Devotion to the Adopted Country
U.S. Immigrant Volunteers in the Mexican War
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Missouri Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
In December 1846, over seven months after the first shots of the U.S.-Mexican War, the federal government finally called on Pennsylvania to send volunteer troops to the conflict. As the designated assembly point for the state’s soldiers, Pittsburgh became the center of the state’s attention, watching company after company of eager volunteers march in and set up camp. The city’s Democratic newspaper, the Pittsburgh Post, took particular notice of the units filled with German ...
Chapter 1: “To Stop the Mouths of Mendacious Croakers” : Defeating Nativists through Enlistment
On May 23, 1846, the St. Louis Catholic News-Letter passed along a troubling report to its readers. The editors related a recent conversation with a man just arrived from New Orleans. The anonymous source informed the News-Letter of a storm brewing in New Orleans over the supposed antiwar preaching of several Catholic clergy. The Catholic population of the Crescent City feared that even mere rumors of such activity might incite violence against Catholic churches. ...
Chapter 2: The Most Valuable Men: Immigrants on Campaign in Mexico
While volunteers gathered in cities and towns across the United States in the spring of 1846, the nation’s military and political leadership began laying the groundwork for the coming campaigns. To President James K. Polk, General Zachary Taylor, and other leading figures, conciliating Mexican civilians ranked as a high priority of wartime military policy. They were especially sensitive to this issue, knowing that massive popular resistance could prove fatal to U.S. troops ...
Chapter 3: Defending the Fatherland: Proving Loyalty in Combat
In June 1847, the German Catholic community of Cincinnati gathered to mourn the death of First Lieutenant Matthew Hett. Hett had perished at the Battle of Monterrey the previous September while fighting with the First Ohio Regiment of Volunteers, but his funeral was delayed until the discharge of his comrades from the service in spring 1847, at which time they brought his body home with them. On June 29, Hett’s company, the German Lafayette Guard, accompanied his corpse to ...
Chapter 4: “A Most Disgraceful and Violent Encounter” : Damage Control of the Jasper Greens Riot
On September 22, 1846, from his camp near Camargo, Mexico, assistant quartermaster Franklin Smith noted in his diary the departure of a pack train loaded with specie. He also mentioned that General William Patterson had ordered 250 men from Colonel Henry Jackson’s First Regiment of Georgia Volunteers to accompany the train for protection. Smith described these soldiers as “fine looking men” and “the choice companies” of their regiment, including “the...
Chapter 5: “Eminent and Beloved Chaplains” : Father John McElroy and Anthony Rey in the Army
On May 19, 1846, President James K. Polk sat down for a meeting with some of his cabinet to discuss the prosecution of the war with Mexico. During the course of that conversation, Secretary of State James Buchanan arrived at the president’s office to introduce New York’s Bishop John Hughes. Polk had invited the bishop to Washington in order to secure his assistance “in disabusing the minds of the Catholic priests and people of Mexico in regard to what they most...
Chapter 6: Laurels Won by Adopted Citizens: Ethnic Memory of the War
Unlike others from St. Louis’s German community, the Jaegers did not get a chance to see much of Mexico. Since they signed up before the official call upon Missouri for volunteers, this volunteer company in the First Missouri Regiment of Volunteers, known as the St. Louis Legion, had only agreed to serve six months, as did hundreds of other volunteers from Louisiana, Texas, and Alabama. General Taylor found little use for men who would depart for home so soon, and ...
Depending on their circumstances (those disabled from military service could ask for a pension at any time), veterans of the U.S.-Mexican War and their widows began applying for pensions to the U.S. government in the 1880s. Hundreds of ethnic veterans and widows joined in this process, sometimes revealing their memories of the war. In a few cases, these memories shed light on how ethnic volunteers viewed their service and the war in general. ...
Page Count: 179
Illustrations: 2 maps, 10
Publication Year: 2012
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Devotion to the Adopted Country