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Cover Story
Benteen: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
By Robert Barr Smith
Captain Frederick Benteen, third in command at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, faced a dilemma: assist battered Major Marcus Reno or seek out Lt. Col. George Custer.

Working on the Railroad the Chinese Way
By Robert L. Foster
Initially hired out of desperation by the Central Pacific Railroad, reliable Chinese laborers became essential toward completion of the first transcontinental railroad.

Crush’s Locomotive Crash Was a Monster Smash
By J.R. Sanders
Railroad agent William George Crush conceived a unique publicity stunt befitting his name: take two trains, face them off in front of a crowd and stage a head-on collision.

Double Killing in Fort Worth
By Richard F. Selcer
In 1861 a sheriff, a knife-wielding lawyer and the lawyer’s nephew met in a bloody confrontation that embodied a tale of two families and of two Texas cities—Dallas and Fort Worth.

The Belknap Scandal: Fulcrum to Disaster
By John Koster
Thanks in part to testimony from George Armstrong Custer, federal officials stopped William Belknap’s trading post corruption, but Custer was unable to stop all those Plains Indians armed with store-bought repeating rifles.

Editor’s Letter


The tarring of a historic Texas fort, the closing of Arizona’s Yuma Prison and other West-related news and events, plus the Top Ten outlaws with Missouri connections.

Although dressed like a cowboy, this cub hailed from the Blackfeet Indian Reservation near Glacier.

By Johnny D. Boggs
Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett are forever joined at the historic holstered hip. Now author Mark Lee Gardner gives the deadly duo a “dual biography.”.

Gunfighters and Lawmen
By Larry Wood
Colorado lawman William Rabedew knew his job would be a challenge when he came to Granby, Mo., in 1892 to arrest killer George Hudson.

Pioneers and Settlers
By John Koster
Missouri River Captain Grant Marsh never missed the boat on any of his assignments, including his toughest one—carrying Little Bighorn survivors to safety on the steamer Far West.

Indian Life
By John Koster
Rain-in-the-Face might have taken a bite out of Tom Custer’s heart, but there was another doomed soldier at the Little Bighorn whose life the Lakota warrior might have spared.


Western Enterprise
By Tom Straka and Bob Wynn
Charcoal operations were big business, fueling Western smelters from the 1860s to the 1880s, before coal became the fuel of choice.

Guns of the West
By Lee A. Silva
The Model 1878 Colt was a double-action revolver like the Colt Lightning, but it was able to handle larger, more powerful cartridges.

Ghost Towns
By Bob Wynn and Tom Straka
Today nearly two-dozen charcoal kilns remain around Tybo, a mining town that in 1876 was the site of Nevada’s “Chinese War.”

By Linda Wommack
Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum celebrates the rodeo and cowboys year-round.

Art of the West
By Johnny D. Boggs
Tom Browning is among the recent award winners at Oklahoma City’s annual Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition and Sale.

Must-read books and must-see movies (well, if you really must) that don’t neglect Benteen and Reno—the third and second fiddles at the Little Bighorn. Plus recent books and a Wyatt Earp DVD.

Go West!
Where Custer fell—and the myths began.


On the cover: Captain William Benteen has been labeled both hero and villain for his performance at the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn. But at least he, like Major Marcus Reno, lived to tell about it. Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer was not so lucky. (Custer photo courtesy of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument; photo of Benteen from G.A. Custer: His Life and Times, by Glenwood J. Swanson; colorization by Slingshot Studio, Atlanta, Ga.)



Discussion: How do you grade the Battle of the Little Bighorn performances of Lt. Col. George Custer, Major Marcus Reno and Captain Frederick Benteen on the following grading scale: A-plus (superhero), A (hero), B (almost a hero), C (half hero, half villain), D (mostly a villain), F (failure/supervillain/Lex Luthor of the 7th Cavalry)?

Frederick W. Benteen: In an insightful article about that No. 3 man at the Little Bighorn, Steven M. Leonard writes, “On the frontier with Custer, Benteen exhibited the same daring and audacity, but his personal life became one of recurring tragedy.”?

Interview with George Custer Expert James Donovan: The author of A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn—The Last Great Battle of the American West (2008) discusses the man of the Last Stand.


Also be sure to visit, where you can read and write about history, even if you don’t know a “blog” from Custer’s buckskins