Boots and Saddles or, Life in Dakota with General Custer


Boots and Saddles or, Life in Dakota with General Custer

Elizabeth B. Custer
Introduction by Louise Barnett

342 pages
1 illustration, 1 map, 1 appendix


December 2010


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The honeymoon of Elizabeth Bacon and George Armstrong Custer was interrupted in 1864 by his call to duty with the Army of the Potomac. Her entreaties to be allowed to travel along set the pattern of her future life. From that time onward, she did indeed accompany General Custer on all his major assignments except the summer Indian campaigns, “the only woman,” she said, “who always rode with the regiment.”
This is the story of Elizabeth B. Custer (1842–1933), told in her own words. She was not only a housewife on the Plains; she was whatever the occasion demanded: nurse to a group of frostbitten soldiers; any-hour-of-the-day hostess to the regiment, since her husband was not fond of entertaining; the garrison’s favorite confidante (and many an interesting story she has to tell); and would-be Indian fighter whenever the women of the regiment had to be left alone.
Boots and Saddles also offers a gentle, loving portrait of George Armstrong Custer, husband and man, by the person who knew him best. Elizabeth Custer’s absolute devotion to him is revealed in every line of her story, which ends, appropriately enough, with the day on which she received the news of the disaster at Little Big Horn.

Author Bio

Louise Barnett is a professor of American studies at Rutgers University and the author of numerous books, including Touched by Fire: The Life, Death, and Mythic Afterlife of George Armstrong Custer, available in a Bison Books edition, and Atrocity and American Military Justice in Southeast Asia.


“This is a warmly human, first-hand account of the hardships, disappointments, fun and flattery, joys, and heartaches of women who accompanied their military husbands across the sage, up turbulent rivers, over the badlands of Dakota into the far reaches of the Western frontier, during the Indian troubles of the mid-1870s.”—Montana: The Magazine of Western History

Table of Contents

I. Change of Station
II. A Blizzard
III. Western Hospitality
IV. Cavalry on the March
V. Camping among the Sioux
VI. A Visit to the Village of "Two Bears"
VII. Adventures during the Last Days of the March
VIII. Separation and Reunion
IX. Our New Home at Fort Lincoln
X. Incidents of Every-day Life
XI. The Burning of Our Quarters.--Carrying the Mail
XII. Perplexities and Pleasures of Domestic Life
XIII. A "Strong Heart" Dance!
XIV. Garrison Life
XV. General Custer's Literary Work
XVI. Indian Depredations
XVII. A Day of Anxiety and Terror
XVIII. Improvements at the Post, and Gardening
XIX. General Custer's Library
XX. The Summer of the Black Hills Expedition
XXI. Domestic Trials
XXII. Capture and Escape of Rain-in-the-Face
XXIII. Garrison Amusements
XXIV. An Indian Council
XXV. Breaking Up of the Missouri
XXVI. Curious Characters and Excursionists among Us
XXVII. Religious Services.--Leave of Absence
XXVIII. A Winter's Journey across the Plains
XXIX. Our Life's Last Chapter
Appendix: With Extracts of General Custer's Letters

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