The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Maria von Bluicher had when raising her family and assuming the head of house-
hold during her husband's prolonged absences from the home. One weakness
of the book is the omission of a detailed map showing Corpus Christi's exact po-
sition in South Texas. The endnotes contain citations of numerous primary and
secondary sources utilized by Cheeseman that substantiate the assertions he
makes in his commentary, and provide supplementary information concerning
certain historical figures, places, and events mentioned in Blficher's letters that
may not be familiar to the reader. Scholars, students, and general readers will
benefit from reading Maria von Bliicher's Corpus Chnstz, a valuable addition to
women's studies, Texas history, and U.S. immigration and ethnic history.
University of New Mexzco James B. Barrera
The Black Regulars, 1866-1898. By William A. Dobak and Thomas D. Phillips.
(Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2ool. Pp. 384. Illustrations, intro-
duction, notes, bibliography, index of personal names, general index. ISBN
0-8061-3340-6. $34.95, cloth.)
Black Regulars draws a richly detailed portrait of the U.S. Colored Troops
(USCT) of the late nineteenth century-a group known popularly as the "buffa-
lo soldiers." Historians have variously cast the USCT as the victims of systemic
discrimination or as the army's secret weapon in the conquest of the American
West. Neither view is correct, according to authors Dobak and Phillips. Rejecting
the term "buffalo soldiers"-which black troops found insulting-the authors
devote scant space to the military exploits of the black regulars, who battled In-
dians and outlaws from Texas to Montana. Instead, they seek to reconstruct the
troops' daily lives: "their daily routine and discipline; religious services and edu-
cation; and their pastimes, licit and illicit" (p. xi). This shift in perspective allows
the authors to reach startling conclusions: the experience of black soldiers was
no better and no worse than that of white soldiers, and African Americans found
in the army "one of the most impartial institutions of the day," a place where
they could directly participate in the "nation's public life" (p. 280).
Drawing on exhaustive research in military archives, newspapers, and private
papers, Dobak and Phillips offer a fascinating re-creation of the black soldier's
everyday experience. While on duty, they built forts, repaired roads, marched,
drilled, and patrolled the range. Off duty, they played baseball, performed mu-
sic, and attended dances. They also drank, gambled, and frequented prostitutes.
In other words, African American soldiers tended to fill their time in the same
way white soldiers did, and on occasion black and white troops shared these ac-
tivities-drinking, betting, and competing with one another. According to
Dobak and Phillips, the daily life of a soldier, black or white, was much the same.
But the larger experience of black regulars also included persistent racial dis-
crimination, an issue that Dobak and Phillips handle less deftly. The authors
concede that black regulars "never escaped reminders that many observers, mili-
tary and civilian, considered them second-class soldiers" (p. 245). White civilians

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed October 20, 2014.