The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986 Page: 222
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222 Southwestern Historical Quarterly
eran of more than twenty years on the western frontier, has been
neglected by historians. This is certainly an understatement, but for-
tunately their book helps to redress the lack of recognition that seems
to have afflicted one of America's most brilliant military leaders of the
nineteenth century even during much of his colorful career.
Events often conspired to place Grierson in supporting roles. Only
once was he a star, and that was when he led his Union horse soldiers in
a diversionary raid through the heart of Mississippi at the time of Gen-
eral Ulysses S. Grant's assault upon Vicksburg in 1863. The raid was a
classic cavalry operation led by a musician who hated horses, "an un-
likely warrior" who for weeks was a hero in newspapers and illustrated
weeklies throughout the North.
Perhaps because members of the Grierson family were ardent scrib-
blers and correspondents and preserved their papers diligently, the
Leckies chose to make their book a family story rather than a biogra-
phy. In this case, however, Grierson is the star throughout, and when
he leaves the scene, the narrative tends to lag.
During his postwar career in the Southwest, particularly in Okla-
homa Territory and West Texas during the 187os, Grierson partici-
pated in a number of incidents involving Indians hostile and friendly-
events that time has turned to legends of the Old West. The scene on
the front porch of Grierson's quarters at Fort Sill when he outmaneu-
vered the threatening Kiowa chiefs with a sudden opening of window
shutters to reveal the bristling rifles of his troopers is better theater
than can be invented. Grierson's pursuit and defeat of Victorio is the
stuff of high adventure, or tragic drama, depending upon one's view-
point. The Nicholas Nolan lost expedition on the Staked Plains is stark
western lore. Grierson's unyielding support of the black soldiers of his
famed Tenth Cavalry created difficulties for him and delayed his pro-
motion, but time eventually vindicated him.
In their narrative the authors present Grierson's opponents through
his eyes, or the eyes of family members. Confederates that he fought in
the Civil War, therefore, tend to become "guerrillas" (p. 86) in a pe-
jorative sense, and the Indians are "troublemakers" (pp. 171, 189) with
no reason being given as to why they were.
Whatever its minor faults, however, Unlikely Warriors is solidly docu-
mented from a prodigious amount of manuscript materials and basic
printed sources. It stands as an enduring work of scholarship, a worthy
contribution to the American record.
DEE ALEXANDER BROWN
Little Rock, Arkansas
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986, periodical, 1985/1986; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117151/m1/260/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.