Occasionally the strangest things will surface in the county records. While processing Amelia County records (Barcode 1147160), archivist Callie Freed found a map depicting the U.S. Army’s 20-day siege of the Mexican city of Veracruz during the Mexican-American War.
Titled “Siege of Vera Cruz by the U.S. Troops under Major General Scott in March 1847, from surveys made by Major Turnbull, Captains Hughes, McClellan, & Johnston, Lieutanants Derby & Hardcastle, Top. Engineers,” the map depicts General Winfield Scott’s troops and siege engines spread out across the land surrounding the city of Veracruz and its fortifications, as well as other key features of the landscape and the reefs just off of the city in the Gulf of Mexico. Statistics are given about the regiments of the divisions belonging to William J. Worth, David E. Twiggs, and Robert Patterson as well as the numbers of troops killed and wounded in the operation. The map was drawn by Captain George McClellan and published in 1847 by the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers.
The siege of Veracruz took place in March 1847 and was the scene of the first successful large-scale amphibious assault by a United States military force. General Scott landed his U.S. Expeditionary Force near the city and lay siege to it for twenty days until it was surrendered, opening up the east coast of Mexico to United States forces and offering a clear road to the interior of the country.
The Mexican-American War lasted from 1846 until 1848, instigated by the Texas Revolution of 1836 and its annexation by the United States in 1845. The United States sought territorial expansion to the Pacific coast and ultimately achieved the acquisition of New Mexico and Alta California, but the cost both in money and in American lives was extremely high. Additionally, the issue of the expansion of slavery into the new territories continued to take a political toll that would lead in just a little over ten years to the cataclysm of the American Civil War.
So why would such a map be found among the records of the Amelia County court? Perhaps the clerk had an interest in the topic or perhaps it was used to prove Army service by a pensioner. We will never know the answer yet it is an interesting question to contemplate.
-Sarah Nerney, Senior Local Records Archivist