The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974 Page: 2
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The Mexican War
per accounts, letters from participants, and sometimes hastily prepared
drawings of the battle-they had handsome, colored pictures on sale within
a few weeks. The response was gratifying; even Senator Henry Clay wrote
one of the New York printers to thank him for his picture of the battle-
a "rich and beautiful specimen of the lithographic art."2
Many important events of the Mexican War were commemorated in
oversize, colored lithographs.' All the great moments in General Taylor's
northern campaign are documented: the encampment at Corpus Christi,
the battles of Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, Monterrey, and Buena Vista.
Highlights of the naval campaign along the eastern coast of Mexico were
sketched by sailor-artists on board ships. A glimpse of the western cam-
paign was given in a picture of the battle of Sacramento. General Winfield
Scott's relentless march toward Mexico City drew proportionate attention:
the siege and capture of Vera Cruz, the battles of Cerro Gordo, Contreras,
Churubusco, Molino del Rey, Casa Mata, and Chapultepec. One of the
finest of all the prints shows Scott's entrance into the main plaza of Mexico
City, with the easily recognizable National Palace and the National Cathe-
dral in the background. Still other moments in the war are reproduced on
the lithographer's stone: the deaths of famous soldiers like Major Samuel
Ringgold and Henry Clay, Jr.; scenes of Monterrey after it was captured
by the Americans; the surrender of Vera Cruz.
All later United States wars were illustrated by photographs; and photog-
raphers, working in specific times and at specific spots, were far more likely
to memorialize the grim, the poignant, the ugly, individual aspects of the
conflict than its moments of heroism and glory. The Mexican War, although
it was probably as repulsive as any conflict, has few such graphic reminders
of the personal suffering. There are only a handful of daguerreotypes, none
of them scenes of conflict. The few paintings of the war are generally
grandiose representations saturated with the spirit of the day-bravery, no-
bility, and patriotism, instead of the savagery, horror, and death of war.
The notable exceptions are provided by Samuel E. Chamberlain, whose
watercolors sometimes depict brutal and grotesque incidents. When one
conjures up a familiar image of the Mexican War, however, it is probably
one of the dozen popular and widely reproduced lithographs by Carl Nebel.
2Quoted in the Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C.), January 28, 1848.
3Of course, lithographs were made in all sizes, varying from small 4 x 6 inch plates
intended onLy for use in books to large 22 x 30 inch prints suitable for framing. The
lithographs considered in this study are those issued separately or in portfolios, rather
than the ones included in books. The titles used are those which appeared on the prints
in these portfolios, and follow the spelling and punctuation of the originals.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974, periodical, 1973/1974; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/m1/20/: accessed October 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.