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Both politically and commercially, we have the deepest interest in her [México’s] regeneration and prosperity. Indeed, it is impossible that, with any just regard to our own safety, we can ever become indifferent to her fate. JAMES K. POLK For many, the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848, marked the end of the war. In this construct, the fighting ceased and the US Army remained in México while the two nations subsequently agreed to minor changes in this pact. Following the joint ratification of the revised treaty, the invaders departed, and the conflict receded into the past. That notion, however, is incomplete and inaccurate. Although the treaty and the subsequent armistice of March 6, 1848, ended the violence between the two national armies, other armed conflicts occurring throughout México did not cease. During the remainder of that year, campesino and indígena alienation continued to explode into geographically diffuse rebellions against the Mexican government. The United States responded to these uprisings by aiding the elite that stood at the apex of México’s socio-economic and political structure. The United UNITED AGAINST THE MAJORITY Levinson_Wars_text_new_WarsLayoutNew4.11.05 10/18/13 2:09 PM Page 87 States did so because the continued existence of that regime remained a necessity for both the legitimization of US territorial conquest and for the establishment of a cooperative post-war Mexican government. The only violence ended by the treaty and the consequent armistice was the conflict between those forces under the commands of the two national governments. The major guerrilla formations along the Veracruz–Mexico City line served under officers authorized to command by the provisions of Substitute President Pedro María Anaya’s proclamation of April 28, 1847.1 Only those deemed loyal to the state and the social order had received permission to lead these units. With just two exceptions, their commanders complied with the terms of the armistice. From February 2, 1848, until the final US withdrawal on September 6, 1848, substantial partisan forces attacked only two supply trains. On February 18, 200 Mexican lancers blocked a force of ninety US Army cavalry escorting several wagons from Veracruz to Orizaba. After estimating the total Mexican force in the immediate vicinity to be between 400 and 500 men, Lieutenant Walter L. Biscoe rapidly returned to Veracruz. He set his own losses at five men slain while claiming twenty-five partisan deaths.2 In the far north during that same month, a guerrilla force estimated at 500 New Mexicans, Apaches, and Comanches attacked a US column of at least 200 troops in the vicinity of El Paso.3 The Mexicans killed twenty soldiers, took most of the mules and horses, and killed the oxen. The US troops abandoned their wagons. Although both of these attacks took place after the February 2, 1848, signing of the peace treaty, they nonetheless occurred before the subsequent armistice agreement was signed on March 6, 1848. After that date, Mexican guerrillas no longer challenged any large US convoy. For example, on April 16, 1848, a train of some 400 wagons, 3,500 pack mules, 88 Wars within War Levinson_Wars_text_new_WarsLayoutNew4.11.05 10/18/13 2:09 PM Page 88 and 450 sick and wounded soldiers reached Veracruz from Mexico City having “experienced no opposition from guerilleros or others.”4 By contrast , the convoys traveling the same route in 1847 had suffered substantial and repeated attacks. Two days after the arrival of this convoy, a return train of 3,000 pack mules, 200 wagons, and an artillery battery also traveled that same route without being attacked.5 Clearly, most of the light corps commanders of the Mexican army who operated along the Veracruz–Mexico City corridor obeyed their orders to cease hostilities. Some did so with great regret. One partisan commander and army general, Joaquín Rea, found himself so embittered by this turn of events that he requested his passport to leave “our moribund patria,” whose defense “we had abandoned.”6 However, two of the light corps commanders did not comply with the armistice and continued to fight independently of the campesino-based agrarian rebels. Most prominently, Padre Celedonio de Jarauta and Manuel Montano denounced the peace treaty and vowed to remain at war. Even after suffering severe losses at the hands of a US force on February 28, 1848, Jarauta led 300 cavalry and fifty infantry into Zacualtipán, México, and proclaimed his intention to continue the...


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