Letter from Zachary Taylor to Hon. W. L. Marcy, March 3, 1847.
HEADQUARTERS, ARMY OF OCCUPATION,
Agua Nueva, March 3d, 1847.
I have had the honor to receive your communication of January 27, enclosing a newspaper slip, and expressing the regret of the Department that the letter copied. In that slip, and which was addressed by myself to Major General Gaines, should have been published. Although your letter does not convey the direct censure of the Department and the President: yet when it was taken in connection with the revival of the paragraph in the regulations of 1825, touching the publication of private letters concerning operations in the field, I am not permitted to doubt that I have become an object of Executive disapprobation. To any expression of it, coming from the authority of the President, I am bound by my duty, and by my respect for his high office, patiently to submit; but lest my silence should be construed into a tacit admission of the grounds and conclusions set forth in your communication, I deem if a duty which I owe to myself, to submit a few remarks in reply.
I shall be pardoned for speaking plainly. In the first place, the published letter bears upon its face the most conclusive evidence that it was intended only for private perusal, and not at all for publication. It was published without my knowledge, and contrary to my wishes. Surely I need not say that I am not in the habit of writing for the newspaper. The letter was a familiar one, written to an old military friend, with whom I have been for many years interchanging opinions on professional subjects. That he should think proper, under any circumstances, to publish it, could not have been foreseen by me.
In the absence of proof, that the publication was made without my authority or knowledge, I may be permitted to say, the quotation, in your letter of the 650th paragraph of the superseded regulations of 1825, in which the terms: mischievous and disgraceful: are employed to characterize certain letters or reports, conveys, though not openly, a measure of rebuke, which to say the least, is rather harsh, and which I may think not warranted by the premises.
Again, I have examined the letter in question, and I do not admit that it is obnoxious to the objections urged in your communication. I see nothing in it, which, under, the same circumstances, I would not write, again. To suppose that it will give the enemy valuable information touching our poets or respective line of operations, is to know very little of the Mexican sources of information, or of their extraordinary sagacity and facilities in keeping constantly appraised, of our movements. As to my particular views in regard to the general policy to be pursued towards Mexico, I perceive from; the public journals that they are shared by many distinguished statesmen; also in part, by conspicuous officers of the navy, the publication of whose opinions is not, perhaps obstructed by any regulations of the department. It is difficult, then, to imagine how the diffusion of mine can render any peculiar aid to the enemy, or specially disincline him to enter into negotiations for peace.
In conclusion I would say that it has given me
2great pain to be brought into the position in which I now find myself in regard to the department of war and the government. It has not been of my own seeking. To the extent of my abilities and their means placed at my disposal, I have sought faithfully to serve the country by carrying out the rules and instructions of the executive; but it cannot be concealed, that since the capitulation of Monterey, the confidence of the department, and I too much fear, of the President, has been gradually withdrawing, and my consideration and usefulness correspondingly diminished. The apparent determination of the department to place me in an attitude antagonistically to the government, has an apt illustration in the well known fable of AEsop.
I ask no favor and I shrink from no responsibility, while entrusted with the command in this quarter. I shall continue to devote all my energies to the public good, and looking for my reward to the consciousness of pure motives, and to the final verdict of impartial history.
I am, sir, your very ob't servant
Major General U. S. A. Commanding.
For Hon. W. L. Marcy, Secretary of War,
Washington, D. C.