Jackson's Sword: The Army Officer Corps on the American Frontier, 1810-1821

Samuel J. Watson. Univ. Press of Kansas, $39.95 (512p) ISBN 978-0-7006-1884-2
Watson, an associate professor of history at the U.S. Military Academy, provides a masterly scholarly analysis of the pivotal role the U.S. military played in cementing the security of the fledging nation. Andrew Jackson and comrades-in-arms like Edmund Gaines embraced America's manifest destiny, expanding the country's reach into the Spanish territories of Florida and Texas and into the chaotic Gulf Coast and New Orleans. As commander of the Southern forces, Jackson, the "Tennessee tornado," employed no-holds-barred tactics, launching the first brutal Indian removals, or as Watson labels it, "ethnic cleansing" of the Florida tribes. The army backed white settlers' incursions into Indian lands, destroyed communities of escaped slaves, and held their own against smugglers and pirates. The reluctance of politicians in Washington to interfere with the popular Jackson, combined with primitive communications technology, gave Jackson and his officers unequaled authority to act as an independent entity. Only as the country finally dispensed with its external enemies did the federal government move to professionalize the army and end the dominance that Old Hickory exerted, Watson concludes in his measured and detailed study. 43 photos, 2 maps. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/05/2012
Release date: 12/01/2012
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