American West •  History and Women

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I Married a Soldier

Lydia Spencer Lane

Lydia Spencer Lane's account of her life as a young army bride on the early southwestern frontier is both invaluable history and delightful commentary. As an officer's wife, Lane left her home in Pennsylvania in 1854 to accompany her new husband to his first post in the West--the encampment at Fort Inge, Texas, then in the midst of a yellow-fever epidemic. For the next sixteen years, Lane crossed the Great Plains by wagon seven times, traveled nearly 8,000 miles, raised three children, and became accustomed to tours of duty that required the family to move at least every six months to a different set of military forts, frontier garrisons, and trailside bivouacs across New Mexico and Texas.

First published in 1893 and unavailable for nearly a decade, Lane's narrative manifests a dry wit that lends humor to events that range from the uncomfortable to the terrifying. Through her eyes we see the close-knit social life of an army post, the western frontier's divided response to the American Civil War (including the Confederate invasion of the Mesilla Valley), and the cultures and peoples of the West. As Darlis Miller makes clear in her Introduction, Lane's courage, her sense of humor, her powers of observation, and her obvious love for the western landscape make her an unforgettable narrator, a valuable historian, and a bold exemplar of strength under pressure.


Darlis A. Miller is professor emerita of history at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces.


"The book's value rests . . . on its relatively rare insights into the pre-Civil War years in the Southwest. . . . This book will appeal to general readers and students of nineteenth-century and western military history . . . ."


Military History

"Lydia Spencer Lane . . . wrote about her experiences in a delightfully straightforward manner. Her memoirs are pleasant reading, full of wit, and vividly descriptive of both her inner life and her physical surroundings. . . . I Married a Soldier is an invaluable testament to life in the southwestern army . . . . But it is also meritorious because Lane was a grand writer."


Civil War Book Review

6 x 9 in. 200 pages 1 map