Catalog Archive
Auction 183, Lot 552

Custer at the Washita River - Battle or Massacre?

"[Custer] Difficulties with Indian Tribes. Message from the President of the United States in Answer to a Resolution of the House of the 7th Ultimo, Asking for Information Relative to Difficulties with Various Tribes of Indians", U.S. Government

Subject: Document - Custer

Period: 1870 (published)

Publication: H.R. Doc. 240, 41st Congress, 2nd Session

Color: Black & White

5.8 x 8.9 inches
14.7 x 22.6 cm
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This 179-page report contains a comprehensive compilation of primary source documents relating to Custer’s attack on a Cheyenne encampment and events leading up to it. The initial part of the report presents the documents from the Office of Indian Affairs and particularly Indian Agent E.W. Wynkoop, who resigned in protest because he believed the attack was unprovoked and the Cheyenne actually were seeking peace. The next section gives the War Department’s perspective on the “Indian difficulties” that led up to what Custer termed the “Battle of Washita.” Custer’s two reports on the attack, one immediately after and the other three weeks later (pages 155-165) appear toward the end. Smarting from the criticism from the press that depicted it as a massacre, General Sheridan wrote in Custer’s defense: “I am well satisfied with Custer’s attack, and would not have wept if he could have served Satanta’s and Bull Bear’s bands in the same style. I want you all to go ahead and kill and punish the hostile, rescue the captive white women and children and destroy the ponies, lances carbines, etc.” (page 177). The report is particularly valuable for the actual detailed conversations documented between General Hancock and various Indian leaders. Controversy continues to this day whether the conflict was a massacre or battle. The novel and movie "Little Big Man" depicts a massacre. For a modern account which chose to use only the Indian Agents’ reports from this document, click here. Octavo, disbound.


Condition: A

Disbound text is clean and bright.

Estimate: $160 - $190

Sold for: $130

Closed on 6/9/2021