- Paperback: 486 pages
- Publisher: Bison Books; Reprint edition (November 1, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0803261071
- ISBN-13: 978-0803261075
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Mexican War, 1846-1848 Paperback – November 1, 1992
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From the Back Cover
This story tells of the Mexican war, and shows a fair side to both the Mexicans and the Americans. This is an outstanding contribution to military history and model of writing which will be admired and emulated.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you want the military approach to the war buy this book.
The worst failing is the maps. As far as they go, they are only OK. In all too many instances, maps to accompany the text omit showing the location of sites mentioned. Additionally, unit positions and/or movements are not indicated so well. Still, overall this is a fine report and interpretation of the war - better than Eisenhower;s "So Far From God." If you want only one book on the Mexican war on your history shelf, this one is it.
Unlike authors who have viewed this war as basically inspired by imperialism and au fond, immoral, Bauer's thesis is that the war was "unavoidable" as it was the conflict with Mexico over a common boundary, which in turn was a result of the "inexorable westward....demands of destiny." Manifest Destiny--not imperialism. (I'm not sure that there is much of a difference to the lay person). Mexican demands for national sovereignty and self-respect prevented Mexico from relinquishing any territory it considered its own except to overwhelming force.
Polk, according to Bauer, wanted a negotiated settlement with the Mexican government (which, at the time, was in near-chaos) but chose the path of rough wooing rather than trying to negotiate as with equals. Although high members of the Mexican government were willing to do so, they could not begin as it would appear that they were caving in to gringo pressure. The actual casus bellum was the Mexican crossing of the Rio Grande into territory that Polk claimed, and ordered occupied by American troops before the start of negotiations. The Mexican view was that the border between Texas and Mexico proper was the Nueces River, about 35 miles north of the Rio Grande where it enters the Gulf of Mexico.
Along with the conventional account of the campaigns of Taylor, then of Scott, Bauer also devotes several chapters on the US navy's role in the war. The Mexican navy consisted of small craft; it's only significant warships had been transferred to British commercial interests at the start of the fighting. Basically, the job of the US navy was to blockade some six east-coast ports--not an easy task, as the there were only two seasons along the east coast--the rainy season when yellow fever was rampant, and the dry season, which brought vicious northerly gales that could strike without warning. Hence the navy preferred to seize the ports rather than blockading them. By 1848, all but two of the eastern ports had been captured. The western coast of Mexico was also blockaded. Again, seizure of the ports, rather than blockade was the preferred option. It's not clear whether naval operations were intended to complement the land war as part of a single plan. Rather, the navy did its thing without too much coordination with Scott and Taylor.
The political fallout of Mr. Polk's war was felt early. Polk had been able to make the Whigs party to the decision to go to war, thereby quieting dissent. When the Congressional session ended, however, strong opposition to the war erupted. Anti-administration Democrats and moderate Whigs contended that the war was unconstitutionally begun by Polk. The Whigs split into radical and conservative camps. The radical Whigs were primarily located in New England and proclaimed that the primary aim of Polk's war was to extend slavery. But the Whigs were between a rock and a hard place. Whigs had voted for the war because they feared their opposition would be looked upon as traitorous, as were the Federalists in 1812 and beyond. Moreover, once having voted for the war, they were committed to furnishing the money to wage it--in short, to "support the troops". All this seems familiar.
Bauer closes with an assertion that the war, from a moral point of view, wasn't all that bad. Polk may have been a believer in "manifest destiny" but was not rapacious. He had planned to negotiate and buy his way into acquiring California and other parts of the west, but got into a war that got out of control. Mexico's leaders, writes Bauer, bear much responsibility for the conflict. For the most part feckless and fearful of public opinion, they refused to negotiate at the beginning, and at the end would not negotiate in good faith. Miscalculation by the leaders of both nations brought about the conflict, a conflict that can be seen as the matrix from which the American Civil War emerged some 13 years later.
Bauer provides extensive notes to original sources, and a large bibliography. The greater part of the source material is in English; relatively little use was made of Mexican sources