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44167: Colonel Elmer I. Otis: The Wood Trunk of the Man

Lot 44167 View Catalog


Colonel Elmer I. Otis: The Wood Trunk of the Man Who Replaced Custer as Commander of the 7th Cavalry after Little Bighorn and Who Served as one of the Seven Officers Who Rendered the Verdict on Major Marcus Reno at his Court Martial.  This large trunk with original bluish-gray paint was used by Otis between 1883 and 1889, when he commanded the 8th Cavalry in the Western Theater. The worn stenciling in the front is still legible: "Col. Elmer Otis 8th CAV". When a number of George Armstrong Custer's personal effects were sold at Butterfield's in the mid-1990s, that offering included a Custer wooden trunk very similar to this one.

This is a standard U.S. Army Indian Wars period footlocker which would have been invaluable to an officer such as Otis, who was always on the move. It measures 37" x 18.5" x 20.5". Overall condition is relatively good, considering that it was being used to store feed on the front porch of a Kansas farm house. There is minor, really inconsequential damage and some slight separation of the wood, and the hinges for the lid are loose, but present. One original leather handle is still attached on one end and is in surprisingly good condition.

Elmer Otis was a most interesting character in post-Little Bighorn history. He is recognized as the officer who rebuilt the 7th Cavalry after its catastrophic defeat over the public objections of Major Reno, with whom he apparently had a long-standing feud. Imagine Reno's consternation when Otis was named to be one of his judges when he was brought up on charges stemming from the battle. Later, Otis would be one of the two judges who refused to sign an appeal to President Benjamin Harrison requesting clemency for Reno.

His army trunk, with its charming weathered patina, is a most appealing artifact from this ever-fascinating chapter in the history of the West. An inch-thick dossier of research on Otis's military career accompanies this lot.

Buyer's Premium

19.5% up to 50,000
19.5% up to 1,000,000
19.5% above 1,000,001

Estimate $1,500 – $1,800
Starting Bid $1,500

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10:00 AM - Jun 10, 2012
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