Wars within War: Mexican Guerrillas, Domestic Elites, and the United States of America, 1846-1848

Wars within War: Mexican Guerrillas, Domestic Elites, and the United States of America, 1846-1848

Wars within War: Mexican Guerrillas, Domestic Elites, and the United States of America, 1846-1848

Wars within War: Mexican Guerrillas, Domestic Elites, and the United States of America, 1846-1848

Synopsis

Traditional characterizations of the 1846-1848 war between the United States and Mexico emphasize the conventional battles waged between two sovereign nations. However, two little-known guerrilla wars taking place at the same time proved critical to the outcome of the conflict. Using information from twenty-four archives, including the normally closed files of Mexico's National Defense Archives, Wars Within War breaks new ground by arguing that these other conflicts proved crucial to the course of events. In the first struggle, a force organized by the Mexican army launched a prolonged campaign against the supply lines connecting the port of Veracruz to US forces advancing upon Mexico City. In spite of US efforts to destroy the partisans' base of support, these armed Mexicans remained a significant threat as late as January 1848.Concurrently, rebellions of class and race erupted among Mexicans, an offshoot of the older struggle between a predominantly criollo elite that claimed European parentage and the indigenous population excluded from participation in the nation's political and economic life. Many of Mexico's powerful, propertied citizens were more afraid of their fellow Mexicans than of the invaders from the north. By challenging their rulers, guerrillas forced Mexico's government to abandon further resistance to the United States, changing the course of the war and Mexican history.

Excerpt

History knows no resting places and no plateaus .

Henry Kissinger

Some forty-one miles west of Mexico City lies the state capital of Toluca de Lerdo. On January 18, 1848, that community’s city council met in a time of war. During the council’s discussion about a group of local citizens who recently left the city to wage partisan warfare against the United States Army, the legislators noted that these volunteers were not fighting those invaders. Instead, they had joined forces under the command of General Juan Álvarez, who was combating other Mexicans then in rebellion against the federal government. Without surprise, council members acknowledged that Mexicans waged war against each other while a foreign army of occupation held the nation’s nearby capital.

Traditional characterizations of the 1846–48 war as a conflict between two sovereign states pay only slight heed to such events. Such histories provide a flawed record of that conflict; several wars took place during these years.

The longest and most important of these conflicts was among Mexicans. This clash consisted not of the occasional coups that flared into existence at several points during the war, but reflected the older struggle between a predominantly criollo elite that claimed European or “white” parentage and the majority of the population that was forcibly excluded from meaningful participation in the nation’s political and economic life.

In its various manifestations, this conflict remains a crucial factor of Mexican history. Each of the more prominent and violent episodes in this . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.