WHAT: The "Springfield Trumpeteer," a 45-55 caliber trapdoor carbine forensically confirmed to be one of 10 cartridges left on the Custer battlefield at The Battle of the Little Bighorn, recently sold for $98,400 (including buyer premium) in an Extraordinary Firearms sale at Morphy's Auctions in Pennsylvania.
The 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn, where many U.S. Army soldiers, along with Custer, were killed by Native Americans, is the subject of lore along with skepticism on what really happened there.
MORE: The cartridge known as specimen 707 was carried by John Martin, a fact proved by the Custer Battlefield Firearms Identification Project. The name "J. MArTiN" is carved on the forestock, and an "H" is carved into the buttstock. Martin was a member of Company H and was a bugler, hence the Trumpeteer tag. The carbine was found just below the area where the 7th Cavalry Memorial now stands on the last hill.
SMART COLLECTORS KNOW: Any relic remaining from a famed (or in this case, infamous) site or event is catnip to collectors.
HOT TIP: Martin left the battlefield, before the battle, after he was instructed by Custer, who had decided to engage before general orders told him to do so, to ride back to summon Commander Frederick Benteen and ask him to hurry. Probably giving his rifle to a fellow company member, Martin carried a revolver that was easier to shoot while riding, in case he met with natives. He was pursued during his ride, but outrode his attackers.
BOTTOM LINE: In the same sale, a Hotchkiss revolving cannon used in the Spanish-American War brought $132,000, and a rare pair of circa 1924 Westley Richards miniature "Hummingbird" guns set into a custom fitted case and decorated with lavish engravings of the birds, sold for $135,300.