Daughter of the Regiment: Memoirs of a Childhood in the Frontier Army, 1879-1898 by Mary Leefe Laurence; edited by Thomas T. Smith is Mary Leefe Laurence’s autobiography of her childhood as the daughter of an infantry officer who served in the U. S. Army from 1862 until 1901. As a child, Ms. Laurence lived at eleven different Army installations, most of them frontier posts in Texas and Kansas. She writes affectionately of her time at each installation, the challenges of moving frequently, and the young officers and enlisted men who coddled her as a child. She corroborates numerous aspects of life in the U.S. Army in the late 1800’s, including the notoriously slow promotion rates for officers and the old Army custom that permitted newly arriving officers to displace a lower-ranking officer’s family from their post quarters simply by virtue of seniority.
Ms. Laurence wrote her manuscript during the mid-1940’s but it languished in oblivion until it was discovered in the early 1990’s by Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Thomas Smith, a U.S. Military Academy history professor who found it while he was rummaging through a stack of documents awaiting cataloging at West Point. Preparing the manuscript for publication was apparently a labor of love for LTC Smith, who, in addition to an excellent introduction, wrote almost 50 pages of highly detailed end notes and a very extensive bibliography. When he corrects or questions some of the factual assertions made by Ms. Laurence, he seems apologetic in doing so.
I generally dislike reading a book with my right index finger constantly sandwiched in the back of the book for end notes, but I would have not recommended this book without them.
Review submitted by: Mary Hall