George Armstrong Custer: An Unusual Signed Letter as Commander of the 7th Cavalry Dealing with the Suicide of a Fellow Officer. Written from his field headquarters near Fort McPherson on June 10, 1867. Robert Wickliffe Cooper had distinguished himself during the Civil War, rising from private to full colonel. After the War's end he was demoted, as was the practice, but was serving as a major in the 7th and second in command at Fort McPherson. Perhaps impacted by the trauma of the War, Cooper had developed severe alcoholism. While on an exploration against the Sioux and Cheyenne he ran out of whiskey and went into a fit of delirium tremens during which he shot himself.

    Custer would write: "But for the intemperance (Brevet) Col. Cooper would have been a wonderful and accomplished officer, a brilliant and most companionable gentleman." While Custer's letter definitely confirms Cooper's cause of death, the official record would later be changed to state that he "died by the hand of person or persons unknown, while in the line of duty as an officer or the army" so that his widow could receive his pension.

    The letter, measuring 7.5" x 9.5", is in exceptional condition. For strictest accuracy we note a trivial light water stain in the upper left corner. Great large, bold Custer signature.

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    Auction Dates
    October, 2015
    25th Sunday
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