The Military Career of Captain William Philo Clark
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
280 Pages | 6 x 9 | 12 b&w illus., 1 map
Captain Clark’s life story, here chronicled in full for the first time, is at once an introduction to a remarkable figure in the annals of nineteenth-century U.S. history, and a window on the exploits of the U.S. Army on the contested western frontier. White Hat follows Clark from his upbringing in New York State to his life as a West Point cadet, through his varied army posts on the northern plains, and finally to his stint in Lieutenant General Philip Sheridan’s headquarters first in Chicago and later in Washington, D.C. Along the way, Mark J. Nelson sets the record straight on Clark’s controversial relationship with Crazy Horse during the Lakota leader’s time at Camp Robinson, Nebraska. His book also draws a detailed picture of Clark’s service at Fort Keogh, Montana Territory, including what is arguably his greatest success—the securing of Northern Cheyenne leader Little Wolf’s peaceful surrender.
In telling Clark’s story, White Hat illuminates the history of the nineteenth-century American military and the Great Plains, including the Grand Duke Alexis’s buffalo hunt, the Great Sioux War, and the careers of Crook and Sheridan. Nelson's examination of Clark’s early years in the army offers a rare look at the experiences of a staff officer stationed on the frontier and expands our view of the army, as well as the United States’ westward march.
“Buoyed by solid research, Nelson’s narrative is replete with details that are informative and engaging but does not get bogged down in minutiae. Nelson’s work finally allows an opportunity to review Clark’s career as a whole and consider the magnitude of his role in several critical events that transpired during the final conquests of the Northern Plains tribes.”---Nebraska History
“Nelson shows Clark as a courageous, capable, and charismatic officer who frequently demonstrated empathy toward the Indians with whom he so often negotiated. Yet, the army’s mission was fundamentally to police the Indians; White Hat clearly illustrates the army’s duties and dilemmas—and those of the Indians.”—South Dakota History