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    Description

    Malcolm McArthur's Dress Uniform. This is a fabulous grouping that belonged to one of the first officers on the scene after Custer's disaster. Captain Malcolm McArthur commanded Company "C," 17th Infantry, marching with General Terry's Dakota column. McArthur (1841-1886) graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1865. Even though he did not distinguish himself (he finished 53rd of 68), he was commissioned second lieutenant and immediately promoted to first lieutenant in the 17th Infantry. Within a little more than two years he was made captain. It's possible that the Maine roots of the regiment, and perhaps the influence of McArthur's older brother Bvt. Brig. Gen. William McArthur, had something to do with his rapid promotions. But the 17th also suffered severe losses from a cholera epidemic when posted to Reconstruction duty in Texas.

    Malcolm McArthur was the youngest of six children born and raised in Limington, Maine. For all but William, the second oldest, their lives were somewhat star-crossed. The first, Arthur, Jr., wandered southwest before settling in Louisiana. He became lost to his family in another way as he joined the Confederate Army as an officer only to be killed in action in 1862 at age 32. One brother was lost at sea at age 17. Another brother lived only to middle age. Malcolm's only sister was barely 30 when she died. In the months and years after Little Bighorn, Malcolm himself suffered from the rigors and hardships of frontier campaigning. He retired from the army at the end of November, 1884, and lived on for just over thirteen months. In this cabinet photo of Captain McArthur, he shows considerable pride and composure as he poses in his 1872-pattern undress blouse.

    The centerpiece of this beautiful uniform set is the model 1872 officer's full dress cap, 7" long and 5" high. The leather of the 2"-bill is brittle and slightly cracked, but the cap is otherwise in very good condition. The Infantry Officer's white plume is fully intact. The bullion crossed rifles/ 17 insignia is surmounted by the regulation eagle shield embroidered in sterling thread. The front of the cap shows the effects of McArthur's unstitching and restitching. The model 1872 cap was originally issued with the Infantry's old "bugle" insignia, replaced in 1875 by the crossed rifles. The red satin lining is in fine condition. The maker was J. R. Ackerman & Son of New York.

    McArthur's 1879-pattern frockcoat, or dress coat, 34" overall in length, is in excellent condition. The lining has some wear but shows that it was well-cared for. The Infantry officer's shoulder knots with embroidered captain's bars and regimental "17" have a patina of - and this is hard to convey - a patina of service. The 1872 belt with saber hangers in the Infantry's sky blue alternating with gold, made for a slender 33" waist, bears the mark of Schuyler, Hartley, & Graham, New York.

    Two practical items remind us of the soldier's job. First is McArthur's model 1874 cartridge box for his .45 Colt cartridges, black leather with two belt loops, 4" x 3.5" x 1.5", well worn but sound and fully intact. Second is his Ghurka knife, or kukri, with a rusted but sharp 8.5" blade and 3" bone handle with brass cap. The black leather sheath is rubbed and scratched but intact. We can only speculate about McArthur's exchange with a British colonial wars veteran. What did the Brit get in return?
    From the Glenwood Swanson Collection.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2018
    9th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 655

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