Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/178

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160
Travellers and Explorers, 1846-1900

command. The Sioux were superior in numbers and in arms. The courage of Custer was of no avail.

Custer wrote My Life on the Plains (1874) and a number of articles for The Galaxy. General W. B. Hazen, who had a quarrel with Custer, privately published Some Corrections of "My Life on the Plains" (1875). Frederick Whittaker wrote a Complete Life of General George A. Custer (1876), full of details, and the whole written in a painstaking way. A large amount of information given in an exceedingly pleasant manner is found in the books of the General's widow, Elizabeth Bacon Custer: Boots and Saddles or Life in Dakota with General Custer (1885); Tenting on the Plains, or General Custer in Kansas and Texas (1887); Following the Guidon (1890). Mrs. Custer also wrote the introduction for George Armstrong Custer (1916) by Frederick S. Dellenbaugh. There was comparatively little trouble with the Sioux Indians after the massacre of Custer, for even they seemed to be impressed by its horror; just as the Modocs were when they destroyed the attacking troops—afterwards Scar-faced Charley said his "heart was sick of seeing so many men killed."

One of the primary causes of Indian difficulties was the rapid growth of the cattle and sheep industry on the Plains. The remarkably nutritive grasses which had fattened buffalo by the tens of thousands now fattened cattle and sheep in like numbers. As cattle and sheep will not feed on the same range, or rather cattle will not on a sheep range, there were clashes that were well-nigh battles between the sheep and the cattle men. Large tracts were bought or claimed, and fenced in—another cause of trouble. And still another was the character of the cattle herders. There were suddenly many of them in the later seventies. They lived in camps and for some reason they dropped to a lower state of degradation than any class of men, red or white, that the Far West had seen. Beside a full-fledged "cowboy" of the earlier period of their brief reign the Indian pales to a mere recalcitrant Quaker. With the further development of the country the cowboy became more civilized and later on he redeemed himself by writing poetry and books. The reason for this desirable transformation from debauchery to inspiration may be read in the lines: