May 13, 1876

Leaving to “Drive Out” the Indians from the Bighorn Country, General Custer Envisions the Mining Fortunes To Be Made There

Autograph Letter Signed
2 pages
SMC 1822
The rumors about mineral deposits, about silver and gold, had been persistent for years. The Black Hills and the Yellowstone country were supposed to be rich with treasure: General George Custer, in fact, had even found gold on the Black Hills Expedition, two years before. Now he was setting out for the Yellowstone, to clear out the Indians – and who knew what fortunes might be made then? Just four days before leaving Fort Lincoln, on the mission which would culminate in the disaster on the Little Bighorn, Custer writes to college friends, laying out a sparkling vision: “If the expeditions now about moving into the Big Horn or Yellowstone country succeed in pacifying or driving out the Indians, I believe that opportunities will be found for accumulating fortunes rapidly,” he says. “But of course all this is problematical as much of this is new rumor. It is represented to be richer in minerals than the Black Hills.” He does not suggest, however, that his old friends pack up and move just yet: “I would hesitate to advise any person to cast their fortunes in an undeveloped or unknown country until something more positive or reliable was known regarding its resources.” He hopes, in the near future, an “opportunity would present itself… to renew the pleasant friendship” begun in youth.  But Custer, writing here, had no future: all that lay ahead was an Indian encampment at the Little Bighorn. He would be dead, slaughtered with his command, in forty-two days.
Autograph Letter Signed (“G.A. Custer”), 2 pages, recto and verso, octavo, Fort Lincoln, Dakota Territory, May 13, 1876. To “My Dear Friends,” classmates from his days at  Hopedale Normal College, which he attended prior to West Point.
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