The Mexican War: A Lithographic Record
RONNIE C. TYLER*
A TER WEEKS OF CONFLICTING RUMORS CONCERNING A LARGE-SCALE
battle that Generals Zachary Taylor and Antonio L6pez de Santa
Anna fought in the mountainous region of northern Mexico and after re-
peated denials that Taylor had suffered his first defeat, newspaper readers
in the United States finally got first-hand reports from the battlefield. "Did
you ever hear the first gun of battle?" asked William Quesenbury in a
letter to the editor of the Arkansas State Gazette. "It breaks expectancy,
and speaks that the die will soon be cast. At its sound we all started to our
feet. . . . There is a large mountain on the left of the battle field, looking
towards the south; and it was on the side of this mountain that we first
discovered the Mexicans. At the distance of two miles, they could be plainly
seen marching up the steeps by thousands, and all so regular that they
looked like a vast black belt that girded the eminence." (See figs. I8 and
19.) A New Orleans Picayune correspondent opined that the battle of Bue-
na Vista began on February 22, 1847, with a "destructive cannonade" at
three in the afternoon. The following day "both armies were closely en-
gaged during the whole time." As General John E. Wool advanced, the
Mexican cavalry "charged upon him with drawn swords and did great
execution." First accounts were inexact as to how many soldiers fell in the
battle, concluded the correspondent, but "cart loads of wounded" from both
sides were carried into Saltillo.'
Curious readers must have strained to imagine the gallant Taylor direct-
ing the American troops against an almost overwhelming Mexican army
under Santa Anna. Their curiosity would soon be satisfied. Both written
accounts and pictures were in preparation. Just as eyewitnesses provided
verbose descriptions for newspaper publication, workmen in New York and
other eastern cities were hard at work on visual depictions of the en-
counter. Gleaning information from whatever sources possible-newspa-
*Ronnie C. Tyler, curator of history at the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art,
Fort Worth, is author of Santiago Vzdaurri and the Southern Confederacy, soon to be
published by the Texas State Historical Association. The present study is based on a
paper presented to a print seminar at the Library of Congress during the summer, 1972.
The assistance of Don Williams of Texas Christian University is gratefully acknowledged.
1Arkansas State Gazette (Little Rock), April 17, 1847; The Daily Picayune (New
Orleans), March 24, 1847.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/. Accessed May 5, 2016.