May 2024 Auction Ends Thursday, May 30th, 5pm Pacific
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on: 5/30/2024 6:29:00 PM

Lot #51: Incredible Zachary Taylor Autograph Letter Signed from May 1846 After Crossing the Rio Grande in the Mexican-American War -- ''…We are now all encamped on the Mexican soil without firing a gun…''


Exciting and historically significant autograph letter signed by Zachary Taylor as Brigadier General, shortly after the start of the Mexican-American War. Dated 19 May 1846, Taylor here recounts his very early and unlikely military successes against Mexico, including crossing the Rio Grande River ''without firing a gun''. These improbable advances against greatly superior Mexican forces would make Taylor an instant military hero and earn his promotion to Major General a week after writing this letter. Indeed, it was his victories in the War that propelled Taylor to the Presidency two years later. From Matamoros, Mexico, Taylor writes a jubilant letter to his son-in-law in part,

''…on the morning of the 17th, RETURNING from examining several places for crossing the river recommended by the Engineers, I rec'd by a flag a communication from genl [Mariano] Arista by a genl officer, proposals for an armistice; & if that was not acceded to, that said officer was authorised to enter into any arrangements we might agree on to put a stop to hostilities. I at once informed him that the war must be carried on, that they had commenced it, & I could not put a stop to it, without troops from my govt, but THAT, if he would deliver up all the public property here he might withdraw without interruption their troops from Matamoros including his sick & wounded. He then made some proposition, for me not to occupy Matamoros, or to cross the Rio Grande, that many of their wounded could not be removed; I stated that we never made war on the sick, wounded, or women or children, but that I would cross the river the next day, & if the town made any resistance would destroy it, which I was then prepared to do, as our morters [sic] had that moment arrived.''

Then, at daylight, Taylor recounts how he and his men crossed the river only to find it abandoned except for the sick and wounded. The Mexican Army had evacuated the town, throwing supplies and ammunition into the river. Taylor then expresses concern over his sudden fame, writing, ''I truly regret to see they are organizing a compy. of Taylor Guards in N. Orleans as I have a great horror of being made a lion of…'' He also reflects on the outcome of the War, ''Whether we should be ordered to carry war into the heart of the country or confine our operation to the banks of the Rio Grande, time must determine. As to myself, I heartily wish the war was at an end…Z. Taylor''.

Three page letter on bifolium measures 7.875'' x 9.875'' with address panel to integral last page. Folds, overall in very good to near fine condition. An exceptional letter, one of the very first written by Taylor during the war that made him famous.
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