Military and Western History

$55.00 hardcover

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Frontier Cavalry Trooper: The Letters of Private Eddie Matthews, 1869–1874

Edited by Douglas C. McChristian

During his five years in the army, Private William Edward Matthews wrote a series of exceptionally detailed and engaging letters to his family back home in Maryland describing his life in the Arizona and New Mexico Territories. Eddie Matthews’s letters, published here for the first time, provide an unparalleled chronicle of one soldier’s experiences in garrison and in the field in the post–Civil War Southwest.

Eddie’s letters record a vivid chronicle of day-to-day life in the frontier regulars. Included are operational details in his company, candid observations of people and places, intimate views of frontier society, and personal opinions that probably would have been forgotten or moderated had he recorded his experiences later in life. More subtle are his valuable references to the state of transportation and communication in the Southwest during the early 1870s. Matthews probably did not realize until later years that he was not only a witness to the nation’s rapid westward expansion, but was himself a tiny cog in the machinery that made it possible.


Douglas C. McChristian, a retired research historian for the National Park Service, is the author of six books and numerous articles on the history of the American West. His most recent title, Fort Laramie: Military Bastion of the High Plains, received a Spur Award for best Western nonfiction historical book from the Western Writers of America.


Frontier Cavalry Trooper, a newfound treasure, is the best day-to-day account of an enlisted man in the American frontier army. In the hands of editor Douglas C. McChristian, it becomes an instant Western classic.”


R. Eli Paul, author of Blue Water Creek and the First Sioux War, 1854–1856

“Douglas C. McChristian has struck the mother lode with the publication of Frontier Cavalry Trooper: The Letters of Private Eddie Matthews, 1869–1874. . . . With editor McChristian’s expert help, readers learn much about the tedium of frontier military service, punctuated by brief bursts of excitement in pursuit of deserters, criminals, or hostile Indians. . . . Correspondence from enlisted men serving in the frontier army is rare; letters of this breadth and depth provide unique insight into the everyday life of the common soldier in the post-Civil War Southwest.”


Journal of Arizona History

6 x 9 in. 432 pages 20 halftones, 3 maps