Nomad

[ History ]

Nomad

George A. Custer in Turf, Field, and Farm

Edited by Brian W. Dippie

Fifteen letters George Armstrong Custer contributed under the apt pseudonym Nomad to the New York-based sportsman's journal Turf, Field and Farm.

1980

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Paperback

7 x 10 | 192 pp. | 0 illustrated

ISBN: 978-0-292-74075-4

Between 1867 and 1875, George Armstrong Custer contributed fifteen letters under the apt pseudonym Nomad to the New York-based sportsman's journal Turf, Field and Farm. Previously available only in a collector's typescript edition, the Nomad letters offer valuable insight into the character of the Boy General as he gives expression to his abiding love for hunting, horses, and hounds.

Vivid accounts of days in the field after buffalo and deer alternate with letters that attest to Custer's passion for Kentucky thoroughbreds and trotters and his devotion to his favorite hunting dogs. Moreover, the letters show Custer as a student of literature who constandy alluded to works of fiction and drama and who loved to quote poetry as he self-consciously honed his skills as a writer.

The Nomad letters also open the way to controversy since three of the letters written in 1867, as Brian Dippie's careful annotations make clear, offer a strikingly different account of Custer's ill-starred induction into Indian fighting than the accepted version recorded five years later in his memoirs, My Life on the Plains. Composed only a few months after the abortive Hancock Expedition that led to Custer's court-martial and suspension from rank and pay for one year, the Nomad letters are full of a passion and venom absent from My Life on the Plains. They provide an immediate response to the events of 1867 that will interest all students of the Western Indian wars and of Custer's fascinating career.

Introduction

I. Kansas, 1867: “This life is new to most of us”
1. “On the Plains,” September 9, 1867
2. “On the Plains,” September 29, 1867
3. “On the Plains,” October 26, 1867
4. “On the Plains,” November 11, 1867
5. “On the Plains,” December 15, 1867

II. Kansas, 1869-1870: “The plains were dear to us…”
6. “On the Plains,” September 12, 1869
Editorial Note [by S. D. Bruce?], “The Hunt on the Plains,” September 24, 1869
7. “The Hunt on the Plains,” November 8, 1869
8. “On the Plains,” September 24, 1870

III. Kentucky, 1871–1873: “…nothing but horse, horse, horse”
9. “Nomad in the Blue Grass Country—The Famous Breeding Studs,” November 26, 1871
10. “‘Nomad’ with the Blue Grassonians,” [August 1872]
11. “The Kentucky Association,” [October 1872]
12. “ ‘Nomad’ Makes Some Good Suggestions,” [November 1872]
13. “ ‘Nomad’ on the Louisiana Jockey Club—Anecdote of Lexington,” [January 1873]
IV. Dakota Territory, 1873–1875: “… into the field again”
14. “Letter from ‘Nomad,’” [October 1873]
15. “Letter from ‘Nomad,’” August 23, 1875

Notes
Index
Illustrations
Custer with the “King of the Forest,” Yellowstone Expedition, September 1873
Nomad’s Turf, 1867–1870
Custer with a Party of Seventh Cavalry Officers, August 1869
The Hunting Camp near Fort Hays, Kansas, September 1869
Members of the Hunting Party

Brian W. Dippie is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Victoria, British Columbia.

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