Real Nebraska Stories: A Brave Soldier & Honest Gentleman

A Brave Soldier & Honest Gentleman: Lt. James E. H. Foster in the West, 1873-1881

By Thomas R. Buecker

A Brave Soldier & Honest Gentleman: Lt. James E. H. Foster in the West, 1873-1881 by Thomas R. Buecker is now available at Amazon Prime.


Read an excerpt here!

Lt. James E. H. Foster (1848-1883) lived a short but eventful life as a junior officer on the Northern Plains. His story—and his illustrated journal—provide a rich portrait of the frontier army at the time of the Great Sioux War. Stationed at Fort McPherson, Nebraska, Foster traveled with the Jenney Expedition of 1875, filling in the large blank area on the map of the Black Hills, and making some of the earliest surviving artistic renditions of the area. The Black Hills, of course, were not unknown to the Lakotas, who resented the invasion of gold miners and resisted the U.S. government’s attempts to buy the Hills. When war erupted in 1876, Foster rode with General Crook’s forces, fighting at the Battle of the Rosebud and enduring the infamous Starvation March. Relying on correspondence, army records, and other documents from the time, historian Thomas R. Buecker reconstructs Foster’s life, interweaving his narrative with Foster’s own words. Now published for the first time, all illustrations from the journal (plus several more published by Foster elsewhere) are reproduced here, along with the journal’s complete transcribed text. For his own part, Foster was a gifted writer and an astute and witty observer of military life. His story increases our knowledge of the American West and the important role played in it by the frontier army. To order visit your local bookseller, the NSHS Landmark Stores, or Introduction, color illustrations and maps, notes, bibliography, index; 210 pp.; $29.95, cloth, 8 ½” x 11”; ISBN 978-0-933307-34-6 Publication of this book was made possible by The Ronald K. and Judith M. Stolz Parks Publishing Fund established at History Nebraska.

Thomas R. Buecker (1948-2015) was a longtime employee of the Nebraska State Historical Society, serving as curator at Neligh Mill State Historic Site (1977-1985), the Fort Robinson Museum (1985-2011), and the Thomas P. Kennard House in Lincoln (2011-2015). He authored three books prior to this one: Fort Robinson and the American West, 1874-1899; Fort Robinson and the American Century, 1900-1948; and, A Brave Soldier & Honest Gentleman: Lt. James E. H. Foster in the West, 1873-1881, which received an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. He also wrote more than seventy published articles on the history of the West.

What Readers Think

“Lieutenant Foster’s story is chock full of fresh data on the Great Sioux War and the Battle of Rosebud Creek, as well as other period Army-Indian activities. Illuminated with Tom Buecker’s astute narration, commentary, and editorial finesse, it comprises a stellar work of profound historical value.” — Jerome A. Greene, author of American Carnage: Wounded Knee 1890 A Brave Soldier & Honest Gentleman is the story of the promising career, stellar accomplishments, and sad demise of Lieutenant James E. H. Foster, a cavalry officer whose life was cut short by debilitating field service in Nebraska and Wyoming in the 1870s. Historian Tom Buecker skillfully weaves together the scattered pieces of Foster’s life, whose unique journals and artwork enrich the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney, and whose legacy serves to remind us that these men in the junior ranks were the very heart and soul of the once heralded if now nearly forgotten Old Army in the American West.” — Paul L. Hedren, author of After Custer and other books exploring the era of the Frontier Regulars “Our greatest chroniclers of the nineteenth-century American West may have been the officers of the U.S. Army who saw, wrote, and drew their frontier experiences. With A Brave Soldier & Honest Gentleman we can now add Lieutenant James E. H. Foster to these ranks. Thomas R. Buecker, who has made the study of the frontier army his life’s work, has brought us a previously unknown story of a fascinating American.” —Eli Paul, co-author of Eyewitness at Wounded Knee

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