The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 611
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Taylor's son-in-law by his first marriage-to his best advantage politically.
Chance's research is impressive, even to compiling and reproducing a lengthy
unit roster, providing information on discharges, desertions, wounds, and
deaths, based on service records in the National Archives. He also includes an
appendix describing subsequent service of twenty-five Mississippi Riflemen in
the Civil War. Despite the book's title, with its primary emphasis on Davis rather
than the regiment itself, Chance presents chapters on the frenzy of volunteering
in Mississippi, "Army Life on the Rio Grande," the regiment's bloody assault on
Monterrey, and its subsequent march to Victoria. His frequent biographical
sketches of various officers, along with direct quotations from soldiers in the
ranks, lend extra flavor to the narrative. The climactic battle of Buena Vista mer-
its two chapters, but unfortunately no map of the battlefield is provided.
Chance delivers a combination punch with another book, his fine edition of
the extensive journal of Capt. Franklin Smith, a commissary officer in the Missis-
sippi Rifles. Although he never experienced combat, Smith had a lawyer's eye
for detail, and he seemed as interested in conditions among the people of South
Texas and northern Mexico as in the challenges faced by the regiment during
the five months, from late August 1846 to early February 1847, covered by the
journal. For much of this period he was stationed at Camargo, between Mata-
moros and Monterrey. The army's conventional military tactics contrasted with
the guerrilla attacks by Mexican rancheros and bandits; soon many American
soldiers were carrying on similar freebooting, affronting Captain Smith's cul-
tured sensibilities. Besides his frequent contact with Jefferson Davis and Zachary
Taylor, Smith also describes personal encounters with the likes of John Coffee
Hays, Albert Sidney Johnston, Thomas Marshall, Robert Patterson, Winfield
Scott, Henry Whiting, John Wool, William Jenkins Worth, and other prominent
officers. Dividing the text into four chapters, Chance supplies background narra-
tive to each, preceded by a brief introduction. Further proving his acumen as an
editor, he attaches more than forty pages of scholarly endnotes along with a bib-
liography, all of which help to guarantee that this journal will remain an essen-
tial primary source. Like the editor's book on the Mississippi Rifles, however,
this one cries out for good maps.
Northerners who fought in Mexico have probably received less attention than
Southerners, but the personal journals of Richard Coulter and Thomas Barclay,
edited by Allan Peskin and titled Volunteers, takes giant strides toward correcting
that imbalance. Using a historian's logic, Peskin saw fit to make a continuous
text by melding the two journals, both written by lawyers who joined the same
company of the Second Pennsylvania Infantry. Thus the reader can compare
and contrast two remarkably graphic firsthand, day-by-day accounts of the cam-
paign under Winfield Scott from Vera Cruz to Cerro Gordo, culminating in the
assault on Chapultepec and the capture of Mexico City. Barclay's journal covers
the period from late December 1846 through early March 1848; Coulter's be-
gins on January 1, 1847, and runs through mid-July 1848. Not only do they con-
vey the regiment's evolution from green volunteers to jaded veterans who
suffered from heavy casualties and decimating diseases, but they also reveal the
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/m1/681/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.