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Custer’s Last Battle

Cover, Custer's Last Battle by Charles Francis Roe, published in 1925 by Robert Bruce

“Lieut. Bradley sends word that he has counted 196 dead cavalrymen on the hills to the left; what appeared yesterday in the distance like buffalo lying down are dead troopers and horses.”

So reads the journal of Edward J. McClernand, 2nd Lieutenant of the Montana Column. The scene he describes is the aftermath of the Battle of Little Bighorn. On the afternoon of June 25th, 1876, George A. Custer, Lieutenant-Colonel of Seventh Cavalry, along with five companies of the Seventh Cavalry had faced a force of Sioux and their allies near a tributary of the Big Horn River. All of Custer’s forces perished, save for a single horse. The battle was part of the Sioux War, the outcome of the United States government’s failure to honor the Treaty of Fort Laramie, which granted territory in the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Montana to the Sioux nation.

A horse named "Comanche" was the lone survivor of the Battle. Now stuffed, the horse remains on display in Lawrence, Kansas. Photo courtesy of the Musuem of Natural History, University of Kansas.


Page 29, detail. Photograph of Gall, leader of Sioux forces at the Battle of Little Bighorn

Special Collections houses a copy of Custer’s Last Battle by Brigadier-General Charles Francis Roe. Our copy was signed by Custer’s widow, Elizabeth Bacon Custer. She presented this copy to late MU professor John Neihardt, whose entire library is now housed in Special Collections. The library is an especially rich source of Americana. Custer’s Last Battle (Rare JGN  E 467.1 C99 R7 1927) presents the reports of Charles Roe and other veterans of the Sioux War, accompanied by photographs and maps.




Page 1, detail. Autograph of Custer's widow, Elizabeth B. Custer