EXPEDITION WITH COL. DONIPHAN

Preface

PREFACE.

THE author cannot better introduce his work than by giving a copy ofan article from the New York Evening Post, which its senior editor,William Cullen Bryant, Esquire, kindly allows him thus to use:

XENOPHON AND DONIPHAN.

"THESE are the names of two military commanders who have made the mostextraordinary marches known in the annals of the warfare of theirtimes. Col. Xenophon, as in modern phrase he has justly a right to becalled, lived about one hundred years earlier than the Christian era.Born in Greece, and educated under Socrates as a favorite pupil, he, atthe age of nearly forty years, joined a regiment of Greeks, who hadenlisted under Cyrus the younger for a campaign, as it was pretended,against the Pisidians, but, in reality, against Persia, as the Greekssoon discovered after their march had begun. The object of Cyrus, asour readers well know, was to dethrone his brother, the King of Persia.After a long march through Asia Minor, Syria, and the sandy tract eastof the Euphrates, the two brothers met at Cunaxa, not far from Babylon.Cyrus fell in the almost bloodless battle that ensued, his barbariantroops were discouraged and dispersed, and the Greeks were left alonein the centre of the Persian empire. The Greek officers were soonmassacred by the treachery of the Persians. Xenophon stepped forward,and soon became one of the most active leaders; and, under hisjudicious guidance, the Greeks effected their retreat northward acrossthe high lands of Armenia, and arrived at Trebisond, on the southeastcoast of the Black Sea.

"From thence they proceeded to Chrysopolis, opposite Constantinople.Both Colonel Xenophon and the regiment, consisting of about fivehundred men, were greatly distressed, having lost almost everythingexcepting their lives and their arms. The length of the entire march ofthe Greek force, as nearly as we can now estimate it, was threethousand four hundred and sixty-five English miles. It was accomplishedin fifteen months, and a large part of it through an unknown,mountainous and hostile country and in an inclement season. The historyof this march has survived the ravages of two thousand years; and, asone of the best productions of a Greek scholar, is now used as atext-book in our schools.

"Turning now to the wonderful march of Colonel Doniphan, we find thefirst regiment of Missouri mounted volunteers mustered into the serviceof the United States at Fort Leavenworth, on the sixth of June lastyear, and, on the 22d of the same month, they commenced their marchacross the plains for Mexico. After a march of fifty-seven days'duration they entered Santa Fe. On the 16th of the present month,"(June, 1847,) "we find this regiment at New Orleans, about to bedischarged, as their enlistment for a year was nearly expired. In themeantime this body of men has fought three battles, viz., Bracito,Sacramento and El Poso. That of Bracito was on Christmas day, andopened an entrance into El Paso del Norte. The Mexicans had twelvehundred and fifty men and one piece of artillery; the Americans fourhundred and twenty-five infantry -- the piece of cannon was captured, andthe Mexican army entirely destroyed. That of Sacramento was fought onthe 28th of February. This battle -- one of the most remarkable in thewar -- is familiar through the reports of Col. Doniphan and other fieldofficers. The battle of El Poso was fought about the 13th May, by theadvanced guard under Capt Reid -- the Americans had twenty-five men andthe Camanches sixty-five. The Indians were routed, and left seventeenbodies on the field. Three hundred and fifty head of cattle,twenty-five Mexican prisoners, and a great deal of Mexican plunder werecaptured.

"The battle of Sacramento lasted three hours and a half; and theslaughter of the Mexican army continued until night put an end to thechase. The men returned to the battle-field after dark, completely wornout and exhausted with fatigue. The Mexicans lost 300 men killed on thefield, and a large number of wounded, perhaps 400 or 500, and 60 or 70prisoners, together with a vast quantity of provisions, severalthousand dollars in money, 50,000 head of sheep, 1,500 head of cattle,100 mules, 20 wagons, 25 or 30 carts, 25,000 lbs. ammunition, 11 piecesof cannon, mostly brass six pounders, 6 wall pieces, 100 stand of arms,100 stand of colors, and many other things of less note.

"This body of men conquered the states of New Mexico and Chihuahua, andtraversed Durango and New Leon. In this march, they travelled more thansix thousand miles, consuming twelve months. During all this time notone word of information reached them from the government, nor any orderwhatsoever; they neither received any supplies of any kind nor one centof pay. They lived exclusively on the country through which theypassed; and supplied themselves with powder and balls by capturing themfrom the enemy. From Chihuahua to Matamoras, a distance of nine hundredmiles, they marched in forty-five days, bringing with them seventeenpieces of heavy artillery as trophies.

"It must be confessed, that in many very important particulars, thesetwo expeditions differ from each other. One was the march of aconqueror, the other was the retreat of an inferior force. One was madeon horseback, and the other on foot and at an inclement season of theyear. One was made at an early age of the world, when military sciencewas undeveloped, the other was made with all the advantages of modernimprovements. But our object is not so much to draw a comparisonbetween these two expeditions as to notice the circumstances that thesetwo men, whose names are in sound so similar have each performed themost wonderful march in the annals of warfare. If Col. Doniphan willnow imitate the example of Col. Xenophon, and give to the world ascharming and as perfect a history of his expedition as the latter hasdone, mankind, two thousand years hence, will admire and honor him."

In the absence of such a charming and perfect work from ColonelDoniphan, a young volunteer lays this imperfect account of theexpedition before the public.

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