Those actions are told in The Great Plains Guide to Custer: 85 Forts, Fights and Other Sites, a new book by author and independent historian Jeff Barnes, published by Stackpole Books. Barnes will sign his book on Saturday, May 5, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Museum of the Western Prairie, 1100 Memorial Drive in Altus.
“Without doubt, Custer’s success at the Battle of the Washita identified him as the country’s best-known Indian fighter,” says Barnes. “It was here in Oklahoma – Indian Territory – that he led the Seventh Cavalry to its first and controversial victory.”
Custer also traveled throughout western Oklahoma, with stops at Fort Sill, Fort Supply and Fort Cobb and encampment near Quartz Mountain in the Wichita Mountains.
In his historical travel guide, Barnes pinpoints 85 forts, battles and other sites west of the Mississippi associated with the legend. Many sites – such as Little Bighorn and Washita battlefields – are well-known, “but there are events, conflicts and other sites which aren’t so readily known,” said Barnes. “As someone who loves walking in the footsteps of history, as well as having a strong interest in the Custer legend, I wanted to find those obscure sites.”
The result of his search is the first comprehensive guide to Custer’s activity on the Great Plains and what you’ll find at those locations today. In compiling the book, Barnes travelled through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana. He used historic images wherever possible – some familiar to Custerphiles and some in print for the first time – along with his contemporary photographs.
The book has received advance praise from noted authors of American West history. ”Jeff Barnes provides a fascinating guide to the sites associated with Custer from the post-Civil War period to the Little Bighorn,” says Robert M. Utley, former chief historian of the National Park Service and author of Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indian, 1866-1891. “Very comprehensive and authoritative.”