Sandy Barnard

Early Years

Warren E. "Sandy" Barnard was born March 6, 1944, in Medford, Mass. His parents were Warren and Helen Barnard, who in 1946 were living in the Boston suburb of Roslindale. Young Warren was named after his father who had been flying overseas as a bombardier on a B-25 at the time of his birth. Within a year, his maternal grandmother had dubbed him "Sandy" because of his blond hair. The nickname stuck through childhood into adulthood, and during his 40-year professional career, it has been his byline. His brother,

Stephen Barnard, was born June 15, 1946. In 1945, their father had returned to the Boston Fire Department, but tragically he was killed in action on Oct. 22, 1946, in a downtown Boston store fire.

Their mother remarried in 1948 to Louis R. Hickson, a former Merchant Marine, whose ship had been sunk in January 1942, a month after Pearl Harbor, in the Far East. He was held as a prisoner of war by the Japanese until September 1945. Two boys were later born to the Hicksons: Louis R. on Aug. 15, 1949, and Gerard F. on Feb. 29, 1952. Sandy's step-father died in an accident on Dec. 30, 1958. His mother worked as a nurse until her death in October 1976. (L-R: Sandy, Steve and Louis, c. 1951). Sadly, Louis Hickson died in December 2011 and Steve Barnard died in December 2018. Gerry Hickson passed away in February 2021, meaning that for the first time since 1946 Sandy was nobody's older brother. A sad part of life.




Sandy attended the Theodore Parker Elementary School in Roslindale through the 3rd grade when the family moved to West Roxbury, another Boston suburb. He then attended the Randall G. Morris Elementary School through the 6th grade. From 1955 to 1957, he attended Boston Latin School for the 7th and 8th grade, but in the fall of 1957, he enrolled in the first class at the new Catholic Memorial High School. He was graduated in its first class in 1961. That fall, he entered Boston College, where over the next four years, he majored in English and minored in history. On graduation in June 1965, he was also commissioned through ROTC as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He spent the next four years on active duty, rising to the rank of captain. Between 1968-1969, he served in Vietnam as the S1/adjutant/personnel officer for the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, earning a Bronze Star for his service. On his return from Vietnam in 1969, he enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, earning his M.A in 1971. (Photo, March 1969: Sandy, L, and Louis, C, drove up to Long Binh, Vietnam, to pick up Steve on his arrival in country.)


In late 1965, Sandy had met Betty Craver Ritch, a school teacher in the Fort Bragg Dependent Schools, when both attended a bachelor's officer's dance at the 82nd Airborne Officers Club. On July 29, 1966, they married and spent the next 17 months in Germany, where Sandy served as the adjutant for the 66th Military Intelligence Group in Stuttgart. They returned to the United States in February 1968, and six months later, Sandy headed for his tour of duty in Vietnam. On Feb. 21, 1976, Betty gave birth to their son, Michael Andrew, while they were living in Charlotte, N. C.


Sandy worked on the Columbian Missourian while in grad school from 1969 to 1971. In June 1971, he accepted a job as a reporter with the Charlotte, N.C. News. In January 1976, he began working as communications director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, but that spring accepted an appointment to the faculty of Indiana State University-Terre Haute, beginning in August. For the next 30 years, he taught journalism at ISU, until he took early retirement, effective in January 2006. Betty had retired from teaching special education about a year earlier. In the summer of 2005, they moved back to North Carolina, where today they live in Wake Forest. Michael, a videographer with the NBC's affiliate TV station in Raleigh, lives with his family, his wife Michelle and his daughter Ava and son Jack, in Knightdale, about 20 miles from Sandy and Betty.

A journalist and non-fiction writer for more than 50 years, Sandy has specialized since 1980 in researching the Plains Indian wars and the Civil War. He is well-known for his research and writing on the Battle of the Little Big Horn, the career of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, and the men of the 7th U.S. Cavalry who served

with him or followed him. He is especially recognized for his expertise on newspaper reporter Mark H. Kellogg, killed with Custer at the Little Big Horn; First Sgt. John Ryan, a prominent Little Big Horn survivor; and Major Joel H. Elliott, a key 7th Cavalry officer in the 1860s. In the 1980s, Sandy assisted the National Park Service with media relations during archeological projects at then-Custer Battlefield National Monument. In June 2004, he traveled with a British Army staff officers to the Zulu and Boer wars sites in South Africa. See photo above.

His current book, published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press in 2021, is George Armstong Custer, A Military Life. His two previous books are An Aide to Custer in 2018 and Photographing Custer's Battlefield in 2016, both published by the University of Oklahoma Press. In 2010, he published A Hoosier Quaker Goes to War, The Life & Death of Major Joel H. Elliott, 7th Cavalry. That book received the John M. Carroll Book of the Year Award from the Little Bighorn Associates. His other publications include Where Custer Fell, a study of historic photographs of the Little Bighorn Battlefield in collaboration with James S. Brust and Brian C. Pohanka that was published in 2005, as well as the third edition of Digging Into Custer's Last Stand, which first appeared in 1986. Where Custer Fell received the John M. Carroll Book of the Year Award from the Little Bighorn Associates and the G. Joseph Sills Jr. Award from the Custer Battlefield Historical & Museum Association in 2006.

His other books include:

* Campaigning with the Irish Brigade: Pvt. John Ryan, 28th Massachusetts;
* Ten Years with Custer, A 7th Cavalryman's Memoirs, which received the John M. Carroll Book of the Year Award from the Little Bighorn Associates in 2002;
* Custer's First Sergeant John Ryan. The book was named as the recipient of Jay D. Smith Award by the Little Big Horn Associates.
* I Go With Custer, The Life and Death of Reporter Mark Kellogg;
* Shovels & Speculation, Archeologists Hunt Custer;
* Speaking About Custer.

For 23 years, 1989-2011, he served as editor of the annual Greasy Grass magazine published by CBHMA. In addition to his research and writing, he operates AST Press, which has published a number of books since 1986, and, which offers used and rare books on the Indian wars and Civil War for sale through the Internet and in online catalogs.