Letter – Thomas Love, 18 April 1848


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Mexican War letter written by Surgeon Thomas Neely Love of the 2nd Regiment MS Infantry, from Cedras, Mexico. Love is writing to Mrs. William Rasha Cannon, a close family friend. He hopes that Mrs. Cannon may introduce him to some young ladies upon his return. He then goes on to describe his journey to and stay at Grunidora, a large hacienda in Mexico owned by the wealthy Cabrera family. At the hacienda, Love meets up with Colonel John A. Wilcox, Major Walter P. Lane, and Captain George K. Lewis, among others. In the final part of his letter, Love writes that he fears the Mexicans will not make peace, and that they will wait for a war to commence in the United States. He also believes the course taken by antiwar men will prevent an honorable peace.

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Cedros Mexico April 18th 1848

Mrs Cannon,

Your interesting letter came to hand last saturday. On sunday night I wrote to Sister Harriet and told her to say to you that as soon as I returned from Grunidora that I would write to you. I got back last night, to the surprise of all my friends, for the current report was that Col Wilcox and myself were taken prisoners. – I have been gone three days; spent the time rather pleasantly – I’ll give you the particulars, when I shall have replied to the topics of your much prized epistle. But first allow me to introduce myself to your esteemed companion, whom I now have the honor to call Brother – “Ah how comes that?” are you ready to ask – I answer that there is a tie between us – the rest is understood. I presume he will want to know why I have not answered his letter from Jackson which was a great source of pleasure to me. And presuming that he may take up this of yours to see if I assign no reason – none in the world. Mr. Cannon will read on as if this was directed to himself; for I know he is not fastidious. I am indeed Mrs. Cannon very thankful to you for the kind and candid manner in which you adress me. I have often in my letters, as a matter of course, requested you to whisper a good word for me in the ear of some of my female friends, with no other expectation than that you would take the matter as a joke with which to quiz the ladies – To you I have long since confided a matter the history of which I presume you have not forgotten. Nor have I ever regretted having confided to you your warm and constant friendship has ever been a source to which I could turn an eye wit the most delightful recollection. You ask me if I am engaged to a certain young lady whose acquaintance you formed in Columbus. No Indeed I am not. There is no tie of that kind that binds me to earth – There is one however, as you well know, who had me completely in her power – whose influence was very great over me – I am told that there is some probability that she is about to bestow her hand upon a relation. I wish her great joy – that he may be worthy of so sweet a girl – so noble a jem – Nothing would afford me more pleasure than to know that “our mutual friend” would win the hand of the fair

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and most beautiful Miss -. You give me some consolation by saying that there will be some fine girls for me when I return. After [???] upon the charms of one or two young ladies particularly you by the way of encouragement to my forlorn conditions, say that there will be plenty of “fine girls” for me when I return. I have no reason to doubt that, but to induce them to believe the same of me is more difficult. You ask me if I elicit your opinion of a certain young lady that you will give it. I do desire it very much; I did a long time ago have a little love [???] with this same young lady. – On this account some late rumors have been put in circulation – but there is no truth in them now. Capt. Barksdale was guessing at the matter; in fact he did think there was truth in the report. He is quite ashamed of what he told you since he finds that I was displeased about it. Your opinion has a great influence on me. I will receive it as from a sister. – I am glad that you begin to appreciate my friend Capt Barksdale – He is a splendid man – Industrious – warm hearted – smart – tries to do well and will someday be rich, for he loves money. And he does love in my opinion a relation of yours – or that is he is much pleased with her. What say you to such a match? I wonder if he would please her? I must not forget to say to you that Lt. [???] was very much elated at the idea of receiving your letter. He has read it a great many times with pride. He requests me to say to you that he is very much engaged at present or he would answer it immediately, he will do so soon. I do think that Geo. Smith has not only done a poor business but has made a “bad beginning.” I am pleased and highly gratified to know that you and my sister are yet such devoted friends. May you ever be so. I do wish that I could pay you all a visit – what pleasure and fun I would have. But to tell you the truth, I guess that I would be so awkward to set down in the circle of ladies that I would be quized out of my wits. Did Harriet tell you the joke on myself in which I had actually forgotten how to speak to a lady. You may think I am jesting but I am in sober earnest. I am sorry to hear that Dr. Gregory has married Miss Sykes. She is horrid ugly – I am not pleased. I agree with you exactly in reference to the relative merits of Miss Ring & Miss Holbert. I am not much “amigo” with the Miss Barry. I love Wm Barry much indeed He is a noble young man – amicable – talented and as good a friend as ever lived.

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I will now give you some of the particulars of my trip to Grunidora, a large Hacienda 45 miles from here on the road to Zacatecas. I had to go there to see a sick soldier. Fifteen of the Texas Rangers are stationed at that place – they form what we call a “pickett guard.” I started at daylight monday morning with the two messengers who came for me. We traveled 15 miles before we were out of sight of this place, across a beautiful valley which resemble our prairies very much. Not a single tree in the whole valley – The road as smooth and level as a floor – What a delightful place to ride in a buggy with a young lady! – We then turned around another point of the mountain and entered another valley; here the same scene presents itself – a valley with nothing but thorny mesquite and magnificent cactus – and a chain of rocky, barren mountains, apparently piled upon each other, with their blue peaks kissing the low white clouds as far as the eye could reach. 25 miles from here we came to a lovely tank, or cistern of nice clean water. There is a waste house here, a country seat to which Old Cabrera, a wealthy mexican, who claims to be a descendant of Montezuma used to retire to spend the summer. The beauty of this place consists alone in the tank and bathing house. The bathing house is nicely plastered in & outside – cross on top – door facings of marble – a marble slope above the door with a spainish inscription on it. The vault which contains the water is made of cement as smoothe as porcelain – four or five feet deep – 10 feet long – 8 feet wide; with steps and a beautiful shelf for sitting things on – and many other conveniences. From this house there is a tube made of cement to the tank about 100 yards below. This tank is made of rock and plastered in and outside with cement – about 80 feet square – 6 feet deep – the bottom is also plastered with cement. It was full of water and so clear that you could see even a pin in the bottom. I jumped into this pool which to my surprise I found over my head and the water so cold that I was glad to get out. From this tank there are several beautiful aqueducts or troughs for watering the flocks. We then lay down on our blankets under the shade of an elder bush after eating our bread and drinking a bottle of wine. We were soon disturbed by a dozen of the shepherds who came to the tank for water. They were not armed and of course we were not afraid of them, and if we had not been well armed there is no telling what they might have attempted. But three well armed americans can whip at least fifteen of these poor half-starved degraded wretches. After resting an hour we set out across the valley – the sun was very warm – If I had borrowed an embrella from the priest I should have been parched up. We passed several immense flocks of sheep. And reached Grunidora about 4 o’clock in the evening. During this long ride there was not a single farm, not a house, nothing to divert the mind from the dull monotony of the mesquite cactus.

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At Grunidora I found Col. Wilcox, Maj. Lane, Capt. Lewis, and two or three Lieutenants, who had gone there on sunday to spend a few days with Don Octoviana Cabrera, a son of the old man mentioned on the other page. He is a young man of splendid education, very polite, His father owns the Hacienda, besides several others. There are about five hundred peons at this place – some good houses – made of unburnt brick or as they call them adobes. They are plastered in and out side – brick floors – dirt roofs – the walls of the houses immensely thick – doors clumsy and strong as the prisons cell of a penitentiary. This is done to protect them agaisnt the Comanche Indians. There is a handsome church – some of the finest paintings in it that I ever saw. Octoviana entertained us splendidly – at four o’clock we had chocolate & sweet cakes – at nine o’clock he gave us supper – first broiled mutton – then rice, which was elegantly cooked – then different kinds of vegitables – wine – and lastly beans. There we had various amusements – singing – playing chess, backgammon, whist &c. He gave us fine wool mattresses & nice clean sheets to sleep on. Their bedsteads were made of long planks laid on benches like a common table. In the morning as soon as we arose they gave us a nice cup of chocolate & nice corn biscuit, and at nine or ten o’clock we had breakfast. This young man entertained us in the morning by walking through his gardens which were handsomely laid out, but poorly ornamented. No flowers worth noticing. The vineyards were very handsome. The summer houses very pretty – made without a single nail – made of ropes, [???] and raw hides. In one of the vineyards we actually found a regular built prairie well with a common old fashion swap & pole. But I have perhaps said enough to tire you out. The water at this place contains a great deal of salt peter – so much that when the water which is let flow over the garden beds in dried up, the ground is white with the salt.

When I come home I will try to interest you more with a verbal description than I can with a written account. The latest accounts we have from the interior are rather unfavorable to a ratification of the treaty. I fear that the mexicans will not make peace. That they will [???] it out – They are expecting that we will have a war in the U.S. – the course that the antiwar men have taken is the only thing that will prevent an honorable peace. The Whigs will be remembered for this course. Remember me to all my old friends, and to your children – write to me soon – I refer you to Sister Harriets letter which I wrote several days or weeks ago for a description of this poor miserable country. I am now in a comfortable room, oposite the priest – the priest is a great student – a handsome man – my paper is out – Do write to me soon – Give Miss Margaret B. my best respects and remember me in the kindest terms to Miss Bettie. I will certainly write to the Old man as soon as I have leisure. Your friend sincerely

T N Love

Thomas Neely Love was born at Love’s Ford on the Broad River, SC on June 15, 1818. He moved to Columbus, MS with his family ca. 1832. He attended South Carolina Medical College, graduating in 1844. Dr. Love joined the 2nd MS Infantry on Feb. 2, 1847 as its surgeon. Following the regiment’s service in Mexico, he was honorably discharged July 20, 1848. Dr. Love resided in Columbus, MS after the war, and married Elizabeth Jane Cannon (Mrs. Wm. R. Cannon’s sister-in-law) on September 14, 1848. The couple had three children prior to Dr. Cannon’s death on January 23. 1855. His Mexican War journal, A Southern Lacrimosa, was published by the Chickasaw Bayou Press in 1995. In the book, pages 215-218, this letter is partially transcribed.

Letter – George Thomas, 23 April 1839


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Letter written by U.S. Military Cadet George H. Thomas to his brother, John W. Thomas, from West Point, . Thomas writes that he is doing well, though growing tired of studying. He mentions General Winfield Scott’s visit to West Point and the possibility of a war with England (referring to the Aroostook War). He remarks on friends of his who are in the military or studying elsewhere, and the universal appeal of going on furlough. Thomas writes that he believes farming to be the most noble profession, and states that if he had a farm he would quit “sogering” immediately.

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West Point

                               April 23d 1839

Dear Brother –

     Your much prized favour of the 28th March has been received some time, as you have already seen by the pamphlet I sent you.

     I intended to have answered it immediately, but something or another prevented me from doing so until now. I am getting along pretty much after the old sort, if anything a little more tired of studying, and just as sleepy head[ed] as usual at this time of the year. However, I manage somehow to get along with considerable ease. If I can get through with this year’s course I shall have no fears whatever of not graduating, as all difficulties will then be over. I believe that no one has ever been found deficient in the last year’s course indeed the only thing that makes the others difficult is their length, but judging from those who have gone before me, I think there is no reason to apprehend being found deficient. 

     Now, for the news. General Scott has visited the point on his way North (that is toward the Lakes) and says that he does not think at this time that we shall have a war with England, although there is considerable excitement still in Maine and New Brunswick.

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When he first arrived in Maine, he says the excitement was so great that he began think there was no other alternative, but after they had more time to reflect and get cool, they became more reasonable, although not very friendly. I believe they are going to establish a grand encampment near Elizabethtown in New Jersey this summer, and he is to take command. I suppose the object is to have the troops prepared in case there should be any necessity for calling out to fight.

     I heard form A[l]bert Mabry a few days ago through Bob Parker; he is [in] Philadelphia, as it seems you and the other Southamptons think, studying medicine. But I should not be surprised if he has not some other object in view besides his appointment in the Navy as assistant surgeon, though, of course, I can only conjecture. Bob goes on furlough this summer, and to all appearance he thinks more of it than anything else, for he is eternally talking of it – and going to the tailors to look at his clothes, but he is not worse in that respect than everyone else, for I believe I can say from experience that a furlough is the last thing thought of

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at night, and the first thing in the morning that a third classman thinks of. Bob says that he will visit you if he gets as far as Virginia.

     Fox is in the Gulph [Gulf] of Mexico and gives some very interesting accounts of his adventures among the Mexicans. You never saw any little scamp grow like he has within the last two or three years. He says he thinks he is large enough to drub Robert Noke if he were to give him an opportunity.

     I received a letter from Ben this morning. As usual, he writes of marriage and money, but in such a way that no one can understand what he means – he is well and in good humor.

     I am glad to see you are in love with farming again, for I do consciously believe that it is the most noble and independent life a man can follow. I believe that if I had a farm I should quit sogering upon the spot. I think your opinion with regard to clearing land is decidedly correct, and one which experience has taught the northern farmers to adopt, for they are decidedly in favor of not clearing much land. Give my love [to] all the family.

                                Yrs. Affectionately,

                                   Geo. H. Thomas

P.S. I expect you can’t read this, my pen is very bad and I am in a great hurry/

-On fold-over verso, used as a cover, sealed with wax-

           Mr. Jno. W. Thomas

Newsom’s Depot

                  Southampton City, VA.

Via Norfolk

George Henry Thomas, of Virginia, entered West Point Military Academy on July 1, 1836 and graduated 12th in his class during 1840. Notable classmates include William T. Sherman and Richard Ewell. He was assigned as a 2nd lieutenant to the 3rd U.S. Artillery on July 1, 1840, and was promoted to 1st lieutenant on April 30, 1844. He was made captain on December 24, 1853; major, 2nd U.S. Cavalry, May 12, 1855; lieutenant colonel, April 25, 1861; colonel, May 3, 1861. He was assigned to the 5th U.S. Cavalry on August 3, 1861, but was promoted brigadier general of volunteers the same date. His promotion to major general of volunteers was dated to Apr. 25, 1862, and he was successively appointed brigadier general USA, October 27, 1863; major general USA, December 15, 1864; and received three brevets for Seminole and Mexican War service. Thomas was awarded the Thanks of Congress for Hood’s defeat at Nashville in 1864. One of the nation’s best soldiers, Thomas died March 28, 1870.

Robert B. Parker belonged the West Point Military Academy Class of 1841, but died the year following graduation.

Letter – Levi White, 22 October 1846


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Letter written by 2nd Lieutenant Levi White of the 4th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, to his brother-in-law William Goulbert, from a camp near Monterey, Mexico. White writes about a recent battle he was involved in with the Mexican troops at Monterey. He wishes for more fresh vegetables, as he is unimpressed with the varieties grown by the locals. He describes the “strange” way that the Mexicans make cornbread, and writes disparagingly about the way of life of the Mexicans.

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Camp near Monterey Mexico Oct 22. 46

Dear Sir

     I have not before written to you because I am extremely careless about writing, but under present circumstances with nothing to do, and being tired doing it, I suppose I cannot better employ myself that by make you pay postage. I have had the gratification of being in & seeing a battle, but I can assure you there is less amusement in it than might be supposed, especially where we had to stand still and be shot at without being near enough to return the compliment- having been placed in front of the strongest fort in the city to guard a mortar battery that was playing upon the fort while we were every moment expecting a charge from the enemy’s cavalry, with a twelve pound shot dashing amongst us every four or five minutes. But we soon learned to dodge them, and the best of the joke is that the Mexicans, that every time the regiment fell down, they [thought they] had killed us all. And they reported that we had fifteen hundred men killed the first day, and were sure they could whip us next day. But next morning they were surprised to find us nearly all alive and kicking, and at them as fresh as ever.

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I wish we had a few of your spare vegetables, as the Mexicans do not raise anything but gourds, pumpkins, melons, and beans, with very few York cabbage. But the soil is well adapted to cultivation of all kinds, as they can water their fields at pleasure, and plant at any season of the year. I had no idea that I would miss the potatoes so much. They do not raise them as far as I have seen in Mexico. I am tired of oranges and pomegranates – everything in the dry goods line is very dear here – the way the Mexicans make their cornbread would seem strange to those who had seen them for the first time. It is by soaking their corn and then rubbing it between two stones, then making it into small cake and baking them upon hot rocks or iron plates. They make plenty of sugar and generally sweeten it. They raise plenty of chickens and some hogs, but their principal business consists in raising cattle. The grass is abundant and green all the year. They use the primitive habits of old Job; they convey their burdens upon a breed of small asses of which they have an abundance, and have them drilled almost as well as soldiers.

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The peach trees are now in blossom in some places, but I think we will leave for someplace else before they are ripe. There is plenty of fig trees, but there is no fruit on them now. There is green corn all the time as they raise at least four crops in the year, and some of it beats Kentucky two to one. The Mexicans are rude and ignorant people, and the women are invariably ugly, and approach very near the appearance and character of Indian women, and are generally lousy. They have no furniture in their houses except among those who are wealthy, and very little among them. The rest sleep and sit upon the ground and live extremely dirty. I believe I have written enough for the present, and as I never get any answers to my letters, I suppose I need not ask one from you, nor need you write unless you pay the postage, or it will never travel this far into Mexico, as they do not send unpaid letters beyond Camargo, 150 miles distant, and by the time a letter would come in answer I may be in San Louis Potoci.

                              Your brother in law,

                                  Levi White

Levi White is listed as a 2nd lieutenant with the 1st and 4th Kentucky Infantry.