Peacekeeping on the Plains: Army Operations in Bleeding Kansas

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Historians have written on “Bleeding Kansas” and on the frontier army as a constabulary force, but little scholarship exists on how the army performed its peacekeeping operations in the 1850s. In Peacekeeping on the Plains, Tony R. Mullis is one of the first scholars to detail the military concerns associated with peace enforcement in Kansas and the trans-Missouri West.

Between 1854 and 1856, the Franklin Pierce administration called upon the U.S. Army to conduct a series of peace operations in the newly formed Kansas and Nebraska territories. The army responded to the president’s call by successfully completing a mission against the Lakota Sioux in 1855 and by aiding civil authorities in the imposition of peace among competing factions in Kansas during 1856.

Although these police duties were not always popular with the soldiers that conducted them, the purpose behind them remained constant—the maintenance of peace, order, and security. Given Americans’ misgivings about a standing army and their limited expectations for it as a domestic peacekeeper, its use in this fashion during the 1850s was a delicate proposition.

By drawing on diverse sources, including official army correspondence, personal papers of key military and political leaders, and local accounts of army activities, Mullis shows how peace operations were conducted by the U.S. Army long before the second half of the twentieth century. He alsopresents a thorough analysis of the professional dilemmas confronted by army officers, as well as the delicate command and control issues associated with the different types of peace operations.

Mullis’s assessment of the army’s peacekeeping efforts in the mid-1850s offers a full understanding of the constraints and frustrations involved. Many of the dilemmas faced by the army in Kansas parallel those encountered in various spots around the globe today. Peacekeeping on the Plains will provide any reader with a better insight into the nuances of peace operations in the 1850s and assist military historians in their understanding of these activities as they relate to the twenty-first century.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826215352
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2004
  • Series: Shades of Blue and Gray Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 278
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Tony R. Mullis is a member of the International Security and Military Studies Department at the United States Air Force, Air University, Air Command and Staff College in Montgomery, Alabama. He is also History Adjunct for the Montgomery campuses of Auburn University and Troy State University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi
Preface xiii
Acknowledgments xv
Introduction 1
1. Great Expectations, Limited Resources 9
2. Violent Means and Political Ends: Expansion and Slavery Collide in Kansas, 1854-1856 35
3. Peace Enforcement: The Sioux Expedition of 1855 61
4. Peacemaking: Harney and the Peace of Fort Pierre 86
5. Conflicting Interests: Peace, Land, and Speculation in Territorial Kansas, 1854-1856 119
6. Peacekeeping and Command, Control, Communications, and Information during Bleeding Kansas 153
7. The Guns of August: Kansas on the Precipice of Civil War 194
8. Applying the Tourniquet of Peace: John Geary, the Army, and the Election of 1856 220
Conclusion 234
Epilogue 245
Bibliography 251
Index 273
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