The battle of Buena Vista.
How Mississippians and South Carolinians Fight — Terrible Slaughter of a Thousand Mexican Lancers.
In times of excitement like the present, when we read so much in Black Republican journals about the easy conquest of the entire South
, the article below will be read with interest.
The enemy forget, probably, that men of the same heroic daring and firm resolve are still alive; men who will prove to the world that they can neither be intimidated by threats, nor overawed by numbers.
In reviewing Claiborne
's Life and Times of Quitman
, in DeBow
's Review, the writer says:
An episode may be here tolerated in regard to the conduct of the celebrated Mississippi Rifles, under charge of Colonel
, now President Jefferson Davis
, on the field of Buena Vista
The great movement then made by Davis
is said to have been without previous parallel in the art of war, and was regarded by the Duke
as new and masterly.
It was subsequently made, we learn on the authority of Gen. Cushing
, on the fields of the Crimes. "The battle had been raging some time with fluctuating fortunes, and was setting against us, when Gen. Taylor
, with Col. Davis
and others, arrived on the field Several regiments (which were subsequently rallied, and fought bravely,) were in full retreat; O'Brien
, after having his men and horses completely cut up, had been compelled to draw off the guns, and Bragg
, with almost superhuman energy, was sustaining the brunt of the fight.
Many officers of distinction had fallen.
rode forward to examine the position of the enemy, and concluding that the best way to arrest our fugitives would be to make a bold demonstration, he resolved at once to attack the enemy, there posted in force, immediately in front, supported by cavalry, and two divisions in reserve in his rear.
It was a resolution bold almost to rashness, but the emergency was pressing.
With a handful of Indiana volunteers, who still stood by their brave old Colonel
,) and his own regiment, he advanced at double quick time, firing as he advanced.
His own brave fellows fell fast under the rolling musketry of the enemy, but their rapid and fatal volleys carried dismay and death into the adverse ranks.-- A deep ravine separated the combatants — Leaping into it, the Mississippians soon appeared on the other side, and with a shout that was heard over the battle-field, they poured in a well directed fire, and rushed upon the enemy.
Their deadly aim and wild enthusiasm was irresistible.
fled in confusion to their reserves, and Davis
seized the commanding position they had occupied.
He next fell upon a party of cavalry and compelled it to fly, with the loss of their leader and other officers.
Immediately afterwards a brigade of lancers, 1,000 strong, were seen approaching at a gallop, in beautiful array, with sounding bugles and fluttering pennons.
It was an appalling spectacle, but not a man flinched from his position.
The time between our devoted band and eternity seemed brief indeed.
But conscious that the eye of the army was upon them, that the honor of Mississippi
was at stake, and knowing that, if they gave way, or were ridden down, our unprotected batteries in the rear, upon which the fortunes of the day depended; would be captured, each man resolved to die in his place sooner than retreat.
"Not the Spartan
martyrs at Thermopylæ--not the sacred battalion of Epaminoudas — not the tenth legion of Julius
Cæsar — not the Old Guard of Napoleon
— ever evinced more fortitude than these young volunteers in a crisis when death seemed inevitable.
They stood like statues, as frigid and motionless as the marble itself.
Impressed with this extra-ordinary firmness, when they had anticipated panic and flight, the lancers advanced more deliberately, as though they saw for the first time the dark shadow of the fate that was impending over them.
had thrown his men into the form of a re-entering angle, (familiarly known as his famous V movement,) both flanks resting on ravines, the lancers coming down on the intervening ridge.--This exposed them to a covering fire, and the moment they came within rifle range each man singled out his object, and the whole head of the column fell.
A more deadly fire never was delivered, and the brilliant array recoiled and retreated, paralyzed and dismayed.
‘"Shortly afterward, the Mexicans having concentrated a large force on the right for their final attack, Col. Davis
was ordered in that direction.
His regiment had been in action all day; exhausted by thirst and fatigue, much reduced by the carnage of the morning engagement, and many in the ranks suffering from wounds, yet the noble fellows moved at double quick time, Bowles
' little band of Indiana volunteers still acted with them.--After marching several hundred yards, they perceived the Mexican infantry advancing in three lines upon Bragg
's battery, which, though entirely unprotected, held his position with a resolution worthy of his fame.
The pressure upon him stimulated the Missippians.
They increased their speed, and when the enemy was within one hundred yards of the battery, and confident of its capture, they took him in flank and reverse, and poured in a raking and destructive fire.
This broke his right line, and the rest soon gave way and fled back precipitately.
Here Col. Davis
was severely wounded."’
After this lengthy extract in regard to the heroic conduct of Davis
, we shall soon pass to the acts of Quitman
at the gates of Mexico
; but before doing so, we will be permitted a momentary notice of the behavior of the South Carolina regiment under the fire of the Mexican
Those who sneer at Carolina
courage and virtues are, in general, too ignorant of history to be affected by the record.
left his sick bed, against medical advice, to lead the Palmettos.
His horse was shot under him. He took another, and was severely wounded.
now commanded, and taking the flag from Beggs
, was himself shot down, as was also Beggs
, resuming the command, was killed by the side of Dickinson
, under the flag.
fell again, but now mortally wounded; and Gladden
placing the flag in the hands of Leonard
, led the charge.
There was no wavering as death swept through the ranks.
Shot and shell hailed upon them.
The storm raged:
‘"In the whole history,"’ says Claiborne
, ‘"there has never been a more striking example of indifference to death, the result of stern resolve.
Each man fought for the honor of Carolina
Several companies were almost annihilated.
Some had not men enough left to bury then dead, or bear their wounded to the ambulances.
The uniforms of some of the officers were literally torn from their persons; the color bearers were shot down, but the flag, bathed in their blood, was always seized as they fell, and borne to the front.
Proudly it floated through the tempest of death, until the victory had been won; and then, all torn and blood-stained, it drooped over its own glorious dead!
The regiment entered the battle with 273, rank and file, and when it was over it mustered 169!
It had no missing; its dead and wounded made up the deficiency.
Cadets of a noble State, sons of a sunny clime, branded by their country as traitors for defending the Constitution
and rights from usurpation and outrage, yet dying cheerfully for that country in a foreign land, the world may learn that such a race, in defence of their own homesteads and institutions, can never be subdued."’