The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 82, July 1978 - April, 1979 Page: 26
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
press the lad and through him his sister. It is also likely that in letter-
writing Myer found recreational relief from his duties as a surgeon. It
seems understandable that he might wish diversion from his arguments
with authority on raising the professional status of hospital stewards
and his efforts to persuade the War Department to adopt his signal sys-
tem. Neither of those subjects is mentioned in his letters to James
Myer's letters from Texas are valuable on several counts. They rep-
resent a previously unpublished4 observation of the land and peoples
of Texas, recorded by a keen, if opinionated, observer. Myer's excellent
illustrations provide a delightful perspective on odd details of military
life. His two discourses on the life and times of the pack mule are at
least minor classics.
The Texas letters also represent a rare body of personal material in
the Myer Papers, most items of a personal nature having been deleted
before the collection was donated to the Library of Congress. They are
important therefore because of what they reflect in the character of
Myer himself. The humor that pervades them seems not to have sur-
faced in his later career, at least not to any noteworthy extent in his
official life. Even the very few letters to his wife during the Civil War
that have survived in his papers bear as much bitterness as factual news
of his activities. All evidence seems to portray in Myer a man who was
reserved and had difficulty making friends. The many controversies in
his career may have increased his introversion. Myer was a young man
while he was in Texas, embarked on a new military career, and in the
throes of courtship. Given such serious circumstances, he would be like-
ly to reveal his lighter side chiefly to boys and animals.
Myer was a man of upper class pretensions and prejudices, and his
letters are good barometers of the attitudes of the antebellum officer
corps. The social distance between officer and enlisted man is implicit
3Scheips, "Albert James M)er," covers in detail Myer's medical career, his raising of the
hospital steward issue, and his correspondence on his proposed signaling system. For an
account of the role and function of the almy surgeon in the nineteenth century, see David
A. Clary, "The Role of the Army Surgeon in the West: Daniel Weisel at Fort Davis, Texas,
1868-1872," Wester n Historical Quarterly, III (Jan., 1972), 53-66. An account of the medical
history of the army in Texas in the 185os in general appears in James O. Breeden, "Health
of Early Texas: The Military Frontier," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, LXXX (Apr.,
4Crimmins, "General Albert J. Myer," 48-59, includes, with some errors and deletions,
the February 14, 1855, letter to James Walden. The provenance of the War Department
copy that Crimmins used is not wholly clear in his account. Minor differences in text, com-
pared with the original, suggest that it was probably a copy of the letter in the Library of
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 82, July 1978 - April, 1979, periodical, 1978/1979; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101206/m1/46/: accessed May 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.