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BOOK REVIEWS249 aging small numbers of slaves, and facing shortages ofnecessities such as shoes and salt. Marion Fitzpatrick showed constant concern for the well-being of his wife and son but realized that he could do little to manage his farm in absentia. He told Amanda, whom he referred to as a "true heroine," "You are my overseer and manager now" (m). Marion Fitzpatrick's ConfederateArmy service ended in tragedy. He received a mortal wound on April 2, 1 865, in the fighting that resulted in the Confederate evacuation of Richmond and Petersburg. Although cared for by ladies in the city of Manchester, south ofRichmond, Fitzpatrick succumbed to his wound on April 6, only three days before Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Keith S. Bohannon Penn State University Fort Riley and Its Neighbors: Military Money and Economic Growth, 1853— 1895. By William A. Dobak. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998. Pp. xvi, 241. $29.95.) My mother worked as a civil servant at Fort Riley, Kansas, during the 1960s, validating passports and travel plans for army personnel aill over the world, including ports of call for soldiers going to Vietnam. The memory of Fort Riley that stood out most clearly in her mind concerned the ancient stone barracks, which were so drafty that at times she found snow drifting across her desk. William Dobak has written the first scholarly study of how and why those old stone buildings were constructed. Fort Riley and Its Neighbors addresses the first forty years of the fort's existence . It was built in 1853 at the confluence of the Republican and Smokey Hill Rivers in northeastern Kansas. This seemed to be an ideal location for an army post, which could serve as the focal point of riverboat traffic. Some army officers, as well as civilian boosters living near the camp, also envisioned a more expansive and lucrative role for Fort Riley as a source of economic development, a "conduit for cash," as Dobak puts it. For a time, however, Fort Riley appeared to have been relegated by circumstances of geography to the economic backwater of the West. When the line of settlement advanced beyond the fort's vicinity during the decades following the Civil War, it became an obsolete institution. But the 1880s and the railroad rescued Fort Riley. It was perfectly situated in the nation's growingrailroad network as a supply depot and embarkation point. "The army used Fort Riley as an enormous hay farm," Dobak wrote. In performing such mundane services, the fort saved itself from obsolescence and came to exert a marked degree of economic influence in the region. The ebb and flow of Fort Riley's economic fortunes provide the analytic focus of Dobak's book; readers expecting a military history of battles and campaigns involving the fort are likely to be disappointed. Dobak is interested 250CIVIL WAR HISTORY primarily in what he calls the "fostering effect of military money on a local economy." He finds that the fort and the surrounding countryside enjoyed a highly ambivalent economic relationship. Kansans looked upon Fort Riley as an economic boon that providedjobs and other opportunities. But it could also be seen as a drag upon regional progress, devouring valuable local land and resources. For their part, the fort's personnel viewed their civilian neighbors as both sources of labor and nuisances who often stole timber and hay from the fort's sprawling twenty-thousand acres. Dobak does a careful, thorough job in describing these relationships. But at times Fort Riley andIts Neighbors lacks a consistent narrative focus. Part of this stems from a sparsity of primary sources, part from the author's laudable sensitivity to context, together making for a somewhat unfocused storyline. But these are relatively minor concerns. Fort Riley and Its Neighbors is a solid work of history. Dobak's research is thorough, and his conclusions are sound, filling gaps in our understanding of the economic consequences of military installations for the history of the American West. Brian Dirck Anderson University Aztec Club of 1847, Military Society of the Mexican War: A Sesquicentennial History, 1847-1997. By Richard Hoag Breithaupt Jr. (Los Angeles: Published under the Auspices of the Society...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 249-250
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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