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History of Livingston County
from The History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missouri. 1886
Census of 1840 - The Political Canvass of 1840; the "Log Cabin and Hard
Cider" Campaign - Hard Times - Polk and Clay in 1844 - Livingston County
Soldiers in the Mexican War - Detailed Account of Their Services - Roster of Co.
L, 2d Missouri Mounted Rifles - Old Militia Muster.
The total population of the county this year was 4,325 comprising 2,160 white
males, 1,922 white females (total whites, 4,082): 115 male slaves, 126 female
slaves (total slaves, 241), and two free colored females. The total number of
voters was 835. (Caldwell county had a population of 1,458, of which there were
61 slaves. The white population comprised 770 males and 627 females.)
There were in the county 2,299 horses, 5,639 neat cattle, 1,883, sheep and
17,925 hogs. There had been raised the previous year, 1,768 bushels of wheat,
4,699 bushels of oats, 135,598 bushels of corn, 3,587 bushels of potatoes, 3,802
pounds of wool, and 1,439 pounds of bees' wax had been made and sold. In the
entire county this year there were 13 retail dry goods, grocery and other
stores, with an aggregate capital of $29,000.
In some respects the Presidential campaign of 1840 was the most remarkable in
the history of the United States from the time of their organization. The Whig
party, then for the first time formidable in the country, had renominated Gen.
Harrison for President, associating with him John Tyler, of Virginia, for
Vice-President. The Democrats renominated Martin Van Buren and Richard M.
Owing to the suspension of the United States bank, and from other causes,
there had been great stringency in the money market, and there were other
financial distresses which occasioned hard times throughout the country. Many
working men were either out of employment, or were at work for very low wages;
prices of produce had fallen to insignificant figures, and there was general
discontent with the situation. Many people attributed the unhappy condition of
affairs to Mr. Van Buren and the Democrats. Then, as now, the party in power was
held responsible for the ills afflicting the country.
The Whigs of the country took advantage of the situation, and conducted their
campaign with unexampled ardor and enthusiasm. Mass conventions of unprecedented
numbers were held, in some instances remaining in session for several days,
which were addressed by distinguished speakers whose object seemed to be to
influence the popular enthusiast and carry the election by music, banners,
processions and stump oratory. Some of the Whig out-door meetings in the Ohio
Valley numbered twenty thousand and were addressed by Gen. Harrison in person.
At these monster assemblages miniature log cabins and veritable coons and hard
cider were displayed, and campaign songs sung, exciting the wildest enthusiasm;
so that the contest took the name of the "Log Cabin, Coon Skin and Hard
To counteract the influence of the meetings and the party paraphernalia
employed by the Whigs to captivate the masses, the friends of Mr. Van Buren held
their conventions also, and invoking the name and influence of "Old
Hickory," who ardently supported him for the Presidency, adopted hickory
boughs and the chicken-cock as their party emblems, the former gracefully waving
and the latter defiantly crowing everywhere.
The Whigs and Democrats of Missouri caught the prevailing enthusiasm, and
conducted the canvass with unusual spirit. Mass conventions, accompanied by the
splendid pageantry of processions, brilliant banners and martial music, to say
nothing of political discussions unexcelled in fervid eloquence, abounded
everywhere. The State was wild with excitement, and many and interesting and,
graphic are the scenes which our older citizens are able to recall of the
campaign of 1840.
Among the many songs sung by the Whig vocalists this year, the following was
in great favor: -
1 The Democrats or Van Buren men.
2 Martin Van Buren.
As to the origin of the terms " hard cider" and " log
cabin," as applied to Gen. Harrison, it is stated by the Missouri Republican
of April 20, 1840, that they originated from this circumstance: The
Washington correspondent of the Baltimore Republican, the organ of the
Democrats in Baltimore, after Harrison's nomination, said: " Give him
(Harrison) a barrel of hard cider, and settle a pension of $2,000 a year on him,
and, our word for it, he will sit the remainder of his days contented in
his log cabin on the banks of the Ohio." The Whigs caught up the Baltimore
paper's assertion, and what was intended as a slur and a sneer was seized upon
and made a watchword and a rallying cry.
At the Presidential election of 1840 the following were judges of the election in the different townships of the county: -
Chillicothe - Asel F. Ball, Wm. Linville, Warren Wait.
Marion - Reuben Perkins, Wm. Anderson, James Work.
Greene - Nathaniel Matson, Joseph Harper, Wm. Woolsey.
Monroe - John Austin, Isaac McCroskrie, Robeson Bryan.
Jackson - James A. Davis, Jesse Nave, Andrew Ligett.
Jefferson - Isom Ware, N. R. Hobbs, Sam'l Ramsay.
Franklin - James Merrill, Wm. Evans, Wm. Thrailkill.
Madison - Philip Wild, Evans Peery, Wm. Renfrow.
Washington - B. F. Wood, A. J. Walker, Jno Mc----
Lafayette - R. D. Slover, John Hart, Henry Moore.
Morgan - Peter Caine, James Morgan, Esq. Gardner.
In 1842-43 times were very hard upon the people of this county. Money was
scarce and hard to obtain, and produce and wages were ridiculously low. In the
winter of 1842 the report of the St. Louis market showed that even then flour
was about $2.50 a barrel in gold, and $3 in "city money." Wheat was 45
cents a bushel and went down to 35. Potatoes and corn were 18 cents per bushel.
Nice, sugar-cured ham brought 5 cents per pound. Tobacco "firsts"
brought $3.10 per hundred pounds. But on the other hand groceries were
proportionately cheap. Coffee was 10 1-2 cents per pound; the best sugar, 7
cents. Molasses, 25 cents per gallon; whisky by the barrel, 18 cents; by the
single gallon, 25 cents; by the pint, 5 cents.
In Livingston county produce was much cheaper and groceries much higher. The
cost of transporting produce from here to St. Louis by way of Brunswick and the
Missouri river, and of transporting groceries from St. Louis here by the same
route, was considerable, and was added in both cases. Wages here, too, were
ridiculously low. Good farm hands could be hired for $6 per month.
At a public sale in Linn county, in February, 1843, terms, "cash in
hand," three good colts brought $1.50 each; one ox, 12 1-2 cents; a lot of
five cows, two small steers, and one calf, $3.75; 20 sheep, 13 cents each; 24
hogs, 75 cents each; one lot of tobacco, 700 or 800 pounds, $5.00; three stacks
of hay, 25 cents each; one stack of fodder, 25 cents; one dining-table, 50
cents; one eight-day clock $2.50.
The leading event of this year in this county was the Presidential campaign
between the Whigs and the Democrats. The former had nominated Henry Clay, of
Kentucky, and Theodore Frelinghuysen, of New Jersey, for President and
Vice-President, and the Democratic candidates for the same offices were James K.
Polk, of Tennessee, and George M. Dallas, of Pennsylvania.
At that date the Whigs called the Democrats "Locofocos," or
"Locos," the term being derived from the fact that in New York city
certain leading Democrats held a secret nominating caucus in a hall one night
with the lights extinguished, and conducted the proceedings in whispers and
suppressed voices. When it was absolutely necessary to have a light small
locofoco matches were burned.
Before the Democratic national nominations were made the leaders of the party seemed at a loss for a candidate to run against Henry Clay, whom it was certain the Whigs would nominate. This circumstance gave rise to the following effusion, which was very popular as: --
The moon was shining silver bright,
The stars of glory browned the night,
High on a limb that "same old coon"1
Was singing to himself a tune:
CHORUS - Get out of the way, you're all unlucky,
Clear the track for Old Kentucky!
Now in a sad predicament
The Locos are for President,
They have six horses in the pasture,
And don't know which can run the faster;
Get out of the way, etc.
The wagon horse from Pennsylvania,2
The Dutchmen think he's best of any;
But he must drag in heavy stages,
His federal notions and low wages;
Get out of the way, etc.
They proudly bring upon the course,
An old and broken-down war horse;
They shout and sing, "Oh, rumpsey-dumpsey!
Col. Johnson killed Tecumseh!"
Get out of the way, etc.
And here is Cass, though not a dunce,
Will run both sides of the track at once;
To win the race will all things copy,
Be sometimes pig and sometimes puppy;
Get out of the way, etc.
The fiery Southern horse Calhoun,
Who hates a Fox and fears a Coon,
To toe the scratch will not be able,
For Matty keeps him in the stable;
Get out of the way, etc.
And here is Matty never idle,3
A tricky horse that slips his bridle;
In forty-four we'll show him soon,
The little Fox can't fool the Coon;
Get out of the way, etc.
The balky horse they call John Tyler,
We'll head him soon, or bust his biler;
His cursed "grippe" has seized us all;
Which Doctor Clay will cure next fall;
Get out of the way, etc.
The people's favorite, HENRY CLAY,
Is now the "Fashion "4 of the day,
And let the track be dry or mucky,
We'll stake our pile on Old Kentucky;
Get out of the way, he's swift and lucky,
Clear the track for Old Kentucky!
1 The raccoon was the Whig emblem in the political heraldry of the time.
2 James Buchanan.
3 Martin Van Buren.
4 "Fashion" was the fastest race horse on the turf at that day.
In the Gubernatorial canvass of 1844 the candidates were Judge Chas. H.
Allen, of Marion county, independent Democrat, and John C. Edwards, the regular
Democratic nominee. Judge Allen received the regular support of the Whig party,
which put out no candidate this year, and some dissatisfied Democrats. He was
defeated in the State by a majority of 5,621, the vote standing: Edwards,
36,978; Allen, 31,357.
Judge Allen was generally known by his nickname "Horse," or "
Hoss" Allen, which, it is said, he received from the following
circumstance: On one occasion he was holding court when a disorderly attorney
interrupted the proceedings by talking in a loud voice, being engaged in a sort
of altercation with another lawyer. The judge commanded silence. To this command
the turbulent lawyer paid no regard. The sheriff chanced to be absent from the
room at the time. Thereupon His Honor rose and, in a voice of thunder, cried:
"Sit down, sir, and keep your mouth shut!" The lawyer subsided,
sank into his seat and murmured, "Well, as you are judge of this court, I
guess I will obey you this time." Judge Allen instantly, and with certain
demonstrations, rejoined: "By G -, sir, I'll let you know that I am not
only judge of this court, but I'm a HOSS besides,
and if you don't obey me I'll make you!"
At this time and until 1846 the representatives in Congress from Missouri
were elected by the voters of the State at large, and not by Congressional
districts, as is now the case. Those elected this year were John S. Phelps,
James B. Bowlin, James H. Relfe, Sterling Price and Leonard H. Sires, all "Hards"
1 but Mr. Sims, who
was a "Soft," and who chanced to be elected by reason of the following
circumstance: Hon. D. C. M. Parsons, of Pike county, was originally one of the
" Hard" candidates. A few days before the election he died, and the
"Hard" central committee substituted Hon. John G. Jameson in his
stead. News traveled slowly in those days in the absence of telegraph: and fast
mails, and the tidings of Mr. Parsons' death did not reach all parts of the
State until after the election. The result was that the "Hard" vote
was divided between Parsons and Jameson, and that a plurality over them was
obtained by Mr. Sims, who received the votes of both "Soft's" and
Whips, and was one of the five Congressmen elected. Both Phelps and Sims were
from the same county - Greene.
1 The Democratic party of Missouri at that date was
divided into two factions, the "Hards," who were in favor of hard
money, or of State bank money on a metallic basis, convertible into coin on
demand, no bills to be of less denomination than $10. The " Softs "
favored the issue of banks bills of the denominate of $1, $2, $3 and $5; and
leaned toward the Whig idea of free banking.
The annexation of Texas was the alleged cause of the declaration of war by
Mexico against the United States in April, 1846, but the more immediate cause
was the occupation by the American army of the disputed territory lying
between the rivers Nueces and Rio Grande. May 13, 1846, a counter-declaration by
the American Congress was made, that "a state of war exists between the
United States and Mexico."
President Polk called on Gov. Edwards of this State for a regiment of
volunteers to join Gen. Kearney's "Army of the West," and by the 18th
of June the full complement of companies designated had rendezvoused in Fort
Leavenworth, and chosen Alex. W. Doniphan, then of Clay county, the colonel.
This regiment numbered about eight companies, and was denominated the 1st
Missouri mounted volunteers. It soon set out with other troops, amounting to a
considerable force, for Santa Fe, New Mexico, then a part of Old Mexico, and the
scene of the hostilities.
Early in the summer of 1846, Hon. Sterling Price, then a member of Congress
from Missouri, resigned his seat and was appointed by President Polk to command
another regiment of Missouri volunteers to re-enforce the Army of the West. This
regiment consisted of companies from the counties of Boone, Benton, Carroll,
Chariton, Linn, Livingston, Monroe, Randolph, Ste. Genevieve and St. Louis.
In the latter part of July or the 1st of August the Livingston county company was organized at Chillicothe. Wm. Y. Slack, then a young lawyer of the town, 30 years of age, was chosen captain; John W. Tucker, first lieutenant; Zadoc Holcomb, second lieutenant, and John Mansfield, third lieutenant. Following is a complete roster of the company, which was known as Company L, 2d Missouri Mounted Riflemen: -
|Wm. Y. Slack||Captain||30|
|John W. Tucker||1st Lieut.||31|
|Zadoc Holcomb||2d Lieut.||44||Discharged for disability.|
|John Mansfield||2d Lieut.||43||Died February 16, 1846.1|
|Robert Patton||2d Lieut.||39||Promoted from third sergeant.|
|J. H. B. Manning||1st Sergt.||29||Discharged for disability, April 1, 1847.|
|John H. Clark||1st Sergt.||23||Promoted from corporal.|
|Wm. G. Stone||2d Sergt.||23|
|Austin Sisk....||3d Sergt.||24||Died in New Mexico Oct. 27, 1846.|
|Joseph H. Bigelow||3d Sergt.||19|
|Robert Patton...||3d Sergt.||39||Promoted to second lieutenant.|
|James Boucher||4th Sergt.||23||Died at Santa Fe, January 16, 1847.|
|J. H. Bigelow||4th Sergt.||19||Promoted to third sergeant|
|Thos. Cooper||4th Sergt.||21|
|James Anderson||1st Corpl.||27|
|David Benson||2d Corpl.||24|
|Hugh L. White||3d Corpl.||22||Died November 4, 1846.|
|John H. Clark||3d Corpl.||23||Promoted to first sergeant|
|Elias H. Brown||3d Corpl.||21|
|Porter Mansur||4th Corpl.||24|
|Alex. T. Williams||Bugler||28|
|Geo. M. Starr||Bugler||30|
|Saml. Thompson||Farrier||43||Discharged for disability, March 31, 1847.|
|James R. Bell||Private||24|
|Joshua Boucher||Private||26||Died October 21, 1846;|
|Daniel Bigelow||Private||26||Discharged at Ft. Leavenworth.|
|Wm. L. Brown||Private||27|
|Gideon Brown||Private||24||Discharged for disability, April, 1847.|
|Saml. J. Brown||Private||21||Discharged for disability, June 22, 1847.|
|Wm. F. Brown||Private||23||Discharged for disability, April 9, 1847.|
|Elias H. Brown||Private||21||Promoted to third corporal.|
|James C. Brown||Private||---|
|Joseph H. Bigelow||Private||19||Promoted to fourth sergeant.|
|David Benson||Private||24||Promoted to second corporal.|
|Brannock Curtis||Private||32||Appointed farrier and blacksmith.|
|John H. Clark||Private||23||Promoted to third corporal.|
|Edward D. Carter||Private||23||Discharged for disability, April 1, 1847.|
|David Carter||Private||21||Discharged for disability, April 1, 1847.|
|Thos. Cooper||Private||21||Promoted to fourth sergeant.|
|Isaac D. Campbell||Private||23|
|Arehibald Campbell||Private||28||Died at Abique, December 16, 1846.|
|Elisha J. Edwards||Private||30|
|Wm. B. Graves||Private||25|
|Nathan H. Gregory||Private||24|
|Spencer H. Gregory||Private||19|
|Wm. R. Gibbons||Private||24|
|Renna J. Howard||Private||22|
|John Hood....||Private||36||Died at Santa Fe, May 22, 1847.|
|Jonathan Harvey||Private||24||Died at Abique, December 14, 1846.|
|Jonathan Hubbell||Private||25||Died at Abique, December 2, 1846.|
|Wm. Y. Just||Private||25||Died in New Mexico, January 10, 1847.|
|Thos. Z. Kirk||Private||25|
|J ames D. Kirk||Private||23|
|Danl. H. Kirk||Private||25|
|Thos. D. Kirk.||Private||23|
|Wm. H. Keister||Private||23|
|Noland Lackey||Private||18||Died at Santa Fe, May 20, 1847.|
|Thos. J. Latham||Private||24|
|Hardin R. Manning||Private||26|
|Claiborne Maupin||Private||24||Died at Abique.|
|James L. Marion||Private||21|
|John J. Mansfleld||Private||23|
|Francis P. Peniston||Private||27|
|John W. Rosebrough||Private||30|
|John W. Sheets||Private||25|
|John N. Stone||Private||18|
|A. J. Stark||Private||32|
|Wm. T. Todd||Private||25|
|Wm. B. Thompson||Private||28|
|Chas. C. Thompson||Private||24|
|Danl. D. Vancliff||Private||19|
|Wm. W. Welch||Private||32|
1 Note from proofreader, 1998. The date of Mansfield's death
is probably 1847, as he is listed as injured later in the text of this book.
The company was mustered in at Fort Leavenworth by Lieut. A. B. Lincoln,
August 10 and 11, 1846. Sterling Price was elected colonel and D. D. Mitchell
lieutenant-colonel, and B. G. Edmonson, major of the regiment. Col. Price had
already been commissioned by President Polk, but many of the volunteers thought
if he commanded the regiment at all he ought to be chosen by their suffrages.
Accordingly he deferred to their wishes and was elected, practically without
About the 15th of August, Price's regiment took up the line of march from
Fort Leavenworth to Santa Fe, following the same road taken by Kearney and
Doniphan. The men stood the march well, and met with many adventures of
interest. The trip will never be forgotten by those who made it. The country
through which they passed was wild, the life was new, and the experience novel.
They encountered more or less privations and discomforts, but invariably made
merry over mishaps. When the fierce storms that swept over the wild western
prairies blew down the tents of their camp, which frequently happened, the boys
crawled out of their beds and laughed at the circumstance. They were heroes and
Mark Tapleys as well.
No Indians or other hostiles were met with on the route, although a sharp
look out was kept for them, and there were no alarms of any consequences. The
men were well mounted, but for the most part were very indifferently armed,
their weapons being old-fashioned, flint-look, smooth-bore "Harper's
Ferry" muskets, with bayonets. They had no sabers, no pistols. In fact,
they were mounted infantry men.
At last, on the 28th of September, the 2d Missouri arrived and was quartered
at the quaint old adobe-built city of Santa Fe, then a place of 5,000 or 6,000
inhabitants, comprising a population cosmopolitan in character although mostly
Mexicans, Spanish and half-breed Indians. A few days before, Gen. Stephen
Kearney had left the city for California, and Col. Doniphan, with the 1st
Missouri, had deported for Mexico. A detail of 100 men from Price's regiment,
consisting of ten men from each company, was immediately dispatched to join
Doniphan. This detail was commanded by Lieut.-Col. Mitchell, of the 2d Missouri.
Following were from company L: Wm. B. Graves, Alex. T. Williams, Ira Benson,
Bennett Heskett, James R. Bell, Oliver Bain.
The 2d Missouri went into quarters in various public buildings in Santa Fe,
and the men enjoyed the situation immensely. Life in the city in that day was
gay and frolicsome, after the most approved Mexican and Spanish fashion, and the
soldiers soon adapted themselves to it, and partook bountifully of it. Monte
banks were everywhere in full blast, dance houses abounded, and kindred
establishments of every sort were to be found on every hill. All of these houses
were well patronized, and of all classes. It was no uncommon sight to behold,
among the patrons of a monte bank, a merchant, a hidalgo or large landed
proprietor, an official of the city government, a padre or priest, in his
robe and with his crucifix, an American soldier, a muleteer, or mule
driver, a Magdalen and a Peon, or Indian serf.
At the dance houses, fandagoes were nightly held, participated in by
motley groups of soldiers, citizens, officers, and the abandoned of both sexes.
The wildest revels were indulged in at times, and often the orgies closed up
with a tragedy when Santa Fe was under Mexican rule; but these endings were rare
during the American occupation. The music was not of the best, indeed, it was
the rudest, but it put life and mettle in the heels of the dancers, and was wild
and as wierd, was the assemblage. Quite often, however, the scene was graced (?)
and the antics hallowed (?) by the presence of the jolly padre, whose
eyes twinkled merrily as they gazed upon the revelry, and rolled solemnly as he
invoked a "benedicite" on revel and reveler.
About two weeks after their arrival at Santa Fe, Capt. Slack's company and
the company from Carroll county, commanded by Capt. Williams, were sent up to
the little village of Abique (pronounced Ab-i-ku), on the Rio Chaima, a
tributary of the Rio Grande. Abique was a small place, whose population was
composed of Mexicans and Pueblo Indians. The town was exposed to the raids of
the fierce and merciless Navajo Indians, and, as the American authority had been
established in New Mexico, Col. Price sent up these two companies to protect the
town and its people. Capt. Williams took command of the post.
The inhabitants of Abique were very friendly and peaceably disposed toward
the soldiers, and the most amicable relations were established between the
people and the garrison. Here the Livingston county men remained until about the
20th of December. During their stay, many of the soldiers were attacked with the
measles, and when the companies were ordered away were left behind. Some of them
died of disease.
When Gen. Kearney captured Santa Fe, he proclaimed the supremacy of the
American authority, and set up a provisional government for New Mexico. Chas.
Bent was appointed Provisional Governor. The Mexicans did not greatly relish the
new order of things, and stimulated by the priests, who imagined that American
rule in New Mexico meant the extinction of the Catholic religion, and encouraged
by certain of their former officials, who knew that their days of
extortion, profligacy, and corruption would forever pass if the
"Yankees" maintained their authority, so stipulated and so encouraged,
the people rose in revolt and insurrection against those whom they deemed their
oppressors and "infidel usurpers." The situation of Col. Price and his
men was extremely critical. They were hundreds of miles from support, in an
enemy's country, in the midst of winter, and almost without means of
communication with their friend. Yet Col. Price was equal to the emergency, as
was clearly and thoroughly demonstrated.
The rebellion was led by Gen. Tofoya, Chavez and Montaya. Their forces were
chiefly organized in the district northwest of Santa Fe, the town of Taos
(pronounced Tow-us or Touce) being the headquarters of the insurgents. One of
the first outbreaks occurred at Gov. Bent's mill near Taos. The Governor and
some others were killed. Wm. J. Hatfield, a member of the Carroll county
company, was also killed, either at Bent's mill or at another near by. The
insurrection rapidly spread and assumed alarming proportions. It seemed as if
the Americans would be overthrown, and either exterminated or driven from the
country. Tofoya, at the head of a strong force, was marching directly on Santa
Fe, and all of the outposts were threatened. The Americans who had settled in
isolated locations were daily being surprised and massacred.
About the 24th of January Col. Price called in all his companies. The
companies at Abique made a hurried march to Santa Fe, where they were joined by
their comrades from the other outposts. As before stated, the sick were left
behind. In a short time, the regiment, with Fischer's St. Louis battery and a
company of dragoons, marched to meet the Mexicans who were threatening Santa Fe.
Fischer's battery consisted of four howitzers, and was manned almost exclusively
The first evening out the Mexicans were encountered, 2,000 strong, at a
little hamlet called Canada (pronounced Can-ya-tha). Price's forces, all told,
numbered not more than 500 or 600 men. The Mexicans, under Tofoya, Chavez and
Montaya, were posted on a high ridge, commanding well the country in front and
running directly across the American line of march. They were well armed with
muskets and other infantry and cavalry arms, but were without artillery.
Col. Price marched his command up within striking distance, along the road,
which, as has been indicated, struck the ridge at right angles, and then
deployed his forces in front of the enemy, forming this line in an arroyo, or
dry bed of a stream, running parallel with and at the base of the mountain
range, on the crest of which the enemy were posted.
Fischer's battery unlimbered and opened on the Mexicans with shell.
The effect was insignificant, and Col. Price ordered the Missourians to
"charge!" Away they went up the steep hillside, receiving the fire of
the Mexicans at short range without halting or quailing, and pressed gallantly
on to the crest of the hill, and to victory. The Mexicans not relishing a
bayonet encounter, nor a hand-to-hand fight, retreated with great precipitation,
and in confusion. Two thousand men had been put to fight by five hundred.
When the fight was over several Mexicans lay dead on the field. The Americans
lost a number wounded, but none killed outright. Col. Price himself was slightly
wounded. Some guns and other munitions of war were taken by the victors. The
fight closed at nightfall. The Americans remained on the field that night,
apprehensive of an attack, but by the next morning not a Mexican was in sight.
The march was resumed and the enemy was again reached on the 29th, posted in
the little hamlet of El Embudo. Fischer's battery was brought up and shelled the
town. A charge followed, participated in by the mounted men and the infantry.
The Mexicans were routed with several killed and wounded, while the Americans
lost but two men. The superiority of American over Mexican courage was made
manifest in the Embudo fight, and the Missouri boys won a deserved good name for
pluck and efficiency. The Mexicans fled over a range of hills and mountains, and
Col. Price led his men in pursuit with much alacrity. On the mountains there was
much snow, and the soldiers suffered considerably. Beds were made of fine
boughs, and on them and under their army blankets, the volunteers lay
contentedly down to sleep with pickets well out, while -
There was little murmuring or complaint. A soldier's life, well followed, is
one of privation, peril, inconvenience, and discomfort generally, and the men
knew this and were content.
About the first of February Col. Price's little army descended the mountains
and entered the valley of Taos. The command camped in the village of San
Fernandez, a suburb of Taos. The only inhabitants of the place, when the
Missourians entered it, were women and children and a few old men. All of the
able-bodied male population were in the city of Taos, in Tofoya's army, which
had there determined to make a final stand. There was, of course, great alarm
and trepidation in San Fernandez, when the dreaded "Americos " took
possession of the place, but without good cause or adequate reason. Nobody was
hurt, and the time was mainly spent in preparing for the work of the following
At sunrise on the morning of February 8, 1847, Col. Price drew up his force
in front of the Mexican position at Taos. The Mexicans were well protected and
in admirable position to withstand and repel an assault from the enemy ten times
the number which then confronted them. Taos is situated on a plain, and the town
was surrounded by a high and strong wall built of adobe, or sun dried bricks. On
the side where Col. Price made his attack stood a large Catholic Church, the
outer wall of which formed a part of the fortification which enclosed the town.
This church was well filled with soldiers, the walls being pierced with
loop-holes for musketry. Fischer's battery opened the fight by well-directed
fire against the walls, which it was desirous to shatter and dismantle, in order
that an entrance into the town might be erected. The cannonade was kept up until
about noon, the balls at every discharge striking the wall fairly and truly in
what seemed its most vulnerable parts, but without the desired effect. The walls
would not fall.
Col. Price at last became weary of this ineffective mode of attack, and
determined, by the advice of his officers, and the consent of his own mind, on
an assault. Early in the afternoon a storming party was formed, a part of the
men being provided with axes, and at the word, the Missourians dashed gallantly
forward, receiving the Mexican fire for hundreds of yards. The axes were plied
vigorously, and holes were soon made in the church sufficiently large to admit
of hand grenades being thrown through them upon the Mexicans. A brisk musketry
fire was kept up on the top of the walls, and seldom did a Mexican show his head
that it was not hit. At last, breaches were made that admitted the brave
Missourians, and through there they went cheering and shouting, and firing and
As the Americans entered Taos on one side, the Mexicans began leaving on the
other. A body of horsemen were sent around the walls and fell upon the
fugitives, cutting down many of them, and making prisoners of many more. Firing
was kept up in the streets of the town and behind buildings for some time, but
at last the Mexicans were vanquished, their tricolored flag went down, and the
stars and stripes floated in its stead.
In this engagement the Livingston company had but few men wounded, none
killed. Lieut. Mansfield was struck by a musket ball; Jacob Moore was wounded in
the shoulder by an arrow, and W. E. Gibbons was shot through the thumb by an
arrow from the bow of a Pueblo Indian, whom a comrade of Gibbons instantly
Hundreds of prisoners were taken, and among them were Tofoya and several of
his officers. A large amount of military stores were also captured. The victory
was a glorious one, and complete, for it ended the war, substantially, so far as
New Mexico was concerned.
A short time after the Taos fight, Tofoya and about a dozen other of the
leaders of the insurrection were tried by drum-head court-martial and hung at
San Fernandez. All of them had taken the oath of allegiance to the American
government, and had violated it in the basest and most treacherous manner,
thereby forfeiting their lives. They met their deaths very heroically, and
elicited from the Americans not only admiration for their bravery, but pity for
their fate. It seemed indeed a grievous thing to take their lives after they had
surrendered, and so it was; but it was actually necessary to resort to the
extremest measures to repress the insurrection and visit the severest punishment
upon its leaders in order to prevent repetition. The ignorant, deprived
Mexicans, treacherous by nature and murderous almost by instinct, could not be
made to live under American authority by any other motive than fear. It was
necessary to "strike terror into their hearts" by meting out to them
the most rigorous punishment for their perfidy.
The loss of the Mexicans in the three engagements of Canada, El Embudo and
Taos, in killed was 250; the wounded and prisoners were never counted. Col.
Price's loss was 15 killed and 47 wounded. The only officer killed on the
American side, of any distinction, was Maj. Burgwine, a North Carolinian, an
officer of dragoons, but who served with Fischer's artillery on the expedition
at Taos, and was killed at the battle of that place. His remains were afterwards
exhumed, taken to Fort Leavenworth and reburied in the following September.
In early days in Missouri all able-bodied men between the ages of eighteen
and forty-five were required to organize into companies, choose officers, and
meet at stated times and places for drill and exercise in military evaluations.
The company commissioned officers were a captain and lieutenants. Companies were
organized into battalions; battalions into regiments, with colonels,
lieutenant-colonels, majors and other field officers; regiments into brigades,
with a brigadier-general in command; brigades into divisions, with a
major-general in command, and the whole under the charge of the Governor, ex
officio commander-in-chief of the military forces of the State.
In this county company musters were held in every township -- at a town, if
there was one, and if there was no town, then at some other convenient place.
Battalion musters were held at Spring Hill, Utica, and Chillicothe. Regimental
musters were uniformly held at Chillicothe, the drill ground being in the
northern part of town, about two blocks north of the square. Col. Joseph Cox was
the commanding officer at first of the regiment, and some other old settlers yet
recall his imposing appearance, and that of some of the other field officers,
clad in full regimentals, and mounted on spirited war horses, whose necks were
"clothed with thunder," and who said among the trumpets, " Ha.!
The militia of the county were all required to attend these musters, or
present a satisfactory reason for a failure, or else suffer a fine. They were
also required to bring their arms with them, if they had any, and in early days,
these arms must be " in good order." As not every man had a gun,
numbers went through the manual of arms with sticks, cornstalks and other
implements. As not every officer had a sword, "daggers of lath," and
sabers and rapiers of pine were waved and flourished in directing the movements
of the troops.
All the drilling that was done, however, was not of a very effective sort.
The drill masters were not very efficient to begin with, and their tactics
differed very widely from the more modern ones of Hardee and Upton. Then the
"troops" were undisciplined, and resented all attempts to force them
to become the "machines," which the Duke of Wellington said all men
should become in order to be good soldiers. Indeed, general musters were only
kept up and submitted to by the people, for a long time, on account of the
"fun" that always attended them. The theory was a very good one - that
in time of peace people should prepare for war, and that a well regulated
militia was necessary to the peace and security of a country; but in practice
musters became troublesome, inconvenient and unhandy, and productive of no good,
and the Legislature abolished the militia law about the time of the breaking out
of the Mexican War.
The provisions of the militia law were changed from time to time, but as a
general rule company musters were held once a month, battalion musters twice a
year, and general musters yearly. As a rule the men mere not uniformed. The
officers were compelled to uniform themselves, at their own expense. The State
furnished a great many arms and equipments, chiefly holster and dragoon pistols,
belts, sabers and the like.
One thing surely the musters produced -- a bountiful supply of military
titles. The county was abundantly furnished with captains and majors and
colonels, many of whom, though they never set a squadron in the field, or knew
the evolution of a legion, yet were glorious to behold when they were clad in
their showy uniforms, and mounted upon their prancing steeds, leading their
commands to the drill ground. But though at times the parades were conducted
with all the pomp and circumstance of glorious war, they came to be considered,
as they were, nuisances, and the performance ridiculous and farcical.
There were not drillings and meetings enough to render the militiamen trained
soldiers, and there were too many for comfort. Courts-martial convened at the
court house quite frequently for the trial of offenders against the militia law,
and many a luckless delinquent was fined for his non-attendance at drills or
musters, or for other offenses.
There was always fun at the musters, more or less in quantity or better or worse in quality. Great crowds attended the general musters. Old darkies were there with spruce beer and ginger cakes; refreshment stands abounded; horse races were made and run; foot races, wrestling matches, and other athletic sports were indulged in, and many a fisticuff was fought on muster day. At all these things, and at the drilling and evaluations of the militiamen, the crowd stared and admired.