Heritage, Volume 13, Number 4, Fall 1995 Page: 11
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loaning Taylor his personal artillery
and helping him obtain supplies
for his troops. :
During the month of August,
Mexican traders did a brisk business
selling horses to the Ameri- ii
can officers (at inflated prices) " '
while enlisted personnel were busy
constructing an entrenchment
around the camp. General Taylor ',
later ordered a halt to the work, \
declaring it to be a waste of time.
Captain Henry disagreed, remarking:
"The work has been of some
service, as it has given us a practical
knowledge of the manner of
hastily throwing up a temporary ',;
defense." That same month said
Henry, a steamboat called the \
Undine, in use since the army's
arrival in July, was replaced by "a
poor, miserable wreck of a boat, I
called the Dayton".
Near the end of August, several
companies of dragoons arrived
in San Antonio, after traveling
overland from Fort Jesup. Taylor
sent word he would meet them in San
Patricio, about 40 miles northwest of Corpus
Christi. On August 23, he set out with
The day following Taylor's departure,
Camp Marcy was hit by a terrific thunderstorm.
At one point, Lt. Ulysses S. Grant
afterward wrote to his sweetheart Julia Dent,
"a flash of lightning struck a tent occupied
by two black boys in the camp". They were
servants belonging to Lt. Braxton Bragg of
the 3rd Artillery. One was killed and the
other badly injured. Captain Henry later
recalled that the crash of the lightning
"was felt throughout the camp" and that
his arm "was shocked as severely as if I had
received a discharge of electricity from a
heavily-laden battery". The air, he also
noted, "was impregnated with a smell of
That very same day, the recently-arrived
dragoons were camped at San Patricio,
awaiting the arrival of General Taylor.
When they heard the distant thunder, they
thought it was artillery fire. Convinced
that Camp Marcy was being attacked by
the Mexican army, the soldiers immediately
dashed to the aid of their comrades.
On the road to Corpus Christi, they encountered
General Taylor, who assured
the excited men that the camp was in no
Several other troops reached Corpus
Christi during the last week of August. On
the 25th, Captain Samuel Ringgold of the
3rd Artillery came, bearing dispatches from
Washington. That same day, five companies
of the 7th Infantry and two companies
of Louisiana Volunteer Artillery arrived
aboard the steamship Alabama. At the same
time, two companies of the 4th Infantry
disembarked from the William Ivy, a sailing
vessel. "When all the troops arrive," wrote
Captain Henry, "'The Army of Occupation'
will consist of...three thousand men".
This force, he boasted, "when well supplied
with all the munitions of war...will be quite
a dangerous crowd to fall in with".
On September 6, a Mexican spy named
Chapita, in the employ of Americans, returned
to Camp Marcy from Matamoros.
He reported that forces there numbered
only about 500 men and that there seemed
to be no indication they were planning to
"...the view that burst
upon us was magnificent...
[and] made one
exclaim, in the enthusiasm
of the moment, 'It
is God's favored land -
the Eden of America.'"
Left, General Zachary Taylor, was commander
of the forces at Corpus Christi.
From Susan Hale's "The Story of Mexico"
(New York: .G P. Putnam's Sons, 1906).
Opposite, Camp Marcy, Taylor's encampment
at Corpus Christi. From Frost's "Pictorial
History of Mexico and the Mexican
War" (Philadelphia: Thos. Cowperthwaite
& Co., 1848).
invade Texas. Chapita added that
U the people of Matamoros were
// against war with the United States.
On the morning of September
12, tragedy struck Camp Marcy.
The steamboat Dayton, with sev/,
eral soldiers aboard, left to make a
trip across the bay to St. Joseph's
l( l Island. At 12:20 p.m., as she passed
McGloin's Bluff (present-day
' Ingleside), her boilers exploded.
At least seven passengers were
/ killed outright and 16 or 17 more
were wounded. Captain Henry reported
that one of the dead officers,
Lt. Higgins, "was killed immediately
by a piece of iron striking
him on the head" and that "all on
the boiler-deck were blown high into the
The victims of the steamboat explosion
were buried, according to Lt. Colonel
Hitchcock, on September 14, 1845, "at the
burial ground which I selected". It was
located, he wrote, "on the brow of the hill
northwest of the camp...[commanding] a
view of the Nueces and Corpus Christi Bay.
It is a beautiful spot..." Today old Bayview
Cemetery can be found a few blocks north
of downtown Corpus Christi. Near the
entrance stands a Texas State Historical
marker. Some worn, upright wooden slabs
are said to mark the graves of the seven
victims of the Dayton tragedy.
During the time the "Army of Occupation"
was camped at Corpus Christi efforts
were being made by the United States to
head off war with Mexico. Annexation was
not the only issue. Both the Republic of
Texas and the United States claimed the
border between Texas and Mexico was the
Rio Grande. Yet old maps of Texas clearly
showed its boundary was the Rio Nueces,
nearly 200 miles further north. The Republic
based its claim on the Treaty of Velasco,
signed by Santa Anna, following his defeat
at San Jacinto in 1836. As president of
Mexico, Santa Anna agreed not only to
acknowledge the independence of Texas
but to accept the Rio Grande as its southwestern
boundary. But when the dictator
HERITAGE * FALL 1995 11
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 13, Number 4, Fall 1995, periodical, Autumn 1995; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45411/m1/11/: accessed November 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.