American West •  History and Military

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The American Military Frontiers: The United States Army in the West, 1783-1900

Robert Wooster

Winner of the 2010 Robert M. Utley Award from the Western History Association

As the fledgling nation looked west to the land beyond the Appalachian Mountains, it turned to the army to advance and defend its national interests. Clashing with Spain, Britain, France, Mexico, the Confederacy, and Indians in this pursuit of expansion, the army's failures and successes alternately delayed and hastened western migration. Roads, river improvements, and railroads, often constructed or facilitated by the army, further solidified the nation's presence as it reached the Pacific Ocean and expanded north and south to the borders of Canada and Mexico. Western military experiences thus illustrate the dual role played by the United States Army in insuring national security and fostering national development.

Robert Wooster's study examines the fundamental importance of military affairs to social, economic, and political life throughout the borderlands and western frontiers. Integrating the work of other military historians as well as tapping into a broad array of primary materials, Wooster offers a multifaceted narrative that will shape our understanding of the frontier military experience, its relationship with broader concerns of national politics, and its connection to major themes and events in American history.


Robert Wooster is Regents Professor of history at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He is author or editor of ten books on the army, the West, and the Civil War, most recently Frontier Crossroads: Fort Davis and the West.


"This impressive volume, part of the 'Histories of the American Frontier' series, sums up and advances understanding of the US Army in the West....Highly recommended."



"Students of the military in the West will find this a readable synthesis by a prominent scholar in the field; readers who are more interested in Indian experiences than military affairs (like the present reviewer) will get a better understanding of an institution that served as an instrument of empire-building and intruded deeply into Native American life."


Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"Given the vast breadth and depth of American military historiography, well-organized and well-written narrative overviews of the field are always welcome. Robert Wooster's recently released The American Military Frontiers certainly fits that description....Wooster deserves an appreciative audience for this work, among both lay readers and specialists alike."


Great Plains Quarterly

"Robert Wooster...has achieved in one volume what not other historian has. The scholarship is sound throughout, and the documentation that is drawn from diverse manuscript collections, the National Archives, published government reports, and period newspapers adds to the originality and authenticity of the study. The major national themes raised in this book provide important vantage points for sophisticated discussion, and, at the same time, the anecdotal examples chosen for illustration of these points help provide a truly human face to the complex story."


The Journal of Arizona History

"Professional scholars and laymen alike, who share a passion for military history--and particularly the American West--should hasten to add this volume to their collections."


Military History of the West

"Wooster has produced a readable, reflective , and interpretive book that is appealing to academics as well as larger audiences while searching deep into the intricacies and dualities of the army and the expanding nation."


The Journal of Southern History

"An acknowledged authority on the field of the United States Army and the frontier, Robert Wooster provides an effective and updated survey of the army's activities in the changing borderlands of the United States."


Utah Historical Quarterly

"Historians of the frontier, American West, and United States military will find gems of insight in its pages."


American Historical Review

6 x 9 in. 384 pages 64 halftones, 7 maps