Guarding the Overland Trails

guarding-overland-trailsThis view of the Civil War years on the Western plains has as its focus the 11th Ohio Cavalry, commanded by Col. William O. Collins. Casper, Wyoming, is named (and misspelled) for his better-known son, Lt. Caspar Collins, who was killed in the bloody fight at Platte Bridge. The state and territorial volunteers who replaced Army Regulars, called back East for the “real” war, were unprepared for the Indians’ guerrilla warfare. They dashed back and forth in (usually vain) pursuit of hostiles, trying to keep the overland trails open, stages running and the telegraph line (repeatedly cut by raiders) repaired. The book provides valuable details on logistics and troop disposition rather than on skirmishes and battles. The data on the movements of the companies eventually slows down the book’s pace and weakens its readability.—Richard H. Dillon

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