April 8, 2004
Got up at five, went into the office early and attacked Custer copy. Got in the copy about him being done in by beavers. That was easy, but then it took the whole day (finished at six pm) to knock out the big, cover story sidebar: Did Custer Commit Suicide? Here’s part of that copy:
Regarding his bullet wounds, Custer had been struck with a bullet near his left temple and he had another in his ribs, below the heart. Tellingly, the rib wound and thigh slash were bloodless, while the temple wound was bloody. This would indicate that the head shot happened first because his heart was still pumping blood, but that by the time someone shot him near the heart, he was already dead (so scratch all the paintings of Custer standing and holding his side). If Custer was dead and prone when he received his rib wound, it would only stand to reason that the person who shot him would have to stand over him and shoot down at him. If so, then this wound would most likely have had a powder burn.
John Wagner, a Vietnam Vet, retired police lieutenant and longtime Custer buff says emphatically, “The odds of being shot in the temple in a battle are astronomical. It has always seemed like a classic case of suicide to me.”
Most Custer historians are just as emphatic that it wouldn’t be in Custer’s nature to commit suicide. “My God, he was a fighter!” says Custer expert, and True West contributing editor, Dr. Paul Hutton. “He had been in worse situations and fought his way clear.”
Speaking of Hutton, here’s a photo of him taken at Festival of the West which I call “Two Girls for Every Custer Guy.” Photo is of Paul’s stunning wife Tracie (on left), Paul with that smug grin he’s famous for, and Andrew Prine’s stunning wife, Heather. I tell you, those history guys get the babes.
Went over art possibilities with RG, Meghan, Gus and Robert Ray. Very strong piece. Lots of help from Michael Donahue, Jim Hatzell, Thom Ross, Paul Hutton, Janice Rae, and even my e-mail friend from Finland, Kari Tielas.
We are also working on a new deal called the True West Maniacs Club. Would you join our club if you could get a lifetime subscription, a free t-shirt with the Maniac logo, a free book (Classic Gunfights), discounts at museums and TW merchants for up to 20% off, and an annual confab pow-wow with all the experts named above? And would you join the Maniac club if you could get all of that for $149? Click right here and tell us.
“Why do so many, fear so much, over so little?”
—Steve Sederwall, one of the dig up Billy principals
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