The Tin Lizzie Troop

Doubleday  Library of Congress # 71-184918.

Pocket Book paperback  ISBN  671-78302-5.

Check here to read the first pages of Glendon Swarthoutís comic misadventure, The Tin Lizzie Troop, set against the backdrop of a mounted cavalry unitís posting on the Mexican border in Texas during the Pershing Expeditionís chase across northern Mexico of Pancho Villaís troops in 1916. This Western comedy was once set up as a feature film produced by Paul Newman for Firsts Artists/Warners, but never made. 

The Tin Lizzie TroopIt was an infamous day when, under a scorching Mexican sun, the United States Cavalry went into action mounted not on fine, sleek horseflesh but in Model T Fords. This is the story of events leading up to and beyond that memorable day when bandits raided a U.S. outpost. The time was 1916, during the Punitive Expedition, when some 100,000 National Guardsmen were mobilized to defend us. Among them were six members of the Philadelphia Light Horse, a men's military club to which only the most well-born and wealthy scions of the most well-born and wealthy were elected.

It was a rascal turn of fate that sent them to train at Glenn Springs, Texas. For there they met what they never had before -- Lt. Stanley Dinkle. Here was a U.S. Cavalryman down to the shine on the seat of his breeches, and the collision between one Dinkle, two Tin Lizzies, and six Dapper Dans from Philadelphia was as epic as their intimate encounter with the enemy. War is hell, boys. Cheerio!

Back to comedy again, this time a farce.  Delving back into the research material he used in his first bestseller, They Came To Cordura, Glendon this time put a very funny, comedic spin to some of the misadventures which happened during the largely unsuccessful Pershing Punitive Expedition into Mexico to chase Pancho Villa and his soldiers. Occurring just prior to America's overseas involvement in WWI, this training exercise of a campaign was also the first time the U.S. Army became mechanized. Hence -- The Tin Lizzie Troop.

Film rights owned by Aspectuck Productions/Paul Newman and Warner Studios. Once cast with Anthony Perkins as Lt. Dinkle, with Paul Newman directing for First Artists/Warners in 1979, but never filmed, for First Artists went defunct right about then.  Shooting script by Miles Swarthout, rewriting Robert Benton's and David Newman's first drafts.  Screenplay available from Hoodwinks Productions.


"The Tin Lizzie Troop will make an entertaining movie by today's standards. It has all the ingredients; a little sex, a little violence, the classic chase, colorful characters, cavalry vocabulary and a light and humorous touch throughout . . . Swarthouts' book is most entertaining and is recommended light reading."  Bill H. Cantrell, Sunday News & Leader, Springfield, Missouri.

"The Tin Lizzie Troop is a funny novel based on an actual incident in the Mexican-American border campaign of 1916 during which 100,000 national guardsmen were called up to defend the nation against raiding Mexican bandits. It was also the first war in which the U.S. Cavalry went into action not on fine, sleek horseflesh, but in Model T Fords . . . Swarthout's new novel is the kind of story which may well make it to the screen."  George Near, Abilene, Texas Reporter News

"Mr. Swarthout is a consummate craftsman and established pro, as he demonstrates in his alternately humorous and disturbing account of the first mounted pistol attack ever executed by the U.S. Cavalry against an armed enemy. Interspersing whimsical misadventures with philosophical meanderings, Mr. Swarthout, himself a former combat infantryman, limns a vivid picture of the many faces of a limited war. And although his story is set in mid-May, 1916, it as chillingly contemporary as My Lai . . . In this novel as in his eight previous ones, Glendon Swarthout, even as he entertains his readers, induces them to examine the human condition."  Edwin McDowell, the Wall Street Journal.

"Mr. Swarthout has revisited the scene of an earlier triumph with equally felicitous results. However, the dramatic heroics of They Came To Cordura give way to the mock heroics of the cadre of "cavalrymen" who people The Tin Lizzie Troop. It's a fun story, suspenseful to the end, yet not in the least implausible . . .The Tin Lizzie Troop is lighthearted summer fare -- a pleasure to read."   Ralph Hollenbeck, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"A charming, comical fictionalized version of the very unpublicized unhistorical first time the U.S. Army ever went into action on wheels . . . A whimsical melancholy undercuts the dazzling pace and farcical scenario."  Kirkus Reviews.

"Here is another of Swarthout's successful books; and not only is it good, it's delightful . . . The pursuit of a Mexican bandit by the cavalry boys in Model T Fords is superb. The characterization is perfect; the writing is a joy. The book reads well and fast, and one regrets finishing it."  Edward H. Jones, Jr., Library Journal.

"The introduction of mechanized warfare, the last days of the U.S. Cavalry and a Victorian love story combine to make a novel that is both amusing and sentimental without being syrupy . . . Many of Swarthout's novels have been made into movies and in this one, where the commander's statuesque girlfriend is kidnapped by bandits and a town burned, there seem to be the makings of a motion picture . . . Swarthout uses enough facts and cavalry lore to put together a story that could have happened. The border war was supposed to have been a gentleman's war, the last one. Young men learned, as did their grandfathers in the Civil War, that "war is hell." It is a good book with enough warm humor to keep from being too grim. This novel looks like another winner for the author."  The Sunday Times of London

"This is funny -- just plain funny as hell -- at times, but people are shot and have their throats slit and people do die and the Philadelphia Light Horse members learn an unforgettable lesson. And that is what makes this a believable novel and not just another funny book about military incompetence and incompetents."  Stanley Gilliam, Sacramento Bee

"Successful author Glendon Swarthout has won again with his new novel, which is a wild romp along the Mexican border in the early 20th century. The Tin Lizzie Troop is a rakish adventure story with lots of guffaws and a punch that turns those laughs into large sighs of compassion for man's humanity as well as his inhumanities . . . The Tin Lizzie Troop is a strange and often moving mixture of humor and pathos."  Joan Gatz, Omaha World-Herald

Take a diamond-in-the-rough regular Army Lieutenant, eight years in grade, and six rich playboy-type National Guardsmen from Philadelphia. Put them in an isolated Army guard station on the Texas-Mexico border during the Pancho Villa forays in the spring of 1916 and what have you got? A tremendous story if you let an accomplished writer like Glendon Swarthout tell it . . . Swarthout's novel, combining humor, pathos and compassion, is a masterful word picture of that particular time."  Jerry Sprague, San Antonio Express News

"A savagely ironic novel . . . ordinarily war is no laughing matter, but it is when Swarthout writes about the whimsical misadventures of these Beau Brummels. Beneath the laughter there is of course the seriousness that pervades everything Swarthout writes."  Murrah Gattis, Los Angeles Times