General George Custer
As I promised yesterday,the other attraction at Fort Abraham Lincoln is the home of the Fort’s Commander as it might have been in 1875, the year before the General perished at the Battle of the Little Big Horn (Custer’s Last Stand).
The home features guides uniformed as cavalry soldiers of the era, who do a very good job of remaining in character during their tours.
The Commander’s house is a bit fancier than the standard Army issue. The original house where the Custers were living had burned the year previously, so General Custer made many modifications to the new home while it was being built.
One of the most noticeable was this fancy bay window put in for his wife –
As the Fort Commander, the Custers entertained all of the important visitors to the post, though Custer had the builders combine two of what were supposed to be guest bedrooms upstairs into a large game room with pool and card tables for his and his officers use.
This is one of the many portraits of the General in the house (he dearly loved having his picture taken!). Seated beside him is his wife. Behind them is the General’s brother, a lieutenant at the Fort.
Mrs. Custer was fond of music and had both a pianoforte and a harp for musical evenings –
The docent explaining the formality of meals at the Custer house. They had not only the services of the soldiers at the Fort, but also employed three female servants, former slaves, that they had brought west with them.
While the house had no indoor plumbing, Mrs. Custer did have a bathing room (also added to the plans by Custer), complete with this hip bath that was filled – and emptied – by hand.
I remember seeing my Grandmother use this type of curling iron that was heated in the chimney of a kerosene lamp –
There was a display of period clothing laid out on one of the beds, but I was more interested in the chamber pots (or thunder mugs) conveniently located under each bed –
This is the General’s portable desk, which went into the field with him. Note the ornate helmet on the left top –
Custer was a big game hunter. Some of his gun collection is displayed on a rug made from a grizzly bear shot by him.
The wardrobe in the Custer’s bedroom included a heavy coat made of buffalo –
As the wife of the Fort’s Commander, Mrs. Custer dressed in the height of fashion –
Another portrait of Custer detailing his long hair. He had his dress uniforms tailored out of black velvet…
After Custer’s death the next year and a short stay in nearby Bismarck, Mrs. Custer decided she could not live adequately on his pension. She went to New York and went on the Speaker’s circuit.By then, the true story of Little Big Horn was beginning to be told and she gave speeches defending her late husband. It is said she died a very wealthy woman. The Custers had no children.