MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER - AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT UNSIGNED - HFSID 314410
Sale Price $4,250.00
GENERAL GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER
3-page text, unsigned but entirely in his hand, explaining the rules of croquet. While it is extremely unusual to find Custer writing on a sport not directly related to his military duties, Custer, his wife Libbie, and his soldiers did entertain themselves with croquet and similar sports in idle times at their military posts.
Autograph Manuscript, unsigned, 3 pages, 7½x9½. No place, no date. In full: I. In commencing to play, each player, in their proper turn, places their ball at a distance from the starting post equal to twice the length of their mallet. II. The order of the wickets is as follows. Leaving the starting post players will take the 1st wicket, then the middle wicket from left to right, then the three wickets on the right of the table in their proper order. Then the middle wicket from right to left, then the wicket nearest to the turning post. Then the turning post, then the wicket nearest the turning post. Then the middle wicket from right to left. Then the three wickets in left side of table in their proper order. Then the middle wicket from left to right, then the wicket nearest starting post. III. If in passing through a wicket a player strikes another ball, with the one they are playing, after the latter has passed the wicket, they can claim the same privileges which such a shot entitles them to when nor passing through a wicket. IV. If a player's ball is sent through its proper wicket - and afterwards returns through in the contrary direction, the shot or play is still considered as counting to the credit of the player to whom the ball belongs. V. Any player, playing out of their proper turn or playing another's ball, will, if the error is discovered before the succeeding player has completed their play, forfeit their next play, and if discovered before the succeeding payer begins the opposite party may require the balls to be replaced. VI. If in croqueting another ball, a player allows his ball to move from its position, the ball croqueted may or may not be replaced at the option of the opposing players. VII. If a player whose turn it is to play moves their ball it is considered as having him been played." George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876) graduated last in his class at West Point in 1858, but promptly redeemed himself through his brave and aggressive cavalry leadership during the Civil War. Earning the confidence of cavalry commanders Pleasanton and Sheridan, he rose swiftly to the rank of brevet major general by war's end. Custer had taken command of the 5th Michigan Cavalry shortly before Gettysburg and led it into battle repeatedly. Custer left military service briefly after the Civil War, dabbling in business and politics, but by 1867 he was back in uniform, battling Plains Indians. The resulting conflict would claim the life of Custer and his troopers at the Little Big Horn (June 25, 1876). While we have encountered no other examples of Custer writing about a sport not directly related to his military duties, the general, his wife, and soldiers under his command did play croquet, billiards and other sports to fill the time at frontier outposts, in between their dangerous official duties. Elizabeth "Libbie" Custer was one of the very few army wives to follow her husband to these remote postings, and this manuscript was apparently part of the collection of mementoes kept by Libbie, widowed at age 34. Toned. ½inch tears in mailing folds. Edges lightly worn. Light ink smudges throughout, but script legible. Otherwise, fine condition.
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