Doniphan's Epic March: The 1st Missouri Volunteers in the Mexican War

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University Press of Kansas, 1999 - Technology & Engineering - 325 pages
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In 1846-47, a ragtag army of 800 American volunteers marched 3,500 miles across deserts and mountains, through Indian territory and into Mexico. There they handed the Mexican army one of its most demoralizing defeats and helped the United States win its first foreign war. Their leader was himself a volunteer, but Colonel Alexander Doniphan was also a "natural soldier" of towering stature who became a national hero in the wake of his wartime exploits.Doniphan was a small-town Missouri lawyer unschooled in military matters when he answered President Polk's call for volunteers in the war with Mexico. Working from a host of primary sources, Joseph Dawson focuses on Doniphan's extraordinary leadership and chronicles how the Colonel and his 1st Missouri Mounted Regiment helped capture New Mexico and went on to invade Chihuahua. Contending with wildfires, sandstorms, poor provisions, and threats of attack from Apaches, they eventually came face-to-face with the formidable cannon and cavalry of a muchlarger Mexican force. Yet, at the Battle of Sacramento, these hardy volunteers outflanked General Jose Heredia's army and claimed a stunning American victory on foreign soil.Dawson explores and analyzes the many facets of Doniphan's exploits, from the decision to proceed to Chihuahua in the wake of the Taos Revolt to the tactics that shaped his victory at Sacramento, vividly describing that battle in heart-stopping detail. He tells how Doniphan's legal expertise enabled him to supervise America's first military government administering a conquered land at Santa Fe and highlights Doniphan's remarkable cooperation with U.S. Army officers at a time when antagonism typified relationships betweenvolunteers and regulars. He also introduces readers to other key personalities of the campaign, from fellow officers Stephen W. Kearny and Meriwether L. Clark to James Kiker, the controversial scout whom Doniphan reluctantly

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About the author (1999)

JOSEPH G. DAWSON, III is Associate Professor of History at Texas A&M University.

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