Peacekeeping on the Plains: Army Operations in Bleeding Kansas

Synopsis

Historians have written on "Bleeding Kansas" and on the frontier army as a constabulary force, but little scholarship exists on how the army performed its peacekeeping operations in the 1850s. In Peacekeeping on the Plains, Tony R. Mullis is one of the first scholars to detail the military concerns associated with peace enforcement in Kansas and the trans-Missouri West. Between 1854 and 1856, the Franklin Pierce administration called upon the United States Army to conduct a series of peace operations in the newly formed Kansas and Nebraska territories. The army responded to the president's call by successfully completing a mission against the Lakota Sioux in 1855 and by aiding civil authorities in the imposition of peace among competing factions in Kansas during 1856. Although these constabulary or police duties were not always popular with the soldiers that conducted them, the purpose behind them remained constant--the maintenance of peace, order, and security. Given Americans' misgivings about a standing army and their limited expectations of it as a domestic peacekeeper, its use in this fashion during the 1850s was a delicate proposition. By drawing on diverse sources, including official army correspondence, personal papers of key military and political leaders, and local accounts of army activities, Mullis shows how peace operations were conducted by the U.S. Army long before the second half of the twentieth century. He also presents a thorough analysis of the professional dilemmas confronted by army officers, as well as the delicate command and control issues associated with the different types of peace operations. Mullis's assessment of the army's peacekeeping efforts in themid-1850s offers a full understanding of the constraints and frustrations involved. Many of the dilemmas faced by the army in Kansas parallel those encountered in various spots around the globe today. Peacekeeping on the Plains w