A Brave Soldier and Honest Gentleman


A Brave Soldier and Honest Gentleman

Lt. James E. H. Foster in the West, 1873–1881

210 pages


November 2013


$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

2014 Award of Merit - American Association for State and Local History 

Lt. James E. H. Foster (1848–1883) lived a short but eventful life as a junior officer on the Northern Plains. His story—and his illustrated journal—provide a rich portrait of the frontier army at the time of the Great Sioux War. Stationed at Fort McPherson, Nebraska, Foster traveled with the Jenney Expedition of 1875, filling in the large blank area on the map of the Black Hills, and making some of the earliest surviving artistic renditions of the area.

The Black Hills, of course, were not unknown to the Lakotas, who resented the invasion of gold miners and resisted the U.S. government's attempts to buy the Hills. When war erupted in 1876, Foster rode with General Crook's forces, fighting at the Battle of the Rosebud and enduring the infamous Starvation March.

Relying on correspondence, army records, and other documents from the time, historian Thomas R. Buecker reconstructs Foster's life, interweaving his narrative with Foster's own words. Now published for the first time, all illustrations from the journal (plus several more published by Foster elsewhere) are reproduced here, along with the journal's complete transcribed text. For his own part, Foster was a gifted writer and an astute and witty observer of military life. His story increases our knowledge of the American West and the important role played in it by the frontier army.

Author Bio

Thomas R. Buecker (1948–2015) was a longtime employee of the Nebraska State Historical Society, serving as curator at Neligh Mill State Historic Site (1977–1985), the Fort Robinson Museum (1985–2011), and the Thomas P. Kennard House in Lincoln (2011–2015). 

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