A Gallant Little Army
The Mexico City Campaign
Timothy D. Johnson
In 1847 General Winfield Scott boldly led a small but undaunted army from the Mexican coast all the way to the Halls of Montezuma, routing Mexican forces at every turn while pacifying the countryside. Scott's military campaign—America's first ever in a foreign country—helped pave the way for victory in the wider war against Mexico and also posed new challenges for discipline, logistics, and the treatment of civilians. Yet it has remained largely neglected by historians.
In this first book-length study of Scott's brilliant six-month campaign, Timothy Johnson shows how Scott overcame such obstacles as inadequate supplies, intense officer rivalries, and lack of support from President Polk—not to mention a country full of potentially hostile Mexicans—to keep his army intact deep in enemy territory and win the war. He interweaves a compelling narrative of the campaign—including detailed battle replays, terrain descriptions, and eyewitness accounts—with a comprehensive analysis of strategy, operations, and tactics. Along the way, he also provides considerable insight into Scott's efforts to fight a "limited war" by combining military force with diplomatic negotiation and by implementing a pacification plan that now seems far ahead of its time.
“Puts the conflicts of the 19th century in fresh, vivid context.”
“Johnson deals expertly with each of the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war, providing the perspectives of American soldiers and commanders of every rank. . . . Smooth, engaging reading, balanced in approach, A Gallant Little Army is a superb example of campaign history in the most holistic sense.”
—Journal of Military HistorySee all reviews...
“This is a fabulous history of Army General Winfield Scott’s six-month campaign to capture Mexico City during the Mexican War in 1847.. . . . This is a superb case study of leadership, ingenuity, audacity, and ‘a sophisticated strategy of moderation to end the war.’”
“This well-researched book offers a detailed account of Wonfield Scott’s brilliant 1847 campaign that resulted in the capture of Mexico City and ended the Mexican War. . . . [It] offers gems of wisdom to students interested in military history.”
“It is remarkable that A Gallant Little Army is the first scholarly treatment of what is arguably the most successful military campaign that the U.S. Army has ever waged. Johnson’s book will instantly take its place as the standard treatment of the march “to the halls of Montezuma” and should stimulate greater interest in this, the most successful and the most dishonorable of America's wars.”
—Journal of Southern History
“A compelling, well-documented, and nuanced account of Scott’s campaign of 1847. A major contribution to the historiography of the U.S.-Mexico War.”
—New Mexico Historical Review
“Johnson’s excellent history brings this much-neglected military campaign out of the shadows and gives it the attention it deserves.”
—Robert W. Johannsen, author of To the Halls of the Montezumas: The Mexican War in the American Imagination
“The most detailed analysis to date of Winfield Scott’s spectacular 1847 campaign to capture Mexico City. . . . Destined to become a classic.”
—R. Bruce Winders, author of Mr. Polk’s Army: The American Military Experience in the Mexican War
“A fine narrative history and persuasive evaluation of Scott’s campaign.”
—Joseph G. Dawson III, author of Doniphan’s Epic March: The 1st Missouri Volunteers in the Mexican WarSee fewer reviews...
Scott developed a sophisticated strategy of moderation to end the war by employing a sword-and-olive-branch approach. Although his army repeatedly won battles against superior numbers as it drove ever deeper into Mexico's interior, Scott paused after each contest to give the enemy an opportunity to sue for peace. And by respecting civilian property and purchasing supplies from the populace, his troops limited local support for guerrillas that threatened communication lines. Meanwhile on the battlefield, Scott successfully executed surprise flank attacks at Cerro Gordo and Padierna, tactical masterpieces that inspired a generation of Civil War generals—like Grant, Lee, McClellan, and countless others.
Providing the definitive work on the Mexico City campaign, A Gallant Little Army highlights the visionary command of a legendary general, the flinty toughness of the troops he led, and the emergence of the United States as a potential global military power.