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The Frontier Army

Episodes from Dakota and the West

The Frontier Army


$29.95, Hardback
ISBN: 978-1-941813-21-8

"This collection of essays is a great tribute to two historians, Tom Buecker and Jack McDermott, who are here honored by an excellent selection of authors presenting new research. . . . Researchers today have such a wealth of information at their fingertips; all one needs is time and diligence."—Gail DeBuse Potter, retired director of the Museum of the Fur Trade, for Nebraska History

"This compilation offers an amalgam of authentic first-persons voices set in context by authoritative editors in the form of prologues and annotations[and essays] provided by some of the most respected names in the field. . . . [The Frontier Army is] a fresh addition to the historiography of the U.S. Army in the West."—John P. Langellier, Journal of Arizona History

The Frontier Army "provides particularly interesting insight into how historic perceptions are tailored to fit the individual's preconceptions and biases. What we perceive as "the past" is, in fact, the past that our paradigm needs to account for its own present. . . . This volume provides insight into a wide range of topics relevant to the military history of the West. It is a fitting memorial to the two historians to whom it is dedicated."—Steven C. Haack, Journal of America's Military Past

"A seminal and outstanding work of collaborative scholarship . . . The Frontier Army is an extraordinary and highly recommended."—Midwest Book Review

“Seldom does one volume offer so much varied perspective. It unites the talents of seven prominent frontier army and Indian historians to honor two recently departed colleagues, John D. McDermott and Thomas R. Buecker. . . . The essays together offer authoritative scholarship grounded in many new sources. Overall, the authors extend worthy tribute to McDermott and Buecker, while providing new insights and dimension about the frontier experience.”—David A. Wolff, professor emeritus of history, Black Hills State University

“The story of the winning and the losing of the West, depending on your point of view, will never be exhausted. R. Eli Paul, author of many books and a longtime friend of Buecker and McDermott, has now edited a collection of seven vigorous essays in their honor. All are filled with the sort of fresh and unexpected information that Buecker and McDermott both loved.”—Thomas Powers, author of The Killing of Crazy Horse and Pulitzer Prize winner

“If killed, you may rest assured that my last thought will be for my own dear Eva. . . . I could tell you of scenes I have witnessed that would shock you, but it makes me sick to recall them myself.”

—Marshall T. Polk II, U.S. Army, to Evelina McNeal Bills, 2 Sept. 1855

Romanticized scenes of heroic soldiers fighting on the vast plains are strewn throughout early chronicles of the old frontier army. Such interpretations rarely convey the complex truth or reality of the day-to-day existence of the soldiers or of the American Indians on whose land the battles took place.

As new documents surface, coupled with increased digital access for scholars, in-depth examinations of the army’s role during this time in United States history are moving forward. Under the direction of editor R. Eli Paul, contributors to this book present new primary sources and fresh interpretations of the Regular Army in the West in fitting tribute to the careers of Thomas R. Buecker and John D. (“Jack”) McDermott.  

Centering on military conflicts and postings around present-day South Dakota and in the Black Hills between 1854 and 1890, the contributors highlight the diverse experiences of those associated with the American frontier army and the people they fought on the Great Plains. Observations formed by studying personal letters, recorded memories, and contemporary monuments provide an analysis of how the army and its soldiers are remembered today. Firsthand accounts give previously ignored groups a voice, and readers learn more about lesser-known actors—foot soldiers, minorities, and others on the periphery of popular history.

Individually, the essays bring much needed context to this era; together, they present a more complete picture of those confronted with and involved in the nineteenth-century mission of expansion and control.

Lori A. Cox-Paul
Brian W. Dippie
Jerome A. Greene
Paul L. Hedren
Douglas C. McChristian
R. Eli Paul
Frank N. Schubert


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