Thursday, December 17, 2009

American Artillery in the Mexican War

Dillon, Lester R., Jr. American Artillery in the Mexican War, 1846-1847. Austin, Tex.: Presidial, 1975.

“American artillery dominated the battlefields of the Mexican War. In this conflict, America’s first foreign war, a new and elite corps of artillery was blooded in the crucible of battle, and a proven combat arm emerged with firm doctrine and the eminent esteem of both the nation and its military leadership.” – from the Preface

This excellent survey is, to my knowledge, the only work that deals specifically with the subject. It is rather on the small side but written in a spare, matter-of-fact style by a retired officer who well understood the subject in all of its metes and bounds.

It has just five chapters:

I. Prelude to Conflict
II. Cannon and Cannoneers
III. Taylor’s Army of Occupation
IV. The Heartland
V. Artillery and Victory

In addition, besides front matter, it has biographical sketches of many of the officers who later became prominent in the Civil War, a glossary, bibliography, and endnotes.

Having read it, I can now understand the source of the artillery genius of the great Civil War cannoneers like Henry J. Hunt and John Pelham (who of course was too young to fight in the Mexican War but was a worthy descendant of Ringgold, Duncan, Taylor, and Washington, who took the light batteries to war in 1846-47).

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