Mexico City: 1847. 20,pp. Large folio. Original printed wrappers, bound in contemporary marbled boards, rebacked and recornered in recent morocco, gilt leather spine label, all edges marbled. Numerous additional blank leaves bound in. Rubbing and scuffing to boards, moderate edge wear; wraps with repaired chips and tears. Early 20th-century bookplate on front pastedown, small ink stamps scattered throughout. A couple of short, repaired edge tears internally; light tanning and foxing. Good plus. Item #1307
A rare Mexican view of the defeat suffered by forces under the command of Santa Anna in the Battle of Buena Vista, at the hands of Zachary Taylor during the Mexican-American War. The battle occurred in late February 1847, when Santa Anna, freshly recalled from exile in Cuba, rushed his new army north to halt the southern advance of Taylor's forces from Texas. Taylor had already been victorious at the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, and had captured Monterrey and Saltillo, before much of his army was sent to assist in the invasion of Veracruz being prepared by Winfield Scott. When Santa Anna attacked the American forces dug in at Buena Vista, south of Saltillo, on February 22nd, he did so with an army far superior numerically, but also one far less trained and experienced, and was driven back with heavy losses. Taylor's enhanced reputation and legend that grew out of the battle took him to the White House in 1848.
Both sides claimed victory in the battle. Santa Anna did so on the perhaps dubious grounds that, although his own army suffered numerous casualties and withdrew from the field, Taylor with his now limited forces halted his advance after the conclusion of the engagement. The present work provides a detailed account of the battle from the Mexican point of view, printed as five consecutive issues of their official military periodical, but published separately with its own wrappers and a sheet with two large woodcut maps. The report, as the introduction from the editor makes clear, was intended as a defense against criticism from parties within Mexico concerning the conduct of the brief campaign:
"Despues de terminar los partes oficiales, nos encargaremos de refutar un cuaderno que se ha impreso recientemente, con el solo objecto de eclipsar el brillo que las armas mexicanas adquierieron el mes de Febrero ultimo en el estado de Coahuila, y que parece escrito si no por Taylor mismo, si, bajo su influencia y por el poder del oro americano. El ilustre general Santa-Anna nunca ha sido mas digno del amor y reconocimiento de sus conciudadanos, y nunca tampocoha debido considerarsele, come general y como mexicano, mas digno de elogio que en la epoca actual."
The work first contains a lengthy report by Santa Anna and several shorter ones from his lieutenants that present the performance of the Mexican army and the results of the battle in the most positive possible light. The majority of the work comprises a unit-by-unit account of Mexican action during the battle, with detailed descriptions of the participation of each regiment, including lists of soldiers killed, wounded, and missing in action. The two woodcut maps delineate the geography and trails of the area surrounding Saltillo, and the initial order of battle on the field. As a result, the work serves not only as a brisk defense of Mexican military conduct, but also as an important and comprehensive record of the Mexican side of the engagement.
Very rare -- we locate only three copies, at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Texas, and none in auction records.