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Status: Collect > Document > Analyse > Improve
627.01 War > Mexican-American War (1846-1848)
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Roger Fenton with his well known photographs of the Crimean War (1854-1856) is frequently claimed to be the "first war photographer" which is only partially accurate. He may the first for which we have identified the photographer with certainty but there were other, as yet unidentified, photographers who documented wars. The Mexican-American War (1846-1848) was well illustrated and photographed. Daguerreotypes were taken as the basis of published illustrations for example in John Frost's book (1847) the steel engravings were based on Daguerreotypes.
Steel engravings of military officers active in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848)
In Samuel Chester Reid's, book The Scouting Expeditions of McCulloch`s Texas Rangers; or, The Summer and Fall Campaign of the Army of the United States in Mexico - 1846 (1848) there is an illustration of Captain McCulloch based on a Daguerreotype credited to J. McGuire of New Orleans.
Captain McCulloch, from a Daguerreotype by J. McGuire, New Orleans
On the 5th October 1846 a Letter from W.L. Marcy, Secretary of War, to Major General Z. Taylor, Commanding Army of Occupation, Monterey, Mexico requested that a Daguerreotype could be used as the basis for a gold medal that Congress was awarded to Major General Zachary Taylor.
Letter from W.L. Marcy, Secretary of War, to Major General Z. Taylor, Commanding Army of Occupation, Monterey, Mexico
From this evidence we know that Daguerreotypes were available and there are surviving portraits of some of the officers including Zachary Taylor, Maj. Lewis Cass Jr., Col. Hamtramck, Major Washington and Col. Paine.
With the exception of the full plate Daguerreotype by Mathew Bradywe don't know who took the other portraits.
There are a number of Daguerreotypes of locations connected to the war in similar frames and with paper captions in the same script but as yet we don't know the photographer.
Locations during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848)
There are no scenes of battle but the logistics of artillery units, troops and the general staff are shown. There are some highly unusual photographs of the burial place of Henry Clay Jr the son of US Senator and Congressman Henry Clay.
Burial Place of the son of Henry Clay in Mexico
627.02 War > Lieutenant Colonel Henry Clay, Jr. (1847)
Henry Clay Jr. (10 April, 1811 - 23 February, 1847) was the third son of US Senator and Congressman Henry Clay. He graduated from West Point and raised a regiment, the 2nd Kentucky Volunteers, to fight in the Mexican American War (1846-1848). He was killed leading a charge of his regiment in the Battle of Buena Vista. The daguerreotypes show his burial site and later his body was transported to Kentucky and interred in Frankfort Cemetery in Frankfort.
627.03 War > Letter from W.L. Marcy, Secretary of War, to Major General Z. Taylor, Commanding Army of Occupation, Monterey, Mexico (5 October 1846)
In this contemporary letter from W.L. Marcy, the US Secretary of War, to Major General Zachary Taylor it mentions a daguerreotype as being suitable for preparing a medal as a tribute for his service in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848):
Major General Z. Taylor.
War Department, October 5, 1846.
Sir: By a joint resolution of Congress, approved July 16th, the President is authorized and requested to have a medal of gold procured, with appropriate devices and inscriptions thereon presented to you in the name of the republic, as a tribute due to your good conduct, valor, and generosity to the vanquished. Preparations are being made to carry this resolution into effect, and the only difficulty that seems to present itself is the want of a faithful bust likeness of yourself, in order to enable the artist to prepare the die. It is possible that you may have a faithful miniature likeness of yourself, which could be made use of for this purpose: if so, and you will direct it to be sent to this department, it shall be taken good care of and safely returned to you. If you have no such likeness, it is suggested that one may be taken by a competent artist and forwarded to the department the expense of which will be defrayed by the government. It is believed that a daguerreotype likeness would answer every purpose. and insure a faithful resemblance.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. L. MARCY,
Secretary of War.
Major General Z. Taylor,
Commanding Army of Occupation, Monterey, Mexico.
- Λ John S.D. Eisenhower, 2000, So Far from God: The U.S. War With Mexico, 1846-1848, (University of Oklahoma Press)
- Λ Martha Sandweiss; Rick Stewart & Ben Huseman, 1989, Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War, 1846-1848, (Fort Worth & Washington: Amon Carter & Smithsonian)
- Λ John Frost, 1847, Life of Major General Zachary Taylor; with Notices of the War in New Mexico, California, and in Southern Mexico; and Biographical Sketches of Officers who have distinguished themselves in the War with Mexico (New York: D. Appleton)
- Λ Samuel Chester Reid, 1848, The Scouting Expeditions of McCulloch`s Texas Rangers; or, The Summer and Fall Campaign of the Army of the United States in Mexico - 1846, (Philadelphia: G.B. Zieber and Co.)
- Λ Unidentified photographer, "Burial Place of the son of Henry Clay in Mexico"
[Mexican-American War], 1847, Daguerreotype, 1/6 plate, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, P1981.65/40; Unidentified photographer, "[Burial site of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Clay, Jr.]"
[Mexican-American War], 1847, Daguerreotype, 1/6 plate, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, P1981.65/41
- Λ Letter from W.L. Marcy, Secretary of War, to Major General Z. Taylor, Commanding Army of Occupation, Monterey, Mexico (5 October 1846). This letter is published in Message of the President of the United States, pp. 113-114.
Eisenhower, John S.D., 2000, So Far from God: The U.S. War With Mexico, 1846-1848, (University of Oklahoma Press) isbn-10: 0806132795 isbn-13: 978-0806132792 [Δ]
Sandweiss, Martha; Stewart, Rick & Huseman, Ben, 1989, Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War, 1846-1848, (Fort Worth & Washington: Amon Carter & Smithsonian) [Δ]
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - firstname.lastname@example.org
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