Border Command: General Phil Sheridan in the West. By Carl
Coke Rister. Norman (University of Oklahoma Press),
1944. Pp. 244. Illustrations, bibliography, and index. $2.75.
The use by the University of Oklahoma Press of twelve
point type with two points between lines makes for easy reading
and Carl Coke Rister's account of Sheridan's border command
makes for interesting reading in this new treatment of the
opening of the border country for the pioneers. As the title
indicates, the book is not so much a biography as a study of
Sheridan in relation to his military assignments between 1865
Sheridan, "after a rapid climb up the military ladder," was
to witness Lee's surrender and be sent almost immediately
to the Southwest. With what Rister calls "the keen edge of
the sword," he impressed the French in northern Mexico by
talk of United States aid to Mexican Nationalists and slowed
to a drip the flow of Southern 6migr6s to Mexico. The "Flat
of the Sword" deals with the assignment as governor
of the Fifth Military District. Sheridan's feeling that Texas
had not yet suffered from the war resulted in the policy for
which President Johnson denounced him as an absolute tyrant.
The account of his mistakes in this role which resulted in his
being moved on to be guardian of the border is remarkable
for its omission of the oft-quoted preference of Sheridan for
places other than Texas.
Rister may well be called the historian of the border as
evidenced by the titles of all his books. Though some of the
accounts of Indian relations are his own thrice-told tales,
the present treatise contains fresh delineations of frontier
characters and rare word pictures of frontier scenes and topog-
raphy with a felicitous choice of chapter titles.
After attempts at "Peace by Bribery" with the wild Indians
of the Plains, "whose problem towered as a mountain over the
molehills of frontier rudeness, undisciplined troops, and petty
problems of administration," one chief opined that the olive
branch turned into a prickly pear. Sheridan solved the frontier
crisis by resort to winter campaigning despite Jim Bridger's
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146055/. Accessed May 24, 2015.