447. DANIEL KANIPE, CO. C ,7TH CAVALRY, LITTLE BIGHORN SURVIVOR ARCHIVE
An important archive of papers, letters, newspaper clippings and ephemera relating to this well known member of C Company, 7th Cavalry.
On June 25, 1876 Kanipe was a Sergeant in Co. C, led by Captain Thomas Custer. A North Carolinian by birth, he enlisted in the 7th on August 17, 1872 and was sent West. At the time of his enlistment his occupation was noted as "farmer." He was a participant in Stanley's Yellowstone Expedition of 1873, and in Custer's Black Hill's Expedition in 1874. He survived the massacre of most of the members of Company C by joining Reno's command on the hilltop. He left the 7th in August, 1877, just a little over a year after the massacre. He later served as a Captain in the 19th North Carolina Militia in World War I. He died at Marion, North Carolina in 1926. Kanipe will forever be remembered as one of the last surviving members of the 7th Cavalry to see Custer alive. During the drive toward the combined villages of Cheyenne and Sioux, Kanipe was instructed by Captain Tom Custer to carry a message to McDougall to "Tell him to bring the pack train straight across the country. If any packs come loose, cut them and come on quick – a big Indian camp. If you see Captain Benteen, tell him to come quick – a big Indian camp.” After delivering the message, Kanipe was cut off from Custer’s immediate command, and survived by joining Reno’s men on the “hilltop.” This remarkable archive was recently discovered in a storage locker in Roswell, New Mexico. This is the second archive of Kanipe family material to surface in the last few years. Brunk Auctions in Asheville, North Carolina offered another grouping of Kanipe family material from collateral descendants in that state on September 24, 2005.
Among the items contained in the present archive are the following:
Daniel Kanipe (1853-1926) vellum, partially printed discharge paper, issued at Fort Totten, Dakota Territory, August 7th, 1887, signed by Lieut. Col. L. C. Hunt of the 20th U.S. Infantry, with Kanipe’s character listed as “Excellent” by his immediate commander Capt. Henry Jackson, of Co. C, 7th Cavalry. Jackson served as Thomas Custer’s replacement after the massacre. The discharge is docketed and signed by Jackson in bold, red inked block letters on the verso: First Sergt. Daniel Kanipe was engaged in the battle on Little Big Horn River, M.T. June 25 and 26th, 1876, and in fainter black ink, apparently written entirely in Jackson's hand 1st Sergt Kanipe was engaged in the Yellowstone Expedition of 1873 and in Black Hills Expedition 1874.
Also included are two typescript accounts by Kanipe detailing of the events of the battle of the Little Bighorn . Story of Custer’s Raid told by D.A. Kanipe to Judge Shaw at Marion, N.C. on the 21st September, 1921, with inked notation “taken in short hand and transcribed by Lizzie McNairy”, 5 ½ legal sized pages in length, the first page double spaced, the remaining pp all single spaced. The second typed account is 4 1/3 single pages on letter-sized sheets and ink signed If you wish any further information, just write me and I will send it to you. Daniel Kanipe.
Peter Thompson (1854-1928), Private Co. C, 7th Cavalry, Awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at the Little Big Horn. : ALs, 4pp, Alzada, MT, December 25,1908; and ALs, 2pp, October 31, 1921, Alzada, MT.
Thompson and fellow trooper James Watson fell behind Custer’s charging five companies at the Little Bighorn. Eventually joining Reno’s troops, he was a combatant in the hilltop fight. Thompson was among along with several other troopers who left the hilltop lines to bring water for the wounded. Thompson was wounded in the head and hand during these repeated trips, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor of October 5, 1878. Upon leaving the service, he managed a ranch in Alzada, Montana. He died at the Soldier’s Home in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Included here are two handwritten letters. In the first of these letters Thompson writes his old friend and C. Company member Daniel Kanipe and recounts a recent visit to the Custer Battlefield. i found you had visited that place in September 1908 i wish i had known of the fact of your visit i certainly would have been there…i that i would visit for the first time since June 25 and 26: 1876 that field witch some of our bravest officers and men lost there lives…we still feel sad as we think of those 2 dark days..
The second letter, written nearly two decades later, is addressed to W. O. Taylor (Private Co. A, 7th Cavalry). Apparently written in response to questions Taylor posed while researching his memories of the battle of the LBH, Thompson provides details of his experience that day. ....in the first place i was not with the pack train on the 25 or any other time. me watson brennen and fitzgereld was the last set of 4 of C troop..Brennen and Fitzgerald sneeked of to the rear me and Watson keep on untill our horses played out…we was driven slowly back until we came upon the advancing colum of Reno an Benteens commands Sargent Knipe found my horse where i had left it…Bennett was shot thrue the body and died on board the far west on July 5 King was shot thrue the bowls and was buried at Fort Buford on July 4.. Thompson closes with a P.S. on June 25 this year i was at the custerbattle field on the 45 year since the battle took place there was about 4000 cars and 15000 people.
Charles A Varnum (1849-1936), 2nd Lieutenant and Commander of Scouts, 7th Cavalry, awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at Wounded Knee. ALs, 2pp, n.d. San Francisco.
Varnum had a long, and distinguished career in the military. He was a participant in the Yellowstone and Black Hills expedition, as head of the scouts, he was responsible for assigning duties to the civilian and Arikara and Crow contingent with Custer. It was Varnum and his scouts who discovered the enormous village of Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapahoe that the 7th attacked on June 25. He was with Reno in the valley and survived the battle of the Little Bighorn, and fought in the Nez Perce campaign of 1877. Late in the century he purchased horses for the Rough Riders, and served with the 7th Cavalry in Cuba. He was the last surviving officer of the Little Bighorn fight when he died in San Francisco at the age of 86.
In this letter, written from San Francisco after his retirement, Varnum communicates with Custer scholar Edward Brininstool regarding his experiences. "I cannot add anything that I can see to the story for what occurred under my observation is all well known I went in with Reno and came out with him & fought it out on the hill as we all did & that is all I know, or can tell."
William Brandle, Private Co. C, 7th Cavalry . A native of Germany, Brandle (or Brandal) survived battle of the Little Bighorn. ALs, March 22, 1928, Santa Rosa, Ca.
Brandle writes to Kanipe's son, in Asheville, after learning of the death of his old army mate. After sending his regrets, he reminisces about a camping trip near Deadwood, D.T., and notes: Your father was the last man, that seen Custer alive, wen he delivert the last disbatch from Custer Major Reno. He asks for a photograph of Kanipe, promising only to copy and return the original. Reflecting on their years in the service "your father inlisted in 1872 and i inlisted in 1873 you know there were only 13 left after the Custer Massagre in C Troop so i will give up hunting for them i think the are al gon....". In closing he sends greetings to the younger Kanipe’s mother, reminding her that he was the best man at her wedding. A fine, sentimental letter from a survivor.
Thomas McDougall (1845-1909), Captain, Co. B, 7th Cavalry. Survived the hilltop fight and remained in the 7th until his retirement in 1890.
The Kanipe collection contains two gelatin silver photographs of letters written by McDougall in 1897 and 1909, attesting to Kanipe character and reiterating that Kanipe was the bearer of a Custer’s last order to “bring up the pack train” and that he was one of the last white men to see Custer alive. Brunk Auctions sold the original letter (Lot 338) on September 24, 2005. This same letter is mentioned in Kanipe’s correspondence with E. A. Brininstool; Brininstool requested a copy of the letter, and Kanipe complied (see below)
Manuscript List of Casualties of the battle of the Little Big Horn. Manuscript in ink on 8 x 5.5 in. ruled sheet written on both sides, Enlisted Men of C Troop Killed that the Little Big Horn Total 39., and verso C Troop Men Wounded at the Little Big Horn, n.d. Written in an unknown hand, though likely Kanipe’s.
Walter A. Camp (1867-1925) A railroad man and editor of a major railway publication, Camp spent much of his adult life researching the Indian Wars and was especially committed to understanding the events of June 25-26, 1876. During the first two decades of the 20th century he conducted interviews with dozens of officers, enlisted men and Indian participants in the battle of the Little Big Horn. His correspondence and notes are voluminous, and are today held in no less than three separate public institutions.
The Kanipe collection contains 21 ALsS and TLsS totaling 42 manuscript and typed pages (most typed) from Camp to Kanipe detailing his research, asking questions, informing Kanipe of new contacts, and providing details of the Battle. Beginning in 1908 and ending in 1924, Camp kept in regular contact with Kanipe, and found that I have seen and talked with eight commissioned officers and 32 enlisted men who were in the battle of the Little Big Horn and your memory excels them all. There are not six in the whole lot who remember half as many of the details of the fight and expedition as you do, and there an none who remember as much as you do. (April 24, 1910). Kanipe and Camp visited the battlefield and crossed over the ground with Curley, and this trip is mentioned several times in the correspondence.
The correspondence reveals Camp’s frustration at not being able to publish his magnum opus on the battle, and his worry that competitors would beat him to the punch. One of the letters mentions the research of Edgar Brininstool who would eventually publish the classic Troopers With Custer in 1925. The final letter in the group is from Emiline, Camp’s widow who wrote Kanipe’s lawyer informing him that the matters (?) are part of the estate which had not been settled. At Camp’s death, his papers were acquired by E. O. Ellison of Manitou Springs, Colorado. The Kanipe letters include three ALsS written to Kanipe’s widow, by W. C. Brown, apparently acting in Ellison’s behalf. Written in July and August of 1934, these letters request help in identifying photographs.
(Earl Alonzo Brininstool 1850-1945) Custer historian and Western writer. His 1925 Troopers with Custer appeared before Camp’s untimely death, and to this day is an essential account of the battle and events surrounding the Little Big Horn. Like Camp, Brininstool also interviewed scores of aging participants and the battle. His papers are curated at the University of Texas, Austin.
The Kanipe collection contains 13 TLsS (12 1/2pp single spaced) covering a two year period between 1924-1926. In 1924, when Brininstool learned that Kanipe was still living, he began a persistent campaign to interview him and record his story. For his part, Kanipe was clearly loyal to Camp, and only after Camp’s death does the correspondence suggest that Kanipe was ready to play ball with Brininstool. Several of the letters offer substantial sums if Kanipe would simply write an account of the battle.
A rich and important archive related to one of the storied message carriers at the Little Big Horn. Made desirable by his original discharge paper, as well personal letters from other survivors, and an extensive correspondence from the two most important pioneer researchers on the battle.
Price Realized: $10,575.00
Price includes buyer's premium.