Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 29

Thread: Regarding Service in the War in Mexico

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    166

    Default Regarding Service in the War in Mexico

    I've been working on a little of my personal back-story, to help me explain to myself how a soldier at 50 might have gotten where he was. I figure that I am at the right age to have placed me as a young man during the Mexican war. What I'm wanting to know is:
    -How long was a typical term of enlistment for a private soldier in the regular army?
    -Could a soldier muster out in say Texas or New Mexico, or did he have to travel back to St Louis or the like?
    -If he was sick or wounded, what's the likelihood of him being sent to California to convalesce?

    I'm trying to figure out a way to get "my character" to California by 1849 or 1850 after having fought in Mexico with Rough & Ready and Fuss & Feathers. Can I just drop him off in the southwest, or do I need for him to travel back east and then figure out a way to head back west?

    Any insights would be appreciated.
    Mel Glover
    -GG grandson of Cpl Christian Greener, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry, Co. F

    -Rob Weaver is my guru:
    -"...one of the characteristics of a good reenactor is the willingness to not be bulletproof."
    -"Be more concerned with your own impression than with anyone else's."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill, FL
    Posts
    3,940

    Default

    For that impression, my recommendation is to make him a state Volunteer, that way you have a lot more leeway with where one comes and goes after the conflict (there were a ton of Mexican War vets in Cali for the gold rush by the way). A US Regulars enlistment was for 6 years I believe at that time) - hopefully Schnapps/ Mike Shaffner will be around to correct me on this one.
    Ross L. Lamoreaux
    Tampa Bay History Center
    www.tampabayhistorycenter.org
    On Facebook at: Tampa Bay History Center Living History Programs

    "The simplest things, done well, can carry a huge impact" - Karin Timour, 2012

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Lawton, Oklahoma
    Posts
    151

    Default

    I can sympathize, I too have developed a back story as a Mexican War veteran. On my frock I wear 15 years of service stripes as a Regular Army veteran, and it sort of goes with my own real life background. I also found an Illinois farmer who was also someone who fit my age, he was 48 years old, married, kids, and in fact his farm was 30 miles from where I grew up in Illinois, but he enlisted in 1862 as a private, so sometimes I use him.

    If he is a volunteer regiment veteran, you should have a lot more latitude than Regulars of course. We know many of the Mormon Bn Mex War vets stayed in Southern California, but that was because they were there, I'm not sure about other volunteers leaving their regiments and heading west from Taylor's army and if with Scott, virtually impossible from the heart of Mexico. But, like you I would have to do more research. An interesting problem for us older guys and I'll be interested in what you find.
    Frank Siltman
    Cannoneer, Fort Sill Historic Gun Detachment
    24th MO Vol Inf
    Lawton/Fort Sill, OK

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    2,413

    Default

    Para. 932 in the Regs mentions an enlistment term of five years. Maximum age for enlistment in the regulars was under 35. Not many made it to fifty. Pete Bereczuk posted the vital stats on the garrison of Fort Sumter and they were generally quite young (and predominantly of foreign birth). I think that the only quasi-plausible way to get by as an older man is to explain that hard living added a decade to their appearance and some lied. Cut off point for enlistment in the volunteers was 45, but I've always figured that if you saw three or four enlistments on the roster of men who were exactly 45, a couple of them are old fibbers.

    I believe the Confederate army, in its ever increasing effort to include every white man who could walk, upped the maximum age to 50 or 55, but at a time when the average lifespan was 50 that was truly robbing the grave.
    M. A. Schaffner
    Midstream Regressive Complainer

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    111

    Default

    The problem with a back story that you try to keep using season after season is that they never aged in our era of interest but 2 to 4 years. Whereas we keep on going! LOL

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PvtHooper View Post
    The problem with a back story that you try to keep using season after season is that they never aged in our era of interest but 2 to 4 years. Whereas we keep on going! LOL
    And going and going!! Yeah, I realized this truth a couple years ago. I actually used to live in California, and have a fairly good grasp of its history, (and really did pan for gold a couple times) so I grafted that experience into my backstory. It became more personally meaningful to me when I was actually old enough to have done those things and still be in the Civil War. The greatest problem with backstories is: what do you bring with you to the present? The Mexican War was 20 years in the past. There's very little chance that clothing you had would have survived and still be useful, beyond a few months in the field anyway. Personal items would have been used up. Heck, I went to Guatemala 8 years ago and all my souveniers are gone (Except our Guatemalteca. He keeps getting bigger. ) Ways of doing things you saw in Mexico? Songs you learned or perhaps a little language? (Like when old Viet Nam era troops I knew still said "Sir, we need to didi right now. ?") I've been known to end a sentence with "Verdad?" every now and then. Would I still have been doing that 20 years after Mexico or California? Quien sabe?
    Reenacting is visual. Unless you can think of some way that a backstory contributes to your physical appearance, or activity at an actual reenactment, it's not too useful. On the other hand, standing in line at 150th Manassas, a buddy of mine and I passed a short conversation between us in Spanish. ("It's hot here. "Reminds me of Mexico." "Truly, a lot like Mexico.") I don't know if it was cool to anybody else, but it was fun for us.
    Rob Weaver
    Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
    "We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
    -Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Weaver View Post
    Reenacting is visual. Unless you can think of some way that a backstory contributes to your physical appearance, or activity at an actual reenactment, it's not too useful. On the other hand, standing in line at 150th Manassas, a buddy of mine and I passed a short conversation between us in Spanish. ("It's hot here. "Reminds me of Mexico." "Truly, a lot like Mexico.") I don't know if it was cool to anybody else, but it was fun for us.
    Depends on the event. Reenacting is only visual if that's all that other reenactors care about--and there are certainly many events structured that way. But as you noted, there are other aspects of portraying the past too, and some events are centered around the interplay of different personalities and worldviews at least as much as the participants' appearance.

    Hank Trent
    hanktrent@gmail.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Middle Tennessee
    Posts
    1,014

    Default

    My dad was in Japan during the Korean War and still sometimes answers the phone with a Japanese expression. Those were formative years and exciting times for young men and I'm sure they were heavily influenced and never forgot. Just like today.
    Mint Julep

    A Proud 5%'er

    A Dead Whale or A Stove Boat!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    166

    Default

    Maximum age for enlistment in the regulars was under 35.
    I'm not now portraying a regular. My idea is that I'm portraying an Ohio volunteer who once was a regular. Just like I was in the regular Army back in the 1980s.

    Unless you can think of some way that a backstory contributes to your physical appearance, or activity at an actual reenactment, it's not too useful.
    As a sometimes actor, I've learned that, for me, it's vitally important to have a back-story even if the audience will never notice it. It helps me to get into the mindset of the character. In this goofy hobby it helps me in all sorts of ways: staying in first person and having something to talk about with my pards, interacting with 'taters, helping me to explain to myself why "my character" is behaving in a certain way. It's the third leg of the authenticity stool.

    There's very little chance that clothing you had would have survived and still be useful...
    I don't own a stitch of Mexican war gear, and don't plan on getting any; just as I no longer posses my BDUs and my jungle boots long ago gave up the ghost. I've got my medals, patches, and awards but those reside in my library at home.


    I am trying to mold this story in such a way that it reflects much of my own life experience, expectations, and beliefs; and since I was once in the regular Army (MOS 82C--Field Artillery Surveyor, stationed at Ft Sill, Ft Campbell, and Schofield Barracks) if I can slip that in there I will. I've also traveled extensively (Know anyone else who's literally stood at the South Pole?) and worked a la-hot of different jobs...

    Anyway, back to my task du jour... While I understand that serving in a volunteer regiment offers the simplest way for my fictitious character to get to California, I think that I'd still like to stay with a Regular. Can anyone tell me where the 5th US Infantry was stationed at the beginning and at the end of the Mexican war? Their history is the one that I've started reading up on.
    Mel Glover
    -GG grandson of Cpl Christian Greener, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry, Co. F

    -Rob Weaver is my guru:
    -"...one of the characteristics of a good reenactor is the willingness to not be bulletproof."
    -"Be more concerned with your own impression than with anyone else's."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Lawton, Oklahoma
    Posts
    151

    Default

    After the Mexican War, the 5th Infantry was here in the Indian Territory, garrisoned at Forts Washita, Towson and Gibson. Also Fort Smith, Ark. A man mustered out here in the west may be inclined to head to the gold rush. That may help you.
    Frank Siltman
    Cannoneer, Fort Sill Historic Gun Detachment
    24th MO Vol Inf
    Lawton/Fort Sill, OK

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •