The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992

Book Reviews

of 1876. Instead of merely publishing the diary with a few dry annotations, the
author wove it into a well-researched and solidly written narrative that fully de-
scribes that phase of the war in which Private Smith participated.
Although Smith deserves high praise for her authoritative overview, the
most illuminating parts of the book consist of her ancestor's intimate observa-
tions regarding soldier life, the rigors of field service, and such famous officers
as Brig. Gen. George Crook and Ranald S. Mackenzie, the Fourth Cavalry's
colonel. Private Smith's obvious resentment of the army's rigid caste system and
the casual mistreatment of enlisted men makes for vivid reading. Because so
many frontier regulars were poorly educated, if not entirely illiterate, a docu-
ment as detailed as the Smith diary represents a valuable find, and it is fortu-
nate to have it made available in such an informative and useful manner.
Unzverszly of Central Arkansas GREGORY J. W. URWIN
The View from Officers' Row- Army Perceptions of Western Indians. By Sherry L.
Smith. (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 199o. Pp. xix+263. Acknowl-
edgments, introduction, maps, illustrations, conclusion, notes, bibliogra-
phy, index. $24.95.)
Much has been written about the U.S. Army on the frontier during the last
half of the nineteenth century. Sherry L. Smith's book is a welcome addition to
that historical literature. She covers the years 1848 to 189o and evaluates the
perceptions of army officers and their wives throughout the Trans-Mississippi
West. Her study is based on exemplary research in primary sources in numer-
ous archives in addition to published memoirs or edited accounts of various
kinds.
Smith stresses the diversity of backgrounds of officers and their ladies, and
found that "when it came to matters of Indians, Indian policy, and the morality
of the Indian wars, they demonstrated an irrepressible individuality" (p. 182).
The author quotes much from the pens of George A. Custer, John Bourke, and
Nelson A. Miles, but she includes observations from many others, including
Richard Irving Dodge, Philippe Regis de Trobriand, George Crook, and Frank
Baldwin. Moreover, Smith carefully combed the recollections of army wives,
such as Almira Hancock, Alice Baldwin, Elizabeth Custer, Lydia Lane, Frances
Carrington, and Ada A. Vogdes. Smith concludes that such a diverse group was
not possessed of a "monolithic military mind" (p. 182).
On the other hand, the author points out the ease with which military officers
made generalizations about Indians. Such generalizing, she contends, reveals
something of the Indians and their ways of life, but more often the military
descriptions "reveal much more about Anglo-American ideas on culture, civi-
lization, savagery, and race than they do about the realities of Indian lives and
cultures" (p. xix). Most officers quickly rejected James Fenimore Cooper's im-
age of the "noble savage." Furthermore, a number of army writings show that
"an officer might present an Indian group as fiendish in his campaign diary
and write much more sympathetically about the same Indians in a later mem-
oir" (p. 13). Such a dichotomy is like John Dower's conclusion about American

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/. Accessed November 26, 2014.