The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992 Page: 288
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Both historians and readers of Civil War history will be in Gary Gallagher's
debt for his painstaking reconstruction and annotation of this fascinating text.
Louisiana State University CHARLES ROYS'TER
Soldiers and Settlers: Military Supply in the Southwest, i861-1885. By Darlis A.
Miller. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1989. Pp. xviii
+5o06. Tables, maps, illustrations, preface, acknowledgments, appendices,
notes, bibliography, index. $45.oo.)
Long ago historians of western development learned to think of the military
as much more than a defensive force. The work ol such scholars as Francis Paul
Prucha has shown the wide-ranging influence of soldiers, high and low, on
frontier expansion, from road building to medical research to urban growth.
Now Darlis Miller has made an important contribution to our understanding of
the military's pivotal role.
Her focus is on New Mexico, Arizona, and far-western Texas from the onset
of the Civil War until 1885. In this region the government operated about
three-dozen posts occupied by several thousand officers and enlisted men.
Their most obvious mission was to wrest this country from its native peoples, a
frustrating task that has provided plenty of fact and legend for historians,
moviemakers, and novelists. As Miller convincingly demonstrates, however,
subduing the Apaches was just the start of the army's influence. The military, in
fact, was probably the single most important factor in the economic develop-
ment of the Southwest. The army was the largest employer of civilians. The
military stimulated local business by granting contracts for what might be called
the "four F's" of the provisioning enterprise: food, forage, fuel, and freighting.
These in turn contributed to such spin-off businesses as milling.
Miller's research in regional and national archives has been meticulous and
surely close to complete. Some will find her account overly detailed. But the
cumulative effect is to give a genuine heft to her thesis. By itself, the mention of
a government contract in 1865 for delivery of 700,000 pounds of mesquite
beans at Franklin, Texas, is not exciting stuff. But the reiteration of such
cases-page after page, table after table-leaves a vivid impression of the enor-
mity of the military's economic clout. There are, furthermore, some surprises
and ironies among these details. Contractors, for instance, often hired the In-
dians themselves to provide for the soldiers. Indeed, on the eve of the in-
famous Camp Grant massacre in 1871, Apaches were supplying the post with
about four tons of hay per day.
Miller might have explored more some of the implications of her work.
What, for example, were some of the ecological results of the extraordinary
range of enterprises supporting the army? Nonetheless, this book, as it stands,
is a significant contribution to western economic and military history. It re-
minds us as well that government spending, particularly on defense, has been a
persistent force in western history from the earliest intrusion from the East
Unzversity of Arkansas, Fayettevzlle
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992, periodical, 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/m1/334/: accessed May 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.