The Mexican-American War

Courtesy of the Early American Imprints Series II

“Field of Monterey” is a poem lamenting the death of soldiers at Monterey during the Mexican-American War. The narrative voice is a woman – the May Queen – who has seen the soldiers as young men enjoying public festivities, and has been impacted by their death. The speaker juxtaposes scenes of springtime with scenes of death and war. This poem doesn’t glorify the soldiers’ deaths in the war; there is an absence of spring in the scenery by the end. It condemns the glorification of soldiers’ deaths and war by saying that the church bells are celebrating victory while the other people are weeping for their dead. Those who advocate the war only see a victory without recognizing the pain of loss among the people. This disconnect is representative of the disconnect between the people who advocate the war and those who fight it.   By Marion Dix Sullivan, published 1846.



This version of “The Yankee Man-Of-War” is one for the Mexican-American war; it is based on a poem written in the 1700’s near the time of the revolution. There are many different versions of the tune, including one during the Civil War. The words and the way the subject matter is treated seems to change throughout the two centuries: the one written in the 1700’s deals with sailors and war at sea, while this one and the Civil War version focuses more on a dialogue between a young man and woman, the woman often attempting to discourage the young man from sacrificing himself in the war but eventually being persuaded that he must follow his patriotic duty to defend his country’s honor. This attempts to help resolve or relieve the tension of any opposition the war may face; war is to fight for honor and to defend one’s country, so the women should be proud that their brothers and admirers lay their lives down for that patriotism. Image courtesy of Library of Congress American Memory.


Courtesy of Early American Imprints


This poem was published in Mexico around 1845. It caught my attention to see that a fully Spanish poem was a part of the Early American Imprints Series. It is unclear what the exact location of its publication was; it is possible that it was published in part of the Mexican territory that now fills the United States. This poem expresses disapproval for Santa Anna’s tyrannous regime, and condemns him for corruption and neglect for the people of Mexico. Each numbered item in the image is a reference to the poem section; it s a very detailed engraving that captures in pictorial form more or less each of the sections if looked at closely. At the center of the image lies Santa Anna, “America” and the “lechusas” or owls reference in the 15th section; “While the owls ambitiously drank the oil, ministers and the president the nectar of the nation.”  America “lies afflicted, her misery represents” because of the corruption and the war that Santa Anna has let plague the northern part of the continent. It may not be considered a “war poem” because it does not blatantly express support f the war, but it does encourage the capture and execution of Santa Anna for being the “captain of thieves,” which might be interpreted as pro-war on the U.S. side.




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