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    George Armstrong Custer: His Well-Worn Cavalry Spurs. When one thinks of this controversial figure the phrase "boots and saddles" may well come to mind. From his meteoric rise to the rank of major general at the age of 25 during the Civil War to his untimely demise at Little Bighorn, Custer was always first and foremost a cavalryman. During his West Point years, his academic performance left much to be desired (he finished at the bottom of his class). But the one area in which he excelled was horsemanship, and his riding skills were the envy of his classmates. During the War he rose to prominence as the commander of a Michigan cavalry brigade, and his cavalry forces were instrumental in cutting off Robert E. Lee's line of retreat in the days leading up to Appomattox.

    After the war Custer, like many union officers, was reduced in rank, but as a lieutenant colonel in the Regular Army he led cavalry units in the Indian Wars which culminated in the epic confrontation at Little Bighorn in 1876.

    The pair of spurs offered here are of a type which first appeared during the Civil War, but were in extensive use in the regular cavalry for years thereafter. They are accompanied by a copy of a photograph of Custer in Major General's uniform, wearing a pair of spurs which, if they are not this exact pair, are certainly of the same type. Accordingly, it is probably impossible to attribute them to a particular era of Custer's career, although they clearly display years of use. These spurs were passed down through the Custer family until the 1980s, and are accompanied by a notarized letter of provenance from Richard Custer, the great grandson of Nevin Custer, Armstrong's sole surviving brother (brothers Tom and Boston also perished at Little Bighorn). Still attached are the original leather straps and brass buckles. The spurs themselves are brass, and engraved with running vine and floral motifs. The rowels are made of iron for durability, as was the practice.

    In the hierarchy of artifacts from the lives of famous people, the ones occupying the highest levels of desirability are those which can be most closely identified with the experiences or signature qualities which made their owners historical figures. It is hard to imagine any Custer relics which could be more evocative of the Custer myth than this pair of cavalry spurs.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2010
    17th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,564

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