Dr. Henry R. Porter

The Surgeon Who Survived Little Bighorn


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About the Book

“Custer came to me and said: ‘Porter, there is a large camp of Indians ahead, and we are going to have a great killing.’” The words of army contract surgeon Henry R. Porter are chilling today in their matter-of-fact reference to the battle to come—a battle of which Porter would be one of the few white survivors. Drawing on his writings, this biography tells the story of Porter’s transformation from young easterner to ambitious frontier settler and medical practitioner in mid–19th century America. In its details of frontier life, of the infamous Battle of Little Bighorn, and of Porter’s later travels around the world (which ended with his death in Agra, India), the reader finds richness that brings history vividly to life. Appendices contain a list of items from the North Dakota Historical Society’s Henry R. Porter collection and a detailed Porter lineage.

About the Author(s)

Retired surgeon L.G. Walker, Jr., M.D., lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Walker is also a Professor of Clinical Surgery, Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has published widely on scientific topic and articles.

Bibliographic Details

L.G. Walker, Jr., M.D.

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 231
Bibliographic Info: 36 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3171-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8241-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface      1

1. Early Life and Education      3
2. Medical School Adventures      8
3. Western Adventures      19
4. Bismarck, on the Frontier      30
5. The Road to Little Bighorn      42
6. The Battle as Seen by Porter      54
7. After the Battle      61
8. Recalling the Battle      66
9. Return to Bismarck      76
10. Hail to the Chief      83
11. Early Business Ventures      91
12. The Reno Inquiry      96
13. Banking on Bismarck      105
14. A Capital Matter      110
15. Farewell to Lottie      119
16. Banking Business      128
17. Travels Abroad      133
18. Italian Journey      141
19. Up the Nile      147
20. Travels to the Holy Land and Around the Mediterranean      153
21. Washington and Bismarck      162
22. Final Years      170
23. Forgotten Hero      180

Epilogue      184
Appendix A—Holdings of Dr. H.R. Porter Items, North Dakota Historical Society, Bismarck      185
Appendix B—Porter Lineage      189
Chapter Notes      191
Bibliography      209
Index      215

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Winner, Jay D. Smith Award—Little Big Horn Associates
  • “Porter’s story is important for the part he played in frontier medical history and the development of Bismarck, North Dakota”—C&RL News
  • “thanks to retired surgeon L.G. Walker, Jr., we now know about Henry Porter’s fascinating life…. clearly a labor of love and this book doesn’t disappoint. This is no boring monograph; it’s a fascinating short study of a man who narrowly escaped one of the most famous disasters in history and went on to have several careers as a consummate man of his times”—Michigan Alumnus