Special thanks to Mike Hill, friend and researcher extraordinaire, without whom this book would not have been possible. Thanks also to Steve Alexander for talking about his career as the country’s foremost Custer reenactor; to Jack Bailey for sharing his knowledge of Montana’s Rosebud Valley and for providing access to the Deer Medicine Rocks; to Rocky Boyd for all his research help and especially for his insights into the life and writings of Peter Thompson; to Ladonna Brave Bull Allard at the Standing Rock Sioux Agency for speaking with me about the history of her people; to Jim Court, past superintendent of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, for his help in retracing Custer’s route up the Rosebud River to the Little Bighorn; to Joan Croy for a tour of the Custer sites in Monroe, Michigan; to the Delta Queen, the historic sternwheeler that showed me what it’s like to travel upriver by steam power; to Major Ray Dillman of the English Department at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, not only for directions to the Crow’s Nest but for putting me in touch with Lieutenant Colonel Peter Kilner of the Center for Company-Level Leaders at West Point, who shared with me his extensive firsthand knowledge of leadership in battle; to West Point’s Alicia Mauldin-Ware and Gary Hood for their research assistance; to John Doerner, historian at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, for all the leads and research help; to Michael Donahue, author and seasonal ranger at the battlefield, for his insights into the battle; to Sharon Smalls at the battlefield for her help with the images; to Zach Downey at the Lilly Library at Indiana University; to Robert Doyle for the tour of Myles Keogh’s birthplace in Leighlinbridge, County Carlow, Ireland, and also to Elizabeth Kimber for sharing documents relating to Myles Keogh; to Dennis Farioli for his research help; to Jeffrey Flannery at the Manuscript Reading Room of the Library of Congress; to the Gilcrease Museum Archives at the University of Tulsa for permission to quote from the Benteen-Goldin papers; to Susan Goodall for photographic assistance; to Mark Halvorson at the State Historical Society of North Dakota for the tour of his institution’s collection relating to Sitting Bull, to Greg Wysk for the archival assistance, and to Sharon Silengo for her help with the photographic collection; to Bruce Hanson at the Denver Public Library; to the Reverend Vincent Heier for some late-inning research help; to June Helvie for permitting me to quote from the writings of both her mother, Susan Taylor Thompson, and her grandfather Peter Thompson; to Marilynn Hill for sharing her writings about Libbie Custer; to Eric and Betsey Holch for navigational and moral support during a research trip in Ireland; to David Ingall, James Ryland, and Chris Kull at the Monroe County Historical Museum; to Bill Kupper for passing along an important resource; to Ernie and Sonja LaPointe for the conversation and hospitality; to Doctor Tim Lepore, the only physician I know with a topographical map of the Little Bighorn Battlefield in his office, for allowing me to fire his Springfield 73 carbine and his Colt .45; to Minoma Little Hawk and Christal Allen at the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site; to the Reverend Eugene McDowell for a most instructive conversation about horses under stress; to Castle McLaughlin, whose exhibit during the spring of 2009 at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University (curated with Butch Thunder Hawk) “Wiyohpiyata: Lakota Images of the Contested West” was immensely helpful; to Elizabeth Mansfield for her research assistance; to Bruce and Jeanne Miller, for navigational and video assistance during research trips to Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Montana; to Tim Newman for all his help with assembling the images for this book; to Al and Mary Novisimo, the scanning and PowerPoint gurus of Nantucket; to Mickey and Bruce Perry for sharing their knowledge about horses, and to their daughter, Megan, for a riding demonstration worthy of Custer himself; to Crow tribal member Charlie Real Bird, for guiding me by horse across the Little Bighorn Battlefield and especially to his twenty-seven-year-old former rodeo horse Tomcat for not throwing me; to Matthew Reitzel and Ken Stewart at the South Dakota State Historical Society; to John and Rebecca Shirley at the Eagle Nest Lodge in Hardin, Montana, for their hospitality and especially for the jet-boat tour of the Bighorn and Little Bighorn rivers; to Neal Smith at The Tropical Research Institute for identifying the finder on Mitch Boyer’s hat; to Russell Taylor and John Murphy at the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University; to Leroy Van Horne for the tour of the Custer sites in and around New Rumley, Ohio; to Charmain Wawrzyniec of the Dorsch Memorial Library in Monroe, Michigan, for making available one of the best collections of Custer-related books in the world; and to Jennifer Edwards Weston for all her research help and to her mother, Marge Shoots the Enemy Edwards, for showing the way to Sitting Bull’s cabin.
For reading and commenting on my manuscript I am indebted to Louise Barnett, Susan Beegel, Rocky Boyd, Jim and Virginia Court, Raymond DeMallie, Richard Duncan, Michael Elliott, Hal Fessenden, Peter Gow, Michael Hill, Castle McLaughlin, Bruce Miller, Jennie Philbrick, Melissa D. Philbrick, Sam Philbrick, Tom and Marianne Philbrick, and Gregory Whitehead. All errors of fact and interpretation are mine alone.
At Viking Penguin, it has been a privilege to work, once again, with the incomparable Wendy Wolf. Thanks also to Clare Ferraro, Nancy Sheppard, Margaret Riggs, Bruce Giffords, Francesca Belanger, Amy Hill, Carolyn Coleburn, Louise Braverman, and copy editor Adam Goldberger. Thanks also to Jen Neupauer for the cover and to Jeffrey Ward for the maps.
My agent, Stuart Krichevsky, has a knack for intelligent and blessedly clearheaded advice. Many thanks, Stuart, for your friendship and for keeping me on track. Thanks also to his associates Shana Cohen and Kathryne Wick.
Finally, thanks to my wife, Melissa D. Philbrick, and our children, Jennie and Ethan, and to all our family members for their patience and support.