There are not enough Indians in the world to defeat the Seventh Cavalry… George Armstrong Custer

The Custer reader    Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, c 1992   edited by Paul Andrew Hutton Generals United States Biography, Custer, George A. (George Armstrong), 1839-1876 Hardcover xiv, 585 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 561-574) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

For more than a century, Americans have been captivated by the legend of General George Armstrong Custer. But the various truths of Custer’s life and last stand prove elusive. Why are we so taken with the myth and the so-called mystery behind the man?

In a field teeming with highly partisan and wildly speculative treatments of Custer this entry is a volume acclaimed by both military and cultural historians as the most balanced account of his life and legend. Custer’s life spans two great eras of American history, and this work pushes beyond the existing literature to a comprehensive view of this controversial figure.

Albert Trorillo Siders Barnitz, Captain, United States Army

“Albert Barnitz. . .served with Custer’s famed Seventh Cavalry for four years, 1867-70. . . . In 1867 Albert and Jennie (Platt), both of Ohio, married and headed for the Kansas frontier. Four months later the growing perils of Indian clashes forced her to return east. . . . [Their] letters and diaries, dated from January 17, 1867, to February 10, 1869, are vivid and accurate. . . . [They] provide a keen picture of life in the Seventh Cavalry, both in garrison and field, immediately after the Civil War.”

Photo shows General Frederick Dent Grant, commanding officer on Governors Island, with his wife (Ida Marie Honorıe Grant), Mrs. U.S. Grant III (Edith Root), and Mrs. Francis Marion Gibson. Event is probably the annual lawn party sponsored by the Army Relief Society, which raised money for widows and orphans of officers and enlisted men of the regular army.

A wife’s premonition spared Lieutenant Francis M. Gibson from the fate that overtook General George A. Custer and the Seventh U. S. Cavalry. At her insistence, he declined a transfer that would have placed him in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, but he was on the scene immediately after it. Gibson’s letters detailing the devastation, together with his wife’s reports on the women at the army posts waiting for news, allow a fresh perspective on “Custer’s Last Stand.”

Mrs. Gibson describes a phase of army life during the 1870s and 1880s that has received scant attention–a gala wedding, a baby’s funeral, a sewing bee, a buffalo stampede, a smallpox epidemic. She provides candid glimpses of her good friends, the Custers. And every page brings the reader closer to the intimate events surrounding the most infamous battle in the history of the West.


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