The Army in Texas during Reconstruction, 1865-1870
Texas History - Military History
6 x 9, 280 pp.
10 maps.
Pub Date: 06/01/1987
Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series
  cloth
Price:        $35.95 s

978-0-89096-282-4

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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American Association for State and Local History. Certificate of Commendation. Presented September 1989.

The Army in Texas during Reconstruction, 1865-1870

By William L. Richter

One Texan called them "blue-coated dogs of despotism." They were the federal army, and in Texas after the Civil War they were an army of occupation. Their role in carrying out Reconstruction in Texas was especially difficult because the state had a large voting majority of white former Confederates. The army was essential to the enforcement of loyalist policies and, more controversially, to the electoral success of the Republican party.

How the military tried to achieve these ends varied over three major periods corresponding to the tenure of three chief officers: Generals Philip H. Sheridan, Charles Griffin, and Joseph J. Reynolds. Internal rivalries, the ability (or inability) to work with citizens, relations with state political leaders, and Texan hostility toward central authority all figured into the army's performance of its task.

William Richter has mined much unused material in developing this uniquely thorough study of the military in Texas. Moving beyond the good-guy, bad-guy stereotypes, he demonstrates that the army was more competent and important than traditional Reconstruction history has taught. In spite of minimal numbers, the army exercised great political influence and left a legacy--and a reaction to that legacy--that largely shaped the post-Reconstruction constitution and party structure of the state and that "provided a convenient excuse for the denial of justice and equality to blacks without forcing whites to face up to the racism which made these goals unpalatable."

William L. Richter, a researcher and writer whose work focuses on civil-military relations during the Civil War and Reconstruction, lives in Tucson, Arizona.

What Readers Are Saying:

"William L. Richter is well known for his scholarly articles focusing on civil-military relations during the Civil War and Reconstruction. The information he presents here is valuable not only in itself, but also for the sources listed, which provide clues for those who wish more detail about some particular facet of the situation."--Marie Beth Jones

"William L. Richter is well known for his scholarly articles focusing on civil-military relations during the Civil War and Reconstruction. The information he presents here is valuable not only in itself, but also for the sources listed, which provide clues for those who wish more detail about some particular facet of the situation." --Marie Beth Jones

" . . . a uniquely thorough study of the military in Texas with previously unused primary material. He has demonstrated that the Army was more competent than traditional students of Reconstruction have believed. A much needed book on the subject." --Estes Trails

" . . . a Tuscon-based scholar who studied at LSU, mined unpublished documents that show the bluecoats were more competent than Texas historians often admit." --Dallas Morning News

" . . . I did find it an interesting view of this sad period in our history." --James N. Vogler

"Richter offers thorough and detailed coverage of the role played by the US Army in the reconstruction of Texas (1685-1870), from the military occupation of the state at the end of the 'War for Southern Independence' until the state fully complied with the Reconstruction acts five years later. . . . Recommended for upper-division undergraduates and graduate students." --S. T. McSeveney

" . . . very readable book." --Southern Historian

" . . . closely-argued account . . . effectively demonstrates the army's dominance during Reconstruction Texas. . . . To his credit, Richter tackles the controversial issues which have long divided historians. . . . The maps are helpful, the notes excellent, and the index usable." --Robert Wooster

" . . . significant and finely crafted work in Texas Reconstruction historiography. . . . The research is impressive, nicely combining original with secondary material. . . . Richter has demonstrated in a superb manner that the occupation army unquestionably played a key role in Texas Reconstruction." --The Journal of Southern History

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