Still the least-understood theater of the Civil War, the Southwest Borderlands saw not only Union and Confederate forces clashing but Indians, Hispanos, and Anglos struggling for survival, power, and dominance on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. While other scholars have examined individual battles, Andrew E. Masich is the first to analyze these conflicts as interconnected civil wars. Based on previously overlooked Indian Depredation Claim records and a wealth of other sources, this book is both a close-up history of the Civil War in the region and an examination of the war-making traditions of its diverse peoples.
Along the border, Masich argues, the Civil War played out as a collision between three warrior cultures. Indians, Hispanos, and Anglos brought their own weapons and tactics to the struggle, but they also shared many traditions. Before the war, the three groups engaged one another in cycles of raid and reprisal involving the taking of livestock and human captives, reflecting a peculiar mixture of conflict and interdependence.
When U.S. regular troops were withdrawn in 1861 to fight in the East, the resulting power vacuum led to unprecedented violence in the West. Indians fought Indians, Hispanos battled Hispanos, and Anglos vied for control of the Southwest, while each group sought allies in conflicts related only indirectly to the secession crisis. When Union and Confederate forces invaded the Southwest, Anglo soldiers, Hispanos, and sedentary Indian tribes forged alliances that allowed them to collectively wage a relentless war on Apaches, Comanches, and Navajos. Mexico’s civil war and European intervention served only to enlarge the conflict in the borderlands. When the fighting subsided, a new power hierarchy had emerged and relations between the region’s inhabitants, and their nations, forever changed.
Masich’s perspective on borderlands history offers a single, cohesive framework for understanding this power shift while demonstrating the importance of transnational and multicultural views of the American Civil War and the Southwest Borderlands.
“Sweeping in scale yet finely grained, the story Andrew Masich delivers here is a convincing new way of thinking about the ‘civil wars’ that devastated the Southwest Borderlands between 1861 and 1867. Indians, Hispanos, and Anglos waged war within and across ethnic divisions amid a swirl of strategies and tactics that produced a landscape of violence. Beyond re-creating the stench of sweat, the urgent song of swift arrows, and the concussion of field artillery, Masich underscores the bloody ironies of ‘pacification’ and political incorporation. A masterful storyteller, Masich has quickened a deserving story.”—James F. Brooks, author of Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands, and Mesa of Sorrows: A History of the Awat’ovi Massacre.
“Civil War in the Southwest Borderlands is a landmark achievement, sure to prompt a rethinking of the transnational dimensions of the Civil War in the Far West and the unprecedented violence of those years. For scholars and general readers alike, this is a rare and welcome book.”—David Fridtjof Halaas, former Colorado State Historian and consultant to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe
“Andrew Masich presents a sweeping history of the violence that inflamed the Southwest Borderlands in the mid-1860s. Anglos, Indians, and Hispanics, all engaged in what Masich terms civil wars. This is impressive scholarship: deeply researched, eminently readable, and rich in detail and interpretation.”—Robert M. Utley, author of The Indian Frontier, 1846–1890
“This outstanding book sets the new benchmark for an understanding of the Civil War in the Southwestern borderlands.” —Pacific Historical Review