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Captain R.E.Lee In The Mexican American War Part 4 ( The Beginning)

On his way to Mexico, Lee wrote to his wife while in San Antonio. “I reached here last night, my dear Mary after a journey of six days from Port Sarassa. The first day of consequence of the intolerable heat through the prairie. We could make but 12 miles where we encamped by a diminutive inlet that furnished some water,enough for our horses and selves, of a hot and inferior quality. I have got such a taste of prairie flies that I determined to travel by night as long as I was in this region and started the morning before 4 a.m.”

Lee was nearing forty, was still a captain and after 21 years of serving int he US Army he had not yet heard a shot fired in anger. He was gratified to be close to real service at last. Even though his first task was to round up the picks and shovels and other pioneering tools that his labor force would need. Not an easy thing to do in a then impoverished land where even the most basic, simple tools were a rare thing.

San Antonio was a small town then, with a population of 2,000 and most of them Mexicans now inundated by the 3,400 US Army soldiers who were currently camped there. Lee visited the Alamo, which still showed the damage from it’s famous twenty day siege and spent his rare time off duty “bathing int he clear and rapid water of the San Antonio River”. To which he went “very early or late so as note to be interrupted by the senoras and senoritas.” Lee much admired the landscape but found the Mexicans ” an amiable people… primitive in their habits and tastes.”

Robert E Lee In The Mexican-American War Part 3

Lee watched the US troops raise the Stars and Stripes over Chapultepec replacing the Mexican flag. At the same time the US flag was raised, 50 captured soldiers of the St. Patrick Battalion of deserters who had been condemned to death were hanged. battle.

Thirty of them were hanged in full view of the battle , each of them standing in the back of a mule drawn cart, hands tied behind them, the noose already fastened to the immensely long crosspiece of a huge mass gallows built for the purpose on a low hilltop facing the fortress. At the moment the US flag was raised above a cloud of black smoke…teamsters whipped the mules. and the deserters dropped to their death amid the sound of cheering from their former comrades

It had an effect on the defenders of Mexico City which Lee instantly recognized instantly. With the victory, organized Mexican resistance collapsed. Lee by then was exhausted and had yet to have his wound dressed, made his way back to General Scott to report the overwhelming success of the attack, and then made another reconnaissance of the ground leading toward the Sane Cosme gate at the northwestern corner of the city. When returning again to report to General Scott, he then fainted from exhaustion for the first and only time of his life. He had been on his feet, in the saddle and in combat for three days and nights without sleep or rest.

When Lee awakened before dawn, Lee Learned that US troops had already entered the city and captured the citadel while Santa Anna had fled. Lee entered the city at first light and was watching in the grand plaza as “General Scott rode in about eight in the morning in full dress uniform to see the American flag raised over the National Palace. After this Scott reviewed the troops as they presented arms, then dismounted, doffed his plumed hat and entered the palace”

For the next two days American troops had to fight in street battles with criminals turned loose by Santa Anna from the prisons before he fled. This fighting would be the last Lee saw until 1861.

For Lee’s part in the battle Lee was promoted to brevet colonel. This would be the highest rank he held until 1861. Most importantly Lee had an chance to learn the art of generalship from under the command of an expert, who very much valued and trusted him at a level far above his rank. “Lee had learned the value of reconnaissance and he had learned the value of audacity in warfare and the bold flank attack as well as the possibilities of advancing swiftly beyond the conventional lines of communication and living off the land.” Later he relied on these lessons learned from his experience in Mexico.

Lee returned home 22 months after leaving for Mexico. During that time he earned a reputation throughout the army. In the words of General Scott ” the very best soldier that I ever saw in the field”.

In 13 more years many Union commanders would learn just how skilled Lee was.

This is not the end to this series, I had a more fun doing it than I thought I would. I will probably loop back to the start of the war and Captain Lee’s exploits at the start of the campaign.

Pre 64 Model 70s. Serial numbers 1 & 2

Winchester Pre-64 Model 70 Rifles 
Serial Numbers 1 and 2

Absent anything short of absolute certainty, each of these rifles stands among the world’s most important and valuable sporting arms. That they are paired presents an unequaled acquisition opportunity.

Serial Numbers 1 and 2Winchester Pre-64 Model 70 Rifles

Both rifles have a captivating history. According to Roger Rule’s “The Rifleman’s Rifle”, serial number 1 was marked on January 20, 1936. As Winchester records are unavailable so far as supporting a proper factory letter is concerned, the actual shipping date and destination are unknown. As detailed in “Winchester Model 70 No. 1”, a feature article appearing in the June, 1990 issue of “American Rifleman” (bound copy included), the current owner’s uncle purchased the rifle from a hardware store in Durango, Colorado during the 1937 hunting season.

Whether new or used when that sale was wrung, the rifle was already fitted with a Lyman receiver sight. Upon returning from the hunting trip, the owner had the rifle drilled and tapped in order to install a 10x Fecker scope, then hunted with it for the next forty years. In 1977, after borrowing it over the course of several deer seasons, the current owner formally acquired the rifle still wearing the Fecker and with the Lyman sight in tow.

Staggeringly, another ten years passed before a chance showing resulted in a dealer getting the vapors and blurting a surprisingly high offer. This sparked a curiosity which lead to the realization that his plain old Model 70 was the first of its kind. With significant reservation, the rifle was retired from hunting after 50 years of faithful and flawless service.

Published in 1982 by Alliance Books, “The Rifleman’s Rifle” did much to expand and solidify collector interest in Winchester pre-64 Model 70 rifles. Quite naturally, the owner of the number 1 rifle acquired a copy as part of his research. Page 193 carried a photo of serial number 2 from the author’s collection, and page 52 showed a photo of a letter from Richard Pelton, Winchester’s Director of Marketing dated March 6, 1980. Written to Mrs. Ethel M. Lied, the letter mentions the January 20, 1936 marking date for the number 1 rifle and also states that assembly of Model 70 rifles did not begin until 1937.

Pointedly, the letter references Mrs. Lied’s inquiries as to the value of her rifle – serial number 2. No doubt, ownership of the number 2 rifle passed to Roger Rule at approximately this time. At some point thereafter, the number 2 rifle was presented for sale at a major gun show attended by the owner of rifle number 1. As things tend to do, one lead to another and ownership of serial number 2 transferred to him. 

To no surprise, both rifles are of “standard” configuration and chambered in .30-06 Springfield.


Special Forces Training Guerrilla Warfare

By Richard H Dick James

58 years ago, late October 1962, I was a recently promoted Private First Class E-3. I had been in Special Forces Training Group (Provisional), in Fort Bragg NC, for close to a month, waiting to begin training to be a “Green Beret.” I was assigned to Company B, Special Forces Training Group (Provisional).

The cadre suggested that each of us study the tactics and tenets of Mao Tse Tung (Red Chinese Army) and Che Guevara (Cuban guerrilla leader), both considered to be experts in guerrilla warfare. The PX (Post Exchange) carried “Mao Tse-Tung on Guerrilla Warfare” and “Che Guevara on Guerrilla Warfare,” so I immediately purchased them both, and began reading.

Mao Tse Tung had decreed that there would be three phases to any war. The first phase would entail the formation of a safe base, situated in an isolated area. This was to be where volunteers were to be trained and indoctrinated. Those same volunteers were to spread out from the base, agitating and propagandizing against the government in power. Once a protective belt of people sympathetic to the movement was formed, from which food, information, and recruits could be obtained, the second phase could begin.

During the second phase the violent part of the conflict would begin, with sabotage and terrorism increasing. It was at this time that raids and ambushes on vulnerable targets began, to procure arms, ammunition, medical supplies, and other essential materials. This was, essentially, a guerrilla warfare. As the guerrilla forces grew in stature and quality, political activists could be sent out to nearby areas to indoctrinate and “liberate” the populace.

Phase three followed, wherein orthodox military operations were utilized to annihilate the enemy, with guerrilla warfare taking a subsidiary role. Mao always stressed that a guerrilla war would fail, without a clearly defined political goal. He equated guerrilla warfare to revolution, admitting that it could not exist or flourish without the support and cooperation of the masses.

The communists in Southeast Asia were happy about the Japanese-allied war during WWII. They were so because the war weakened government forces in the countries fighting the Japanese. They were confident that the allies would win and knew that taking control of the weaker governments would be much easier after the war.

Mao Tse Tung was known as the world’s foremost authority on guerrilla warfare. His publication Red Star Over China originally came out in 1939. In the publication, his “Rules for Conduct” was thought to be one of the best list of tenets to be followed by guerrillas or soldiers wanting the civilian populace to be supportive of their presence. The rules were, in fact, put to music and became a daily official Red Army song.

Special Forces used their own version of Mao’s rules when interacting with indigenous personnel. We would be formally taught to treat the indigenous people with respect, as our lives would be in their hands. It’s a shame our country’s conventional troops weren’t taught the same credo, as it might have led to a different outcome in the Vietnam War.

Mao’s rules were to be memorized by all his troops, and were strictly enforced, to the point where violating them would result in severe punishment, and in some cases execution. Mao’s Rules of Conduct included:

  1. All actions are subject to command.
  2. Do not steal from the people. Pay for everything you purchase.
  3. Be neither selfish nor unjust.
  4. Confrontation is not permitted with the poor peasantry.

He explained further with eight remarks:

  1. Replace the door when you leave the house. (They often used doors as beds.)
  2. Roll up the bedding on which you have slept.
  3. Be courteous.
  4. Be honest in your transactions.
  5. Return what you borrow.
  6. Replace what you damage or break.
  7. Do not bathe in the presence of women.
  8. Do not without authority search the pocketbooks of those you arrest.

Mao borrowed many of his ideas and tenets from another warfare expert, Sun Tzu. It was Sun Tzu who wrote that “Guerrilla strategy must be based primarily on alertness, mobility, and attack. It must be adjusted to the enemy situation, the terrain, the existing lines of communication, the relative strengths, the weather, and the situation of the people. In guerrilla warfare, select the tactic of seeming to come from the east and attacking from the west; avoid the solid, attack the hollow; attack; withdraw; deliver a lightning blow, seek a lightning decision. When guerrillas engage a stronger enemy, they withdraw when he advances; harass him when he stops; strike him when he is weary; pursue him when he withdraws. In guerrilla strategy, the enemy’s rear, flanks, and other vulnerable spots are his vital points, and there he must be harassed, attacked, dispersed, exhausted and annihilated.”

Che Guevara was the son of a left-wing Argentinian. He had been part of several unsuccessful attempts to depose Argentina’s dictator, Juan Perón. In 1954 he was part of Arbenz’s Guatemalan Communist government, until its overthrow. After that he went to Mexico, where he met Fidel Castro, in 1955. Che was an expert on Marx and Lenin, prominent Communists. He was also anti-American.

Che Guevara became Fidel Castro’s prime strategist and Central American Communist revolutionary. He was generally considered to have masterminded the Cuban revolution, as well as being a prime adviser to Central and South American communist revolutionaries. Che’s forces entered Havana, Cuba in early 1959, taking control of the Cuban government for Castro. Another book I purchased was “150 Questions for a Guerrilla” by General Alberto Bayo, a top Fidel Castro adviser and instructor.

From my Book #1, of my four-book set of SLURP SENDS! Book #1 (“SLURP SENDS! On Becoming a Green Beret Book 1”), #2 (“SLURP SENDS! Experiences of an A-Team Green Beret Book 2”), #3 (“SLURP SENDS! Experiences of a Green Beret In Vietnam Book 3”) and #4 (“SLURP SENDS! A Green Beret’s Experiences In Vietnam Book 4”) are all available on Amazon or from me.

PHOTOS: My copies of “Mao Tse-Tung on Guerrilla Warfare” and “Che Guevara on Guerrilla Warfare,” which I still have (my photos).