What the Papers Said!

'The Bismarck Tribune,' Bismarck, Dakota Territory [North Dakota since 1889].

  • A random selection of news items arranged in chronological order that appeared in the press from 1866 onwards; some having only a tenuous but hopefully an interesting connection with Custer and the 7th Cavalry. The pages of 19th century newspapers were filled with gossip and humour. Clippings from the UK to follow. Watch this space.
  • The Charleston Daily News (South Carolina), 20 April 1866
  • Shipping Intelligence for the port of Charleston 19 April 1866 showing two references to the Steamship General Custer.

Watercolor by Erik Heyl, prepared for use in his book "Early American Steamers," Volume III. The Steamship 'Mount Savage' had several different names and uses before finally being called 'General Custer' in 1865. A U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

The 'Charleston Daily News' (South Carolina), 20 April 1866.

  • Mount Savage, a 452-ton (burden) screw steamship, was built in 1853 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was renamed Memphis in 1857. Chartered by the Navy in September 1858, she served as USS Memphis during the Paraguay expedition of late 1858 and early 1859. The steamer was purchased by the Navy in May 1859 and renamed Mystic a few weeks later. In June and July 1860, while operating off Africa, she captured two slave ships.
  • During the first part of the Civil War Mystic served in the blockade of the Confederacy’s Atlantic Coast. She assisted in the capture or destruction of four blockade runners off North Carolina in June-September 1862, among them the steamers Emma and Sunbeam. While in the process of taking the latter, on 28 September, she was damaged in collision with USS State of Georgia in the Chesapeake Bay region from late 1862 until the war’s end. In May 1863 she supported the Army during an expedition up the York River and in September of that year seized a sailing vessel off Yorktown. USS Mystic was sold to private owners in June 1865. Renamed General Custer, she disappeared from merchant vessel registers in 1868.]
  • Courtesy of Erik Heyl.
  • The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer  (West Virginia), 15 July 1867
  • Major [Robert Wickliffe] Cooper, of the 7th cavalry, shot himself through the head in a fit of temporary insanity, while on the march with General Custar (sic).
  • [Cooper’s widow, Sarah Steele “Sallie” Venable,  fought for 18 long years to convince the authorities that her husband had not committed suicide as this precluded her from receiving an army. pension.  Although ultimately successful Mrs Cooper died within than twelve months of claiming her victory. Both husband and wife lie side-by-side in Lexington Cemetery. Fayette County, Kentucky.]
  • The Democratic Enquirer (M’arthur, Vinton County, Ohio), 5 December 1867 [Custer’s 28th birthday]
  • ARMY DESERTIONS – The Report  of Gen. Grant mentions the remarkable fact that 13,000 soldiers deserted from the Army during the present year. More than one-half of the 7th Regiment of Cavalry, decamped with horses, accoutrements in arms, and made their way to the gold regions. The number of recruits during the year was 34,110.  The desertions reaching 40 per cent of the enlistments.
  • From the same column [19th century newspapers contained many amusing snippets of information]
  • A John Bull, conversing with an Indian, asked him if he knew that the sun never set on the Queen’s dominions?  “Do you know the reason why?” asked John Bull. “Because God is afraid to trust an Englishman in the dark was the savage’s reply.”
  • Jenny, said a Scotch minister stooping from his pulpit, “have ye got a peen [pin] about ye?” “Yes, minister.” “Then stick it into that sleeping brut of a man of yours by your side.”
  • The National Republican (Washington City, D.C,), 9 March 1868
  • THE INTERMENT OF COL. WM. S. ABERT – On Wednesday last the remains of Col. Wm. S. Abert, major 7th regiment United States cavalry, a brave and respected young officer, who acted well his part in the late war, and who died of yellow fever, at Galveston, in August last, were quietly buried in the cemetery, at Rock Creek church, by the side of his wife, who died of the same disease a few days before him, and near the body of his father, the late Col. J. J. Abert.
  • An escort of United States cavalry accompanied the remains to their final resting place. As the usual religious ceremonies, and the proper military honors due his rank had been observed at the interment at Galveston, his family did not desire a repetition of them here. Members of his family, with his two little children, were present, and Rev. Mr Buck, pastor of the church, read the committal portion of the burial service.
  • Major Abert never did join his new regiment.
  • His headstone was erected by his brother, Brevet Lieutenant Colonel John William Abert, Corps of Topographical Engineers and ornithologist, after who the small bird, Abert’s Towhee, is named.

Headstone of [Brevet Brigadier General of Volunteers] Major William S. Abert, Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C. A Russ Dodge photograph.

Major William Stretch Abert (1836-1867). An Ethan F. Bishop photograph.


  • The New York Times, December 28, 1868
  • Brevet Major-Gen. ALFRED GIBBS, Major of the Seventh United States Cavalry, died at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on Saturday, aged 46 years. Gen. GIBBS was born in the State, graduated at West Point in 1846, and was at once appointed a Second Lieutenant of Mounted Rifles. He was subsequently promoted Captain of the Second Cavalry.

Major Alfred Gibbs (1823-1868) 7th U.S. Cavalry.

  • During the war Gibbs was commissioned as Colonel of one of the New York Cavalry Regiments, and was soon after made a Brigadier-General. For gallant services in the Army of the Potomac he was brevetted Major-General of Volunteers. At the close of the war he was appointed Major of the Seventh Cavalry, and served with his regiment up to the time of his death.
  • The Louisiana Democrat (Alexandria, Louisiana), 27 October 1869
  • Lieut. [Jacob Henry] Shellabarger, 7th Cavalry was dismissed from service for conduct unbecoming an officer.
  • [The sentence was effective from 18 September 1869. Shellabarger married Mary Peat, from England, on 23 April 1872. At the time of the Federal Census (1880) he was living in St. Louis, Missouri; employed as a salesman by Pickles & Co; and had three young daughters. An only son, Richard Henry, b. 12 May 1882, d. 23 June 1943.  Jacob d. early November 1883 and Mary d. 1915.]
  • The Public Ledger (Memphis, Tennessee), 1 July 1870
  • General Custer is tired of the West, and threatens to retire.
  • Red Cloud says white squaws have on too much war paint.
  • A landlady in New York refuses to kill bed bugs, because it is cruelty to animals.

Robert Samuel Graves (1818-1873). Courtesy Maritime Museum, Liverpool.

  • The Emporia News (Kansas), 19 May 1871
  • Gen. Custer has received from Mr. Graves, M. P. and Commodore of the Royal Mersey Yacht Club, a present of a full-bred Scotch staghound. Mr. Graves, who was a guest of the General’s on the Plains last summer, sent the animal over by the last Liverpool steamer. So says the Atchison Champion.
  • Samuel Robert Graves (7 June 1818 – 18 Jan 1873) was an Irish-born businessman and Conservative politician who was the Member of Parliament for Liverpool from 1865 until his death in 1873.]
  • The Charlotte Democrat (North Carolina), 6 August 1872
  • An affray, which the lying radical correspondents who have infested this State would have magnified into a kuklux (sic) outrage had they been present, disturbed the peace and caused a good deal of excitement. A company of the 7th U. S. Cavalry, under the command of Brevet Lieutenant Colonel V. K. Hart, is stationed at Lincolnton, for some reason unknown to the citizens, during the day the soldiers had the run of the town, and like a good many of the people, imbibed very freely in North Carolina “pine top,” which abounds in this section. Late in the afternoon a drunken citizen and a drunken soldier had a quarrel in a rum shop, a fight ensued, and the soldier got the worst of it. The soldier went to the barracks and presently returned with three comrades as whisky-heated as himself, and proposed to punish the victorious, citizen by force of numbers. A constable of the town tried to quell the disturbance, and would probably have succeeded had not a non-commissioned officer who heard there was a row, rushed to the spot, and without inquiring into the cause, struck out right and left with his sabre. Two or three citizens were knocked down and a soldier, perhaps, inspired by the example of his superior officer, drew a pistol and fired several shots, one grazing the scalp and another wounding the hand of a young man named Rufus Summerow. The wounded man who seems to have been a quiet spectator, until he was knocked down by the corporal and shot at by the private, then drew his revolver and fired, inflicting a trifling flesh wound in the shoulder of private Fox. In the meantime the citizen who was engaged in the first broil made his escape, and the soldiers coming out infuriated (about they hardly knew what) took Summerow from the arms of the friends who were taking him home, a Sergeant drew his revolver and pointing it at the back of his head, would have shot him dead had he not been prevented by the indignant cries and threats of the crowd. Finally they took him away from the civil authorities and locked him up in the barracks, in the meantime keeping the citizens back at the point of the sabre. The Mayor of the town, Captain V. Q. Johnson, was promptly at the scene of dis order, and it was entirely owing to his firmness and influence and the forbearance of the crowd of citizens that there was not a serious riot. A few minutes later Col. Hart, who was at the bedside of his sick wife when the difficulty occurred, arrived at the barracks and quickly brought the soldiers to their senses. The Colonel says he has been in North Carolina and South Carolina for two years, and this is the first conflict between soldiers and citizens, that has ever come under his notice. He bears testimony to the peaceable disposition of the people of Lincoln county, but complains of the lack of social attentions to himself and wife. The affray of to-day, which may hereafter be misrepresented in the Radical press, was purely a whisky fight. If any of the participants are to blame the soldiers are the guilty parties.

Major Verling K Hart (1838-1883), 7th U.S. Cavalry. Photograph added to the web by Norman Dagen.

Headstone of Rufus Sumerow (or Summerow), Bryson City Cemetery, Swain County, North Carolina. Photograph by Genieresearcher.

  • The Charleston Daily News (South Carolina), 10 March 1873
  • In Newberry, last week, the funeral of James Laurie, private. Troop G, Seventh Regiment, United States Cavalry, took place. The deceased was a native of Galashiels, Scotland. 

  • Private James Laurie – 7th U.S. Calvary, Company G,  enlisted 8 November 1872 in Boston, Massachusetts.  At the time of his enlistment he gave his correct age of 23,  was 5′ 8″ tall, with a fair complexion, brown eyes, dark hair and by occupation a wool spinner, born in Galashiels (see below), Scotland. On 24 February 1873 he was admitted to the post hospital at Newberry, South Carolina, and died there three days later.The records cite the cause of death was acute pulmonary phthisis (TB). Private Laurie was buried in the Newberry Village Cemetery with Military Honours. 

Headstone for Private James Laurie, the [Old] Newberry Village Cemetery, Newberry, South Carolina. Photograph by Paul, Karen & Katherine.

  • James Laurie was not actually born in Galashiels, but in the neighbouring parish of Melrose on 15 February 1849, son of William Laurie and Mary Johnston Laurie.  His parents were married in the parish of Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland on 14 April 1845 and had at least three other children, all born in Melrose, namely Margaret Bruce (b. 28 April 1846); William (b. 10 March 1851) and Thomas (b. 23 May 1853). At least as early as the spring of 1861 (Census) the family was residing in Galashiels, famous for its woollen mills, hence the reason for this border town being given as James’ place of birth or, at least, where he spent his formative years.
  • The Dallas Daily Herald (Texas), 24 October 1874
  • Where did Merrill, who is dragooning the people of Louisiana into submission to radicalism, get his title of brigadier general?  He is lieutenant colonel of the 7th cavalry, and was known as Colonel Merrill while oppressing and plundering South Carolina.
  • The People’s Vindicator (Natchitoches, Louisiana), 21 November 1874
  • Lieutenant Wallace of the 7th U. S. Cavalry, left our city one day last week to join his command. He won the esteem and good opinion of our people during his stay, by his mild and unostentatious manners and his uniform kindness to our prisoners while under his charge.
  • The Donaldsonville Chief  (Louisiana) 9 January 1875
  • The following communication, emanating from Sergeant W. D. Boyd of the detachment of troops under command of Lieut. DeRudio [De Rudio], at St, Martinsville, and endorsed by the men forming the detachment, appears in the St. Martinsville Echo of the 2nd inst;
    In reply to an article which appeared in the St, Martinsville Sentinel of the 19th instant, referring to Lieutenant DeRudio [De Rudio] as being despised by the men of his command, I wish to say that such a statement is absolutely false. I have served four years in his Company and have always found him under all circumstances a brave man and a courteous gentleman. It would be impossible for an officer to be more respected than is Lieut. DeRudio [De Rudio], not only by the undersigned, who form his present command, but by every body capable of forming an opinion as to the merits of an officer and gentleman.
  • The Bismarck Weekly Tribune (Dakota Territory), 4 December 1875
  • The post garden at Fort Lincoln em­braces fifteen acres. The ground was broken in 1874, and a light crop raised. This year was the first of thorough cultivation. It is divided into five lots, or tracts, and apportioned to the several companies. Company F, 7th Cavalry, commanded by Capt. Yates, produced on their three acres, 600 bushels of potatoes, 100 bushels of oats, 800 heads of cabbage, 18 bushels of onions, 75 bush­els of turnips, 5 barrels of tomatoes, and radishes, lettuce, etc., etc., in almost unlimited quantities.
  • Our Fort Rice Correspondent reports that amputation followed in the case of Denise [Private George Denny], Co. M 7th Cavalry, who was ac­cidentally shot through the left leg by [Private William Ephraim] Morris, of the same company, while out [prairie] chicken hunting last week. The operation was performed by [First Lieutenant Blair Dabney] Dr. Taylor, Post Surgeon, who gained much credit for the skillful manner in which he performed the work.
    Col. Benteen has been making very thorough work at the Post since he took command. Many little irregular­ities have been checked and an exten­sive illicit whisky traffic broken up. Bismarck whisky peddlers will find the Rice guard house door wide open for entrance if found on the reservation plying their trade under Col. Benteen’s administration.
  • The Grange Advance (Red Wing, Minnesota), 19 July 1876
  •  A discharged sergeant of the 7th cavalry, who arrived in St. Louis on the 13th instant, pretends to give the particulars of the massacre of Gen. Custer and his command by the Indians, and makes it appear that Custer was guilty of almost insane rashness. He says however, that Custer and all the officers of the command except lieutenants Sturgis, Harrington and Porter, stopped on a knoll a mile distant from where the fight took place and that they were surrounded and killed after the massacre of the command. Basing his criticisms upon this statement Gen. Sturgis, the father of lieut. Sturgis, is reported as indulging in some very savage and unsoldierlike denunciations of Custer, and other army officers in St. Louis are represented as reiterating and approving his condemnatory speeches. From our standpoint it seems that the babbling sergeant could not know what he tells, as the Indians would hardly have suffered him to escape had he been near enough to be personally cognizant of the occurrence. Hence we don’t believe his story. But under any probably existing circumstances, the language of Gen. Sturgis and his subordinate officers is unjustifiable, and the army is disgraced by having in its ranks officers who would be guilty of such conduct toward a deceased comrade.
  • The monthly return by the 7th Cavalry for July 1876 does not record any sergeant being discharged during this month!
  • The New Orleans Daily Democrat (Louisiana) 28 March 1877
    What is Thought of His Advances to Mrs. Bell by his Officers
  •  …… Reno is a widower, his wife having died about two years ago, leaving him, it is said, a considerable amount of property. He is probably forty years of age, and is as handsome a man, it is claimed, as there is in the army. The lady who figures in the scandal is described as a brunette, tall and willowy in form, and is possessed of a beauty that might captivate men who have wives no less than those who have not. The part played by Wainwright, the chaplain, who instead of proving himself  the examplar of good manners and a good taste for the whole command, turned tale-bearer, it is alleged, and repeated Reno’s scandalous talk to Mrs. Bell* is regarded as anything but creditable. At present, of course, nearly everybody in army circles sides with Mrs. Bell; but, should Reno be dismissed in disgrace, this feeling would, it is thought, give place to pity for him, and then those who are now her friends would feel that it would have been far better had she kept her own secrets and borne the insults and calumnies in silence.
  • Follow the link for details of both of Reno’s courts martial and his being dismissed from the United States Army –
  • www.littlebighorn.info/Articles/reno86.htm
  • Note (*): Emily Mary Hones Bell, daughter of Thomas Maskell Hones, a Fishmonger, and Sarah Balls Hones, was born 12 March 1851 at 11 Colvile Terrace (off the fashionable King’s Road), Chelsea, London.  She married Lieutenant James Montgomery Bell on 12 March 1872 at Trinity Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • The Perrysburg Journal (Wood County, Ohio), 31 August 1877
  • A Touching Episode. There was a pathetic scene at Fort Abraham Lincoln a few days ago, when the Seventh Cavalry, Gen. S. D. Sturgis command, which was headed In the field last year by the gallant but unfortunate Custer, marched into camp. As the gray troop (Company E), under Lieut. C. C. De Rudio was passing in review before the General’s house he came out of the door and to the gate with a guidon in his hand and ordered the command to a halt. The battalion came to a halt and present. On the porch were congregated the members of the General’s family, consisting of his beautiful wife, his pretty daughter Ella, another little girl and their only remaining son, all dressed In deep mourning. The General, with his eyes full of tears, addressing Lieut. De Rudio, said: ” I am charged by my wife to present your company with this guidon in remembrance of our dear son, who was attached to it when he was killed. I hope you will appreciate it; take good care of it and honor the memory of our dearly beloved boy.” The Lieutenant took the guidon in his hand, raised it and replied: “Dear General, I thank you and Mrs. Sturgis in the name of my company. This guidon will guide them and myself to revenge the blood of your son, and I assure you that nobody shall capture it while a man of my command lives, for we shall defend it with the last drop of our blood.” The General’s son, Lieut. John Sturgis, it may be remembered, fell in Custer’s fatal battle, and, at his father’s request, was buried on the field of valor where he fell.
  • Note: [(Brigadier General of Volunteers) Samuel Davis Sturgis was colonel of the 7th Cavalry, Sadly, the body of his son, Second Lieutenant James “Jack” Garland (not John), was never positively identified.] 

Marker for James G Sturgis (1854-1876) at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.. Author's photograph.

Colonel Samuel D Sturgis (1822-1889). Photograph taken during the Civil War.

  • The Bismarck Tri-weekly Tribune (Dakota Territory),  19 January 1878
  • STANDING ROCK, D. T. — It is understood that the 7th regiment of cavalry is ordered to Fort A. Lincoln, D. T., in order to fit out for another expedition, to start as soon as possible, on Indian service. If this is true, is there any reason in the heads of our executive officers? Gen. Miles has the 2d cavalry and two regiments of infan­try in the immediate vicinity of the hostiles. Our regiment is reduced to nearly half its number of last fall, and only three companies, as yet, are in quarters. The other companies are out in tents, scouting in the worst climate in the United States. We all, after getting into quarters, have to work hard all winter in order to keep the different posts in or­der and cleanliness, and at the same time there are over half the men detail­ed on duty, leaving about one-third or less of the company to do guard and all company duties, and all that of the quartermaster. The men are all dis­satisfied and played out, and wish some justice shown them. Why could not some regiment of cavalry be sent to our relief? There are more than one that have been doing comparatively light duty for the last four or five years. Our officers are not the only ones to be thought of. They win promotion, and by it we gain nothing. AN ENLISTED MAN, 7TH CAVALRY
  • The Bismarck Weekly Tribune, (Dakota Territory)10 May 1878
  • For Sale – The 7th Cavalry saloon and fixtures, 4th street, Bismarck, D. T. Stove, chairs, pictures, &c., &c.,  must be included. No incumbrance of any kind on the property. Situation first-class. For price and terms inquire on the premises.
  • The Bismarck Weekly Tribune (Dakota Territory), 25 September 1878
  • Private Thayer, a recruit for the 7th cavalry, was accidentally killed at Fort Lincoln by a companion, last week. The companion handed him the muzzle of a loaded gun to help him out of a slough. The gun went off and killed him instantly.

Major Marcus A. Reno (1834-1889), 7th U.S. Cavalry.

Lieutenant Charles C. De Rudio (1832-1910), 7th U.S. Cavalry.

  • The Daily Globe (St Paul, Minnesota), 10 October 1879
  • Gen. Terry is in receipt of a marble urn, which is illustrative of two things. It is the artistic handiwork of Lieut. DeRudio, of the Seventh United States cavalry, and is made of marble excavated from the Black Hills region. The rock takes a high polish, and, in variety of color and streak, is not unlike the world famed marble of Tennessee. The urn stands upon a columnar pedestal, and both urn and support are deftly carved with trailing vine and flowers and highly polished by Lieut. DeRudio, who has shown no mean skill in his artistic work.
  • The Bismarck Tribune (Dakota Territory), 25 June 1880
  • Lieut. Hugh L. Scott, of the 7th Caval­ry, was married to Miss Mary Merrill, daughter of Col. Lewis Merrill, of the 7th cavalry, at Stand­ing Rock Wednesday. The young couple arrived in Bismarck yesterday and left to-day for Fort Totten where the lieutenant’s company is stationed.
  • [Hugh Lenox Scott (1853-1934) retired from the army in 1919, a major general, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.]
  • The Vancouver Independent (Washington), 10 February 1881
  • Archibald Gibson, second lieutenant of the 7th U. S. cavalry, and son of a prominent lawyer, died of inflammation of the brain, caused by a singular event occurring while he was a West Point student. One day while on parade a spider got into his ear. The rules prohibited his removing it, and he stood in the ranks while the creature worked its way into the ear, and when he was dismissed the ear was full of blood. This caused corrosion of the bone next to the brain, and he has never been completely well since, although having done hard service in Dakota.
  • The River Press, (Fort Benton, Montana), 6 December 1882
  • A Good Chance for Any Man The following story is from an eastern paper. An officer of the 7th cavalry regiment of Fort Lincoln, Dakota, received a letter from a woman who owned a ranch near Mandan, which, in substance read as follows: “Dear Sir: My man, perhaps you know, is dead. I buried him Thursday. It is coming on spring, now, and I am a lonely woman, with a big ranch, and the Indians about.  I don’t mind the Indians, the red devils, but  I have too much work for any woman to do. If you have any sergeant about to be mustered out, or a private, if he is a good man, I would like to have you inform me about him.  If he is a steady man, likes work, and wants a good home I will marry him, if we think we can get along together. It’s a good chance for any man. Please answer.
  • Weekly Expositor (Brockway Centre, Michigan), 5 July 1883.
  • The Sioux on the Standing Rock reservation are reported by Sergeant Ham, of the 7th Cavalry, stationed at Fort Yates to be in a wretched condition and dying off at a frightful rate. “The principal cause,” he says, “is pulmonary disease, caused by exposure and aggravated by irregular habits of eating and sleeping, lack of nourishing food and warm clothing. They eat until everything at hand has gone, and then go without food for several days, perhaps.  They eat the refuse of a carcase half cooked, with equal relish as the choicest parts.” 
  • [A very sad indictment of conditions on the Res.]

  • Lancaster Daily  Intelligencer (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), 31 July 1883
  • SITTING BULL is so perfectly practised that he prefers ready cash to historical souvenirs. He has sold his famous battle club to a sergeant in the 7th cavalry [Edwin Ham] for ten dollars. In shape the weapon is said to resemble an adze handle, is about two feet long, studded with brass nails, while the upper end two keen bowie knife blades protrude. In the cut sides are set small mirrors for the purpose of signally the sun’s rays.
  • [Hoax or genuine? If the latter is the case, where is this important artefact now?] 

Edwin Ham (1844-1920). Photograph taken while serving in the 77th New York Infantry Volunteers (1861-65). Original located in Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.

  • The Weekly Saratogian (Saratoga Springs, New York), 17 January 1884.
  • FIFTY-FOUR BELOW ZERO – Sergeant Ham and the Seventh Cavalry Experiencing a Northern Dakota Winter.
  • When the mercury lowers itself to about 30 degrees below zero in Saratoga and vicinity a shivering howl goes up over the intensity of the weather. Sergeant Edwin Ham of Saratoga Springs, attached to Troop D, Seventh United States Cavalry, stationed at Fort Yates, Dakota Territory, in the following interesting and racy correspondence to the SARATOGIAN gives some idea of the beauties  of soldiering in the north-western section of Uncle Sam’s farm:
  • FORT YATES, D.T., Jan 4, 1884. – As the weather is so intensively severe today, I am unable to do anything but write and hug the stove. I will drop a few words to you in order that your man readers may know how we poor soldiers suffer at times. Today, at 5 a.m., the thermometer showed up at 54 degrees below zero; at guard mounting, 9 a.m., 51 degrees below zero. It is no 2 p.m. and the thermometer stands at 46 degrees below zero, and no telling where it will stand before tomorrow. The wind will shave a man in no time, and a boy is not allowed to look out of doors.  I called my company roll this morning in the quarters and as near the stove as possible. We did not go to the stables to groom. Cold, why I could not get to the sutler store to irrigate or, in other words, get the ice melted out of my throat. Just too cold for anything. Should the weather so cold that ink will not flow off my pen, you will hear from me again next spring. The snow is about 18 inches deep on an average and in some places from 18 feet to 80 feet deep, according to the locality of the drifts. It is impossible to travel at present except along the river. Ice on the Missouri river is 4½ feet thick. All antelope and deer have taken refuge in the brush near the river, and it is murder in two volumes, the way people kill them off. If I do not freeze up altogether, you may hear from me later. With many regards to all my friends. I am very respectfully your subscriber and friend. EDWIN HAM, Serg’t D Troop, 7th U.S. Cav.  
  • Editor’s Note: Edwin Ham (and his twin, Edgar), son of John Ham  and Margaret Miller Ham, was born in Wilton, Saratoga County, New York on 20 June 1844.  He enlisted in the 77th New York Infantry at Saratoga Springs on 24 September 1861; was promoted to corporal on 23 April 1863; captured at Savage’s Station on 28 June 1863; spent three months in Libby Prison; and mustered out with his company at Golding’s Farm, Virginia, on 13 December 1864.    He returned to Saratoga County where he served as a policeman before enlisting in the U.S. Army in New York City on 7 June 1878, when he was described as having hazel eyes, dark hair, a dark complexion, standing 5′ 9 3/4″ tall, occupation, a Horse Shoer. Edwin Ham Company D at Camp J.G. Sturgis in September 1878 with the rank of farrier, and was discharged at Fort Yates on 6 June 1883 – a “Sergeant of Excellent Character.”  He re-enlisted the following day.  After being admitted to the Army and Navy Hospital, Hot Springs, Arkansas,  on 15 May 1887, he was discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate for disability (cause not known to this writer) on 5 July 1887, once again a “Sergeant of Excellent Character.”  For a second time he returned to live in his home county although he spent some of his later years in Washington, D.C. He made a successful application for an invalid pension which was filed in New York (state) on 15 July 1887.

Headstone of Elizabeth Ham (? - 1906), Greenridge Cemetery, Saratoga Springs, New York.

  • At some unknown date Edwin Ham married an Elizabeth (surname not disclosed) who died without issue on 12 December 1906. The former sergeant from Company D, 7th Cavalry, now described as “a Farmer,” died in Washington, D.C., 0n 15 April 1920, and was buried four days later near his twin brother in the Veterans Section of Greenridge Cemetery, Saratoga Springs (no headstone). The cemetery records incorrectly list his age at death as being 80 years, whereas he was two months shy of his 76th birthday.

The Billings Gazette MAGAZINE, Sunday, 17 June 2001 under the heading 'The Custer Connection - Britons follow the Little Bighorn Story,'' by Lorna Thackeray.

The Billings Gazette MAGAZINE, Sunday, 17 June 2001 under the heading 'The Custer Connection - 'Amazing disaster' resonates still, especially in Big Horn County' by Lorna Thackeray.

Above the fold of the The Bismarck Tribune three days before the Bush v Kerry election of 2004.

& The Small Print

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