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

By Paul Foos

The Mexican-American battle (1846-1848) came upon american citizens on new terrain. A republic based at the precept of armed safety of freedom was once now going to warfare on behalf of appear future, looking to overcome an surprising country and other people. via an exam of rank-and-file squaddies, Paul Foos sheds new mild at the warfare and its impact on attitudes towards different races and nationalities that stood within the manner of yankee expansionism. Drawing on wartime diaries and letters now not formerly tested through students, Foos indicates that the adventure of infantrymen within the conflict differed notably from the confident, patriotic picture trumpeted via political and armed forces leaders looking recruits for a volunteer military. Promised entry to land, financial chance, and political equality, the enlistees as an alternative came across themselves subjected to strangely harsh self-discipline and harrowing conflict stipulations. for this reason, a few infantrymen tailored the rhetoric of take place future to their very own reasons, taking for themselves what were promised, usually by means of 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, in addition to the government's tacit popularity of them, translated right into a extra violent, destructive number of happen future.

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

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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. . ’’ The slaves sold the whiskey at a 100 percent markup. 30 Ballentine adapted to wartime service better than most; he saw combat in some of the most grueling battles of the war and produced a remarkably detailed and sensitive account of his experiences.

A. ’’ 11 As a sovereign nation, born in military struggle, the young United States soon developed a centralized military structure, incorporating both citizens’ militias and ‘‘professionals’’ in the pay of the federal government. As early as revolutionary times Americans distrusted professional soldiers as corrupt, and their experience with an occupying British soldiery served to enshrine this distrust in political rhetoric. 12 In a war of resistance, fought on native soil and using guerrilla tactics, the volunteer and part-time soldier indeed served the republic well.

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.

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