"Texas Rangers, Presidential War Powers, and the Mexico City Campaign, 1847–8 (Part 2)" by Benjamin J. Swenson, PhD

In the summer of 1847, using presidential powers authorized by Congress, US Commander-in-Chief James K. Polk sent a mounted regiment of Texas Rangers under Colonel John Coffee “Jack” Hays to Mexico to confront guerrillas attacking US Army convoys between Veracruz and Mexico City. Accompanying that force, which contributed to lifting a siege against a small US Army garrison in the city of Puebla, was Polk’s younger brother, William H. Polk, who had recently resigned his post as chargé d’affaires of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in Naples. The force was sent in response to a request submitted in April by General Winfield Scott, the commander of the campaign to seize the Mexican capital. However, what Scott did not know was that federal officials authorized the regiment to enter the war as militia operating under a semi-separate set of laws governing military conduct – which was another indication of Polk’s tendency to micromanage the war to Scott’s consternation. Three months after…

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Texas Rangers, Polk's Presidential War Powers, and Mexico City Campaign, 1847–8 (Part 1)

In late April of 1847, at the height of the Mexican-American War, General Winfield Scott, the commander of the campaign to seize Mexico City, asked General Zachary Taylor for mounted units to fight guerrillas attacking U.S. supply convoys along the vital logistics route stretching from Veracruz to Puebla. Scott did not specifically request Texans but simply wrote he needed “a competent fighting force” of cavalry units. Having experienced cavalry-centric “Indian” warfare for a generation in the borderlands, the Texas Rangers were aptly suited for the role. Motivated and hardened after years of defending the Republic of Texas the frontier fighters were authorized by federal officials to enter the war as militia operating under a semi-separate set of laws governing military conduct. This designation legally complicated the population-centric counterinsurgency efforts Scott and West Point-trained officers were attempting to instill within the U.S. Army. The dichotomy between the…

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US Army COIN Doctrine Origins: Mexican-American War, 1846-8 (Part 2)

Open for Business and Scattering Gold: U.S. Occupation of Mexico City and Army Counterinsurgency Doctrine, 1847-8 (Part Two)During the Mexican-American War (1846–48) the U.S. Army implemented an innovative population-centric strategy designed to mitigate animus among Mexicans and reduce the potential for guerrilla warfare in occupied areas. The decision to eschew the traditional practice of forced requisitions, informed U.S. Army counterinsurgency methods for years to come – including in the Philippines. Other policies included paying for goods at equitable market rates, facilitating trade between the capital and coastal region by protecting conveys from guerrilla attacks, rescinding the alcabala tax directed at poorer Mexicans seeking to sell their goods in areas controlled by the U.S. Army, and respecting the property rights of Mexicans. These policies were implemented throughout U.S. occupied Mexico but were particularly important to success in Mexico’s large metropolis.[1]The…

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"Why War in 1812?" by Jim Gallen, JD

Why did the United States go to War in 1812?  What compelled this nation, less than thirty years from its War of Independence with a vast wilderness awaiting development and hostile Indians beyond its frontiers, choose to take on its former colonial Mother Country?  This was a war sought by the United States, not Great Britain.  Engaged in a series of Coalitions against existential threats posed by Revolutionary and Napoleonic France, Britain had no appetite for a third war in North America in sixty years.  In an age in which news traveled no more rapidly than the fastest ship or horse, British offers to placate American demands were insufficient to keep swords sheathed.  So, what were the issues that drove these eighteen loosely United States to prod the Imperial Lion while it was striking in another direction?  The United States contained sections with diverse interests.  Several issues have been advanced as sufficient casus belli.  America was a trading nation whose economy had…

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1 Reply · Reply by Benjamin J. Swenson Apr 2
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US Army COIN Doctrine Origins: Mexican-American War, 1846-8 (Part I)

Open for Business and Scattering Gold: U.S. Occupation of Mexico City and Army Counterinsurgency Doctrine, 1847-1848 (Part One)If difficult military occupations, which often devolve into violent insurgencies, are reflections of the intensity of animus existing between belligerents during war, then the U.S. Army’s occupation of Mexico City is a case study in conciliating a conquered capital. The occupation that began in the fall of 1847 and lasted roughly a year reached a high level of amity between the invading army and citizenry. Particularly important to U.S. rule over Mexico’s massive city was the continuation of local commerce buttressed by policies allowing Mexicans to police their own people while simultaneously subject to martial law under the jurisdiction of U.S. forces. General Winfield Scott’s benign counterinsurgency initiatives for military occupation, informed by Henry W. Halleck’s study of the guerrilla insurgency in Spain against Napoleon (1808-1814), would go on to…

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"Road to Revolution: The French and Indian War Ends, 10 February 1763" by Scott Lyons

The French and Indian War, fought from 28 May 1754 to 10 February 1763, was a pivotal moment in American history. The war was given its name by the colonists "after the people they were fighting in North America." (Lepore 2018, 77) Although it is often viewed as a mere theatre of the larger Seven Years' War, it was an important driver of the revolutionary fervour that would eventually lead to the American War of Independence. From the struggle to control the early-American frontier to the influence of colonial militias, the French and Indian War provided the backdrop against which America emerged as a nascent nation. One of the key effects of the French and Indian War was the way it solidified colonial identity and helped unify colonists across regions. While a sense of shared identity and purpose had emerged over time, it was the experience of fighting against a common enemy that helped crystallize the idea of an American identity. The war also served as a training ground for many of…

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The War of 1812: a few of the best titles still available

The War of 1812 is a fascinating period in American history, and there are many great books that explore this conflict in detail. Here are some of the best books on the War of 1812: The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict by Donald R. Hickey - This book is considered one of the most comprehensive and authoritative accounts of the War of 1812. It covers the political and military aspects of the war, as well as the social and cultural changes that took place during this time. Hickey's work is available for Kindle and by select sellers on Amazon. Purchase here for Kindle       1812: The War That Forged a Nation by Walter R. Borneman - This book provides a gripping narrative of the war, with a focus on the personalities and actions of the key players involved. It also explores the impact of the war on American society and culture. By Harper Perennial, this work is still in print today in softcover, or paperback. Purchase your new copy here on Amazon       The Civil War of 1812:…

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27 April - 13 May 1805: To the Shores of Tripoli: The Battle of Derna (North Africa)

Above: First Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon, USMC (with raised rifle) at Derna. Source: Colonel Charles Waterhouse, U.S. Marines (Marine Corps Art Collection). Public Domain. The Battle of Derna was fought and won during the First Barbary War, also known as the Tripolitan War and the Barbary Coast War, a conflict that pitted the United States against Tripolitania over trade disputes. At the time, it was common practice for Tripolitian pirates to raid merchant ships passing through the Mediterranean sea and hold them for ransom. European powers had long been paying tribute to the pirates in exchange for safe passage for their ships, but the United States, under the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, refused to do so. In order to put an end to the piracy issue once and for all, Jefferson dispatched a naval fleet to the Mediterranean. However, the mission faced challenges due to a shortage of troops on the ground. Enter William Eaton, a diplomat to Tripoli, and Presley O'Bannon, a First…

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One of the classic works on the War of 1812

The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict, Bicentennial Edition by Donald R Hickey (Author) 2012 by University of Illinois Press. 454 pages, softcover. Buy here on Amazon From the publisher: "This comprehensive and authoritative history of the War of 1812, thoroughly revised for the 200th anniversary of the historic conflict, is a myth-shattering study that will inform and entertain students, historians, and general readers alike. Donald R. Hickey explores the military, diplomatic, and domestic history of our second war with Great Britain, bringing the study up to date with recent scholarship on all aspects of the war, from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. The newly expanded The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict, Bicentennial Edition includes additional information on the British forces, American Indians, and military operations such as the importance of logistics and the use and capabilities of weaponry. Hickey explains how the war promoted American nationalism and manifest destiny,…

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American Revolutionary War Battles


  • April 19 - Battles of Lexington & Concord, MA
  • April 19, 1775-March 17, 1776 - Siege of Boston, MA
  • May 10 - Capture of Fort Ticonderoga, NY
  • June 11-12 - Battle of Machias, MA/ME
  • June 17 - Battle of Bunker Hill, MA
  • September 17-November 3 - Siege of Fort St. Jean, CA
  • September 19-November 9 - Arnold Expedition, ME/CA
  • December 9 - Battle of Great Bridge, VA
  • December 31 - Battle of Quebec, CA


  • February 27 - Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, NC
  • March 3-4 - Battle of Nassau, Bahamas
  • June 28 - Battle of Sullivan's Island (Charleston), SC
  • August 27-30 - Battle of Long Island, NY
  • September 16 - Battle of Harlem Heights, NY
  • October 11 - Battle of Valcour Island, NY
  • October 28 - Battle of White Plains, NY
  • November 16 - Battle of Fort Washington, NY
  • December 26 - Battle of Trenton, NJ


  • January 2 - Battle of the Assunpink Creek, NJ
  • January 3 - Battle of Princeton, NJ
  • April 27 - Battle of Ridgefield, CT
  • June 26 - Battle of Short Hills, NJ
  • July 2-6 - Siege of Fort Ticonderoga, NY
  • July 7 - Battle of Hubbardton, VT
  • August 2-22 - Siege of Fort Stanwix, NY
  • August 6 - Battle of Oriskany, NY
  • August 16 - Battle of Bennington, NY
  • September 3 - Battle of Cooch's Bridge, DE
  • September 11 - Battle of Brandywine, PA
  • September 19 & October 7 - Battle of Saratoga, NY
  • September 21 - Paoli Massacre, PA
  • September 26-November 16 - Siege of Fort Mifflin, PA
  • October 4 - Battle of Germantown, PA
  • October 6 - Battle of Forts Clinton & Montgomery, NY
  • October 22 - Battle of Red Bank - NJ
  • December 19-June 19, 1778 - Winter at Valley Forge, PA


  • June 28 - Battle of Monmouth, NJ
  • July 3 - Battle of Wyoming, PA
  • August 29 - Battle of Rhode Island, RI


  • February 14 - Battle of Kettle Creek, GA
  • July 16 - Battle of Stony Point, NY
  • July 24-August 12 - Penobscot Expedition, ME
  • August 19 - Battle of Paulus Hook, NJ
  • September 16-October 18 - Siege of Savannah, GA
  • September 23 - Battle of Flamborough Head


  • March 29-May 12 - Siege of Charleston, SC
  • May 29 - Battle of Waxhaws, SC
  • June 23 - Battle of Springfield, NJ
  • August 16 - Battle of Camden, SC
  • October 7 - Battle of Kings Mountain, SC


  • January 5 - Battle of Jersey, Channel Islands
  • January 17 - Battle of Cowpens, SC
  • March 15 - Battle of Guilford Court House, NC
  • April 25 - Battle of Hobkirk's Hill, SC
  • September 5 - Battle of the Chesapeake, VA
  • September 6 - Battle of Groton Heights, CT
  • September 8 - Battle of Eutaw Springs, SC
  • September 28-October 19 - Battle of Yorktown, VA