War with Mexico

The four greater wars of this country mark the four stages of its development as a nation. Of these, the first two were waged for its existence as an independent power, and the rights due such independent state in the high court of nations, objects which commanded the united support of the people. The Federal party in national politics did indeed make a vigorous protest against the war with England in 1812, on the ground that it gave ostensible support to the French Revolution, a political movement that in the name of liberty perpetrated the most horrible outrages. against freedom; but the intolerable assumption of England to impress American seamen, and with a paper manifesto to destroy the commerce of the world, aroused the war spirit of the whole nation. In the latter respect the commercial centers of the new world had quite as much reason to complain of France, but a sentiment of gratitude for her timely aid in the Revolutionary struggle served somewhat to palliate the offense of the latter nation, and outside of New England the universal voice was for war. And now that time has removed the temporary cause of aversion, the achievements of these struggles are prized as the rich inheritance of every American. The last two wars, however, hold a different place in the hearts of the people, and the impartial historian must ever note them as the mad fevers that follow the insidious poisoning of the nation’s civilization. Their origin must be sought at the very fountain head of the national existence. Two distinct and dominant social elements were planted upon the virgin soil of the new world, the graceless Cavalier and the in-tolerant Puritan-the fateful legacy of the Stuart dynasty. These elements, antagonistic in every law of their being, under the old colonial regime found ample room to develop without coming into contact with each other, but with their consolidation into a nation, a mutual repulsion began which threatened to disrupt the State. ” Mason and Dixon’s line ” for a time delayed the ” irrepressible conflict,” but the growing demand of the far South was for more room.” The Texan rebellion offered an opportunity to evade the direct issue between these warring elements, which was speedily seized by the one and reluctantly acquiesced in by the other. The Whig party in politics feebly opposed the measure on the ground that further extension of territory was undesirable, especially when it was gained on questionable pretenses that had no sure foundation in fact; but the dominant power in national affairs boldly launched the ship of State upon the turbulent billows of war. Allied by politics to the Whig party, and by its origin and civilization to the far South, Kentucky joined the cry for war urged by chivalrous rather than mercenary motives. The military spirit was excessively developed in Kentucky. The militia, authorized and provided for by law, drew its vigor from the chivalrous sentiment of the people, and in its rank and file were found the leading spirits of every community. The One Hundred and Second Regiment drew its strength from Todd County, and the annual muster at Elkton was the event of the year. The admission of Texas into the Union, May 1, 1845, fore-shadowed a contest with Mexico and fanned the military spirit to a fever heat. When the call for troops came in September of the following year the One Hundred and Second Regiment was assembled at Elkton, and paraded on the hill southwest of the village. Here it was addressed by James A. Russell and Finis E. McLean, who fired the heart of these holiday soldiers to the pitch of madness, and when the latter orator proposed that the Governor should be tendered the services of the whole regiment, the suggestion was greeted with a universal shout of approval. The call of the Governor, however, allowed the acceptance of but a single company from a county, and the regiment was subsequently formed in line of battle on the Russellville road, east of the village; and the orators, preceded by a band of martial music; paraded be-fore the regiment amid the firing of guns, the rattle of drums, and the squeaking of fifes. One after another the recruits stepped out of the ranks and joined the procession which paraded up and down the front of the regiment, until the full complement was obtained. Unfortunately for the chronicler of this veritable history, all this ” pomp and circumstance ” of war ended in sound and fury. The tender of the company thus enlisted was declined, as the quota of the State had been filled be-fore it was received, and Todd County’s military ardor ” lost the name of action.”

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