How America Fought Its Wars: Military Strategy from the American Revolution to the Civil War

By Victor Brooks; Robert Hohwald | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 18
Sam Houston's War

The Texas Campaign in the
Mexican-American Conflict

The American war with Mexico has always occupied a controversial place in the historical consciousness of the United States. The conflict has been alternately condemned as a wicked war of aggression against a weaker neighbor and justified as an inevitable phase in the expansion of a freedom loving democracy. However, no matter which of these interpretations is closer to the reality of the event, the real confrontation between the two rival republics did not begin with the mutual declarations of war during the Spring of 1846, but more than 10 years earlier when the largely American settlers in Texas revolted against an increasingly aggressive government in Mexico City. Ironically, while most Americans of the 20th century have shown little interest in the formal war between the United States and Mexico, the struggle for Texan independence evokes a number of emotional images. The exploits of Jim Bowie, William Travis, Davy Crockett and Sam Houston have been chronicled in films, television programs and dramatic pageants, while the later activities of Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott are largely ignored. Thus a comprehensive assessment of this conflict should probably focus on the war as a three phase confrontation which included the Texas revolution, the initial operations of the American army to secure the Texas border and gain a foothold in Northern Mexico, and finally, the expedition to capture the enemy capital and "conquer a peace."

The seeds of the Texas revolution and the subsequent American conflict with Mexico were sown during the 1820's when a newly independent Mexican republic decided to stimulate growth in its northern province of Texas by encouraging foreigners to settle in the region. The laws of 1824 and 1825 invited foreigners to establish themselves in the province by offering 4428 acres of land to each family for a minimal payment of $30. Soon "Texas fever" was sweeping the American states as land hungry citizens took

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