Wild West

MUST SEE, MUST READ

MY LIFE ON THE PLAINS

(1874, by George Armstrong Custer): Books about George Custer are plentiful, but some of the earliest remain some of the best, starting with his own memoir. Here he relates the early Indian wars campaigns (notably the Battle of the Washita), describes the flora and fauna of the Plains, and spotlights colorful scouts and frontiersmen. The narrative reflects his keen powers of observation.

Boots and Saddles (1885, by Elizabeth Custer): Libbie Custer, who did all she could to preserve her husband’s memory, included in this memoir personal letters and his descriptions of clashes that preceded his last—the June 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana Territory. Among other observations, she notes that Sioux warriors were armed with repeating rifles as early as Custer’s 1873 campaign and that trading post operators were buying surplus infantry rifles for resale.

Wooden Leg: A Warrior Who Fought Custer (1931, by Dr. Thomas Bailey Marquis): The narrative of a Northern Cheyenne warrior who fought the soldiers at the Battle of the Little Bighorn describes the Indians’ surprise when Custer showed up at their sleeping village after an intertribal dance the night before. His narrative confirms Custer couldn’t have anticipated the number of warriors he was facing when he attacked on June 25, 1876, as most were sleeping off their exhaustion.

The Custer Myth (1955, by W.A. Graham): Assembled newspaper clippings, interviews with officers, troopers and Indians, and lengthy accounts by Captain Frederick Benteen offer descriptions of the campaign that led to the Little Bighorn and its aftermath. Also included is evidence of a possible survivor and varying views on who was responsible for what happened there. Many photographs and maps add to the rich text.

(1976, edited by Kenneth Hammer): This valuable book includes some of the unpublished firsthand research Indian wars chronicler Walter Mason Camp recorded about the Little Bighorn fight between 1900 and 1926. Included are accounts of soldiers and Lakota and Cheyenne warriors (Camp himself spoke

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