Western Sun and Advertiser.

                                       August 17, 1848.

John R. Jones, Esq.:

     The urgent call upon me in your paper and the State Sentinel, together 
with many and frequent calls made upon me by the citizens of my own and other 
counties, induce me to present to the public, through the columns of your 
paper, what I deem to be a faithful narrative of the part taken by the Second 
Regiment in the battle of Buena Vista on the 22d and 23d of February, 1847, 
in the Republic of Mexico.

     I suppose it is probable that some in our country, from what I can learn 
from the public news and rumors of the day, are inclined to come to the 
conclusion that I should have made an official report of the doings of the 
Second Regiment on those eventful days. I was only the lieutenant-colonel of 
the regiment, consequently it would have been assuming a province that did 
not belong to me to have made a report unless I had been called upon by my 
superior officers, and hence if the public mind has received a wrong bias 
from any of the official reports of that day or of any statement that has 
since been made to the public, it is no fault of mine.

     As to the part I took or acted in the transactions of those two days, 
for myself I am perfectly satisfied that my reputation be left with those Who 
know me and the candid everywhere. A decent respect for truth requires at my 
hand the following narrative in vindication of the Second Indiana Regiment 
from the unjust aspersions cast upon them as to the part acted on the 23d. 
Permit me to add that the Second Indiana Regiment, for bravery and 
patriotism, was not excelled by any other on that occasion, notwithstanding 
they, for a short period of time, retreated from the fierceness of the 
action, but that even was not done only in obedience to the repeated order of 
their colonel.

     On the morning of the 22d of February we were informed that the enemy 
were in sight, advancing, and at the same time received orders to form our 
regiment for immediate action. Our regiment was quickly formed and marched 
forward to a position about one mile and a half in front of our camp, 
occupying the extreme left of our line of infantry, though nearly a half-mile 
in the rear of the line. The Kentucky and Arkansas regiments of cavalry, 
under Colonels Marshall and Yell, took position on the extreme left, near the 
base of the mountain and a little in our rear; Colonel Bissell, Second 
Illinois, the next on our right, though nearly a half-mile in our front. The 
Second Indiana Regiment and the Kentucky and Arkansas regiments of cavalry, 
placed thus far in the rear I supposed to be in reserve. Colonel Lane's Third 
Indiana Regiment was placed in position on a height immediately in the rear 
of Washington's battery. About 1 o'clock, in obedience to orders, the two 
rifle companies of the Second Indiana Regiment, Captains Osborn and Walker, 
were detached, together with the two rifle companies of the Third Indiana 
Regiment, under the command of Major Gorman, and moved to the left to join a 
portion of the Kentucky Mounted Riflemen, under the command of Colonel 
Marshall, for the purpose of meeting and checking a considerable force of the 
enemy's light troops, which were thrown onto the side of the mountain for the 
evident purpose of flanking our left. Our riflemen soon met them, when a 
brisk fire took place and was kept up at intervals until sundown with little 
effect on either side.

     The Second Indiana Regiment occupied its position until late in the 
evening. At this time I was about a half mile in front of our regiment 
viewing the position of the enemy, when I received an order from Captain 
Lincoln, one of General Wool's staff, for the Second Indiana Regiment to move 
forward and take the position of Colonel Bissell's regiment, as that regiment 
was ordered to Saltillo. I directly communicated the order to Colonel Bowles, 
who moved our regiment forward to that position, which was on a ridge, a 
little in front and on the extreme left of our whole line and near the base 
of the mountain, and a deep and broad ravine immediately in our rear.

     Here we had a fair view of a considerable portion of the enemy's force 
in our front, one of their batteries immediately in our front throwing an 
occasional bomb at us before they attacked. Between sundown and dark, while 
occupying this position and the regiment being in column of company, it was 
reported to us (by whom I never knew) that the enemy's light troops were 
rushing down from the mountain to attack us (the Second Indiana Regiment). 
Colonel Bowles for the moment seemed to be confused. The head of the column 
being faced from the supposed enemy, he faced the regiment to the rear. At 
this moment two pieces of our light artillery dashed forward and wheeled into 
line of battle to fire on the enemy. Colonel Bowles immediately moved the 
regiment forward and brought it into line on the left of the battery faced by 
the rear rank and its flanks changed. I instantly rode to him and told him 
the condition he had the regiment in and that it was in a bad position to 
fight. He replied it was right, when Captain Davis stepped forward and told 
him it was not right and he would have to countermarch to get it right. At 
this moment I discovered the supposed enemy to be our own riflemen returning 
from the mountain. Colonel Bowles, however, continued to countermarch and 
marched the regiment back to its position, after which a considerable murmur 
took place among some of both officers and men about the awkward movement 
spoken of. Thus having stopped and night closing in, we lay down upon our 

     At the break of day the next morning I called the regiment to its feet, 
dressed the lines and informed Colonel Bowles it was ready for orders. Again 
some murmuring was heard from the regiment, some of both officers and men 
calling out that they wanted to fight under my command. I told them it was 
not in my power to assume the command and that I would be with them and to 
cease their murmurs. General Lane was absent at this time, but shortly rode 
up and was informed of the movement of the regiment the previous evening and 
the murmurs in the regiment. He replied that he would take command himself. 
General Lane again left the regiment for a few minutes and when he returned 
he informed me he was going to move the regiment forward to meet the enemy 
and ordered me to throw the regiment into column of company. This being done, 
he moved it forward (the eight infantry companies amounting to about 410 
men), supported by three pieces of light artillery under the command of 
Lieutenant O'Brien. The enemy were coming up slowly in strong force under 
cover of the large and deep ravine in front.

     On arriving on a tongue of land between the ravine on our right and the 
one spoken of in our front, to about 600 yards in front of our position 
previous to this move, the enemy deployed some 400 or 500 infantry in our 
front and opened a brisk fire upon us before our regiment had time to get 
into line of battle. Our regiment was brought quickly into line and returned 
the fire with spirit and effect. At this time a Mexican battery of four 
pieces of heavy artillery, posted about 300 yards on our left, commenced a 
discharge of grape and cannister on our line. The enemy's infantry continued 
to appear out of the ravine in our front to the number of about 4,000, 
supported by a large force of lancers under cover of the ravine on our left 
and in our front. By this time the enemy's fire became destructive. Our small 
force of infantry and Lieutenant O'Brien's artillery continued to fire on the 
enemy, making frequent breaches in their lines, causing them to falter. In 
one or two instances I could distinctly see the enemy's rear ranks replacing 
its faltering front at the point of the bayonet. The right of our regiment 
rested on the ridge, the declivity being from right to left and an 
intervening ridge prevented the left company from taking any effect. Our line 
continued their effective fire without a falter or waver for some twenty-five 
minutes, discharging some twenty rounds of cartridges at the enemy, when 
Colonel Bowles gave the order to cease firing and retreat, which was, to my 
best recollection, given three times before the regiment began to retreat. 
The regiment commenced a disorderly retreat. They fell back on the brow of 
the ravine from which we moved to meet the enemy, where I succeeded, with the 
assistance of company officers, in reforming the greater portion of the 
regiment, when General Taylor came up and ordered us to form on the other 
side of the ravine.

     The companies commenced moving to the point indicated when a strong 
force of the enemy's infantry and cavalry with whom he had previously been 
engaged, opening a tremendous fire, with a savage yell, made a rush upon us. 
Our men were again thrown into confusion and commenced a most disorderly 
retreat. General Lane and myself dashed among them, endeavoring to check 
them, but to no effect. We continued our exertions some distance above the 
ravine without effect, when General Lane ordered me to continue to rally the 
men and ordered Major Cravens, who at this time came to us, to go toward the 
ranch and bring back the men, which he moved off promptly to perform. General 
Lang moved off at the same time, saying he must go and see the condition if 
the Third Indiana Regiment, but would send me all the scattered men he could. 
I again renewed my efforts among our scattered and confused regiment. Passing 
the Mississippi regiment, which at this time had arrived upon the field, I 
discovered some of our men had fallen into their ranks. I ordered them out 
and to follow me, that we must form as Indianians and when we fight we get 
credit as Indianians. They followed me quickly. At this moment Private 
Moberly of Company F called to me that our flag was thrown down. I ordered 
him to pick it up and follow me with it, which he quickly did. I stationed it 
upon the first ground upon which we could form and commenced the reformation 
of our regiment.

     Here we rallied and formed about 200 of our force and marched back to 
the contest, taking the winding of a ravine bearing a little to our left to 
cover my command from a Mexican battery placed at the foot of the mountain, 
when we came in contact with a portion of the enemy's infantry who had 
flanked our left and with whom we became instantly engaged and repulsed them 
with considerable loss. Throwing my force farther to the right for the 
purpose of gaining a nearer position to the point from which we had fallen 
back, I found Colonel Davis's Mississippi regiment formed across the bottom 
of a large ravine, down which our regiment had previously retreated. Here I 
found General Lane and Colonel Bowles. I was informed these troops had just 
had a severe engagement and had been compelled to fall back on account of the 
enemy's overwhelming number. General Lane ordered me to form my command on 
the Mississippians, whose number appeared about equal to ours, and that I 
must command them, the Second Indiana. I here found a few of our men among 
the Mississippi regiment and I ordered them to form with our own regiment. 
Colonel Lane's Third Indiana Regiment was here ordered to join us and also 
two pieces of Captain Sherman's battery.

     These three regiments, under the command of General Lane, moved to the 
left to engage a large force of the enemy's infantry and cavalry that had 
taken position in a gorge of the mountain. On arriving in musket range a 
severe fire was opened on both sides and kept up until orders to cease firing 
reached us from General Taylor in consequence of a flag having been sent him 
from the enemy. The enemy continued his firing and we resumed ours, the enemy 
falling back along the base of the mountain. We perceived at this time a 
large force of the enemy's cavalry and infantry organizing on our right and 
in our front with the evident intention of charging us. The cavalry commenced 
a rapid move toward us. We threw our force some 300 yards back on a tongue of 
land with our right (the Third Indiana Regiment) resting on a deep ravine and 
the Second Indiana and Mississippi regiments forming an angle on the left and 
occupying the whole space between the two ravines. The enemy were still 
coming forward rapidly and in beautiful order. Our force stood firmly and 
silently awaiting orders to fire and we had frequently to call to them not to 
fire. I perceived the enemy's gait beginning to slacken and he seemed almost 
ready to halt, and when within about eighty yards our whole line opened a 
simultaneous fire, which was so destructive the survivors fled precipitately 
toward the mountain. A piece of artillery coming up at the moment, followed 
them with a galling fire until they had fled beyond reach.

     Shortly after this we were ordered to co-operate with a detachment of 
our artillery and cavalry in an attack upon the enemy at the base of the 
mountain. After advancing some distance parallel to this detachment we were 
ordered to halt. While awaiting the movement of the detachment we heard a 
heavy firing on our right and received orders to march to that part of the 
field. We moved rapidly to the point indicated and to which we were guided by 
the heavy firing in that direction. After advancing nearly half a mile and 
climbing the rocky slope before us we came suddenly on a large force of the 
enemy's infantry advancing toward Captain Bragg's battery, which was near on 
our right, and pursuing a portion of troops who were retreating toward 
Washington's battery. Our line, still consisting of the Second and Third 
Indiana regiments and the Mississippi regiment, opened a sudden and 
destructive fire in their right flank, raking the lines, which caused them to 
give way in confusion.

     This was the last contest of the 23d, and the Second Indiana, I confess, 
surpassed my expectations. In every contest in which they were engaged they 
would not only engage with the firmness and steadiness of brave men, but with 
an eagerness and determination that, by their conduct, they would wipe from 
their name the stain of the disorderly retreat and the conduct of those who 
fled and did not return at all, and these men, the most of them, would have 
returned had their officers who fled with them used the proper exertions to 
have brought them back.

     Colonel Bowles, after our junction with the Third Indiana and the 
Mississippi regiments, continued with us throughout the day, but took no part 
in the command of his regiment. Major Cravens at this time rejoined his 
regiment and continued with it, efficiently performing his duty throughout 
the day. Captain Kimball and Adjutant Shanks also joined us here.

     Captains McRae and Davis were active in rallying their companies, and 
fur their steady and uniform conduct in battle deserve the respect of their 
country. Captain Briggs joined his company in the rally and, although quite 
unwell, continued with it throughout the day. Captain Sanderson was wounded 
in the early part of the day and was compelled to leave the field. 
Lieutenants Spicely, Hoggatt, Kunkle, Burwell, Zenor and Lewis are deserving 
of the highest praise for their gallantry, energy and activity in rallying 
their comrades and for their good conduct on the field.

     On Lieutenant Spicely devolved the command of his company after the fall 
of the gallant Captain Kinder. Lieutenants Benefiel, Lowdermilk, Rice, 
Foster, Irwin, Roach and Gullet are deserving of high consideration for their 
unwavering conduct throughout the action. Lieutenant Peck of Captain Walker's 
rifle company joined us with a part of his company after the fall of his 
meritorious captain on the mountain and did good service. Lieutenant Parr 
fell nobly performing his duty early in the action. Lieutenant Hogan was 
wounded so as to be unable to remain on the field. Lieutenant Schoonover, 
after the first engagement of our regiment, was detached with an escort to a 
portion of the wagons from Buena Vista to Saltillo. Sergeant Dozier of 
Company E fell early in the action. Sergeants Dooly, Company H, and Haynes, 
Company G, also deserve notice for good conduct.

     In a communication like this it will not be expected that I should 
detail the merits of all the non-commissioned officers and men. I cannot 
close this communication without stating in general terms that the 
Mississippi regiment and the Third Indiana Regiment, with whom we acted, both 
officers and men, deserve the highest praise of their country for gallantry 
and good conduct. Major Dix of the pay department deserves creditable notice 
for services rendered in assisting to rally our regiment, and also Lieutenant 
Robison, General Lane's aide-de-camp, for good conduct throughout the day. It 
will not be expected that I should make a detailed statement of the action of 
the two rifle companies, as they were detached under command of Major Gorman 
on the mountain. The list of casualties, as taken by myself the day after the 
battle, shows the number killed in the Second Regiment of Indiana Volunteers 
to be 36; wounded, 68; killed and wounded, 104.

                  Respectfully, your obedient servant.
                               W. R. HADDON