The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

1853 - 1855 period. Here we read of Davis's reluctant decision to become
secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce, and his susbsequent
success as the most outstanding administrator of the War Department
in its first century. We see his efforts to reform and reorganize the depart-
ment, especially the staffs of the Quartermaster, Commissary, Ordnance,
Engineers, and Medical Corps; his use of the military to explore, map,
and promote civil works; and his feuds with various members of the
military establishment, including General Winfield Scott.
Because of the growing amount of material, the editors state in volume
5 that a comprehensive treatment is "no longer feasible" (p. xix). For
these years they have included items involving War Department policy;
official correspondence with Congress and correspondence concerning in-
ventions and arms contracts; Davis's letters of recommendation and in-
troduction; letters regarding arms for militia units and requests for
patronage; reports involving Capitol or Post Office projects (except routine
monthly reports); reports on projects of the Corps of Engineers and on
the famed camel experiment; annual reports; and political correspondence.
Routine matters have been omitted.
As in the preceding volumes, the editors have supplied copious annota-
tion, providing much of the kind of data that interests scholars. Readers
with a less serious interest in Davis will find some of this heavy going,
but, as Vandiver, Wiley, and Monroe envisioned, this volume and its
predecessors are indeed definitive.
Stephen F. Austin State University ARCHIE P. MCDONALD
High Plains Yesterdays: From XIT Days through Drought and Depression. By
John C. Dawson, Sr. (Austin: Eakin Press, 1985. Pp. xiv + 274.
Foreword, preface, acknowledgments, introduction, map, illustra-
tions, photographs, index. $14.95.)
John C. Dawson, Sr., combines personal reminiscences with second-
hand accounts (mostly from interviews) to evoke a region and an era -
the northwestern Texas Panhandle from 1907 to 1938. These were the
transitional, hard-time years that witnessed the final breakup of the large
cattle spreads, the advent of the plow, and the miseries of the dust bowl.
The chief value of the book lies in its picture of the impact of such events
on the lives of individual ranchers, farmers, and townspeople.
Part I, "The First Generation Settlers," centers on Dalhart and en-
virons, depicting the settlement of that area through a generally
chronological series of character sketches, anecdotes, and vignettes. While
Dawson, son of a pioneer Dalhart physician, laments the consequences
of dryfarming on grassland, he celebrates the spirit of those who tried

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/. Accessed September 16, 2014.