Book Review-Fort Laramie, Military Bastion of the High Plains

Officers, 7th Infantry, Ft. Laramie

Officers, 7th Infantry, Ft. Laramie

Fort Laramie, Military Bastion of the High Plains. Douglas C. McChristian. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. 2009. Hardcover, 456 pages, illus., biblio., app., notes, maps. $45.00 ISBN: 978-0-87062-360-8.

Fort Laramie, a name familiar to most Americans, was an active United States Army post from 1849-1890. The fort was home to regulars and volunteers. It was the site of many meetings with Indians, a derelict and a national park. Many of the colorful military, native and civilian personnel who inhabited the fort come to light in this work, Volume 26 in the Frontier Military Series. Also detailed are the changes wrought by technology on the 19th century U.S. Army and the nation. Particularly noted are the telegraph and the railroad. Changes in government policy and the army’s mission, as well as the reaction of the plains tribes make a powerful story. Primary sources include records and reports as well as the observations of individuals who served at the post or just passed through.

 Don’t look for the details of Indian fights; this book deals with operations, not the battlefield. The fort was an important station from which troops could move to trouble spots. The story of the Grattan massacre is told herein and there is a wealth of information on the Volunteer Army Indian fighters who replaced the regulars on the plains during the Civil War. The book is also a social history of 19th century American pioneers who worked for, or preyed on the army. It is also a primer on the geography of the western United States.

 Douglas C. McChristian is a retired historian with the National Park Service and the author of many works on the frontier including Fort Bowie, Combat Post of the Southwest, 1858-1894.

 This work is recommended for the student of the frontier army or the western United States.

 James B. Ronan II

Major James B. Ronan writes frequent book reviews for the publications of the Company of Military Historians


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