JESuS F. DE LA TEJA, Editor
The U.S. Army and the Texas Frontier Economy, x845-9oo. By Thomas T. Smith.
(College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999. Pp. xi+285.
Illustrations, tables, acknowledgments, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN o-
89096-882-9. $34.85, cloth.)
Thomas T. Smith's The U.S. Army and the Texas Frontier Economy, the most
important and innovative contribution to Texas and western military history of
the past decade, documents the army's enormous role in the development of
the Lone Star State's economy in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
Smith's is by no means the first to focus on the army's economic impact on the
Southwest. Robert W. Frazer and Darlis Miller have written solid studies of the
army's presence in New Mexico, offering detailed descriptions of the contracts,
merchants, and financial interrelationships connected to the army's logistical
system. But Smith takes his analysis a step further. Carefully and systematically,
he establishes the total amount of military spending in Texas and places these
expenditures in the larger context of the state's economy.
Carefully scrutinized by a parsimonious Congress, the army kept detailed
records of its nineteenth-century spending, and Smith has mined these sources
superbly. From 1849 to 1900oo, the Army Quartermaster's Department spent
more than $32,000,000 in Texas on forage for animals, transportation, repair
and construction projects, hired civilians, horse and mule purchases, and rents
and leases. The Paymaster's Department disbursed another $38,500,000 in
pay to its soldiers. The Bureau of Engineers spent another $13,054,000 on
exploration and mapping, road building, and river and harbor improvements.
Smith also points to the army's non-tangible contributions to the state's econo-
my. By establishing and protecting stagecoach lines, mail routes, military
telegraphs, and the weather service, the army also contributed to Texas's
Smith uses census returns to measure the impact of this spending in the Lone
Star State. He finds army dollars to have been most important in the antebellum
and Reconstruction periods. For the years 1849-1860, army spending account-
ed for 4 percent of the value growth of the state's total economy, with the army's
three thousand soldiers and three hundred civilian employees comparable to
the number of employees in the lumber industry in Texas. During the 1870s,
army spending was equal to 20 percent of the valuation increase. In 1870 alone,
for example, the military spent more than $4,300,000 in the Lone Star State,
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed September 19, 2014.