In the “Army of manifest Destiny”, James M. Mccaffrey, stresses ”The purpose of the present work, then is to look at the war from the viewpoints of the common soldiers Experienced what prompted them to enlist in the first place? what did they think of the Mexican people with whom they came in contact how did they feel toward their officer’s ? were they adequately supported with food clothing shelter and Medical Care by their government how did they spend Sparetime? if they broke any rules how were they punished? what did the regular soldiers think of these temporary volunteers and vice versa? finally having answered these questions how did the American soldiers in the Mexican War measure up to their counterparts of earlier and later conflicts?” The Mexican American War known to be the first foreign war fought by American soldiers, started in 1846 after the declaration of Independence was signed.
However, the root of the war erupted years before the actual conflict.
A series of altercations between Mexico and America caused tensions to become unbearable.Initially, Mexico permitted Stephen F Austin and his followers to settle with promise of cheap land.After abiding by Mexican rules, settlers pleaded for state rights. From there, Mexico and Americans took part in the battle in the town of Gonzales, which sparked the Texas revolution.
Furthermore, the Army fought regarding the Rio Grande and most importantly The Battle Of The Alamo. During this battle, Texans suffered a sour defeat Fueled American soldiers fire as they sought revenge during the Battle Of San Jacinto. Following their battles, Texas sought independence. Prior attempts on president Polk tried to reason boundary disputes between Mexico and Texas. However, news spread of Mexican soldiers invading and attacking on United States soil, and a war declaration was accepted. President Polk’s war message was the official dispatch of the commencement of the Mexican war. Soon, Governments urged the recruitment of soldiers during the war and soldiers rushed to fill position, for a limited amount of time. This war involved both Regular and volunteer soldiers who experienced hardship and deprivation. Some were recruited to gain respect for their nationalist efforts or for a better life through military opportunities.Before being able to fight Soldiers had to be medically examined, although not always effective, this method tried to prevent unfit individuals from participating. Once in the army, soldiers had to fulfill duties requested by leaders. Along with duties, some soldiers had certain attire and developed a new mindset. Overall this foreign war exposed soldiers to new ideas and people unlike they have ever
Generous amounts of factors enticed both volunteers and regulars to enlist in the war. Mccaffrey effectively answers the question of “what prompted them to enlist” by breaking down the justification for Soldier enlistments. The primary reasons for enlistment go as follows. McCaffrey presents soldiers entered the way to escape domestic problems in “civilian life”, to continue livelihood until the “ Nation’s economy improved”, and as a way to shield themselves from the “panic of 1837” For Non English speakers who participated in enlistment, they did so seeking an opportunity to” learn English and American customs. Others used the war to finance their transportation to frontiers.(Mccaffrey 30).Some soldiers from Indians crossed rivers to join armies in other states. …….Mccaffrey breaks down the enlistment of volunteers and regular soldiers in his detailed explanation of primary motives. Specifically, Volunteer and regular soldiers enlisted for reasons specific to individuals. Many Volunteer soldiers participated in their reputation. According to Mccaffrey, Foreign volunteers were primarily German and Irish along with other volunteers who rushed to fill positions.
Doing so to reach specified “government quota” In contrast, McCaffrey explores Regular soldier’s motives for enlistment. Regulars were draws to war for self-respect and “adventure in a foreign land” while others hoped to get revenge for the death of men during the texas revolution like “remember the alamo”(Mccaffrey, 31). Mccaffrey supports his understanding of reasons for enlistment through. Common soldiers who broke the rules were sometimes brutally punished depending on the offense. ……Through the explanation of punishments, McCaffrey captures the aspect of soldiers in everyday life. McCaffrey sheds light on the consequences soldiers faced besides the war itself. The common guilty soldiers were Misfits and other lawbreakers.These actions commonly result in Executions and consequences. Mccaffery permits readers to visualize the hardships soldiers went through not only in battle but through their Army but explains unique forms of punishment. During this time, Soldiers were commanded to march for long periods of time with a weight holding them down, they were isolated in dark holes.As more detail specified, Bucking was an excruciating punishment soldier had to bear. It consisted of them being bound by the hands and placed in an uncomfortable position while gagged. Along with bucking, Mccaffrey brings light to flogging, a form of torture that was deserted due to the excessive pain it caused soldiers.
Lastly, Being the first foreign war, American soldiers were exposed to unfamiliar humans. As a result, their reactions were raw and blunt. Through evidence from soldiers journals and diaries, Mccaffrey unravels soldiers gut reactions to the Mexican population. Initially, Americans perceived Mexicans as inferior to the white race. After their exposure to Mexican lifestyle, their living conditions were labeled as lower than the lowest they had seen. The People physically were seen as filthy with No hygiene requirements. Not to mention, the Mexican citizens were seen lacking of character, knowledge and presentable attire.On the bright side, Some Common soldiers viewed Mexican citizens as kind, collected individuals. Their architecture also caused mixed opinions from soldiers, some viewed it as spacious and uniquely built while others acquired a foul smell from the cities. The Mexican women were also seen in a double standard either appearing incomparably beautiful, somewhat beautiful, or unclean, ike animals. By previously identifying American soldier lifestyle and now evaluating the Mexican lifestyle, McCaffrey supports his assessment of Mexican life according to American soldiers.
I firmly believe the argument was effective in convincing History students and others interested in learning about the Mexican war. After thoroughly reading the novel, I have developed a deeper understanding of the soldier’s experience while learning about different battles.
Although well written, Mccaffrey leaves out some details necessary to fully evaluate the war. Giving the perspective of Mexicans through American soldiers creates a biased opinion. American soldiers viewed Mexicans as lower class in the human hierarchy. Mccaffrey leaves out the other side of judgment, from the enemy. If he were to include the Mexican perspective through journals and diaries as done with Common soldiers, the opinions of Common soldiers could be justified or disapproved. Considering some American soldiers joined the Mexican Army after incentives and formed ‘‘Foreign Legions’’( page????) which consisted of American soldiers and foreign men in Mexico, they were able to form relationships with Mexicans and experience Mexican perception of Common Soldiers. By doing so, Readers can truly understand the motive from both American and Enemy sides. As well as providing readers with a fair presentation f information allowing them to perceive the war based on their decisions from hearing both sides.
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