For best general history, I still like Justin Smith's two-volume The War with Mexico, and K. Jack Bauer's The Mexican War much better than the ubiquitous So Far from God, by John S. D. Eisenhower.
Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War, by Marni Sandweiss, Rick Stewart, and Ben W. Huseman, is great for the popular prints and photographs of the war.
My Confession, by Sam Chamberlain. A classic, firsthand account by a private in the 1st US Dragoons, with many lies but many truths too. Illustrated by his watercolors. Get the Texas State Historical Society edition, edited by Bill Goetzmann.
Sam Chamberlain's Mexican War: The San Jacinto Museum of History Paintings, by William H. Goetzmann (Texas State Historical Society, 1993). This is an adjunct to Chamberlain's My Confession, with lots of his watercolor paintings of everything from Bexar to Monterrey and Buena Vista.
Diary & Letters of Josiah Gregg, vols. 1 and 2. Gregg was a traveler, author, (Commerce of the Prairies) amateur scientist, medical doctor, and chronicler; important observations on the march of Wool's Central Division from San Antonio to Saltillo, and the Battle of Buena Vista.
On the Prairies of Palo Alto: Historical Archaeology of the U.S.-Mexican War Battlefield, by Charles M. Haecker and Jeffrey G. Mauck (Texas A&M University Press, 1997). An in-depth study of the battle, the topography of the battlefield, weapons and equipment of both sides, and archaeological evidence. Well illustrated, including some great pen-and-ink drawings by Gary Zaboly.
Chronicles of the Gringos: The U.S. Army in the Mexican War, 1846-1848: Accounts of Eyewitnesses & Combatants, edited by George Winston Smith and Charles Judah (Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1968). Despite the age of the book, cheap used copies abound.
My favorite published Mexican War letters are probably Monterrey is Ours! The Mexican War Letters of Lieutenant Dana, 1845-1847, edited by Robert H. Ferrell (University Press of Kentucky, 1990). It covers Lt. Napoleon J. T. Dana's experiences in the war, from camp in Corpus Christi in 1845 to the capture of Monterrey. You wouldn't believe some of the racy stuff he wrote to his wife; must've been lonely
I also really like My Life in the Old Army: The Reminiscences of Abner Doubleday, edited by Joseph E. Chance (TCU Press, 1998). Doubleday didn't invent baseball, but he wrote some fascinating accounts of the the Battle of Monterrey, the peripheral role he had in the Battle of Buena Vista, and his travels seeking adventure in northeastern Mexico.
There are tons of great books written during or shortly after the Mexican War available free for downloading at www.books.google.com A few of them include Carleton's The Battle of Buena Vista; various official U.S. Army registers and rosters; Mexican accounts, etc. This one, for example, is very good: To Mexico with Scott: The Letters of Captain E. Kirby Smith:
For you Spanish speakers, there's a wonderful book available online that covers in great depth the Mexican War in the northern state of Nuevo Leon. There's much on the politics, military actions, guerrilla warfare, commerce, and so forth. It also covers the state's role in the Texas Revolution and the Federalist Wars. Leticia Martinez Cardenas et al., La Guerra Mexico-Estados Unidos: Su Impacto en Nuevo Leon, 1835-1848 (Senado de la Republica, 2003): 126.96.36.199/basesweb/cgi-bin/b_digital/bibliodigital/La%20guerra%20mexico%20usasu%20impacto%20en%20NL.pdf
Thanks for posting those Tom. Has anyone read Bruce Winders' book on the Mexican War? I liked his Alamo book ("Sacrificed at the Alamo"); a good overview and quick read.
Well, He really has two: Crisis in the Southwest andMr Polk's Army.
Crisis is more of an overview of the Texas Revolution, the Mexican War and the events in between. While I don't think there's anything radically new in the book the concept of looking at these years as an interrelated whole is different.
Polk's Army is just what the title says it is, a study of the army itself, not necessarily the war. It's a pretty thorough study. I read it when it first came out (1997) and need to relook at it - I imagine a lot of it would apply to events in 35/36, also. At the time I read it, it reminded me a bit of Swords Around A Throne about Napoleon's Army.
Though my memory of Polk's Army is dim, and Crisis is more of an overview, I still recommend both books.
Some folks learn by reading, some folks learn by seeing, and some folks just got to pee on the electric fence.
I'm guilty of not having read Winders' Mr. Polk's Army. Five years before it was published, James M. McCaffrey came out with Army of Manifest Destiny, which is about soldier life in the Mexican War, drawing on published and manuscript soldier accounts. I figured Mr. Polk's Army was probably covering much of the same ground.
People: If you are like me and have to have every book of letters or diaries printed on the Mex War, I wanted to let you know that the Texas Consortium Press has a sale on "Surrounded by Dangers of All Kinds" The Mexican War Letters of Lieutenant Theodore Laidley Edited by James M. McCaffrey for $9.95. The link to it is:
At that Texas A&M consortium bargain sale John mentioned, also worth getting is The Life of Robert Hall, well worth five bucks for paperback or eight bucks for hardcover. Hall was a Ranger and veteran of the Battle of Buena Vista, and the books includes some of his reminiscences of that battle.
Also listed in the sale are vols. 1 to 4 of the Personal Correspondence of Sam Houston, hardcover, marked down to ten bucks per copy.
Henry W. Benham, a U.S. Engineer officer, wrote an interesting, brief eyewitness account of the Battle of Buena Vista, Recollections of Mexico and the Battle of Buena Vista, published in 1871. Highly recommended:
George Ballentine's "Autobiography of an English Soldier in the United States Army" was republished by Donnelly & Sons in 1986 as part of their Lakeside Classics.
The title is totally misleading in that Ballentine was Scottish, not English, and the "autobiography" is pretty well confined to an account of his service in the Mexican war as a private in the regular US artillery
STUART In battle men are apt to lose their self possession, and do very absurd things.
I'm sure I will introduce myself somewhere else, but . ..
I am the new archivist at the Alamo (Daughters of the Republic of Texas). My specialty is the Mexican War. I hold an MA in history and an MLS and wrote my MA thesis on Florida's volunteers in the Mexican War. I added some chapters and appendices to the thesis and got it published as a book by a small publisher. The citation is below:
James, Russell D. Too Late for Blood: Florida Volunteers in the Mexican War. Westminster, MD: Heritage Books, 2005. ISBN 0-7884-3597-3.