Book Review: From the Halls of Montezuma: Mexican War Dispatches from James L. Freaner, Writing under the Pen Name “Mustang”


by Alan D. Gaff and Donald H. Gaff, editors

Denton, Tx.: North Texas University Press, 2019. Pp. viii, 480. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN: 1574417673

Reporting the War with Mexico

Journalist James L. Freaner (1817-1852) did a short hitch as a volunteer in the early months of the war with Mexico, and then became a war correspondent for the New Orleans Delta. He accompanied Winfield Scott’s army from its amphibious landing at Vera Cruz and the subsequent siege and capture of the port, and then followed the army into the heart of Mexico, covering the battles on the road to Mexico City and its capture. Freaner then covered the occupation of central Mexico, and the army’s withdrawal from the country on the conclusion of hostilities. Altogether he filed scores of dispatches, providing important details on events great and small, including detailed casualty lists, and glimpses of the military life of the times and contemporary American and Mexican society.

The editors open with a useful look at the early history of war correspondents, followed by a short account of Freaner’s early life. They present his war-time dispatches in chronological order, adding valuable footnotes that provide explanations of now obscure references to various events or places, and military terminology, as well as brief biographies of many people, Mexican and American, who figured in the campaign, some of whom would figure prominently in the Civil War.

A volume in the UNT series “War and the Southwest”, From the Halls of Montezuma is a valuable book for anyone interested in the Mexican-American War and a useful one for students of the Civil War or American society in the mid-nineteenth century.


Note: From the Halls of Montezuma is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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