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A Short, Offhand, Killing Affair: Soldiers and Social by Paul Foos

By Paul Foos

The Mexican-American battle (1846-1848) came upon americans on new terrain. A republic based at the precept of armed safety of freedom used to be now going to battle on behalf of appear future, looking to triumph over an unusual country and other people. via an exam of rank-and-file squaddies, Paul Foos sheds new mild at the battle and its impact on attitudes towards different races and nationalities that stood within the approach of yank expansionism. Drawing on wartime diaries and letters now not formerly tested by means of students, Foos exhibits that the event of squaddies within the conflict differed greatly from the optimistic, patriotic photo trumpeted through political and army leaders looking recruits for a volunteer military. Promised entry to land, monetary chance, and political equality, the enlistees as a substitute chanced on themselves subjected to surprisingly harsh self-discipline and harrowing conflict stipulations. accordingly, a few infantrymen tailored the rhetoric of occur 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, besides the government's tacit reputation of them, translated right into a extra violent, harmful number of happen future.

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

Example text

President James K. Polk’s original war bill of May 13, 1846, called for 50,000 volunteers, with requisitions on almost all the states. The calls were answered with great enthusiasm, especially in southern and western states, with many times more volunteers presenting themselves than were needed. The first troops were drawn from Texas and Louisiana, as three- and six-month volunteers. 1 In the initial enthusiasm many new volunteer companies were formed, and existing volunteer state militia companies paraded in full regalia.

S. military that operated throughout the country. A sample of its records for 1840–49 showed 40 percent of recruits to be immigrants; 35 percent could not sign their own names; their average age was about twenty-five. In 1850–51 over 70 percent of regular recruits were immigrants. An artillery company in one of the new regular army regiments raised in 1847 remained less than half full after months of recruiting in New York and Philadelphia. It filled the remaining fifty positions in the company by selecting from a crew of ditch diggers outside of Fort Monroe, Virginia.

Service and servitude difficult circumstances. However, hard times in the camp persisted and a small but steady flow of desertions continued in the prewar months. The men suffered from a lack of wood for fires, and there were no beasts of burden or carts with which to gather wood. The sparse grasslands provided little but mesquite in any event, and gathering wood was a time-consuming and exhausting chore. In addition, mounted troops were provided with no fodder for their horses, and so they were ordered to cut their own from the surrounding dry scrub.

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