Bravura in U.S. military operations reached an early crescendo in the nineteenth century with General Scott’s amphibious invasion of Veracruz during the Mexican-American War, the largest action of such kind to that date in the polity’s history. Certainly, it can be argued that the pre-condition for Scott’s bold maneuver was Zachary Taylor’s highly successful campaign in northern Mexico, thus engendering the feasibility of the opening of a new front. Nevertheless, the individual success of Scott’s amphibious attack demonstrates the clear importance of the American Navy to this campaign.
Scott was described by President Polk as “scientific and visionary in his views”, an opinion that bears itself out in the diligent planning of the landing. Scott possessed a profound consciousness of the minutiae of military operations, and realized that the success of the operation was derivative of the efficient interlacement of both navy and army forces. For example, Scott stressed communication, such that what was developed were a “set of new signals that both sailors and soldiers could understand.” Moreover, the navy contributed to the establishment of “landing procedures and designed small double-ended surfboats to take soldiers and supplies ashore.” Furthermore, owing to Mexico’s lack of naval power, the U.S. Navy was able to establish clear dominance of the waters, such that it was crucial in both enforcing blockades and attacking the coast .
The U.S. Navy thus allowed Scott to add another dimension to the campaign in Mexico, supplementing the already successful ground attacks of Taylor, whilst giving the Mexicans another theatre of concern. Whereas Mexico’s absence of significance naval forces all but guaranteed U.S. dominance of the seas, it was nevertheless the effective utilization and performance of the Navy that made this “paper tiger” a reality.
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