Killed at the Battle of Washita- 7th US Cavalry Captain Louis Hamilton's Obituary, including a bonus page contains the New York Herald's obituary (see below for transcription). A rare circular memorializing Civil War hero and Indian Wars cavalry Captain Louis M. Hamilton, a grandson of Alexander Hamilton, who served under George Armstrong Custer.
Five total pages, the bonus page (not usually seen) and a separate four page detailed obituary of Hamilton.
Hamilton died In The Battle of the Washita, November 27, 1868,
$795.00 plus shipping
Louis McLane Hamilton, (Son of Philip and Rebecca Hamilton,) Captain in the 7th United States Cavalry, In the 25th Year of His Age.
[1868.]. 8vo (246 x 195 mm) circular. 4 pp.
Louis McLane Hamilton (1844–1868) was the “youngest officer of his rank in the regular service” when he perished in the Battle of Washita River—an attack on an essentially peaceful Cheyenne village on 27 November 1868. The text of this circular consists of Hamilton’s obituary, excerpted from the New York Evening Post, and a letter from Bvt. Col. Robert M. West to Hamilton’s father with the transmitted proceedings of a meeting of the officers of the 7th Cavalry, testifying to the esteem in which Hamilton was held, signed in type by West and Custer. Also included is a report by a New York Herald correspondent on Hamilton’s burial in Oklahoma, noting that generals Sheridan and Custer, among others, served as pall bearers.
Prior to his Indian Wars service, Hamilton served in the Union Army. A mere eighteen years old when he enlisted, he distinguished himself at Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and Chancellorsville, and quickly rose through the ranks. During the reorganization of the army in 1866, he was appointed Captain of the 7th Regiment of regular cavalry, under Custer’s command. This circular offers extensive remarks on Hamilton’s “gallant and meritorious conduct” in both wars and also touches on his character: “While he possessed all the tenderness of a woman, when human sympathies and sweet emotions stirred his heart, and was oblivious of self, he was stern, inflexible and uncompromising towards all that was mean, false, oppressive and unrighteous.”
The Battle of Washita River, also known as the Washita Massacre, was an early morning attack by Custer’s 7th Cavalry on Chief Black Kettle’s Southern Cheyenne village located on the Washita River (near current-day Cheyenne, Oklahoma). Custer ordered the attack without any attempt to determine whether the village was indeed hostile. As it turned out, these Cheyenne were seeking peace and their camp was on reservation soil—a site that the commander of Fort Cobb had promised them was out of harm’s way. The village was destroyed and more than 100 Cheyenne people were slaughtered, including the Chief, women, and children; nevertheless, a handful of the warriors were able to escape and fire back. Hamilton was one of twenty-one soldiers killed in the attack. The so-called battle was considered the first American triumph in the Indian wars, and led to the rehabilitation of Custer’s reputation, following his suspension for a year due to desertion and mistreatment of his soldiers.
Rare. OCLC records one copy, at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
REFERENCES: Battle of the Washita at www.okhistory.org; Custer Massacres Cheyenne on Washita River at history.com
"[ From the New York Herald, Dec. 21, 1868.]
LOUIS McLANE HAMILTON, Son of Mr. Philip Hamilton, grandson of General Alexander Hamilton and of Louis McLane, and late a captain of cavalry in General Custer's command, was recently killed in an encounter with a large, concentrated Indian force on the Washita river. The brave Major Elliot and nineteen privates were also among the dead, and a number of officers were dangerously wounded. When a pure, gallant and youthful heart ceases to beat and finds a grave while in mid-career of important and perilous duty, to neglect calling the attention of thoughtful minds to a marked though passing tribute to qualities promising more than usually distinguished moral and professional results would seem unjust to the fallen, deprive the rising and contemporary generation of a strong incentive to emulation and withhold that silent yet not unfelt commendation towards those whose wise and well directed care have contributed to develop elements of character so significant and hopeful. A high order of morals and conscientious habits of life, found united with cool daring, courage and professional ability, have been features in the military and naval biographies of all enlightened nations. From among a large number of names may be recalled the familiar ones of the celebrated Colonel Gardiner, interestingly brought to notice in “Waverly;” of Captain Vickars, who fell in the Crimea; Havelock, and among ourselves, popularly known and distinguished as “Stonewall Jackson.” Colonel Gardiner became a Christian soldier by a sudden transition from extreme dissoluteness and dissipation; while the whole life of the Rescuer of British India seems to have been consistently moral and unexceptionable, winning respect and admiration even from those opposed to his persevering and successful efforts to promote a manly recognition of the obligations of religion, as well among officers as in the ranks. The young and closely observing subject of these comments could but become strongly and admiringly impressed, in common with friends and foes, with the stern, solemn, practical daily religion of the indomitably brave, sagacious and successful Southern leader already mentioned, whose resignation to the will of a Power without whose providence no soul is called home, enabled him to look upon his own nearing death, as we are now tempted to regard it, as one of beneficient and merciful dispensation. It has been observed by the most prominent writer of the Federalist “that men of the truest lives and loftiest intellects are often found on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the greatest moment to the welfare of society;” and among the crowd of youthful heroes who fell on either side of the late disastrous civil strife, fought with a valor, sincerity of belief and truth of purpose, and at a sacrifice of life without a parallel in the wars of modern times, none more pure of heart and life, honorable, chivalric and daring in the arena of contest, warm and true in friendship, enthusiastic and untiring in duty than young Hamilton, (one of whose great ancestors, at the side of Washington in the field and at the head of “stormers” carrying a redoubt at Yorktown, aided to win independence for now a great people,) to clear a way for whose grand march of westward empire, fiercely obstructed by mysteriously doomed aboriginal savages, this descendant of that statesman and soldier, Alexander Hamilton, has contributed his young unsullied life at the call of that country and in the brave and stalwart rendering of soldiery duty."