[Troy, NY: 1849]. A 5 pp. letter, approx. 1500 words, in a clerical hand, signed by John E. Wool. Written on blue paper, and marked "Copy / Private" at the head of the first page, this letter was addressed to O.P. Baldwin and R.H. Gallaher, Editors of the Richmond Republican newspaper. The Virginia paper had published an article on Jan. 22 "touching my conduct towards General Taylor. I cannot however consent to be dictated to much less commanded by political vampires. Toward you, gentlemen, however I feel very different. For your uniform kindness and great liberality towards myself whilst in Mexico, you are not only entitled to my grateful acknowledgements, but to so much in reply to your article as to satisfy you that you have not mistaken my character and that I am incapable of plucking even a leaf from the wreath which encircles the brow of the illustrious Taylor.” Wool and Taylor, both heroes of the Mexican War, had received honors for their conduct at the battle of Buena Vista in 1847. Since that time certain newspapers had assailed Wool's conduct toward Taylor, including a particular article in the Courier and Enquirer: "They have published the most infamous articles filled with the grossest falsehoods against me." He lays out his long history of support for Taylor. He says that his letter to Baldwin and Gallaher is addressed to them alone and to "satisfy you of the course I have uniformly and up to the present time pursued toward General Taylor, and not for pubication." Item #65566
John Wool had a lengthy and accomplished career in the military, beginning with the War of 1812 as head of a volunteer company in Troy, New York, until his retirement at an advanced age in 1863. He also served as inspector general of the army for over 25 years. During the Mexican War he took a group of some 1400 disorganized volunteers in San Antonio, trained and disciplined them, and marched them 900 miles into Mexico to join Zachary Taylor in Saltillo. Advancing further into Mexico "[h]is celerity and efficiency were largely responsible for the victory of Buena Vista." He was responsible for choosing the site of the battle, holding his men in position at La Angostura and ultimately driving the Mexican army "in disgrace from the fields of Buena Vista." For this action he received a sword and thanks from both the U.S. Congress and from the state of New York. [see his brief biography in the DAB]
Gen. Taylor commended Wool in his report to Sec. of War William Marcy on March 6, 1847: "To Brigadier-General Wool my obligations are especially due. The high state of discipline and instruction of several of the volunteer regiments was attained under his command, and to his vigilance and arduous service before the action, and his gallantry and activity on the field, a large share of our success may justly be attributed. During most of the engagement he was in immediate command of the troops thrown back on our left flank. I beg leave to recommend him to the favorable notice of the government."
Zachary Taylor was elected President of the United States in 1848, in part as the result of his own distinguished military career. He died about sixteen months into his term. Years later, in May 1860, Wool had a correspondence with Henry Dawson who was writing a book, "Battles of the United States," which included a section on the battle of Buena Vista. Wool corrected some of the information for Dawson, and included some clarifications which finally revealed his frustrations with Taylor's command that day. [see: "Notes and Documents: General John E. Wool's Memoranda of the Battle of Buena Vista," edited by K. Jack Bauer, in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. 77, No. 1 (Texas State Hist. Assoc: July 1973), pp.111-123].