Stand To Horse

~ A Novel by Andre Norton


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Stand To Horse

 

 

 

Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the dustjacket ~

To Ritchie Peters, a raw recruit in the First Dragoons, the winter of 1859 when he was first stationed at Santa Fe was a tough one. The Apaches attacked and raided in even the foulest of weather, and the dragoons had no choice but to go after them, often to meet sudden death by violence, starvation, or freezing. Yet all the while, certain farsighted Army officers and their invaluable scouts, known as Mountain Men, were making the most of every opportunity to explore and map new territory as yet unknown to white men – an important contribution to the development of our country.
Ritchie slowly adjusted to this life of great hardships but also of deep loyalties and friendships, and eventually came completely under the spell of this strange and fascinating country. He had “drunk of these waters” and was “part of this land.”
Andre Norton’s action-filled story does not slow up for the moment. The tensions of men against men are balanced by the tensions of men against nature, often a cruel and unequal struggle. Throughout it all, the reader senses the nation’s growing unrest as events lead up to the Civil War. Many of the incidents and much of the colorful dialogue are based on actual journals and diaries kept by men who lived through these perilous times. Stand to Horse is fiction of high order that re-creates a dangerous and exciting period in our country’s history.

 

Write-up from the back of the tradepaper edition ~

To Richie Peters, a raw recruit in the First Dragoons, the winter of 1859 when he was first stationed at Santa Fe was a tough one. The Apaches attacked and raided in even the foulest of weather, and the dragoons had no choice but to go after them, often to meet death by violence, starvation, or freezing. Ritchie slowly adjusted to this life of great hardships, but also of deep loyalties and friendships, and eventually came completely under the spell of this strange and fasinating country. He had "drunk of these waters" and "was part of this land."

In Andre Norton's action-filled story the tensions of men against men are balanced by the tensions of men against nature, often a cruel and unequal struggle. Throughout it all, the reader senses the nation's growing unrest as events lead up to the Civil War. Many of the incidents and much of the colorful dialogue are based on actual journals and diaries kept by men who lived through these perilous times. Stand to Horse is fiction of high order that re-creates a dangerous and exciting period in our country's history.

 

Write-up from a fan ~

As with Follow The Drum and Ralestone Luck, this one required a lot of research. Luckily, many nineteenth century officers and enlisted men kept diaries which still exist. So, many of the actions and adventures reflect actual events. This is the grittiest of her novels I have read so far. Sure, many have a few scenes here and there, but this one tops them all. Tragedy upon tragedy, bad luck upon bad luck, deception and treachery. I applaud the historical accuracy, but this one can be depressingly brutal at times. I picked up my first copy (TPB) in 1992 at worldcon in Orlando. This is only the second time I've read it. I now remember why. Just not my cup of tea, but it may appeal to people who are history buffs and like tales of the old West and Indian Wars. ~ PG

 

KIRKUS REVIEW ~ Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1956
A novel of men in the Army, in the Southwest during the trying period of the Apache raids, is tersely written and packed with action as it describes Private Ritchie Peters' first months in Company K of the First Dragoons in Santa Fe. Quite simply, the plot is one of battles and bad men, based on research into the history of the period, but the characters are more closely examined for what they are worth than in the ordinary adventure. We get a look at their motives as well as their actions, the enemy becomes understandable and Ritchie and Herndon, the sergeant whom he had disliked at first, fully realize the tragic effects of the white man's relentless energies. But they know too that they now belong to the land and both look forward to a less warlike future. 

 

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Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

Author’s Note:
Trading caravans and the fur-trapping Mountain Men found their way to Santa Fe early in its history, but when the War with Mexico in 1845 added the vast Southwest to the territory of the United States, that land was virtually unknown to the majority of Americans. A skeleton force of the army occupied a string of forts and posts across desert and mountain, holding as best it could the unposted borders against Apache, Ute, and Navaho.
Between the end of the Mexican War and the beginning of the War Between the States, this pitifully small force was forgotten by the people of the civilized East. Undermanned, criminally underpaid, with poor supplies or none at all for long stretches of time, they did their duty and were wardens of an empire their fellow country men did not really want.
It was largely an army of the foreign born. Irish escaping from the famine which devastated that land in the 1840's and Germans eager for a freedom lost at home poured into the United States and readily found their way into the frontier army. The business failures of 1857 and 1858 brought into the ranks native-born Americans who enlisted to eat and to get a new start.
And it was not an ignorant army. Buried in regimental histories or in small privately issued books and in state historical journals are the diaries and letters of these men. Not only the officers but also the privates and the sergeants kept careful accounts of their daily lives, the raiding forays which they accepted as a matter of course, and descriptions of the wild land they had made their own.Many of them after serving one or two hitches in the army settled down on the frontier and helped to build the western nation.
Captain Bourke’s memoirs, Sergeant Bennett’s journal, Sergeant Bieber's diary, and Private Lowe's account are all rich reading for the one lucky enough to find them in reports of state historical societies, regimental histories, and university publications. Some of the stories set down so matter-of-factly in these pages seem like the wildest romance-yet they are true.
The author wishes to express appreciation for the help of Miss Root and Miss Lybarger of the History Division of the Cleveland Public Library, since it was through their efforts that many of these long overlooked accounts of frontier warfare were unearthed for use.

 

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Bibliography of English Edition ~

  • (1956) Published by Harcourt Brace, HC, LCCN 56008354, $3.00, 242pg ~ cover by Edwin Schmidt {Light Blue Cloth Boards}
  • (1956?) Published by Harcourt Brace, (A Voyager Book ~ AVB 55), TP, LCCN 56-8354, 242pg ~ cover by Edwin Schmidt
  • (2012) Published by Premier Digital Publishing, eISBN 978-1-937957-52-0, DM, $3.99, 189pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge
  • (2014) Published by Open Road Media, eISBN 978-1-497656-78-9, DM, $3.99, 242pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge

 

 


 

 

 

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