Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly 16:1 (Winter 1996). Copyright © 1996 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


For anyone interested in the "big picture" of what happened in the American West ten or fifteen years after the Civil War, Bode's memoirs will prove disappointing: he was not involved in any of the major campaigns in any meaningful way and reveals nothing not already known. If one is interested in a soldier's-although an exceptional one'sviews of some of his superior officers, or Indians, or mostly about the daily duties of an infantryman, Bode offers a good dose of "frontier soldiering." There is also useful primary material here on the 1870s and the social history of the military. Although the book reads with ease and looks well edited, it is difficult to think of it as a "book." Thomas Smith's fourteen pages of introduction are more spellbinding than the memoirs they introduce. There is just not much to catch the reader's interest in Bode's story. The book's dust jacket is illustrated with a pair of socks; one can almost smell their sweat while reading this diary.