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    Capt. F. W. Benteen: His Lemaire Military Binoculars. Armand Lemaire began making optics in 1846 at Paris. During the American Civil War, France - and especially the Lemaire firm - was a major supplier of binoculars to both sides. It can't be known when Capt. Benteen acquired these, but like other field officers during the Indian Wars, he found them invaluable for scouting duty. In his military biography Harvest of Barren Regrets: The Army Career of Frederick William Benteen, Charles K. Mills describes their use during the fateful 25th of June, 1876. Following Custer's orders, "Benteen obediently led his battalion out of the column and started at a brisk walk toward the line of bluffs Custer had pointed out. Lieutenant Frank Gibson was sent galloping ahead with six enlisted men (and Benteen's French field glasses) to climb to the top of the bluffs and see what was in the valley beyond." (p. 253, emphasis added)

    These field glasses were among the few of Benteen's keepsakes that he managed to save from a devastating barn fire at his Atlanta home. His son Frederick Wilson "Freddie" Benteen gave them to historian Colonel W. A. Graham who in turn gave them to Hugh Shick (see the note accompanying the binoculars). They are still serviceable with fine optics. The black leather cover is intact with a few scuffs and chips. They stand 7" tall. The lens shades on the front of the barrels add two inches when fully extended.

    There cannot be many military souvenirs of the Battle of the Little Bighorn that are more significant.
    From the Glenwood Swanson Collection.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2018
    9th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
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