Young Robert E. Lee to the Rescue at “The Thermopylae of the West”

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416. [MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR]. CURRIER, N[athaniel]. Battle of Cerro Gordo April 18th 1847;[followed by three-line text describing the battle] The troops ascended the long and difficult slope of Cerro Gordo without shelter and under the tremendous fire of artillery and musketry, with the utmost steadiness, reached the breastworks, drove the enemy from them...; [below lower neat line] Lith. & Pub. by N. Currier, | Entered according to the Act of Congress in the year 1847 by N. Currier, in the Clerk’s office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York;[at left and right of title] American Loss 43 Killed 164 Missing | Mexican Loss 2000 Killed & Wounded; [at very bottom center margin] 464. Lithograph with original hand coloring (vivid battle scene filled with action and clouds of smoke). Image, neat line to neat line: 21.1 x 32.4 cm; image & text: 24.3 x 32.4 cm; overall sheet size: 25.4 x 35.5 cm. Marginal browning (especially at bottom, from former framing), tape repairs on verso, large closed tear (12 cm) at left (no loss to image), two smaller tears below (no losses), lower right blank corner chipped.

     Sandweiss, Stewart & Huseman, Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War, 1846-1848, pp. 23-24; Figure 12 (showing a different version of print, without text below). Tyler, The Mexican War, A Lithographic Record, pp. 37-39, 52 (illustrated Plate 32), noting the inaccuracy of the view and suggesting it was based on other sources.

     Cerro Gordo (also called “The Thermopylae of the West”) lay between the already conquered Veracruz and now vulnerable Mexico City. Army Corps of Engineers Captain Robert E. Lee discovered a mountain trail around Santa-Anna’s position. General Scott quickly moved the main body of his command along the trail, out-flanking the Mexicans. A sharp action on April 18, 1847, resulted in the retreat of Santa-Anna’s forces.


Auction 23 Abstracts

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