“Santa Anna...ordered that all copies of the Apuntes be collected and burned and the fifteen contributors be arrested and sent into exile”

The Primary First-Hand Account of the Mexican-American War by Mexicans

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415. [MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR]. [ALCARAZ, Ramón, Guillermo Prieto, et al]. Apuntes para la historia de la guerra entre México y los Estados-Unidos. Mexico: Tipografía de Manuel Payno (Hijo), calle de Santa Clara, N. 23 [and Ignacio Cumplido], 1848 [-1849]. [i-iii] iv-v [1, blank], [2, verso blank], [1] 2-401 [3] pp., 2 statistical tables on recto and verso of folding leaf within typographical border(verso entitled Ejército del Norte), 27 lithograph plates: 13 maps and plans (folding), plus 14 portraits (see lists below). 8vo (26 x 17.7 cm), contemporary half green leather over green mottled boards, spine gilt-lettered and decorated (binding chafed but professionally recased). Light to moderate waterstaining (sometimes touching text or images). Occasional contemporary pencil notes point out some inconsistencies and question the history as presented.

Maps & Battle Plans

[1]  Plano de la Ciudad de Matamoros 1846.[top left] Esplicacion. Keyed locations A to F for “Fuerto enemigo,” “Bateria mexicana,” etc. Neat line to neat line: 20 x 24.7 cm. Precedes page 31. Street plan, Rio Grande, landmarks.

[21] Plan de la Batalla de Palo-Alto el dia 8 de Mayo de 1846. Signos 1a. position...Esplicacion....[below neat line at lower left] lit. de P. Blanco | 1a. Ce. Plateros No. 15. Neat line to neat line: 22 x 28.6 cm. Opposite page 38. Located are cavalry and infantry troops, hospital, roads, regiments, zapadores, loading stations, etc. The battle of Palo Alto, fought on Texas soil (north of Brownsville), was the first battle of the War, and was noted for U.S. employment of the “Flying Artillery.”

[3]  Plano del Pais situado al N.E. de la Ciudad de Matamoros.1846. [box at top right] Explicacion. [symbol of crossed swords] Sitio en donde fueron las acciones de guerra.... [below neat line, first element mostly scrubbed and partially obscured] lit de P. Blanco | 1a. Ce. Plateros No. 15. Neat line to neat line: 19.8 x 27.7 cm. Opposite page 48. The explantory box at upper right sets out the location and number of forces of Taylor and Smith, and encampments of government forces at Brazos de Santiago and elsewhere.

[4]  Plano de la Ciudad de Monterrey del N. León. Setiembre 1846. [box at top left] Explicacion.... [locates main and other plazas, hospitals, forts, cathedrals, and major architecture] [below neat line] lit. de P. Blanco. | 1a. de Plateros no. 15. Neat line to neat line: 16.5 x 25.6 cm. Opposite page [52]. Street plan of Monterrey showing major roads in and out of the city, routes of Worth and Taylor’s forces, etc.

[5]  Plano de la Ciudad de Tampico. 1846. Esplicacion.... [below neat line] Lit. de P. Blanco | 1a. Ce. Plateros No. 15. Neat line to neat line: 16.1 x 20.7 cm. Opposite page [78]. Street plan of Tampico and surrounding regions, including the confluence of Rio Tamesi and Rio Pánuco and Laguna del Carpentero. The lettered key at top gives locations of plazas, guard house, mill, military hospital, etc.

[6]  Croquis del Combate del 22. y Batalla de 23. de Febrero de 1847. en la Angostura. [box at lower left] Esplicacion.... [below neat line] Lit. de P. Blanco | 1a. Ce. Plateros No. 15. Neat line to neat line: 17.3 x 25 cm.Opposite page 100. Key identifies U.S. and Mexican troop locations on the map showing the Battle of Angostura (or Battle of Buena Vista) in Coahuila. Roads and geographical features are delineated. The battle was the last major battle in northern Mexico and Taylor’s greatest victory of the war.

[7]  Croquis de la Batalla del Sacramento. Formada por el Sõr. General D. Pedro G. Conde. [below neat line] lit. de P. Blanco | 1a. Ce. Plateros No. 15. Neat line to neat line: 24 x 23.4 cm. Opposite page 148. Small key within map at lower right, identifying infantry, cavalry, and artillery and showing positions of U.S. and Mexican forces north of Chihuahua.

[8]  Croquis del Sitio de Veracruz por las tropas de los E.U. [below neat line] Lito. de P. Blanco. | 1a. Ce. Plateros No. 15. Neat line to neat line: 17.6 x 30 cm. Opposite page 154. The twenty-day U.S. siege of Veracruz, the first large-scale amphibious assault conducted by the U.S., ended on March 29, 1847, with the surrender and occupation of the city.

[9]  Croquis de la Posición del Campo de Cerro Gordo para la inteligencia de la Batalla del 18. de Abril de 1847 [table at lower left] Tropas Mexicanas...Tropas Americanas.... [below neat line at lower left] lit. de P. Blanco 1a. de Plateros No. 15. Neat line to neat line: 22.1 x 30.5 cm. Opposite page 174. The battle of Cerro Gordo (Sierra Gorda, or “The Thermopylae of the West”) took place near Xalapa following Scott’s capture of Veracruz and advance to Mexico City.

[10] Plano del Atrincheramiento del Peñon del Marquéz [box at upper right] Esplicacion.... [below neat line] Lit. de P. Blanco. [partially scrubbed] | 1a. Ce. Plateros No. 15. Neat line to neat line: 17.8 x 30.5 cm. Opposite page 216. Extensive key “Esplicacion” sets forth landmarks, entrenchments, hospital, ramparts, and other sites related to the entry into Mexico City. Peñon is near the present airport of Mexico City.

[1l] Campo de Padierna de 19 de Agosto de 1847.... Neat line to neat line: 21.1 x 27.7 cm. Opposite page 238. Title in box at upper right incorporating key indicating troop locations and types. The battle, sometimes referred to as Contreras, was the beginning of the end of the Mexican-American War.

[12] Plano de Churubusco. Neat line to neat line: 18.5 x 26.5 cm. Opposite page [249]. Detail map showing the battle of Churubusco (five miles from Mexico City) on August 20, 1847, locating convent, columns of Twiggs and Worth, and primary landmarks. Defenders included the San Patricios.

[13] Plano de los Puntos Atacados por el Ejercito Americano en los dias 12, 13, y 14 de Setiembre de 1847 [box at lower right] Esplicacion.... [below neat line] Lit. de P. Blanco. Neat line to neat line: 18.5 x 22.3 cm. Opposite page 320. The key indicates troops and routes of Quitman, Pillow, and Worth; four landmarks are located: the Cathedral, Plaza de Armas, Alameda, and Ciudadela. Chapultepec is at mid left, and partial street plan at upper right. Main entrances by U.S. forces into Mexico City.


[1]  El. Escmo Sr. Grl. de Division D. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna Presidente de la Republica Mexicana [in image, reversed] Blanco. Page preceding “Introduccion.” In Tyler’s preliminary work on nineteenth-century Texas lithographs.

[2]  James Knox-Polk, Presidente de los Estados Unidos. [below image] lit. de P. Blanco. | 1a. Ce. Plateros No. 15. Opposite page [1].

[3]  General Taylor [below] Lit. de P. Blanco. Precedes page 29. In Tyler’s preliminary work on nineteenth-century Texas lithographs.

[4]  General Ampudia [below] lit. de P. Blanco. Precedes page 33. In Tyler’s preliminary work on nineteenth-century Texas lithographs.

[5]  General Arista. [below] Lito. de P. Blanco. | 1a. Ce. Plateros No. 15. Precedes page 34. In Tyler’s preliminary work on nineteenth-century Texas lithographs.

[6]  General Worth. [below] Lit. de P. Blanco. | 1a. de Plateros no. 15. Opposite page 59.

[7]  Ayudante General Micheltorena Cuartel=maestre en la Angostura. [below] lit. de P. Blanco | 1a. de Platers. no. 15. After page 102. Manuel Micheltorena (fl. 1833-1852) was acting General at the Battle of Buena Vista and earlier served as the 13th (and last) Mexican governor of Alta California.

[8]  General Scot. [below] lito. de P. Blanco. | 1a. de Ce. de Plateros No. 15. Opposite page 161.

[9]  Gral. Vasquez. [below] lit. de P. Blanco. | 1a. de Platers. no. 15. Opposite page 179.

[10] General Valencia [below image at left] lit. de P. Blanco. Opposite page [223].

[11] Lic. Couto. Opposite page 267.

[12] General Leon. Opposite page 291.

[13] El Cne. Lucas Balderas Corl. del Bn de Artilleria de Mina. Opposite page 298.

[14] Dn. Luis de la Rosa [in image] Blanco [below] Lit. de P. Blanco. 1a. Ce. de Platers. no. 15. Opposite page 393.

     First edition, best account of the Mexican-American War from the Mexican perspective. Connor & Faulk 142. Eberstadt 114:733 (27 maps & plates). Garrett & Goodwin, The Mexican-American War, p. 3: “An excellent source of material for the Mexican side of the war. It is generally critical of Santa-Anna.” Haferkorn, p. 8. Howes A105 (27 maps & plates): “The original Spanish edition was suppressed by Santa-Anna.” Larned 2008: “Best source on the conduct of the war.” Mathes, Mexico on Stone, pp. 24 & 56. Palau 14138. Rader 74. Raines, p. 170. Sabin 1858 & 48281: “Extremely rare.... The account of the campaigns differs vastly from the American reports.” Streeter Sale 279. Tutorow 3254. Colonel Albert C. Ramsey, who served in the Mexican-American War, was so impressed with the Apuntes that in 1850 he published an annotated translation in New York: The Other Side, or Notes for the History of the War Between Mexico and the United States.

     Malcolm D. McLean, “Apuntes para la historia de la Guerra entre México y los Estados-Unidos... Review,” The Hispanic American Historical Review, Volume 34, No. 1, February, 1954, pp. 74-76:

When the United States troops occupied Mexico City in 1847 and the Mexican Congress withdrew to Querétaro, many of the delegates spent their spare time in the home of Guillermo Prieto, Deputy from Jalisco, discussing the events of the recent war. These conversations resulted in a series of articles which were published in installments between September, 1848, and May, 1849, under the general title of Apuntes para la historia de la guerra entre México y los Estados-Unidos. These entregas were accompanied by portraits or maps at the rate of two per installment. Subscriptions were received in Mexico City by Manuel Payno (hijo) and Antonio de la Torre, and in the United States by correspondents of El Eco del Comercio. After the fourth installment had appeared, the printing was transferred from the Tipografía de Manuel Payno (hijo) to the Imprenta de Ignacio Cumplido, where the remaining numbers were issued with the same style of type, paper, and lithography as before. When publication of these installments had been completed, the various pamphlets, portraits and maps were assembled and sent to the binder by the individual subscriber, and hence the placements of illustrations do not necessarily correspond in any two copies.

In view of the fact that the various contributors had expressed themselves very frankly in these articles, particularly in criticizing the military strategy of Santa Anna, they thought it best to share the responsibility for the book as a whole instead of signing their names to the individual articles. Consequently the names of the following fifteen contributors appeared at the front of the book: Ramón Alcaraz, Alejo Barreiro, José María Castillo, Félix María Escalante, José María Iglesias, Manuel Muñoz, Ramón Ortiz, Manuel Payno, Guillermo Prieto, Ignacio Ramírez, Napoleón Saborío, Francisco Schiafino, Francisco Segura, Pablo María Torrescano, and Francisco Urquidi. More detailed information concerning the various contributions to this book is contained in Guillermo Prieto’s memoirs, where he [identifies] the authors of the various chapters....

In 1854 Santa Anna, having returned to power, ordered that all copies of the Apuntes be collected and burned and the fifteen contributors be arrested and sent into exile. It was not long, though, before Santa Anna himself had to go into exile. Then these articles from the Apuntes were slightly revised to say a few more uncomplimentary things about Santa Anna.

     Santa-Anna’s 1854 order disbarred the authors from public employment of any type and commanded that all copies of the book be rounded up and burned. (A copy of the order is in the 1990 facsimile reprint of the first edition.) Dr. McLean in his article on Guillermo Prieto praises Prieto’s historical approach and points out one clever way the work was preserved for posterity in his “Guillermo Prieto (1818-1897), A Forgotten Historian of Mexico,” The Americas, Volume 10, No. 1, July 1953, pp. 83 & 87:

Prieto stresses the criterion which was followed constantly in the compilation of this volume, namely, that “history should be written without passion and without pension”... Santa Anna toward the end of his dictatorship ordered that all copies of the work be gathered up and burned. It was shortly after this incident that Orozco y Berra reprinted Prieto’s articles in his [1855-1856] encyclopedia; so naturally they were not signed there either. The fact that Prieto had collaborated on at least a third of the volume was not made public until 1906, or some fifty-eight years after the appearance of the Apuntes themselves; hence the importance of his connection with that volume has not been readily apparent to the casual reader.

     The authors’ various opinions on certain matters were divided. As they note in their introduction on page v: “Diremos una palabra mas acerca de la imparcialidad que hemos querido que domine en nuestros ‘APUNTES.’ Entre nosotros hay personas que juzgan con dura severidad la conducta del general Santa-Anna; otras, exaltadas contra los vicios del ejército, así como individuos demasiado indulgentes con el uno y con los otros: en estos casos, cuando divididas las opiniones no ha sido posible determinar con claridad un hecho, se ha procurado decidir, respentando siempre la verdad histórica, por los que han opinado con mayor indulgencia. Lo mismo se ha practicado respecto de los generales y gefes menos visibles.” Despite that disclaimer, it is clear that all the authors were critical to some degree of Mexico’s prosecution of the war and of its leaders and the resulting “inmenso trastorno” (page [1]).

     Although the authors lay the blame for the war squarely at the feet of the U.S., which they accuse of using both guile and force to expand its territory, the authors do not spare their own country and its leaders. They describe numerous instances of weak, confused, and ill-considered political and military decisions on the part of Mexican leaders, although they never question the bravery of Mexican soldiers. They imply that the Texas Revolution and the Mexican-American War might have turned out quite differently if only Mexican leaders, both political and military, had been more discerning and prepared. They note, for example, that the barbarity at Goliad did the country little good. They analyze the causes that led up to the war extensively, finding evidence of American maneuvering as far back as the Spanish colonial period that worked to the disadvantage of both Spain and Mexico.

     The authors give a number of examples of poor decision-making by Mexican leaders, such as those leading to the fall of Veracruz. Noting that Taylor’s rapid advance into Mexico had left him with long supply lines, deep in a country where his flanks were unsecured, the authors conclude that the invasion of Veracruz was an attempt to divide Mexican forces by opening another front. This the U.S. could do quite easily, since it had abundant transportation resources. This strategy was even discussed publicly in U.S. newspapers. Yet the authors note that these developments “no mereció la atencion de los hombres que se habian encargado de salvar al pais. Y léjos de robustecer nuestra defensa por ese lado, algunas tropas aclimatadas á costa de inmensos sufrimientos y pérdidas, recibieron del general órden de marcha para México. Esto mismo sucedió con oficiales cuya pericia era importantísima para fortificar y defender la plaza en el caso de un ataque. El abandono mas completo coronaba esta obra de imprevision ó de un descuido, que hacian mas imperdonables los dolorosos recuerdos de los sucesos de 1838” (p. 152). Such grim analyses come up repeatedly in the text, though this one is particularly striking in its implication that Mexican leaders were indiscreet, self-appointed saviors.

     There is one intelligent, though ultimately ineffectual, Mexican strategy that the authors applaud: the use of irregulars or guerillas, whom they call “estos buenos ciudadanos.” After noting the numerous successful operations such forces had against U.S. troops, they conclude, “La guerra hecha con un buen sistema por medio de las guerillas, nos parece que á la larga habria arruinado á los enemigos y dado el triunfo á la República” (page 388).

     The fifteen compilers, whose names are boldly listed on one of the preliminary leaves, worked in diverse areas from literature to jurisprudence to politics. They form a composite, both major and minor, of the flower of Mexican intelligentsia at that time. Most were harrassed by Santa-Anna, who ordered the book suppressed due to its scathing criticism of his actions during the war. The authors prevailed in the end, despite the dictator’s animosity, and went on to serve Mexico in various roles. Several of them were also opposed to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Almost all had participated in the war in one way or another and had fled to Querétaro when the government abandoned Mexico City.

     In his preliminary study on Texas lithographs of the nineteenth century, Ron Tyler cites the portraits of Santa-Anna, Arista, Ampudia, and Taylor. The book is also important for the history of Mexican lithography. The lithographs were created by Plácido Blanco, and likely altered in some instances by Ignacio Cumplido, who took over publication of the work with the fourth installment (see above from Dr. McLean). Standard bibliographies and sources, including the Streeter Sale, call for thirteen maps, but we have had two copies with an additional map (Plano de las posiciones que ocuparon las tropas Mexicanas en la accion dada a las Americanos el dia 9 de Mayo de 1846 en la Resaca de Guerrero). See our Lot 389, Auction 22, and Lot 2, Auction 9 (Brantz Mayer’s copy). The map also appears in the digitized version of the 1990 facsimile of the Mexican edition <>. Given the complex publication history of the work, the presence or absence (or perhaps substitution) of a map is but one of the many variations to be found in the lithographic plates in this book and perhaps elsewhere. These variations have not yet been fully researched.


Sold. Hammer: $1,000.00; Price Realized: $1,225.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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