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.