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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XIV. Travellers and Explorers, 1846–1900

§ 23. War with the Sioux

While the pioneers were pouring into the West, exterminating the buffalo for hide-and-tallow profits, described by W. T. Hornaday in The Extermination of the American Bison (1889), and dispossessing the Plains Indians generally, the latter became restless and unruly. Under the spell of their crafty “medicine” priest, Sitting Bull, the Sioux were greatly disturbed. The army was ordered to compel their obedience and in 1876 made a determined move expected to crush the Indians. General Crook was defeated in one of the first encounters; and a few days later General Custer was annihilated with his immediate command. The Sioux were superior in numbers and in arms. The courage of Custer was of no avail.

Custer wrote My Life on the Plains (1874) and a number of articles for The Galaxy. General W. B. Hazen, who had a quarrel with Custer, privately published Some Corrections of “My Life on the Plains” (1875). Frederick Whittaker wrote a Complete Life of General George A. Custer (1876), full of details, and the whole written in a painstaking way. A large amount of information given in an exceedingly pleasant manner is found in the books of the General’s widow, Elizabeth Bacon Custer: Boots and Saddles, or Life in Dakota with General Custer (1885); Tenting on the Plains, or General Custer in Kansas and Texas (1887); Following the Guidon (1890). Mrs. Custer also wrote the introduction for George Armstrong Custer (1916) by Frederick S. Dellenbaugh. There was comparatively little trouble with the Sioux Indians after the massacre of Custer, for even they seemed to be impressed by its horror; just as the Modocs were when they destroyed the attacking troops—afterwards Scar-faced Charley said his “heart was sick of seeing so many men killed.”