Government Role in Emigrant Experience

“Most pre-Civil War overlanders found the U.S. government, through its armed forces, military installations, Indian agents, explorers, surveyors, road builders, physicians, and mail carriers, to be an impressively potent and helpful force.

Statistically, frontier soldiers were the most significant dimension of the western federal presence. Throughout the 1850s up to 90 percent of the U.S. Army was deployed at the seventy-nine posts dotting the trans-Mississippi west. In 1860 this meant that 7.090 enlisted men and officers were stationed at the forts and camps of the four army departments whose geographic area of responsibility incorporated the South Pass overland trails.”