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

By Paul Foos

The Mexican-American struggle (1846-1848) came upon americans on new terrain. A republic based at the precept of armed security of freedom used to be now going to warfare on behalf of happen future, looking to triumph over an unexpected kingdom and folks. via an exam of rank-and-file infantrymen, Paul Foos sheds new gentle at the battle and its impression on attitudes towards different races and nationalities that stood within the means of yankee expansionism. Drawing on wartime diaries and letters no longer formerly tested by means of students, Foos indicates that the event of squaddies within the struggle differed noticeably from the optimistic, patriotic picture trumpeted through political and army leaders looking recruits for a volunteer military. Promised entry to land, financial chance, and political equality, the enlistees as a substitute came across themselves subjected to surprisingly harsh self-discipline and harrowing conflict stipulations. therefore, a few squaddies tailored the rhetoric of take place future to their very own reasons, taking for themselves what were promised, frequently through looting the Mexican geographical region 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, harmful number of happen future.

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It filled the remaining fifty positions in the company by selecting from a crew of ditch diggers outside of Fort Monroe, Virginia. 31 For recruiters the best place to secure enlistments was in the northeastern cities and adjacent towns. Their ideal candidate was a sturdy Yankee farmer, but laborers and new immigrants were in the majority. 32 Recruits from the northern New England states were ‘‘famous for desertion’’ according to one officer, especially New Hampshire men. Citizens of the Granite State often harbored deserters and even forcibly resisted the military authorities in their attempts to capture absconding recruits.

Garesché finally resolved to horsewhip the offender, but his fellow officers prevented him from carrying out the retaliation. S. military was a badge of shame, while the volunteer’s membership in a loose-knit band of ruffians gave him considerable 28 service and servitude freedom to abuse others. Garesché eventually rallied, with the backing of his own peers, and the withdrawal of the support of the Virginia volunteers for their abusive comrade. The army was in many respects a haven for Catholics in the United States, offering, at least for officers, opportunities denied them in other professions.

But it was not the sort of work that brought honor to the individual nor bound him to the community. Regular army soldiers sought out ways even within the confines of the service to capture the kind of heroic and entrepreneurial paths that were open to others— even though the army tried to keep them isolated as much as possible from mainstream society, with its expectations of political and economic rights. S. society was with slaves and other laborers hired by the army: ‘‘rented’’ slaves were at least separated from the direct paternalism of their owners, and, as observed by Ballentine, could engage in various economic activities.

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