In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

542Southwestern Historical QuarterlyApril excursions, and proprieties of her contemporaries. All said, the diary's greatest gift to the present is Sallie herself—the joys, sorrows, and observations of a truly remarkable woman. University of Texas-Pan AmericanLinda English Class and Race in the Frontier Army: Military Life in the West, i8]o-i8po. By Kevin Adams. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2009. Pp. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 9780806139814, $34.95 cloth) Austin American-Statesman columnist Mike Kelley wrote about the aftermath ofa Christmas gift, a kitty, inflicted on an acquaintance. The recipient's litany of "budgetary hemorrhage" included vet bills, shredded drapes, and gourmet cat food. "You can look at this as having played a major part in stimulating the economy," Kelley offered. "Or you can look at it from the vantage point of the boat I could have bought if I hadn't had the cat," mused the friend—a matter of perspective. "A new vantage point from which to look . . . over the meaning of immigration , industrialization, and the evolution of Gilded Age culture and society" through a "social and cultural history of daily life in the frontier army," (10) is Professor Kevin Adams's aim in Class and Race in the FrontierArmy. It was a remarkable army, he argues, largely disregarded by Congress, relegated to missions in a neglected theater ofoperations. Indian wars did not comprise the Army's primary mission. While the Army recorded 2,713 deaths from diseases over a nine-year period, Indian war deaths (1865-1890) numbered 948 (210 of whom died with General George Custer at the Little Bighorn) . The Gilded Age Army's broader task included "guaranteeing the social order" (Adams's idiom for assisting local law enforcement to chase outlaws and keep order during civil unrest), running surveys, and intervening after natural disasters (blizzards, droughts, insect infestations ). The frontier Army even enabled the U.S. National Weather Service to begin operations in 1890 thanks to data compiled by the Army Signal Corps. Adams argues that these accomplishments are all the more remarkable of an institution plagued, like the rest ofVictorian America, by issues ofclass and race. As America's industry and commerce grew, so did divisions between working classes and corporate management. Class issues in the frontier army likewise troubled enlisted soldiers who resented fatigue duty (including army post construction and maintenance, a job for laborers, not soldiers) and personal chores for officers. "Native-born soldiers . . . were more concerned about the challenges to their working -class identity . . . posed by army practices that treated them as ordinary laborers " (10). Immigrant recruits hoping to escape European caste oppression felt particularly the sting of social distinctions. Moreover, the small frontier garrisons made it difficult to maintain a physical distance "to preserve lines ofauthority and class" (152). Proximity of enlisted troops to officers provoked resentment against these "gentlemen" and class distinctions. Commissioned officers were the Victorian elite, better educated (West Point or civilian college) and better paid, comparing favorably to 90 percent ofAmerican 2Oio Book Reviews543 civilian pay. With Brahmin privileges, they presided over enlisted ranks but left the daily operational duties to company sergeants. Officers, opined a Sixth Cavalry Regiment colonel, were not expected to work. Consequently, Adams insists, enlisted soldiers bore the burden. Adams's recurrent censure of the military's less-than-egalitarian state reflects an innocence of the demands of military life. Exasperation over mundane chores, routine training, and authority stretches from Macedonian hoplites to hometown national guards. Aggravation over seemingly omnipresent high-handed patrician officers even drew the wrath of WWII cartoonist Bill Mauldin who lampooned them in such drawings as his depiction of an Army captain standing atop a mountain peak overlooking a scenic valley, exclaiming, "Beautiful view. Is there one for die enlisted men?" Class and Race is a new theme within Frederick Jackson Turner's American West fugue. Adams seeks a "fuller understanding ... in the conquest of Native America," drawing him beyond Indian warfare by and into class tensions of the frontier army. By his own admission, he is not writing a conventional military history . Instead, America's frontier army is Adams's metaphor of America's Gilded Age, crossing the Mississippi to (apologies to Tennyson...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9560
Print ISSN
0038-478X
Pages
pp. 542-543
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.