by Richard Bruce Winders
College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2016. Pp. xii, 194.
Illus., maps, appends., notes, biblio., index. $45.00. ISBN:1 623494168
Mississippians in the Mexican War
Winders, author of the excellent Mr. Polk’s Army, Sacrificed at the Alamo and several other works, takes a look at the service of Mississippi’s two volunteer mounted rifle regiments in the war with Mexico.
Winders opens with a short discussion of how Mississippi recruited its contingent for the war, which of course was generally standard for the volunteer forces of all the states. The book thereafter follows the adventures of the two mounted rifle regiments, which had very different wartime experiences.
The 1st Mississippi Mounted Rifles, by far the more famous of the two, was commanded by former Regular Army officer Jefferson F. Davis, who resigned a seat in congress to lead the regiment. The regiment served with distinction in northern Mexico under Zachary Taylor, the father of Davis’ late wife, a during the Battle of Buena Vista (Feb. 22-23, 1847), arguably saved the little army from destruction.
In contrast to the 1st MMR, the 2nd Mississippi Mounted Rifles, although in many ways it had a more arduous war, and certainly suffered far greater losses, is virtually unremembered, because it served mostly on security duties and most of its losses were due to disease.
Winders examines the formation of each regiment, with an analysis of the regional origins of the men, and discusses their organization, equipping (with new “untried” percussion rifles), training, and service. As he does so, he throws a good deal of light on the role of volunteers in the war, and on the war itself, and also on how technical and tactical developments in the war affected the post-war army. Oddly, Winder does not discuss the role veterans of the two regiments had during the Civil War, more than a half-dozen of them becoming brigadier generals and many others became field officers, while, of course, Davis became President of the Confederacy.
A volume in the A&M “Military History” series, Panting for Glory is an excellent book, a good read and very informative, but is, however, more suited to the seasoned student of the Mexican-American War than to someone lacking familiarity with the subject.