"Army Regulars on the Western Frontier 1848-1861" by Durwood Ball.

Essay by yankee842 November 2003

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This is the greatest book I've ever read! Not many quality books have been written on life in the army during this time period it is usually the Civil War or way before that. It is easy to understand and tons of details are at your fingertips. It is a researchers dream come true! Packed with 320 pages of solid information that would take a long time to find some place else. The lengthy bibliography alone helped me. I was especially interested in learning about the forts along the Oregon Trail.

Deployed to posts from the Missouri River to the Pacific in 1848, the United States Army undertook an old mission on frontiers new to the United States: occupying the western territories; suppressing American Indian resistance; keeping the peace among feuding Indians, Hispanics, and Anglos; and consolidating United States sovereignty in the region. Overshadowing and complicating the frontier military mission were the politics of slavery and the growing rift between the North and South.

It talks about many events including Bleeding Kansas, famous commanders, various Indian attacks and campaigns as well as the boring life of isolation and the tedium of routine. The book is from the eyes of civilians', officers, and enlisted men as well as many nationalities. It gives you a variety and large view of life during that time period. It destroys the Hollywood version of typical "pony soldiers" to pieces as it explains the harsh reality. They had a hard life out there in the wilderness.

As regular troops fanned out across the American West, the diverse inhabitants of the region intensified their competition for natural resources, political autonomy, and cultural survival. Their conflicts often erupted into violence that propelled the army into riot duty and bloody warfare. Half the time the soldiers were not...