POLK, James Knox. Autograph letter signed (''James K Polk'') as President, TO SECRETARY OF WAR WILLIAM MARCY, [Washington, D.C.], 22 March 1847. 1 page, 4to (9 13/16 x 7¾ in.), pale blue lined paper. In fine condition.
POLK, James Knox. Autograph letter signed ("James K Polk") as President, TO SECRETARY OF WAR WILLIAM MARCY, [Washington, D.C.], 22 March 1847. 1 page, 4to (9 13/16 x 7¾ in.), pale blue lined paper. In fine condition.
THE PRESIDENT REQUESTS INTELLIGENCE ON THE MILITARY SITUATION AT A CRUCIAL POINT IN THE MEXICAN WAR
President Tyler's annexation of Texas heightened the warlike posture of Mexico and the United States, and relations were exacerbated by U.S. insistence that the new state's border was the Rio Grande, rather than the Nueces River, as Mexico adamantly maintained. When American soldiers under Zachary Taylor were attacked in the disputed territory, President Polk asked for a declaration of war. The strength of the United States proved too great for the poorly equipped Mexican troops and, one year after the war began, two American armies under the command of Generals Taylor and Winfield Scott sat in enemy territory.
In late March, Polk grew concerned that Taylor's army was courting disaster by moving too rapidly into the vast interior of Mexico. Although General Scott was on the verge of capturing the important city of Vera Cruz, Polk became fearful that the American army might be encircled and overwhelmed. Seeking to ascertain whether Taylor's situation was critical, Polk conferred with Secretary of War Marcy and in the present letter requests further details: "The adjutant Genl. is requested to make out a statement of the forces on the Rio Grande, where stationed etc., under Genl Taylor's command...as soon as the immediate & most pressing duties of his office are over. I return to you the returns of the forces under Genl Scott's immediate command."
Polk's fears proved unfounded. Not long afterwads, belated news arrived of Taylor's dramatic victory at Buena Vista (February 22-23) over Santa Anna. And, a week after this letter, the Mexican force at Vera Cruz surrendered to General Scott, who launched a successful campaign against Mexico City. Eleven months later, the war officially ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
Provenance: The Collection of Mrs. Philip D. Sang (sale, Sotheby's, 31 October 1985, lot 173).