Past and Present on the Northern Plains of North Dakota
Private Aaron meets us outside the commissary at Fort Abraham Lincoln. He tells how he is one of 450 soldiers of the Seventh Cavalry sent here by congress to safeguard the North Pacific Railway. It’s suffered attacks from Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors fighting to retain not only their land, but also buffalo - their main source of food and clothing.
The first commander is Lieutenant Colonel George Custer and we’re told the year is 1875, nine months before his death at Little Bighorn. He lives here with his dedicated wife Elizabeth (Libbie) and a household of servants in an elegant, two-storey Victorian home that lies on the green acres ahead.
The fort is a ten minute drive from the nearby town of Mandan and linked by the Missouri River to Bismarck, North Dakota’s state capital. In the northern plains North Dakota is one of the least populated states in America, renowned for its friendly folk harvesting under a mammoth, blue summer sky and its harsh, hibernating minus 30 degree winters.
Aaron addresses us like we are expected guests of the Custers staying for the customary four-month period. We’ll spend our days hunting and reading, entertained by music, card games, snooker and theatre. Aaron never gives up the theatrics on our living history walking tour, as he shows us around the homestead built in fine timber of butternut, maple and walnut.