Description

    George Armstrong Custer: A Remarkable 8-page Autographed Letter Signed, Written as a 20 Year Old West Point Cadet to his Girlfriend Minnie Measuring 5" x 8", written in clear, sharp, black ink, from "West Point, Ny./Jan. 19th /59." Addressed to "My dear Minnie, Earlier letters indicate that this relationship by far was, at the best, uneven". In an earlier November, 1858 letter, in which Custer had promised to " to do better in the future," she had added in a margin note, "he has broken his promises before". Apparently Custer had not heard from her in awhile when he wrote this January letter, because his last letter had taken a roundabout route through the mails. he "soposed [sic] that you received my letter, and that some of those young Buffalo gents had stolen your heart, and consequently you had not had time to spare a few minutes in writing to me". But now he realizes she had not received his last letter, Custer writes with playful sarcasm, "I think you must have a great opinion of me to think that I would begin to ask you to correspond with me and then drop it without any reason whatsoever. Now although you said that you inferred that I wished our correspondence to cease yet I believe you were not in earnest when you said it and when I visit the City of Flowers (Buffalo) next summer I ask you to pay damages (when I come I shall tell you in what form they shall be paid) for slander. Are you not frightened!..." Rather risque banter for those Victorian times.

    He goes on to discuss life at West Point with enactive detail: "At examination which has just closed twenty two cadets were pronounced deficient by the academic board and discharged. Among those was a grandson of Martin Van Buren ". Apparently Custer, always a marginal student at best, survived the cut.

    He continues: "For the past six months I have been studying Rhetoric, French, Descriptive Geometry, Analytical Geometry, Shades Shadows and Perspective (Art?), and in addition have had a cavalry exercise or riding lessons. We have an hour in the afternoon to ride we have instructors and we have to pay attention to the riding just as we do our mathematics. We have fine times at riding...in the spring we run races, jump ditches and bars or hurdles... mount and dismount our horses while they are going at a gallop ride of our horses or rather hang on one side and fire under the necks of our horses at a mark and do this at a full gallop",

    "We have dancing school every night and in the evening we skate on the Hudson, it looks very odd to see one or two hundred of us on the ice in our uniforms..."

    After more conversation and chatter, he closes, "Ever your friend G.A. Custer," and adds a postscript: "Excuse this envelope as it is the only kind we are allowed to get. Armstrong"

    Simply a marvelous letter, both for what it shows about Custer's character and personality and for its intimate view of the life of a cadet at West Point in the days just before the Civil War. Custer's classmates would soon line up as enemies of one another across savage battlefields, and many would not survive. But in these last idyllic days the young officer's thoughts were still on riding, skating, dancing, and winning the heart of a pretty girl.

    Basically Very fine condition but for original fold lines and minor rust staining from a paper clip. Please see our web site for complete images on each page. Accompanied by LOA from PSA/DNAAccompanied by LOA from PSA/DNA.




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    Auction Dates
    February, 2006
    20th-21st Monday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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