“Shep in the Victorio War,” by Don DeNevi, Texas Review Press, 2018, 168 pages, $18.95
Shep is back. The adventures of this black German shepherd are continued in a sequel to “Faithful Shep.”
“Shep in the Victorio War,” by Don DeNevi, carries on the tale of Shep, his owners William Wiswall and Joseph Andrews and the Apache chief Victorio.
A band of Mescalero and Warm Springs Apaches led by Victorio had left their reservation. The band supported itself raiding. Cattle, horses, or wagons loaded with supplies were targets.
The previous book ended with Wiswall and Andrews recovering Shep from deep within Apache territory assisted by a Texas Ranger company and their Indian scouts. Recovering Shep required a confrontation with Victorio and his warriors, who let Shep and his rescuers escape.
“Shep in the Victorio War” opens with Wiswall and Andrews informally attached to the group that rescued Shep, Texas Rangers Company A, Frontier Battalion. They are helping out until they decide what they will do next. Just as the two decide to move on to California, they learn Company A is being mobilized to hunt down Victorio’s band. Of course, they choose to stay until this job is finished.
The Rangers join what became known as the Victorio War. A three-year effort running from 1879 through 1881, it involved finding Victorio’s band to either force them back to the reservation or kill them. This book captures the war’s end-game.
DeNevi, through the eyes of Wiswall and Andrews, takes readers into that war. Company A participates in the chase for Victorio in Texas and later (through the invitation of the local governor) into Mexico. DeNevi also shows the conflict from Victorio’s view. He and his band left the reservation because they were not fed (as promised) and the place was disease-ridden.
The story becomes a tragedy because both sides believe they can justify actions leading to the destruction of one of the two sides. Neither side will back down. Along the way, Wiswell, Andrews, and Shep meet a constellation of notable historical figures who participated in the campaign.
“Shep and the Victorio War” seem aimed at a young adult audience, yet will captivate all ages. It is brief, but memorable.