Friday, December 26, 2014

Book Review: The Mexican Adventure, 1861-1867, Osprey Men at Arm Series 272.


The Mexican Adventure, 1861-1867, Osprey Men at Arm Series 272.

Written by Rene Chartrand, Illustrated by Richard Hook. Co. 1994, Osprey Publishing.  48 pages, widely illustrated in black and white with color prints.  

Scope - Vast
Completeness – Low
Appeal  - High
Accuracy - *

In the 1860s, the French government found a pretext to seize control of Mexico and install their puppet, the Archduke Maximillian of Austria. The intent was to create a vast French controlled, Catholic empire to the south of the United States. French control of Mexico was never complete, however, nor was it long lasting. The result was years of conflict.

This book provides a good introduction and overview of the conflict, along with a cursory yet fascinating overview of the uniforms of some of the units that fought. These units were often quite colorful and exotic, often composed of ethnic groups and dressed in ways that one would never expect to see on the North American continent.

In addition to the various Mexican units that fought both for and against the French installed government, there were also units raised by France composed of Belgians, Austrians, and others, even Sudanese Egyptians and later Confederate army veterans, as well as the famed French Foreign Legion. Some may know that an important part of Foreign Legion history took place in this conflict at the Battle of Cameron, where a small force of legionnaires fought to the death rather than surrender to a much larger Mexican force.

In conclusion, the scope of this large, multi-year conflict with its wide variety of troop types and complex politics, is really not suited to a small 48 page booklet of this type. However, in the absence of other, more accessible English language sources, this book does provide a good starting point and a way to spark interest in this event among English language readers who are not familiar with it. Therefore I recommend it highly.    
 


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