Book signing and author chat.
Of the three physicians at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Doctor George Edwin Lord (1846–76) was the lone commissioned medical officer, an assistant surgeon with the United States Army’s 7th Cavalry—one more soldier caught up in the U.S. government’s efforts to fulfill what many people believed was the young country’s “Manifest Destiny.” A Life Cut Short at the Little Big Horn tells Lord’s story for the first time. Notable for its unique angle on Custer’s last stand and for its depiction of frontier-era medicine, the book is above all a compelling portrait of the making of an army medical professional in mid-nineteenth-century America.
Drawing on newly discovered documents, Todd E. Harburn describes Lord’s education and training at Bowdoin College in Maine and the Chicago Medical College, detailing what the study of medicine entailed at the time for “a young man of promise . . . held in universal esteem.” Lord’s time as a contract physician with the army took him in 1874 to the U.S. Northern Boundary Survey. From there Harburn recounts how, after a failed romance and the rigors of the U.S. Army Medical Board examination, the young doctor proceeded to his first—and only—appointment as a post surgeon, at Fort Buford in Dakota Territory. What followed, of course, was Lord’s service, and his death, in the Little Big Horn campaign, which this book shows us for the first time from the unique perspective of the surgeon.
A portrait of a singular figure in the milieu of the American military’s nineteenth-century medical elite, A Life Cut Short at the Little Big Horn offers a close look at a familiar chapter in U.S. history, and a reminder of the humanity lost in a battle that resonates to this day.