« ForrigeFortsett »
Battle of Palo Alto.
the left of our position. The Mexican cavalry, with two pieces of artillery, were now reported to be moving through the chaparral to our right, to threaten that flank, or make a demonstration against the train. The 5th infantry was immediately detached to check this movement, and supported by Lieutenant Ridgely, with a section of Major Ringgold's battery and Captain Walker's company of volunteers, effectually repulsed the enemythe 5th infantry repelling a charge of lancers, and the artillery doing great execution in their ranks. The 3d infantry was now detached to the right as a still farther security to that flank yet threatened by the enemy. Major Ringgold, with the remaining section, kept up his fire from an advanced position, and was supported by the 4th infantry.
The grass of the prairie had been accidentally fired by our artillery, and the volumes of smoke now partially concealed the armies from each other. As the enemy's left had evidently been driven back and left the road free, as the cannonade had been suspended, I ordered forward the eighteen-pounders on the road nearly to the position first occupied by the Mexican cavalry, and caused the first brigade to take up a new position still on the left of the eighteen-pounder battery. The 5th was advanced from its former position and occupied a point on the extreme right of the new line. The enemy made a change of position corresponding to our own, and after the suspension of nearly an hour the action was resumed.
The fire of artillery was now most destructive-openings were constantly made through the enemy's ranks by our fire, and the constancy with which the Mexican
Death of Major Ringgola,
infantry sustained the severe cannonade was a theme of universal remark and admiration. Captain May's squadron was detached to make a demonstration on the left of the enemy's position, and suffered severely from the fire of artillery to which it was for some time exposed. The 4th infantry, which had been ordered to support the eighteen-pounder battery, was exposed to a most galling fire of artillery, by which several men were killed, and Captain Page dangerously wounded. The enemy's fire was directed against our eighteen-pounder battery, and the guns under Major Ringgold, in its vicinity. The major himself, while coolly directing the fire of his pieces, was struck by a cannon ball and mortally wounded.*
In the mean time the battalion of artillery under Lieutenant-Colonel Childs, had been brought up to support the artillery on our right. A strong demonstration of cavalry was now made by the enemy against this part of our line, and the column continued to advance under a severe fire from the eighteen-pounders. The battalion was instantly formed in square, and held ready to receive
* The death of Major Ringgold was universally lamented. He was a native of Washington county, Maryland, born in 1800. He was educated at the Military Academy, West Point; graduated in 1818; entered the army as lieutenant; promoted to the rank of first lieutenant in 1822, and to that of captain in 1834. His brevet rank of major was the reward of severe service in the Florida war. To his exertions in perfecting the discipline of the light artillery, the country is chiefly indebted for the efficiency of that important arm of the national defense.
Major Ringgold's connections were of the first respectability. His father was General Samuel Ringgold, and his mother was a daughter of General John Cadwalader, who was greatly distinguished in the war of the Revolution. His conduct and character as an officer and a gentleman were in every respect worthy of so highly honourable a descent.
Loss, &c., at Palo Alto. the charge of cavalry; but when the advancing squadrons were within close range a deadly fire of canister from the eighteen-pounders dispersed them. A brisk fire of small arms was now opened upon the square, by which one officer, Lieutenant Luther, 2d artillery, was slightly wounded; but a well-directed volley from the front of the square silenced all farther firing from the enemy in this quarter. It was now nearly dark, and the action was closed on the right of our line, the enemy having been completely driven back from his position, and foiled in every attempt against our line.
While the above was going forward on our right, and under my own eye, the enemy had made a serious attempt against the left of our line. Captain Duncan instantly perceived the movement, and by the bold and brilliant maneuvering of this battery, completely repulsed several successive efforts of the enemy to advance in force upon our left flank. Supported in succession by the 8th infantry and Captain Ker's squadron of dragoons, he gallantly held the enemy at bay, and finally drove him, with immense loss, from the field. The action here and along the whole line, continued until dark, when the enemy retired into the chaparral in rear of his position.
Our loss this day was nine killed, forty-four wounded, and two missing. Among the wounded were Major Ringgold, who has since died, and Captain Page dangerously wounded, and Lieutenant Luther slightly so. I annex a tabular statement of the casualties of the day.
Our own force engaged is shown by the field report, herewith transmitted, to have been one hundred' and seventy-seven officers and two thousand one hundred