Recollections of the War with Mexico
Major John Corey Henshaw & Edited by Gary F. Kurutz University of Missouri Press, 2008 Library of Congress E411.H36 2008 | Dewey Decimal 973.62092
Major John Henshaw, a dutiful regimental officer in the American invasion of Mexico, was one of only a handful of eyewitnesses to describe the two major theaters of that war from start to finish. But unlike most of his peers, he did not see himself as a conquering warrior and took pride in never having taken a life. He even wrote, “If I were alone, no earthly power could induce me to lend a helping hand in this base and infamous war.”
This book presents Henshaw’s recollections for the first time, covering all the action from the first skirmish in southern Texas to the collapse of Mexico City. As a member of the Seventh Infantry Regiment, this pugnacious line officer from New England served under both of the war’s principal generals, Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, and survived seven major battles. His writings constitute a virtual “minority opinion” report on the Mexican War.
Henshaw’s recollections include a rare and highly descriptive account of the siege of Fort Texas (later Fort Brown), plus rich new details of the storming of the Bishop’s Palace at Monterrey, the bombardment of Veracruz, the assault on Cerro Gordo, and the savage fighting outside the capital. His records of battles, marches, and maneuvers greatly augment what is already known about the campaign, but in addition to reporting daily occurrences and describing combat in graphic detail, Henshaw also reflected on the strategies and tactics—and what he saw as shortcomings—of officers on both sides.
Bitingly critical of those in command, of American volunteers, and of the war’s glory hounds, Henshaw admired the valor of ordinary soldiers on both sides of the fighting. And in the midst of the carnage, he also found time to describe Mexico’s cities and scenery in rhapsodic prose and express considerable empathy for its people. In addition to the “Recollections,” the volume includes vivid passages from letters Henshaw sent back to his wife, which supply additional details of the campaign. Editor Gary Kurutz provides an extensive biography of Henshaw, as well as comprehensive annotations to the text.
What Henshaw may have lacked as an unquestioning officer he more than made up for as an astute observer. Offering a decidedly different view of this war of American expansion, these writings with their balanced approach lend a fresh perspective among other primary sources and paint a startlingly honest picture of both Americans fighting abroad and those they fought.
Born in New Orleans, Herman Hattaway grew up in the Deep South. While it might not seem such a stretch for him to have become one of the foremost authorities on the Civil War and Southern history, Hattaway was actually at a loss for a career choice when he stumbled into the class of Professor T. Harry Williams at Louisiana State University. Williams’s lectures and writings were so inspiring to Hattaway that he became a regular in his classes, receiving his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. all under the professor’s tutelage.
This collection of essays is a compendium of Hattaway’s writings from throughout his more-than-forty-year career. He is the author or coauthor of five books that were selections of the History Book Club—Jefferson Davis: Confederate President; Shades of Blue and Gray: An Introductory Military History of the Civil War; Why the South Lost the Civil War; How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War; and General Stephen D. Lee. He is also the author of the text for Gettysburg to Vicksburg: The Five Original Civil War Battlefield Parks.
Hattaway is a captivating historian who always seeks to engage others in the study of history. He has made many important scholarly contributions to our understanding of the Civil War, including new information on the military use of balloons, the relevance of religion in warfare, and the nature of good (and bad) military leadership. This book will appeal to the many historians and others who have been influenced by Hattaway over the years. It demonstrates how he has evolved as a historian and brings to light many essays that were never before published or published only in specialized journals.
Major General Clarence Ransom Edwards is a vital figure in American military history, yet his contribution to the U.S. efforts in World War I has often been ignored or presented in unflattering terms. Most accounts focus on the disagreements he had with General John J. Pershing, who dismissed Edwards from the command of the 26th (“Yankee”) Division just weeks before the war's end. The notoriety of the Pershing incident has caused some to view Edwards as simply a “political general” with a controversial career. But Clarence Edwards, though often a divisive figure, was a greater man than that. A revered and admired officer whose men called him “Daddy,” Edwards attained an impressive forty-year career, one matched by few wartime leaders.
Michael E. Shay presents a complete portrait of this notable American and his many merits in Revered Commander, Maligned General. This long-overdue first full-length biography of General Clarence Edwards opens with his early years in Cleveland, Ohio and his turbulent times at West Point. The book details the crucial roles Edwards filled in staff and field commands for the Army before the outbreak of World War I in 1917: Adjutant-General with General Henry Ware Lawton in the Philippine-American War, first chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, and commander of U.S. forces in the Panama Canal Zone. Revered Commander, Maligned General follows Edwards as he forms the famous Yankee Division and leads his men into France. The conflict between Edwards and Pershing is placed in context, illuminating the disputes that led to Edwards being relieved of command.
This well-researched biography quotes a wealth of primary sources in recounting the life of an important American, a man of loyalty and service who is largely misunderstood. Photographs of Edwards, his troops, and his kin—many from Edwards’ own collection—complement the narrative. In addition, several maps aid readers in following General Edwards as his career moves from the U.S. to Central America to Europe and back stateside. Shay’s portrayalof General Edwards finally provides a balanced account of this unique U.S. military leader.
After November 1776, the Hackensack Valley--located in northeastern New Jersey and Rockland County, New York--lay between the invading British army in New York City and the main Continental defense forces in the Hudson Highlands. Jersey Dutch patriot and Tory troops carried on a five-year war of neighbors between the lines, while the grand armies of Britain and America maneuvered on either side of them for a chance to strike a blow at the other.
Adrian Leiby offers an exciting narrative of the people of Dutch New Jersey and New York during this conflict. Historians will find colorful details about the Revolutionary War, and genealogists will find much previously unpublished material on hundreds of men and women of Dutch New Jersey and New York in the 1700s.
Williamson S. Oldham was a shrewd and candid observer of the Civil War scene. Representing the always contrary and suspicious Texans in the Confederate Senate, he was a major opponent of President Jefferson Davis and spoke out vehemently against conscription—which he considered an abusive violation of individual rights—and against military interference in the cotton trade.
Oldham’s memoir provides a firsthand look at the Civil War from the perspective of a government insider. In it, he sheds light on such topics as military strategy, foreign relations, taxes, and conflicts between state officials and the Confederate government. Perhaps more important, his travels between Texas and Richmond—both during and after the war—allowed him to observe the many changes taking place in the South, and he made note of both the general sentiment of citizens and the effect of political and military measures on the country.
Throughout the memoir, Oldham consistently stresses the centrality of politics to a society and the necessity of legislating for the will of the people even in times of war. In assessing the Confederacy’s defeat, he points not to military causes but to Congress’s giving in to the will of the president and military leaders rather than ruling for and representing the people.
Clayton E. Jewett has edited and annotated Oldham’s memoir to produce the only fully edited publication of this important document, significantly expanded here over any version previously published. His introduction helps clarify Oldham’s position on many of the topics he discusses, making the memoir accessible to scholar and Civil War buff alike, while his annotations reflect his deep knowledge of the intrigue of wartime political life in both Texas and Richmond.
Oldham’s memoir offers important new insight into not only political leadership and conflicts in a young nation but also the question of why the South lost the Civil War, dispelling many myths about the defeat and bolstering interpretations of the Confederacy’s decline that point more to political than to military causes. Rise and Fall of the Confederacy is one of the major political and social documents of the Confederacy and will be a boon to all scholars of the Civil War era.
Erwin Rommel is the best-known German field commander of World War II. Repeatedly decorated for valor during the First World War, he would go on to lead the German Panzer divisions in France and North Africa. Even his British opponents admitted to admiring his apparent courage, chivalry and leadership, and he became known by the nickname “Desert Fox.” His death, in October 1944, would give rise to speculation for generations to come on how history should judge him. To many he remains the ideal soldier, but, as Reuth shows, Rommel remained loyal to his Führer until forced to commit suicide, and his fame was largely a creation of the master propagandist Joseph Goebbels. Stripping away the many layers of Nazi and Allied propaganda, Reuth argues that Rommel’s life symbolizes the complexity and conflict of the German tragedy: to have followed Hitler into the abyss, and to have considered that to be his duty.
The catastrophe of the First World War, and the destruction, revolution, and enduring hostilities it wrought, make the issue of its origins a perennial puzzle. Since World War II, Germany has been viewed as the primary culprit. Now, in a major reinterpretation of the conflict, Sean McMeekin rejects the standard notions of the war’s beginning as either a Germano-Austrian preemptive strike or a “tragedy of miscalculation.” Instead, he proposes that the key to the outbreak of violence lies in St. Petersburg.
It was Russian statesmen who unleashed the war through conscious policy decisions based on imperial ambitions in the Near East. Unlike their civilian counterparts in Berlin, who would have preferred to localize the Austro-Serbian conflict, Russian leaders desired a more general war so long as British participation was assured. The war of 1914 was launched at a propitious moment for harnessing the might of Britain and France to neutralize the German threat to Russia’s goal: partitioning the Ottoman Empire to ensure control of the Straits between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.
Nearly a century has passed since the guns fell silent on the western front. But in the lands of the former Ottoman Empire, World War I smolders still. Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Jews, and other regional antagonists continue fighting over the last scraps of the Ottoman inheritance. As we seek to make sense of these conflicts, McMeekin’s powerful exposé of Russia’s aims in the First World War will illuminate our understanding of the twentieth century.