By Paul Foos
The Mexican-American struggle (1846-1848) came across americans on new terrain. A republic based at the precept of armed security of freedom was once now going to battle on behalf of occur future, trying to triumph over an surprising kingdom and other people. via an exam of rank-and-file infantrymen, Paul Foos sheds new mild at the struggle and its impression on attitudes towards different races and nationalities that stood within the manner of yank expansionism. Drawing on wartime diaries and letters no longer formerly tested by way of students, Foos indicates that the adventure of infantrymen within the struggle differed noticeably from the optimistic, patriotic photo trumpeted by means of political and army leaders looking recruits for a volunteer military. Promised entry to land, fiscal chance, and political equality, the enlistees as a substitute came across themselves subjected to surprisingly harsh self-discipline and harrowing conflict stipulations. for that reason, a few infantrymen tailored the rhetoric of happen future to their very own reasons, taking for themselves what have been promised, usually via 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 attractiveness of them, translated right into a extra violent, destructive number of show up future.
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Extra info for A Short, Offhand, Killing Affair: Soldiers and Social Conflict during the Mexican-American War
Army oﬃcer, writing in 1848, unapologetically called the discipline in his service ‘‘the most arbitrary in the world,’’ adding that it was ‘‘necessarily so,’’ to prevent the sort of conditions that were actively sought after in the volunteer regiments: American citizens, grown up in jealousy of their rights and privileges; prompt to defend them with the right arm and with their voice, would make the army one scene of struggle and one great debating society. 23 20 service and servitude Army oﬃcers took absolute authority as their prerogative and attempted to enforce it even though their troops were often a drunken and unruly mob.
According to Lane, the ‘‘new police force dealt brutally and arbitrarily with the lower classes. . 18 While losing some of their police functions, militias retained a strong social role for a variety of groups; one of those functions was ethnic violence. In 1837, the year of the Broad Street Riot, the Boston City Guards militia company attacked the (Irish) Montgomery Guards at a general muster, with the help of a civilian mob. The city government forced the Montgomery Guards to disband two years later, and nativist agitation remained high in the early 1840s, culminating with the election of a nativist mayor, T.
Soldiers were left to their own devices at times to ﬁnd food and bedding. They could supplement their miserable rations at a sutler’s store, which oﬀered goods at inﬂated prices and extended credit against a soldiers pay. During 1845 and 1846 Ballentine spent most of his time stationed at posts in Florida drilling and maintaining fortiﬁcations. The nights in Florida were occupied in aimless fashion, drinking being the sole—and almost constant—preoccupation of the soldiers. Oﬃcially forbidden, but winked at by the oﬃcers, ‘‘the illicit trade in whiskey to the soldiers is carried on by blacks, at the time employed in repairs on the fort.
A Short, Offhand, Killing Affair: Soldiers and Social Conflict during the Mexican-American War by Paul Foos