The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994 Page: 159

Book Reviews

suspenders to sardines, and lamp oil to liquor. Peddlers and Post Traders traces the
sutlers' history from the Revolutionary War to their replacement by the post ex-
change in the early 189os. Although some of the sutlers earned a reputation for
unconscionable price-gouging, others became prominent in the early settlement
of the forts' hinterlands, serving as postmasters and trading in livestock. Some of
them put up substantial buildings, of the sort shown in a few of the book's twen-
ty-seven illustrations. The nineteen-page bibliography shows that the author con-
sulted an impressive number of works. It is a pity that this, the first treatment of
the subject on a national scale, is not a better book.
More rigorous editing would have corrected the author's infelicitous style:
"William Clark's notoriety has always been anchored in the role he played in the
Lewis and Clark expedition" (p. 54) is an example. Redfield Proctor is identified
as "Secretary of War Redfield" (p. 205), and incorrect place names also occur:
Ogden, Kansas, near Fort Riley, is confused with Ogden, Utah (p. 187); Fort
Bowie was in Arizona, not New Mexico (p. 199); and Fort Robinson was in Ne-
braska, not Wyoming (p. 203). Neither Fort Bowie, Fort Riley, or Fort Robinson
appears in the index, although they are mentioned in the text. Peddlers and Post
Traders will be difficult to use as a reference work. It is no pleasure to read.
The book's dust jacket identifies the author as "an independent historian."
Four of his articles are listed in the bibliography; three appeared in the Wind
River Mountaineer and one in Army Magazine. His general grasp of Western histo-
ry appears questionable; he refers to "the frontier, which, by an act of Congress,
had been declared closed in 189o" (p. 205). A footnote makes it clear that he
refers to the report of the U.S. Census of that year, which was not published un-
til 1893 and which, far from prompting Congressional action, merely acknowl-
edged "that there can hardly be said to be a frontier line," furnishing Frederick
Jackson Turner with a quotation for his essay, "The Significance of the Frontier
in American History." Still, for all its shortcomings, Peddlers and Post Traders is the
first book to describe the century-long history of U.S. Army sutlers and their role
in the development of the West.
The University of Kansas WILLIAM A. DOBAK
The Frontier World of Fort Griffin: The Life and Death of a Western Town. By Charles
Robinson III. (Spokane: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1992. Pp. 234. Ac-
knowledgments, spelling, prologue, appendix, bibliography, index.
This handsome, well-conceived little volume is the seventeenth installment in
the Arthur H. Clark Company's ongoing Western Lands and Waters series dealing
with the landscape and development of the American West. While it is not likely
to attract the specialist, its graphic and breezy style and its vignettes of colorful
figures of the Old West make it valuable to individuals interested in life on the
West Texas frontier. It provides revealing glimpses into the post-Civil War cattle
drives, the buffalo hide trade, West Texas ranching, the flood of 1879, the Fort
Griffin feud with Fort Worth, and frontier 'Justice," with its fastgun artists, vigi-


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994, periodical, 1994; Austin, Texas. ( accessed June 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.

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