Dorothy Sloan – Books

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<p>Title page</p>


[HISTORIES]. GIDDINGS, Luther. Sketches of the Campaign in Northern Mexico. In Eighteen Hundred Forty-Six and Seven. By an Officer of the First Regiment of Ohio Volunteers. New York: Published for the Author by G.P. Putnam & Co., 10 Park Place, 1853. [4], [13] 14-336 pp., 2 lithograph maps: [1] Map Northern Mexico to Illustrate Sketches of the Campaign in Northern Mexico. 14.5 x 10.5 cm; [2] Plan of the City of Monterey September 1846. 16 x 22.5 cm. 8vo (20.5 x 14 cm), original brown embossed cloth, spine gilt lettered and decorated (faded, stained, and worn). First two leaves slightly wormed; text moderately foxed, maps browned. Front free endpaper with contemporary ink signature of W.W. Moore and contemporary pencil inscription: “W.W. Seaton Esq. Editor of The Intelligencer. With the respects of Franck Taylor.”

First edition. Connor & Faulk 177. Howes G156 (noting the work is also ascribed to M.E. Curwen). Garrett & Goodwin, p. 139. Haferkorn, p. 45. Kurutz & Mathes, pp. 139-140: “Giddings served as a major in the 1st Ohio Volunteers under General Taylor. Major Giddings narrates the history of the war from the annexation of Texas to Taylor’s victory at the Battle of Buena Vista. His text swells with pride at the accomplishments of ‘Old Rough and Ready’ and his regiment and the benefits the newly acquired territory would bring to the United States. He did lament, however the depredations of the Texas Rangers.” Tutorow 3387.

The bibliography of this text is somewhat confused. We have examined another copy of this book that has p. 301 unnumbered and pp. 201-202 and 249-250 are cancels. The present copy has p. 301 unnumbered, but pp. 201-202 and 249-250 are not cancels. Here four leaves before p. [13] have been excised. There is also some question whether all copies were issued with the maps.

This work, in addition to general comments about and description of the war, was written to document and to a certain extent glorify the Ohio volunteer troops of which Giddings was an officer and to whom it is dedicated. Several sections of the text deal specifically with them. One significant passage (pp. 275-277) deals with the traitorous San Patricio brigade, composed partly of Catholics who had deserted from the American Army to the Mexican, the latter playing on their religious sense. Giddings notes with some pride of his regiment: “But was there one so faithless to his country, as to take up arms in the cause of faithless Mexico? Nearly a third of our regiment were Catholics; and among them were seventy or eighty gallant Irishmen, some of whom, I have reason to know, were proof against the fascinating lures of an insidious foe” (p. 276). He relates that his men even captured a Mexican who was trying to lure troops into desertion (p. 277). He initially expresses great admiration for the Texas Rangers (pp. 97-98), but by the time they are discharged at San Domingo, he has seen enough of their bad side to merely wish them well with few regrets at their departure but also hoping that most honest Mexicans stay out of their way (pp. 221-222).

Although he sometimes has charitable words for the Mexican populace, his general view of the country, its people, its army, and its government is negative and hostile. Part of that view is surely colored by a mixture of Yankee conservatism and American pride. Part of the attitude is also fueled by his own personal sense of bigotry and of Manifest Destiny: “In contemplating the entire status of a people,—their political, religious, social, and intellectual condition—no attentive observer, even among themselves, has failed to foresee and lament the fate of the country. It must gradually sink, from its complication of fatal diseases, into the tomb of the Acolhuans and the Aztecs. And not only Mexico, but the whole of Spanish America, will probably pass from the dominion of the original conquerors into the possession of the enterprising blue-eyed Saxon...” (pp. 53-54).


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