We are sometimes able to catch a glimpse of our ancestors’ lives through a blurred photo or a snippet of a saved letter but rarely do we have the opportunity to really delve inside the actual thoughts and feelings of a relative we never met. My niece’s husband now has that opportunity through the reading of his 5th great grandfather’s Mexican War Diary.
Thomas Tennery was a volunteer and private who left his farm home in Illinois to join the 4th Illinois Regiment to fight in the Mexican War. A sensitive and articulate man, he kept a diary of his experiences which covers his long trek down the Mississippi, across the Gulf of Mexico to Matamoros, up the Rio Grande as far as Camargo, then overland and south to Victoria and Tampico. His regiment was then shipped to Veracruz for the march to Mexico City. In the battle at Cerro Gordo he was shot in both legs.
His diary allows us to view Mexico, the war, and the everyday experiences of the volunteer soldiers through his eyes. His prose is vivid, poignant, and at times breathtaking when describing the deaths of his fellow soldiers. He was deeply moved by the natural beauties of the Mexican scene and Mexican civilians appear frequently in his record, always in terms which suggest friendliness and respect. His pity for their low estate is grounded on his belief that a Spanish tradition has left them priest-ridden.
There are other personal accounts of the Mexican War that have been published but due to his superb educational background and ability to express himself in writing, many consider Tennery’s to be the most valuable.
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And please watch our TEDxEustis Talk on YouTube at https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8.