Lot 193

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George Custer
Various, ca. 1873-1889
Fantastic 7th Cavalry Archive: Custer, Reno, & Other Bighorn Veterans!
A small archive of four items relating to General George Custer and the 7th Cavalry. Includes two appointments, one signed by Custer and one signed by Reno, for Ferdinand A. Culbertson, discharge papers for Private John Grosbush signed by Lt. Edward Mathey, and a letter from Second Lt. George David Wallace of the 7th Cavalry, criticizing Custer's marching orders. All of the documents have flattened folds, with varying degrees of soiling. There is a small hole to the Custer signed appointment, and Custer's signature is slightly faded. The Wallace letter has separations at all the folds, repaired with tape which resulted in some staining. Areas of chipping and paper loss at the folds. Please refer to the photograph for further condition information.

The group includes the following:
1. Military Appointment Signed "GA Custer." 1p, measuring 15.75" x 9.75", Fort A. Lincoln, Dakota Territory, dated April 19, 1875. Appointing Ferdinand A. Culbertson to Corporal in Company A, 7th Regiment of Cavalry. Countersigned by W.W. Cooke, 1st Lieutenant.
2. Military Appointment Signed "MA Reno." 1p, measuring 14.75" x 9.75", Fort A. Lincoln, Dakota Territory, dated February 23, 1876. Appointing Ferdinand A. Culbertson to Sergeant in Company A, 7th Regiment of Cavalry. Countersigned by W.W. Cooke, 1st Lieutenant.
3. Discharge Certificate Signed "E.G. Mathey." 1p, measuring 7.5" x 9.5", Fort Sill, Indian Territory, dated December 9, 1889. Discharging private John Grosbush of his Company (Co. K), who had served his enlistment period of five years. Mathey also attests to Grosbush's character as "Excellent." Together with a photograph, measuring 2.75" x 4.75", identified as "Uncle John Grosbush" in July 1937.
4. George D. Wallace Autograph Letter Signed "G.D. Wallace 2 Lt 7 Cav." 4pp, measuring 7.75" x 10", In Camp 12 miles outside of Fort Rice, dated June 8, 1873. Addressed to his father, Wallace writes of the movements of the company and questions Custer's ethics while traveling. Reading in part: "…We have been thirty-three days on the road. The trip could have been made in half the time. There is one thing might be investigated. A boat has accompanied the command. While in motion they simply charge for freight, but while tied to the bank they get $20.00 per hour. This explains why Custer makes such short marches. I do not say he shares in the profit, but if he was working to the interest of the gov't we might have been at Ft. Rice several days ago. If he was jerked up about it he would claim that he was working for the good of the service by making short marches, but that is a little too thin…"

Ferdinand A. Culbertson served in the 7th Cavalry's Company A during the Battle of the Little Bighorn and did not participate in the battle. However, he is still well-remembered for recovering the famed 'Culbertson Guidon', or swallow-tail flag, while serving as a burial detail three days after the fight. Culbertson discovered the tattered and blood-stained cavalry flag on the body of Corporal John Foley, who had served as Custer's orderly and had remained close to Custer on that fateful day.

On the day of the battle, Custer divided his troops into three battalions, putting three companies each under the commands of Major Marcus Reno (1834-1889) and Captain Frederick Benteen. He retained five companies under his own command and ordered Reno and Benteen to the south of the Indian village, unwittingly leaving his own command isolated. Reno was later investigated for his conduct at the battle, with some believing that he had been a drunk and a coward, refusing to go to Custer's aid. Ultimately the court found Reno's conduct to be without fault.

Lt. Edward G. Mathey had been placed in command of the pack train and survived the siege on Reno Hill, along with Private John Grosbush. George D. Wallace was also stationed on Reno Hill, serving as the second lieutenant for Company G of the 7th Cavalry. During Custer's last campaign, Wallace served as the officer of the march, recording information on conditions encountered and marching times while on the route of the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians. Wallace narrowly escaped death himself, having ridden near Custer up until he had divided up his forces. Wallace would later be killed in 1890 at the Wounded Knee Massacre.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


  • 15.75" x 9.75" (largest)
  • Artist Name:
  • George Custer
  • Medium:
  • Archive

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