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.
Cedros Mexico April 18th 1848
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
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.
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.
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.