The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974 Page: 111
Notes and Documents
General John E. Wool's Memoranda
of the Battle of Buena Vista
Edited by K. JACK BAUER*
IN THE RUGGED COUNTRY SOUTH OF SALTILLO, MEXICO, DURING FEBRU-
ary 22-23, 1847, occurred one of America's most renowned military
struggles. This was the Battle of Buena Vista in which a small United
States army under Major General Zachary Taylor defeated a Mexican
force over three times its size. Nearly all the 4,650 United States partici-
pants were green troops untested in battle, who fought with a courage and
determination which would have earned praise for seasoned veterans.
Much of the credit for the success rests with Taylor's second-in-command,
Brigadier General John E. Wool. He chose the battlefield and made the
preliminary disposition of the United States forces. Perhaps even more im-
portant he had trained three of the regiments (two of Illinois infantry and
one of Arkansas cavalry) who played a key role in the victory. Those
troops had formed a portion of a command which Wool had led in long
journey from San Antonio, Texas, through northern Mexico before uniting
with Taylor's forces at Buena Vista. That trek was probably the best con-
ducted of a war resplendent with long marches by both United States and
John Ellis Wool (1784-1869) was a New Yorker who entered the army
at the outbreak of the War of 1812. He distinguished himself in the fighting
along the Niagara frontier and by the war's end held a major's commission
and a lieutenant colonel's brevet. Remaining in the army after the war he
became an inspector general in 1816. Wool put on the stars of a brigadier
general in 1841 as the third ranking officer in the army. After the outbreak
of fighting in 1846 he supervised the raising of volunteer regiments in the
*K. Jack Bauer, professor of history and archivist of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,
is the author of Surfboats and Horse Marines: U.S. Naval Operations in the Mexican
War. He wishes to thank the Research Grants Committee of Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute for their assistance.
'Francis Baylies, A Narrative of Major General Wool's Campaign in Mexico, in the
Years 1846, 1847 & 1848 (Albany, 1851), lo-23, 27-29; Allen Johnson and Dumas
Malone (eds.), Dictionary of American Biography (20 vols.; New York, 1928-1936),
XX, 513-514; Justin H. Smith, The War with Mexico (2 vols.; New York, I919), I,
267-276. The Dictionary of American Biography will hereafter be cited as D.A.B.
Here’s what’s next.
Show all pages in this issue.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974, periodical, 1973/1974; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/m1/129/ocr/: accessed February 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.