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Mr. Gales & Seaton

My Dear Old Friend:—I'm alive yet, though I've been
through showers of balls as thick as hailstones. I got
your paper containing my letter that I wrote on the road
to the war. The letters I wrote afterward, the guerrillas


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and robbers are so thick, I think it's ten chances to one
if you got 'em. Some of Gineral Scott's letters is missing
just in the same way. Now we've got the city of Mexico
annexed, I think the Postmaster-General ought to have a more
regular line of stages running here, so our letters may go
safe. I wish you would touch the President and Mr. Johnson
up a little about this mail-stage business, so they may keep
all the coach makers at work, and see that the farmers raise
horses as fast as they can, for I don't think they have any idea
how long the roads is this way, nor how fast we are gaining
south. If we keep on annexin' as fast as we have done a year
or two past, it wouldn't take much more than half a dozen
years to get clear down to t'other end of South America, clear
to Cape Horn, which would be a very good stopping place;
for then, if our Government got into bad sledding in North
America, and found themselves in a dilemma that hadn't no
horn to suit 'em, they would have a horn in South America
that they might hold on to.

I hope there an't no truth in the story that was buzz'd about
here in the army, a day or two ago, that Mr. Polk had an idea,
when we get through annexin' down this way, of trying his
hand at it over in Europe and Africa, and round there. And
to prevent any quarreling beforehand about it on this side of
the water, he's agoing to agree to run the Missouri Compromise
line over there, and cut Europe up into Free States and
Africa into Slave States. Now, I think he had better keep
still about that till we get this South America business all
done, and well tied up. It isn't well for a body to have too
much business on his hands at once. There's no knowing
what little flurries we may get into yet, and there's always
danger, if you have too much sail spread in a squall. However,
I haven't time to talk about this now.

You will get the accounts of the battles in Gineral Scott's


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letters, so I needn't say a great deal about them. But it's
been a hard up-hill work all the way from Vera Cruz here;
and I don't think my old friend, Gineral Jackson himself, would
have worked through all the difficulties and done the business
up better than Gineral Scott has. But the killed and the
wounded, the dead and the dying, scattered all along the
way for three hundred miles—it's a heart-aching thought.
I don't love to think about it. It is too bad that we didn't
have more men, so as to march straight through without
fighting, instead of having jest enough to encourage the
enemy to bring out their largest armies and fight their hardest

One of the hardest brushes we had, after I got here, was the
attack on Chapultepec. I had been into the city trying to
bring Santa Anna to terms; but, when I found it was no use,
I come out and told Gineral Scott there was no way but to
fight it out, and, although I was only the President's private
embassador, I didn't like to stand and look on when he was so
weak-handed, and if he would tell me where to take hold, I
would give him a lift. The Gineral said he expected there
would be a hard pull to take Chapultepec, and as Gineral
Pillow was placed where he would be likely to have the
heaviest brunt of it, I might be doing the country a great
service if I would jine in with Gineral Pillow, as my experience
under Gineral Jackson, and insight into military affairs,
would no doubt be very useful to that valiant officer.
So I took hold that day as one of Gineral Pillow's aids.

When we come to march up and see how strong the enemy's
works was, says I, “Gineral Pillow, it is as much as all our
lives is worth to go right straight up and storm that place, in
the face and eyes of all their guns; I think we ought to fortify
a little. Suppose we dig a ditch round here in front of the
enemy's works.”


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At that the Gineral's eyes flashed, and he swore right out.
Says he: “No, d—n the ditches, I've no opinion of 'em; they
are nothing but a bother, and never ought to be used. The
best way is to go right into the enemy, pell-mell.”

So on we went, and Pillow fit like a tiger till he got
wounded, and then the rest of us, that wasn't shot down, had to
finish the work up the best way we could.

The long and the short of it is, we fit our way into the city
of Mexico and annexed it. Santa Anna cleared out the night
afore with what troops he had left, and is scouring about the
country to get some more places ready for us to annex. When
he gets another place all ready for the ceremony, and gets it
well fortified, and has an army of twenty or thirty thousand
men in the forts and behind the breastworks, we shall march
down upon 'em with five or six thousand men, and go through
the flurry. After they have shot down about half of us, the
rest of us will climb in, over the mouths of their cannons, and
annex that place; and so on, one after another.

It is pretty hard work annexin' in this way; but that is the
only way it can be done. It will be necessary for the President
to keep hurrying on his men this way to keep our ranks
full, for we've got a great deal of ground to go over yet.
What we've annexed in Mexico, so far, isn't but a mere circumstance
to what we've got to do.

Some think the business isn't profitable; but it's only because
they haven't ciphered into it fur enough to understand
it. Upon an average, we get at least ten to one for our outlay,
any way you can figure it up—I mean in the matter of
people. Take, for instance, the City of Mexico. It cost us
only two or three thousand men to annex it, after we got into
the neighborhood of it; and we get at least one hundred and
fifty thousand in that city, and some put it down as high as
two hundred thousand. Some find fault with the quality of


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the people we get in this country, jest as if that had anything
to do with the merits of the case. They ought to remember
that in a Government like ours, where the people is used for
voting, and where every nose counts one, it is the number that
we are to stan' about in annexin', and not the quality, by no
means. So that in the matter of people we are doing a grand
business. And as to the money, it is no matter what it
costs us, for money grows in the ground in Mexico, and can
always be had for digging.

There's a thousand things in this country that I should like
to tell you about if I had time; but things is so unsettled
here yet, that I have rather a confused chance to write. So I
must break off here, and write a few lines to the President;
but remain your friend in all latitudes, clear down to Cape


Dear Sir:—I've done my best, according to your directions,
to get round Santa Anna, but it is all no use. He's as slippery
as an eel, and has as many lives as a cat. Trist and I
together can't hold him, and Scott and Taylor can't kill him
off. We get fast hold of him with our diplomatics, but he
slips through our fingers; and Scott and Taylor cuts his head
off in every town where they can catch him, but he always
comes to life in the next town, and shows as many heads as
if he had never lost one. I had a long talk with him in the
city, and pinned him right down to the bargain he made with
you when you let him into Vera Cruz, and asked him “why
he didn't stick to it.” He said he “did stick to it as far as
circumstances rendered it prudent.”


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“But,” says I, “Gineral Santa Anna, that an't the thing; a
bargain's a bargain, and if a man has any honor he will stick
to it. Now,” says I, “didn't you agree, if the President would
give orders to our Commodore to let you into Vera Cruz,
didn't you agree to put your shoulder to the wheel, and help
on this annexin' business, so as to make easy work of it? And
now I ask you, as a man of honor, have you done it?”

“Circumstances alters cases, Major,” says Santa Anna.
“When Mr. Polk and I had that understanding, he thought he
needed a few more votes than he could muster in his own country
to bring him into the Presidency another term. So we
agreed, if I would turn over the votes of Mexico to him to
bring him in another term, he would afterward turn over his
part of the votes in North America to me, so as to bring me
in next time. But I soon found it would be throwing our labor
away, for Mr. Polk's part of the votes in his country was getting
to be so small that they wouldn't do much good to either
of us. So I concluded to hold on to what I had got, and stick
to the Presidency of Mexico.”

“Then,” says I, “you an't a going to stick to your bargain
are you?”

“No,” says he, “circumstances alters cases.”

Then I tried to scare him out of it. I told him our folks
would whip the Mexicans all into shoestrings in a little while.
And it made no odds whether he fit for annexin' or against it,
we should go on jest the same, and before another year was
out, Mr. Polk would be President of every foot of Mexico; for
we should get through annexin' the whole of it.

“Very well,” says he, “go on; the Mexicans like the business;
they can stand it longer than Mr. Polk can; for Mr.
Polk will have all the work to do over again every year, as
long as he lives, for there isn't a place in Mexico that will stay
annexed any longer than jest while you are holding on to it.”


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So you see there's no doing anything with Santa Anna.
What course it is best to take now, seems rather a puzzler. I
haven't time to give you my views about it in this dispatch,
but will try to soon. Give my love to Mr. Ritchie. I meant
to write him, too, but I shall have to wait till next time.

Your faithful friend and private embassador,