The 7th Cavalry Band

The Mounted Band and Field Musicians of the U.S. 7th Cavalry During the Time of the Plains Indian Wars

Bruce Gleason

It was fun in the long evenings, when we’d taken care of our horses, and the guards were posted, and everything was shipshape. It was getting higher country all the time as we went west, and that meant cool nights, even in the middle of July. We’d make great campfires and almost every evening there’d be a band concert. General Custer was mighty proud of our Seventh Regi- ment band. They were mounted on white horses and he had them along on all his expeditions and campaigns. They’d never fail to play the regiment’s own song “Garry Owen.” That was an old Irish battle song that Custer had adopted for Seventh’s own. I faintly remember some of the other tunes they used to play on that trip. One of them was “The Mocking Bird.” And then there was “The Blue Danube.” We had a mighty fine band, and on the nights when the moon was out and the stars cracking in the sky, and the air was crisp and cool, it was something to stretch out before a big open log fire and listen to music. Soldiering wasn’t half bad those times—

–Sergeant Charles Windolph, writing about Custer’s 1874 Black Hills Expedition.2

The era of the U.S. Plains Indian Wars (ca. 1860–ca. 1896) is rich in musical tradition, with infantry and cavalry units employing bands in addition to their field musicians. This era has been documented by James Gay3 and Thomas Railsback and John Langellier,4 but they focused little on the horse-mounted aspect of cavalry music, which has a rich and deep history all of its own. The present study chronicles the tradition, training, duty, and music of the field and band musicians of this era’s U.S. 7th Cavalry in comparison with those of other U.S. cavalry regiments.

Field Trumpeters

By the time the 7th Cavalry Regiment was formed in 1866 (along with the 8th, 9th and 10th Cavalries at Ft. Riley, Kansas), mounted bands and field musicians were separate entities but were drawing on a shared centuries-old tradition. While the instrumentation of mounted bands included valved brass instruments by this point, signaling trumpeters continued to use natural instruments, adding to the distinction between bands and field musicians.

The work of these trumpeters/buglers6 was critical in moving and directing troops in battle and consisted of a variety of alarm, service, drill and field, and miscellaneous calls—most of whose origins have been lost in history. By 1861 each troop within U.S. cavalry regiments was authorized two trumpeters,7 whose job it was to sound signals used in maneuvers, in the battlefield, in camp, and on parade, and included Boots and Saddles, To Horse, To The Standard, Forward, Charge, Taps, Tattoo, Rally, and Reveille.9

Field trumpets in the U.S. by the end of the nineteenth century were related more to the bugle than to the historical field trumpet, although U.S. Army regulations refer to both instruments, depending on the year of the regulation manuals. 0 In a letter dated 23 April 1867 to his wife Jennie from a camp near Ft. Hays, Kansas, while on the Hancock expedition as a troop commander with the 7th Cavalry, Captain Albert Barnitz reveals that the terms were used interchangeably even at this early date, and that some people knew the difference. Moreover, he distinguishes between the field trumpeters and the members of the band in the same letter

Guard mounting is just taking place. The music (of our eight buglers, or “trumpeters” rather) is really very fine. They are improving daily. The Band as I have written you, has been sent back to Fort Riley for instruction and practice—they will join us by the time the officers’ wives come on.

By this point in history, battlefield music and its traditions were centuries old, and with this, trumpeters had earned an honorable place on the battlefield, as reported by Gervase Markham in 1625, who stated that trumpeters were to be supplied with swords with the point broken, and were to be revered in battle. 2 Custer however, gives us a cold reminder that this was not the case during the U.S. Indian Wars:

Riding in the vicinity of the hospital, I saw a little bugler boy sitting on a bundle of dressed robes near where the surgeon was dressing and caring for the wounded. His face was completely covered with blood, which was trickling down over his cheek from a wound in his forehead. At first glance I thought a pistol bullet had entered his skull, but on stopping to inquire of him the nature of his injury he informed me that an Indian had shot him in the head with a steel-pointed arrow. The arrow had struck him just above the eye and upon encountering the skull had glanced under the covering of the latter coming out near the ear, giving the appearance of having passed through the head. There the arrow remained until the bugler arrived at the hospital, when he received prompt attention. The arrow being barbed could not be withdrawn at once, but by cutting off the steel point the surgeon was able to withdraw the wooden shaft without difficulty. The little fellow bore his suffering manfully. I asked him if he saw the Indian who wounded him. Without replying at once, he shoved his hand deep down into his capacious trousers pocket and fished up nothing more nor less than the scalp of an

Indian, adding in a more nonchalant manner: “If anybody thinks I didn’t see him I want them to take a look at that.” He had killed the Indian with his revolver after receiving the arrow wound in his head. 3

Throughout military history, and especially with the introduction of guerilla-style warfare by the American Indians, disrupting communications by taking out the trumpeter was a logical step. John Schorr, a sergeant with the 1st U.S. Cavalry during the Nez Perce War, recalled years later that one of the first to fall was Trumpeter John Jones of F Troop 4 testament to the fact that the rules of warfare had changed.

Figure 1: “Reception of General Michael Corcoran, by the Mayor and Citizens of New York City, August 22D, 1862, on his release from the Confederate Prison,

in which he had been confined one year.” From an unsigned article,

The Soldier in Our Civil War,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper

(6 September 1862): 374–75. Author’s collection

Horse-Mounted Cavalry Bands

Bands of the U.S. Cavalry served on horseback for roughly a century, at least from the 1840s until World War II. By the 1860s, cavalry bands in the U.S. were typically comprised of sixteen musicians 5 and had settled primarily on a combination of brass instruments, and within this context, valved instruments developed in four different styles—bell front, upright, over the shoulder (patented by Allen Dodworth in 1838; see Figure 1), and wrap-

around circular helicon-styled instruments (see Figure 2). Wrap-around instruments were popular with cavalry bands because they were easier to hold onto and play with one hand (with the other hand holding the horse’s reins). 6 Over-the-shoulder saxhorns, which were used to point the sound to the rear to the troops marching or riding behind the band, are the ones often associated with Civil War bands. Although instrumentation varied from band to band, Robert Garofalo and Mark Elrod offer the following instrumentation for typical U.S. brass bands of the time:

First and Second Ef cornet (or saxhorn) First and Second Bf cornet (or saxhorn) First and Second Ef alto horn

First and Second Bf tenor horn Bf baritone

Ef bass

Side drum, bass drum and cymbals. 7

Other variations of the era consisted of those found in Dodworth’s Brass Band School and Friederich’s Brass Band Journal

Dodworth Friederich

Ef Soprano (first) Ef Soprano (first)

Ef Soprano (second) Ef Soprano (second)

Bf Alto (first) Bf Alto (first)

Bf Alto (second) Bf Alto (second)

Ef Tenor (first) EfTenor (first)

Ef Tenor (second) EfTenor (second)

Baritone Baritone

Bass (first) Basso (first)

Bass (second) Basso (second)

Ef Trumpet EfTrumpet

Trombone (first) . . . . . . . . .

Trombone (second) . . . . . . . . . .

Snare Drum Small Drum

Bass Drum Bass Drum 8

The mounted bands that existed in cavalry units in the Civil War 9 and Indian Wars would have had some kind of instrumentation like one of these with some parts doubled, and sometimes with added woodwinds 20

U.S. bands gradually caught up to their European cousins, and in gaining popularity during the Civil War (1861–65), many Union cavalry regiments boasted mounted bands comprised mainly of brass instruments.2 Photographs of North American mounted bands of the late nineteenth century show that percussion typically consisted of combinations of

bass drums and cymbals, along with snare and/or side drums in the dragoon tradition.22 Kettledrums were rarely used in U.S. bands at this time.

Figure 2: Tenor horn player of the 2nd Cavalry Band, Fort Wingate,

New Mexico, ca. 1894. U.S. Army Military History Institute (Carlisle, Pennsylvania), RG 49S-L. Dunston. 2. Reprinted by permission.

Mounted Cavalry Bands on the Plains

The 1st through 10th Cavalry Regiments were stationed in the western U.S. after the Civil War, were all involved in Indian wars, and all hosted mounted bands. Work consisted of formal military ceremonies, parades and reviews, and formal and informal concerts and dances—all welcome performances to members of the regiment; as Forrestine Hooker, daughter of Lieutenant Charles Cooper of the 10th Cavalry, recalls, the unit’s band “entertained the soldiers, officers and their families, or visitors on special occasions, breaking the monotony of a lonely, isolated post.”23 Moreover, as regimental companies departed from forts for individual missions, they usually departed to the strains of the band.24

As these cavalry bands, like those of the infantry, were the delight of a regiment, Sergeant Windolph’s quote at the beginning of this article is a sentiment that was likely shared by many enlisted men and officers who found the open-air concerts to be an artistic respite from the drudgery and danger of nineteenth-century military life. William

H. Leckie states that the 10th Cavalry Band of the 1860s was the pride and joy of the regiment’s commander, Colonel Benjamin Grierson (a former music teacher), and that the music “did much to soften the rough work and loneliness at Fort Sill [Okalahoma].”25 Likewise, Forrestine Hooker recalls that at the onset of a two-month scouting mission in July 1877 to look “for signs of wandering Indians,” the regimental band led Troop “A” in their departure from Fort Concho, Texas:

It was customary for the band to escort a departing troop out of the gar- rison. Our band was our pride. At its head rode George Brenner, the band leader, on his black horse. Brenner was a white man and a fine musician. Back of him, on milk white horses, followed the rest of the band—all of them colored soldiers 26

Writing in 1938, William G. Wilkinson similarly recalls that the 8th U.S. Cavalry’s march from Texas to Dakota Territory in 1888 drew a lot of attention from people for miles around, and that “the principal attraction…was the band, as every night, weather permitting, the band played a concert [which] was quite a treat to the people, as there were very few civilian bands in that territory in those days.”27

The Mounted Band of the U.S 7th Cavalry Regiment

Due to the fame of its regiment, one of the most historically documented bands of the era was that of the 7th Cavalry, which participated in most military and explorative missions along with the rest of the regiment at the orders of the regiment’s colorful second in command (field commander), Lieutenant Colonel George Custer (see Figure 3).28

While the formation of the 7th Cavalry band is typically attributed to Custer, it was probably a product of several individuals, including Major Alfred Gibbs, one of the

Figure 3: The Hancock Expedition at Fort Harker, 1867, Photographed by Alexander Gardner.

The 7th Cavalry Band on the left. Courtesy of the Kansas State Historical Society.

officers of the regiment, who wrote to Captain Myles Keogh, commander of Fort Wallace, Kansas, directing him to send all soldiers with brass band experience to Fort Riley for regimental band duty. Additionally, in a letter of 12 April 1867, Col. Smith ordered Custer to designate fifteen29 soldiers as members of the band and to proceed to Fort Riley with Major Gibbs. Further, Smith specified that to ensure that the band be “organized and made efficient as rapidly as possible, the members of the same, on their arrival at Fort Riley, Ks., will not be subject to the ordinary details for garrison duty.” 30

This directive undoubtedly enabled the 7th Cavalry Band to train and rehearse unencumbered and to rise to a place of distinction as a prominent musical organization. Within some units, like the 7th Cavalry, military duty was at a minimum to help musicians prepare for their “real duty” of making music, but in others, musicians were expected to be warriors first and musicians second. Also, as we shall soon see, lack of garrison duty did not preclude 7th Cavalry musicians from seeing battle firsthand.

Insisting on a band of sixteen musicians mounted on gray horses (stemming from the European tradition of trumpeters riding “greys”), Custer selected Italian-born and conservatory-trained Felix Vinatieri to be the Chief Musician (bandmaster). In addition to being a Civil War veteran musician, Vinatieri was a graduate of Naples’ Conservatorio di Musica San Pietro a Majella. While this background would have given him an advantage over most U.S. military bandmasters of the time (the major influx of Italian immigration, and consequently Italian band music, had not yet occurred by this point), his situation

was not unheard-of in British and European military bands, where more than one highly trained bandmaster and musician landed a job away from his home country. It is hard to say whether Custer intentionally emulated British and European practices, or if by engaging Vinatieri he was simply hiring the most qualified candidate.

Along with Vinatieri, thirteen of the sixteen musicians in the 7th Cavalry band of 1876 were foreign-born, and most of them listed “musician” as their previous occupation on their enlistment papers. The makeup of the 7th Cavalry band is not surprising, since foreign-born soldiers comprised over half the Regular Army enlisted ranks throughout much of the nineteenth century.3 In fact, foreign-born musicians were quite common in nineteenth-century professional ensembles in the U.S.

Military music was just one source of steady employment, and scores of musicians found work in bands across the country, including that of the 7th Cavalry. Performing concert and mounted work, this ensemble also played on the battlefield and on campaigns. While the musicians may have not had personal experience with mounted playing prior to enlistment, the concept would not have been new to most members of the band—especially to those from Germany (seven) and England (two), where horse-mounted cavalry bands had been common for centuries.

What would have differed however was the music played. Cavalry units in Europe generally had set marches and other pieces that were permanent fixtures in their regimental repertoires. U.S. Cavalry units had their individual regimental calls (played before other signals in battle to discern who the signal was for), but regimental marches were unofficial and probably adapted by popular demand, as exemplified by Garry Owen, which, as Custer’s favorite air, by default became the regimental march for the 7th Cavalry.

It was this march that became famous throughout the west and was heard not only in forts and camps, but also wherever the band traveled—even to the point of the band playing it while leading several battle charges, including the one at Chief Black Kettle’s village in the Wichita Mountains on the Washita River in Indian Territory (near present- day Cheyenne, Oklahoma), on 27 November 1868 shortly before dawn, against a war party of Cheyenne, Comanche, and Kiowa. S.L.A. Marshall, who later served in the 7th Cavalry with men who had known Custer, colorfully describes the event:

Reveille sounded for the Seventh Cavalry Regiment at 3:00 A.M. on November 23, the ungodliest of hours, an awakening that shouldn’t have to happen to a dog and is absolutely forbidden in relatively sane households.

Loonier still, once the horse soldiers had downed their breakfast of corn- meal mush with corn syrup and hot coffee, the regiment stepped off in the dark to the tune of their regimental theme song, “Garry Owen,” played by the regimental band. This is an Irish jig number that seems to mesmerize bewhiskered colonels without touching the privates. In the view of other cavalrymen, the Seventh might have been easy to live with, but for “Garry Owen.”32

As a West Point student, Custer would have studied cavalry tactics, and while he may have known the Saracen custom of bands leading troops into battle (often on horseback) during the Crusades, it is difficult to know if he was now copying this idea, or if he merely wanted to make an impact and statement. Whatever the case, this was indeed the effect. Marshall continues,

Custer had a passion for the music. Getting with the band was no less im- perative than getting up before the crack of dawn. The column moved out and with it went the bandsmen, not as musicians converted to fighters, but as a pack of tootlers.

Bizarre as it now sounds, when exactly six days later the Seventh Regiment charged pell-mell and without warning, parley, or reconnaissance into an Indian village on the banks of the Washita River, the buglers sounded the charge and the band again played “Garry Owen.”33

Most records of U.S. military bands performing in battle suggest that rather than being a typical practice, individual occurrences were the result of the band being in the wrong place at the wrong time.34 However, as strange as the practice of a cavalry band playing under fire may seem, Custer incorporated the routine intentionally, copying Philip Sheridan, under whom he had served during the Civil War, as recorded in an account of the Battle of Dinwiddie Courthouse, when the general gave an order to mass his musicians on the firing line: “[Have the musicians] play the gayest tunes in their books—play them loud and keep on playing them, and never mind if a bullet goes through a trombone, or even a trombonist, now and then.”35 Likewise, Brigadier General George Custer ordered the mounted band of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade to lead the unit into battle playing Yankee Doodle near James City, Virginia, against a contingency of Confederate Cavalry led by Major General Fitzhugh Lee on 9 October 1863. Similarly, at Columbia Furnace, Virginia, on 16 April 1862, Custer’s band led the cavalry charge.36

This band-leading-the-battle practice with the 7th Cavalry during the Indian Wars thus was a logical progression for Custer, who recalled the aforementioned events of the battle at the Washita River, but with a noticeably different take from Marshall’s:

Immediately in rear of my horse came the band, all mounted and each with his instrument in readiness to begin playing the moment their leader, who rode at their head and who kept his cornet to his lips, should receive the signal. I had previously told him to play Garry Owen as the opening piece…. I was about to turn in my saddle and direct the signal for attack to be given, still anxious as to where the other detachments were, when a single rifle shot rang sharp and clear on the far side of the village from where we were. Quickly turning to the band leader, I directed him to give us Garry Owen. At once the rollicking notes of that familiar marching and fighting air sounded through the valley and in a moment were reechoed back from the opposite sides by

the loud and continued cheers of the men of the other detachments, who, true to their orders, were there and in readiness to pounce upon the Indians the moment the attack began.37

Apparently, however, after only a few notes the valves on the instruments froze, thereby ending the band’s role.38 Fred Dustin’s assessment of the situation echoes the thoughts of many a Custer critic: “[W]hen the weather, the situation, and the fact that the use of a brass instrument for playing at such a time could only be torture to the player, the vainglory of the thing is no less apparent than its lack of sensibility.”39 Such was the practice of George Custer. While being a knowledgeable battle tactician, it appears that an appearance of gallantry and pomp were sometimes substituted for practicality and common sense.

Instrumentation of the 7th Cavalry Band

While by the 1870s infantry bands of Britain, the Continent, and the U.S. were broadening their instrumentation to include woodwinds, cavalry bands typically held to all-brass instrumentation, especially when mounted. The instrumentation of the 7th Cavalry Band during the 1870s remains unclear, and it probably was not consistent. While memoirs and records list the number of musicians at sixteen, a photograph of the band taken in 1874 shows twenty-eight bandsmen, including three clarinet players (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: 7th Cavalry Band, Fort Abraham Lincoln, Dakota Territory, 1874.

Chief Musician Felix Villiet Vinatieri probably is the cornetist seated in the middle of the first row, wearing darker-colored trousers.

Courtesy of Yankton County (South Dakota) Historical Society.

James R. Gay confirms that the official instrumentation of the bands of the 2nd Cavalry (1876) and the 6th Cavalry (1892) of the same and later periods included Ef cornet, Bf cornet, alto horn, trombone, baritone, Ef tuba, snare drum, and bass drum in the brass band tradition of the Civil War. However, in his study on Vinatieri, he cites a 1982 interview with Joe Gullion, who was a member of the 4th Cavalry band stationed at Ft. Meade, South Dakota, just after World War I: “[M]any cavalry musicians were proficient on several instruments and … the choice of instruments (i.e., slide or valve trombone, clarinet, or cornet) for a mounted performance depended more ‘upon the temperament of the horse and the need to handle the reins’ than the requirements of the composer.”40

Proficiency on several instruments was not unusual for military bands of the period, in Europe as well as the United States. From its inception in 1762 to the present day, musicians of the Royal Artillery Band have been “double-handed,” with expertise on a stringed instrument in addition to woodwind or brass.4 Members of other British staff bands have seen similar service, and the U.S. Marine Band (The President’s Own) was comprised likewise from around 1899 to 1955.42 If we are to believe that musicians of the 7th Cavalry Band played the music in the Vinatieri Archives, which we should, brass musicians were probably playing woodwind and stringed instruments as well. The Vinatieri Archive in the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota holds 234 pieces of music, most of which were either composed or arranged by Vinatieri in various combinations for brass, woodwind, strings, and percussion, as well as solo piano. It includes marches, polkas, quicksteps, schottisches, mazurkas, waltzes, galops, polonaises, quadrilles, overtures, opera selections, national anthems, and excerpts from several of America’s earliest comic operas.43 As Vinatieri’s ensemble was a “full-service” band, playing for concerts, dances, and other social functions in addition to mounted and other military duties would have been part of the regular performance schedule. It is therefore not surprising that a military band on the plains would have needed to exhibit a “softer” side, with arrangements that included woodwinds and strings.

An examination of the archive raises more questions than it answers, since there are only a handful of pieces for brass band that call for various combinations of cornets, horns, tenor horns, trombones, tubas, and percussion. Interestingly, very few of the pieces that show up in any of the written records are in the archives. Even the ubiquitous Garry Owen is missing. There is a trio arrangement of Johann Strauss II’s Blue Danube (to which Windolph refers in the quotation at the beginning of this article) for two cornets in A and trombone, and there is one piece by Friedrich von Flotow,44 which calls for 1st Bf clarinet, 2nd Bf clarinet, Ef cornet, 2nd Ef cornet, solo Bf cornet, 2nd Bf cornet, 3rd Bf cornet, 1st Ef alto horn, 2nd Ef alto horn, 3rd Ef alto horn, 1st trombone, 2nd trombone, baritone bass clef, Ef tuba, and drums. As this instrumentation is consistent with a typical cavalry band lineup, even considering the clarinets, this may be the piece to which Barrows refers below. A full-fledged examination of the archives is outside the parameters of the present study, but for our purposes, it is worth noting that since many of the pieces are listed simply as “instrumental ensemble,” it is difficult to determine which

pieces were played on horseback. Also, many of the dates of composition are unknown and are simply listed as 1891/12/05—the date of Vinatieri’s death. As the archives are Vinatieri’s, and not an official library of the 7th cavalry band, other arrangements may have stayed with the band and, like other libraries, disappeared over the years.45


Training of bandsmen and field musicians during the nineteenth century varied considerably. Some U.S. Army field musicians (fifers, buglers, and drummers, but not bandleaders or bandsmen) were trained from some years prior to 1860 to the end of the Civil War at Fort Columbus (later renamed Fort Jay), Governor’s Island, New York. However, by the time of the Indian Wars, on-the-job training of field musicians seems to have been common—a far cry from the European tradition, where field trumpeting during the Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical eras had been elevated to a high skill and art that included years of apprenticeship.46 Cavalry trumpeters/buglers, like George Sargent, who served in various cavalry regiments in the eastern U.S., often had no musical experience before enlisting. Sargent recalls, “In the afternoon we got our bugles and went down to a pond about half a mile distant to practice…. It was the first time I ever undertook to blow a wind instrument.”47 Likewise, Phillip Schreiber of the 18th U.S. Infantry added bugle playing to his résumé, “as they [Company H] were in need of a combination bugler and barber.”48 Writing years after the era covering the present study, William Irwin addresses a situation that would have been similar to that during the Indian Wars. One of the last buglers to be trained for mounted duty in the 7th Cavalry in 1935, Irwin recalls his lack of musical training, as well as the distinction between field musicians and band musicians: “I, like most of the other buglers didn’t play [valved] trumpet, and I couldn’t read music. We were definitely not part of the band—and I had no training in the Army for bugle. I learned it in the Boy Scouts when I was growing up in Texas.”49

By the time of the Indian Wars, there was no central training point for U.S. military musicians, and it is difficult to tell which of the field trumpeters of the 7th Cavalry had prior trumpeting and/or musical experience upon enlisting. Kenneth Hammer indicates that five of the twenty-two field trumpeters in 1876 listed “musician” or “trumpeter” as “previous occupation,” but this information means little since many records for individual soldiers do not list anything for previous occupation.50 Moreover, these records do not report how the person was trained initially.

Official training for band musicians apparently did not begin in the army until Congress authorized a school for bandleaders in 1911 at Fort Jay, with training for bandsmen beginning ten years later.5 During these post-Civil War years, however, most training probably was done in-house or pre-service. The 7th Cavalry band of the 1860s–70s probably offers good example of both pre-service and in-house training. Conservatory-trained Chief Musician Vinatieri would have been responsible, along with senior bandsmen—ten of whom listed

“musician” as previous occupation upon enlisting52—for training band members in specific ceremony, parade and concert functions, as well as rehearsals and individual practice.

Beyond musical training, and of more probable concern to the band of the 7th Cavalry and other mounted bands, would have been the skill needed in riding a horse and playing an instrument, and then in the case of Sheridan’s and Custer’s bands, learning to accomplish this at the trot or gallop under gunfire and volleys of arrows. Although horses were a primary means of transportation and power at the time, universal equestrian experience was by no means the norm, and many people did not know how to ride a horse. This is exemplified by an 1861 account given by John C. Linehan of the Fisherville Cornet Band (Penacook, New Hampshire), when its members were selected to perform service for the Governor’s Horse Guards, a stylish military organization of the time:

Their engagement … although a matter of pride, was nevertheless an occa- sion of dismay, for the boys for the first time in their lives had to play on horseback. As nearly all of them were novices in this direction the outlook was serious, for it is a question if there were half a dozen of the number that had ever straddled a horse 53

Methods of riding and playing used by musicians probably varied among bands, depending on the instrument played. Well-trained horses were guided by the musicians’ knees and accustomed to following and relying on horses in front of them during parades. Additionally, trumpeters and other valved brass instrument players could hold the instrument with the right hand while guiding the horse with the left. Trombonists devised ways of playing and riding using a system of double reins with a runner on them, whereby the rider put his arm in the loop, and tightened or loosened it as he moved the slide. Woodwind players, when they were added to the mix, typically wrapped the reins around their arms. Drummers devised different methods of attaching the drum to the saddle and playing with one or both hands while guiding the horse with waist or foot reins.54

Even though horses became accustomed to the sounds of musical instruments, all mounted bandsmen had to take care not to frighten their horses since they could easily find themselves thrown or quickly back in the stables if they played unexpectedly or too loudly for their mounts’ tastes. Cavalry music was indeed a specialized profession, and bandsmen needed to be accomplished musicians as well as skilled horsemen.

The 1874 Black Hills Expedition

As tricky as the concept might be, however, 7th Cavalry musicians, along with their horses, seemed to have figured out the process of performing on horseback, as had countless soldier-musicians before them. As mentioned previously, these skills carried musicians and horses through battle and ceremony, and also ensured that they would not be left behind on what would be recorded as one of the most unusual musical ventures of the nineteenth

century. Accompanying ten companies of the 7th Cavalry under the command of Lt. Col. (General)55 George Custer and one company each of the 20th and 17th Infantries, as well as an engineer detachment and fire support battery of three Gatling guns and one three-inch cannon, the 7th Cavalry band rode on an 1874 exploratory expedition into the Black Hills of South Dakota. This amalgamation, documented in several contemporary accounts, comprised of a force of over 1000 men, including dozens of Indian scouts, guides, interpreters, teamsters, 110 wagons, and hundreds of horses, mules, and cattle,56 who were sent by the U.S. government to survey the area for prospective fort sites and invasion routes against Indian free bands, and (unofficially) to confirm the rumors of gold in the Black Hills. Lieutenant James Calhoun, Custer’s brother-in-law (married to the General’s younger sister, Margaret), who was attached to Headquarters Company, vividly describes the column as it left Fort Abraham Lincoln (near present-day Bismarck, North Dakota) on 2 July 1874.

Some of the ladies of the garrison came out to give us a parting cheer. Col. Thompson also came to bid adieu. As we commenced our march westward the Band of the 7th Cavalry played the popular air ‘the girl I left behind me,’ music appropriate to the occasion.57

George Grinnell, who served as a geologist (naturalist) on the expedition wrote, “At Fort Lincoln the expedition was detained about thirty days and then started for the Black Hills. As it left the fort a band of sixteen men mounted on white horses preceded it, playing Garry Owen, Custer’s favorite air.” He summed up the sight with an understatement of what must have been on most of the soldiers’ minds, “To start into a supposedly hostile Indian country accompanied by a brass band was a novel experience to some of those who rode with this expedition.”58

With the band playing regularly several times daily, members of the expedition were treated to what must have been a considerable repertoire. Testifying to the frequency of performances, Captain Luther North, who commanded the expedition’s Pawnee Scouts, a U.S. Army Battalion comprised entirely of Pawnee Indians, recollected,

We left the fort with the band of sixteen men mounted on white horses play- ing Garry Owen, Custer’s favorite tune. This was the first and last expedition that I was ever on in an Indian country that had a band along. Every morning upon leaving camp the band would play for two or three miles, and nearly every evening after supper the general would have them come over in front of his tent and play for an hour or so.59

Further accounts of the band’s participation in the expedition appear in Herbert Krause and Gary D. Olson’s Prelude to Glory, the story of the adventure as told by five newspaper correspondents who accompanied the mission. As the expedition passed through the area that Custer named Floral Valley Samuel J. Barrows of the New York Tribune reported

that in addition to folk tunes and marches, the mounted band played light classics and popular music, undoubtedly arranged by Vinatieri.

As we ascended the valley, our band which favors us every morning with a variety of selections played ‘How so fair’ and ‘The Mocking Bird.’ We forgot the mocking bird in listening to the mocking hills which played an echo fuge [sic] with the band. The effect was beautiful indeed. Never before had the echoes sung to Hoffmann or Flotow, but they never missed a note in their response.60

Writing about the expedition reaching Hart River Crossing, about twelve miles from Fort Lincoln, at noon on 30 August 1874, Barrows indicates that the march was governed by bugle calls, and that the field and band musicians were separate entities even though they rode together:

A halt for an hour and a half was ordered. A lunch was taken, and for the last time the familiar ‘To horse’ and the ‘Advance’ were sounded and we moved on the fort. A new order of march was adopted. The train was turned over to the tender mercies of the infantry. The cavalry were formed into a single column of fours, preceded by the company of scouts. Behind the scouts rode the band and the buglers. Officers’ call sounded, and there was a rush of shoulderstraps to the front. Drawn up in a single line, with Gen. Custer in the center, 23 officers represented the commissioned authority of the expedition.

It is difficult to know what was going through Custer’s mind when he decided that a large expedition into a hostile environment should include a mounted band, but as the band had previously been a part of battle proceedings, taking them on an excursion was not much of a stretch. As described by these chroniclers, the entire entourage must have been of unusual sight and sound. While the expedition had been favored with a broad repertoire of music, at least by the conclusion of the expedition, Garry Owen had attained some sort of sacred place within the regiment. Barrows writes later about these 30 August 1874 events,

Guidons were unfurled, and the band for the 120th time played ‘The Little German Band,’ and other classic pieces, reserving for the grand finale as we entered the garrison, Custer’s favorite charging hymn, ‘Garryowen.’ For two months ‘Garry’ had been corked up, waiting for an Indian engagement. The Indians failed to attend, and the tune was reserved for the expedition doxol- ogy. When the tune was concluded, the expedition had expired without a groan 6

While a mounted band taking part in a mission such as the 1874 Expedition was unusual by North American standards, it was not unprecedented from a historical point of view. While it is not evident that Custer was familiar with European social and music history, he probably had some kind of grasp of these earlier practices—or at least an innate feeling for the pageantry that music could incite and accompany. It should also be stated here that mounted playing on excursions was not universally required of U.S. cavalry bands at the time. William Wilkinson recalls that during the 8th U.S. Cavalry’s march from Texas to Dakota Territory in 1888, the band kept their instruments packed in wagons and performed only in camp.62

Battle of the Little Big Horn63

The era of westward expansion hit several bumps along the way, the most famous undoubtedly being the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Although Custer had often taken his bands into the thick of the battle during the Civil War and the Indian Wars, it is interesting—and fortuitous for the band members—that he decided to forego taking his musicians into what would be his last battle. Sergeant Charles Windolph, who fought in the Battle of the Little Big Horn as the first sergeant of Captain Frederick Benteen’s battalion (companies D, H, and K), recalled in 1946,

I remember one thing that happened as we were leaving the Tongue [River]. Our Seventh Cavalry band was mounted on white horses, and as we were short of good mounts the bandsmen were left behind, while the horses were taken over as remounts to replace horses that had been worn down. While the column was pulling out, the dismounted band stood on a little knoll near the big river and played “Garry Owen” as the regiment rode by. It was something you’d never forget.64

The rest is history. On a hot June Sunday in 1876 about 2,100 warriors (Cheyennes, Arapahos, Oglala, Hunkpapa, Sans Arc, Miniconjoui, and Blackfoot Sioux) wiped out five companies of cavalry on the treeless Montana ridge above the Little Big Horn River. In less than an hour the most spectacular triumph of the American Indian in the fight against the encroaching European-based civilization had resulted in Custer’s Last Stand.65

Mounted field trumpeters, who were part of the ancient battlefield tradition that would still be around for more than a half century afterward, continued to be separate from the bands’ trumpeters, as evidenced by the list of the battle’s survivors, which indicates that only ten of the 7th Cavalry’s twenty-two field trumpeters survived.66 The band musicians, however, whose lives were spared because of Custer’s decision to use their horses as remounts, were pressed into service as corpsmen to help transport the wounded of Major Marcus Reno’s command fifteen miles to where Captain Grant Marsh had pushed

the steamer Far West up the previously unnavigated Big Horn River. They also provided nursing services with what few supplies were available.67

Summary and Conclusions

The 7th Cavalry band led by Felix Vinatieri was one of the few mounted bands, and probably the last in the U.S., to have performed regularly in battle. While the band followed a mounted tradition that had developed in Europe, distinctive American flavors, along with nineteenth-century instruments and cultures, shaped the duties of the band, which, coupled with sharing in George Custer’s limelight, have secured the ensemble a place in social and musical history. Although there were other mounted bands within the U.S. Cavalry of the time, the band of the 7th Cavalry was undoubtedly the best documented because of George Custer’s notoriety as well as his use of the band in camp, expeditions, and battle. Moreover, Chief Musician Felix Vinatieri, an Italian conservatory-trained musician, was a unique component in the mix and brought the band to historical fame through his compositions and arrangements. As stated throughout this article, it is not possible to ascertain precisely what Custer’s motives were in including the band on expeditions and in battle, but evidence suggests that the “show-off” element of a mounted cavalry band probably played an important role. Whatever the impetus, the band of the 7th U.S. Cavalry occupies a unique place in history.

Discharged in December 1876 after spending three years with the 7th Cavalry, Vinatieri returned to Yankton, South Dakota, where he resumed teaching music, performing, composing, and traveling with circus bands to support his wife, three daughters, and five

68 Several of the sixteen musicians of the 7th Cavalry Band were discharged that same

year, including Jacob Huff, who was born in Bavaria and served with the 7th Cavalry Band from 1875 to 1876; Frank Lombard, Naples, Italy (1871–76); Bernard O’Neill, Kelfurborg, Ireland (1871–76); and George Rudolph Minterheim, Bavaria (1871–76). Others completed their military music careers over the next several years: Otto Arndt, Bavaria, (1870–77); Edmond Burli, Klingnow, Switzerland (1871–77); Andrew Carter, Lincoln, England (1875–77); Joseph Kneubuhler, Lucerne, Switzerland (1872–77); Julius Jungesbluth, Brunswick, Germany (1876–78); Joseph Carroll, New York City, (1875–80); Peter Eisenberger, Bavaria (1875–80); Julius Griesner, Neurode, Germany (1875–80); George Merritt, Stonington, Connecticut (1875–80); Benjamin Beck, Philadelphia (1876–81); Thomas Sherborne, Kingston, Hampshire, England (1873–87); and Conrad Baumbach, Berlin, Germany (1875–78).69

As music in the cavalry developed along with that of the infantry, bands gradually included woodwind instruments on a regular basis. Thus mounted cavalry bands by the early twentieth century were essentially concert bands on horseback and continued to play major performance roles within the cavalries of the U.S. Army, as well as the U.S. National Guard70 until World War II. The 7th Cavalry, along with its band, became part of the 1st Cavalry Division on 13 September 1921. While all mounted roles for U.S.

Cavalry bands had been discontinued by the end of World War II, at the time of this writing, Garry Owen continues to be the official march of the 1st Cavalry Division, the direct descendent of the 7th Cavalry Regiment.

Bruce Gleason is the Director of Graduate Programs in Music Education at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he also advises graduate research. Stemming from his own M.A. research (University of Minnesota) on the Royal Artillery Mounted Band, he has researched and written extensively on cavalry music. Dr. Gleason played euphonium with the 298th U.S. Army Band of the Berlin Brigade from 1989 to 1991 and holds a Ph.D. in music education from the University of Iowa.


Accounts differ throughout the nineteenth century when describing the color of cavalry band horses—even between reports addressing the same horses, as seen in several instances within the present study. Gray was the traditional color for trumpeters’ horses throughout Europe and the United Kingdom—a tradition that stems from the custom of mounting battlefield trumpeters on gray horses (in contrast to those of other colors, which were often blacks and roans) for quick identification. Both Custer and Sheridan followed this custom with their mounted bands, and several present-day mounted bands, including the Band of the Life Guards in London, continue the tradition of mounting trumpeters on “greys.” While several documents refer to U.S. mounted bands on white horses, most were probably technically gray, but to untrained observers appeared white. The difference between gray and white horses has to do with the color of the horse’s skin. Gray horses have black skin, while white horses have pink skin, according to David Kleinendorst, president of the Minnesota Farriers Association, Roseville, Minnesota; e-mail to the present author, 27 February 2003.

2 Charles Windolph, I Fought with Custer: The Story of Sergeant Windolph, Last Survivor of the Battle

of the Little Big Horn as told to Frazier and Robert Hunt, ed., Frazier Hunt and Robert Hunt (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1947), 38.

3 James R. Gay, “The Wind Music of Felix Vinatieri, Dakota Territory Bandmaster” (D.A. diss., University of Northern Colorado, 1982).

4 Thomas C. Railsback and John P. Langellier, The Drums Would Roll: A Pictorial History of US Army

Bands on the American Frontier 1866–1900 (Poole, Dorset: Arms & Armour Press, 1987).

Bruce P. Gleason, “Cavalry Trumpet and Kettledrum Practice from the Time of the Celts and Romans to the Renaissance,” Galpin Society Journal 61 (April 2008): 231–39; idem, “Cavalry and Court Trumpeters and Kettledrummers from the Renaissance to the Nineteenth Century,” Galpin Society Journal 62 (April 2009): 31–54; and idem, “U.S. Mounted Bands and Cavalry Field Musicians in the Union Army during the Civil War—Background, Duties and Training,” Journal of Historical Research in Music Education, 27, no. 2 (April 2006): 102–19.

6 Trumpets and bugles served in similar capacities, and later on, in the same functions, but they are different instruments. A natural trumpet (valveless) has two thirds of its length in the form of a cylindrical tube, whereas a bugle has a conical shape throughout, and has its basis in the hunting horn, not in the military trumpet. Moreover, differences in mouthpieces—cup-shaped for the

trumpet, and funnel-shaped for the bugle—result in the trumpet having a bright, strident, brash sound, while the bugle is known for its darker and mellower tone. Confusion between the two instruments arises because the terms have been used interchangeably for decades. The natural trumpet used with kettledrums in court and military music was typically pitched in D (sometimes lowered to C by means of a crook) until the last half of the eighteenth century (when cavalry units moved to trumpets in Ef), and thus a sixth below our present-day Bf trumpet. Ef has traditionally remained the key of cavalry trumpets. Bugles however have traditionally been in G, although Bf instruments have been known as well.

7 “An Act to Authorize the Employment of Volunteers to aid in Enforcing Laws and Protecting Public

Property,” Section 2, 22 July 1861, cited in “U.S. Army Bands in History, the Civil War,” U.S. Army Bands,, [accessed 17 January 2004].

Cavalry units carry standards, whereas infantry and artillery units carry flags. Standards are typically smaller than flags; both are referred to as colors

9 War Department: Office of the Chief of Staff, United States Army, Document No. 561, Cavalry Drill Regulations (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1916), 401–33. As recently as 1940, the U.S. War Department was still issuing instruction for mounted trumpeters, including drill signals, which corresponded with verbal commands, and were to be blown only upon direct orders from the commanding officer, Technical Manual 20–250 Field Music (Washington, D.C.: War Department, 1940), 4, 8.

0 The Cavalry Drill Regulations of 1896 refer to trumpets; the Cavalry Drill Regulations of 1916 refer to bugle signals in the text, but in “100. Quickstep No. 8” under “Bugle Calls” in Appendix A, a part is written for “F Trumpet.” The Field Music Technical Manual of 1940 refers only to trumpets—albeit pitched in the bugle key of G: “The field trumpet is a military signal horn pitched in G and equipped with a tuning slide which may be used to adjust discrepancies of pitch between several instruments or drawn to the F mark for use with a band.” Adjutant General’s Office, United States Army, Cavalry Drill Regulations, Document No. 14 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1896), 393, and War Department: Office of the Chief of Staff, United States Army, Document No. 561, Cavalry Drill Regulations (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1916), 393, 431; and Technical Manual 20–250, Field Music, 1

Robert Utley, ed., Life in Custer’s Cavalry: Diaries and Letters of Albert and Jennie Barnitz, 1867–1868 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), 39. Departing from Fort Riley, the “Hancock Expedition to the Plains” was the brainchild of Commander of the Department of the Missouri, General Winfield

S. Hancock, as an expedition force of approximately 2,000 men intended to “overawe” or defeat any hostile Indians. The main outcome of the expedition appears to have been to provoke full-scale war during the summer of 1867.

2 Gervase Markham, “The Souldier’s Accidence,” in he Souldiers Exercise: in Three Bookes (London: printed by John Norion, for John Bellamy, Hugh Perry, and Henry Overion, 1639), facsimile published as part of The English Experience, No. 677 (Amsterdam: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum / Norwood, NJ: Walter J. Johnson, 1974), 44–45. Field trumpeters were still serving as messengers on the battlefield during the Indian Wars. Giovanni Martini, trumpeter with Company H of the 7th Cavalry, delivered the last message of the Battle of the Little Big Horn from Custer to Captain Frederick Benteen. He lived to tell about it and died in Brooklyn, New York, in 1922. See Kenneth Hammer, Biographies of the 7th Cavalry (Fort Collins, CO: The Old Army Press, 1972), 158.

3 George A. Custer, My Life on the Plains, ed. Milo Milton Quaife (New York: The Citadel Press, 1962), 368.

4 John P. Schorr, “Reminiscences of White Bird Canyon,” Winners of the West (15 March 1926), cited in Jerome A. Greene, Indian War Veterans: Memories of Army Life and Campaigns in the West,

1864–1898 (New York: Savas Beatie, 2006), 266.

5 “An Act to Authorize the Employment of Volunteers to aid in Enforcing Laws and Protecting Public Property,” Section 2, 22 July 1861, cited in “U.S. Army Bands in History, the Civil War,”

U.S. Army Bands (website).

6 Anthony Baines, Brass Instruments, Their History and Development (New York: Dover Publications,

1993), 248.

7 Robert Garofalo and Mark Elrod, A Pictorial History of Civil War Era Musical Instruments and Military Bands (Charleston, WV: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 1985), 56.

8 Allen Dodworth, Brass Band School (New York: H. B. Dodworth, 1853); and G.W.E. Friederich,

The Brass Band Journal (New York: Firth, Pond, and Co., 1853).

9 It is difficult to ascertain the number of mounted bands during the Civil War in both the Union and Confederate armies. When traveling through Jefferson, Maryland, with the First New Hampshire Cavalry mounted band as a cymbal player, George Sargent indicated in an entry in his diary for 6 August 1864 that they existed, but were perhaps rare: “Jefferson is quite a pretty place, passing through it just as the people were coming out of church. I guess that there have not been many troops through here before, because they seemed to be very much surprised and pleased to see a band on horseback, and all white horses, too.” See George Sargent, Diary of a Bugler with Company C of the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry and Musician in the Regimental Band from His Enlistment in November 1861 to the Final Confederate Surrender in April 1865, accessed from the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California; and Gleason, “U.S. Mounted Bands and Cavalry Field Musicians,” 102–19.

20 Garofalo and Elrod, A Pictorial History of Civil War Era Musical Instruments and Military Bands


2 Gleason, “U.S. Mounted Bands and Cavalry Field Musicians,” 111–12.

22 Although dragoons (mounted infantrymen armed with carbines) rode on horseback, they typically

fought on foot, and were not regarded as full-fledged cavalry units. Because of the stature of kettledrums as dictated by the trumpeters and kettledrummers’ guild, the dragoons’ lesser stature prohibited them from using kettledrums, unless they captured them in battle. See Gleason, “Cavalry and Court Trumpeters and Kettledrummers,” 31–54.

23 Forrestine C. Hooker, Child of the Fighting Tenth, On the Frontier with The Buffalo Soldiers, ed. Steve Wilson (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 12.

24 William H. Leckie, The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West (Norman: University of Okalahoma Press, 1967), 17.

25 Ibid., 50.

26 Hooker, Child of the Fighting Tenth, 129.

27 William G. Wilkinson “The Border-to-Border March of the Eighth Cavalry, 1888,” in Winners of

the West (October 1938), cited in Greene, Indian War Veterans, 68.

28 Organized at Ft. Riley, Kansas, the 7th Cavalry was one of four new mounted regiments—along with the 8th, 9th, and 10th Cavalries—authorized by the Army Act of 28 July 1866. See Utley, Life in Custer’s Cavalry, 10; and James A. Sawicki, Cavalry Regiments of the U.S. Army (Dumfries, VA: Wyvern Publications, 1985), 164, 166, 169, 171. Custer was mustered out of the Army early in 1866 after the end of the Civil War, as a “Brevet” Major General, the youngest ever at age 23. During the war, many soldiers were breveted, or given ranks, in order to fill the positions of fallen officers. At the end of the War, the need was no longer there, so many of them were demoted to lesser ranks, and although they were now paid the wages of rank they now held, they were given the respect and the title of their previously held higher rank. Although Custer was appointed to the vacant field commander position of the 7th Cavalry as Lieutenant Colonel, he was always referred to as “General Custer.”

The 7th consisted of twelve troops of cavalry, not all stationed at Ft. Riley. In fact, only troops A, D, H, and M remained at Ft. Riley, with the other troops being stationed at Ft. Lyon and Ft. Morgan, Colorado; and Ft. Hays, Ft. Harker, Ft. Wallace, and Ft. Dodge, Kansas.

29This suggests fifteen musicians in addition to the Chief Musician. Other documentation as indicated

throughout this study however, suggests seventeen musicians total.

Myles Keogh Circa 1862

30 Railsback and Langellier, he Drums Would Roll, 17, citing Alfred Gibbs to Myles Keogh, 28 April 1867, Letters Sent, Headquarters, Smoky Hill District, Smoky Hill Subdistrict Papers, Record of US Army Commands Record Group 393, National Archives and Records Administration; and John M. Carroll, “The Seventh Cavalry’s Band,” Little Big Horn Associates’ Research Review 9 (Spring 1975): 16–18.

3 National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial,

Museum Gazette (February 1996): 1.

32 S.L.A. Marshall, Brigadier General, U.S. Army (retired), Crimsoned Prairie: the Wars Between the United States and the Plains Indians during the Winning of the West (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1972), 107.

33 Ibid

34 Francis A. Lord and Arthur Wise, Bands and Drummer Boys of the Civil War (New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1966), 184–204.

35 Bruce Catton, A Stillness at Appomattox (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1954), 347.

36 Don Harvey, “The Michigan Cavalry Brigade,” Michigan in the Civil War, com/dlharvey/michbrig.htm [accessed 15 February 2003]; and Kenneth Olson, Music and Musket: Bands and Bandsmen of the American Civil War (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981), 207.

37 Custer, My Life on the Plains, 334–35.

38Calvin Pomeroy Godfrey, “General Edward S. Godfrey,” Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly

43, no.1 (1934): 83, cited in Louise Barnett, Touched by Fire, The Life, Death and Mythic Afterlife of George Armstrong Custer (New York: Henry Holt, 1996), 153, 448. For centuries, field musicians with their natural trumpets had not had to worry about instruments freezing, but not so for band musicians of the nineteenth century since the advent of the valve, ca. 1815. Various approaches to counter temperatures have been used over the years, including coating the pistons with grain or ethyl alcohol.

39 Fred Dustin, The Custer Tragedy: Events Leading up to and Following the Little Big Horn Campaign

of 1876 (Ann Arbor, MI: Edwards Brothers, 1939), 26, n. 5.

40 Interview between Gay and Gullion, former musician in the U.S. Fourth Cavalry, Rapid City, South Dakota, March 1982, cited in James R. Gay, “The Wind Music of Felix Vinatieri, Dakota Territory Bandmaster” (D.A. diss., University of Northern Colorado, 1982), 39.

4 Bruce P. Gleason, “A History of the Royal Artillery Mounted Band, 1878–1939” (M.A. thesis, University of Minnesota, 1988), 18, 49, 59, 67; Henry George Farmer, Memoirs of the Royal Artillery Band (London: Boosey & Co., 1904), 38, 73, 116, 122, 160; The Royal Artillery Band, http://www., [accessed 9 March 2009].

42 Master Gunnery Sergeant D. Michael Ressler, Chief Historian, U.S. Marine Band, e-mail to the present author, 3 April 2009.

43 National Music Museum website, Vinatieri Archives, [accessed 9 March 2009]; Margaret Downie Banks, Curator of Music Instruments, National Music Museum, e-mail to the present author, 9 March 2009.

44 Friedrich von Flotow, “Potpourri from the Opera Martha” (premiered in Vienna in 1847) SDV191.

45 CW4 Aaron Graff, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division Band, Fort Hood, Oklahoma, indicates

that no printed music of this period resides in their library. E-mail to the present author, 12 March 2009.

46 Bruce P. Gleason, “Horse-Mounted Military Musicians: An Overview,” Journal of Band Research

39, no. 1 (2003): 16–18.

47 George Sargent, Diary of a Bugler

48 Phillip Schreiber, “Twelve Years in the Eighteenth Infantry,” Winners of the West (30 August 1937),

cited in Greene, Indian War Veterans, 42.

49 William H. Irwin (1919–2003), North Chicago, telephone interview with the present author, 30 July 2001. Although buglers/trumpeters have traditionally been separate from a unit’s military band, European and U.S. tradition requires that they often perform with the band in ceremonies and parades, which is still the case in many European units.

50 Hammer, Biographies of the 7th Cavalry, 12, 49, 62, 78, 94, 110, 124, 141, 158, 174, 190, 208,


5 Kenneth E. Olson, Music and Musket, 84–87.

52 Hammer, Biographies of the 7th Cavalry, 12–16, lists “musician” for previous occupation for ten of

the sixteen musicians of the 7th Cavalry band of 1876.

53 John C. Linehan, in David Arthur Brown, History of Penacook, New Hampshire (Concord, NH: The Rumford Press, 1902), 248–49.

54 Gleason, “Horse-Mounted Military Musicians,” 28; and Dr. Hubert Henderson, Louisville, Kentucky, e-mail to the present author, 21 March 2004. Henderson played trumpet and cornet with the 3rd Cavalry Band at Ft. Myer, Virginia (1941–42). He later served as the Director of Bands at the University of Maryland for ten years, and then went to the University of Kentucky in 1965 as the chair of the music department, retiring in 1989.

55 See above, note 28.

56 James Calhoun, With Custer in ’74: James Calhoun’s Diary of the Black Hills Expedition, ed. Lawrence

A. Frost (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1979), 16.

57 Calhoun, With Custer in ’74, 21. Also mentioned by Calhoun is the H Company Glee Club serenading a champagne supper hosted by Major Joseph Tilford, the ranking officer in camp, under a large tarpaulin stretched under the pine trees, when Custer led a detachment toward Harney’s Peak, ibid., 59.

58 George Bird Grinnell, Two Great Scouts and Their Pawnee Battalion: The Experiences of Frank J. North and Luther H. North (Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1928; reprinted Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1973), 240.

59 Luther North, Man of the Plains: Recollections of Luther North, 1856 –1882, ed. Donald F. Danker,

with a foreword by George Bird Grinnell (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1961), 184.

60 Herbert Krause and Gary D. Olson, Prelude to Glory: A Newspaper Accounting of Custer’s 1874 Expedition to the Black Hills (Sioux Falls, SD: Brevet Press, 1974), 210.

6 Ibid., 226.

62 William G. Wilkinson “The Border-to-Border March of the Eighth Cavalry, 1888,” Winners of the

West (October 1938), cited in Greene, Indian War Veterans, 68.

63The U.S. Board of Geographic Names decrees the spellings, “Bighorn” and “Little Bighorn Rivers.”

However, “Little Big Horn” is the historic spelling, and is the spelling used during Custer’s time, as well as in most of the present cited sources, and is therefore what I use throughout this paper—except when I refer to the current Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Crow Agency, Montana, below, note 69.

64 Windolph, I Fought with Custer, 66.

65 Robert Utley, Georgetown, Texas, e-mail to the present author, 25 March 2004.

66 Hammer, Biographies of the 7th Cavalry, 12, 49, 62, 78, 94, 110, 124, 141, 158, 174, 190, 208,


67 Gay, “The Wind Music of Felix Vinatieri,” 28.

68 Ibid., 29. Vinatieri composed numerous concert, march, and dance pieces, several of which have been recorded by Steve Charpié and the New Custer Brass Band Custer’s Last Band, The Original Music of Felix Vinatieri, Custer’s Legendary Bandmaster (America’s Shrine to Music Museum, the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD, 2001). Among Vinatieri’s descendents is great-great grandson Adam Vinatieri, who at the time of this writing is the place kicker for the Indianapolis Colts (formerly of the New England Patriots). See Erik Brady, “Vinatieri Getting a Kick Out of it All,” and “Link to ‘Last Stand,’” USA Today (7 November 2002); and Paul Vinatieri, Rapid City, South Dakota, telephone interview with the present author, 10 November 2002.

69 Hammer, Biographies of the 7th Cavalry, 12–16; and John A. Doerner, Chief Historian, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Crow Agency, Montana, telephone interview with the present author, 25 March 2004.

70 See Bruce P. Gleason, “A Chronicle of the Pre-World War II Cavalry Bands of the U.S. National Guard with Recollections of Those Who Rode,” Journal of the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, 13 (2006): 17–30.

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