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

By Paul Foos

The Mexican-American warfare (1846-1848) stumbled on americans on new terrain. A republic based at the precept of armed protection of freedom was once now going to conflict on behalf of take place future, trying to overcome an strange kingdom and other people. via an exam of rank-and-file infantrymen, Paul Foos sheds new gentle at the battle and its influence on attitudes towards different races and nationalities that stood within the manner of yankee expansionism. Drawing on wartime diaries and letters no longer formerly tested via students, Foos indicates that the event of squaddies within the conflict differed considerably from the optimistic, patriotic picture trumpeted by way of political and armed forces leaders looking recruits for a volunteer military. Promised entry to land, monetary chance, and political equality, the enlistees as an alternative stumbled on themselves subjected to strangely 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, frequently by way 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, besides the government's tacit recognition of them, translated right into a extra violent, harmful number of happen future.

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

The Mexican-American conflict (1846-1848) chanced on american citizens on new terrain. A republic based at the precept of armed security of freedom was once now going to warfare on behalf of occur future, trying to overcome an unusual state and other people. via an exam of rank-and-file squaddies, Paul Foos sheds new mild at the conflict and its impact on attitudes towards different races and nationalities that stood within the means of yank expansionism.

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Even ethnic militias drew patronage and leadership from the middle-class elements of their groups. But as universal militia service disappeared, other informal groups took on military characteristics, sometimes organized as political or neighborhood clubs. However, the militia could be in itself an important expression of workingclass political and social goals, as in New York when radical Democrats and agrarians fought for the retention of a universal militia law. Despite widespread discontent with the volunteer militia system and calls for its abolition from across the political spectrum, some saw the inequalities of a volunteer system as dangerous to republican principles; however, they were quite dedicated to the idea of a citizenry in arms, under reformed universal militia service.

This legislation provided a podium in both houses to lionize the volunteers, even though a solid majority lined up behind the president’s bill for more regulars. The comments of these representatives and senators contain a range of popular clichés about citizen-soldiers and slightly varying interpretations of those clichés which revealed class biases—which Americans were worthy of basic citizenship, and what constituted free labor in a military context. It was generally accepted among the elite political class that regular soldiers constituted a servile and degraded class of men, who fought for pay and not out of patriotism.

Officers were on an honor system to disburse their own salaries from available funds, which if nonexistent, were supplemented 19 service and servitude by borrowing from their better-off colleagues. 21 Officers Regular army officers were not necessarily antidemocratic but were devoted to discipline in defense of the state. Except during wartime the regular army remained tiny in the nineteenth century. Between 1815 and 1861 the professionalization of officers’s education and a small but steady demand for commissioned military men produced a distinct military subculture in the United States.

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