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  • Civil War in the Southwest Borderlands, 1861–1867 by Andrew E. Masich
  • Todd W. Wahlstrom
Civil War in the Southwest Borderlands, 1861–1867. By Andrew E. Masich. ( Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016. Pp. x, 454. $34.95, ISBN 978–0-8061–5572-2.)

In the spirit of Karl Jacoby's Shadows at Dawn: A Borderlands Massacre and the Violence of History (New York, 2008), Andrew E. Masich's Civil War in the Southwest Borderlands, 1861–1867 examines the conflicts between and among Anglos, Hispanos, and Indians (the author's preferred terms) that he claims were unleashed by a power vacuum that the Civil War created. This macroscopic view, which emphasizes a shared culture of "martial masculinity," is effectively balanced with a microscopic analysis of topics including the role of the California Volunteers in the Southwest during the war (p. 31). At its core, this book is a multiwar military history that engages well with the surrounding milieu of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and intersects with central works such as James F. Brooks's Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands (Chapel Hill, 2002). Masich focuses on battles in the borderlands in graphic detail that brings in multiple combatants, making his work a notable contribution to western U.S., Civil War, and borderlands history.

The first three chapters examine the shared nexus of martial masculine cultures through an analysis of "warlike Texans," such as John R. Baylor, who fought for the Confederacy and participated in Indian extermination in Arizona (p. 50). With a detailed account of the battle of Valverde, which took place in New Mexico in February 1862, Masich captures how the battle "set a new benchmark for violent conflict in the Southwest borderlands" that engulfed Union, Confederate, Anglo, and Hispano soldiers (p. 90). In chapter 4, the Indian Depredations Case Records from the National Archives surface as a foundational source for the book (a research feat in itself) to reveal Apache and Navajo raiding and insights into warrior cultures. Masich balances his inspection of Christopher "Kit" Carson's "war of attrition" that severely diminished Indian raiding with accounts of Hispano warfare against Apaches and Navajos as reprisals for stock raids (p. 122). Here we gain a crucial window into overlapping concepts of warfare that were distinct from the "systematic extermination of an entire people," which "white exterminationists" espoused (p. 153). For Hispanos, the Civil War years were filled with suffering due to livestock and captive raids as well as compulsory service with U.S. military forces.

In chapter 5, Masich weaves French intervention into the thread of warring powers, but his analysis neglects the migration of Confederates to Mexico and colonization plans under Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. Despite the book's attention to raiding, the chapter also misses the livestock and property raids that Mexican Republicans deployed against Imperialist forces in the borderlands. [End Page 167] Nonetheless, Masich ably captures these areas when describing raids on the Santa Fe Trail as well as Kit Carson and his mixed Anglo, Hispano, and Indian force's pivotal role in postwar Indian removal campaigns. Masich maintains that logistics, leaders such as James H. Carleton, and Indian scouts and troops shifted the balance of power in the Southwest borderlands. Attention to mining, mapmaking, U.S. military occupation, and declining morale among occupying California Volunteers fills out the study effectively.

Chapter 6 reasserts the common binding thread of "martial masculinity, honor, and vengeance" among Anglos, Hispanos, and Indians along with key distinctions such as an "ethic of restrained martial manhood" among most common Anglo fighters as opposed to the genocidal strategy previously outlined (pp. 269, 273). This chapter also depicts slavery in the borderlands with its adoptive components, the disintegration of Indian communities, and the violence that indirectly sprang from the Civil War in a way that fanned "the smoldering embers of cultural and economic insecurity into flames of war" (p. 286). This study ultimately encapsulates those flames for academic and public audiences remarkably well.

Todd W. Wahlstrom
Pepperdine University–Seaver College
...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2325-6893
Print ISSN
0022-4642
Pages
pp. 167-168
Launched on MUSE
2018-02-07
Open Access
No
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