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|Combs &c. - Narrative of the life of|
General Leslie Combs
GENERAL LESLIE COMBS
rumors reached us that General Taylor was in front of a Mexican force, on the Rio Grande, of more than double his strength in point of numbers, and Congress had authorized the President to receive the ser- vices of fifty thousand volunteers, General Combs issued his general orders, command- ing all the regiments under his command to assemble at their several places of animal parade, to see what could bc done. The following is an extract from that order, dated May 18, 1846:
“The Major-General does not doubt that the same noble spirit which precipitated the gallant sons of Kentucky upon every frontier where an enemy was to be found, during the late war, will again animate his fellow-soldiers; and he calls upon them, in the name of liberty and pa- triotism, to hasten to the rescue of the American army on the Rio Grande, to share their vic- tories, or avenge their disasters, if any have be- fallen them.”
Several regiments of volunteers were soon enrolled, and it was supposed by all that the command would be given to Gen- eral Combs. But such was not the case. He was not in favor at Washington; and, although his proclamation was republished in the “Union,” and his energy and patriot- ism every where complimented, none but political partisans were appointed to high offices; some of whom were made generals, who had never “set a squadron in the field,” nor were fit to do it. The Con- stitution of the United States was, in the opinion of General Combs, violated by depriving the States of the right to oflicer their own militia; and he was overlooked and superseded. Again, although opposed to the annexation of Texas, as proposed and finally consummated, yet, when war was declared, he desired to see it speedily fought out, and terminated by an honor- able peace. He, therefore, again made an effort to be employed in the military ser- vice, and, with this view, addressed a let- ter to the President,'when more volunteers were called for, otlering to raise a full division, if he would only allow those who were willing to risk their lives tor their country to choose their own ofticers. He even went to Washington, and renewed the offer in person to the President and Secretary of War; but it was declined politely, yet positively. His remonstranccs on the occasion were in plain English, as may be remembered, for they formed the
subject of remark bythe public press at the time, and very likely Mr. Marcy has not entirely forgotten them. No one was present at their brief interview in his office. General Comlis soon afterwards resigned his office, in consequence of the gross in- justice which he felt had been done him. He would not consent to be treated as a mere recruiting-sergeant to raise troops for those whom he regarded as party pets, without military experience or aptitude to connnand in the field.
Having risen from the ranks to the oiiice of captain in two campaigs, without the aid of friends or fortune, by repeated acts of self-devotion, Leslie Combs had returned home naked and penniless, a cripple for life. Yet he did not apply tor a pension from the War Office, as did others even Colonel Johnson who received his in full. When urged to do so, he replied, that his blood was as red, and shed as freely, as that of Colonel (afterwards Governor) Preston, of Virginia; and that, poor as he was, he would never recive a pension unless grant- ed freely by special act of Congress, as had been done in Colonel Preston’s case. But he had no friend at court; and no member of Congress looked into the matter for twenty years, when Mr. Allen, of the Lex- ington (Mr. Combs’) district took it in hand, and the result was a report in fovor of granting the pension. A bill was then, and not till then, passed by Congress, unani- mously, we believe, in both Houses, which was approved by President Jackson, giving him a pension from that date—half-pay for lite—but nothing for the past.
By the aid of a relative, who allowed him the gratuitous use of his office and books, he studied law, and obtained a license as an attorney at the age of twenty- three, and immediately went to hard work. Although far from being as well versed in his profession as he telt he ought to have been, his energy, industry, and punctuality soon procured him a large share of busi- ness, and enabled him to marry, and take upon himself the responsibility of a family.
This was his situation when the great effort was made in Kentucky to destroy Henry Clay, because he voted for Mr. Adams for President. His enemies in the Lexington district, and especially in Fayette county, were most violent and bitter in de- nouncing him; and at one time, in 1826,
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