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Custer’s Last Stand

On June 24, 1876, General Custer and the Seventh Cavalry were chasing Lakota, Dakota, and Cheyenne warriors. Custer decided to stop for the night and surprise the warriors on June 26. Afraid the warriors had learned of his approach, Custer attacked the next morning, June 25. The rest is history. Custer split his forces into 4 groups. Only Custer’s detachment, the largest group, were annihilated.

 

Custer made numerous mistakes: He was supposed to wait for General Crook. He attacked without waiting for further reconnaissance. He ignored his Crow scouts’ warnings that the warriors were too numerous. He split his forces. Major Reno attacked first and withdrew, leaving the warriors to attack Custer. Custer chose to attack a village of women and children—the warriors had no choice but to destroy Custer’s Army to save their families.

 

Online resources can tell you how many lived and died. Many historians believe that Custer planned on a quick victory. He could travel east and be nominated for president. The wages of war are death. The wages of peace are manifold. While I do not relish these soldiers’ deaths, I do not feel sorry for them. (soldiers buried where they fell, 1886 photo of warriors present)

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On June 25, 1876, Col. Custer’s 7th Cavalry of 700 soldiers attacked an encampment of Lakota, Cheyenne, & Arapaho with 2,500 warriors. Once called Custer’s Massacre, reality has set in. The battle began when Major Reno’s troops fired on the camp, killing 10 women & children. At the end, about 275 troopers & 50 to 75 warriors died. (opinions on all numbers varies)

What I read is that Custer attacked a tipi village, hoping the warriors were off fighting General Crook. Custer hoped for a quick win, a massacre of women & children, so he could take a train east and be nominated to run for President of the USA. And people think politics nowadays are messy!

While I take no pleasure in the deaths of so many soldiers & warriors, I do believe that Custer got his just desserts. (He also made many mistakes: split his forces, didn’t wait for help, orders not clear etc.) During the Battle of Washita, his troops had attacked a Cheyenne village, killing more women & children than warriors. He was hoping to do it again.

(photo: the soldiers were buried where they fell)

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