Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/406

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CHAPTER XVII.


THE ARMY, PRESS, AND POLITICAL SITUATION.


THE Mexican army is to-day, stronger in actual numbers than that of the United States, and in spite of the prevailing stringency in the treasury, tolerably well paid, and in a good state of discipline and efficiency. The army absorbs half the annual revenue of the Republic, but as it must not only garrison the towns and maintain peace, but do guard duty, patrol the road, fight pronunciados and bandidos, escort travelers, and specie and imported goods trains, and do a variety of other work not often required of an army in other countries, it would seem impossible, in the present condition of the country, to reduce its numbers. I doubt if it can be done safely for years to come.

The men are generally stout, compact, muscular, and active—though less in stature than American soldiers—very enduring, and capable of marching rapidly and on the smallest amount of food. They are, nearly all, of the dark, bronze hue, which indicates pure, or nearly pure Indian blood, but the commissioned officers are usually of lighter complexion. They are well drilled, mostly armed with American muskets or breech-loaders, and march with great precision. There are three battalions constantly on duty at and around the Palacio Nacional, and others are in various parts of the city.