A Summer on the Plains with Custer's 7th Cavalry: The 1870 Diary of Annie Gibson Roberts
by Annie Gibson Roberts (Author), Brian C. Pohanka (Editor)
Hardcover April 1, 2004
Annie Roberts Yates was 27 years old when her soldier husband perished with his commander, George Armstrong Custer, at the battle of Little Bighorn. We catch occasional glimpses of Annie in Libbie Custer s memoirs, or in newspaper accounts of the sorrowful aftermath of Custer s Last Stand a young widow dressed in mourning, her dark hair turned gray with grief. She remains as elusive as she is fascinating. Talented musician and vocalist, skilled rider and sharpshooter, accomplished linguist and devoted Shakespearean, self-critical and idealistic, practical and romantic Annie Yates was a most unusual woman. Annie Gibson Roberts was born in Philadelphia on April 27, 1849, the daughter of William Milnor Roberts, one of America s most accomplished civil engineers. Following her mother s death, from 1859 to 1865 Annie and her five brothers lived in the jungles of Brazil, where her father supervised the construction of the first railroad into the interior of that country. By 1870 Annie was staying in St. Louis, where Milnor Roberts was employed as chief engineer, building the great Eads Bridge that spanned the Mississippi. From girlhood Annie had recorded her daily experiences in little pocket diaries. On January 1, 1870, after admonishing herself to Take care of the hours & the days will take care of themselves, 20-year-old Annie exuberantly greeted the new year with, How d ye do 1870 Well you are a lusty old fellow! We will be firm friends if you only treat me half as well as your predecessor. Little did she imagine how fateful that year was destined to be. Though she was never considered a great beauty, Annie's large blue eyes and mass of dark brown, nearly black hair, her poise and her invariably fashionable attire, combined to make her a striking figure. Her wit, her sense of fun and her artistic talents made her a welcome addition to St. Louis society. Among Annie Roberts friends was Major General Wesley Merritt, one of the Union s ablest cavalry commanders in the Civil War, and she dutifully chronicled several marriage proposals from young army officers. In those first months of 1870 there was one for whom Annie came to hold special feelings: Paul Dahlgren, a Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Artillery. She found the 23-year-old son of Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren as bright as a new shilling, and their friendship soon blossomed into romance, though it was a tempestuous one. It was at this point that Annie Roberts left St. Louis to spend a summer on the plains at Fort Hays, Kansas accepting the hospitality of her uncle, Major George Gibson, the Post Commander. There she would meet for the first time George Armstrong Custer and the officers of the 7th U. S. Cavalry one of whom was destined to become her husband. A Summer on the Plains chronicles Annie s experiences on the western frontier, with perceptive observations of the 7th U. S. Cavalry and the Custer inner-circle. Her participation in a Great Buffalo Hunt is recounted in dramatic and exciting fashion. At Fort Hays Annie fell in love with Captain George Yates Custer s friend from Civil War days and the steadfast commander of Company F, the Band Box Troop. They married despite the objections of her family, and raised three children on the isolated and dangerous frontier. The book has two diary sections, a chapter on George Yates, a chapter on the Buffalo Hunt, as well as six appendices. They include Libbie Custer s memories of the great buffalo hunt, Annie s horse riding list, Annie s perceptions of General Custer and a profile she wrote on him, George Yates letters from the 1874 Black Hills Expedition, and a remembrance of Mrs. Custer by a daughter-in-law of the Seventh Cavalry.
Hardcover: 180 pages
Publisher: Schroeder Publications; 1st edition (April 1, 2004)
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches