The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 123

Book Reviews

also put to good use. The editing and layering of images are well done. The
companion book to the series, written by the Christensens, is equally impressive,
with fine commentary and well-produced images and artwork.
Forest Glen Productions, Inc., Fort Worth Glen Ely
Texas Volunteers in the Mexican War. By Charles D. Spurlin. (Austin: Eakin Press,
1998. Pp. ix+302. Illustrations, preface, appendices, notes, bibliography,
index. ISBN 1-571-68168-X. $x9.95, paper.)
Sitting on his perch in his office in the library at Victoria College, Charles
Spurlin has produced a gem of a book. The author frames his thesis within the
popular expression used by pioneers and soldiers in the mid-18oos: that they
"saw the elephant" (p. viii). Although imprecise in their meaning, these words
did convey thoughts about undergoing hardships and learning from ordeals.
Spurlin notes that soldiers in the war with Mexico not only showed a loss of will
and faced sickness and death, but also had exhilarating moments and demon-
strated survival tactics.
In this well-researched work the author covers the various stages of the war
that Texan volunteers participated in: mobilization, camp life, and the military
campaigns of Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. Within this frame-
work, Spurlin also gives biographical sketches of Texan leaders, from J. Pinckney
Henderson, overall commander, to the officers in charge of regiments: John
Coffee Hays, Albert Sidney Johnston, and George T. Wood. During the war
Texan authorities spent much time in recruiting foot and horse soldiers, in
obtaining supplies and weapons, and in moving troops to the combat areas. In
addition, camp life, with its leaky tents, inadequate sanitation conditions, and
bloodsucking mosquitoes, left many soldiers miserable and sick before they saw
fighting below the Rio Grande.
In straightforward prose the author covers the ins and outs of the Texans
(including Tonkawas) in their battlefield engagements in Mexico and in their
military defense of frontier regions in the Lone Star State. Texan volunteers
taken in large numbers into federal service in General Taylor's command scout-
ed and fought a few skirmishes with Mexican regulars and irregulars in northern
Mexico, from Matamoros to Cerralvo and surrounding areas. Then foot and
horse soldiers from Texas took part in the storming of the city of Monterrey by
Taylor's columns. Later in the war more Texan troops also protected lines of
communication and supply in the campaign of General Scott to capture Mexico
City. During this warfare a greater number of Texans died from noncombat fac-
tors, such as disease and accidents, than from bullets from Mexican guns.
The most noted military units from the Lone Star State in the Mexican War
were the horse soldiers celebrated in fact and fiction in the chronicles of the
Texas Rangers. Whether called mounted riflemen or some other name-and
Spurlin likes to use the term "volunteers"-these light cavalrymen left a lasting
impression on the American public. They scouted and spied for Taylor's army at
the battles of Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, and Buena Vista. They showed their



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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. ( accessed January 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.