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Deliverance from the Little Big Horn: Doctor Henry Porter and Custer's Seventh Cavalryby Joan Nabseth Stevenson
Synopses & Reviews
Of the three surgeons who accompanied Custerandrsquo;s Seventh Cavalry on June 25, 1876, only the youngest, twenty-eight-year-old Henry Porter, survived that dayandrsquo;s ordeal, riding through a gauntlet of Indian attackers and up the steep bluffs to Major Marcus Renoandrsquo;s hilltop position. But the story of Dr. Porterandrsquo;s wartime exploits goes far beyond the battle itself. In this compelling narrative of military endurance and medical ingenuity, Joan Nabseth Stevenson opens a new window on the Battle of the Little Big Horn by re-creating the desperate struggle for survival during the fight and in its wake.
As Stevenson recounts in gripping detail, Porterandrsquo;s life-saving work on the battlefield began immediately, as he assumed the care of nearly sixty soldiers and two Indian scouts, attending to wounds and performing surgeries and amputations. He evacuated the critically wounded soldiers on mules and hand litters, embarking on a hazardous trek of fifteen miles that required two river crossings, the scaling of a steep cliff, and a treacherous descent into the safety of the steamboat Far West, waiting at the mouth of the Little Big Horn River. There began a harrowing 700-mile journey along the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers to the post hospital at Fort Abraham Lincoln near Bismarck, Dakota Territory.
With its new insights into the role and function of the army medical corps and the evolution of battlefield medicine, this unusual book will take its place both as a contribution to the history of the Great Sioux War and alongside such vivid historical novels as Son of the Morning Star and Little Big Man. It will also ensure that the selfless deeds of a lone andldquo;contractandrdquo; surgeonandmdash;unrecognized to this day by the U.S. governmentandmdash;will never be forgotten.
"Stevenson celebrates a long-forgotten feat of medical bravery in battle, one she regrets has gone unrecognized by the U.S. government. The only survivor of the three surgeons who traveled with Custer to Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876, was 28-year-old Henry Porter. A civilian contract surgeon, he assumed the medical care of Maj. Marcus Reno's 350-man battalion as they fought 2,000 Indian warriors. Porter attended the wounds of several dozen soldiers and performed amputations and other surgeries. But American medicine's dismissal of the germ theory of disease meant that 'hands that aimed to cure also continued to infect.' As flies swarmed the foul hospital area, the evacuation of Porter's patients on mules and hand litters began with a 15-mile trek to a steamboat for a 700-mile river journey to the post hospital near Bismarck in Dakota Territory. Concluding chapters cover Porter's marriage, his life as a civilian surgeon in Bismarck, and his participation in the 1879 investigation of Maj. Reno, accused of 'gross cowardice and neglect of duty.' Stevenson's medical perspective on Little Big Horn is revelatory, written with an eye for striking details. 9 b&w illus., 1 map. Agent: Don Lamm, Fletcher & Co." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In this compelling narrative of military endurance and medical ingenuity, Joan Nabseth Stevenson opens a new window on the Battle of the Little Big Horn by re-creating the desperate struggle for survival that followed in its wake. With its new insights into the role and function of the army medical corps and the evolution of battlefield medicine, this unusual book will take its place both as a contribution to the history of the Great Sioux War and alongside such vivid historical novels as Son of the Morning Star and Little Big Man.
About the Author
Joan Nabseth Stevenson an independent scholar, holds a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literature from Stanford University. The daughter of a vascular surgeon, she lives with her husband, a neonatologist, in Los Altos Hills, California.
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