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Mr. Gales & Seaton

My Dear Old Friends:—When I have to write about the
war, and the treaty, and things of that sort that belongs to
diplomatics, of course I send my dispatches to the President
or Mr. Ritchie; but when things branch off into the newspaper
line, then I send 'em to you. We've had Gineral Scott on
trial here five days, for high treason against Gineral Pillow
and Gineral Worth. If it goes agin him, I don't know whether
they will conclude to hang him or shet him up in some of the
mines of Mexico for life. But he fights like a Turk, and an't
skeered at nuthin'. The President better send on some more
help, for I an't sure that what there is here will be able to
handle him. The battle has been pretty hot for five days, and
I don't see as they get the upper hand of him at all yet. It
would be a great pity if a man that has been guilty of such
horrible crimes as he has out here in Mexico, should slip
through their fingers at last, and escape punishment. I begin
to feel a little afraid how it will come out. For my part, I
go for justice, hit who 'twill. If a man will commit crimes, let
him be punished for it. I'm afraid the President has missed
a figger in leaving it out to such men as he has. It would a


Page 299


[Description: 688EAF. Page 299. In-line image. General Scott stands among a crowd of Mexican men, twice as tall as any of the other men. He stands at attention, in military uniform. Three men sit at a table at the front, to judge him while a fourth at the front table looks up at him, pointing, to accuse General Scott of his crime.]
been safer and more sure to leave it out to a jury of Mexicans.
I've no doubt the least verdict they would give would
a been two years in the deepest and darkest mine in Mexico
for his taking Vera Cruz and the Castle; two years more for
the cutting and slashin' he give 'em at Cerro Gordo; two
years more for Chapultepec and Churubusco; and all the rest
of his life for his taking the city of Mexico. In that case, you
see, his punishment would a been measured out something according
to his crimes.


Page 300

I was thinking last night that I ought to make up a little
budget about this trial and send it on to you, as I promised to
let you know once in a while how things was getting along
out here. And while I was bothering my head to know which
end to begin at, a man came in and brought me a little letter.
I took it and opened it, and I couldn't hardly believe my eyes
at first, to see the name of Gineral Pillow signed to it. He
“requested me to call at his quarters in the evening,” on very
urgent and important business. Thinks I to myself, what in
thunder can this mean? Then I thought maybe they had got
a hint that the prisoner intended to run away, and they wanted
me to help keep guard round Gineral Scott's quarters to see
that he didn't escape.

So, jest at dark, I went round to Gineral Pillow's quarters.
He seemed to be amazin' glad to see me, and took me by the arm
and led me into t'other room.

“Major Downing,” says he, “I'm very happy to see you. I
wish you wouldn't make yourself such a stranger to my quarters;
it would give me a great deal of pleasure to see you

I thanked him, and told him that his rank was a good deal
superior to mine, and I always felt kind of delicate about putting
myself alongside of them that was so much above me.

“Not at all,” says he, “Major, not at all; we have to observe
rank, to be sure, when we are on the field; but everywhere
else we are all equals, Major, all equals; give us your
hand.” And here he giv my hand another hearty shake.

“Major,” says he, “I understand you write letters to the
National Intelligencer sometimes, about matters out here in

“Well, yes,” says I, “Gineral, I do sometimes, when it don't
interfere with my public duties as the President's private


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Then he turned round and put the door to, and begun to
speak in a little lower tone.

“Major,” says he, “that Intelligencer is a capital paper;
it deserves to be encouraged. I take a warm interest in the prosperity
of that paper, and mean to do something for it.
I'll be the
making of it yet,
when I get to the rank and situation I expect
to get. I s'pose you'll send some account of this court-martial
down by the courier to-morrow, to go to the Intelligencer?

“Well, yes,” says I, “I was thinking of sending some little
outline of it, so the folks at home in the United States might
understand the substance of it as far as it has got along.”

Then he took a written paper out of his pocket, and says
he, “Major, here is a clear account of the proceedings, as far
as they have gone, all carefully drawn up, and putting everything
in a true light. I should like to have you take this and
send it on to the Intelligencer, and have it inserted as
coming from an authentic source; or, if you choose, you can
work it in and make it a part of your letter, and then nobody
will doubt but what it comes from an authentic source.”

After I took it and looked a while over some parts of it,
says I, “Gineral, it seems to me it is most too soon to send
on such a particular account as this, for fear of making some
mistakes. It must take some time to pick the matters all up
and put them together in the right shape, so as to give every
one his fair share. I thought I would send on now the main
points of it, and send on the particulars when we've had a
chance to pick 'em all up and put 'em together right.”

“But, Major,” says he, “I'm very anxious this account should
go off with the first impressions.
You know a great deal depends
on first impressions; therefore, no time should be lost in getting
this before the public; and the best way to do it is to
work it into your report. To be sure, the paper does considerable
justice to me, but not more than I think you will be


Page 302
satisfied belongs to me. I never ask any one to puff me; but I
have confidence in you to believe that you will do me justice. I never
forget my friends.
There's no knowing but the upshot of this
trial may tip Gineral Scott out of the tail-end of the cart yet;
and if so, I stand a good chance of being placed at the head
of military affairs here; and, between you and me, that would
give me a strong chance of succeeding Mr. Polk in the Presidency.
And, you know, I never forget my friends.”

“Well,” says I, “Gineral, seein' you are so arnest about it,
I'll take the paper home with me, and look it over, and if I
find I can work it into my letter, so it will look ship-shape,
I'll do it. And then, I take it, I shall have your word, upon
the honor of an officer, that you never will forget me and the
National Intelligencer.”

“That you shall,” says he, giving me another shake of the
hand. “But,” says he, “you better stop with me to-night,
and do it all up here; I'll give you a comfortable place to write,
some place to sleep, and soldier fare.

I thanked him very kindly for his hospitality, but I told him
I should have to go back to my quarters, where I had left
some parts of my dispatch ready fixed up. In bidding me
good night, he shook me very warmly by the hand, and urged
me again to put the document he had given me into my letter,
as he was very anxious it should go off with the first impressions.
So, here it is; and if I find it necessary, after copying it, to
add any notes or interlinings, I can do it:



This important investigation, which has been going on for
five days, is likely to use General Scott all up to nothing;
there won't be so much as a grease spot left of him; while,


Page 303
at the same time, it cannot fail to add to the renown and fair
fame of General Pillow, till it raises him above all Greek,
above all Roman fame. General Worth, also, has shown a
magnanimity in this contest which will crown him with immortal
honor. He had a forty-nine pounder, loaded to the
muzzle, pointed directly at the head of Scott, which would a
blowed his brains clear to the North Pole; but seeing the
weakness and imbecility of Scott, who was almost ready to
get down upon his knees, and, with tears in his eyes, ask his
pardon, Worth, with unparalleled magnanimity, refused to
fire, and absolutely withdrew the charge from the gun, saying
to the by-standers, “The President has given me all I want;
why should I stoop to kill this poor devil of a Scott?” After
Worth had thus generously thrown away his powder, Scott,
with his usual meanness, put on a bragadocio show of courage,
and dared him to the fight; but of course Worth wouldn't
take any notice of him.

Scott had bullied Duncan, but when he found Duncan was
prepared to defend himself, with the most craven spirit he
coaxed him to let the matter drop, and hush it up. He had,
also, in the most shameful manner, bullied General Pillow;
but when he found he had roused the lion, he did not dare to
beard the lion. As soon as the gallant Pillow, the highsouled
Pillow, the chivalric and courageous Pillow, appeared
on the field of combat, Scott commenced a rapid and ignominious
retreat. But General Pillow, actuated by a high
sense of public duty, as well as a proper regard for his own
honor, would not allow public sentiment to be so outraged
with impunity; he, therefore, pursued the cowardly Scott,
determined that, poltroon as he was, he should either fight or
die. For two or three days Scott was fleeing for his life, and
making the most desperate efforts to escape from the field of
battle; but the gallant Pillow pursued him and cut him off


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on every tack, and foiled and floored him at every turn. The
talent, tact, prowess and generalship displayed by General
Pillow on this occasion has probably never been equaled, except
by the same gallant officer on the battle-fields of Mexico,
when he killed the Mexican officer in single combat, was struck
down upon his knees by the concussion of a cannon-ball upon
his head, and led his troops to victory by wading chin-deep
through a creek of mud and water. The hot pursuit of Pillow
at last drove Scott into a corner, from which it was impossible
for him to escape. He then turned and raised his puny
arm to fight; but the weakness of his weapons, his little
pointless darts, and pop-gun squibs, were almost too ridiculous
even to excite a laugh. The heroic Pillow stood in peerless
majesty, and shook them off as unconcernedly as the lion
shakes the dew-drops from his mane. During this whole contest
Gen. Pillow's well-devised plans of battle, his judicious disposition
of his forces, his coolness and daring during the whole of this
terrible battle, is the subject of universal congratulation among his
friends, and general remark with all.


Erased from the above: “During this great battle, which
has lasted now for five days, Pillow was in command of all the
forces engaged except Worth's division, which was not engaged.”
Also erased: “He (Pillow) has completely silenced
his enemies.”

On the whole, the above docyment seems to give such a
clear, candid view of the proceedings of the court-martial
during the first five days, that I don't think it is necessary for
me to add another word. Give my love to the President and
Mr. Ritchie; and I remain your old friend, whether we go on
annexin' any more or not,