November 5, 1845 Article 3


From the Army in Texas

Correction of an Official Misstatement


Corpus Christi, Texas, Oct. 18, 1845.


Messrs. Editors — In the Daily Picayune of the 18th of September, you have copied, under the head of “U. S. Artillery,” an explanatory article from the official organ, “the Union,” enlightening the country on the subject of the organization of the artillery of our army, and accounting for the official blunder committed by those whose duty it was to have supplied Gen. Taylor with that most essential arm, on his first advance to this country.  With your permission I desire to correct one of the misstatements of that article, and to place the responsibility of the neglect where it belongs.


The Union says:

“Our artillery regiments are not armed as field artillery, and were never meant to be, in the whole, so armed.  They are armed (the regiments, except one company in each,) and always have been, as infantry, serving in the fortifications with heavy guns.  They are called artillery in the law and are meant for garrisons to the sea-coast fortifications.  We have four regiments of this artillery, or forty companies.  If these were all field artillery, they would require 240 field pieces, guns and howitzers – field artillery sufficient for an army of 210,000 men, according to the rule which prevails in modern armies.  This, though a preposterous force of artillery, if armed as field artillery, for any army the United States can ever maintain or send into the field, is much too small for complete garrisons for our forts on the sea coast and lake frontiers.  These forts, when completed, are estimated to mount 6800 heavy guns.  The four regiments of artillery contain, rank and file, as we see from the Army Register, 2168 men – less than one man to three heavy cannon.  In time of war this force would be increased; but it is not meant even to garrison the great part, be employed for that purpose; and it is certainly the best and most useful employment for that force.  We shall, however, have in each garrison a disciplined, well-instructed body of artillerists, for the more difficult duties at the guns.  This statement shows the purpose of that part of our army called artillery.  Of this, four companies are by law equipped as field artillery, with guns and horses.  Four such companies have been ordered to Texas.  The other twelve artillery companies sent thither are armed and instructed as infantry; and of course are without “guns” – that is, “field cannon.”  The new papers which have commented upon this matter may now understand it.”


In the first place it is apparent to any one at all acquainted with the subject that some official dignitary, other than the editor of the organ, either wrote the above article, or furnished the matter in systematic and detailed form.  The whole of that part relating to the organization of our artillery is scrupulously correct, but the assertion as to the quantity of field artillery ordered to Texas, and the plea intended to be conveyed by that part of the article, is not only absolutely incorrect in itself, but conveys, in connection with the other parts of the article, an impression totally erroneous, and shifts heavy responsibilities from guilty to innocent shoulders.


The comments which have been made by the newspaper press on the subject were based on facts, and they justly reflected on the proper authorities for a gross and criminal neglect.  It is literally true that Gen. Taylor arrival here without a single piece of artillery, and was six or seven weeks without it, except that promptly supplied him by Gen. Gaines, from your city, on learning his destitution; and even that was four weeks behind the advance of the army.  The official article of the Union conveys no such idea as this; on the contrary, it virtually denies the charges made, and conveys the impression that Gen. Taylor had four companies of field artillery.  Let us look to the facts.



Sometime about the middle of June last, a company of our so called artillery, “armed as infantry,” and never even instructed as field artillery, was ordered from Fort Maultrie, Charleston, S. C., “to New Orleans Barracks there to receive further orders.”  No indication was given this company of where it was to go or what it was to do.  From the commander down, it had not the lightest article of field artillery equipments.  Nor could this commander require any, as he was in the dark as to the destination of himself and company.  No opportunity was allowed the others either to arm or equip themselves, as required by law, for a new service, or even to supply necessities for held duty.  The company sailed from Charleston in the latter part of June, and reached New Orleans about the 29th of July.  There it found General Taylor, with the advance of his army, — the 3d and 4th Regiments of Infantry, — and for the first time learned that it was intended for a new service in the filed — one for which it had never been instructed, and was not even armed.   “A Field Battery,” with equipments complete (or service), the commander of the company was informed, had been ordered from Wateryliet Arsenal, New York, to be sent to New Orleans for this service, but only arrived there about a month after General Taylor’s departure for Texas.  His movements depended entirely on the action of the Texas Congress, and the news of that action reached New Orleans on the same day with the aforesaid company.


It is yet an inexplicable ___________ why this company was ordered from Charleston without appropriate arms.  The arms were there, and the company marched past them on the parade ground on leaving the point. Why destroy the _______________ of a company, and risk the safety of an army for the sake of a little mystery, and why order an armament from Waterylet, N. Y., when there was one within sight of the company are questions that it will puzzle the wisdom of the Union as much to answer as these answers will reflect discredit on the responsible authorities.


Upon the receipt of the desired information from Texas, General Taylor, in compliance with his “instructions,” sailed, and carried his artillery company, armed as infantry rather than not carry it at all.  And thus he landed on St. Joseph’s Island, Texas, about the 1st August, without a piece of artillery.  From that he removed as rapidly as possible to Corpus Christi, having this artillery company to await “the guns,” then daily __________.


After two weeks delay, rumors reached him that Mexico had declared war, and he removed the whole of his force to Corpus Christi as immediately as his limited means permitted.  Entrenchments were rapidly thrown up, and some old iron guns, more dangerous to friend than foe, were borrowed from the citizens of the place for the use of this artillery company which, according to the Union, was “armed and equipped as field artillery.”  It was not until the receipt of the news in Washington, that other artillery was ordered here.  And it was four weeks after this alarm before the arms and ammunition intended for this company, already in the field, reached it, and then they were useless, many of the most necessary equipments not having been sent.


The assertion of the Union, that four companies of field artillery, the whole number allowed by law in our army, has been ordered to Texas, is not true.  But two of those companies have been ordered here, and two other companies never before instructed as field artillery, have been nominally, that is on paper, converted into field artillery for the occasion.  They are now at Corpus Christi, with guns, but without horses, and one of them without horse equipments, although it was originally intended as the only artillery for this army.  The only information given the commander of this company about the supplies ordered to him, was contained in a letter from Washington, received by him in New Orleans, stating them to be, in general terms.  “A Battery, with stores and equipments (for horses) complete.”  And until the arrival of these stores, &c., at Corpus Christi, about the middle of September, it was not known or conceived that a large portion of the equipments, and the most necessary portion, were never sent.  Estimates to supply this deficiency had then to be made and sent to Washington, and they have not yet been complied with.  If the “union” will look at home and correct these delays and neglects, it will be doing the country more good than it now does in publishing erroneous statements of the condition of the army here.  Every attempt to equip these companies for field service has been thwarted by our ponderous and inefficient Quartermaster’s Department.  When ordered to supply horses here, by General Taylor, they have purchased the mustangs, or wild horses of the prables — animals about one-third the average size of our horses — and about as suitable for artillery as goals would be for carriage horses.  It is charitable to suppose this originated in ignorance.


It appears, then, that although General Taylor arrived here about the 1st of August, with the strong probabilities of meeting an enemy known to be well supplied with artillery, he was perfectly destitute of that arm for four weeks, and received no reinforcement from the regular army for eight weeks or more, half of which was totally inefficient when received, for the want of horses and horse-equipments.


The Union conveys the erroneous idea that there were but four companies in our service, equipped and instructed as field artillery, when for one year past there have been eight such companies.  It is true the law only recognizes four, but laws do not govern our armies.  But two of these eight companies are now in Texas, and no other has been ordered here.  One of the two brought up the rear of the whole army, and may possibly have been intended for the special service for which it has heretofore been reserved — “the burial of the illustrious dead.”




 Source: The Daily Picayune, November 5, 1845, p. 2, col. 4.


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