Tag Archives: conquest of mexico

Learning handy skills while defending the US

1stcav2

When I joined the US Army in 1961 it had a lot of attractions for a young man of 17.  First off, it didn’t involve going to work in a moly mine in Questa, New Mexico.  Secondly, it was the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and I naturally hoped I’d get an opportunity to kill me some young Russians to defend this country.  Thirdly, the recruiter promised they’d teach me some skills I’d find useful in civilian life.

Eventually I learned that moly mine mightn’t have been a bad idea.  Never got to kill me any Russians, neither.  Never defended this country worth nuthun.  And thirdly, the only skill I learned that might have helped me as a civilian was how to kill a man by hitting him in the face with an entrenching tool.  A lot of years have passed since then, but I’m still hoping to put that entrenching tool thing to use.

Fact is, that like the US troops who served in WWI, the Spanish American War, the Mexican War, and all the US Army who fought the Apache, the Comanche, the Cheyenne along with dozens of other tribes, we were not ‘defending’ this country.  Until WWII a person would have to go back to the Civil War and include the soldiers fighting for the Confederacy to locate someone defending his country.

Well, I suppose you could say the Mexican soldiers who fought against the US in the Mexican War were defending their country.  And the Apache was defending his, and so on.

But those serving in the US Army were doing something else, entirely.

Care to guess what it was?

Book Review – Aztec Autumn, Gary Jennings

When I came across this tome in a thrift store for a quarter it reminded me I’d read and enjoyed Aztec, by Jennings sometime in the 1990s and enjoyed.  So I snagged it for a quarter and got a read I’d be hard pressed to sell for less than a couple of bucks .

Jennings does a workman-like job of creating strong characters and a seductive plot involving a personal grudge leading to the Mixton War between the tribes of Mexico and the Spaniards.  While Coronado was battling his way around New Mexico searching for the Seven Cities of Cibola, an Aztlan nobleman leading a consortium of tribes and slaves with the intention of driving all whites out of Mexico briefly spilled a lot of Spanish blood.

The primary character, Tenamaxtli, encounters Cabeza de Vaca, Estevan, and Frey Marcos de Niza in various wanderings through the plot, and visits villages throughout northern Mexico for a probably realistic-enough look at conditions and cultures.  There’s also an underlying flow of attitudes and behavior portrayed in the interactions of the tribes among themselves, the Spanish treatment of slaves, both native and imported, and the policies of the Church toward the indigents.

All in all a good read.  If I had it to do over, though, I think I’d have searched out Aztec and given it a re-read before pursuing this one.

Old Jules