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    General George A. Custer Autograph Letter Signed in the Third Person 1p., 7.75" x 6.25", Fort Lincoln, D[akota]. T[erritory]., June 5, 1874. Custer pens the following to an unidentified correspondent (in full): "Gen Custers compliments, his regrets, likewise, in response to your kind invitation. His absence should never create surprise, except from his own habitation. This being written his duty might end. With no fear of being called Alfred Tennyson, He simply desires, however, to send you, the accompanying leg of venison. Fort Lincoln D.T., Jun 5th 1874."

    This fine handwritten letter was penned just one month before Custer departed Fort Abraham Lincoln in command of the sixty-day Black Hills Expedition (July 2 - August 30, 1874). On June 8, 1874, just three days after Custer's letter, General Alfred H. Terry, Commander of the Department of Dakota, sent orders to Custer to prepare an expeditionary party for the purpose of reconnoitering the Black Hills region, an immense tract of 43,000 square miles which had been set aside as a reservation for the Sioux Indians (Treaty of 1868). This expedition was viewed as a direct violation of the treaty by supporters of the Indians, which barred whites from the Great Sioux Reservation. Although the official purpose was to find a suitable site for a military post, these expeditions were likely spurred by reports of abundant game, timber, water - and GOLD!!

    Lieut. General Philip Sheridan, Commander of the Division of the Missouri, expected war with the Sioux and sought to gain positive information as to its resources and topography while he still could. With Custer were 10 companies of the 7th Cavalry, two companies of infantry, a "scientific corps" (engineers, topographers, and other specialists, as well as two miners), Indian scouts, three journalists and William H. Illingworth, stereoscopic photographer. The expedition, consisting of about 1,000 men in all, included 110 wagons and ambulances, three Gatling guns and a 3-inch rifle. On July 30, 1874, one of the miners, Horatio Nelson Ross, discovered gold in French Creek, near General Custer's Golden Valley camp (present day Custer City, South Dakota). The discovery set off gold fever, as settlers and would-be miners rushed to prospect - and eventually overrun - the virgin wilderness. The government was soon forced to "manufacture" a war against the Sioux in order to justify the abuses to come. Boldly written, with minor foxing along the folds, otherwise very good to near fine condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2007
    16th-17th Monday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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