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    Charles DeRudio: An Important Handwritten and Signed Document by this Colorful Little Bighorn Survivor. In this August 3, 1866, missive to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, DeRudio recounts his qualifications and applies for a commission as a first lieutenant in the United States Army. Born in Venice, Italy, DeRudio explains his military education and declares that his military experience included service when "The Revolutionary War of my country (Italy) having broken out in 1848... [he] espoused the Cause and served as an Officer during the struggle for independence [sic]." "During the Rebillion [sic] of this (my adopted) Country" he served the Union cause, rising from the rank of a Volunteer private to that of a second lieutenant in the 2nd U. S. Col'd Infantry, a commission received from the "much lamented President Lincoln." He received hi commission as requested in September 1867.

    DeRudio was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 7th Cavalry in 1867, and quickly emerged as one of its most colorful and memorable personalities. He served under Benteen, who because of DeRudio's incessant boasting and references to his aristocratic ancestry quickly nicknamed him "Count No Account." But, by all reports, DeRudio was an effective officer. On the Little Bighorn campaign, he was in command of Company "E", and by all rights, should have gone to his death with Custer. However, Custer replaced him with a personal favorite, Algernon Smith, and assigned DeRudio to Smith's former command, Company "A". The substitution would save DeRudio's life and cost Smith his.

    During the battle, DeRudio's company was in the forefront of Major Reno's assault on the Indian encampment. He gained fame when he became separated from the main body of troops during the frantic retreat, lost his horse, and was able to remain hidden in the timber for thirty-six hours before he managed to rejoin the defensive position on Reno Hill. During his concealment, he was forced to witness, through the brush, the ritual mutilation of his dead comrades by the Lakota women. He continued to serve in the Indian Wars until retiring from the Army with the rank of major in 1896.

    Because of his colorful history, items related to Charles DeRudio have always been especially prized by collectors. This document, signed and entirely in his elegant hand, is in beautiful condition. Two pages measuring 7.75" x 12.25".

    For more on "Count Carlo," see Swanson, G. A. Custer: His Life and Times, pp. 88-89.
    From the Glenwood Swanson Collection.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2018
    9th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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