William Tylee Ranney celebrates the exuberance of the end of battle in this lively scene of Revolutionary War veterans returning home to take up their lives in a new republic. But more recent events also mark this canvas: specifically, the U.S. war with Mexico between 1846 and 1848. Astute viewers would have recognized the anachronistic combination of Revolutionary War battle sites painted on the sides of the wagon and the modern U.S. Army symbol branded on the horse's flank.
North Carolinian Ranney had experienced battle firsthand as a veteran of the Texas war for independence, in which he enlisted the week after the fall of the Alamo. But there are even further parallels: in 1848, a year in which revolutions rocked Europe, paintings such as this celebrated America's stability as a republic and its influence upon the formation of other nation-states.