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Collection 2406 - Lilla Bogert letters, 1876-1877

Creator: Bogert, Lilla, 1848-1951

Provenance Note: The Lilla Bogert Letters were donated to Special Collections in January 2000 by the Museum of the Rockies.

Historical Note: Lilla Bogert was born on January 6, 1848 in Brooklyn, New York. Her family moved west to Bozeman in the mid-1870s and quickly became a leading family in the new town. Her brother, John V. Bogert, became the first mayor of Bozeman in 1883. Along with her two sisters Augusta and Kate, Lilla became a leading socialite in the community and nearby Fort Ellis. Her sister Kate married Lieutenant Charles Roe from Fort Ellis and Augusta married Arthur Place. Lilla never married. Lilla devoted much of her adult life to making Sunset Hills Cemetery the most beautiful one in the state. She held a charity bazaar with her sister Kate to raise money for the cemetery, started work to plant trees and flowers on the grounds, and served as a member of the cemetery board. An accomplished western artist, Lilla is known for her paintings of Montana topics. She even had a poem published in the compilation of poems The Badge of Honor for 1942, compilation of poems. The last years of her life Lilla was a patient at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital where she died on September 3, 1951 at the age of 103.

Second Lieutenant Charles Brewster Schofield wrote to Lilla in the months surrounding the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He was born on June 26, 1849 in Illinois and graduated from West Point in 1870. His first field assignment was field duty at Fort Ellis where he was a Second Lieutenant. He fought for the Indian campaigns from 1872 to 1876, including the Sioux Expedition of 1876. The following year he fought in the Nez Perce War. From 1878 to 1885, he was the Aide-de-camp to Major General John Schofield, his brother. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in 1879. In 1885, he returned to frontier duty at Fort Walla Walla in Washington. In 1895, he was once again promoted, becoming a Lieutenant Colonel. He served in the Spanish-American War in 1898 and the following year was shipped to Cuba. It was at Matanzas, Cuba where Schofield died on February 1, 1901 of heart disease at the age of 51.

Content Description Note: The Lilla Bogert Letters contain six letters written by Charles Schofield from the field from 1876-1877. The 1876 letters were written while Schofield was on special assignment with the Second Cavalry. Schofield was with the "Montana Column" under Colonel John Gibbon on the 1876 Sioux Campaign. The "Montana Column" was part of a pincer movement including General Crook from Fort Fetterman, and General Terry and Lt. Colonel George A. Custer from Fort Abraham Lincoln. The result was the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Schofield tells Lilla of the conditions in the camps and his thoughts of Custer and other leaders, the Sioux, and the battle itself.

Contents

Folder 1

Lilla Bogert, Letter from Charles B. Schofield. May 28, 1876, Camp on the Yellowstone near mouth of Rosebud.
Tells Lilla of hostile Sioux conditions and three men who have been killed so far. He also comments on Gibson's lack of ability as a leader. He expects to leave within a couple hours and was going to write his will and was going to leave everything to Lilla.

June 14, 1876, Camp on Yellowstone River near mouth of Rosebud.
Just days before the battle, Schofield tells Lilla of the meeting up with General Terry's steamboat of supplies and that Custer was on the other side of the river with the 7th Cavalry and four companies of infantry.

June 28, 1876, Camp on Little Horn.
The shortest of the letters, Schofield writes from the battlefield telling Lilla of Custer's death and the fate of his men. Comments on how Custer's entire regiment would have also died had they not arrived.

July 4, 1876, Camp on Yellowstone.
Now safe from the Sioux, Schofield is able to write a lengthy letter explaining the details of the battle. He tells of first learning about Custer's death and meeting up Colonel Reno's troops. He expresses his views of Custer and why he failed. They cared for the wounded and buried the dead before leaving for Fort Pease. Schofield had his 27th birthday during the battle.

July 18, 1876, Fort Pease, Montana.
Almost a month after the battle, Schofield writes to Lilla from Fort Pease and tells her of the drunken condition of Major Thompson. Waiting at the camp until reinforcements arrive. Is tired of fighting and wants to go home. Retells events witnessed by Colonel Smith who was at Fort Lincoln when the officer's wives heard the news of their husbands killed at the battle. Tells of conditions at the camp.

May 23, 1877, Camp on Rosebud.
Tells Lilla of the conditions of the camp and lack of decent food. Also writes of a scouting trip. Does not seem to be many Indians around after they "trashed" them.

Folder 2 Typed transcripts of letters

Folder 3 Newspaper clipping, 1948

Folder 4 Photograph of Charles Schofield

Contents | Special Collections

Updated: 4/21/09