The Official Site of Fort DeRussy, Louisiana
volunteers; the first of these acting adjutant for the command, the two latter as company officers to Captains Mace and Seguine, and Lieutenant Wells, commanding the rangers. There was also with the party Sergeant Singleton, of Louisiana company, acting sergeant-
man we learned that the Mexicans had made an ambuscade at the river, that General Garay was there himself with a large force, and that it was intended to attack us there. I immediately despatched the adjutant and sergeant-
A charge was instantly made upon the right by Captain Mace and his men, another upon
the left by Captain Seguine and his men, and the field piece protected by Captain
Wyse's company was ordered forward to scour the ground upon the opposite bank. These
movements were nearly simultaneous, and were gallantly performed; at the first discharge
the enemy were driven from the left, two charges upon the right also dislodged him
from their right and compelled him to unite in one mass upon the opposite bank. In
this position the battle continued for a full hour. Captain Wyse gallantly serving
his piece, and being during the whole of the engagement exposed to the destructive
fire from the enemy, directly in his front, so well concealed and protected by the
thick undergrowth, as but seldom to be sufficiently seen to be fired upon with any
perfect precision. There were wounded during the service of this piece, six men of
its squad. Finally, the enemy sounded their trumpet, whether for a retreat or a charge,
I do not know; there was at all events a cessation of their fire; at that moment
Captain Wyse delivered a discharge of canister so fortunately aimed as for a time
entirely to paralyze their further action. I took this opportunity to examine our
condition; we had now exhausted all our field piece cartridges but three. The road
to Waughutla lay along a gorge between steep acclivities. The prisoners we knew had
from the town; our rear and flanks were now attacked by multitudes of the men of the towns left behind us on our advance, who had already come so near us as to take from us all our mules, packed with every thing we had, in provisions, money and clothing. There seemed but one way to make our return possible; it was to regain, if possible, the position we had occupied in Tantayuka. I immediately ordered a retrograde; we turned and retraced our steps; immediately there fell upon our flanks and rear large bodies of the enemy, at such distance however as to make their efforts but slightly efficient. At every opportunity to reach them, our rear, commanded by Captain Mace, delivered their discharge of musketry, generally, most fatal to our pursuers. Whilst ascending a hill in the road, about one mile from Tantayuka, a very spirited resistance was made by the enemy stationed on the summit, but they were soon driven forward and dispersed by as many of Captain Wyse's men as could be spared from the piece, who were in the advance acting as light infantry. At this critical moment the piece was made again to play a very important part in the safety of our retreat, for it had scarcely reached the summit of this hill before the enemy came rushing on our rear, driving in the rear guard, pack mules and every thing else in confusion around the gun, but Captain Wyse promptly unlimbered, sighted and elevated his gun himself, and when within short musket shot he touched her off, sending death and confusion into the column of the advancing enemy, and before they could recover from this shock, he gave them another well aimed discharge of canister, which effectually prevented further attack from the rear. In this manner we advanced nine miles back to Tantayuka — the whole ground being one continued fight. When arrived at that town we found an organized force there to oppose us. Captain Seguine, then in advance, was ordered to prepare his men for a charge, and Captain Wyse advancing his piece to a favorable position, discharged upon our opposers one of our last charges of canister, and immediately thereon the charge was made; the enemy fled and dispersed in all directions.
We gained the town and immediately crossed it to a favorite mound overlooking and
entirely commanding it. Thus, masters here, we had leisure to rest and restore our
condition to better capabilities
of defence; men were despatched to the stores in the town to procure powder and ball; from which a number of cartridges were prepared, using champaign bottles half filled with balls, with the remaining space packed with earth, a substitute for tin cylinders. Other munitions were also inspected and equally distributed. These preparations being complete, we had nine or ten good canister charges and an average of nine musket cartridges per man. During this afternoon I found the men were coming to camp, some of them richly laden with spoils of all kinds from the shops and private houses; and although I had not authorized it, I did not regret so just a retribution for the hypocrisy and treachery of people who, after affecting kindness and hospitality as we left them in the morning, had subsequently fallen upon to annihilate us, and had despoiled us of about ninety mules and all our private baggage and provisions.
While here we perceived the enemy passing round us from all directions, and moving
to some point upon the road by which we had come from Asulwama. We remembered a most
favorable place we had passed, for any purpose of ambuscade, called Monte Grande,
at which Captain Wyse had been obliged to dismount his piece, and rightly conjectured
it was intended to strike us there; we determined, therefore, to take any other road
for return, if any there was, and on leaving our position at night, the road by Panuco
was selected by which to attempt to retreat. These arrangements being adopted, we
were called upon at nine o'clock at night by a flag bearing to me a letter from General
Garay. I informed the two officers who bore it that I did not wish to appear disrespectful
to General Garay, but that I had neither lights nor conveniences for writing in the
camp — that therefore, if they knew the purport of the note and would communicate
it, I would send by them the reply. They said it was a demand for honorable capitulation.
I answered that there was no possibility of any such result; that I felt strong in
my position, and able to move when and where I pleased. I then complained in strong
terms, of the attack upon my command — more like assassination than any thing else
— stating that I had repeatedly explained to the alcaldes of the towns within the
district commanded by General Garay, the friendly character of my tour, and had diligently
sought to see an officer of his command for an explanation and escort to him. I
understood that these officers expressed regret, saying that it was attributed to information received from Tampico by their general that I was coming to take away the prisoners by force, adding that it was probable the general would like to see and converse with me. I appointed ten o'clock as the hour I would see General Garay, and it was agreed that Captain Wyse would meet the general at that time upon the plaza, and bring them to me or assign a place for our meeting. Captain Wyse repaired at the time fixed to the place appointed, and waited until near twelve o'clock, when he returned to give the information that they had failed to meet him. We immediately prepared to depart, and at two o'clock on the morning of the 13th we left camp, during a rain, and gained the Panuco road. It was not until nine or ten o'clock of that day that the enemy, having ascertained our retreat, were again down upon our flanks and rear; we managed, however, to keep him at bay, and on more than one occasion he was made to pay the cost of his temerity, when approaching within musket or cannon range. We were thus pursued for a distance of fifty miles, after we left Tantayuka, but always at the cost of the enemy, many of whom were destroyed in their pursuit.
In the engagement at the river, which is called the Calaboso, we sustained the following
Boyd's Company. — Captain Boyd, killed; Lieutenant Toneyhill, mortally wounded; Sergeant Barker, killed; Corporal Bruner, killed; privates Tubiff, Brown, Mullican and Burke, killed, and privates Luxton, Wilson and O'Hara, slightly wounded.
Wyse's Company. — Private Allen, mortally wounded, and five privates slightly wounded.
Louisiana Volunteers. — Lieutenant Heimberger, severely wounded; G. Schmidt, G. Colson, G. Zeiler, John Brown and L. Scott, killed; L. Durnan, mortally wounded; L. Davis and L. Lambino, missing; — Ogg, slightly wounded.
Having no surgeon or means of transportation, Lieutenant Toneyhill and two privates, all mortally wounded, with a man as nurse, were left at the house of the alcalde in Tantayuka, with a letter to that functionary, demanding for these unfortunate men the common rights of humanity; and also in the conversation with the bearers of
General Garay's flag the disposal made of these wounded was mentioned, and it was promised they should be cared for.
For the conduct of every man composing my command, I have praise to betow. There were instances, however, of extraordinary gallantry. Captain Wyse during the engagement at Calaboso river, acted with that steady courage and gallantry, constituting the highest grade of military character, being constantly under the direct fire of the enemy. His indefatigable services and endurance, during the two subsequent days of skirmishing by day and watching by night, are also gratefully remembered by me, and entitle him to our highest commendation.
Captains Mace and Seguine, of the Louisiana regiment of volunteers, are brave men,
and excellent soldiers. — They charged the enemy most gallantly at the river engagement,
and in entering Tantayuka. Their exertions and services were constant and untiring,
from the morning of the 12th until the night of the 14th. Lieutenant Toneyhill may
possible survive his wound. It is but justice to say, that his conduct was admirable,
and deserving the highest compliments. Lieutenant Heimberger is also entitled to
my most complimentary notice. After being severely wounded, and suffering with consequent
fever, he did not hesitate to report for duty when the enemy appeared, and when it
was thought hard fighting was our only resource. Lieutenants Lindenberger and Campbell
acted with gallantry and zeal whenever an opportunity presented. Mr. Aldridge, who
as proprietor of the mules engaged as packs, was with us, rendered most essential
and gallant service, being forward and active in every charge made upon the enemy.
Mr. Lafler, one of the Tampico Rangers, rendered very important service in coming
with the express to Tampico by night, when I thought myself so surrounded as to be
in the greatest doubts whether there was any possibility of escape without succor.
Mr. Pemberton, a gentleman who accompanied us as an amateur, also rendered essential
and gallant services. The small detachment of Tampico Rangers, armed as they were
merely as cavalry, could not be so advantageously employed as the other troops; they
were, however, generally ready and willing to discharge such duties as they were
called on for. Among the non-
notice the acting Sergeant-
Another was the sergeant in charge of Captain Wyse's gun, who with as gallant a gun squad as ever served a piece, bore the brunt of the action on the river bank. The names of these brave men have escaped my memory. I will procure and hand them to you.
There were also Sergeants Moore, Woodey and Townsend, of the Louisiana regiment, all of whom are entitled to honorable mention.
I have omitted to state the force of the enemy engaged against us, and the probable number of their loss. Their strength must have been near fifteen hundred. And although we were not actually engaged at any one time against their whole force, yet we were compelled to meet them all in turn. I have learned from Mexican men, who saw the battle ground at Calaboso, just before the engagement, that there were three hundred within the ambuscades upon this side the river, and five hundred upon the opposite bank, commanded by General Garay himself; and there was probably as many more upon our flanks and rear the following days, while in retreat. Their loss is estimated at two hundred, as well from statements of their own people, as from what we saw.
In closing this report, which I fear may already be too long, I must beg to remark
that for our return we are indebted chiefly to the field-
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
L. G. DE RUSSY, Col. La. Reg. Volunteers.
To Col. WILLIAM GATES, Commanding Department Tampico.
Frost, John; Taylor, Zachary; Ampudia, Pedro de; Santa Anna, Antonio Lopez de; Scott, Winfield; Doniphan, Alexander , Life of Major General Zachary Taylor; with Notices of the War in New Mexico, California, and in Southern Mexico; and Biographical Sketches of Officers Who Have Distinguished Themselves in the War With Mexico (New York: D. Appleton and Co.) Permission: Public domain [JF:Taylor].
Lewis DeRussy, eponym of Fort DeRussy, served as commanding officer of the Louisiana Volunteers during the Mexican War. He was involved in combat at the skirmish at Tantayuka. The following is the official report of that engagement:
Colonel de Russy's Official Report of the Expedition to Huejutla
TAMPICO, MEXICO, July 18, 1847.
SIR: — In obedience to your special order No. 41, dated 7th July, directing me to
call upon General Garay, of the Mexican army, stationed at Waughutla (Huejutla),
and claim from him certain prisoners of war, who in your judgment, and for reasons
which you authorized me to suggest, should be entitled to liberation; and in case
of his compliance, to bring back said prisoners to Tampico; I proceeded with an escort
of one hundred and twenty-