Elizabeth Bacon Custer (1842–1933)
Photo: Hunting and Camping Party, Fort Lincoln 1875, Custer in Center
Elizabeth Custer has penned an engaging portrait of 1870’s life on a U.S. cavalry post in the Dakotas, just before her husband and his troops met their tragic deaths in the Battle of the Little Big Horn. “Our life,” she writes, “was often as separate from the rest of the world as if we had been living on an island in the ocean.” Her portrait of her husband, General George Armstrong Custer is laudatory—his intellect, his love of dogs (he kept a hunting pack of 40 at the post); but, Boots and Saddles is more than just a memorial. She observes with keen insight, the varied persons, from Indian scouts, to enlisted men, to officer’s wives, who make up the army “family,” on the post. Her sympathetic story about the regimental laundress and midwife, with its sad ending, should take a place in the army’s history of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
If you have enjoyed Boots and Saddles, you might like
Army Letters from an Officer’s Wife, 1871-1888, by Francis Roe.