Troops Employed During the Mexican War


 

 
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Chapter VII Pages: 89-91

The forces in service during this war numbered:

Regulars...................................31,024
Volunteers and rangers............... ..60,659
Militia.......................................12,601
                                                           _________
Total......................................104,284 (106)

The maximum number of Mexican troops was only about 46,000. (107) The cost of the war to the United States amounted to $88,500,208.38, (108) and up to June 30, 1914, no less than $48,693, 102.18 had been paid in pensions on its account. (109)

This war is principally notable for the marked change in the military policy as evinced by the abandonment of the militia as the "great bulwark of national defense" and the increased use of regulars and volunteers, especially the latter. (110) When it is remembered that the military organization and operations were conducted under laws almost identical with those prevailing in the War of 1812, (111) it is the more surprising that such remarkable successes should have characterized the later war in contrast to the ignominious failures of the earlier struggle. (112) The solution is to be found in the different quality of the troops as a whole, in the better discipline and training, and in the employment of a larger number of professional officers. Indeed General Scott himself attributed the shortness of the war to the last cause. (113)

On the other hand, it must be distinctly borne in mind that the failure of Congress and the President to fix the term of enlistment "for the war" narrowly escaped being fatal to Scott's ultimate success, (114) and it involved the totally unnecessary death and wounding of nearly 2,000 men, (115) for both of which the Government was alone to blame. Moreover, for lack of an organization which could be expanded at the beginning of war, General Taylor was forced to fight his first battles with only 2,300 regular troops, whereas under an expansive system he could have had 8,000. Scott's army at Vera Cruz could have been augmented to 15,000 and, had it not been for the expiring enlistments, he could have entered the enemy's capital immediately after the battle of Cerro Gordo. (116) At no time did his maximum strength exceed 13,500 (117) and, when he did actually fight his way into the city, his army was reduced to about 6,000 men. (118) In view of his isolation in the midst of a hostile country, the slowness with which re-enforcements were sent him (119) was little short of criminal. Viewed from any angle, the success of the war was in nowise attributable to the legislative or executive wisdom of the Government, and what business man would venture to claim that the manager of a company or corporation could, or ought to, be retained, who was unable to keep more than 21,000 men at work at any given time in spite of his having over 91,000 at his disposal? Yet such was the way that our Government managed the Mexican War. (120)

FOOTNOTES (106-120) ON CHAPTER VII Page: 89-91

106. Upton, pp. 215-216 and 221.

107. Alphabetical List of Battles, 1754-1900, pp. 236-237. This work was compiled from official records by Newton A. Strait.

108. Report of the Secretary of the Treasury, June 30, 1914, p. 237.

108. Report of the Secretary of the Treasury, June 30, 1914, p. 237.

109. Reports of the Commissioner of Pensions, June 30, 1913, p. 10, and June 30, 1914, p.33.

110.            War of 1812
Regular...................................56,032
Militia....................................458,463
Volunteers and rangers................13,159
                                                     __________
                             Total...............527,654

                 Mexican War
Regular...................................31,024
Militia......................................12,601
Volunteers and rangers.......... ......60,659
                                                    __________
                              Total...............104,284

Percentage of total number of troops employed:

                War of 1812
Regular..........................9.3
Militia...........................88.7
Volunteers and rangers........2

               Mexican War
Regular..........................30
Militia.............................12
Volunteers and rangers.. .....58

The above figures differ somewhat from those given by Upton, p. 221. Incidentally it may be remarked that a larger percentage of regulars was used in the Mexican War than in any other, the Philippine War alone excepted.

111. Upton, p. 195.

112. "In the first war, relying upon the States instead of appealing directly to the people as intended by the Constitution, Congress became a witness of disasters like those which occurred in the Revolution; in the second, the national troops, organized and supported by Congress, achieved a series of victories unmarred by a single defeat.

"In one war, an army of more than 6,000 raw troops, posted in the defense of our own capital, fled with a loss of but 19 killed and wounded; in the other a force of less than 5,000 trained volunteers, supported by a few regular troops, overthrew a Mexican army of four times its number.

"In one war, an enemy numbering less than 5,000 men baffled all of our efforts at invasion; in the other our army, with less than 6,000 combatants, entered in triumph the enemy's capital." Upton, p. 222.

113. "I give it as my fixed opinion that but for our graduated cadets the war between the United States and Mexico might, and probably would, have lasted some four or five years, with, in its first half, more defeats than victories falling to our share; whereas in less than two campaigns we conquered a great country and a peace without the loss of a single battle or skirmish." Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy, I, p. 11.

114. See above, pp. 86-87.

115. The total losses of the American army in the battles of August and September which ended in the capture of the City of Mexico were 2,703 (page 601), footnote 100). If the actions of September 12th, 13th and 14th, in which the casualties were 862, be charged up to Scott's consent to the armistice, the net result is still 1,841.

116. See pages 86-87.

117. Scott's Autobiography, II, p. 420.

118. Page 601, footnote 102.

119. Page 601, footnote 103.

120. Taylor reached his maximum force__6,645__at Monterey (page 597, footnote 44); Scott attained his__13,500__at Vera Cruz, making a total of 20,145.

The regulars in service during the war numbered.........................31,024
Volunteers (exclusive of men enlisted for three or six months).........60,659
                                                                                                            _________
                                             Total...........................................91,683

The number of regulars was thus nearly five times that of Taylor's greatest strength. The total number of regulars and volunteers who were enlisted for twelve months or for the war was nine times as large as the effective force with which Scott began his operations against the enemy's capital on August 7, 1846. See pages 87-88.

A mass of statistics relating to this war and some enlightening deductions therefrom are given by Upton, pp. 215-222.

 

Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Troops Employed During the Mexican War
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina

Source:

BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my collection of Books: The Military Unpreparedness of the United States- A History of American Land Forces from Colonial Times until June 1, 1915. By Frederic Louis Huidekoper; Publisher: The Macmillan Company-New York 1916
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