Nina Lane Faubion's unfinished, little-seen biography circa 1945 of her great-grandfather, which turns out to be largely cribbed from earlier histories. The work ends with the end of the Mexican War.
Transcribed from an apparently incomplete photocopy of an edited carbon paper copy of uncertain provenance. Some edits were illegible and could not be applied. Please contact me if you have a better copy.
For much more about Lane, click here.
FOREWORDIndiana may well be called the mother of Oregon. Without the fight for freedom made by Indiana Territory for her place under the Stars and Stripes, there would be no Oregon as we know it today. It is to Indiana and the brave men and women of the Southland who so bravely fought on Indiana soil that the great Northwest owes her allegiance to the United States of America.
To the everlasting shame of both Indiana and Oregon is the spoliation of the Indians of their homelands. Through force and deceit this great Northwest was wrested from them, sluiced in the blood of the venturesome to the pay dirt that has been minted by the Yankee speculators. The settlers acted as hosts to the parasites that we have so constantly had with us since.
Had it not been for General Rogers Clark, first with his outlined plan for the conquest of the Indiana country, made in 1777, up to his capture of Lieutenant Governor Hamilton, at Vincennes, in 1799, all the Northwest Territory, at least that west of the Ohio, would have been in the hands of the British. At the close of the Revolution, by the Treaty of Paris, our representatives found the Northwest Territory hard to hold. France and Spain were opposed to the continuation of the boundary west of the Allegheny Mountains, or at most, they believed that the land between the Ohio and the Cumberland rivers should be all the possessions the Americans should hold west of the mountains.
Prior to this, all along the borders of the Ohio, the Americans were preyed upon by French, British, and Indians. The British did everything in their power, after the treaty with France, to keep settlements from being made. As far back as 1752, proposals were made to the King by his British subjects and his colonies to make explorations in this section and to plant new settlements. But they were ignored then as they were later in the Oregon country.
Witness the blood-stained fingers and the itching palms of those who profited by the fur trade, handing out rewards at Detroit for American scalps, and five pounds for young women prisoners who were turned over by their savage captors to the British officers for a life of servitude--the fair mothers and daughters of Virginia and Kentucky. From the time the French went into the Indiana country, in 1650, and made asylum for desperadoes from the Colonies who drifted among the French trappers and the Indians, it was a difficult shift for venturesome Americans bent on establishing homes. Cleared lands and homesteaders' cabins do not breed fur-bearing animals for the trapper's pack.
With the establishment of better order in Indiana the way was made clear for the opening of the West by American settlers. For the best understanding of Oregon's history, documents and letters, diaries and notes kept by pioneers will be found not only accurate, but they throw much light from various angles upon the situations confronting the many classes of early Oregon settlers. The veil of time dims issues and their numerous ramifications that were vital to the early settler.
Partisan newspapers, with political axes to grind, belied the personal beliefs and the true situations as set forth in many letters written by our pioneer Oregonians. Historians seem mostly of the "closet" variety that sit in their sanctums and copy what some biased writer has gleaned. Bancroft is champion of this sort of record, as is revealed by original sources.
It appears from documents on file in the various historical societies that the early editors of Oregon's newspapers were, for the most part, rather a scurvy lot of opportunists. Not sincere either in their love of home or country, the worst offenders, research will disclose, feathered their nests rather comfortably. On the other hand, the sincere patriots and well wishers of Oregon's progress usually failed most miserably to make a living from the public expression of their ideals or their dreams of a clean state government. Press and politicians have done their worst toward making Oregon a throwback to the age of the troglodyte, mentally speaking. Records show that whenever the people of Oregon have turned their faces toward the light of progress, press and politicians have, with united effort, tried to suppress any advancement.
From the very beginning of colonial times, until the establishment of a state government in Oregon, everything west of the Mississippi was for the group that could take and hold it. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, until after the War of 1812, government was haphazard. After 1812, the eastern part of the country was fairly secure, but west of the Ohio the picture was rather smudged. Aaron Burr's conspiracy for revolutioning the territory west of the Allegheny Mountains and establishing an independent empire, with Mexico as an alternate project if the conspiracy failed, and the settlement of the Mormons west of the Wasatch Mountains with dreams of an independent empire, are but two of the embryonic attempts of groups to establish homelands in which they could feel secure from a rather unwieldy and loosely organized government that might fall into several separate pieces under a well-directed attack, and in which scheme of things they had no spirit.
The Northwest was in a chaotic condition until the settlement of the long-pending boundary controversy by treaty between the United States and Great Britain, in 1846. It was not until 1848 that Congress was enabled to organize a territorial government for Oregon. It was then, at the close of the Mexican War, that my great-grandfather made his way to the Oregon Country, at his own expense, to take on anew self-imposed burdens in the interest of his country and, as in the past, the ruin of his pocketbook.
From the first the British settlement on the Atlantic coast to the present day, on the Pacific coast, the family of General Joseph Lane has played a conspicuous and loyal part. History proves that they never raped their government for personal gain, and that each in his generation was far-seeing in the development of the country and the welfare of its people.
Heroic fighters for principle, loyal to friends and family, proud of the name they bore, they have forged ahead, often championing the unpopular side. They have found mob hysteria a fearsome and unreasoning thing. It is probable that the present generation of Lanes will again have to fight the looters of their homeland--will again pay the price the mob exacts for the outstanding man or woman who dares to fight the good fight. It is at the bright, red wholesome apple growing on the topmost limb that the urchin throws rocks and sticks to bring it to his own level.
The Lanes have a family tradition--rather discomforting physically, but mighty comforting mentally, it is: "The Lanes die poor in purse, but pure in heart." They have also a family saying: "The word of a Lane is his bond--he never hopes to have a better."
JOE LANEOregon itself has little place in history. In fact, with the exception of one or two outstanding events, Oregon is without historical background.
Nina Lane Faubion.
Indiana may well be called the mother of Oregon. Without the fight for freedom made by Indiana Territory for her place under the Stars and Stripes, there would be no Oregon as we know it today. It is to Indiana, and the brave men and women of the Southland who so bravely fought on Indiana soil, that the great Northwest owes her allegiance to the United States of America.
To the everlasting shame of both Indiana and Oregon is the spoliation of the Indians of their homelands. Through force and deceit this great Northwest was wrested from them, sluiced in the blood of the venturesome to the pay dirt that has been minted by the Yankee speculators. The settlers acted as hosts to the parasites that we have so constantly had with us since.
Had it not been for General Rogers Clark, first with his outlined plan for conquest of the Indiana country, made in 1777, up to his capture of Lieut. Governor Hamilton at Vincennes in 1799, all the Northwest Territory, at least that west of the Ohio, would have been in the hands of the British. At the close of the Revolution, at the Treaty of Paris, our representatives found the Northwest Territory hard to hold. France and Spain were opposed to the boundary's coming west of the Allegheny Mtns., or at most, they believed that the land between the Ohio and the Cumberland rivers should be all the possession the Americans should hold west of the mountains.
Prior to this, all along the borders of the Ohio, the Americans were preyed upon by French, British, and Indians. The British did everything in their power, after the treaty with France, to keep improvements from being made. As far back as 1752, propositions were made to the King by his British subjects and his colonies to make improvements in this section and to plant colonies, but were ignored then, as they later were in the Oregon country. Witness the blood-stained fingers and the itching palms of those who profited by the fur trade, handing out rewards at Detroit for American scalps and five pounds for young women prisoners who were turned over by their savage captors to the British officers for a life of servitude--fair mothers and daughters of Virginia and Kentucky. From the time the French went into the Indiana country, in 1650, and made asylum for desperadoes from the Colonies who made their home among the French trappers and the Indians, it was a hard shift for venturesome Americans bent on establishing homes. Cleared lands and homesteaders' cabins do not breed fur-bearing animals for the trapper's pack.
With the establishment of better order in Indiana the way was made clear for the opening of the West by Americans. For the best understanding of Oregon's history, the perusal of documents and letters, diaries and notes kept by pioneer forefathers is not only more accurate but throws more light from various angles upon situations confronting the many different classes of early Oregon settlers. The veil of time dims issues and their varied ramifications that were vital to the early settler. The partisan newspapers, with political axes to grind, belie the personal beliefs and true situations as set forth in many letters written by our pioneer Oregonians. Historians seem to be mostly of the "closet" variety--they sit in their closets and copy what some biased writer has gleaned. Bancroft is champion at this sort of thing, as can be proven by consulting original sources.
It appears from documents on file in the various historical societies that the early editors of Oregon's newspapers were rather a scurvy lot of opportunists, for the most part, not sincere in their love of either home or country.
From the very beginning of colonial times, until the establishment of a state government in Oregon, everything west of the Mississippi was for the group that could take and hold it. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, until after the War of 1812, government was at loose ends. After 1812 the eastern part of the country was fairly secure, but west of the Ohio the picture was rather smudged. Aaron Burr's conspiracy for revolutionizing the territory west of the Allegheny Mountains and establishing an independent empire, with Mexico as an alternate project if the conspiracy failed, and the settlement of the Mormons west of the Wasatch Mountains, with dreams of an independent empire, are but two of the embryonic attempts of groups to establish homelands in which they could feel secure from rater unwieldy and loosely organized government that might fall into several separate pieces under a well-directed attack, and in which scheme of things they had no voice.
The Northwest was in a chaotic condition until the settlement of the long-pending boundary controversy by treaty between the United States and Great Britain, in 1846. It was not until 1848 that Congress was enabled to organize a territorial government for Oregon. It was then at the close of the Mexican War that your great-great-grandfather made his way to the Oregon country, at his own expense, to take on anew self-imposed burdens in the interest of his country and, as in the past, to the ruin of his pocketbook.
From the first British settlement on the Atlantic coast, to the present day, on the Pacific coast, the family of General Joseph Lane has played a conspicuous and loyal part. History proves that they never raped their government for personal gain, and that each in his generation was far-seeing in the development of the country and the welfare of its people. Heroic fighters for principle, loyal to friends and family, proud of the name they bore, they have forged ahead, often championing the unpopular side. They have found mob hysteria a fearsome and unreasoning thing. It is probable that the present generation of Lanes will again have to fight the looters of their homeland--will again pay the price the mob exacts for the outstanding man or woman who dares to fight the good fight. It is the bright, red, wholesome apple, growing on the topmost limb, that the urchin throws rocks and sticks at to bring it to his own level.
The Lanes have a family tradition--rather uncomfortable physically but mighty comforting mentally, it is: "The Lanes die poor in purse but pure in heart." "The word of a Lane is his bond--he never hopes to have a better" is another family saying.
Part 1.A pageant of grand and glorious, silk and armor-clad men, handsome, brave and gallant, hand in hand with equally brave, beautiful, and gracious women--as well as those in homespun--Lanes all, led down the pathway of time, setting historic markers for their posterity to emulate.
General Joseph Lane, your ancestor and mine, was a true son of these grand, glorious, and adventurous Lanes, well aware of the important parts they played in weaving the tapestry of history. Heroes and heroines of romance and war the Lanes were to others; to Joe Lane they were members of the family. Bold knights and ladies fair were great-grandfathers and mothers, uncles and cousins. Heroes and heroines from the American Revolution down to the meanest Indian skirmish were members of the Lane family in America, everything being taken in the stride of economic and social development as commonplace and everyday tasks, unaware that many of their actions were spectacular and history building. As our western poet Joaquin Miller once wrote in a note, thanking me for some published verses I dedicated to him: "Anyone born to the name of Lane is as one born to the purple."
The Lanes have always been noblemen by birth, and what is bred in the bone cannot be taken from one by lesser humans. The Lanes have always lived up to the traditions that are our duty to uphold. It is for you of the fifth generation in Oregon to carry on, shoulder to shoulder with your blood brothers scattered throughout the Southland of these United States, for true American principles as set forth by our Constitution until such a time as it becomes contradictory with corrupt amendments, upheld by a Supreme Court that usurped its power originally. The welfare of America first, last, and all the time.
Great-grandfather was a pioneer hero of three states: Indiana, Texas, and Oregon. He descended from men and women who historians
Etymologists state that the name was originally the Norman De Lona or DeLone. On ancient records in England the name is variously spelled Laine, Layne, Lean, and Lane.
Sir Reginald De Lona's name is on the roll of Battle Abbey. He is believed by some writers to have been the great-grandson of a follower of William the Conqueror who bore the same surname.
Adam De Lona, a descendant of Sir Reginald through Sir Richard De Lone, made his home in the counties of Stafford and Chester and married Isabella Cotgreave. It is also known that a Sir Ralph Lane married Agnes, daughter of Sir Hugh de Colverley of Chester County. A Sir Ralph Lane is the father of our first ancestor in America; his oldest son Sir Ralph Lane Jr., was brother to our ancestor Joseph Lane, the former being governor of Roanoke, while the brother, Joseph, was without title.
One of the family, Adam Lane, or Lone, of Hampton, followed Richard Coeur de Lion in one of the Crusades in the Holy Land.
John, son of Adam De Lona and Isabella Cotgreave, was living in the late thirteenth century. His sons were Richard, Thomas, William, and Hervey. The eldest of these, Richard, was the father of Andrew de la Lone (1338), who had two sons, John
-- many pages missing --
This section, pages 38-72, with inserts, recounts Joseph Lane's Indiana life, as a farmer with his wife, the Indian massacre refugee, Polly Pierre, and their children; as a river boat operator on the Ohio and Mississippi; as a member of the state legislature, 24 years; and his appointment to the U.S. Army, as Brigadier General, after resigning from the legislature and volunteering for service in the Mexican War. The section deals chiefly with his distinguished service in the Mexican War.
This section of 50 pages is written, but needs revision, and is not included in the outline as sent.
-- insert page 38 --
Shortly after the Revolution, some members of the Lane family joined the Methodist Church. Jesse Lane chose to walk that path.
Part IIIJesse Lane, the oldest son of John Lane, feeling the urge to guide others in their manner of living, left home to study for the ministry.
Great-grandfather not only managed the riverbank farm that he and his father settled upon, but he bought produce and conducted a flatboat commerce with New Orleans. It has been said that he was an "expert" in the business.
Many a tale has been written of the romantic flatboat days on the Ohio, Wabash, and Mississippi--they flowed as one to the southern market. It was a wild lot of men that came down the Wabash. Often those on flatboats from the Ohio would have to quiet their Wabash neighbors when they reached the lower river in order to maintain peace on the "through highway" of the West. Many a tale is related of Great-grandfather as peacemaker or mediator when rows and sometimes violence would break out among the crews of other boats. Commanding, firm, but never loud, he gained the respect of the river men.
To make the run from the farm to New Orleans required a month. For the most part, the boatmen were a jolly lot--generous and lighthearted. On the lower Mississippi they would often lash their boats together and float for several days and nights,
At floodtide, two hundred thousand pounds of pork, one thousand bushels of corn, and many other articles of produce would be carried in the hemp-caulked boats. Sixty to eighty feet long, and from fourteen to sixteen feet wide, the boats were packed to the limit. Pork was packed in bulk to the gunwale, while flour, corn, and wheat was placed on raised platforms to keep dry.
In preparation for the floodtide, men could be seen all along the river building their one-way boats, bottom side up. Came the day when the hammer and saw were laid away and the shovel taken in hand. Now was the time when family and neighbors took their vantage points along the bank to watch the boats being turned right side up! Along the outer edge of the boat bottom, the black, truant river mud was piled and packed in an oozing heap. High-shouldered oxen were hitched to ropes passed under the boat at the river's edge. With a shout and a crack of the bull whip the oxen slowly settled their weight against the yoke! The ropes tightened--strained! Another volley of the snapping rawhide! Another turbidly sucking step of the oxen and the mud weight slid into the water as the boat turned upright with a splash! The family cheered or released their breath, held in sympathetic restraint with the efforts of the beasts. Willing hands bailed the river water from the hull with buckets and gourds. Three long oars were fashioned. The steering oar, fastened to a post near the stern of the boat, had a wide blade. The second and third oars were to be used as sweeps to propel the boat when necessary and pull her out of capricious eddies. Now but to collect and stow the cargo and the flatboat was on its way to adventure and a waiting market.
It was in this atmosphere that Great-grandfather lived and prospered for twenty-four years. He became almost at once a prominent community and state leader, being reelected to the lower house of the Indiana legislature frequently. When the legislature was not in session he carried on his river trade and his farming. A fragmentary sidelight contained in a letter written by him to Colonel W. M. Cockrum may be of interest. It is copied from Pioneer History of Indiana by Colonel Cockrum
Roseburg, Oregon.Col. W. M. Cockrum
May 15, 1878.
Oakland City, Ind.
I don't remember of ever having seen you, as you must have been a very small boy the last of the thirties and up to 1842, the last time I visited your father at his Eastern Gibson County home.
After the war with Mexico, I was never in Indiana except short periods at a time. As I read the Indiana papers, I know of you and that you won an honorable title in the war of 1861 and '65. Your father and I were friends--yes, real chums. I recall so many things of his life and worth that it affords me real pleasure to thus bear testimony to his noble manhood and integrity. Many times we have run side by side with our flatboats lashed together, in the lower Mississippi, for days at a time, having a real old-fashioned social visit. We were not of the same political faith, but I don't know that politics were ever mentioned when we were together. I was on the boat at the time you ask about. The cause of the contention was about a bill due the boat for freight from New Orleans for the Davis plantation. As I now recall, it was owned by two brothers, Joseph and the Honorable Jefferson Davis. The man who caused all the trouble was a hotheaded manager of the plantation for the Davis brothers.
There was a woodyard on the plantation and your father's boat, the Otsego, had taken on wood, and when the bill was presented [to] the clerk for payment, the freight bill was given in part payment. This manager was a very important fellow. He raved like a maniac, saying that it was an insult to thus force collection for any of their bills, and he intended to see that the boat did not loose her cable or raise her stage until the bill was paid in full and they would pay the freight bill at their pleasure.
About this time your father, who was captain of the boat, ordered the mate to loose the cable and raise the stage. The fool manager was rushing up and down along the side of the boat and on the stage with a derringer pistol in his hand, ordering his woodyard slaves not to allow the men to loose the cable. The Colonel came running down to the lower deck with a monstrous gun in his hand and, leveling it at the threatening fellow, ordered him to put up his weapon and leave the gangway, which, after looking into that gun, he concluded to do. All the history of myself that would be of importance to the general public is easily secured by you and you can use such of it as will be in line with your work. The other questions you asked about, I will answer in the near future.
Very truly yours,Great-grandfather later served with Jefferson Davis in the Mexican War and in Congress. This friendship and mutual esteem did not lessen with the years.
In 1823, Great-grandfather became the proud parent of a fine son, who, through the course of years, biology, geography, and environment, became my grandfather. This man-child was named after his kinsman, Nathaniel Hart. In 1825, another son was born and bore the name of Ratliff. Two years later, in 1827, his son Joseph came into the world. A daughter, Mary, the lily of the family, was born in 1830. Simon was born in 1832, and the jolly and witty Emily in 1834. Great-grandmother Polly, evidently busy with her seven lively youngsters, failed in her two-year schedule and did not bring John into the world until 1837. Another three years passed when the beautiful Winifred, the miniature of her mother, made her bow in 1840. In 1842 Lafayette, the last of the brood, and the most aesthetically inclined of the family, arrived.
From Indiana to New Orleans Great-grandfather made staunch and loyal friends. As his sons grew old enough to make the long trip to New Orleans he took them with him. Nat, the eldest, developed almost a passion for the river. He was a born navigator. The tricky currents of the Mississippi became a game of wits with him. In later years when he became captain of a Mississippi riverboat, it is told that he never failed to make his landing on the first attempt at the New Orleans levee. The levee where happy negroes lolled in the sun, sure of the food they ate; nor worried they over rent or doctor's bills--those items being taken care of by their owners; nor worried they as to their state of servitude as had their forebears on the dark continent where capture by a rival tribe meant torture, death, or a servitude worse than death. Harassed brows were carried by the white man--victim of Yankee trade and a pernicious system that would eventually, bloodlessly, break with its own weight.
Millise, capable and cheerful, was her mother's helper in the house, and with the younger children until her early marriage. Great-grandmother kept no servants, but trained her daughters in the domestic arts as they grew old enough to assume responsibilities. So far as the family know, Great-grandfather kept or owned not one slave, although well able to afford more.
Emily, though four years younger than Mary, stepped into the heavier work when Millise went into her own home. Mary, the most strikingly handsome of the daughters, disliked work and responsibility--the daily flipping of the dust cloth over the furniture, while not to her taste, was a compromise in a household where work was a virtue.
Winifred, the youngest daughter, beautiful and dainty, delighted in her chore of keeping the brass doorknobs bright and shining. With the raw side of a halved apple she would thoroughly rub the brass until every mar and stain had disappeared. With the help of soft cloths and warm, soapy water, she polished doorknobs and andirons until they shone like splashes of sunshine against the dark shadows of the interior.
In 1844, Great-grandfather found himself a member of the state senate. He was a Democrat of the Jefferson and Jackson schools and most thoroughly acquainted with the politics and history of his country. His retentive memory and quick, active intellect enabled him to turn to immediate and effective use the more important facts and incidents connected with our institutions. Hence his argumentative illustrations were strong and forcible.
More a man of action than of words, more practical than theoretical; he presented himself to us with a mind formed rather by the study of things than of their mere names. While many may have been more elegant in diction, he was more eloquent in ratiocination, and eminently practical in life. He has written with his plow and sword and spoken by his deeds. Without the ornaments of rhetoric and literature, he was, nevertheless, a powerful orator. He possessed native powers of debate, and his intimate acquaintance with facts and records have enabled him at all times, in political
He was a Scottish Rite Mason, a member of Center Lodge 23, of Indianapolis, Ind. (A History of Masonry in Indianapolis by W. E. English).
When Great-grandfather was twenty-three years old he cast his vote for Jackson, and supported him in 1826, and again in 1832. He supported Van Buren in 1836 and 1840, and Polk in 1844. In 1848, he had no opportunity to support General Cass, as he was on his way to Oregon to assume the gubernatorial duties of that far-off Territory.
"His course in the legislature was marked by a devoted patriotism and a singleness of purpose to advance the prosperity of Indiana. He was most active in [an] arrangement by which the state was saved from bankruptcy, and her honor from the stain of repudiation. The policy of repudiation was boldly advocated by many of the strongest men of Indiana. In this dark hour, Senator Lane insisted on keeping the public faith untarnished, and with other brave and honest spirits succeeded in a legislation which has placed Indiana among the most prosperous commonwealths. None but those who were residents of the state in that trying time can sufficiently estimate his valuable services on this important question.
In 1846, a call was made on Indiana for volunteers for the Mexican War. General Lane was a member of the state senate when the requisition was made. He resigned and entered as a private in Captain Walker's company. He chose Walker his captain on account of the high opinion he had of his bravery--an opinion well justified, as was proved at Buena Vista where the brave man fell.
The companies having assembled at New Albany, they selected Lane from the ranks as their Colonel. In a very few days a further testimony to his worth was manifested by his receipt from Washington of the commission of Brigadier General--a commission unsought, and unexpected by him, so history tells us.
The story behind the appointment as printed by the Indiana Sentinel, May 17, 1848, has its humorous side: "If I were to select a specimen of a backwoodsman (says Cist's Advertiser) it should be Joseph Lane. I would take a foreigner, if in my power, 50 miles to visit Lane, as an admirable illustration of the workings of our political and social institution.
"I know nothing of his early history, and presume it to be that of thousands in the West. I know him only as a farmer and wood merchant, on the banks of the Ohio, in which character I first made his acquaintance. He came on board the S. B. Andrew Jackson, to receive pay for a lot of wood sold the boat, and was introduced to me by Capt. Eckert. He wore a blanket coat, and his general appearance was that of a backwoodsman, but I had not conversed with him five minutes before I set him down as a man of no ordinary cast.
"Later and more intimate acquaintance confirmed my judgment, and in his late military career in Mexico he has shone conspicuous for gallantry and good conduct, even in the galaxy of heroes which the war with Mexico has brought to public notice. It may not be amiss to state how he obtained his military appointment, taken, as he was, from the farm to lead armies to victory
"When it became the duty of the President to make the appointment of Brigadier General, it was felt by every western member of Congress to be a prize for his constituents. Probably some fifty names had been handed in to the President, accordingly. Robert Dale Owen, in whose district Lane resides, entertaining no such local pride, would probably not have furnished any name, but for a suggestion to that effect from one of the Indiana Senators, 'who do you intend recommending?' 'Why,' said Mr. Owen, 'I had not thought of offering a name. There are no applications to me from my own district, but if you think it due to it to offer a name, I shall hand in that of Jo Lane.'
"The Senator approved of the choice, and it was accordingly suggested. The President, as usual, said he would give it his favorable consideration. A few days afterwards, Mr. Owen was transacting some private business at the White House. After it was through--'By the bye, Mr. Owen,' observed the President, 'I shall have to appoint your friend Lane to the Brigadier Generalship. I hope you have well considered your recommendation, for the office is a very responsible one.' 'I know nothing,' replied Mr. Owen, 'of Lane's military talents, but there are about him those elements of character which in all times of difficulty prompts everyone to rally, instinctively, around him as leader. This has been the case in early days, when lawless men infested the river border. Whether on shore or among boatmen on the river, Lane was the man relied on to keep such men in order, and he was always found equal to every emergency. I would select him for the office before any other man I know, if I had the appointment to make.'
"Lane was appointed. The sequel is history, and justified the penetrative judgment of Mr. Owen. Lane has developed qualities which place him in the front rank of military service.
"When the news of the battle of Buena Vista reached Washington, Mr. Owen called on President Polk.
"'Well, sir,' exclaimed he, 'What do you think of our Hoosier general!'
"'Ah!' said the President, with a quiet smile, 'Mr. Owen, you are safe out of that scrape!'"
On July 9, 1846 he wrote a letter of acceptance and entered on the duties of his command, composed of the three Indiana regiments.
On July 24th, he was at the Brazos with all his troops, and wrote to Gen. Taylor communicating his arrival and concluding thus: "The brigade I have the honor to command is generally in good health and fine spirits, anxious to engage in active service."
On the 20th of August, 1846, he wrote to Major General Butler, claiming active service.
But on the 23rd he again addressed Gen. Taylor, earnestly complaining of the advance of other troops, out of their order of precedence.
One by one the other troops were being sent to the front while the Indiana men fretted and drilled--drilled and drilled! Great-grandfather kept them drilling--never were men drilled as were those Hoosiers! Drilling was not fighting. They had left their homes to fight!
They were fully convinced of the justice and necessity of the war. The oft-repeated depredation by Mexicans on Americans and her continued refusal or evasion of all redress; her declared purpose of conquering the Republic of Texas after its independence had been an established fact for ten years; her arrogant demand that the United States not admit Texas to the Union, and her threat that she would regard such admission as an act of war, seemed to them to leave no alternative. Mexico's minister had departed from Washington as soon as Congress had passed the resolution admitting Texas as a state, which was proof enough that the Mexicans were amenable neither to justice nor reason and the Americans must fight to "conquer a peace" which the Mexicans would have to respect. They were intent on making their part of the world "safe for democracy." The economic factor was hidden under the folds of the waving flag in 1846 as it was in 1898, 1915, and 1940. The minie balls and grape were honest, death-dealing missives, personally and intentionally sent and delivered, if possible, from man to man. Fighting was "honorable" and men were "brave." They volunteered for slaughter.
The impression gathered from reading old letters and the recorded utterances of a hundred years ago is that it was a grand and glorious thing to fight and die for the country, the old homestead, or abstractions named "honor," "right," "justice," "love," or "truth." From the lithographs of the period the grass was very green and the blood very red. Soldiers fell under shot and shell--never slumped or tumbled grotesquely, wrong side up. Generals, Colonels, and Majors are usually pictured passing to their great reward in the arms of an aide or anxious-faced private in immaculate uniform, with a resigned smile. Charges actually were made as portrayed--behind the officer in command.
In reciting Great-grandfather's activities it is easier to quote others than to risk the charge of either burlesquing or hyperbolizing,
As before stated, Great-grandfather kept the Indiana troops drilling while he protested the delay in getting to the front. "During the wait his brigade was kept at drill so perseveringly that Major General Wool says, in an official letter dated May 23, 1847, from Buena Vista: 'Sir; I herewith enclose an order relating to the departure of your brigade for the Rio Grande. I regret extremely to lose your valuable services, and it is due to you to say that, under all circumstances, in battle or otherwise, I have always found you ready to do honor to your command, your country, and yourself.'"
Again, under date from Buena Vista, July, 7, he says: "I have seen you in all situations--at the head of your brigade in the drill, and in the great battle of the 22nd and 23rd of February, and in the course of my experience, I have seen few, very few, who behaved with more zeal, ability, and gallantry, in the hour of danger."
"As commandant at Saltillo, he established a vigilant police, protecting life and property, and built a strong fortification in case such a defense might be needed against the threatened descent of Santa Anna on that line. From him came the first intelligence of the capture of General Gaines' command. This item he was enabled to give by the sleepless vigilance with which he watched the enemy, and by the aid of the confidential spies whom he had the address to secure by liberal pay out of his own means, and which the government has never been called upon the refund."
"Note--It may be stated that General Lane has been remarkable throughout his public service for his self-sacrificing spirit. Throughout the Mexican War he subsisted his troops with as little or less cost than that of any others engaged in the same service--replenished the public coffers with large captures of public property, belonging to the enemy; and in going to Oregon he actually performed the journey without one dollar's expense to the government, having subsisted himself, and aided in that of his command on the route with his own rifle, when with one other hunter he supplied all the game that was killed. Again, his treaties and talks with the Indians of Oregon were all conducted at no expense to government.
"It is notorious that while in command at Saltillo he personally visited each picket guard nightly, not retiring to repose till after midnight. It was said he never slept."
Great-grandfather greatly disliked Col. James H. Lane, and considered him a "low-lifer," loud-mouthed, and profane. Of the emotional type, lapsing into temporary fits of insanity caused by ill health and brought on by diarrhea from which all the troops were suffering, James Lane, never a "gentleman" in Great-grandfather's estimation, was almost unbearable. At any rate, there was hard feeling between the two men, which culminated in a near duel before the battle of Buena Vista.
There are several versions of this unpleasantness, and to be unbiased, a version by a soldier under Col. James Lane, which is just a report of army gossip, is here given. Extract from reminiscences of Edward T. Dickey, Co. G, Third Indiana:
"They had come to blows on the Saturday before the battle, followed by a challenge from General Lane which had been accepted by Colonel Lane and was then pending. There had been ill-feeling and jealousy between them from the time the Third Indiana left Matamoros ahead of the Second Indiana, which was in December, 1846. The Second was General Lane's regiment before he was promoted to Brigadier, and was therefore his favorite regiment.
"The relations between these two officers grew more strained by other moves of a similar character at Camargo, and again at Monterey. On Saturday preceding the battle of Buena Vista, after regimental drill, Colonel Lane forced his regiment into a hollow square, and when the other field officers of his regiment were discussing some troubles that had arisen among them growing out of an effort on Colonel Lane, Adjutant Daily, and Captain T. Ware Gibson to continue the Third Indiana in the service, leaving our Lieutenant Colonel McCarty and Major Gorman. After the regimental officers had made their statements, General Lane, who had been standing just outside the square, listening to the talk, stepped inside and proceeded to make a statement of his understanding of the matter. In doing so, he said something that Colonel Lane said he didn't believe. To this General Lane replied he 'did not care whether Colonel Lane believed what he said or not.' The Colonel retorted by saying that 'a man who did not care what he did say was not likely to care whether what he said was believed.' The General asked 'if the Colonel meant to say that he (the General) was a man who disregarded his word.' The Colonel's reply was, 'I do, by ---, sir.' At this the General struck at him. The Colonel dodged the blow and struck the General in the face. They were then separated by the officers about them.
"The General started away, saying as he went, 'Colonel Lane, prepare yourself.' The Colonel brought his regiment into line facing toward the camp, and while he was saying to the men that the trouble was his own, and that he wished the men to take no part in it, the General was seen coming through the camp with his rifle on his shoulder. Colonel Lane's back was to the camp and he did not see the General until he was within perhaps thirty yards. At about that distance the General stopped, and calling to the Colonel asked, 'Are you ready, Colonel Lane?' The Colonel looked around and seeing the General, ordered a man in the ranks to load his musket, and replied, 'I soon can be.' That man and many others loaded their muskets without delay. Just as the Colonel reached to take the musket the guard surrounded the General and led him away, saving the lives of both officers, for had they exchanged shots I have no doubt the General would have killed the Colonel, and as little doubt that fifty musket charges would have found lodgment in the General's body, knowing, as I do, the temper of the men of the Third Indiana at that time. The challenge immediately followed."
It seems that the duel, with swords, did not come off. It was stopped, probably in much the same manner that Great-grandfather stopped a perfectly good duel with pointed foils between Lieutenant Brown of the 1st Pennsylvania regiment and Lieutenant Waters of the Louisiana Cavalry after the battle of Atlixco, an account of which is given by Dr. Albert Brackett in his General Lane's Brigade in Central
At the battle of Buena Vista he was third in command, and served on the left wing. Of this battle Secretary Marcy says, April 3, 1847, in a dispatch to General Taylor.
"The single fact that 5000 of our troops, nearly all volunteers who, yielding to the impulse of patriotism, had rallied to their country's standard, for a temporary service, were brought into conflict with an army of 20,000, mostly veteran soldiers, and not only withstood and repulsed the assaults of this numerous host led by their most experienced general, but, in a protracted battle of two days, won a glorious victory, is the most indubitable evidence of the consummate skill and gallant conduct of our officers, and the devoted heroism of the troops under their command. It will ever be a proud distinction to have been in the memorable battle of Buena Vista.
"General Lane opened the battle on the plain on the left where he was attacked, on the morning of 23rd of February, by a force of 4 or 5000 infantry, artillery, and lancers, under General Ampudia; and also closed it in the evening, when, though wounded, he led the Indiana regiments, which, with the Mississippi regiment, under the gallant Davis, opportunely came to the support of Bragg's artillery, on that memorable occasion when the brave and lamented Taylor counseled 'a little more grape' as a panacea for Mexican temerity.
"In speaking of General Lane's conduct at the battle of Buena Vista, it must not be considered that we overlook the claims of others. Amongst the many heroes no one, however, was greater than he. This is clear, from the testimony of impartial eyewitnesses and historians, as well as from official dispatches. He commanded on the left wing, where Santa Anna directed his most persevering attacks, and was consequently in the thickest.of the fight."
In the history of the war between the United States and Mexico, John S. Jenkins, author of The Generals of the Last War with Great Britain, at page 228, observes: "The battle now commenced in earnest. The second Indiana sustained themselves for a short time without faltering, and Lieutenant O'Brien opened a vigorous fire, which mowed down the enemy in scores. His guns were advanced. Once more the Mexican line began to waver, and the infantry were again driven forward by the lancers. A single bold and vigorous onset would have secured the victory. General Lane urged his men to stand firm--to push upon the enemy. But the fire was too terrible. The Indiana regiment reeled to and fro, like a drunken man. They staggered back and retired from the field in confusion at the moment when General Taylor arrived from Saltillo.
"General Lane, though severely wounded, exhorted and entreated them to follow him to victory or to death. He was completely carried away with enthusiasm, and closed his eloquent and impassioned appeal to the retreating soldiers by reminding them what a glorious thing it would be to have it said in history 'that the whole Indiana regiment were cut to pieces!' He was too brave a soldier to offer an apology for the retreat, but, in his official report, there is one fact stated which should never be forgotten when their conduct is called in question. He says: 'The second regiment of my command, which opened the battle on the plain in such gallant style, deserves a passing remark. I shall attempt to make no apology for their retreat, for it was their duty to stand or die to the last man until they received orders to retire; but I desire to call your attention to one fact connected with this affair. They remained in their position, in line, receiving the fire of three or four thousand infantry in front, exposed at the same time on the left flank to a most desperate raking fire from the enemy's battery, posted within point-blank shot, until they had deliberately discharged twenty rounds of cartridges at the enemy.
"In relation to the retreat of this regiment, it is proper here to remark that, owing to the suppression of the fact that they had been thrice ordered by their Colonel to retreat before they did retire, a false impression to their discredit has been promulged. At a court-martial called to investigate the matter, it was clearly proved that their Colonel had given the order, under which the regiment acted reluctantly, though ninety of their number had at that time been killed or wounded.
"After the fact became established, General Wool, in presence of several officers, said to the Colonel who ordered the retreat: 'Had you but waited one minute more, and have permitted the regiment to have taken an advanced position with the battery, and carried out the intentions of General Lane, you would have done one of the most brilliant things that ever was done on any battlefield.'
"The states of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi were represented in this battle, and of the force engaged, Indiana furnished one-fourth, having two regiments numbering about one thousand two hundred men."
The following extract from the New Orleans Delta, May 2, 1847 exhibits the popular estimation in which Great-grandfather's conduct at Buena Vista was held:
"Brigadier General Lane. The bearing of this gallant officer in the battle of Buena Vista, as described by persons who were present, was in the highest degree gallant, noble, and soldierlike. When his brigade, composed of two Indiana regiments, was exposed to a murderous fire from the Mexican batteries on their flanks, and front fire from a large body of the enemy's infantry--when grape and musket shot flew as thick as hail over and through the lines of our volunteers, who began to waver before the fiery storm, their brave General could be seen fifty yards in advance of the line, waving his sword with an arm already shattered by a musket ball, streaming with blood, and mounted on a noble charger, which was gradually sinking under the loss of blood from five distinct wounds. A brave sight indeed was this!"
General Taylor says in his report:
"Brigadier General Lane (slightly wounded) was active and zealous throughout the day, and displayed great coolness and gallantry before the enemy."
General Wool's report:
"Brigadier General Lane was very active and prompt in the discharge of his duty and rendered good service throughout the day.
"His indomitable energy never deserted him on that trying occasion. He maintained the field after the retreat of the Second Indiana Regiment, which, being mostly rallied, in conjunction with the Mississippi, and Third Indiana, rolled back the tide of battle on the left.
"Space will not permit us to record numberless anecdotes told of his devotion to the wounded and the solicitude and care with which he attended to their wants and comforts. It was these traits of tenderness to those under him that so endeared him to his troops, and which in many a subsequent field made him invincible when at their head."
Great-grandfather remained encamped near the battlefield till June, when he was ordered to New Orleans with his brigade, which was there to be disbanded, their term of service having expired.
"On his return home he was greeted wherever he went to public manifestations, expressive of the most enthusiastic admiration on the part of his fellow citizens; and public festivals were tendered him in compliment by New Albany and Evansville. A short repose in the bosom of his family was broken by orders to proceed to Taylor's line, for which point his brigade was en route.
"On his arrival at the Rio Grande, he left two regiments of his command under Colonels Brough and Gorman, respectively, at Matamoros and Mier, and pushed on with an escort of forty mounted men under Captain Duncan of the Ohio Volunteers. We shall dwell on the incidents of this journey because they are of that kind which so characterizes General Lane as to attach to him the name of 'The Marion of the Mexican War.' It was on this occasion that with a force of about fifteen men, against one hundred and fifty Mexican guerrillas, under Canales, he recaptured and restored to its owners a most valuable train of pack mules. This was the first instance of recapture from these depredators, whose chaparral retreats had hitherto made recapture impracticable. When he arrived at Seralvo he was addressed by a young American, named Maynard, who was in charge of merchandise sold by mercantile houses in the States. Young Maynard entreated his aid to escort the train, which was nearly a mile in length, conducted by Mexicans in his employ, and destined for Monterey.
"General Lane urged as an objection the haste he was in to reach headquarters. But impressed by the earnest appeal of Maynard, who apprehended that guerrillas were on his track, he finally consented to give him the benefit of his escort. He divided his few followers into two bands, placing twenty-five men under Captain Duncan, at the head of the train, and fifteen under Lieutenant Morrison, in the rear. The train and escort arrived near Marina without interruption, when it was supposed all danger was passed. When within a mile of the town, Maynard insisted that General Lane's presence was no longer necessary, and prevailed on him to go forward. On his arrival at the inn, he saw a congregation of very ill-looking Mexicans. Manifesting no uneasiness, he leaped off his horse, which he gave to the hostler, and was in the act of washing his hands when he heard shots in the distance. His son (Joseph) came running in at the same time, telling his father the train was certainly attacked.
"The General addressed the Lieutenant and his men, and asked if they were willing to pursue the robbers and recapture the property. 'We are willing to try,' was the gallant reply. With these fifteen he dashed into the chaparral, obliged in many places to discount, overtook the guerrillas, charged and routed the rascals, and brought back the entire plunder. This was the first recapture of property from these marauders.
"On arriving at headquarters, he requested General Taylor to detail him with a small force to follow and redress these guerrilla parties, but the General, thanking him for his services, informed him that he had orders to dispatch him and his brigade to General Scott's line of operations. On receiving these orders General Lane, without stopping for repose, left General Taylor's presence, mounted his horse, and accompanied by his son (aide), immediately retraced the road he had just traveled.
"General Cushing's command was also under orders for Vera Cruz. Passing them, General Lane pushed on for the Brazos, the point of embarkation. Some of General Cushing's officers observed to Colonel Brough of the Ohio Fourth that he had better not go down to the island, as there being no transports ready he would have to encamp on the low, sandy beach, exposed to much annoyance. The witty Brough replied, 'Ah, gentlemen, you may repose on your Cushing, but we will follow our Lane.'
"On arriving at the Brazos, the quartermaster informed General Lane that he had no transports other than some old, unseaworthy schooners. 'Let us have them,' said Lane, 'as we must on to Vera Cruz at every hazard, to keep General Scott's communications open.'
"On the 13th of September 1847, he left Vera Cruz, where he arrived with his command on the 16th.
"On the 19th of September, having lost but two days in organizing for his march, he set out with a very small supply of provisions on that tour of duty which has, perhaps, no parallel in history, if we take into consideration the rapidity of his movements, the number of battles fought in a given time, and his invaluable success--a success so marked that Jenkins, in speaking of him in his history (page 496) says that he was 'not inappropriately styled by his brother officers and soldiers "The Marion of the army."'
"His force on leaving Vera Cruz was about seventeen hundred men. His force was afterward increased to three thousand, three hundred men, by the addition of the troops under Captain Heintzelman, Major Lally, and Colonel Wynkoop. At San Juan, near the hacienda of Santa Anna, and at Paso de Orejas, the guerrillas were met and repulsed, and the command continued their march.
"On his arrival at the Plan del Rio, on the 27th of September he learned the imminent danger of Puebla and that the enemy was in force there under Santa Anna, who in his summons on the 25th to Colonel Childs to surrender states that he had eight thousand effective troops in his vicinity. On the receipt of this news, General Lane pressed rapidly forward to Puebla, through Jalapa and Perote. At Perote, he was informed that a large force under Santa Anna was concentrating in his front to prevent his reaching Puebla. On reaching the hacienda of San Antonio Tamaris, on the 8th of October he was informed the enemy were at the city of Huamantla, which lies between Perote and Puebla. It was indeed fortunate that General Lane had pressed onwards from Vera Cruz, as a diversion was thereby created of the enemy's troops about Puebla, leaving Colonel Childs in comparative security. Santa Anna left that city on the 1st of October to meet Lane's command at Huamantla. The battle at the latter place was fought on the 9th of October 1847, for which General Lane received the brevet rank of Major General. (The account we give of this battle is drawn from Jenkins' history, page 463, but in an abridged form.)
"Leaving his train at San Antonio Tamaris, guarded by the Ohio regiment, Captain Simmons' detachment, and Lieutenant Pratt's battery, General Lane advanced against Huamantla, where Santa Anna was concentrating his forces for the last time, as it proved, during the war, to encounter an American commander. Lane's force moving upon Huamantla was something more than two thousand strong. When within three miles of the city, which is in a mountain district, parties of the enemy's horsemen were seen making their way towards it through the fields. At the same time a body of lancers, two thousand strong, commanded by Santa Anna in person, were observed moving rapidly over the hills in a line parallel with the march of the American troops as if striving to reach the city before them. Captains Walker of Texas, Lewis of Louisiana, Loyal of Georgia, and Besancon of Louisiana, with their companies of cavalry, advanced at a gallop, and General Lane hurried forward with the remainder of his troops at a run. It was literally a race between the Mexicans and the Americans which should reach the city first, and the contest was most exciting! Colonel Gorman was directed to enter the west side of the city with his regiment, while Colonel Wynkoop's battalion and artillery, having Captain Heintzelman's detachment on their right, were moving towards the east side. The command of Major Lally was held in reserve. The attack was entirely successful and the city was soon in possession of our troops. A large quantity of ammunition was captured and a number of wagons, which General Lane ordered to be destroyed. The enemy lost one hundred and fifty killed and eleven wounded. A number of prisoners were also taken, among whom were Colonel La Vega and Major Iturbide, a son of the former Emperor of Mexico. Santa Anna never collected another army.
"Having rejoined his train General Lane proceeded to Puebla, where he arrived on the 12th of October. As his troops approached the city, a rapid firing was heard, which assured him of Colonel Childs' safety. Feeling confident that his force was strong enough to enter the town at once (as Santa Anna was disposed of), he directed Colonel Brough with his regiment and Captain Heintzelman's detachment to proceed along the main road, and Colonel Gorman, with the Indiana volunteers, to feel his way cautiously into the city further to the east and left.
"After a sharp action General Rea was compelled to retire, and the siege of Puebla was raised."
Our historian observes of the besieged: "Their emotions can be more easily conceived than expressed, when they caught sight of the glistening sabers, the flashing bayonets, and the victorious banners of General Lane, as his columns wound through the now almost deserted streets; and when his trumpets sounded their shrill notes of defiance, every man breathed freer and deeper, and felt prouder of his country, of her honor and her fame." But for Lane's rapidity of movement Puebla must have fallen.
"On the 19th, one week after the battle at Puebla, General Lane proceeded against General Rea, who had concentrated his forces at Atlixco, twenty miles distant from Puebla. Through the broiling sun the column pressed forward, and at four in the afternoon reached Santa Isabella, seven miles from Atlixco, where the Mexican advanced guards were posted. A running fight was kept up for four miles. Within one and a half miles from the city the main body of the enemy was discovered posted on the side of a hill, covered with thick chaparral.
"The contest was severe and bloody, and the hillside was strewn with the dead bodies of the Mexican guerrillas," says the account of the battle, page 469, and continues: "Although his horses and men were almost overcome, General Lane followed like a sleuth hound on the track. Notwithstanding their utmost efforts, his troops were unable to reach Atlixco before the night had set in." General Lane, thinking it unwise to enter a strange city at night, ordered up the batteries. It was a lovely moonlight, and the cannonade was effective. The ayuntamientos soon made their appearance, and begged that the town might be spared. General Lane listened to their request and suspended operations. In the morning large quantities of arms and ammunition were found and destroyed. General Rea made his escape, "but the stroke was as effectual as it was bold and well executed."
"In this battle General Lane lost but one man killed, and one wounded, while the enemy had 219 killed and 300 wounded.
"On his return to Puebla, he set out to Guexocingo with a portion of his command, where he destroyed the enemy's resources of ammunition etc.
"On the 20th he fought the first battle of Tlascala, and again encountered General Rea and Torrejon, at the same place, on the 10 of November, recapturing from them a train of thirty-six wagons, containing merchandise belonging to merchants in Puebla and Mexico. In recognition of this service the merchant, who principally owned the train, presented to General Lane an elegant sword.
"On the 22nd, at 7 o'clock in the evening he set out with but one hundred and fifty horse, under Colonel Hays, Captain Lewis, and Lieutenant Field, with one gun to surprise Matamoros--fifty-four miles distant from Puebla--where was collected a large amount of stores for the Mexican army. Accomplishing the distance in about ten hours, he arrived before the town at daylight.
"The enemy, one thousand strong, was posted within a fort mounted with artillery. He formed his men secretly, gave the word, and his mounted men were quickly at the base of the wall. In another moment they had dismounted and carried the fort, putting the astonished Mexicans to instant rout. Some eighty of the enemy were killed before the General succeeded in stopping the slaughter, while but one American was lost. Here he destroyed a large amount of powder and other stores, besides taking back with him all he could safely convey, together with three pieces of artillery, 'too handsome to leave behind.' Here he liberated 25 American prisoners, who had been confined several months.
"It was on his return, on the 24th, that surrounded and hemmed in by vastly superior numbers, he exhibited an almost incredible evidence of coolness and prompt action under danger. The enemy were seven or eight to one of our troops and never fought so fiercely. They made a stand at Galaxa; our troops were faltering beneath their fire, when General Lane leaped from his horse, and with his own unaided hands unlimbered a gun! He turned it upon the enemy and fired it with his lighted cigar (the percussion caps not being at his hand). The gun, loaded with grape, checked the enemy and being afterwards well served settled the affair, and our troops returned in triumph into Puebla at noon on the 25th.
"Thus in the period of sixty hours, he had traversed one hundred and eight miles, fought the enemy twice, broke up their depots, and so discouraged them that they never again rallied in force in that part of the country.
"In two months after his departure from Vera Cruz for the interior, he had fought seven well-contested fields, besides innumerable skirmishes with guerrillas, whom he had entirely dispersed. During this campaign it was said that the 'cock-crow was his reveille and the tolling midnight bell his tattoo.'
"Dr. Crookshank, whose bones lie near one of Lane's battlefields, wrote from Puebla December, 1, 1847, a letter, published in the Lawrenceburg Register, June 1848, from which the following is an extract:
"General Joseph Lane--I suppose by order threw himself into Mexico and upon his own ingenuity and bravery depended the support of the handful of men that he commanded. How ably and how well it was done remains for his own soldiers to tell; it can't be done by writers. Suffice it to say, he never lost a charge, and always at the head, he never lost a victory. I have observed him in the 'stampede,' and in the heat of battle and his conduct reminded me forcibly of the tales I had read of Napoleon's courage, coolness, and self-possession in the hour of darkest danger. I never before could understand how cowards were transformed into brave men as by miracle, until I observed, in the example of General Lane, how easily a new spirit might be infused even in the American soldiery, brave and intrepid as they proverbially are. In the short space of about one month after his arrival at Perote, he achieved five brilliant victories over vastly superior numbers, and the ablest commanders in the Mexican service, with great slaughter to the enemy, and but a trifling loss on his own part.
"These services, being acknowledged and appreciated by General Scott, he pointed out General Lane as the fitting person to lead an advance in the direction of Queretaro. Accordingly, on the 14th of December, orders reached him to report at headquarters where he was to take command of the brigade destined for a forward movement. Much as General Lane felt the honor of this preference, he was loath to part with troops who had shared his toils, troubles, privations, and dangers. Bitter was the parting with his brave comrades.
"On the 18th he reported in person to the Commanding General, who we are informed received him with marked emotion. The citizen soldier had won the distinction of the veteran's approval through his deeds of valor."
At the city of Mexico, an anecdote is related of General Lane which illustrates his republican simplicity. It is in substance as follows: Lane had his quarters assigned at the home of a princely merchant. His suite of rooms to which he was introduced by his host was most gorgeously furnished with every appliance that could be imagined. The General looked around and turning to his interpreter told him all these articles must be removed. The gentleman asked if he wished them replaced with something more costly. "No," said General Lane, "they are already too fine. Take away your mirrors and couches, and those damask curtains from my bedstead, and the silk coverlets from my bed--let me have my own camp-bed and covering and I shall be able to rest as an American soldier should do."
His host, surprised at the difference between Mexican and American generals, obeyed his orders and the rooms were more simply furnished. General Lane played with the children of the house. In connection with this incident, it may be mentioned as the general experience of those about him, that throughout his campaigns, General Lane was noted for his simplicity of life and his great purity of morals.
"For about four weeks General Lane waited impatiently here for orders to lead in a forward movement as fine a brigade as the service boasted, viz: one Indiana and two Tennessee regiments, with Colonel Hays' Texans. Finding no orders issued, he asked and obtained leave to take some mounted men and scour the country from the city to Vera Cruz as the guerrillas, under the notorious Zenobia, had succeeded in capturing a large and valuable amount of property. With 300 men consisting of men under Colonel Hays, a portion of the Third Dragoons, under Major Polk, and part of a company under Captain Walker, he left the city to scour the country in the direction of Orizaba and Cordova to Vera Cruz.
"The first object of this expedition was to capture Santa Anna, who was at Tehuacan, with five hundred men as a guard. His capture was deemed important, as he was opposed to peace. The utmost secrecy was observed, the command traveling at night so as to elude observation--200 miles were traveled.
"The expedition came as near as it could be to success, and fail. Arrived at a hacienda near Santa Clara, distant forty miles from Tehuacan, at five o'clock in the morning of January 21st, all the Mexicans found there and along the road were seized in order to prevent the alarm being communicated. This precaution was rendered useless, for shortly after leaving the ranch, the party came upon a Mexican gentleman traveling in his coach with a number of servants, under a passport from General Smith, as Governor of Mexico--General Lane respected his passport and let him pass unmolested. Through him no doubt Santa Anna was warned, for in a letter to the minister of war, dated Cascatlan, February, 1, 1848, Santa Anna says that he was informed of the approach of General Lane nearly two hours before the latter reached Tehuacan, and while he was preparing a note requesting a passport to enable him to leave the country. (Santa Anna left Mexico April, 4, 1848 in a Spanish brig bound for the island of Jamaica.)
"Keenly did Lane feel the discomfiture of his plan for entrapping the wily Mexican. On his arrival at Tehuacan, he found the bird flown. He, nevertheless, was enabled to seize all Santa Anna's military property, such as military hats, coats, swords, etc., many of which articles passed into the hands of officers who obtained permission to keep them as trophies. The rich plate and furniture, ladies' dresses (of the latter of which there were no less than one hundred and forty-five belonging to one individual, judging by the size) with an innumerable assortment of clothing of every description, General Lane turned over to the alcalde of the place, taking his receipt in duplicate, one in the English and the other in the Spanish language that he might satisfy both nations of his respect for private property.
"On the 22nd, he directed his steps to Orizaba, a city of 20,000 defended by 600 troops and two pieces of artillery. This city is situated in the center of a romantic and fertile valley, chiefly inhabited however 'by bandits in peace and guerrillas in war.' The terror of Lane's name preceded him, and as he marched into the town at one side, the enemy retreated from the other. White flags were displayed from every house and a large quantity of public property, consisting of tobacco etc., was surrendered and confiscated and sold for the benefit of the United States.
"Leaving Major Polk with a portion of the command in possession of the city as civil and military governor, he set out with the remainder to bring Zenobia, who had about one thousand men in the field, to a fight. This not succeeding, he took Cordova in his route where another confiscation of tobacco was made for the use of our government. Here too, he had the satisfaction of releasing a number of American prisoners in great distress and poverty, taken on different occasions and sent to Cordova for safekeeping--as it was a region not heretofore visited by our troops.
"Entering Puebla, he recruited his men and proceeded with Colonel Hays and Major Polk (who had rejoined him) via Tlascala, to make a circuitous route through the mountains for the purpose of seeking the enemy. On the third day out he fell in with Colonel Falcon, whose command he dispersed. Not finding any further traces of the enemy, he returned and arrived at the capital on the 10th of February, having been absent but twenty-four days.
"A few days after his return, another secret expedition was projected, the object of which was to arrest and punish Jarauta, the robber chief, who had perpetrated great atrocities on the person of the courier of the British embassy, as well as on Americans. The first appeal for redress came from the Honorable Mr. Doyle the British Minister, who called General Lane's attention to the subject and asked him if he would not go and punish Jarauta. He was referred to General Scott, who ordered Lane on the expedition. He was accompanied by Colonel Hays' Texans, Major Polk's dragoons and Captain Walker's rifles--the same command that had gone with him on a former occasion, and they were troops hard to beat.
"Jarauta was a wily fellow, and had a strong force of desperate men. They had friends all over the country who kept him informed of every movement; besides, he knew the country well which enabled him to evade pursuit, so that it was difficult to bring him to a fight. This, however, General Lane effected, as will be found in the sequel.
"It was expected by Lane that Jarauta would be found at Tulancingo, where Paredes was known to be, whose capture was also desirable, as he was opposed to peace. Hither, therefore, General Lane proceeded. He left the city of Mexico on the 17th of February 1848, and making rapid and secret night marches over rough and difficult roads and along miserable trails, reached Tulancingo early in the morning of the 21st, completely surprising the town. General Paredes' house was immediately surrounded but though his bed was warm, Paredes succeeded in concealing himself and escaped.
"Jarauta was not at Tulancingo, but the Mexican spies in Lane's service obtained reliable information that he was at Tehualtaplan one hundred and fifty miles in the direction of Tampico. To throw the wily chief off his guard, Lane remained at Tulancingo day and night, when he gave out that he was about returning to Mexico. He accordingly set off in that direction but about dark changed his course and arrived at a ranch eighteen miles from Tehualtaplan, near the base of the mountain, on the road thither, in about thirty-six hours after leaving Tulancingo. At this ranch the owner was informed that his life depended on his truthfulness. He informed General Lane that his coming was as unexpected as though he had dropped from the clouds; that Jarauta was seen by him at Tehualtaplan that day; that he was waiting there to intercept a valuable train on the way from Tampico to Mexico.
"There were 1000 lancers and guerrillas under Colonel Montano and Jarauta and as the Americans entered Tehualtaplan at sunrise of the 25th, the escopeta balls came whistling about their heads from every house. Jenkins
"As was to be expected the train Jarauta was lying in wait for passed on without an attack, and thus was broken up the most dangerous of the marauding bands, who were followed to their mountain fastness with but three hundred men and there, against every odds, made to learn the energy of our arms.
"The battle of Tehualtaplan was the last one fought in Mexico, and the prisoners taken there the last of the captured. Peace was soon after declared, and the Americans evacuated the halls of the Montezumas--General Lane observed to a friend on the occasion, 'I left my plow to take the sword with a thrill of pleasure, for my country called me. I now go home to resume the plow with as sincere joy.'
"General Lane's campaign on Scott's line, though so pregnant with events, lasted but ten months. About August 1st he reached Indiana.
"And glorious as were her arms, not less creditable were the moderation and magnanimity of the Great Republic, when Mexico, her armies destroyed, her capital taken, lay prostrate, in paying a large indemnity for the far distant and almost tenantless regions of New Mexico and California, which, while ready to fall from Mexico's feeble grasp, were essential to the expansion of the populous and fast-growing Republic of the north."
Albert G. Brackett, M.D., "Late an Officer in the U.S. Volunteer Service," in his book General Lane's Brigade in Central Mexico, which he dedicated to Great-grandfather and the officers and soldiers of his brigade, has so many interesting things to say that it is hard to know where to begin and where to leave off. A few incidents of the Mexican campaign will have to suffice.
"A little after noon of the 1st of October, our force left Jalapa in one of the hardest rains I ever witnessed. Before night we came upon high ground. Darkness came upon us suddenly, and without tents or fires we halted to spend the night. Our men had taken the precaution, before leaving Jalapa, to put four days' provisions in their haversacks, and now in the darkness they preferred to eat their suppers. It was most gloomy, and perhaps a body of men never underwent greater exposure.
"It was at this place that an occurrence took place which goes further to illustrate General Lane's character than a hundred long-winded speeches. Lane had, in common with most of the officers, no supper, and going out in the darkness came upon a party of soldiers who were eating, and asked them for something to eat. They supposed he was an old soldier by his dress, which was a blue overcoat and black hat, and unceremoniously told him to leave, that they would not give him any. One of the soldiers, knowing Lane's voice, told. his comrades in a whisper that it was General Lane. Immediately two or three of them stepped forward and offered their bread and beef to him. He would not accept any, saying at the same time to them--'I do not wish your food, and will not accept it. When you supposed I was a poor hungry soldier, you would not give me any, but when you found I was a general, you were perfectly willing to share with me. I am no better than any other old soldier.' This was a severe rebuke, and the men felt it keenly. They were always afterward ready to share their last crust with anyone."
"While at La Hoya [La Jolla?], a party of our soldiers ascended a high and rocky eminence to the left of our bivouac, and found on the summit a little plot of ground which a poor Mexican had cultivated in order to raise corn enough to support himself, his wife, and his children. The corn was immediately seized by our half-famished soldiers, and in spite of the pitiful appeals of the old Mexican, and the tears of his ninos, carried off down to the fires and speedily devoured. In the morning the Mexican came down and laid his grievances before General Lane, who ordered the quartermaster to pay him. This was done, and Lane inquired how much he had paid the Mexican. 'I have paid him,' said the quartermaster, 'the highest market price paid for corn, which amounted to fifty dollars.' 'That is not enough,' said the general; and turning to an aide-de-camp, he ordered him to go to his trunk and get fifty dollars of his own private money, which he paid over to the poor old Mexican, who went away breathing blessings upon the name of the brave and generous American commander."
"On the 6th of October we marched to a hacienda, built close to the edge of a long row of hills, where we halted about three o'clock in the afternoon, to stay all night. It had been clear and pleasant weather, and we did not suffer as much as usual. It soon became noised about among our men that a large, high enclosure, which stood nearby, was filled with hogs. Pennsylvanians, Ohioans, Indianians, and regulars were on the qui vive for some pork, and, secretly breaking into the enclosure, our valiant soldiers commenced an indiscriminate slaughter of the luckless porkers. Bowie knives and bayonets were in active demand, and in the short space of fifteen minutes over three hundred hogs were butchered in cold blood. The owner of the stock, who was a plethoric old Mexican, moved himself as fast as he could to General Lane's quarters, and reported the fact that the men were butchering his hogs. Up to this time, the greatest secrecy had prevailed among the butchers, and every man who approached the slaughtering pen was immediately supplied gratis with a fine fat porker. As it had begun to get dark, the men were enabled to carry the pork to their messes, where they hid it under their blankets, etc.
"As soon as the General heard of the affair, he immediately sallied out, and I believe I never saw him more angry. All the officers were ignorant of what was going on, but that made no difference. Lane gave the colonels, lieutenant colonels, and majors a most severe lecture; and these worthies in turn poured it in upon the captains and lieutenants, who, not to be behindhand, railed against the sergeants and corporals, and they against the men; but, as the pork was dead, they laughed in their sleeves, and professed the most heartfelt ignorance and innocence. Lane said he would buck and gag every man who was engaged in the affair, but as every man was in it, this mode of punishing three thousand was not feasible. He then ordered the company officers to go into their companies and fish out what pork was concealed. Accordingly, we went round and questioned our men, who, to believe their stories, knew nothing about the matter. I asked Tom Murphy, a noted thief in our company, whether he had any. He was lying, at that time, on a pile of blankets, from under which I saw what very much resembled a pig's foot. 'No, sir,' said he, in reply, 'I'm too tired to be in such a scrape as that tonight.' I told him I did not wish to be deceived, and he with the utmost nonchalance requested to be searched. As I wished some of the pork myself, I did not search him, and the result was I had a good supper. Some eight or ten hogs were found and returned dead to the owner, who was minus two hundred and eighty. How Lane settled with him I am unable to say, as I never felt particularly anxious to inquire into it."
Before the battle of Huamantla, Dr. Brackett mentions
Colonel Childs, a native of Massachusetts, was educated at West Point. While he was a brave and brilliant military officer, he was never very popular with the volunteers. The first meeting of Great-grandfather and Childs was reported to have been cordial, though they were not congenial spirits. Brackett says: "Lane was brave, open-hearted and free, and Childs, though equally brave, was cold and formal in his manners, and haughty in his disposition--none of us loved him, though we respected him for his bravery and military skill." Later, he tells of Childs' jealousy of Great-grandfather, after so many brilliant battles and skirmishes in which "Old Joe of Buena Vista" shone as no backwoods volunteer had a right to shine in the faces of regular army men.
"Since our arrival in Puebla, there had been considerable jealousy of General Lane, on the part of Colonel Childs, who took every measure in his power to annoy our noble commander. Lane was a most indefatigable follower of the armed Mexican bands of guerrillas, and the way he followed them was rather a novelty to the old strait-laced army officers, who thought everything must be done on scientific principles. The truth is, Lane 'pounded the rust off the guerrillas,' as our boys said, in such a way as to render his name a 'terror to all evil-doers,' and while Childs was reposing on his laurels, Lane was scouring the country far and near, and carrying the American flag, in triumph and glory, to the most secluded spots haunted by the guerrilla robbers.
"On the 9th of December, the officers of our brigade held a meeting at the Casa Washington, in the city of Puebla, to take into consideration a certain communication which Col. Thomas Childs had forwarded to General Scott, and which contained gross misrepresentations with regard to General Lane. The meeting was called to order and Lieut. Colonel A. Moore appointed chairman, and Capt. A. L. Mason secretary. The following memorial was drawn up, unanimously adopted, and after being signed by nearly every officer of the brigade, was delivered to General Lane:
"Puebla, Mexico, December 9, 1847."To Brig. Gen. Joseph Lane,
"Commanding Department of Puebla.
"Sir:--The undersigned, officers in the brigade under your command, have seen with infinite regret a communication from the Bishop of Puebla, covering and enclosing a communication from Senor Baltazar Prefect, addressed through Col. Childs, civil and military governor of this city, to the general commander-in-chief.
"In these papers, complaint is made that, through your direction or permission, and by the troops under your command, defenseless towns have been entered, and the persons and property of noncombatants outraged--that the churches have been broken open, especially that of San Francisco at Tlascala, and the sacred vestments stolen therefrom worn in public profanation by soldiers, etc.
"It is further set forth that these acts of outrage and sacrilege had been committed contrary to the protestations of Gov. Childs--that he had done all in his power to remedy them, but that even he had been unable to recover all the church property plundered at Tlascala--and, to prevent future like acts of desecration the general-in-chief is implored to 'strike at the root of the evil,' by directing the order especially to you, for the restraint of the troops under your immediate command.
"This document, printed in the Spanish tongue, is being hawked about and sold by hundreds in the streets, at a time when the inflammable and vindictive populace is encouraged to acts of open and secret assassination, by the small number of troops under your command, and your inability, from the absence of mounted men, to scourge, as heretofore, the enemy's guerrillas back to their lairs at a distance.
"It seems inconceivable to us that Gov. Childs--if he possesses a knowledge of the true character of this document, in view of the regulations of all military etiquette, of the truth as we know it to be, and for the honor of American arms--can have forwarded at all, much less with approval, these libels upon you and your command. But in the possible contingency that he may have transmitted it, through inadvertency or otherwise, it is due to you, to ourselves, and to truth and the national arms, to state the facts as they are. We do therefore, General, make the following statement, which you are at liberty to use as you deem expedient, the correctness of which we are prepared to maintain by any tort and before any tribunal.
"First then, in relation to entering defenseless towns, and the outraging of the persons and property of noncombatants. So far as this relates to the city of Puebla, you entered it with your command, at the earnest and repeated solicitation of Gov. Childs, to rescue it and him from an infuriated enemy, quartered and fortified in more than one of its many churches. It was not a defenseless place; Col. Gorman and his officers can testify that they were fired upon near the eastern gate of the city, as also can Lieut. Col. Dumont, commanding a detachment of that regiment, and the officers under him, and they fought and pursued a strong body of guerrillas, interchanging volley after volley into and through it. Colonel Brough and his officers can declare that they were fired upon by more than fifty guerrillas from the church of San Francisco, on the topmost spire of which floated a lancer's flag, upon their first entrance. And Lieut. Col. Moore, of the Ohio regiment, commanding a detachment, with his officers, can also affirm that they fought and pursued another large body of the enemy from street to street, being also fired upon from the windows and housetops at almost every step; and that the enemy made a final and desperate stand under cover of the church at the Alameda; further, that before the door of that very church, they found the horribly mutilated corpses of several soldiers of Col. Childs' command, who had been overpowered and slain that very morning.
"That some acts of pillage were committed that afternoon, and the night following, is true. There are bad men everywhere, and it cannot be claimed that your command is wholly exempt. Something, however, must be allowed to the excited passions of men, so opposed by an enemy fighting, not for victory, but for slaughter; and something must be allowed for the first chaos of a conquered city before government can be organized. Yet even in respect to these acts, we unitedly aver that they were less extensive and flagrant then the wrongs committed by the Mexican troops upon their own people, noncombatants, these latter being witnesses; that by far the greater portion of them were committed by men under the immediate command of Governor Childs, and that every possible effort was made by you, sir, eventually with success, to arrest them.
"And equally unwarrantable is the charge in respect to the entrance of Atlixco, Tlascala, and Matamoros. The enemy had contested every practicable position for six miles of the road leading to Atlixco. Routed and driven with loss from each of these by the cavalry under command of Captains Ford and Lewis, they lined the hedges and housetops on the outskirts of the town, and discharged repeated volleys of small arms as the head of the infantry column approached. It was then quite dark--the plan of the town was unknown--the enemy in apparent force, and, as all supposed, with artillery. Under these circumstances, with the advice and approbation of every field officer near your person, you directed the artillery to open and continue its fire until the enemy's musketry was silenced. Even then, the town was not formally surrendered until we had entered it in force. The command of Col. Brough was quartered in the buildings attendant to a church, in which were found a quantity of bread for the enemy's troops, a room, seats, ink, paper, and a brazier containing yet living coals--that same room having been the guerrilla headquarters. In another church, as we have since been creditably informed, there were concealed four pieces of cannon and other arms. You made every exertion to prevent acts of pillage, and succeeded so far as was practicable.
"The first entrance into Tlascala we cannot suppose to be subject matter of complaint. The enemy were there, and forcibly driven out. The second expedition was projected by you, at eleven o'clock at night, at the instance of merchants, noncombatants, some of them Mexicans, all having American protection, who had been robbed by Gen. Rea of goods of immense value. The infantry, to the number of four hundred, in six hours marched upward of twenty miles over a rough road and in the night, to recover and restore the stolen goods. You entered with Capt. Roberts in advance--found the church of San Francisco in possession of the guerrillas and were fired upon from thence. Afterward Lieut. Col. Dumont, with his command, seized at this church a large number of horses and arms, and several guerrilla officers and soldiers concealed in the recesses. You found the merchant train in the act of being fired by Rea and his robbers, who since they could not keep, were determined to destroy, this argosy of noncombatants. From out of the very building whence had issued a squad of thirty guerrillas, you obtained forage, and because it was claimed with apparent truth as private property, caused it to be paid for. On the floor of this church, a number of priests' robes were found lying, some of which were no doubt taken by our soldiers, though every effort was made by the officers to restore the property.
"In the affair of Matamoros but few of us participated, but we have every assurance that it was a recruiting station of guerrillas.
"It is strange to us that it should be said 'that even Gov. Childs had been unable to recover and return all the church property in question,' The truth is, that he recovered none of it, although he was the medium of restoring that which was taken to headquarters, in pursuance of your orders. Our purpose is not accusation but vindication. We forbear therefore to inquire by what means the popularity, so vaunted at your expense, has been obtained among a hostile and vindictive people. You, sir, may well afford to admit that you have only treated them justly--you have flogged their armed bands too severely ever to become a favorite.
"With sentiments of the highest esteem, we are, General, your obedient servants."
(Signed by forty-six officers.)The following resolution was also unanimously adopted:
"Resolved, That Col. Gorman, Col. Brough, Capt. Lewis, and Capt. Kessler be appointed a committee to obtain a medal, and present it to Brigadier General Lane, in the name of the officers of his brigade."
The meeting then adjourned.
"We all felt indignant at the conduct of Col. Childs, though it was in keeping with his former conduct at Jalapa.
"I am not disposed to be cautious, but must say in truth that all Col. Childs' misrepresentations had no effect upon General Scott, who knew that Lane had done right, and he was afterward entrusted with the command of a number of important expeditions by the General-in-Chief.
"Brigadier General Lane left us on the 14th of December for the city of Mexico, where he had been ordered to report in person to Gen. Scott. 'He was received by the commanding general,' says a writer, 'with marked emotion, creditable alike to General Scott as to the citizen soldier whose deeds had won the distinction of the veteran's approval.'
"We parted with our general in silence, being too much moved to address him with empty words and unmeaning compliments. He knew us--we knew him--and the rough scenes through which we had passed bound us together by a tie stronger than mere friendship!"
Brackett records that Captain Kessler was a very fine artist. He was one of the three officers appointed to obtain a medal for Great-grandfather, and to present it to him. Brackett says "His designing was good, and the talent evinced by his draft of the gold medal which our brigade presented to General Lane elicited the admiration of all. On one side of the medal was a wreath of laurel, twining around near the rim, on which were six shields of differently tinted gold, and on each one of these was the name of a battle in which Lane had been engaged--Buena Vista, Huamantla, El Pinal, Atlixco, Puebla and Tlascala were thus inscribed, and inside of the wreath was Lane's profile likeness. On the reverse side was a view of the entrance of our troops into Puebla, and an inscription that the medal was presented to Gen. Lane by the officers of his brigade, as testimonial of their appreciation of his bravery, etc."
Later in his narrative Brackett tells of the death of Captain Kessler and the loss of the medal. Above he says it was presented to General Lane. It is possible that there were two.
About three months before the end of the Mexican trouble, Great-grandfather went home on a short leave, and was received by the citizens with great and enthusiastic manifestations. He was a hero! It is doubtful if he drew much satisfaction from the popular pap that was being fed him, for a shadow hung over his family and his honor. The shadow was of his open hand.