- Texans and War: New Interpretations of the State's Military History ed. by Alexander Mendoza and Charles David Grear
In the introduction to Texans and War, Alexander Mendoza and Charles D. Grear state that "Texas is forever associated with the concept of war." They fortify that contention by adding, "Texas and Texans have also played significant roles in American military history" (1). They are not the first to offer this theme. In 1995, Joseph G. Dawson said much the same in in his The Texas Military Experience: From the Texas Revolution through World War II; however, the two editors hold that much more remains to be done.
Mendoza and Grear's work covers military history in the broadest sense. Thomas A. Britten's chapter on Indian wars in Texas notes that Indian dominance in the state was ended by the advent of white Texan numbers, advanced weapons, and sophisticated agriculture. Alexander Mendoza's chapter notes how Tejanos (Mexican Texans) fought for both the Union and the Confederacy. Melanie A. Kirkland's chapter examines Texas women at war, emphasizing the first and second World Wars as well as Iraq and Afghanistan. The influence of war and military service on African Texans from Estevanico, the African member of Cabeza de Vaca's group in the sixteenth century, to the integration of blacks into the American military in the twentieth century is the ambitious but well-handled topic of Alwyn Barr's essay. "The Patriot-Warrior Mystique" by Jimmy L. Bryan Jr. is a particularly engrossing chapter, focusing on individuals who came to Texas seeking fortune, fame, honor, and adventure. Charles D. Grear takes a look at the dilemmas faced by Comal County German Texans during the Civil War and World War I. The predominantly Catholic and Lutheran immigrants were hostile to slavery; they loved Texas but did not want to secede. During World War I, they faced conscription in the United States, when many still had family ties in Germany.
The second part of the book takes a chronological approach. Francis X. Galán's "Between Imperial Warfare," examines smuggling on the borderlands of Texas and Louisiana 1754-85; the proximity of the Comanche, Caddo, and Lipan Apache produced additional problems in smuggling, which accounted for two-thirds of all commerce. Kendall Milton's chapter on the U.S.-Mexico War holds that this war, caught in the middle, is overshadowed by both the Texas War for Independence and the Civil War. She may be correct in terms of numbers, but there are a handful of major works and the Southwestern Historical Quarterly dedicated an entire edition to the war in its July 1973 issue. In "The Prolonged War: Texans Struggle to Win the Civil War during Reconstruction," Kenneth W. Howell contends [End Page 206] that warfare continued to exist in the former Confederacy in order to return the South to its antebellum order. Texas became "the home of terrorist groups and outlaw gangs that were supported by the dominant Democratic Party" (198). In the essay that follows, James M. McCaffrey examines the effort to recruit yellow-fever survivors to serve during the Spanish-American War in a program that was dismally unsuccessful due to insubordination, drunkenness, and other misdeeds. In a chapter titled "Surveillance on the Border: American Intelligence and the Tejano Community during World War I," José A. Ramirez comments on the difficulties Tejanos experienced as a result of the American suspicions toward Mexico. "Texan Prisoners of the Japanese: A Study in Survival" by Kelly E. Crager highlights the horrors experienced by a select group of prisoners for whom, the author maintains, "a common Texas heritage and identity helped these men bond very closely" (239). In "Lyndon B. Johnson's 'Bitch of a War'" James M. Smallwood offers that in the United States the struggle came to be known as "Mr. Johnson's War," as the "torn president" had no solution...