What the Papers Say

  • Tuesday, 16 October 2018
  • The Frontier Army of the Dakota, Post Dispatch, VOL. XXXII, Issue No. 2, September 2018,
  • Editor Cheryl Stein, Surrey, North Dakota.
  • WIDOWS OF SOLDIERS KILLED AT THE BATTLE OF LITTLE BIGHORN, 25 JUNE 1876, WHO ARE KNOWN TO HAVE REMARRIED

Frank (left) and Charles Bobo c.1877 (above). Missouri Ann Wycoff Bobo Kanipe (right).

  • 1. Missouri Ann Wycoff (widow of 1st Sergeant L. Edwin Bobo, Company C) married Sergeant Daniel Kanipe, Company C, 7th Cavalry, on 12 April 1877. She had two sons from her first marriage, Charles and Frank. The newlyweds settled in Marion, McDowell County, North Carolina, where they raised eight more children: three sons and five daughters. Daniel worked for the Internal Revenue Service, was treasurer of the Mystic Tie Lodge #237 in Marion for more than 20 years, and served as Captain of the North Carolina Militia Home Guards during World War I. He died age 73 on 18 July 1926 and Missouri died age 80 on 25 May 1934. Both are buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Marion, where a fine headstone marks the grave.
  • 2. Margaret “Maggie” Emma Custer (widow of 1st Lieutenant James Calhoun, Company L), married John H. Maugham, in Pennsylvania in 1904. She died age 58 in March 1910 in Detroit, Michigan, and is buried in Woodland Cemetery, Monroe, Michigan with several other members of the Custer family including her brother Boston and nephew Harry Armstrong Reed, both of whom were killed at Little Big Horn. The fate of Maugham is not known.
  • 3. Mary Blanchton (widow of Private William B. Crisfield, Company L), born in France, one of three widows at Fort Totten on the day of the battle, married Private Martin Personeus, Company L, 7th Cavalry, in 1876 or ’77 in Bismarck, North Dakota, and had two further children – Phoebe and Charles. Martin Personeus died around age 55 on 24 December 1889, in the County Farm Asylum, near Carlinsville, Illinois and buried there in an unmarked grave. Mary passed away age 85 on 17 February 1931 in Gillespie, Macoupin County, Illinois, and laid to rest in Mayfield Memorial Park Cemetery, Carlinville,, where the apocryphal words ‘SURVIVOR GEN. CUSTER’S MASSACRE’ are inscribed on an ornate gravestone. It was placed there by her daughter, Phoebe, and son-in-law, Charles Goodnight, a coal miner; almost certainly a near relative of the Charles Goodnight, who is remembered for blazing the Goodnight-Loving cattle trail from Texas to Wyoming.

Mary Blanchton Crisfield Personeus.

Frances Downing, right.

  • 4. Frances “Fannie” J. Downing (widow of Acting Assistant Surgeon James M. DeWolf, a civilian contract surgeon), another Fort Totten widow, married Elijah Dodd on 10 June 1879 at Waterville, Ohio, who she divorced in 1912. They had one child, Verne Adams Dodd. Frances died age 65 on 19 May 1918 and is buried next to her first husband, James DeWolf, in Woodlawn Cemetery. Norwalk, Huron County, Ohio.
  • Note: Although written as a novel, Voices In Our Souls (2010), by Gene Erb and Ann DeWolf Erb, a distant cousin of Dr. James DeWolf, is based in part on a diary found on the acting assistant surgeon’s body at the battlefield and letters exchanged between him and his wife, Fannie. The story, which mentions both Mary Crisfield and Nora McElroy (see page 5) receiving the news of their husbands’ deaths, focuses on the relationship between the DeWolfs and uses their lives to call attention to the complex situations between whites and Indians as settlers and soldiers pushed west during the second half of the 19th century.
  • 5. Anna Elizabeth Hahn, aka Fettis (widow of Trumpeter Henry Dose, Company G), from the Kingdom of Bavaria (present-day Rhineland Palatinate), married Englishman 1st Sergeant Edward Garlick, Company G, 7th Cavalry, on 22 November 1876 in Bismarck. Garlick was discharged on a surgeon’s certificate at Fort Riley, Kansas, on 5 November 1887 and settled in Sturgis, Meade County, the following year. Over time Garlick’s health evidently recovered sufficiently to enable him to work on a hack line, then a dray line and transfer, and, finally, for many years as a carrier of the U.S. Mail between Sturgis and Fort Meade. They had two children – Edward and Frederick – and adopted a third, Harry. Anna died, after a long illness, on 15 March 1928 and Edward Garlick succumbed to Bright’s disease at the age 84 on 25 January 1931. Both are buried in nearby Bear Butte Cemetery where individual granite headstones mark their graves.
  • 6. Mary Ellen Boyer (widow of Sergeant Jeremiah Finley, Company C), married Private John F. Donohue, Company K, 7th Cavalry, on 7 February 1877 and lived in Oberon, Benson County, North Dakota. The cause, date and place of her death are unknown. Donohue, originally from County Tipperary, Ireland, died age 71 on 3 December 1924 in Butte, Montana.
  • 7. Mary Elizabeth Kittinger (widow of Corporal William H. Gilbert, Company L), married Samuel D. Hevener on 18 March 1877 at the Union Methodist Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and had a further ten children, only five of whom reached maturity. Lived at 2624 North 27th Street, Philadelphia. Samuel died age 61 on 11 January 1920 and Mary age 77 on 6 December 1932. Both are buried in Mount Peace Cemetery, Philadelphia.

Anna Hahn Dose Garlick and Edward Garlick (left). Nora Sullivan McElroy Furey headstone (above).

  • 8. Mary Sauder (widow of 1st Sergeant Frederick Hohmeyer, Company E), a mother of four children who came to the United States from Württemberg, Germany, before 1864, married Sergeant Latrobe Brommell (real name Bromwell), Company E, on 25 February 1877. Mary was matron of the post hospital at Fort Meade, Dakota Territory, in 1883. The couple received a rousing send-off at the train station from the officers and men at Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1908, when they left for their new home in Baltimore, Maryland, although two years later they are found living on 9th St NW, Washington, D.C. By early January 1920 they were back in Kansas, in Smoky Hill Township, near Fort Riley, where Latrobe, described as a caterer, was no doubt putting to good use the culinary skills he had learned during his time in the army. He died at the National Soldiers’ Home in Washington on 29 April 1923 and is buried in the cemetery there. No record has been found of Mary’s death.
  •      Nellie, the youngest of Frederick Hohmeyer’s four children, was not born until several months after his death (4 December 1876). She took the surname of ‘Bromwell’ after her step-father, and married Sergeant George H. Rathgeber, Company G, 7th Cavalry, at Junction City, Geary County, on Christmas Eve 1892. Rathgeber had a distinguished military career and retired, with the rank of major, through ill health in 1920. He died at the Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, D.C. on 5 December 1928. Nellie died on 17 November 1949. Both are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. At one time, it is said, George Rathgeber owned the pair of binoculars that Custer used at the Little Big Horn, but that’s another story!
  • 9. Katherine “Kate” E. Corcey1 (widow of Private John P. Kelly, Company E), married 1st Sergeant William A. Curtiss, Company F, on 27 January 1877. The Federal Census taken at Fort Totten, Dakota Territory, in June 1880 shows Kate E. Curtiss, a laundress, age 28, living with two children from her first marriage, Henry, age 7, and Ruth, age 5, and 11 month-old Winfred (sic), a daughter, the only child of the second.2 William Curtiss was discharged from Fort Buford, Dakota Territory on 18 April 1881, after serving only three years of a five-year enlistment “to procure a good home for his family of 4 children on a claim he must settle on soon or lose near Valley City, D.T.” It must be presumed that he did. He died from lung disease on 27 October 1888, in Helena, Montana. On 23 July 1893 Katherine, then living in Spokane, Washington, filed for a widow’s pension which was rejected on the grounds she could not produce any evidence that her late husband served in the army during the Civil War. She died of pneumonia at 137 East Front Avenue, Spokane on 4 August 1896 and was buried in Fairmont Cemetery, since renamed Fairmont Memorial Park, where a stone is inscribed ‘Katherine E. Curtis (sic) 1853-1896’.
  • Notes:
  • 1.  Katherine Corcey (or Corsey), daughter of David Corsey (b. Canada) and Margaret (?) Doyle (b. Ireland).
  • 2. The Kellys had a third child, Josephine, born at Fort Lincoln 25 September 1876, but why she is missing from the 1880 Census remains a mystery to this writer. At the time of this census William Curtis was with his regiment in the field in Billings County, Montana Territory.

The Rathgeber headstone (above). Michael Caddle headstone (right).

  • 10. Nora Sullivan (widow of Trumpeter Thomas McElroy, Company E), the third Fort Totten widow, arrived in the United States from Ireland in 1871. She married Private John Furey, Company E, 7th Cavalry, who was actually in Company K, 20th Infantry, stationed at Fort Totten, at the time of her first husband’s death. Furey, from County Tyrone, Ireland, served three 5-year terms in the United States Army and died before 1900.      Nora, whose second marriage was to remain childless, died in Sturgis, South Dakota, on 27 January 1937 and is buried in St. Aloysius (Catholic) Cemetery there.
  •      Nora’s supposed reaction to tragic news of her first husband’s death is graphically recounted in Voices In Our Souls, which tells its readers “Nora McElroy bolted from her chair with a blood-curdling scream. “No!”  Whirling hysterically, still shrieking, she tore at her hair, ripped open the top of her dress and clawed red marks across her chest. Marie McLaughlin rose to her aid, but she jerked away. “Get away, dirty squaw!”  She lashed at Marie’s face with her nails, missed and tumbled over the back of her chair. Flat on her back, her wild eyes fixed on Little Fish and the two younger braves. “Savages!  Bloody savages!” she screamed, scrambling on all fours toward the Indians.  Several men pulled her up and hurried her out of the front door.  Her shrieks and wails grew more frantic as they half-pulled, half-carried her across the parade ground into the laundry building.”
  • 11. Johanna Lee (widow of Private Archibald McIhargey, Company I), born in Ohio of Irish Catholic parents, married Sergeant Michael C. Caddle (or Caddell), Company, G, 7th Cavalry, on Christmas Day 1877. They had four sons and three daughters. Johanna (aka ‘Josephine’ or ‘Josie’) died of cancer of the stomach near Fort Rice, Morton County, North Dakota, in the first week of August 1904. Her place of burial remains a mystery. Michael, originally from Dublin, Ireland, lived in Morton County for forty-six years where he established himself as a “well-to-do” wheat farmer, “potato king,” owner of a coal mine, mail carrier and a county commissioner. He died at a stated age of 73 on 1 May 1919 in St Alexius Hospital, Bismarck. His body was shipped to Fort Rice the same day for burial where some time later a Civil War-style headstone was erected in his memory.
  • 12. Annie B. Howard (widow of Sergeant John K. Wilkison, or Wilkinson, Company F), married George H. Harrison on 21 May 1878 at Bismarck. Their destiny remains a mystery to this writer.
  • Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 1 July 2018
  • “I’LL SING IN GRIEF THE MEMORY OF MY BOY”
  • Cavalry trooper, 19, from Spencer set out on ‘big adventure’ but fell at Custer’s Last Stand
  • By Mark Sullivan
  • Telegram & Gazette Staff
  • SPENCER – Pvt. Timothy Donnelly of Spencer was just 19 when the armed might of the Sioux Nation descended upon him 142 years ago at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
  • Pvt. Donnelly had lied about his age on his enlistment papers the year before, and may have been the youngest member of the 7th U.S. Cavalry to fall alongside Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer in the epic battle June 25-26, 1876.
  • He was one of two cavalrymen from Worcester County to die at Custer’s Last Stand.
  • “This kid along with so many other people died – for what?” says Patricia Glennon-Wiener, of Worcester, an amateur historian and genealogist who has researched Pvt. Donnelly’s story.
  • “I’m not a fan of Custer’s, she said. “I think he was very arrogant and got all of these people killed.
  • “This was a kid who left home having hopes and dreams. He thought he was going on some big adventure. And he did – it just wasn’t the one he thought.”
  • On July 4, 1876, the United States, a brash, growing young nation a decade removed from civil war, was marking its 100th birthday.
  • News of the massacre in the Montana Territory, reaching the East two weeks after the event, cast a pall over the grand Centennial Exposition that had opened on Independence Day in Philadelphia.
  • “Custer has met with a fearful disaster,” reported the dispatch from a Helena, Mont., correspondent carried on the front page of the Worcester Evening Gazette on July 6, 1876.

Patricia Glennon-Wiener, Worcester County, Massachusetts, holding a photograph of privates Timothy Donnelly, Company F (left), and George Walker (real name Weldon), Company E, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Both were killed at Little Bighorn (see Note 2). Photograph courtesy 'Telegram & Gazette' Staff/Allan Jung.

  • Ms. Glennon-Weiner and a fellow history buff from England, Patrick Townsend, have partnered on a novel about Pvt. Donnelly, “I Ride with the 7th,” currently in the editing stages.
  • A shared interest in Custer’s Last Stand led to their serendipitous meeting on the internet. Mr. Townsend, a military re-enactor, is from Darlington in County Durham, England, where Timothy Donnelly was born.
  • They have done their research in collaboration with a website, Men With Custer UK, created by historian Peter Russell as a biographical resource on the men born in the British Isles who fought at the Little Bighorn.
  • One of those men was Tim Donnelly.
  • He was born in 1857 in Darlington, England, the first of 11 children born to John and Ann (McGuire) Donnelly, Irish Catholics who moved first to England in the years following the Great Famine, and then to the United States, settling in Spencer, where John Donnelly was a supervisor in a wire mill.
  • At 18, apparently looking to avoid the need for parental permission, Tim Donnelly added three years to his age when he signed his cavalry enlistment papers in Boston in 1875, Ms. Glennon-Weiner said.
  • She said she imagines him responding to a Pony Express-style recruiting poster seeking men who could ride for cavalry service out West.
  • In a photograph taken not long before the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, a moustachioed Pvt. Donnelly strikes a cocky, devil-may-care pose, his kepi tipped back, a cheroot in his mouth
  • He was one of 268 officers, men and scouts of Custer’s 7th Cavalry killed 25-26 June in the brutal engagement by the Little Bighorn River in the Montana Territory with Lakota (Sioux), Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.
  • “Two from Worcester County died at the Little Bighorn,” she said. The other was Cpl Samuel F. Staples of Worcester.
  • Ms. Glennon-Wiener explained how she came to be interested in Timothy Donnelly’s story.
  • She said her late father, Leo Glennon, a Worcester school teacher, became good friends with a teaching colleague, Mary Donnelly, at the old Elizabeth Street School. Miss Donnelly was a mentor of his and became almost like a member of the family.
  • After Miss Donnelly passed away, Mr. Glennon would bring flowers to the Donnelly family grave at Holy Rosary Cemetery in Spencer (see below).
  • Ms. Glennon-Wiener would accompany her father on his visits to the cemetery, and noted with interest an inscription on the back of the Donnelly family stone, commemorating Miss Donnelly’s uncle.
  • The inscription reads: “1857 TIMOTHY U.S. ARMY, DIED IN CUSTER’S MASSACRE, 1876, BURIED IN S. DAKOTA (sic).”
  • In later years, before her father passed away in 2007 at the age of 93, she said, they regularly would find on their spring visits something unusual left at the Donnelly family grave: a black crow’s feather inside a rifle shell casing, tucked under the lip of the stone.
  • Who left the crow feather and shell casing remains a mystery. “Obviously there was a connection” to Little Bighorn, Ms. Glennon-Wiener said, as the Crow Indians were scouts for the 7th Cavalry, and the shell was the type the cavalry would have used. The Custer Battlefield is located on what is now the Crow reservation in Montana.
  • She said she left a note wrapped in plastic for whom ever was leaving the feathers. “I never heard back,” she said. “None have been left in the past six or seven years,” she added.
  • When her research partner Mr. Townsend came out for a visit last year, they left an American flag marker for veterans of the Indian Wars, and a couple of small memory stones, as in Jewish tradition, markers of their visit.
  • Tim Donnelly has become like a member of her family, said Ms. Glennon-Wiener, a mother of two who is a retired substitute teacher and truant officer in the Worcester Public Schools.
  • “He definitely has come to life,” she said. “This is somebody you feel you know. I know more about (his family) in some ways than I know my own family that far back.
  • “Every one of these guys left behind people that loved them,” she said. “His mother, his father were devastated. He had how many brothers and sisters? He never lived to get married and to do any of the things that he might have hoped to have done. It was tragic.”
  • She shared a poem written by Pvt. Donnelly’s father, John, on his son’s death in 1876, but unpublished until the elder Donnelly’s passing in 1893. The grieving father wrote:
  • “Now, if I were a poet, sure something I might say
  • “About his valiant comrades in the Custer massacre.
  • “But as I am not a scholar and doomed to toil always,
  • “Though well-inclined I am not fit to sing those heroes’ praise.
  • “Yet while I live, I’ll sing in grief the memory of my boy;
  • “I know he did his duty well, and that’s my only joy.
  • “I pray, good friend, my grief excuse, when you are blithe and coy;
  • “Just draw this picture to yourself — but you never lost a boy.”

 

  • Notes added by Peter Russell
  • 1. The youngest soldier to be killed at Little Big Horn was almost certainly Private Willis Wright, Company C, born Oskaloosa, Mahaska County, Iowa, on 7 June 1859, i.e. age 17. (Information brought to my attention by Gil Graham.)  Timothy Donnelly was most likely the youngest foreign-born trooper to die in the battle and Private Theodore Goldin, Company G, born 25 July 1858, Avon, Rock County, Wisconsin, the youngest soldier to survive.   Private Edward Pigford, Company M, born 11 June 1856, West Elizabeth, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, of English parents, was actually discharged on 15 October 1876 for “a concealed minority enlistment.”
  • 2. Weldon’s mother, Margaret, a widow, received an army pension until her death in Flushing, Long Island, New York on 21 November 1904.  An application for a pension from Donnelly’s mother, Ann, which was either abandoned or rejected.
  • 3. Strictly speaking only 263 U.S. personnel, which included at least three civilians, were killed on 25-26 June 1876.  Five others were to later die of their wounds, the last of which was Private Frank Braun (or Brown), Company M, from Switzerland, who died at Fort Abraham Lincoln 0n 4 October 1876.  His name, nor any of the other four, does not appear on the battle monument.
  • 4. Corporal Samuel Frederick Staples, born Worcester, was in Company I.  His wife, Annie lived in New York and was granted a pension of $8 a month.

Donnelly family headstone, Catholic Cemetery, Spencer, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Photograph courtesy of Patricia Glennon-Wiener.

Marker for George Armstrong Custer, Custer Hill, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

One of the last photographs taken of Custer.

  • IN MEMORIAM – Bismarck Weekly Tribune, July 26, 1876 

 

  • The sun shone from an azure sky
  •   On that eventful day,
  • When, Custer’s band of troopers bold
  •   Rode forth in proud array;
  • With their loved Chieftain in command
  •   No trooper, on that field,
  • But what would face the cannon’s mouth
  •   And life’s red current yield.

 

  • The soul of chivalry, was he,
  •    He was their boast and pride,
  • Oft’times they’d heard his clarion voice
  •   Where rolled the crimson tide.
  • Oft’times they’d made the brave advance,
  •   Where gallant Custer led,
  • On many a blood-stained battle ground
  •   The legion brave had bled.

 

  • Shrill sounds the reveille once more,
  •   That balmy summer’s morn,
  • Its echoes wake o’er hill and dale
  •   On gentle zephyrs borne.
  • Each heart beats in responsive note,
  •   Each heart beats high with glee,
  • For fame and country, home and friends,
  •   And Custer’s Cavalry.

 

  • “Forward! Brave hearts,” the chieftain cried
  •   That balmy morn in June,
  • “Fresh laurels gain, or cypress weave,
  •    A wreath for warrior’s tomb.
  • Our duty calls, and life, how dear,
  •   Will not be spent in vain
  • If laid down on the battle-field
  •    Among the noble slain.”

 

  • And slain they were, that gallant band
  •   Before the setting sun:
  • Their spirits winged their mystic flight,
  •   Their sands of life had run.
  • Not one was left to tell the tale—
  •   That legion bold and brave,
  • Their life-blood laved the dtstant (sic) wilds,
  •   They found a warrior’s grave.

 

  • In numbers vast the savage horde
  •   Bore down in fiendish rage,
  • And ten to one, with leaden hail,
  •   Did Custer’s boys engage.
  • No earthly force could stand such odds;
  •   No power stem the tide.
  • They nobly fought as heroes do,
  •   They fought and bled and died.

 

  • The Chieftain’s voice is hushed in death,
  •    The troopers’ battle cry
  • No more shall make the welkin ring
  •   Or enemy defy.
  • They nobly lived and bravely died
  •    In honor, glory, fame.
  • All hail! the Seventh Cavalry,
  •   And Custer’s honored name.

 

  • J. S. CARVELL
  • Bismarck, D. T., July 8, 1876.

 

  • BUT WHO WAS J. S. CARVELL?

 

  • Despite a near-exhaustive search the origin of the author of this epic poem remains somewhat obscure. In most records he is shown as Jedediah S. Carvelle, born c.1841, in Portland, Maine, son of John and Mary Carvelle, while the entry in the register of deaths for Manchester, New Hampshire, states that the deceased was Jediah S. Carvell born September 2, 1834 in Richmond, New Brunswick. To avoid any possible confusion however the former spelling will be used throughout this article.
  • The earliest known verifiable reference describes him as chief clerk in the banking house of C. Easton & Co., at Chatfield, Minnesota, where he was confidential clerk for Mr. Easton, who became one of the railroad kings of the West, and probably, for a time at least, the largest real estate owner in that state. Towards the end of the 1860s this “eccentric character from Maine” established a reputation as being the first real lawyer to practise in Clay County, also in Minnesota, for a few years before the county was officially organized in 1872.
  • We know for certain that Carvelle was one of the original settlers in Bismarck, Dakota Territory, and on July 30, 1873 was appointed the first Judge of Probate for the fledgling Burleigh County where he was already established as an attorney.
  • In July 1874, accompanied by John “Buffalo Jack” Wasson, the County Attorney for Burleigh, Carvelle went to Carroll when gold discovered in the area and this unlikely pair of prospectors was not expected to return home for some months. The Bismarck Tribune of September 9 drolly reported that “Buffalo Jack is living on catfish, and doing his own cooking in the open air. Carvelle is boarding with L.T. Marshall, and picks his teeth with as much sang froid as ever.”
  • During this period of seeking his fortune Carvelle devoted some of the time to collecting material for a book he was planning to write on the Black Hills and Dakota which, according to the Bismarck Tribune, was due to be published in the fall of the following year. The newspaper went on to say that “Carvelle is thoroughly educated and a man of extended experience and a close observer. He is also a ready and elegant writer and his work promises to be of much value to Dakota and the Northern Pacific region.” But whether this book was ever published is not known to this writer.
  • Along with the rest of the nation Carvelle was shocked by the defeat of ‘General’ Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876 and just twenty-four days later the Bismarck Weekly Tribune announced that his poem entitled ‘In Memoriam’ (above) would be published in its next issue, which was indeed the case.
  • It must be assumed that Carvelle left Bismarck relatively soon after and returned East where on January 5, 1876 he had married Mary Gambell (or Gamble), daughter of Samuel and Mary Wilson Gambell, in Boston, Massachusetts. They newlyweds went to live on Island Pond Road in Mary’s home town of Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, where the groom continued to work as an attorney.
  • Jedediah Carvelle died of consumption in Manchester on March 10, 1883 and his wife died of typhoid pneumonia on March 2, 1894. They had no children.

 

  •  Peter Russell                                                                                         

 

 

  • 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 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.]
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • FORT RICE
  • 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
  • THE GAY RENO
    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.

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Men With Custer