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Images of the U.S.-Mexican War
Sam Chamberlain's Mexican War Watercolor Paintings

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[About Sam Chamberlain's Watercolors]


Sam Chamberlain watercolor
Sam in his old age, recalling the Mexican War.

Sam Chamberlain watercolor
Sam as a sergeant in the Alton Guards, 2nd Regiment of Illinois Volunteers.

Sam Chamberlain watercolor
Storming of the Bishop's Palace, Monterey, Sept. 1846.

Sam Chamberlain watercolor
U.S. soldiers watching Mexican civilians march out of Parras.

Sam Chamberlain watercolor
Young Sam at a fandango (a Mexican dance).

Sam Chamberlain watercolor
Paso del Diablo (the Devil's Pass), near Parras, Mexico.

Sam Chamberlain watercolor
The First Dragoons in a charge against Mexican troops.

Sam Chamberlain watercolor
U.S. soldiers gathered around a campfire in Northern Mexico.

Sam Chamberlain watercolor
Sam visiting two of his Mexican girlfriends, the Traveinia sisters.

Sam Chamberlain watercolor
A fandango hall at Monterey.

Sam Chamberlain watercolor
Sam in a knife-fight.

Sam Chamberlain watercolor
Sarah Borginnes, also known as "The Great Western" or the "Heroine of Fort Brown."

Sam Chamberlain watercolor
Sam witnessing a marriage in camp at Chihuahua.

Sam Chamberlain watercolor
The Battle of Buena Vista, Feb. 21-23, 1847.

Sam Chamberlain watercolor
The hanging of the San Patricio battalion deserters at the Battle of Chapultepec, September 1847.


About Sam Chamberlain's Watercolors

When the U.S.-Mexican War began in 1846, Sam Chamberlain was an adventurous 17 year old lad from Boston, Massachusetts who was living with relatives in Alton, Illinois. After joining the Illinois Volunteers, young Sam went with his regiment to San Antonio, Texas. There, he was mustered out of service after he became seriously ill. As soon as he recovered, however, Sam joined the 1st Regiment of Dragoons under Col. William S. Harney.

As a dragoon, or mounted rifleman, Sam saw service in Northern Mexico as part of the forces under the command of Gen. Zachary Taylor, who went on to become President of the United States in 1848. Although he later claimed to have taken part in the Battle of Monterey in September 1846, the only major engagement in which Sam actually participated was was the Battle of Buena Vista, which took place near Saltillo, Mexico in February 1847.

Many years after the war, Sam began writing an account of his Mexican War service, which he illustrated with primitive but colorful watercolors. It tells the story of a bold youth, tall with long blond hair, who seemed constantly to be falling in love with Mexican seņoritas and fighting one enemy after another, some in hand-to-hand combat.

Written and illustrated probably for his daughters (each of whom was named for one of Sam's Mexican girlfriends), Sam's "Recollections of a Rogue" was discovered in an antique shop in the 1950s and published for the first time (with some of the more dubious portions left out) in 1956.

In 1993, the Texas State Historical Association published Sam Chamberlain's Mexican War, a collection of Sam's watercolors that are owned by the San Jacinto Museum of History and in 1996, TSHA published My Confession: Recollections of a Rogue in its entirety, including every single one of the watercolors Sam had used to illustrate it.

Sam's original manuscript, along with the paintings that illustrate it, is presently housed in the West Point Museum.


Photos of Sam Chamberlain's watercolor paintings courtesy the Summerlee Foundation of Dallas, Texas. Used with permission of TIME-LIFE, Inc., which owns the copyright.


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