Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2012 Issue

Western Americana from the William Reese Company

Troyfrancis

A trip to Montana in 1888. Charles Francis is likely the one in dark clothing.

Item 52 is a fascinating, first-hand unpublished manuscript account of events leading up to the Battle of Little Bighorn, or “Custer's Last Stand,” written by General John Gibbon, one of Custer's superior officers in the field. Gibbon writes of meeting with Custer and General Alfred Terry, the supervising commander, to discuss plans for the attack. Basically, Gibbon wrote that a more cautious plan was in the works, but that Custer had advanced more rapidly and without keeping in expected contact with the other units. The more cautious operation was the expressed “desires” of General Terry, but Gibbon notes that “the wishes of the commander are always when possible to be construed as orders.” “His [Custer's] reasons for not conforming to the 'desires' of his Dept. Comdr. as expressed in the letter of instructions can never be known...” Perhaps, “his mind may have been so engrossed by his preparations for the conflict as to cause him to overlook it for the time.” Gibbon, like Custer, had served in the Civil War, participated in the Battle of Gettysburg and at Appomattox, being one of those present for Lee's surrender. After the Civil War, he participated in the Indian Wars in the West, serving for another 15 years after the Battle of Little Big Horn. $42,500.

Item 48 offers an extremely rare look at Montana in the late 19th century: Sport Among the Rockies. The Record of a Fishing and Hunting Trip in Northwest Montana. By the Scribe. The author was Charles Spencer Francis, publisher of the Troy (New York) Times. The occasion was a trip to Montana with a few friends in the summer of 1888. The following year, Francis privately published this work, which consisted of 25 letters he wrote for the Troy Times, and 48 mounted photographs, displaying towns, ranches, Indians, portraits, landscapes and other views that caught the eye of his camera. Only 15 copies, for private distribution, of this book were made, and this is sort of the dedication copy, as the book was dedicated to Francis' “manly little son,” John M. Francis Jr. This was his son's copy. Charles Francis would be appointed Ambassador to Austria by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, died in 1912, and was succeeded as publisher by John, Jr. The Troy Times merged with the Troy Record in 1935, which survives today as simply The Record. $35,000.

The William Reese Company may be reached at 203-789-8081 or amorder@reeseco.com. Their website is www.reeseco.com.

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