On the Plains with General Custer Perhaps no battle in American history produced more controversy than the Battle of the Little Big Horn River. There in eastern Montana territory on June 25, 1876, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and five troops of the Seventh United States Cavalry were killed to the last man—268 in all—by combined forces of Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes. The battle lasted only a few hours. In the aftermath, amid charges of reckless conduct against Custer, no one proved a greater champion than his wife, Elizabeth Bacon Custer, known to her friends and family as Libbie. She defended her husband tirelessly until her own death. Libbie Custer’s Boots and Saddles, published in 1885, offers not only an intimate and tender portrait of George Armstrong Custer. It is also a vivid record of the dangers and hardships of life on the Western frontier as experienced by the wives who followed their husbands from one army post to another. Such accounts are scarce. The existence she relates was difficult and sometimes precarious, and when the soldiers left for campaigns against the Indians, the wives waited uneasily at home for news. These excerpts from Libbie Custer’s book offer a warmly human, firsthand account.