Frontiersmen in Blue: The United States Army and the Indian, 1848-1865

Frontiersmen in Blue: The United States Army and the Indian, 1848-1865

Frontiersmen in Blue: The United States Army and the Indian, 1848-1865

Frontiersmen in Blue: The United States Army and the Indian, 1848-1865

Synopsis

Frontiersmen in Blue is a comprehensive history of the achievements and failures of the United States Regular and Volunteer Armies that confronted the Indian tribes of the West in the two decades between the Mexican War and the close of the Civil War. Between 1848 and 1865 the men in blue fought nearly all of the western tribes. Robert Utley describes many of these skirmishes in consummate detail, including descriptions of garrison life that was sometimes agonizingly isolated, sometimes caught in the lightning moments of desperate battle.

Excerpt

Thomas Jefferson bought the Great Plains for the United States in 1803, but for several decades they remained in almost undisturbed possession of the Indian occupants. A handful of trappers, Indian traders, and Missouri entrepreneurs engaging in overland commerce with Mexican Santa Fe came to know the vast emptiness of the Plains, and through them the Indian residents learned something of the white man's curious and sometimes reprehensible behavior. Neither race posed much of a threat to the other, and on the whole they got along fairly well. The Mexican War, adding extensive new territories to the United States beyond the Plains, ended this happy state of affairs.

Bound for Oregon or California, emigrants by the thousands cascaded up the valleys of the Platte and the Sweetwater. Others, seeking more southerly routes to the beckoning goldfields, pushed west on the Santa Fe Trail or struck out on the newly opened routes across Texas. The annual trade caravans that marked out the road to Santa Fe in the two decades before the Mexican War gave way after the war to a nearly continuous stream of freight wagons laden with merchandise for New Mexicans and supplies for the army on the Rio Grande. Later, with the onset of the Pike's Peak gold rush in 1858, still another overland route, the Smoky Hill Trail, took its place with the rest. And finally, the frontier of settlement in Texas spread swiftly up the valleys of the Trinity, the Brazos, and the Colorado toward the Staked Plains escarpment.

All this activity had its effect on the Indians who roamed the Plains. In Texas it actually dispossessed some of them. Else-

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