Henry Hopkins Sibley: Confederate General of the West. By Jerry Thompson.
Foreword by Frank E. Vandiver. (Natchitoches, La.: Northwest-
ern State University Press, 1987. Pp. xix+399. Foreword, preface,
introduction, maps, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $25,
Mexican Texans in the Union Army. By Jerry D. Thompson. (El Paso:
Texas Western Press, 1986. Pp. ix+82. Introduction, maps, illus-
trations, tables, notes. $4, paper).
Jerry Thompson, professor at Laredo College, has added two new
volumes to his studies of military history in the Southwest. The career
of Henry Hopkins Sibley included most of the major campaigns and
activities of United States Army officers during the mid-nineteenth
century. After graduation from the United States Military Academy in
1838, the lieutenant from Louisiana married, served in the Second
Seminole War, conducted recruiting for the Second Dragoons, and
fought with Winfield Scott from Vera Cruz to Mexico City in the 184os.
In the 1850os Sibley commanded Forts Graham, Croghan, Phantom
Hill, and Belknap on the Texas Indian frontier. There he developed
the Sibley tent, patterned after a Comanche teepee. He kept peace be-
tween northern and southern settlers in Kansas and participated in a
harsh winter march into Utah to confirm United States authority over
the Mormons in the late 185os. In New Mexico he served in an unsuc-
cessful campaign against the Navajo Indians during 186o.
When the Civil War began, Sibley, a Confederate brigadier general,
led an unsuccessful invasion of New Mexico in 1862. He directed his
cavalry brigade in Louisiana in early 1863, but because of mistakes he
did not command a unit for the rest of the war. To recoup his reputa-
tion and fortune Sibley served as a general in the Egyptian army from
1870 to 1873. He spent his last years with his daughter in Virginia be-
fore his death in 1886.
Thompson has written a detailed biography based on thorough re-
search. Sibley is treated fairly, with thoughtful discussions of his con-
flicts with other officers, his poor health, which led to frequent drink-
ing, and the military failures that followed. In a generally well-written
volume there are a few passages that seem vague or lack balance, such
as the accounts of some battles in Mexico and the descriptions of some
In his briefer account, Mexican Texans in the Union Army, Thompson
uses new research to expand upon his earlier volume, Vaqueros in Blue
and Gray. He describes conflicts between Union and Confederate Te-
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/. Accessed August 1, 2014.