The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

on them. Considering the wide variety of specialized vessels necessary to conduct
the surveys he discusses, more description and, perhaps, some illustrations were
warranted.
It is surprising to read how much activity there was even in the most remote
regions of the Gulf of Mexico coast-including the Texas coast-during the
eighteenth century. Weddle places it all within a geopolitical framework that en-
riches the cultural and historical heritage of the region. Changing Tides and its
companion volumes are an outstanding achievement in early American history
and deserve to be incorporated in the next generation of history texts at every
level.
Southwest Texas State University JESlS F. DE LA TEJA
Recollections of Western Texas. Edited by Robert Wooster. (Austin: Book Club of
Texas, 1995. Pp. 109. Preface, appendix, index. $95.00.)
In 1856 birds of passage William and John Wright returned to their native Ire-
land after a five-year enlistment as privates in the U.S. Army. The next year a
London editor published their account of their experiences and observations of
what they called Western Texas-actually the harsh brush and desert country be-
tween San Antonio and the Rio Grande. With an insightful introduction and re-
vealing annotations, the very capable western military scholar Robert Wooster
has breathed new life into this antebellum travelogue. His diligent research has
also put faces on these previously anonymous soldiers. The press, moreover, has
further illuminated Recollections by adding a map and engraved illustrations from
contemporary sources.
Readers will find equal measures of military, social, regional, and natural his-
tory, often couched in flowery but undistracting nineteenth-century prose. The
account conveys all of the immediacy, prejudice, and discernment one would ex-
pect from common folk who had recently participated in the many-sided strug-
gle among Europeans, Mexicans, and various Indian tribes. Its style is also
marked by the original editor's pandering to the appetites of English readers
hungry for romantic and sensational images of rough and exotic lands. A digest
of post life and details about the methods of the Mounted Rifles, to which the
brothers were attached, demonstrated the concessions that soldiers made to the
environment and also provides a contrast to more numerous accounts of post-
Civil War army life. The brothers' role in an Indian campaign largely fulfilled
promises of high adventure, as the expedition skirmished with Comanches and
Lipans, encountered Mexican "filibusters," and both enjoyed and suffered the
fruits and hardships of a land alternately blessed and cursed by nature.
Do not expect to find a dog-eared and pencil-marked copy of Recollections at
your local library. This pricey ($95.00 for non-members), exclusive (only three
hundred copies), and exquisitely bound (produced by Stanley Marcus) work is a
typical Book Club of Texas offering-an instant classic destined for some collec-
tor's glass-covered shelf. Nevertheless, it posesses a minor irritation common to
such edited works: its annotations follow the text. Readers not conditioned to

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed August 29, 2015.