[BIOGRAPHY]. DAVIS, George Turnbull Moore. Autobiography of the Late Col. Geo. T. M. Davis Captain and Aid-De-Camp Scott’s Army of Invasion (Mexico), from Posthumous Papers. New York: [Press of Jenkins & McCowan], 1891. [1-7] 8-395 [1, blank] pp. 12mo (19 x 13.5 cm), original blue gilt-lettered cloth. Spine ends and corners slightly rubbed. Interior very fine. With printed presentation label from his legal representatives on front endpaper. With ink signature of Mrs. Edward Wright, September, 1891 on front flyleaf.
First edition with the initial blank leaf. Connor & Faulk 165. Flake 2691. Garrett & Goodwin, p. 204. Graff 1017: “Contains material about the Mormons in Illinois, the Lovejoy murder, the War Department, and the Civil War, as well as the Mexican War.” Howes D113. Hubach, p. 75. Smith, War with Mexico, II, pp. 383, 412. Tutorow 3699.
Davis (1810-1888) was a volunteer, serving first as an aid-de-camp to General Shields, entered Mexico in 1846 with Wool’s army, and later participated in the invasion of Veracruz and conquest of Mexico City. As an aid-de-camp, he had intimate acquaintance with the inner workings of the army and its commanders. This work, therefore, contains not only many eye-witness accounts but also a great deal of behind-the-scenes information. Numerous general orders and other official materials are also included, as are reports of a few conversations that would never otherwise have been made public. The work begins with his early life, continues until after the war, and concludes with a chapter describing his death.
An example of the fine detail and the author’s narrative powers is his description of the hanging of some of the San Patricios, which he witnessed (pp. 223-229) and which forms probably the best description of that event in Mexican-American War literature. Davis was detailed with giving a man spared any punishment word of his fate. When told that he was spared because of his son, who had remained loyal, “the condemned prisoner dropped upon his knees, exclaiming: ‘This is worse than death! I would rather have died!’.... It was the last time I ever saw him, but the whole scene in his prison...is as vivid as the hour when it occurred” (p. 229).