The Junior Officers of the Mexican-War...

5fish

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Here an article by the Smithsonian about the junior military leadership we sent to fight the Mexican-American war... it a good little article...


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Though neither Scott nor Taylor nor their division commanders learned the military art at the U.S. Military Academy, virtually every junior officer in the Mexican campaign—more than five hundred of them—had. Under Sylvanus Thayer, who became superintendent in 1817, and his protégé Dennis Hart Mahan, the academy became more than just a fine engineering school. In accord with legislation Congress passed in 1812, the course of studies at West Point required cadets to master all the skills not only of an officer, but of a private and a noncommissioned officer as well.

It made for a revolution in military education. Mahan, an advocate for turning the military into a profession equal to that of physicians or attorneys, had completed a fundamental study of the art of war, which he would publish in 1847. The first American professional military journals—the Army and Navy Chronicle, the Military and Naval Magazine and the Military Magazine—all started publication between 1835 and 1839.

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The academy graduates proved extraordinary in Mexico (and even more so in their subsequent careers in a far more bloody conflict). When Scott landed at Veracruz, his junior officers included not only Grant, but also Robert E. Lee (USMA 1829; commanding general, Army of Northern Virginia, 1862). Captain Lee led his division through the “impassible ravines” to the north of the Mexican position at Cerro Gordo and turned the enemy’s left flank. The path to Mexico City, over the 10,000-foot pass of Río Frío, was mapped by First Lieutenant P.G.T. Beauregard (USMA 1838; general, Army of the Mississippi, 1861) and First Lieutenant George Gordon Meade (USMA 1835; commanding general, Army of the Potomac, 1863). Captain (soon enough Major) Lee found the best route to the relatively undefended southwestern corner of Mexico City, through a huge lava field known as the pedregal that was thought to be impassible; American engineers—accompanied by First Lieutenant George McClellan (USMA 1846; commanding general, U.S. Army, 1861)—improved it into a military road in two days, under regular artillery fire. The Molino del Rey, a mill that Scott mistakenly thought was being converted into a cannon foundry during a cease-fire, was occupied, after some of the bloodiest fighting of the war, by Lieutenant Grant and First Lieutenant Robert Anderson (USMA 1825)

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So it’s scarcely surprising that when the final attack on Chapultepec Castle began on that September morning in 1847, one of the columns was led by Lieutenant Colonel Joe Johnston (USMA 1829; commanding general, Army of Tennessee, 1863). Or that, when the Americans were pinned down after they’d fought to the top of the hill, Second Lieutenant Thomas J. Jackson (USMA 1846; lieutenant general and corps commander, Army of Northern Virginia, 1862), commanding two six-pounder cannon at the far left of the American line, rushed forward in support. As he did so, a storming party of 250 men reached the base of the castle wall and threw scaling ladders against the 12-foot-high fortification. There, Captain Lewis A. Armistead (USMA, 1838, though he never graduated; brigadier general, Army of Northern Virginia, 1863) was wounded; so was the officer carrying the regimental colors of the 8th Infantry, First Lieutenant James Longstreet (USMA 1842; lieutenant general, Army of Northern Virginia, 1862), which were then taken by Second Lieutenant George E. Pickett (USMA 1846; major general, Army of Northern Virginia, 1862). In an hour, the castle was taken.

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see who was with Grant on top of the church...

What the Mexican War created, more than territory or myth, was men. More than a dozen future Civil War generals stood in front of Chapultepec Castle in 1847—not just the ones already named, but First Lieutenant Simon Bolivar Bruckner (USMA 1844; brigadier general, Army of Central Kentucky, 1862), who fought alongside Grant at Molino del Rey and would surrender Fort Donelson to him in 1862; Second Lieutenant Richard H. Anderson (USMA 1842; lieutenant general, Army of Northern Virginia 1863); Major John Sedgwick (USMA 1837; major general, Army of the Potomac 1863), the highest-ranking Union Army officer killed during the Civil War; Major George B. Crittenden (USMA 1832; major general, Army of Central Kentucky, 1862); Second Lieutenant A.P. Hill (USMA 1846; lieutenant general, Army of Northern Virginia, 1863); and Major John C. Pemberton, (USMA 1837; lieutenant general, Army of Mississippi, 1862), who joined Grant in the steeple of the church at San Cosmé and defended Vicksburg against him 16 years later



 

5fish

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Here are two cavalry regiment the Davis regiments... training before the war... read the link to learn the ending...


snip...

The brief and insignificant tussle at Solomon’s Fork was just one in a series of Army-Indian clashes involving the 1st Cavalry and its brother regiment, the 2nd Cavalry, in the half dozen years preceding the Civil War. And Jeb Stuart was just one of a remarkable number of future Union and Confederate generals who fought Indians together on the western plains before fighting each other in battlefields back east a few years later. Included on the regimental rosters were such future luminaries as Lee, Stuart, Albert Sidney Johnston, Joseph Johnston, George Thomas, John Bell Hood, Edmund Kirby Smith, Earl Van Dorn, William Hardee, and John Sedgwick. A stray arrow here or there might well have changed the entire course of the Civil War.

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The illustrious 1st and 2nd Cavalry Regiments were the particular brainchild of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, who lobbied President Franklin Pierce long and hard for their creation. Davis and Pierce had served with many of the regiments’ officers in the recent successful war with Mexico. But then-President James K. Polk, having won a singular victory in the Mexican War and increased the nation’s size by more than one million square miles, reduced the volunteer-swollen army’s temporary size to its congressionally mandated peacetime size of 13,821 men. In June 1853, five years after the Mexican War, the army had fewer than 7,000 men on active duty in the West—124 soldiers for each of the Army’s 54 western outposts.
 

5fish

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Here a good article about future Junior Officers that in the 1st and 2nd Cavalry Division out West before the war... their battles...


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In all, 29 officers from the 1st and 2nd Cavalry would become generals in the Civil War. Robert E. Lee, of course, was the most prominent, leading the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia into military immortality. His commanding colonel on the frontier, Albert Sidney Johnston, would also become a full general in the Confederacy before dying early in the war at the Battle of Shiloh, his great promise largely unfulfilled.

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Three other members of the two cavalry regiments would achieve the rank of full general in the Confederacy: Joseph E. Johnston, John Bell Hood, and Edmund Kirby Smith. Each man’s career would end in failure. Johnston was removed from command by Jefferson Davis after failing to prevent Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s relentless advance to Atlanta. Hood was similarly dismissed and reduced in rank to lieutenant general after dismally losing the Battles of Franklin and Nashville in the late fall of 1864. Smith had the distasteful task of surrendering the Confederacy’s last Trans-Mississippi army at Galveston, Texas, in June 1865. Serving as Confederate major generals during the war were William Hardee, Fitzhugh Lee, and Charles Field.

snip... union side...

Union Army veterans of the prewar western cavalry units also provided a mixed bag of victories and defeats. George McClellan, whose service with the frontier cavalry was mainly on paper (he resigned his commission in 1857 to go into the railroad business), later rose to command the Union Army of the Potomac against Robert E. Lee, winning the crucial Battle of Antietam in September 1862 before being sacked by an exasperated Abraham Lincoln shortly afterward for insufficient aggressiveness Edwin Vose Sumner, the rough-hewn commander of the 1st Cavalry, served as a corps commander under McClellan at Antietam, where he ironically was criticized for leading his division “like a colonel of cavalry” instead of remaining at the rear like other two-star major generals. George H. Thomas, one of the few native Southerners from the western cavalry to remain in the Union Army during the Civil War, won fame as “the Rock of Chickamauga,” where his stubborn stand helped save the Union Army of the Cumberland from total destruction. Thomas later led the same army to a smashing victory over his old comrade-in-arms John Bell Hood at the Battle of Nashville. Fellow 1st Cavalry Major John Sedgwick later served as a major general in the Union Army of the Potomac, where he achieved a certain mordant immortality at the Battle of Spotsylvania in May 1864, shaming his soldiers for ducking and dodging Confederate sniper fire. Major General Samuel Sturgis, who served as a captain under Sedgwick in the 1st Cavalry, won a signal victory for the North at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in March 1862, a victory that preserved Union control of Missouri for the remainder of the war. Other Union major generals who had served on the western frontier included George Stoneman, Thomas J. Wood, and David S. Stanley—the same Stanley whose life Jeb Stuart saved at the Battle of Solomon’s Fork in 1857, when Stuart nearly lost his own in the process.
 
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