[LANE, JOSEPH]. BRACKETT, Albert Gallatin. General Lane’s Brigade In Central Mexico. By Albert G. Brackett, M.D., Late An Officer In The U.S. Volunteer Service. Cincinnati: H.W. Derby & Co., Publishers; New York: J.C. Derby, 1854. [i-v] vi-ix [1, blank],  12-336 pp., engraved frontispiece, lithograph plate. 12mo (19 x 13 cm), original tan textured cloth, covers embossed and blindstamped with anchor and canon stamped “Division Mexico,” spine gilt-lettered and with gilt vignettes of lone star, U.S. eagle, and R.W. Derby. Cocked, spine chipped, cloth worn and faded. Some signatures sprung, text block slightly cracked, frontispiece foxed, otherwise interior is good. With manuscript notation of Townsend Library on front flyleaf.
Joseph Lane [facsimile signature] Brevet Major General U.S. Army. Middleton, Wallace & Co. Printers. H. W. Derby & Co. Cinti. O. [In image area] Engd. by C.A. Jewett & Co. Cinti. O. 12.5 x 10.3 cm. Frontispiece.
Puebla de los Angeles. [Below neat line] A.G. Brackett, Delt. Middleton, Wallace & Cos. Lith. 9 x 15.1 cm.
First edition. Connor & Faulk 155. Garrett & Goodwin, p. 173. Haferkorn, p. 42. Howes B691. Kurutz & Mathes, p. 125. Sabin 7196. Tutorow 3749.
This work covers the period from June 15, 1847, when Brackett’s regiment was organized in Indiana, to July 16, 1848, when it was mustered out at Madison, Indiana. Written from an officer’s perspective, the narrative is interesting from a military viewpoint and often from a personal one, as well, although Brackett lacks some of the verve and wit of other writers who described the conflict and their experiences in Mexico. Occasionally, what appear to be extremely personal reactions do drift into the story. His reactions to Mexican women are somewhat typical of others that are reported at the time: “They coquet with their Spanish fans in the most exquisite manner, peering over them with their large, dark, Juno-like eyes, and their raven tresses falling in heavy masses over their noble foreheads.... They are magnificent creatures, and no man could help but do them homage” (p. 138). He can also readily make fun of himself. When he first met Hays, he showed him into his commanding officer’s room “thinking he was a teamster.... I shook hands with him, and could scarcely realize that this wiry-looking fellow was the world-renowned Texas ranger” (p. 194). He also provides a description of a young Elisha Kent Kane, whom he met in Mexico while Kane was recovering from a wound (pp. 222-223).
His descriptions of military operations are for the most part professional and often detached. He provides many valuable and interesting incidents concerning battles with guerrillas, the countering of which was one of Hays’ main activities. On the other hand, he is somewhat unsettled occasionally by events. In early February, three guerrillas were captured and sentenced to be hanged. Brackett feels no sympathy for them, explaining that they lived by violence and “their only object was plunder and murder...” (p. 253). Even so, seeing them confessed by their priests shakes him: “It was a sad sight, and one which I never wish to look upon again” (p. 255). Even more upsetting is the hanging itself: “It was a still, awful, and imposing spectacle” (p. 255). In the end, however, the professional soldier re-emerges. When faced with the prospect of a local revolt because they hanged the Mexicans, Brackett observes in a detached manner: “We took the matter very calmly, and felt ready and willing to give them a good beating whenever we thought they needed it” (p. 257).
The firm of Elijah C. Middleton and W.R. Wallace created the handsome frontispiece portrait of General Lane, which was engraved by Charles A. Jewett, probably from a photograph (Groce & Wallace, pp. 350 & 442). The lithographed plate of Puebla de los Angeles is not well known.
Brackett (1829-1896) was a career military officer who began service as a second lieutenant in an Indiana infantry company in 1847. His first major service was in the Mexican-American War, where he served under General Joseph Lane and with Texas Ranger legend John Coffee Hays. He was subsequently dispatched to Texas to counter Native American threats in the area, where he fought successfully against the Lipan Apaches and the Comanches. During the Civil War, he fought on the Union side and was wounded in 1862 during the Arkansas Campaign. He emerged from the War with the rank of major. Again dispatched to the West, he served once more in Texas, where he briefly commanded Fort Davis in West Texas in 1885. He also served in such places as Arizona, Montana, and Colorado, where he engaged in operations against Native Americans. He resigned from the Army on February 18, 1891, and died in Washington, D.C. In addition to this work, he also wrote History of the United States Cavalry (1865), which was well received at the time (q.v.).