The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

upon to confront Union threats to the coast or from the state's northern or
eastern borders. To augment this thin gray line, the state was once again con-
strained to call upon its traditional defenders, the Texas Rangers. The ongoing
debate over the ultimate responsibility for Texas's security contributed greatly
to the states' rights controversy that was perhaps as fatal to the Confederacy as
was the Union army.
In his detailed and exhaustively researched study of Texas's frontier defense
during the Civil War, David Paul Smith examines the life and death of this
little-studied backwater of the Confederacy and finds full measure of tragedy,
heroism, and sacrifice, too often lost sight of against the larger-scale but no
more colorful background of the Civil War in Virginia, Tennessee, and Geor-
gia. Although the regular and ranger forces were considerably diminished
both in numbers and quality of recruits during the war years, Smith argues,
contrary to most previous scholarship, that the frontier did not experience
severe erosion during the war nor did the line of settlement recede before
increased Indian raids. Rather, the undermanned and increasingly makeshift
defense forces, although never able to undertake large-scale offensive opera-
tions against the Indians, such as the Army and rangers had successfully done
in 1858, held their own against the Plains raiders. Such debacles as the disas-
trous battle of Dove Creek, Smith contends, were merely isolated incidents in
the career of an otherwise efficient if overextended, defense force.
As the war progressed, however, an enemy of another sort appeared on the
Texas frontier. Huge numbers of deserters, draft evaders, and even such rene-
gade Confederates as William C. Quantrill's band of marauders sought haven
on Texas's western perimeter, setting at defiance Confederate authority and
adding a new factor of uncertainty to the daily lives of more peaceable citizens.
With these disparate elements, as well as their more traditional foes, the men
of the frontier defense forces were increasingly compelled, and with only lim-
ited success, to contend. To their credit, Smith demonstrates, these Confeder-
ates, like their counterparts in the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army
of Tennessee, endured not only the danger of combat, most often without pay,
but the hardship of constant shortage of provisions and equipment, and in
large measure remained faithful to their trust long after their cause was clearly
lost. Indeed, even after the collapse of the Confederacy elsewhere, the men of
the frontier defense establishment remained at their posts, knowing that they
alone stood between their homes and families and what they considered an
implacable and ruthless foe. This commendation of their service is long over-
due, and David Paul Smith is to be commended as well for turning the eyes of
Civil War scholars toward the Texas frontier and the men who served there.
Arizona State Universzty West THOMAS W. CUTRER
Embrace an Angry Wind: The Confederacy's Last Hurrah: Spring Hill, Franklin, and
Nashville. By Wiley Sword. (New York: Harper Collins, 1992. Pp. xii + 499.
Acknowledgments, preface, bibliography, index, maps, photographs.


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 26, 2016.

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