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The Letters of Private Eddie Matthews, 1869–1874
During his five years in the army, Private Edward L. Matthews wrote a series of exceptionally detailed and engaging letters to his family back home in Maryland describing his life in the Arizona and New Mexico Territories. Eddie Matthews’s letters, published here for the first time, provide an unparalleled chronicle of one soldier’s experiences in garrison and in the field in the post–Civil War Southwest.
Eddie’s letters record a vivid chronicle of day-to-day life in the frontier regulars. Included are operational details in his company, candid observations of people and places, intimate views of frontier society, and personal opinions that probably would have been forgotten or moderated had he recorded his experiences later in life. More subtle are his valuable references to the state of transportation and communication in the Southwest during the early 1870s. Matthews probably did not realize until later years that he was not only a witness to the nation’s rapid westward expansion, but was himself a tiny cog in the machinery that made it possible.
A History and a Guide
Arizona's Crusading Seven-Term Governor
Diehard Western Confederates
John R. Lundberg’s compelling new military history chronicles the evolution of Granbury’s Texas Brigade, perhaps the most distinguished combat unit in the Confederate Army of Tennessee. Named for its commanding officer, Brigadier General Hiram B. Granbury, the brigade fought tenaciously in the western theater even after Confederate defeat seemed certain. Granbury’s Texas Brigade explores the motivations behind the unit’s decision to continue to fight, even as it faced demoralizing defeats and Confederate collapse. Using a vast array of letters, diaries, and regimental documents, Lundberg offers provocative insight into the minds of the unit’s men and commanders. The caliber of that leadership, he concludes, led to the group’s overall high morale. Lundberg asserts that although mass desertion rocked Granbury’s Brigade early in the war, that desertion did not necessarily indicate a lack of commitment to the Confederacy but merely a desire to fight the enemy closer to home. Those who remained in the ranks became the core of Granbury’s Brigade and fought until the final surrender. Morale declined only after Union bullets cut down much of the unit’s officer corps at the Battle of Franklin in 1864. After the war, Lundberg shows, men from the unit did not abandon the ideals of the Confederacy—they simply continued their devotion in different ways. Granbury’s Texas Brigade presents military history at its best, revealing a microcosm of the Confederate war effort and aiding our understanding of the reasons men felt compelled to fight in America’s greatest tragedy.
The 1544 Investigation of the Coronado Expedition
Only two years after Coronado’s expedition to what is now New Mexico, Spanish officials conducted an inquiry into the effects of the expedition on the native people Coronado encountered. The documents that record that investigation are at the heart of this book. These depositions are as fresh as today’s news. Published both in the original Spanish and in English translation, they provide an unparalleled wealth of information about the Indians’ responses to the Europeans and the attitudes of the Europeans toward the native peoples.
Nathan Kallison and the Rise of South Texas
Clayton Wheat Williams and the Transfsormation of the Trans-Pecos
Clayton Wheat Williams—West Texas oilman, rancher, civic leader, veteran of the Great War, and avocational historian—was a risk taker, who both reflected and molded the history of his region. His life spanned a dynamic period in Texas history when automobiles replaced horse-drawn wagons, electricity replaced steam power in the oilfields, and barren and virtually worthless ranch land became valuable for the oil and gas under its surface. The setting for Williams’s story, like that of his father before him, is Fort Stockton in the rugged Trans-Pecos region of Texas. As a youngster accompanying his father on surveying trips through the land, and subsequently as a cadet at Texas A&M, he developed a toughness that served him well in France and Flanders. His letters home provide an unusually nuanced picture of what life was like for an American officer in Europe during the Great War. After the war, he returned home, where he taught himself petroleum geology—so effectively that he picked the site of what would become in 1928 the deepest producing oil well in the world. With his brother, he mapped the structure of what later became the Fort Stockton oil and gas field, and he went on to hammer out a successful career in the boom and bust cycles of the West Texas oil industry. On the civic front, Williams served for fourteen years as a Pecos County commissioner, and he held offices in a number of social and civic organizations. Imbued with a deep love for the history of his region, he wrote (with the editorial help of historian Ernest Wallace at Texas Tech University) Texas’ Last Frontier: Fort Stockton and the Trans-Pecos, 1861–1895, published by Texas A&M University Press in 1982. Nonetheless, by some of his neighbors he may be best remembered for his role in drying up the town’s famous Comanche Springs by pumping water feeding the spring’s aquifer to irrigate his and others’ farms west of town. Williams left behind a treasure trove of letters, personal papers and writings, and interviews with his family, helping document in rich detail the history of an unforgiving land as well as what life was like during a pivotal period of American history. These materials, which form the core of the present manuscript, reveal a life that made a difference in the economy and history of the region and the nation at large.
Fray Alonso de Benavides's History of New Mexico, 1630
The most thorough account ever written of southwestern life in the early seventeenth century, this engaging book was first published in 1630 as an official report to the king of Spain by Fray Alonso de Benavides, a Portuguese Franciscan who was the third head of the mission churches of New Mexico. In 1625, Father Benavides and his party traveled north from Mexico City to New Mexico, a strange land of frozen rivers, Indian citadels, and mines full of silver and garnets. Benavides and his Franciscan brothers built schools, erected churches, engineered peace treaties, and were said to perform miracles.
Benavides’s riveting exploration narrative provides portraits of the Pueblo Indians, the Apaches, and the Navajos at a time of fundamental change. It also gives us the first full picture of European colonial life in the southern Rockies, the southwestern deserts, and the Great Plains, along with an account of mission architecture and mission life and a unique evocation of faith in the wilderness.