A few years after the Lake County pioneers settled in Lowell, they were saying goodbye to their sons, sending them off to fight in the Mexican-American War.
The war between the United States and Mexico (1846-1848) grew out of recognition of the independence of Texas by the United States in 1837, its annexation in 1845, and boundary rights between the two countries. Regular United States troops numbered 30,954, aided by 73,776 volunteers, with a total of 4,023 killed or wounded.
During the first part of the conflict, the U.S. forces were led by General Zachary Taylor (1784-1850), who also fought in the War of 1812. He later became the 12th President of the United States, but served only 16 months of his term before he passed away.
Jefferson Davis was his son-in-law, and a grandson was an officer in the Civil War of the 1860's. General Taylor led a detachment of regular army to Texas in 1845, they were attacked by the Mexicans April 1846, and Congress declared war on Mexico on May 13, 1846. On May 30, 1848, the war was ended with a treaty of peace signed at Hidalgo.
General Winfield Scott (1786-1866) was another famous U.S. general in the war, and was also a veteran of the War of 1812. His aide was General William J. Worth (1794-1849), leader of the fighting at Molino del Rey in September 1847. Other officers were Col. Stephen Kearny (1794-1848), who died while serving as military governor of Mexico City in 1848, and Col. Alexander W. Doniphan (1808-1887).
On May 16, 1846, three days after the declaration of war, Governor Whitcomb of Indiana received an order from the United States Secretary of War requesting three regiments of volunteers, and Camp Clark, near New Albany, was chosen as the rendezvous site for the little army. A total of 2,811 recruits were to be enlisted throughout the state, and a great wave of military enthusiasm washed over the area.
Famous author Lew Wallace (1827-1905), then only 19 years of age, enrolled and organized a company of men at Indianapolis in only three days, while patriotic farmers were hauling volunteers into the larger cities by wagon. Wallace went on to become a general, served in the Civil War, and was well known for his many books, including Ben Hur.
Among the officers from Indiana were General Joseph Lane, Col. WIlliam Bowles, Lt. Col. W.R. Haddon, Col. Jefferson Davis, Col. James H. Lane, and Col. Willis A. Gorman.
According to Weston A. Goodspeed in his 1882 History of Lake County, the only man in Lake County, at the time of the war, who knew anything of military tactics was Joseph P. Smith of Crown Point, who began his military training as a member of the "Monroe Blues" in New York City.
He was soon commissioned a captain, opened an enlistment office at Crown Point in the spring of 1847, and called for volunteers. By May 1 he had recruited a company of 67 men from all over Lake County, and they were soon on their way to southern Indiana for training.
By April the company was increased to 107 men. Some of the other officers of the Company were Lt. Daniel May, Lt. S.N. Whitcomb, Lt. John C. Howe, and Lt. William U. Slade.
A few of the men deserted before the outfit left Crown Point, when they found that the pay was only seven dollars per month instead of the promised $10. A bounty for delivery of these men to the Army headquarters was posted by Smith. Smith's outfit became Company H of the US 16th Regiment, Regimental Commander Col. John W. Tibbats.
Among the names on the 1905 Soldier's Monument in downtown Lowell are the veterans of this Mexican War, many of them from the 16th. From Cedar Creek Township: William Hardin, private, enlisted Apr. 6, 1847, at Crown Point; William Onion, private, enlisted Apr. 26, 1847, at Crown Point, died at Cerralvo, Mexico, December 1847; James H. Powers, private, enlisted at Crown Point Mar. 20, 1847; and Anthony Van Slyke, private, enlisted Mar 21 in the county seat. All were members of early pioneer families.
From Eagle Creek Township, one veteran is listed -- "A. Flint," but no further information has been available to date. That soldier could have been A.E. Flint, born 1829, who came from Lucas County, Ohio, to Lake County in about 1840, one of the 12 children of Edward and Jane (Clute) Flint, early pioneers.
From West Creek Township, the list included Ralph Sanders, private, enlisted Mar. 26, 1847, and died in June 1847 at Camargo, Mexico; John Smith, private, enlisted Apr. 27 at Crown Point, died October 1847 at Cerralvo, Mexico; G. Wyverly, private, enlisted Mar. 20, 1847; and G.W. Wood of the 6th US Artillery, Regular Army.
On the south side of the 1905 monument at Lowell are listed those veterans who enlisted in other areas, and one name is listed for the Mexican War, that of William W. Ackerman (1827-1915).
Born in Oakland County, Mich., of a Colonial Dutch family, he began to work at the early afe of 11 at Erie County, Ohio, then enlisted in the 3rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry under Colonel Samuel R. Curtis, and served for fourteen months. Like many of the other veterans, he received a land grant as part of his pay, and used his warrant to purchase a farm in West Creek Township.
He married Mary Pulver in 1850, and their seven children were John, Alonzo, Theodore, WIlliam, Ida, Ann, Jasper and Charles. Mary died in 1867, and later that same year William married Betsy Sanders Graves (1844-1927), the widow of William Graves and the daughter of William and Emma Harris Sanders, pioneers of 1838.
Wililam and Betsy were parents of four childern: Linden, Vessie, Zada, and Zella. In 1904 he still owned 400 acres of good farm land in West Creek Township, land he quit working himself in 1881 when he moved to Lowell to become a dealer of farm implements for about eight years. He served as Lowell Post Master from 1889 to 1893.
In 1909 his home was on Mill St., the corner site now occupied by a service station, near Jefferson St. He died in 1915, the last surviving Mexican War veteran in all of Lake County.
Goodspeed wrote a fine tribute in his 1882 History of Lake County: "The brave young boys who went to Mexico must not be forgotten graves in that distant land, and the rugged cactus comes and garlands with its crimson blossoms the lonely spot where they rest. The rich flowers of the stately magnolia shed their fragrant perfume around; the long festoons of silvery moss hang pendant from the dripping branches above the silent mounds, apparently weeping for the bright young lives that went out so untimely, and over all the strange golden hue birds of the woods chant the sad requiem of triumphant death. The boys are dead, but their deeds live on."
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