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By Paul Foos

The Mexican-American conflict (1846-1848) came across americans on new terrain. A republic based at the precept of armed safeguard of freedom used to be now going to conflict on behalf of occur future, trying to triumph over an unusual state and folks. via an exam of rank-and-file squaddies, Paul Foos sheds new gentle at the conflict and its influence on attitudes towards different races and nationalities that stood within the approach of yankee expansionism. Drawing on wartime diaries and letters no longer formerly tested by way of students, Foos indicates that the event of squaddies within the struggle differed considerably from the optimistic, patriotic photo trumpeted by way of political and armed forces leaders looking recruits for a volunteer military. Promised entry to land, fiscal chance, and political equality, the enlistees in its place stumbled on themselves subjected to strangely harsh self-discipline and harrowing conflict stipulations. hence, a few infantrymen tailored the rhetoric of take place future to their very own reasons, taking for themselves what were promised, frequently through looting the Mexican nation-state or committing racial and sexual atrocities. Others abandoned the military to struggle for the enemy or search employment within the West. those acts, Foos argues, in addition to the government's tacit popularity of them, translated right into a extra violent, destructive number of happen future.

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Additional info for A Short, Offhand, Killing Affair: Soldiers and Social Conflict during the Mexican-American War

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Catholic soldiers found Mexican churches to be a refuge, offering familiarity and sometimes friendliness. 48 In remote areas of the Rio Grande, Mexican Catholic priests rode a circuit and preached to mixed congregations of soldiers and civilians. 49 There was a large and growing body of Catholic officers in the army, many of whom served with distinction in the Mexican War. One such officer, Julius P. Garesché, came from a wealthy Haitian planter family that had fallen on hard times since emigrating to the United States He graduated from West Point a few years before the outbreak of war.

24 The officer had his subordinates, noncommissioned officers, to deal personally with the men, but very often these were as unreliable as the privates, and again and again the role of the army officer was that of wielding his sword or sidearm against drunken and rebellious soldiers. The regular officer’s sword was far from a ceremonial adornment. 25 Courts-martial regularly doled out whippings and other corporal punishments and ritual humiliations to common soldiers, and this severity maintained the unbridgeable social gulf between officer and enlisted man.

S. Army sought to establish itself on a par with European military organizations, and had made important strides in the training of officers, technology, and the production of weapons. In a society with revolutionary origins, even a small degree of power granted to an officer class and its obedient minions 21 service and servitude provoked fears of both aristocracy and servile revolt. The army moved ahead with its modernization, but against much resistance and criticism, and thus remained limited in size, too small to contemplate a war with Britain but perfect for taking on a weak foe like Mexico.

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