A Fighter from Way Back: The Mexican War Diary of Lt. Daniel Harvey Hill, 4th Artillery, USA

A Fighter from Way Back: The Mexican War Diary of Lt. Daniel Harvey Hill, 4th Artillery, USA

A Fighter from Way Back: The Mexican War Diary of Lt. Daniel Harvey Hill, 4th Artillery, USA

A Fighter from Way Back: The Mexican War Diary of Lt. Daniel Harvey Hill, 4th Artillery, USA

Synopsis

Hill (1821-89) complained often and vividly about his superiors and the volunteers during his service with the US Army against Mexico in 1846, but provides important details and insights regarding the campaign. Hughes, a writer and biographer of the era, and Johnson (history, Lipscomb U.) have revised his diary entries only to make it more easily read a century and a half later. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Excerpt

The young lieutenant had slept surprisingly well, his cape insulating his bones from the ground, his canteen serving as a pillow. First Lt. Daniel Harvey Hill arose, folded his cape, and saw to his men. As he passed among them in the dark, he tried to sweep the previous day from his mind. Their brigade, commanded by the able Col. Bennet Riley, had been brought up and placed immediately to the front of the Castle of Chapultepec. Earlier in the day U.S. forces had seized Molino del Rey to the west in a bloody but successful assault, and now all that stood between the Americans and their objective, Mexico City, was the castle perched on a steep hill. They readied themselves to attack the fortress, but the order never came. For five hours the assault force waited within cannon shot, a ludicrously easy target in the blazing sun. Finally a member of Riley's staff rode up and ordered the artillerymen back to their original position, back to the line they had occupied the night before. Why? As they marched to the rear they knew the Mexicans were strengthening their defenses, knowing the Americans must try again. the opportunity had passed; now Chapultepec could only be taken by another bloody assault. Fate had put them in the hands of bungling play-soldiers. “So much for the strategy of Major Genl. Pillow,” Hill would scratch in his diary that night. Pillow was an imbecile. Colonel Riley knew better. If only their roles could be reversed.

Through the first light, Hill could see Mexican infantry in heavy force occupying the village of La Piedad, half a mile ahead. Soon came the order to advance, and Hill and his company of artillerists moved out on foot. He wished he could fight his company as a battery, but they were infantry, had been infantry, and doubtless would the in Mexico as infantry—artillerists without artillery; gunners without guns. Such was the fate of a junior first lieutenant and the men he commanded.

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