Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Flores has a tendency to diminish the importance of Meriwether Lewis
and William Clark and the rigors of the Missouri River exploration
as he builds his case for the significance of Freeman and Custis.
Still, Jeferson and Southwestern Exploration provides a vivid por-
trait of the rugged Red River, its environs, and the role of the river
itself in the turbulent history of the Southwest.
Center for Western Studies, Joslyn Art Museum JOSEPH C. PORTER
Forts and Supplies: The Role of the Army in the Economy of the
Southwest, 1846-186. By Robert W. Frazer. (Albuquerque: The
University of New Mexico Press, 1983. Pp. x+253. Preface, illus-
trations, tables, maps, notes, bibliography, index. $22.50.)
Between the Mexican War and the Civil War the Southwest ex-
perienced rapid economic growth, to which the army was a significant
contributing factor. Among the major changes were population in-
crease; agricultural development; growth of the livestock industry,
manufacturing, milling and other businesses; and the addition of nu-
merous jobs created by military patronage.
Based upon meticulous research in the National Archives, the New
Mexico State Research Center, and other depositories, this volume
examines in great detail the role of the army in the economic develop-
ment of the Southwest during that critical fifteen-year period. So de-
tailed, in fact, is this account that it must be considered as primarily a
reference work rather than a monograph.
The essential ingredients of the book include a discussion of the
establishment, occasional relocation, and economic significance of all
the major forts of the Southwest, the development of the army pro-
curement system and its relation to the local population, the effects of
the policies of various commanders as they sought to carry out their
orders, and the significance of the cost, price, and availability of every
commodity bought or sold by the army. The reader who desires highly
detailed information of this type, down to the price of fodder per
arroba or corn per fanega at any given time between 1846 and 1861,
has come to the right place in selecting this volume.
The fact that Forts and Supplies is not very readable should not be
construed as a major flaw in assessing its significance. It is good history
and it is a useful contribution, even if its style is tedious. The major
flaw in this work, if there is one, lies in the fact that in focusing so
closely upon the army the author failed to place its economic role in
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/. Accessed December 21, 2013.