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War cannot for a single minute be separated from politics. MAO TSE-TUNG Neither the partisan warfare waged against the US Army nor the guerrilla revolts challenging the authority of the Mexican state ceased as Scott’s troops entered the national capital on September 14, 1847. Instead, the events of that day only marked the end of the national army’s efforts to defeat the invaders by engaging in traditional cavalry, infantry, and artillery confrontations. Partisan warfare between the two nations continued until March of 1848. Moreover, the fighting between the Mexican regime and many of its most discontented subjects did not end with the fall of Mexico City. Instead, that conflict grew in intensity and urgency. This chapter addresses the course of such events from September 14, 1847, until the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848. The fall of the national capital did not provoke a great anti-US uprising among the millions of campesinos who made up the majority of Mexicans. Practitioners of warfare from Carl von Clausewitz to Mao TseTung , and from Francisco “Pancho” Villa to Emiliano Zapata understood PERFECT ANARCHY Levinson_Wars_text_new_WarsLayoutNew4.11.05 10/18/13 2:08 PM Page 59 that the success of violent resistance to an occupier depended upon the active involvement of rural peasants. During the Mexican Revolution, Zapata succeeded against the coalition led by Venustiano Carranza by relying upon his loyal Morelian campesinos.1 Villa knew that his finest units included many fighters drawn from the lower rungs of northern México’s socio-economic ladder. Mao recognized that in an agriculturally based society, broad and extensive agrarian support stood as the prerequisite for any force seeking change. Even a member of the nobility such as Clausewitz deemed peasants superior to regular soldiers for waging guerrilla warfare.2 But like its colonial predecessors and its Porfirian successors, the 1846–48 administration at Mexico City considered the lower classes good for little more than common labor.3 During the autumn of 1847, those peasants who chose to fight most often fought against their own nation’s government. The loss of the capital and of the tens of thousands of soldiers who tried to defend the city severely weakened the ability of the national government to continue resisting the invader. Also, the loss of the port of Veracruz and the US seizure of other Mexican ports along both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts denied the Mexican government its greatest single source of funding—tariffs. During the fiscal year prior to the start of the war (June 1844 to June 1845), taxes on external commerce totaled 7,033,720 pesos while all other federal taxes, including the alcabala, totaled only 4,161,128 pesos.4 Consequently, the burden of fighting the United States now fell primarily upon the light corps.5 They continued to resist with an ardor little diminished by the loss of Mexico City. As Major John Reese Kenly ruefully noted on September 29, 1847: “If you ever saw a beehive overturned, an uncommon degree of activity moves the busy bee; imagine a half dozen 60 Wars within War Levinson_Wars_text_new_WarsLayoutNew4.11.05 10/18/13 2:08 PM Page 60 hives rudely upset, and instead of bees, guerrillas were the occupants; then you can picture the buzz that was about our post from the swarms of exasperated Mexicans, who, maddened by the loss of their capital, threw themselves on Scott’s communications.”6 To the dismay of the US Army, partisans promptly displayed their ability to wage unconventional warfare in urban as well as rural environments . In Mexico City, partisans took cover in houses and commercial buildings just as they had concealed themselves behind hills and in forests. Back streets and alleyways offered the same opportunity for rapid withdrawal as did foot paths in the countryside. The partisans began their urban warfare within a few hours of the Mexican army’s withdrawal from Mexico City. On the very day that the US commanders entered the city, Colonel Hitchcock found that a sizeable portion of the capital’s civilians were by no means as ready to capitulate as their government. He vividly described the event: The [Mexican] soldiers have left the city, but the populace is attempting what has often been threatened. Before the general [Scott] entered the city and while General Worth was leading his troops toward the plaza, Colonel Garland was badly shot from a Mexican window. The house was instantly fired upon by our artillery...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780875655727
Related ISBN
9780875653020
MARC Record
OCLC
60718455
Pages
216
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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