“ABOUT MIDWAY BETWEEN TONGUE RIVER AND THE BIG HORN”: TRUE FIRST EDITION OF BOOTS AND SADDLES, 1885, ELIZABETH CUSTER’S DEFENSE OF GENERAL GEORGE CUSTER
CUSTER, Elizabeth Bacon. “Boots and Saddles,” Or Life in Dakota with General Custer. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1885. Octavo, original gilt- and black-stamped pictorial tan cloth.
First edition, scarce first issue, of the first book in Elizabeth Custer’s trilogy in defense of her husband—“adding greatly to the Custer legend.”
General George Custer’s wife Elizabeth “lectured widely, fiercely defending his hero image against his detractors” following his death in the Battle of Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876 (ANB). To further protect his memory she wrote this as the first in a trilogy that focuses on her husband’s achievements. This scarce true first edition of Boots and Saddles covers the period just before the battle of the Little Bighorn; the subsequent works, Tenting on the Plains (1887) and Following the Guidon (1890), describe their life during the Civil War and campaigns against Native Americans. Her spirited accounts have been credited with “adding greatly to the Custer legend” (ANB)—characterizing him as “a loving husband, devoted family man, and conscientious commanding officer,” but at the same time “reflecting ethnocentric attitudes common in the Victorian era… and glorifying the army’s role in westward expansion” (Lamar, 279). Complete with appendix of Custer’s letters, the last dated June 21, 1876, four days before his death. As issued without dust jacket. Rader 1010. Howes C980. Graff 959. Tiny notation on front pastedown. Trace of owner inscription.
Text generally fresh with light scattered foxing, front free endpaper a bit detached at gutter corner, light edge-wear, mild soiling to bright gilt cloth. A near-fine copy.