I’m glad to go back and fill in the blanks of the American wars that are often less focused on. Many of them are just as important as the wars we’ve already gone over in class, but I guess just not as interesting to the general public and (I sadly admit) to me for that matter.
On the issue of the Revolutionary War veteran pension, Severo and Milford cover some of the same points as Resch, the idea of a people’s war, public sentiment, and the suffering soldier, without actually naming them. Despite a pension, Revolution and later 1812 veterans don’t end up with much of anything. With a government willing to cheat George Washington out of some money, what do you expect?
In between the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, the American military was not a respected institution. It was mostly composed of incoming immigrants, Irish and German, who were despised by many native-borns. Quite a few soldiers defected to the Mexican side.
The war against Spain was enthusiastically supported by the American public, one ironic reason being that they believed the Spanish were treating the Cubans inhumanely. However much support they had, more soldiers died from various diseases in camps (not at all thought out very well) at home than they did in combat. America gained the Philippines from Spain at the end of the war. The Filipinos, who had no interest in being controlled once again, rebelled and soon found that the Americans were much crueler than the Spanish. The guerrilla style used by the Filipinos and the racism of American troops led to many instances much like Vietnam’s My Lai.
Veterans of Korea returned to a paranoid, anti-communist American that had to justify not winning the war. Someone had to be blamed, so why not make it the soldiers? It’s not like they’d just been through very much. POWS were actually accused of being communists and were treated as enemies. It seems very much like the treatment of WWII Soviet POWs, being sent to the Gulog once they were freed. I believe this issue is expressed in the book and movie The Manchurain Candidate, where a captured platoon returns home brainwashed by Communists.