The satire apparently perceives President Polk's reinstatement of Winfield Scott over Zachary Taylor as commander of U.S. forces in the Mexican War in November 1846 as an attempt to squelch the extreme personal popularity won by Taylor through dazzling early victories at Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, and Monterey. Scott (center) is shown emptying a large tureen of soup onto Taylor, saying "Take that! you're my subordinate!"
The "hasty bowl of soup" was a recurring jibe which haunted Scott throughout the rest of his public career. (See also "Battle of Cerro Gordo" and "Battle of Churubusco," nos. 1847-2 and 1847-3.) It originated in Scott's opening comment in a May 25, 1846, letter to Secretary of War William L. Marcy protesting his removal as commander, "Your letter of this date, received at about 6 p.m., as I sat down to take a hasty plate of soup . . ."
Here Scott is urged on by Polk (right), who says, "That's right Scott, we must Smother him [i.e., Taylor]!" Scott asks Taylor, "Where were you when I was ordering my hasty plate of Soup?"
Taylor, in his customary wide-brimmed hat and simple civilian coat, is in marked contrast to the elegantly uniformed Scott. As a troop of soldiers at attention looks on, Taylor bears the indignity, responding, "Please your Excellency and Commander in Chief I was at the Pallo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, & Monterey."
One of the soldiers adds, punning on Taylor'a name, "Aye Aye, the People will put him right, although he's a Taylor he "leads" to danger and dont "follow" suit."
Although unsigned the print is quite close in drawing, if not in political bias, to Edward Williams Clay's pro-Scott "Santa Anna Declining a Hasty Plate of Soup at Cerro Gordo" (no. 1847-4). The similarity between the portraits of Scott in the two prints is especially convincing evidence of Clay's authorship.