Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

New World Soldiers, Old War Customs


Mexican Soldiers

One Military Under Hats




Compared to the Indian Army from the same time period, the hats are what stand out the most. To an untrained eye like mine, the uniforms appear to be much more European compared to their counterparts on the other hemisphere. This appears to suggest that Europeanization was far more complete in Mexican culture than in India. Three soldiers in the photo (two in the doorway, one in the front) appear to have hats not unlike those found in the United States during the time period, suggesting there was some level of cultural exchange between America and Mexico. The soldiers appear to be posing for a picture, but the crookedness of some of their hats gives one the impression that perhaps this is a militia as opposed to professional military unit. It is hard to tell from the picture, but one of the soldiers appears to be black and the man in the hat in the front row appears slightly more Caucasian than the other soldiers.

The soldiers are also awkwardly positioned. They almost appear to be trying hard to appear like professional soldiers, but with only the exception of the man with a cigar who seems to struck a natural pose, the others appear ill at lease, further suggesting that the soldiers are perhaps not a part of a professional military, but a militia. The picture is from 1897, more than a decade prior to the Mexican Revolution. This raises the question of whether militias were common even before the Mexican Revolution, whether the soldiers in this picture are a part of militia at all, or if not whether Mexican soldiers were just poorly trained. This picture also demands the question, to what level was the Mexican military integrated? Later on in the Mexican Revolution, did ethnic differences matter in the various rival factions? Did integration of the Mexican Armed Forces serve as a model to help the United States when President Truman integrated our military?

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