Frontier Regulars the United States Army and the Indian, 1866-1891

Frontier Regulars the United States Army and the Indian, 1866-1891

Frontier Regulars the United States Army and the Indian, 1866-1891

Frontier Regulars the United States Army and the Indian, 1866-1891

Excerpt

DURING THE EARLY MONTHS OF 1866, as General Sherman poured over his maps and impatiently plotted his summer's tour, Congress debated long hours over the size and shape of the postwar Regular Army. Radicals bent on harsh treatment of the conquered South demanded a large army to further their plans for Reconstruction. So did western representatives attuned to the needs of the frontier. Supporters of the mild southern policies of President Andrew Johnson joined with guardians of the federal budget to resist a large peacetime army. General Grant urged an army of 80,000. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton was willing to settle for one of 50,000.

Members argued long hours over whether Negro soldiers, who had performed well in the volunteer service during the war, should be incorporated into the Regular Army. Sen. James A. Mc- Dougall of California expressed a strong minority opinion when he declared that "this undertaking to place a lower, inferior, different race upon a level with the white man's race, in arms, is against the laws that lie at the foundation of true republicanism." But Sen. Henry Lane of Indiana touched a more responsive chord by pointing out that a constitutional amendment had just made Negroes American citizens. It was academic whether military service was a burden or a privilege. "If it is either, the colored people are equally bound to bear the burden or equally entitled to participate in the privilege."

The Senate passed its own version of a military bill early in the session, but the House withheld agreement. A flurry of bills ema-

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