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such wonderful coolness and bravery as to invite the praise of his superiors, and secure honorable mention of his conduct in the official reports of the battle.
It is proper to observe here that in the Mexican War American officers and soldiers were on trial for the first time in very many years. However doubtful the propriety of the war,
sentiment was, for the time being, hushed amid determination to uphold the honor of the flag, cost what it might. The dull, monotonous life of the standing army unused it to warfare. So the call for every man to do his duty was urgent. Then defeat must be avoided for prudential reasons. The foe was by no means humane. It was vindictive; enough so to put
every man on his mettle, and make prominent the thought that self-preservation was truly the first law of nature. All the conditions stimulated to individual prowess, and tested to the fullest the inherent qualities of privates and officers.
For some time General Scott had been gathering a large force at the Island of Lobos, for an attack on Vera Cruz. This was a part of the grand scheme he had conceived of piercing the Mexican vitals, and marching directly to their capital, Mexico. In order to augment his force, Grant's regiment was called to join him soon after the battle of Monterey. The siege of Vera Cruz lasted for some time. During its operation the young lieutenant displayed great perseverance and activity, and won high honors in the capture of the city, which took place March 29th, 1847.
After this event he was appointed regimental quartermaster, which office he filled with credit to himself and the service until the army was withdrawn from Mexico. Though this post exonerated its holder from active service with the troops, Grant never availed himself of the privilege, but joined his regiment on the eve of every battle and fought with his comrades through it.
It was thus that he became an active and daring participant in the two days'battle of Cerro Gordo, on April 17th and 18th, and the same must be said of the capture of San Antonio, and the battle of Cherubusco, August 20th, 1847. The battle of Molino del Rey was fought on September 8th, 1847. It was one of the hottest and deadliest of that celebrated march from the sea to the Mexican capital, and perhaps the most decisive, for both armies felt that its result would settle the question of further invasion. Lieutenant Grant here came into conspicuous view as a daring, dashing officer. He moved his command so steadily and firmly on the enemy's batteries, and evinced so much courage and determination, that the rank of first lieutenant by brevet was tendered him on the spot, and particular
mention of his name was made in the official reports of the battle, with a call of attention to his "distinguished and meritorious services." It is said he declined the honor which came in this direction because the rank of full first lieutenant had already fallen to him through regular channels owing to a vacancy occasioned by casualty in the battle. But another account says his nomination for the honor was forwarded to Congress, which failed to act on it. If so, the neglect would
appear unaccountable to one who saw him act like a commor gunner on that victorious day, and help to shove his piece. amid showers of balls, up to the very breastworks of the
At the storming of Chapultepec, which occurred a few days after, Lieutenant Grant had opportunity to especially distinguish himself. Nearly half way up the steep slope to the castle walls stood a strong field-work, so flanked by ravines as
to make its capture hazardous in the extreme. But it must be carried before the storming parties, weighted with fascines and ladders, could advance to scale the walls. The battalions ordered to take it, moved forward under a fierce and withering fire. Their ranks were frightfully thinned and more than once disorganized before it could be reached. Final success became doubtful under that short range fire from the redoubt. At
this critical moment Grant rallied a detachment of his regiment, and, with Captain Brooks, who did the same with that of the Second Artillery, suddenly wheeled to the left, and enveloping the enemy's right flank, rolled it back in confusion. Other regiments quickly came up to their support. A last and desperate charge was made and the redoubt was carried.
out against overwhelming odds, and in the face of a raking fire. It was mentioned in various reports of the officers, and among others General Garland says: "I must not omit to call attention to Lieutenant Grant, who acquitted himself most nobly in my presence on several occasions." And then there are several mentions of how he "acquitted himself most nobly," among which was his persistent and effective service of a mountain howitzer, his rallying a handful of men right under the enemy's guns, his gallantly heading a desperate charge, his boldly galloping through storms of shot and shell, like a veritable Texas ranger, to deliver orders to his superiors, hurry up ammunition, and do whatever was expected of a faithful and daring subordinate. This conduct gained for him the rank of brevet captain.
In the assault and capture of the City of Mexico his gallantry was as conspicuous as ever. The heart of the nation. having been pierced, and the war being practically over, he devoted himself with fresh energy to the particular duties of quartermaster. His station was in the city, which gave him fine opportunity to study the disposition of the conquered people and the nature of their institutions. This study he prosecuted with zeal, even going so far as to organize expeditions to neighboring parts in quest of information, historical, political and military. It is hard to say what his impressions were, but it is not unlikely that they proved the groundwork of that interest in, and friendship for, the nation which he manifested in many ways during his political and civic career. At all times in his life he has been a keen observer of Mexican fortune and a well wisher of the Latin Republic.
The sieges, toilsome marches and consummate strategy which characterized this advance from Vera Cruz to the Mexican capitol, and the many battles fought in the short space of three weeks, furnished a school for young Grant, which trained him for a position he then little dreamed of. He was one of those