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The U.S. Army and the Texas Frontier Economy, 1845-1900 (Texas A&m University Military History Series, 65)

The U.S. Army and the Texas Frontier Economy, 1845-1900 (Texas A&m University Military History Series, 65)

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The soldier as scout and skirmisher has long captured the public interest but in this first detailed historical examination of the army and the Texas economy historian Thomas T. Smith finds that the more significant role of the soldier on the frontier was as nation-builder and colonizer. Mid-nineteenth century America's largest corporate body, the U.S. Army, and the nation's largest geo-political organization, the State of Texas, shared a symbiotic relationship and a strong military-commercial alliance. In the frontier conflict during the last half of the nineteenth century the Department of Texas was the army's most extensive and most expensive theater of war. The army brought seventy million dollars into Texas and military logistics was a critical factor in the growth of the immature cash-poor economy of early statehood as well as the recovery from the devastation of Civil War inflation. The army was key to the development of steam navigation on the Rio Grande and to the growth of long haul wagon freighting in the state. The fort-satellite village relationship created a dozen Texas towns and cities, while the military roads connecting those forts produced the commercial pathways of the western half of the state. Army engineers gave Texas its first deep water port at Galveston, and army contracts were instrumental in developing other Texas ports. The U.S. Army and the Texas Frontier Economy challenges the myth of rugged Texas pioneer individualism, demonstrating that Army dollars were a cornerstone of the frontier economy and influenced every business market from corn to real estate, more benefiting to the struggling agrarian and merchant middle class than to the large pockets of few affluent players. The army was a good Texan, giving more that it took, playing an important but long under-appreciated role in the rise of the Lone Star State. In addition, the four appendix offer a valuable list of army contracts for wagon and steamboat freighting, and for antebellum forage and beef contractors.