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246 Western American Literature The wind veered while we were at dinner, and began to blow squally from the mountain summit; and by half-past one all that world of sea-fogs was utterly routed and flying here and there into the south in little rags of cloud. And instead of a longe sea-beach, we found ourselves once more inhabiting a high mountainside, with the light smoke of Calistoga blowing in the air. Perhaps the tone here, as throughout The Silverado Squatters, is too idyllic, but Stevenson is a man on the threshold of his marriage and of his career, and we can forgive him some romanticising. It is important enough that he recorded his year in the American West and that Professor Hart has made the record available to us. J o h n S. B u lle n , Sonoma State College The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West. By William H. Leckie. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1967. xiv plus 290 pages, $5.95.) During the Civil War nearly 180,000 Negroes served in the Union Army, and more than 33,000 died in places like Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana, Point Lookout, Virginia, and Fort Pillow, Tennessee. Hundreds of them fell in one gallant but doomed charge into the “Crater” before Petersburg on July 30, 1864. But after the war there were still many who doubted the ability and courage of Negro soldiers. Not until July, 1866, when the Congress was faced with spreading Indian war in the West, did it authorize the recruitment of Negroes for four regiments of infantry and two of cavalry. Early in August, General Grant ordered General Philip Sheridan and General William T. Sherman to organize the Ninth and Tenth United States Cavalry. It is the story of these two cavalry regiments that William H. Leckie has told in The Buffalo Soldiers. (The Indians called the Negro troopers “buffalo soldiers,” probably because they saw a similarity between the Negroes’ hair and that of the buffalo. But the term soon became one of grudging respect, and the troops themselves adopted it: a figure of a buffalo was the most prominent part of the regimental crest of the Tenth Cavalry.) Leckie not only has made himself thoroughly familiar with available historical scholar­ ship but has also dug deep into federal publications, the National Archives, and the manuscript collections of state historical societies. And from this re­ Reviews 247 search he has built a carefully documented, thoroughly reliable account of the exploits of the Negro cavalry between 1866 and 1891. The sheer volume of material that Leckie has assembled enforces both the great virtue and the unavoidable shortcoming of the book. Its virtue is in its compression, its inexorable record of one engagement after another during the twenty-four years that the two regiments campaigned on the Great Plains, in Western Texas, in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and the Dakotas. Its necessary shortcoming is that it cannot stop to linger for more than a paragraph or two when a trooper’s heroism wins a Congressional Medal, when troopers assist the posse that nearly captures Billy the Kid, or when Lieutenant Henry Flipper, the one Negro officer in the U. S. Army in 1882, is courtmartialed and dismissed from the service. It can give only brief chapters to the campaigns against Victorio and Geronimo. Leckie is detailed but restrained in recounting the prejudice and dis­ crimination that was “ever harrassing, hampering, and embarrassing” the efforts of the buffalo soldiers. He rightly complains that “their contributions still go largely unknown or unheralded.” But when he writes that theirs “is a record in which every American can take justifiable pride,” he seems in­ sensitive to the irony of employing Negro troops to exterminate Indian tribes for the benefit of white men who despised both dark skinned races. E v e r e tt L. Jo n e s, University of California, Los Angeles1 Western America in 1846-47: The Original Travel Diary of Lieutenant J. W. Abert who mapped New Mexico for the United States Army. Edited by John Galvin. (San Francisco, John Howell Books, 1966. 174 pages, illus., maps, $7.50.) In...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 246-247
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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