The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and the Native Peoples in the Fight for the West

Megan Kate Nelson. Scribner, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-5011-5254-2
Historian Nelson (Ruin Nation) documents the Civil War as it unfolded in the American West in this brisk and well-sourced narrative. Contending that the federal government’s war aims included both the emancipation of slaves and the elimination of indigenous tribes, Nelson weaves a large cast of supporting characters into the stories of nine individuals representing the Union, the Confederacy, and Native Americans in the fight for control of New Mexico Territory. The book’s main players include U.S. Army Col. James Henry Carleton; Louisa Canby, whose husband commanded Union forces in Santa Fe; Confederate officer John Robert Baylor; and Chiricahua Apache chief Mangas Coloradas. Beginning in July 1861, when Baylor’s regiment occupied Mesilla, N.Mex., and declared it the capital of the slave-holding territory of Arizona, Nelson details the skirmishes and full-scale battles that pitted her characters against each other. From Canby tending to wounded soldiers in Confederate-occupied Sante Fe to the July 1862 capture of Tucson by Carleton’s California Column and escalating clashes between Apache warriors and Union troops, Nelson effectively blends military history with a fresh look at a region typically obscured in accounts of the Civil War. American history buffs will relish this entertaining and eye-opening portrait. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 12/04/2019
Release date: 02/11/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-0241-2
Paperback - 978-1-5011-5255-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-0243-6
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