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

Front Cover
Univ of North Carolina Press, Oct 7, 2002 - History - 240 pages
2 Reviews
The Mexican-American War (1846-48) found Americans on new terrain. A republic founded on the principle of armed defense of freedom was now going to war on behalf of Manifest Destiny, seeking to conquer an unfamiliar nation and people. Through an examination of rank-and-file soldiers, Paul Foos sheds new light on the war and its effect on attitudes toward other races and nationalities that stood in the way of American expansionism.

Drawing on wartime diaries and letters not previously examined by scholars, Foos shows that the experience of soldiers in the war differed radically from the positive, patriotic image trumpeted by political and military leaders seeking recruits for a volunteer army. Promised access to land, economic opportunity, and political equality, the enlistees instead found themselves subjected to unusually harsh discipline and harrowing battle conditions. As a result, some soldiers adapted the rhetoric of Manifest Destiny to their own purposes, taking for themselves what had been promised, often by looting the Mexican countryside or committing racial and sexual atrocities. Others deserted the army to fight for the enemy or seek employment in the West. These acts, Foos argues, along with the government's tacit acceptance of them, translated into a more violent, damaging variety of Manifest Destiny.

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rgrizzr1 - LibraryThing

This is a bible for the Battle of Cowpens -- an excellent treatment. Only minor errors, nothing significant, i.e., Joseph Pickens is identified as Andrew pickens' younger brother. Joseph was 2-1/2 ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ksmyth - LibraryThing

Babits book on Cowpens clears up a lot of questions about unit strength, the composition of the American force at Cowpens, as well as troop movements during the battle. It is very readable and quite interesting. Read full review


Service and Servitude
2 CitizensMilitias in the United States
3 Volunteer Excitement among the Masses
The Politics of Compulsion
5 Discipline and Desertion in Mexico
The Wage of Manifest Destiny
7 Dreams of Conquest and the Limits of the WhiteMans Democracy
8 Free Soil and the Heritage of the CitizenSoldier

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2002)

Paul Foos teaches history at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Bibliographic information