The American and Mexican Armies during the Mexican War

The Mexican war resulted from the determination of the United States to annex Texas from Mexico. Earlier, Texans had had  a revolution that technically made them independent from Mexico. And thus, the United States took the opportunity to expand its territory beyond the state of New Mexico. The war broke out  in spring 1846 when  the United States army strategically occupied the states of New Mexico and California before unleashing an amphibious attack on Mexico. By fall the following year, the war ended with various parts of Mexico, including Mexico City, falling under the custody of United States soldiers. It was a show of military might and determination by the United States to significantly expand its territory. This paper evaluates and contrasts the American and  Mexican armies during the Mexican war. It elucidates some of the false steps as well as strategies that led to the cessation of the war.

It is a foregone conclusion that Mexican army was ill-equipped for the Mexican war. The country had just attained its independence from the Spaniards and was still reeling from internal rivalries and mistrust. In fact, it was only their unanimous desire to attain independence that brought them together since  they had been colonized for long. However, the United States, buoyed by the strength of its army, was determined to annex Texas. In response, Mexico made threats of war in case the United States proceeded with its plans of invasion of Mexico. According to scholarly literature, it was a tense moment for both countries as they did not know how the war would end. It was hard to predict the number of civilian casualties that would result from this war. Although the United States felt confident of victory, the prospect of losing its citizens haunted it. Nonetheless, President Polk was convinced that his spirit of Manifest Destiny would make his legacy (Bradfield, 1981)

In Mexico, there was an obvious feeling of vulnerability because the country was weak militarily as well as diplomatically. In fact, the northern part of the country had  already been invaded by Indians. The Indians took advantage of its military weakness to advance deep into the country to steal Mexican livestock. That was already causing tension because Mexico was convinced that the United States was facilitating the raids in order to depict the enemy’s army as inept and ineffective. By the time the United States had eventually invaded the country, its people were too demoralized to put a spirited fight to defend their territorial integrity. In fact, Mexican civilians hardly put any resistance to the US military undertakings in the country. It was only the Mexican soldiers that  were left to fight the US army. Meanwhile, Americans mobilized a large army in their bid to annex Texas from Mexico because they did not anticipated failure. The President’s conviction was a sufficient motivation to the soldiers as they knew that he would reward them handsomely if they emerged victorious. They knew that the Mexican army would definitely fight back, so they strategized on providing maximum protection to their own citizens. Indeed, the Mexican army was true to the Americans’ expectations and  put up a very spirited fight to protect their borders.

The Mexican army went to war with around 20,000 permanent troops that were further grouped in such a way as to present a formidable force against the United States soldiers. They also recruited a further 10,000 militiamen to supplement the efforts of the permanent soldiers in case the United States soldiers seemed to overpower them. According to literature, those additional troops were under the command of the permanent troops and were only supposed to join the war in cases of emergency (Henderson, 2007). In addition, the country strategically posted another 15,000 soldiers on the northern periphery to guard it borders. Overall, the army was coordinated by  experienced general staff and a number of small units instructed to practice what they described as linear tactics as they considered it necessary for their military success. However, cracks began emerging in the army early in the war when the central brigade failed to organize the small units into a coherent military power. There were several proposals to have the small units regroup in a single point, but they were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, the United States army was fast approaching with its military might ready to annex Texas.

The lack of organization forced the war ministry in Mexico to extemporaneously recruit and train new military personnel in order to appear organized against the United States army. However, those groups of people were quite hard to learn tough military techniques and their discipline could not compare to that of fully trained army personnel. Nonetheless, they put up a strong fight and managed to wade off the American intruders, at least for some time. As for  their strategy to use small groups to attack the United States army, the Mexican army was too disorganized to defeat their opponents. The only point where the strategy succeeded was before the eventual loss of Texas. A new division called General Mariano Arista was hastily formed to guard the Rio Grande frontier. According to literature, that division was composed of the most experienced military personnel in the country.

The Mexican army also faced lack of constant supplies as the country did not have adequate government depots. They had just got their independence and were not prepared for war at the time (Eisenhower, 1989). Thus, the government had not built any strategic depots to provide constant supply of essential materials. Most of their supplies were obtained from the neighboring communities, which involved travelling for very long distances. In some cases, they had to use natural foods they got from the forests or go hungry altogether. However, the deficiency was compensated for by allowing soldiers’ families to visit them in the battle field. They helped the soldiers with basic services like sewing their torn clothes, cooking for them as well as cleaning their wounds. Unfortunately, that was not significant because only a few women had the courage to go to the battlefield. Even those who went only stayed for a short time due to fear of surprise attacks.

On the other hand, the US army was considerably more prepared to attack and eventually emerge victorious. They dispatched about 1700 soldiers to Santa Fe and California under the military command of General Kearney. Another group of able men was dispatched to the coast of California under the leadership of Commodore Stockton. The groups were aided by the American settlers and did not take long to capture the area. When Kearny’s group appeared exhausted, Stockton’s grouped moved fast to reinforce them till they both emerged victorious. Later on, they based their army in California even as they continued attacking Mexico. They considered California an ideal place for making their attacks because of its strategic location in between the two countries. While Mexico was fumbling with new trainees in the battlefield, the United States had a well trained army in the ground that could execute some of the most dangerous military techniques at the time. They pushed the Mexican army backwards as they appeared to overwhelm them both in numbers and in military techniques. The United States army was also controlled from a central point and executed their plans with utmost coordination. They also had regular supplies from their country as there were enough depots in New Mexico and California (Bauer, 1974). The soldiers felt adequately motivated because the President always ensured they had everything they needed. In fall 1847, the soldiers captured Mexico City, their prime target. They then moved further inland to Cerro Gordo, where they eventually defeated the Mexican army. However, the war did not end there as civilians joined the war to protect their city. It took the United States army another two weeks to gain full control of the city. It was a tough battle of unequal forces that were forced into war by conflict of national interests.

In conclusion, the Mexican army lost the war due to its lack of organization and poor supplies. Although it was quite numerous and comprised soldiers who were willing to fight, it included lots of newly enlisted men who were trained worse than U.S. army soldiers. Besides, the Mexican army was hardly supported by local population and had to rely only on its own resources. On the contrary, the U.S. army was better trained and better organized, so that it could perform in a coordinated manner and with better efficiency. Besides, it was well supported by Anglophone settlers of the local communities and by government depots.  It was also well-motivated by the President who promised to reward soldiers after the victory. Therefore, the victory of the U.S. army was predictable, although the Mexican army acted with fortitude battles and was able to defeat the enemy in a few important battles.

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