I'm a student of western history. One of my favorite areas of reading growing up was the long conflict between Native Americans and Euro-Americans as the tide of white settlement moved ever westward. A particular fascination was the Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer's Last Stand. It was one of the Indians' greatest victories over the U. S. military and one the army's worst defeats.
George Armstrong Custer, boy general and Civil War hero, led the Seventh Cavalry to disaster that hot, dusty June day on the banks of the Greasey Grass, as the Sioux called the Little Bighorn River. Flamboyant, impetuous, and a media darling, Custer pushed his command ahead of the main body of troops apparently in hopes of scoring a major victory and getting all the glory and headlines. Headlines he got. Glory he didn't. His immediate command was wiped out. The troops he'd sent to attack another part of the Indian encampment were beseiged on their own hilltop and lucky to survive. Over two hundred soldiers lost their lives that day; a number of them Kentuckians. The only survivor of Custer's command was Comanche, the horse of Captain Myles Keogh.
In the archives of The Filson, we have a letter written by Custer to his life insurance agent in Louisville, John Barbee Pirtle. Their connection most likely dated to Custer's time in Elizabethtown and Louisville after the Civil War. Written on June 24, 1874 - almost two years to the day before Custer's famous luck would run out on June 25, 1876. Written from Fort Abraham Lincoln (near present Bismarck, ND) Custer discusses the payment of his premium and the beneficiaries of the policy. Sure hope he'd kept his policy paid up.