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

Book Reviews

pact of land sales of allotted land varied from agency to agency. By 1951, in thir-
teen central and western Oklahoma agencies, Indians retained from 2.8 to 69
percent of their previously allotted land.
Using data largely from the Northwest and northern plains, the author creates
an unbalanced account, since other regions are mentioned only peripherally. Al-
so, the fate of "noncompetent" allottees whose land was sold under federal su-
pervision is ignored. During the Wilson administration, their trust funds were
distributed more rapidly so that by 1934 many, young and old, were utterly desti-
tute. Nonetheless, within its parameters, this is a well-researched and clearly writ-
ten analysis that presents, quite correctly, a stinging indictment of federal Indian
Lafayette, Indiana DONALD J. BERTHRONG
Army of Manifest Destiny: The American Soldier in the Mexican War, z846-z848. By
James M. McCaffrey (New York: New York University Press, 1992. Pp.
xvi+275. Preface, index, bibliography, notes, maps, photographs. $45.00.)
May 13, 1996, marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of the United States'
declaration of war against Mexico. Interest in a modern reassessment of this un-
popular war of conquest is beginning to stir throughout both countries. The Hi-
dalgo County Historical Museum has mounted an important exhibit on the war,
and a bill to create a military park at Palo Alto has been introduced in Congress.
In fact, the prospect of a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Mexico act-
ed as a catalyst to stimulate a more general and deeper interest in the history
and culture of the borderlands.
In this same spirit of rediscovery, James McCaffrey of the University of Hous-
ton-Downtown has completed a social history of the American soldier who
fought and died to "conquer a peace" with Mexico. McCaffrey has attempted,
successfully, to do for the soldiers of the Mexican War what Bell I. Wiley did for
American fighting men of the Civil War. Rather than paint the history of the war
with a broad brush, or even focus with some detail on the history of a single regi-
ment, the author has chosen to examine the war from the microscopic viewpoint
of the individual soldier. This unique view is based on McCaffrey's meticulous
research of private journals and letters written by American soldiers. The Mexi-
can War is described in a multitude of voices, some eloquent and some semiliter-
ate, some from the common private soldier and some from the elite officer
corps; all have been woven together to create a compelling tapestry. Army life is
cussed and discussed, and judgmental fingers of blame are pointed, often in op-
posite directions. Perhaps military life has changed very little in the last century
and a half. A chapter, titled "Nearly all who take sick die," on the mid-nine-
teenth century treatment of wounds and diseases is especially enlightening; the
lowly amoeba killed many more soldiers than did Mexican musket balls.
Letters written home by American soldiers were often biased. Personal hero-
ism and suffering could be exaggerated, while incidents of theft, rape, and mur-
der against Mexican citizens could be omitted. Little was ever recorded in


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 1, 2015.