From the Halls of the Montezumas: Mexican War Dispatches from James L. Freaner, Writing Under the Pen Name "Mustang"

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Alan D. Gaff, Donald H. Gaff
University of North Texas Press, 2019 - Chapultepec, Battle of, Mexico City, Mexico, 1847 - 486 pages
James L. Freaner is one of the most important unknown Americans in our nation's history. Freaner gained fame throughout the country during the Mexican War while covering General Winfield Scott's campaign. As one of America's first war correspondents, Freaner's letters appeared in newspapers under the byline "Mustang," and his reports from the front included information unavailable elsewhere. Among Freaner's scoops were the publication of complete casualty lists (long before official reports became public), detailed battle descriptions, and observations on postwar Mexico.

Despite his widespread fame as a reporter, Freaner's greatest contribution to the United States came during a conversation with Nicholas P. Trist, negotiator of the peace treaty with Mexico. After Trist had passed along an outrageous proposal from the Mexican commissioners, he was recalled, but Freaner convinced Trist to ignore the order and begin a new round of negotiations. Trist resumed, concluded the war, and added California, Nevada, Utah, and other territory to a growing country. This acquisition was second in size only to the Louisiana Purchase and was a direct result of James Freaner persuading Trist to brazenly conclude a treaty when he had no authority to do so.

From the Halls of the Montezumas is a complete compilation of Freaner's Mexican War reporting. Editors Alan D. Gaff and Donald H. Gaff have annotated the text with footnotes identifying people, places, and events, and also have added illustrations of key figures and maps. They supplement Freaner's dispatches with biographical information that ranges from his early career to his journey to the gold fields of California and his untimely death at the hands of Indians in California in 1852.

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About the author (2019)

ALAN D. GAFF is an independent scholar and President of Historical Investigations. His previous books include Bayonets in the Wilderness, Blood in the Argonne, and On Many a Bloody Field. DONALD H. GAFF is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Northern Iowa, and co-editor with Alan D. Gaff of Ordered West: The Civil War Exploits of Charles A. Curtis (UNT Press).

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