Friday, August 9, 2019

Review of "First Scalp For Custer: The Skirmish at Warbonnet Creek, Nebraska, July 17, 1876," by Paul L. Hedren

Review of

First Scalp For Custer: The Skirmish at Warbonnet Creek, Nebraska, July 17, 1876, by Paul L. Hedren ISBN 0803272359

Four out of five stars

 The title of this book is ambiguous, when I read it, I thought it meant the first scalp taken by General Custer in his battles with the Native Americans. That is not the case, the reference is to the first Native American scalped in revenge after Custer was completely defeated at the Little Big Horn. Three weeks after Custer’s death there was a minor skirmish between the American Fifth Cavalry Regiment and a group of Cheyenne at Warbonnet Creek in Nebraska. There was only one death in the fight, the Cheyenne warrior Yellow Hair was killed by scout William (Buffalo Bill) Cody. Cody did in fact take the scalp of the dead warrior and he used the event and the evidence in his subsequent Wild West Shows.

 The authors went to great lengths to research the facts of this battle that was minor, yet significant as it was the first combat after Custer’s defeat. Recollections were checked and cross-checked until the researchers were confident that they had an accurate chronicle. There are many photos of the Army officers, locations of the action and the monuments to the event that were put up in commemoration.

 Although the battle was significant only within the context of the only major defeat suffered by the American Army at the hands of the Native Americans, it is still an interesting event, making this book important. It is also significant that the whites did in fact scalp their dead Native American adversaries.

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