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Give Me Eighty Men: Women and the Myth of the Fetterman Fight

Give Me Eighty Men: Women and the Myth of the Fetterman Fight

by Shannon D. Smith
Give Me Eighty Men: Women and the Myth of the Fetterman Fight

Give Me Eighty Men: Women and the Myth of the Fetterman Fight

by Shannon D. Smith

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“With eighty men I could ride through the entire Sioux nation.” The story of what has become popularly known as the Fetterman Fight, near Fort Phil Kearney in present-day Wyoming in 1866, is based entirely on this infamous declaration attributed to Capt. William J. Fetterman. Historical accounts cite this statement in support of the premise that bravado, vainglory, and contempt for the fort’s commander, Col. Henry B. Carrington, compelled Fetterman to disobey direct orders from Carrington and lead his men into a perfectly executed ambush by an alliance of Plains Indians. In the aftermath of the incident, Carrington’s superiors—including generals Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman—positioned Carrington as solely accountable for the “massacre” by suppressing exonerating evidence. In the face of this betrayal, Carrington’s first and second wives came to their husband’s defense by publishing books presenting his version of the deadly encounter. Although several of Fetterman’s soldiers and fellow officers disagreed with the women’s accounts, their chivalrous deference to women’s moral authority during this age of Victorian sensibilities enabled Carrington’s wives to present their story without challenge. Influenced by these early works, historians focused on Fetterman’s arrogance and ineptitude as the sole cause of the tragedy. In Give Me Eighty Men, Shannon D. Smith reexamines the works of the two Mrs. Carringtons in the context of contemporary evidence. No longer seen as an arrogant firebrand, Fetterman emerges as an outstanding officer who respected the Plains Indians' superiority in numbers, weaponry, and battle skills. Give Me Eighty Men both challenges standard interpretations of this American myth and shows the powerful influence of female writers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496208309
Publisher: UNP - Bison Books
Publication date: 12/08/2021
Series: Women in the West
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 262
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Shannon D. Smith is the executive director for the Wyoming Humanities Council and an author focusing on women in the West. She taught at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for seven years. 

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Prelude to Disaster

3. To the Frontier  

4. Officers and Gentlemen

5. Ladies of the Regiment 

6. Lessons Learned   

7. The Battle of the Hundred-in-the-Hands

8. Blazing a Paper Trail  

9. Women's Work 

10. Conclusion 


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