Fighting is Very Hard Work: Labor and Soldiering in the US-Mexican War, 1846-1848
Historians tend to associate the nineteenth century with the rise of nationalism and national states. Nation-states often used wars to bolster national identity both through the military service of citizen-soldiers and propaganda aimed at civilians. We’ll see in this talk, though, that many of the men who fought in the Mexican-American war entered the militaries of the two countries not due to patriotism but because they were an available labor force. Looking at soldiers as workers helps us understand the experiences of soldiers and civilians in both countries, including one group of soldiers who fought first for the United States and then for Mexico.