In her first year of marriage (1864-1865) to General George Armstrong Custer, Libbie Custer witnessed the Civil War firsthand. Her experiences of danger, hardship, and excitement made ideal material for a book, one that she worked on for years in later life but ultimately never published.
In this volume, Arlene Reynolds has produced a readable narrative of Libbie Custer's life during the war years by chronologically reconstructing Libbie's original, unpublished notes and diaries found in the archives of the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument. In these reminiscences, Libbie Custer adds striking, eloquent details to the Civil War story as she describes her life both in camp and in Washington. Her stories of incidents such as fording a swollen river sidesaddle on horseback, dancing at the Inaugural Ball near President Lincoln, and watching the massive review of the Army of the Potomac after the surrender have the engrossing quality of a well-written novel.
For general readers and students of women's history, this book tells a fascinating story of a sheltered girl's maturation into a courageous woman in the crucible of war. And for both devotees and detractors of her husband, it offers an intimate glimpse into his youth, West Point years, and early military service.
Arlene Reynolds is an actress and writer who lives in Los Angeles. She has portrayed Libbie Custer in episodes of the TV series "The Real West."
"These pages contain considerable information on Custer's Civil War career that has never been published before. . . . This is an important addition to the Custer canon and has much to offer students of the Civil War and frontier military."
—Western Historical Quarterly
"I recommend this book very highly and without reservation. . . . Libbie Custer's style is just as readable, colorful, and distinctive as Miss Sarah Morgan Dawson's or Mrs. Chestnut's, but she offers something more: stimulating insights into the behavior of her husband and his officers and other army wives. . . . I hear her voice as if speaking directly to me . . ."
—David Madden, director, United States Civil War Center, Louisiana State University
". . . nothing much had ever been asked of me, certainly not courage. There could scarcely have been a more violent transition in a fortnight's time from a sheltered home where I was spared all anxieties and cares than when I found myself apparently alone, far out almost on the firing line on the extreme wing of the Army of the Potomac."
—Elizabeth "Libbie" Bacon Custer
John M. Carroll Literary Award, 1995
LITTLE BIG HORN ASSOCIATES