Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 4, Number 1, Spring, 1992 Page: 8
This periodical is part of the collection entitled: Legacies: a History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the Dallas Historical Society.
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was Samuel Haught; born November 20, 1814, he
was over thirty.20 Some, like Benjamin J. Prigmore,
were barely out of boyhood; born August 1, 1830,
Prigmore wasn't even seventeen when he enlisted.21
After Company K was enrolled at Dallas, the
men rode south and were mustered into service at
either San Antonio in late June or Austin on July 3.
At that time, Josiah Pancoast was either elected or
appointed Regimental Commissary.22
Altogether, the First Texas Mounted Volunteer
Regiment consisted of ten companies. Five of
these were sent to guard the western frontier against
Indian attack. The remaining five, including the
Dallas company, departed for Laredo on August 12.
There they crossed the Rio Grande, then continued
along the river in the direction of the Gulf of Mexico.
Passing through Mier, the Texans were received
with some trepidation by its citizens. The tragic
Mier Expedition of 1842, in which a group of Texas
prisoners had been forced to draw beans to determine
who would be executed, had left its mark on the
town's psyche. As the Rangers rode through the
streets in 1847, one woman is supposed to have
shouted out, "I had rather see every relative I have,
dead, here, before my eyes, than to see the Texians
enter Mier unresisted." Fortunately there was no
The Rangers eventually reached Matamoros,
where they encamped near Ranchita. Here they
learned they were to be sent to central Mexico to
fight guerrillas plaguing General Winfield Scott's
army. Earlier, in March, 10,000 soldiers under
Scott's command had besieged the port city of Vera
Cruz. After its capitulation three weeks later, Vera
Cruz was occupied. The Americans had gone on to
defeat Santa Anna at the Battle of Cerro Gordo. By
September, the U.S. Army had reached the gates of
Mexico City. However, there was quite a bit of
enemy territory between the capital and the coast,
and Scott's long, thin supply line was fragile. It was
this line the Texans were assigned to protect.
Most of Hays' men looked forward to going
to Vera Cruz, but a handful were against it. As John
S. "Rip" Ford, the regimental adjutant, recalled, the
discontented attempted to stir up the others. "They
played 'Home, Sweet Home' on a harp of a thousand
strings," wrote Ford, "and they had listeners." However,
there were only about five ringleaders. Colonel
Hays had the good sense to discharge them, and
they were sent home. This put an end to the trouble.
Shortly thereafter, the various companies of the
regiment departed by ship from Brazos Santiago.24
Following their arrival in Mexico after an
unpleasant sea voyage, Hays' men were initially
encamped at a town called Vergara, three miles from
Vera Cruz. There they were brigaded under General
Caleb Cushing with the regiment of Massachusetts
Volunteers. It was here also they were issued the
new Colt six-shooters, a gun Samuel Walker of the
Texas Rangers had helped develop. Although the
revolvers were superior to the old caplock singleshot
pistols, unfamiliarity with the new weapons
sometimes had disastrous consequences. Some of
the men loaded their guns incorrectly, causing the
cylinder to burst when fired, and one man accidentally
shot his horse in the head while cleaning his
loaded revolver. In time, however, the Texans
learned to use their new weapons well.25
During their stay in Mexico, Hays' men were
employed primarily in the pursuit of elusive Mexican
guerrillas, although from time to time, of necessity,
they fought against regular troops in minor
skirmishes. On one occasion, in late November
1847, after they had left Vergara and were on the
march to the capital, the Texans faced a force of
1500 Mexican soldiers. Despite being outnumbered,
Hays' 600 men "poured in a galling fire from
their revolvers, charged the enemy to the teeth and
. .. forced them off the field."26
Once, during a night march, one of the Dallas
County men, Bill Hicklin, fell asleep when the
Texans stopped for a brief rest. When the regiment
moved on, Hicklin was accidentally left behind. He
awoke to find himself all alone and wandered
around the mountainous terrain, not sure in which
direction his comrades had gone. When hunger
finally forced him to look for food at a Mexican
house, he was lucky to find its inhabitants friendly.
He was well-treated and hidden from hostile Mexicans.
He later made his way to Puebla, where he
rejoined the company. Bill "was a great wag," Rip
Ford recalled, "and recounted the adventure with
much humor."27 Hicklin was later killed in a duel.28
U.S. troops under command of General
Winfield Scott had finally taken Mexico City in
early September after several days of hard fighting,
and the Americans had since occupied the city.
Nevertheless, the civilian population had not yet
seen the likes of Hays' men who, upon reaching the
capital on December 6, 1847, "produced a sensation
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Dallas County Heritage Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 4, Number 1, Spring, 1992, periodical, 1992; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35116/m1/10/: accessed December 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.