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Don’t worry John. The history books will clean it up. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TO JOHN ADAMS Inevitably, we attach meanings to the great events of our lives. While individuals often transform those memories into writing, nations build monuments to their chosen and shared recollections. México’s most prominent commemoration of the war begins several yards beyond the point at which the twelve lanes of Mexico City’s Paseo de la Reforma turn west into Chapultepec Park. There, visitors pass through a tall, imposing wrought iron gate and walk down a straight stone esplanade more than sixty feet wide that reaches the Altar de la Patria. In front of a massive curved marble wall stands a statue of two grim-visaged figures. The first, a woman with hair braided in an indígena manner, stares into the distance. Beside her, a statute of a young, athletic man looks over the visitor. The metaphorical representation is a mature patria and a young nación focusing beyond the scene of immense tragedy. Overall, the effect is sobering. North of the Rio Grande, the most noted commemoration of the war is not a great monument, but Carlos Nebel’s painting entitled General Scott’s Entrance into Mexico City.1 (See page 113.) On the left side of the CONCLUSION Levinson_Wars_text_new_WarsLayoutNew4.11.05 10/18/13 2:09 PM Page 115 canvas, serried ranks of cavalry stand at attention in front of the national cathedral. In the upper portion of the picture, an oversized US flag flies from the roof of the National Palace. In the foreground, Scott and a party of his senior officers, all mounted and resplendent in dress uniform, survey the scene. Nebel’s painting implies a definitive and victorious conclusion. That implication and many additional widely held assumptions about this war are false. Perhaps the greatest such myth is the contention that only one war took place from 1846 to 1848. In reality, both the partisan struggle waged against the US Army and the guerrilla revolt launched against the elitist regime changed the course of history. The breadth and ferocity of the ethnically and economically based campesino uprising compelled the 116 Wars within War Sculptor Ernesto Tamariz’s monumental work honors those who fell in México’s defense. Like the painting of Scott’s entrance into Mexico City, less tidy realities remain unseen. Ernesto Tamariz, Altar de la patria. Chapultepec Park, Mexico City. Levinson_Wars_text_new_WarsLayoutNew4.11.05 10/18/13 2:09 PM Page 116 Mexican elite to abandon considerations of future resistance to the United States and to refocus military efforts upon restoring their own hegemony. Partisan warfare also altered the United States’ priorities and attitudes. The guerrilla struggle against the US Army along the Veracruz–Mexico City corridor and in the northern part of the country proved to both Scott and Taylor that continued occupation would be a difficult and bloody task. The Chihuahuans who defended Santa Cruz de Rosales demonstrated that ordinary Mexicans who had not yet become warriors would fight if provoked. The most powerful arguments for assigning such great importance to the partisan movements flow not only from field reports, but also from the evidence provided by the highest-ranking officials of both national governments . In the case of the guerrillas fighting the Mexican government, Minister of War and Marine Luis de la Rosa acknowledged that, by the end 117 Conclusion One war ends—General Winfield Scott reviews his victorious troops after the fall of Mexico City—the other wars continued. Carlos Nebel, General Scott’s Entrance into Mexico City on 14 September 1847, 1851, Oil on canvas, Museo Nacional de las Intervenciones. Reproducción Autorizada por el Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. Levinson_Wars_text_new_WarsLayoutNew4.11.05 10/18/13 2:09 PM Page 117 of 1848, the Mexican state was setting more soldiers against other Mexicans than the national army deployed against the foreign invaders during the 1847 campaign in the Valley of México.2 That level of fighting represented not disorder or anarchy, but civil war. In the case of the partisan resistance to the US Army, General-in-Chief Winfield Scott bluntly told his superiors that an indefinite occupation would result in the coalescence of a national resistance movement (no doubt led by the light corps that he signally failed to eliminate). General Zachary Taylor acknowledged his own failure to destroy the partisan forces in northern México and concluded that a unilateral withdrawal to the Rio Grande–Alta California...


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