By Paul Foos
The Mexican-American struggle (1846-1848) came upon americans on new terrain. A republic based at the precept of armed protection of freedom was once now going to battle on behalf of show up future, looking to triumph over an unexpected kingdom and folks. via an exam of rank-and-file infantrymen, Paul Foos sheds new mild at the warfare and its influence on attitudes towards different races and nationalities that stood within the manner of yankee expansionism. Drawing on wartime diaries and letters no longer formerly tested by means of students, Foos indicates that the adventure of squaddies within the struggle differed substantially from the optimistic, patriotic photograph trumpeted via political and armed forces leaders looking recruits for a volunteer military. Promised entry to land, financial chance, and political equality, the enlistees in its place came across themselves subjected to strangely harsh self-discipline and harrowing conflict stipulations. accordingly, a few squaddies tailored the rhetoric of take place future to their very own reasons, taking for themselves what were promised, frequently 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, besides the government's tacit popularity of them, translated right into a extra violent, destructive number of appear future.
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Additional resources for A Short, Offhand, Killing Affair: Soldiers and Social Conflict during the Mexican-American War
The conditions of army camps threw oﬃcers into almost constant personal contact with enlisted men, a group composed largely of their social and economic inferiors. S. 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.
Both the police and ﬁre departments underwent extensive reforms. The ﬁremen were stripped of their ‘‘volunteer’’ status and ﬁred, and a smaller, paid force formed. ’’ 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.
30 Walsh seized upon a key issue for workers and others at the bottom of the economic pyramid, one that would create a cauldron of dissension during the Mexican War. During the war, as in peacetime, forming a volunteer company depended on the patronage of the politically or economically 41 c i t i z e n s ’ m i l i t i as powerful. Workingmen were encouraged to enroll under this patronage, but demands for wages for soldiers went unheeded; instead, recruiters made hollow promises of plunder and glory.