Custer's Thorn: The Life of Frederick W. Benteen


This book is offered as a concise biography of Frederick William Benteen, who saw service in the Civil War, at the Little Bighorn Battle, and in the subjugation of the Nez Perce. As a captain in the Seventh Cavalry, he was a pivotal character in the Custer saga. A study of Benteen’s life can be daunting. The many letters he left behind support divergent views of his character. Throughout her long life, Custer’s resourceful widow had unremitting contempt for Benteen, which she made no effort to conceal. Even today, his detractors are many. He may well be faulted for a long list of character defects—but never for want of bravery. Something about the person made men respect him, spring to his orders and unhesitatingly follow him into battle. That essence deserves to be explored, and the testimonials he accrued during his lifetime have earned him the right to a balanced inquiry. The author has focused the study primarily on the man and spared the reader a detailed description of the great events in the Civil War and the Plains Wars, so well treated elsewhere. Numerous vintage photographs and maps, a bibliography and an index to names, places and subjects enhance the text.

Jules C. Ladenheim

2007, 5½x8½, paper, index, 384 pp.

ISBN: 9780788436468