Ask almost anyone when recalling the “Opening of the West or the Indian War Period” who the first figure is that comes to mind – for most – General Armstrong Custer. Although there are mixed feelings about Custer in the Western field, during the Civil War he played an important role for the North, and was idolized and loved by his men.
After Custer’s command had killed CSA Calvary General Jeb Stuart, Lee formed special forces to stop Custer. In June of 1864 General Lee received information that Custer would be at a railroad depot called Trevillian Station. After a hard two-day fight in which many of his troops were killed, wounded or taken prisoner, Custer escaped on foot. His headquarters’ wagon, however, (then called an ambulance) was captured by Lt. Frank Blaire. Custer’s correspondence was sent to Richmond and the military artifacts returned with Blaire to Texas as war souvenirs.
Cisco’s has had the privilege of making the Trevilian collection- Custer’s personal belongings – available for public display for the past decade.
The collection includes:
Of less importance, but of interest in letters exchanged between the Custers (husband and wife) in 1864, Libbie asks George to save his hair from the barber “that I may have a wig made”. In the writing desk there remained a lock of Custer’s hair, in a Civil War era envelope – not yet sent.
The collection was first published as a centerfold in “Man in Arms”, February 1994; and numerous times since, with the most recent publication “Swords of the American Civil War” by Richard Bezdek.
The Trevillian collection has been on public display with the National Park Service at the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument, Crow Agency, Montana, the Monroe County Historical Commission Museum, Monroe, Michigan, and the National Civil War Museum at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The collection also includes the only known copy of General William Blackmar’s diary, with detailed entries covering Lee’s surrender, his acquisition of Grant’s Chair, Custer’s farewell to his men, a later year’s meeting with Mrs. Custer, a copy of Blackmar’s letter to Mrs. Custer explaining the retrieval of their love letters, and the original thank you letter by Libbie to Blackmar.
The Trevillian collection in its entirety, including authentications, succession of ownership, photos, publications, Blackmar’s diary and original Libbie letter will be offered for sale at private treaty by Cisco’s Gallery in 2017.