The object of this expedition was to conciliate the inhabitants, and for the purchase of horses, mules, and cattle. Commodore Perry landed there on the 1st of April, followed by the arrival of General Quitman very soon afterward. Many citizens fled on the approach of the troops, and the town was surrendered to the American forces. Twenty-two cannon and some ammunition were captured, and five hundred horses secured by purchase. The troops returned to Vera Cruz, April 6th. A similar expedition for like purposes was undertaken by General Harvey, April 2d, for Antigua. A lieutenant and eight soldiers were captured, and some horses and cattle purchased. On April 3d, Brevet Colonel Henry Wilson, with the First United States Infantry and two companies of volunteers, was assigned to the command of Vera Cruz and the castle of San Juan de Ulloa.
Orders were now issued for an advance of the army on Jalapa, General David E. Twiggs, with the Second Division of regulars, to lead the movement on the 8th, two brigades of volunteers to follow. On the 9th Patterson’s division moved, but, for want of transportation, Quitman’s brigade, Colonel James H. Thomas, Tennessee mounted regiment, Worth’s division, and the siege train were left at Vera Cruz. General Twiggs was notified by General Scott that he had information that General Santa Anna had arrived at Jalapa with six thousand troops, though he [General Scott] regarded the numbers as exaggerated. General Twiggs, on receipt of General Scott’s notice, replied that the Mexicans would doubtless endeavor to hold the pass of Cerro Gordo between the National Bridge and Jalapa. Through Mexican sources he had information rating Santa Anna’s force at from two thousand to thirteen thousand, and that he expected to arrive on the evening of the 11th at Plan del Rio, the point where the Mexican advance was posted.
General Scott had received information that Generals Patterson and Twiggs had met a strong force of the enemy at Plan del Rio. Worth’s division was ordered forward, and Quitman directed to follow in twenty-four hours. General Scott himself now moved out under a cavalry escort.
General Santa Anna arrives at Cerro Gordo—Engagement at Atalay—General Orders No. 111—Reports from Jalapa—Report of engagement at Cerro Gordo—Occupation of Perote—Account of a Mexican historian—General Santa Anna’s letter to General Arroya—Delay of the Government in sending re-enforcements—Danger of communications with Vera Cruz—Troops intended for Scott ordered to General Taylor—Colonel Childs appointed governor of Jalapa—Occupation of Puebla—Arrival of re-enforcements—Number of Scott’s force.
General Santa Anna had arrived at Cerro Gordo on April 9th. General Scott, on his arrival, ordered (on the morning of the 11th) reconnoissances to be made on the Mexican left by Captain Robert E. Lee, which were resumed on the 16th. These reconnoissances determined the order of attack, which was to make a demonstration with the commands of Generals Pillow and Shields on the Mexican right, and press the mass of the army on their right. This movement being successful, the enemy’s communications would be cut off. In the meantime the Mexicans were busily engaged in greatly strengthening their positions.