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Camp talk : the very private letters of Frederick W. Benteen of the 7th U.S. Cav
Benteen, Frederick William
Adult Nonfiction E83.866.B45 1983


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Cletus Collissen said:
This book is composed of some of the letters from Frederick W. Benteen to his wife during his cavalry service on the U.S. Great Plains in the 1870’s and 1880’s. Benteen is best known for his role as a commander of one of the subdivisions of the 7th Cavalry during the Battle of Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876. The three companies under Captain Benteen’s command survived the battle, while the five companies under the immediate command of Lt. Col. George A. Custer did not. Benteen was long criticized for not coming to Benteen’s aid at full speed. This book is simply the re-printing and interpretation of handwritten letters that he wrote to his wife during his service. Most of them are quite ordinary and concern mundane topics. Others touch on the Indian wars and service in the cavalry. A few of the letters border on X-rated. Yes, even in the Victorian age people thought about sex. The book includes the author’s comments on the letters. The book is perhaps more relevant to 19th century cultural history than it is to military history. The book does give a fascinating insight, however, to a very complicated man. He was a man from a border state, who fought for the U.S., while his father supported the southern rebellion. Yet, in later life he lived with his father. He was a sensitive father and husband on the one hand and a hard boiled cavalryman on the other. I can not recommend a full reading of this book, however, to anyone who hasn’t first become familiar with the life of Frederick Benteen. I recommend the book by Mills, entitled "A Harvest of Barren Regrets: the Army career of Frederick Benteen” as a pre-read. Mills does quote extensively from the letters. I recommend this book, for a full reading, only to serious historians and history buffs. A selective reading of this book, however, should be enjoyable to general readers to obtain a partial glimpse into 19th Century life in the Army and into American culture of the time.
posted Nov 23, 2012 at 9:24PM
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