Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Ken Fones-Wolf.


Although the Civil War was fought largely in the East it was a transcontinental war. Securing the Far West for the Union played an important, though secondary role in the northern war effort. When most of the Regular Army units were called east, holding the region and confronting the multiple threats to its security fell to the western volunteers. Through their efforts, they maintained a general stability in a vast region where both potential and actualized threats could easily have hampered Union efforts in the main theatres of war. Therefore, by quelling secessionist schemes and activities and attempting to maintain peaceful relations between the various tribes and the flood of whites that continued to flow into the region, the less than 20,000 volunteers protected the Far West from internal dangers.;Internal responsibilities were only part of the potential hazards lurking along and within the department's vast territory. As had been demonstrated during the 1859 Pig War crisis, relations with the British in far western Canada could easily turn dangerous. Likewise, once the French imperial designs for Mexico were put into action, department commanders had to ensure that the United States did not become entangled in that quagmire, despite the sympathies of most Americans for the Mexican cause. Thus, despite having been ignored and misunderstood, the Department of the Pacific played an important role in the larger national scene. Had not the department carried out its responsibilities successfully, the nature of the Civil War or the development of the Far West (or both) could have gone differently. To better understand the contributions made to Union war effort, his study is an examination of the responsibilities faced by the Union's most remote military command during the Civil War and how it met those responsibilities, and in turn how doing so aided the Union cause by protecting the Far West from the nation's enemies.