The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941 Page: 11
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The Lost Journals of a Southwestern Frontiersman 11
His book has become the classic description of the life of the
Western prairies in those decades when the grass was so high,
and the rumors were so golden, and there was such promise in
the land that a whole nation responded. It is the only book he
published; but like everyone who ever wrote anything for its
own sake, he never thought of writing as an isolated act, but
as a fabric of daily existence. We have seen how he kept
little books full of notes, or, to use the word Gregg was proud
of, memoranda. You know how one part of a writer's mind is
always making plans ahead for the next book, and then the
next one, even as the present book is laboriously and rebelliously
taking form. Well, Gregg, too, had such plans. They accom-
panied him wherever he went.
After his Commerce of the Prairies was published, he went
to Louisville, Kentucky, where he studied medicine, and was
awarded the degree of M. D. (honoris causa). During all that
time, he wrote letters, and they were saved, and have lately
been examined and assembled.
Presently he felt "an unconquerable propensity to return to
prairie life," and started off West again; but before he had
gone more than a hundred miles, he had a request to join the
Arkansas Volunteers under Colonel Yell, and to accompany
them upon the Mexican expedition of 1846 as a sort of general
staff factotum, interpreter, guide, or what would today be
styled, regionalist. And so he went, neither as soldier nor
civilian, but rather as a naturalist and a scholar revisiting
places we have already heard him mention in tonight's diaries.
The army was ill-managed; the general was a martinet, the
men were barbarians. His position was an irritating anomaly;
incompetence in high places was fantastic, quarrels between
officers were frequent and childish. The Mexicans were tres-
passed upon; he himself should be commissioned, but he would,
himself, refuse to take steps, though the rank of lieutenant-
colonel would be acceptable if the right quarters should hear
about it . . . all this and more he wrote down in diary, and
letter, and newspaper communication; and all this and more
has been saved and gathered.
He spent some time in Mexico, practicing medicine, and bot-
anizing. He was at peace there, and wrote home that if he could
be as easy in the United States as among these Mexicans in
Saltillo, he would come home. But it had never worked, and
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941, periodical, 1941; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146052/m1/15/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.