Nov 25, 2014 - Sale 2368

Sale 2368 - Lot 187

Price Realized: $ 3,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,000 - $ 4,000
(MEXICAN WAR.) McClellan, George B. An unpublished manuscript report on his Mexican War service with the Engineer Corps. Autograph Letter Signed as 1st Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers to his commanding officer Captain George Washington Cullum, and also docketed with McClellan's signature on the final blank. 7 pages, 9 3/4 x 7 3/4 inches, on 3 sheets; minimal wear. West Point, NY, 14 November 1848

Additional Details

George Brinton McClellan (later commander of the United States Army during the Civil War) was a young graduate from West Point when he received his first taste of combat as a lieutenant with Company A of the Corps of Engineers in the Mexican-American War. At the war's close he returned to West Point, where his regiment helped with the instruction of young engineers. This letter was drafted at the request of his West Point commanding officer George Washington Cullum, who wanted a full report on the company's activities in Mexico.
For most of the war, the company was commanded by Captain Gustavus Woodson Smith (who later fought against McClellan as a Confederate Major General). McClellan's report reflects the dangerous and unglamorous nature of military engineering work from their arrival under Zachary Taylor's command to the conclusion of the war. In the campaign for Tampico, the company "performed a great deal of hard & useful labour in repairing the road, making bridges &c, for which the men . . . have never received one word of credit in any official paper." Of the siege of Vera Cruz, McClellan recalls "cutting the road for the investing corps, the handsome manner in which they supported the reconnoitering officers & their constant & untiring exertions in doing the work of at least 10 times their number in the trenches." Again he laments the lack of recognition, and hopes the Chief Engineer will "do it the justice denied by others." From there, they rushed to the Battle of Cerro Gordo, with "wretched & insufficient" transportation which forced them to "literally push the wagons up every hill we came to." He then describes the march on to Puebla and Mexico City, and then the journey back to West Point. An engaging account of the war by a major historical figure. Provenance: Spink-Shreves Floyd E. Risvold sale, 27 January 2010, lot 350.