March 2022 (vol. 12, no. 1)

March 2022 (vol. 12, no. 1)

Volume 12, Number 1
March 2022

Editors’ Note
Kate Masur and Gregory Downs

read this article at project muse



Peter Guardino

The Constant Recurrence of Such Atrocities: Guerrilla Warfare and Counter-insurgency during the Mexican-American War

When guerrilla war first broke out in northern Mexico, the motives and modalities of the violence Americans and Mexicans inflicted on each other were informed by previous fighting with Native Americans, and American attitudes were also shaped by Jacksonian Democracy with its hardening racial attitudes and vigilantism.  In northern Mexico, U.S. officers tried and failed to control atrocities against Mexican civilians.  During the later U.S. invasion of central Mexico, U.S. officers sought to prevent guerrilla warfare by restraining U.S. troops and threatening Mexican civilians with reprisals.  After guerrilla warfare developed there and began to hamper their operations, commanders implicitly encouraged atrocities through their lack of action against U.S. soldiers who committed them and the assignment of known perpetrators to counter-insurgency duty. U.S. leaders did not use explicit legal reasoning and did not even always document de facto policies.  During the Civil War, in contrast, U.S. officers and lawyers developed anti-guerrilla policies that they documented in orders and justified through legal reasoning.

Keywords:  Mexican War, atrocities, Jacksonian Democracy, Guerrillas, Race

read this article at project muse



Vanya Eftimova Bellinger

Lieber and Clausewitz: The Understanding of Modern War and the Theoretical Origins of General Orders No. 100

In recent years, the influence of the European intellectual tradition and Carl von Clausewitz’s 1830s treatise On War over Francis Lieber’s theories of war, particularly those expressed in General Orders No. 100, have become the source of much study. This article argues that while Lieber internalized Clausewitz’s notion of war’s political nature, Lieber’s ideas were profoundly influenced by his time in the United States and the American Civil War itself. Clausewitz, living in a monarchical state without functioning democratic institutions, had not fully explored the interplay between war, nations, and democratic rule. Lieber’s experience a generation later in the United States, where the soldiers were also citizens and the people played a direct role in the political processes, allowed him to better grasp modern war’s complexities. Therefore, by transplanting and adopting Clausewitz’s ideas to the American realities, Lieber created the template for waging war in the age of democratic nations.

Keywords: Francis Lieber, Lieber Code, General Orders No.100, Laws of war, Carl von Clausewitz, Gerhard von Scharnhorst, Prussian Reform Movement

read this article at project muse



Jonathan Wells

Printed Communities: Race, Respectability, and Black Newspapers in the Civil War West

Black editors and journalistic writers in the US West such as Philip Bell, Peter Anderson, John J. Moore, and Jennie Carter shaped their communities’ views on racial uplift, gender relations, legal claims to citizenship, and other issues. This essay argues that from the 1860s to the 1880s, Black editors produced a shared sense of identity for western African Americans separated by vast distances. Whether in Nevada or British Columbia, Black editors used respectability politics to emphasize what they understood to be personal virtues like sobriety and industriousness to combat racist stereotypes. At the same time, seeking to distinguish their claims from those of indigenous peoples as well as recently-arrived Asian immigrants, Black editors in the West also linked respectability to their long-standing residency in the nation as well as their adherence to Christianity.

Keywords: Philip Bell, Jennie Carter, American West, respectability, journalism, editors, racial and ethnic identities, women writers

read this article at project muse




Cameron Blevins and Christy Hyman

Digital History and the Civil War Era

This essay charts how computational methods, tools, and platforms have shaped studies of the Civil War Era from the 1970s to the present. It highlights some of the connections between digital history’s emergence in recent decades and thematic topics such as slavery and emancipation, sectional conflict, and the Civil War. Although historians of this period have increasingly used advanced computational tools for analysis such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS), less heralded forms of technology have had a far greater impact on their work, including digital archives, online communication platforms, and public-facing websites. This essay argues for the need to think more expansively and more critically about digital technologies and the ways they are reshaping historical practices.

Keywords: Digital History, Digital Humanities, New Media, Digital Archives, Public History, Websites, Black Digital Humanities, GIS, Computational Methods

read this article at project muse