November 5, 1845 Article 3
From the Army in Texas
Correction of an Official Misstatement
Corpus Christi, Texas, Oct. 18, 1845.
— 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
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.