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Civil War Round Table of Kansas City

December 2021 Program

At our dinner meeting on December 14, 2021, Round Table member Deb Buckner gave a first person presentation as Elizabeth "Libbie" Custer (1842-1933), wife of Brevet Major General George Armstrong Custer. The title of Deb's program was: "A Christmas on the Plains." It was based on events in Kansas and the Dakota Territory, but involved General Custer and Captain George Yates. A few of the stories that Deb shared are as follows:

  • On the post, wives sewed clothing for their husbands. This included smoking jackets, slippers, etc.
  • Libbie repaired an old campaign cap of General Custer's and used gold thread to sew a 7th Cavahy insignia on the cap.
  • Libbie loved auctions. She bought a large bowl at auction that was later used as a punch bowl for parties on the post.
  • One year for Christmas, the soldiers tried to find a tree to decorate. They sent out riders in all directions to tiy and find a Christmas tree. However, there were no trees within 40 miles of the post!
  • Married couples on the post typically went caroling on Christmas. The women decorated their plain black dresses with colorful ribbons. They also held dances to celebrate Christmas.
  • Post kitchens were not designed for women to cook meals in. This was very frustrating for the women.
  • Drinking water was kept in a barrel that was covered with wood. Water for other uses was kept in barrels that were not covered. This exposed the water to wind-blown dirt and weeds.
  • George and Tom Custer liked to eat onion sandwiches, which of course gave the men bad breath.
  • After General Custer was killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876, Libbie was in financial need because of General Custer's debts.
  • Libbie moved to New York, where she sought work in order to supplement her small widow's pension.
  • Libbie became a writer and wrote three books: Boots and Saddles (1885), Tenting on the Plains (1887), arid Following the Guidon (1890).

Libbie Custer died in 1933, a few days before her 91st birthday. She never had any children and she never remarried.

Elizabeth "Libbie" Bacon Custer

The following text is from Wikipedia:

Elizabeth Bacon Custer (April 8, 1842 - April 4, 1933) was an American author and public speaker, and the wife of Brevet Major General George Armstrong Custer, United States Army. She spent most of their marriage in relatively close proximity to him despite his numerous military campaigns in the American Civil War and subsequent postings on the Great Plains as a commanding officer in the United States Cavalry.

Left nearly destitute in the aftermath of her husband's death, she became an outspoken advocate for his legacy through her popular books and lectures. Largely as a result of her decades of campaigning on his behalf, General Custer's iconic image as the gallant fallen hero amid the glory of Custer's Last Stand was a canon of American history for almost a centuiy after his death.

Elizabeth Custer never remarried and died in 1933, four days short of her 91st birthday. She has been portrayed by a number of actresses, starting in the 1940s in films and later on television.

Civil War Round Table of Kansas City
436 West 88th Terrace
Kansas City, MO 64114

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