The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970 Page: 327
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Camp Life in the Army of Occupation
turned to fall and fall to winter, adverse conditions created a mass of
disillusioned and sick soldiers. Along with bad weather, though, came
gamblers, bars, theatricals, and other diversions to distract the soldiers'
attentions from their physical ailments, mental gloom, and day-to-day
How the Army of Occupation, initially labeled the "Army of Ob-
servation," came to Texas is a familiar story. The United States Con-
gress had adopted overwhelmingly a joint resolution to annex the
young republic, and in Texas a special convention agreed to the pro-
posal. With statehood certain, Taylor, headquartered at Fort Jessup,
Louisiana, received orders from Washington to advance to the western
borders of Texas as a precautionary measure against a feared invasion
from Mexico. The forces departed in late July, 1845, embarking from
Upon their arrival in the area at St. Joseph's Island (about twenty-
five miles from Corpus Christi), many of the soldiers displayed their
initial high spirits by hopping into the water seventy-five yards from
shore and frolicking in the surf like children. Some of the less ven-
turesome troops, however, caught rides on their bolder compatriots'
backs for a dry trip to shore.!
General Taylor, writing to Washington from aboard the steamship
Alabama, was "happy to state that the health of the command was
greatly improved by the voyage."' He reported scarcely any sickness
among the eight companies making the voyage.
The men found Corpus Christi to consist of some twenty to thirty
houses and just two bars,' a paucity in both instances which soon
would be alleviated. The natural delights of the countryside seemed
'Among the best sources telling why the army came to Corpus Christi are Justin H.
Smith's standard history, The War with Mexico (2 vol.; New York, 1919); Ram6n Eduardo
Ruiz (ed.), The Mexican War: Was It Manifest Destiny? (New York, 1963); Frederick
Merk, The Monroe Doctrine and American Expansionism: 1843-i849 (New York, 1966);
and Glenn W. Price, Origins of the War with Mexico: The Polk-Stockton Intrigue (Austin,
Good secondary accounts of life at the encampment at Corpus Christi include Robert
S. Henry's The Story of the Mexican War (New York, 1950), 20-23; Holman Hamilton,
Zachary Taylor: Soldier of the Republic (Indianapolis, 1941), 162-168; Brainerd Dyer,
Zachary Taylor (Baton Rouge, 1946), 154-164; and Justin H. Smith's above cited work,
I, 142-146. A popular treatment of camp life at Corpus Christi may be found in Edward
J. Nichols, Zack Taylor's Little Army (Garden City, N.Y., 1963), 22-44.
2W. S. Henry, Campaign Sketches of the War with Mexico (New York, 1847), 14-15.
'Mexican War Correspondence, House Executive Documents, 3oth Cong., 1st Sess.
(Serial No. 520o), Document No. 6o, p. 98.
'Henry, Campaign Sketches, 17; The Weekly Delta (New Orleans), January 5, 1846.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970, periodical, 1970; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117147/m1/363/: accessed September 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.