desert.

The Americans flow to our border like herds of hungry wolves, and we do not know what will be the fate of our unfortunate country.  Until now misfortune has oppressed us, and when this article is published in the capital, perhaps other adverse events will have occurred..    ------P

Source: Revista Cientifica y Literaria de Mexico, 1846

Translation and Transcription:   Rosa G. Gonzales


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