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Book Reviews



The Mescalero Apaches. By C. L. Sonnichsen. Norman, Okla-
homa; University of Oklahoma Press, c., 1958. Pp. xii,
303. Bibliography, index, 2 maps, 22 illustrations. $5.75.

Since white contact with the Apache people in 1541, a
grim struggle has taken place. First the Spaniards, then the
Mexicans, and last, the people of the United States have tried
to subdue by military action the resisting Indians of the
Southwest to a status of subservience. Efforts have been made
to force the Apaches to become agriculturalists or stock
raisers instead of huntsmen and warriors. Through educa-
tion and Christianity well-intentioned humanitarians have
endeavored to change the culture of the Apaches, but success
has been indifferent.

The Mescaleros are a band of Apaches with their tradi-
tional homeland in the southern New Mexico mountains be-
tween the Pecos and Rio Grande rivers. Their reservation,
consisting of a half million acres of land, lies in the northeast
corner of Otero County, New Mexico.

For over two centuries, the Apaches, including the Mes-
caleros, warred with their neighbors, not only the Spaniards
and Americans, but also the Comanches and Navahos. Pro-
fessor Sonnichsen's work is largely an account of this inces-
sant struggle. The old generalization that this Indian group
was less war-like than other bands of Apaches is not sup-
ported by the documented narrative encompassing twelve of
the fifteen chapters in the volume under review. From the
1650's to the surrender of Geronimo in 1886, the Mescaleros
were afforded only brief periods of respite in their struggle to
defend their lands and their way of life, an effort which ulti-
mately ended in a defeat and a reservation, set aside for
them by presidential proclamation in 1873.

One episode reflects the administrative bungling of Indian
affairs by officials of the United States. When some Mesca-
leros persisted in attacks upon American routes of communi-
cation during the early years of the Civil War, General James

227



228 NEW MEXICO HISTORICAL REVIEW

Henry Carleton, commander of the California Column, or-
dered Kit Carson to kill all Mescalero warriors "whenever
and wherever you find them" (p. 98) . Cadete, the spokesman
for the Mescaleros, asked for peace, but Carleton's conditions
required the removal of the whole band to Bosque Redondo
where Fort Sumner was erected. By March, 1863, four of the
five hundred Mescaleros were at the reservation. During the
following fall, General Carleton also decided to concentrate
the Navahos at Bosque Redondo, thus adding nine thousand
of those people to the Mescaleros already on the lands. Bosque
Redondo might have supported the Mescaleros, but there was
no hope of providing food for the Navahos. Disease, famine,
lack of shelter, insufficient clothing, and the Navahos, heredi-
tary enemies of the Mescaleros, were more than these
Apaches could endure. On the night of November 3, 1865, the
Mescaleros vanished into their mountain homes, terminating
their acceptance of Carleton's senseless concentration system.
Although Professor Sonnichsen has employed little new evi-
dence, his critical evaluation of Carleton's Indian policies is
much sounder than that found in Aurora Hunt's recent
biography of General Carleton.

After 1865, Santana, Cadete, and Roman, the leading
chiefs of the Mescaleros, endeavored to prohibit their young
warriors from joining the Apache hostiles. Although largely
successful, these chiefs could not prevent a small fraction of
their band from joining Victorio, Nana, and Geronimo. The
author thus has some justification for recounting again the
well-known Apache campaigns of Crook and Miles. Since
these events have been so thoroughly discussed in other
works, however, a briefer synthesis could have been written
so greater attention could have been devoted to the problems
of the Mescaleros in their efforts to adjust to reservation life.
The reviewer is of the opinion that Professor Sonnichsen's
volume is out of balance. The resources are certainly avail-
able for the post-1880 period of Mescalero history, an era of
their life with which the scholar and the reading public are
largely unacquainted. Research in depth in the records of the
Bureau of Indian Affairs and other record groups in the
National Archives would have enabled the author to detail



BOOK REVIEWS 229

the problems of the Mescaleros in recent times. Such an ef-
fort still remains to be done by some scholar who will supple-
ment this first history of the Mescalero Apaches. However,
these observations are a matter of judgment and the fact
remains that The Mescalero Apaches is skillfully written, its
narrative unblemished by faulty prose. This volume will be
read by many with great pleasure.

Norman, Oklahoma DONALD J. BERTHRONG

Strands From The Weaving. By Lucretia Garfield Comer.
New York: Vantage Press. 1959. Pp. x, 73. $2.95.

The picturesque title aptly describes what President Gar-
field's granddaughter has done with her family's history. She
has brought together an impressionistic series of vignettes
gleaned from memory, family letters, and numerous diaries.
The Garfields were avid diarists. Contrary to a subtitle
printed on the dust jacket (but not on the title page) this is
not "The Life of Harry A. Garfield," Mrs. Comer's father,
although some of the information presented in this little vol-
ume would be indispensable to a complete biography of Harry
A. Garfield whose interesting and distinguished career amply
merits such a study. For Harry Garfield was more than a
president's son. In his own right he became a prominent Ohio
lawyer before he was called by Woodrow Wilson to become
a distinguished professor of government of Princeton during
the early years of the twentieth century ; afterward (from
1908 to 1934) he was president of Williams College, Federal
Fuel Administrator during World War I, and the founder of
the International Institute of Politics at Williamstown which
brought together scholars from around the world for summer
conferences during the 1920's.

Mrs. Comer unfortunately crowds her pages with many
trivial details of family life which should have been relegated
to a family album. There are, however, extremely interesting
if brief accounts of General Garfield's life at his Mentor,
Ohio, farm preceding his election in 1880, incidents of Harry
Garfield's student days at St. Paul's private school in New
Hampshire and at Williams College, a vivid election-night



230 NEW MEXICO HISTORICAL REVIEW

scene in the Garfield family home, a description of the Gar-
fields' attempt to adjust to life in the White House during
the few months they lived there (Mrs. Garfield was suffering
from malaria most of that time), a graphic description of
the attack upon President Garfield in the Washington rail-
way station, a portrait of the Harry Garfield family "at
home" in the Berkshires during the summer of the Spanish
American War, the opinions of Harry Garfield and others on
imperialism and the Philippines presented at the Saratoga
Conference where Carl Schurz was the principal speaker,
some highly revealing comments on the professorial life at
Princeton during the Wilson regime there, a few pages on
the experiences of Harry Garfield and his wife when they
were "trapped" in Europe by the outbreak of World War I
in August, 1914, and, finally some rather didactic references
to Harry Garfield's profound distrust of the Russians re-
vealed to his daughter in the year of his death (1942) .

This small volume has no documentation, bibliography,
or other scholarly apparatus, but Mrs. Comer (wife of John
P. Comer, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Wil-
liams College) has presented some very interesting, at times
unique, insights.

University of New Mexico G. W. SMITH

Who Rush to Glory: The Cowboy Volunteers of 1898
Grigsby's Cowboys, Roosevelt's Rough Riders, Torrey's
Rocky Mountain Riders. By Clifford P. Westermeier.
Caldwell, Idaho : The Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1958. Pp. 272.
Illustrations, notes, bibliography, and index. $6.00.

To assess this book judiciously, one must consider it on
two levels. As a popular account of the so-called Cowboy
Volunteer Cavalry regiments in the Spanish- American War,
it probably will satisfy the less discriminating reader and
those concerned with Western memorabilia. New Mexicans
in particular will be interested in recruitment of territorial
volunteers for Roosevelt's "Rough Riders." As a scholarly
monograph, "Who Rush to Glory" is something else again.
Woven together in its 261 pages of text are hundreds of bits



BOOK REVIEWS 231

and scraps of information gleaned from contemporary news-
paper sources. In more general works such historical bric-a-
brac would either be relegated to footnotes or be completely
ignored. If this study contains anything that is significantly
new or historically important, it is not readily discernible.

Heroes are made, not born, and Professor Westermeier
seeks to create heroes out of his "immortal" cowboy warriors.
"Brief though their glory," he writes, "the Cowboy Volun-
teers of 1898 ride in the annals of American history as gallant
heroes, stalwarts of their Western heritage." Ringing words
indeed, but to "what annals of American history" does Pro-
fessor Westermeier refer? If he is talking about the type of
filio-pietistic history dispensed to our children on the grade
school level, then he is probably right. But if he is discussing
history written for sophisticated adults, then he is essentially
guilty of perpetuating a "patriotic" myth. For the simple
truth of the matter is that there wasn't very much that was
either excessively heroic or immortal about the "Cowboy
Volunteers of 1898."

There is no reason to delude ourselves any longer regard-
ing the nature of the Spanish-American War which was a
disgraceful episode from its very inception. The war was
politically and morally indefensible and militarily it demon-
strated only incredible American military incompetence. The
Cuban campaign, in which but a small part of the Cowboy
Volunteers was involved, added little luster to the military
annals of the United States and actually proved nothing inso-
far as the alleged superior fighting qualities of the Western-
ers were concerned. In point of truth, the campaign in Cuba,
to which Professor Westermeier for some inexplicable reason
gives short shrift, was almost a complete fiasco bordering on
tragedy. Only the ineptitude of the Spaniards allowed the
triumph of the equally inept American forces. One shudders
to think what would have been the fate of the latter if con-
fronted by more formidable opponents. It can be argued,
I think, that the real heroes of the war were those brave
Spaniards who fought to the death in the face of hopeless
odds.

Professor Westermeier's account tells essentially of the



232 NEW MEXICO HISTORICAL REVIEW

recruitment and training of the First, Second and Third
United States volunteer regiments. These were commanded
respectively by three Colonels : Theodore Roosevelt (who suc-
ceeded Leonard Wood), Jay L. Torrey, and Melvin Grigsby.
Roosevelt's Rough Riders were the only Cowboy cavalry vol-
unteers to get in on the military action. In large measure, this
was due to his audacity in commandeering a troop transport
at Tampa, a fantastic episode which goes undescribed in this
book. The Second regiment, "Torrey's Terrors," came East
from Cheyenne and sat out the war in complete frustration
at Jacksonville, while the men of Grigsby's Third regiment,
which was recruited at Sioux Falls, were among the victims
of the various diseases that swept through the improvised
and pestilential army camp at Chicamagua Park, Georgia.
In retrospect, one wonders why the organization of cow-
boy cavalry regiments was even considered. The least amount
of military common sense and the war was conducted on
this basis would have indicated their absolute uselessness in
a Cuban campaign. The Rough Riders, having left their
horses behind at Tampa, fought as infantry men and by and
large were not much better nor worse nor more heroic than
their fellow soldiers. But unfortunately for the latter, they
had no political fugleman for their leader nor have they
had a historian to perpetrate and romanticize their limited
exploits.

Boulder, Colorado HOWARD H. QUINT

The West Is for Us: the Reminiscences of Mary A. Blanken-
ship. Edited by Seymour V. Connor; Introduction and
Illustrations by Mrs. Doyle Thornhill. Lubbock: West
Texas Museum Association, 1958. Pp. 125.

Andrew Wesley Blankenship and Mary Almor Perritt
exchanged their marriage vows in a "buggy wedding" on
December 15, 1895, in Erath County, Texas. On the day after
Christmas, 1901, with their first child, they stowed their
household essentials coffee grinder to Family Bible in a
covered wagon and joined another wagon bound for Tahoka
Lakes, a day's horseback ride from Lubbock, Texas. Eight



BOOK REVIEWS 233

days and a gap of civilization later, they were "nesters" on
the wide-flung prairie, its expanse broken only by the scat-
tered windmills with their precious water, "landmarks and
stepping stones on these great plains."

Mrs. Blankenship's record tells the simple story: from
tent to half dug-out, to ranch house, to a home in Lubbock ;
from ranching and farming, and finally to family businesses
and the establishment of the Town and Country Shopping
Center, "a good neighbor" to the Texas Technological College.
The detail of the early years wrenches us back into another
age, the struggle with land and weather and loneliness never
dimming the concern for school and church, for the close-knit
neighborliness of these men and women as they shared the
work of round-up and cattle trail and the homemade fun of
games and dances and country gatherings. Nothing about
this record is pretentious. It is direct and straightforward,
written with life itself in a pattern from which boredom,
softness, and sophistication are happily absent.

Mrs. Blankenship's story brings these short sixty years
and the last of the pioneers astonishingly close, emphasizes
once more the shock of our twentieth century leap into tech-
nological terror. More hearteningly, though, it reminds us
that the old values are still close, too : "Courage and honor
and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice
which have been the glory of his past," as William Faulkner


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