Category Archives: The Mexican War

How Texas Caused the Mexican War

Yes, you Texans are a troublesome lot.  The center part of my novel, Duty, Honor, Country, is the Mexican War.  It is still the bloodiest war in US Army history, percentage wise, and most people don’t understand its root causes.  Here is another excerpt from my coming novel, Duty, Honor, Country:

For a moment Longstreet grew serious. “There are strange winds brewing, Sam. President Harrison dying is an ill omen.  When you return, you must tell me how people are responding.  We’re in our own little world here.  And it’s certainly not the real one.  Harrison was from Ohio and you’ll find out how the people there feel.  The letters I receive from my kin in Georgia are disturbing.”

Just a few months ago, in March, newly elected President William Henry Harrison, an old army man and hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe, had spoken too long at his inauguration, a cold and rainy day in Washington.  He’d taken ill and died, an unprecedented event for the young country.  The government had been thrown into upheaval as the constitutional rules of succession were found to be lacking.  John Tyler, the Vice President, had eventually been sworn into office as President with all powers despite debates whether he should be acting President or true President.  Of more importance, Harrison’s antipathy toward expanding slavery westward, and particularly the issue of Texas, had been reversed.

Thus the potential Annexation of Texas was now an issue all cadets were following closely, because Mexico still claimed the territory as part of its sovereign nation. The Mexican government had promised war if Annexation happened and there was no reason to believe they would not follow through on their threat.  They had given Texas a great deal of autonomy after the Battle of San Jacinto, but took the stance that the treaty the defeated Santa Ana had signed was not legitimate as the general did not have the authority to negotiate for all of Mexico.  While Texans claimed independence, the reality was much murkier.  France, Britain and the United States had recognized Texas as a nation, but, so far, no one had pushed the issue.  Mexico claimed a good portion of the western part of the continent, from Texas, up along the Rocky Mountains and to the Pacific Ocean.

A new blog post every day leading up to the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War on April 12th and the publication of Duty, Honor, Country, a Novel of West Point & the Civil War, the first in my series.

Tomorrow:  Robert E. Lee and Arlington

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Duty, Honor, Country

12 April 2011 is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.  The official start, when Fort Sumter was fired upon.  It ‘s also the date my first book on the Civil War:  DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY, will be published.

However, the seeds of the Civil War were planted well before 12 April 1861, with the founding of the country.  Our story, though, starts in 1840, in Benny Havens tavern, just outside post limits of the United States Military Academy.  With William Tecumseh Sherman, a classmate, a plebe, and Benny Havens’ daughter coming together in a crucible of honor and loyalty.   And on post, in the West Point stables, where Ulysses S. Grant and a classmate are preparing to saddle the Hell-Beast, a horse with which Grant would eventually set an academy record, and both make fateful decisions that will change the course of their lives and history.

The key to this series is a simple fact I had to memorize as a plebe at West Point:

Who commanded the major battles of the Civil War? —— There were 60 important battles of the War. In 55 of them, graduates commanded on both sides; in the remaining 5, a graduate commanded one of the opposing sides.

That struck me as utterly fascinating and disturbing on a core level.  After all, how did men who went to the same Academy, who swore the same oath of allegiance, end up fighting each other?  In addition, it made me wonder if perhaps the war lasted so long and was the bloodiest in our history until World War II, because the leaders on both sides had all been trained in the same place?

So I decided to take a handful of fictional character and insert them into history, to rub elbows with those who would become great and those who would become infamous.  And have them live through events, both epic and personal.

The story ranges from West Point; to a plantation in Natchez, the richest city in the United States where cotton was king; to the only mutiny in the United States Navy; to St.  Louis where Kit Carson is preparing to depart on a famous expedition to the west with Fremont that would eventually bring California into the Union; to Mexico, where the United States Army suffered its highest casualty rate to this day and brought most of the western United States into the Union; to the founding of the Naval Academy; to John Brown’s hanging; to the firing on Fort Sumter; through First Bull  Run; the first battle of ironclads, the Monitor and Virginia; and culminating in the epic battle of Shiloh, where the United States had more casualties in one battle than in all previous wars combined and the face of warfare changed forever.

And that’s leaving out many more events that arc the story.  My handful of fictional characters are swept up by the tide of history and their factual contemporaries, and sometimes are more than swept up as they are the significant unknowns, the people who changed history but weren’t recorded by it.

This is history told both epic and personal so we can understand intellectually what happened, but more importantly feel the heart-wrenching struggle of duty, honor, country and loyalty coming into collision.

This first book will be followed by more books, taking our characters through the Civil War and beyond, into the Plains Wars and further.

As they say at West Point:  Much of the history we teach, was made by people we taught.

Coming 12 April 2011.

I hope you enjoy!

Bob Mayer

USMA ‘81

Infantry and U.S. Special Forces

PS:  If you want to read my latest novel, about a modern day West Point graduate, coming out of a covert unit and serving as a Federal liaison to a local police department who gets involved in a murder and counter-terrorist operation, check out Chasing The Ghost in eBook (only. 99) or print.

And, coming on the 4th of July, 185 years to the date after his death, The Jefferson Allegiance, a modern thriller where the pieces of the Jefferson Cipher must be found to found and put together to uncover the the Jefferson Allegiance, a document from the Founding Fathers, that in the wrong hands, could destroy the country.