Posts Tagged ‘Custer’

June 25, 1876:  Colonel Custer and the 7th Cavalry attacked a huge Indian encampment of Lakota and Cheyenne on the Little Bighorn River, Montana at about 3 pm. Custer’s mistakes are well known, but the entire cavalry blundered badly.

Major Reno took one flank, though his force was smaller than Custer’s. Blunder 1—Reno struck first, not realizing how big the village was—his troops fired into the village killing women and children. At this time Custer’s men had not yet engaged the Indians. Blunder 2—Reno formed a skirmish line where 3 men fired and the 4th held the horses, so 25% of his men were not shooting. Blunder 3—the Indians outflanked him, routed his troops—they fled, leaving wounded behind. Blunder 4-since Custer had the largest detachment, Reno asked that the reserves come to his rescue.

Captain Benteen led the reserves and supply wagons. Benteen’s blunders, A—he was given a note written by Lt. Cooke containing Custer’s commands (delivered by an Italian bugler who spoke no English) yet did not rescue Custer. Blunder B—one of Reno’s lieutenants grew tired of Reno’s inaction, led a group toward Custer but were driven back. Benteen still did nothing.

I’m no historian—just my humble observations. (Lt. Cooke’s note, Benteen’s handwriting top) (Reno’s initial assault)

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Fearing government retribution, Northern Cheyenne told a 100-year-old secret about Buffalo Calf Road Woman (born about 1850). During the Battle of the Rosebud (June 17, 1876), the Indians forces drew back leaving behind her wounded brother, Comes in Sight. Despite the oncoming cavalry, she road out and rescued him. The Cheyenne rallied and defeated the cavalry.

June 26, 1876, she fought in the Battle of the Little Bighorn with her husband, Black Coyote. Armed with just a 6-shooter, she used a stick to knock Custer off his horse. Other women began beating him their fists, but she did not know who killed him.

May 1879, she and her husband were captured. She died of diphtheria, Black Coyote committing suicide—2 babies left behind.

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Wooden Leg Kâhamâxéveóhtáhe – Northern Cheyenne warrior (1858-1940) His birth name was Eats from Hand, but he was given this name which refers to walking long distances. He fought several battles, including the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Later he scouted for the army. This colorized 1927 photo shows a real warrior, someone few people would want to meet in battle though he was pushing 70 here.

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Custer’s Final Blunder

Custer’s Last Message:

June 25th, 1876. George Armstrong Custer’s detachment at the Battle of the Little Big Horn was surrounded my Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. Custer gave Bugler Giovanni Martini a verbal message to give to Captain Benteen who had back-up troops.: Benteen. Come on. Big village. Be quick. Bring pack. PS: Bring Pack.

Knowing that Martini was Italian with limited English skills, Lt. Cooke scribbled a note to give to Captain Benteen. (Clearer writing at top may be Benteen’s) Martini gave Benteen the note and tried to get Benteen to rescue Custer. Reno’s troop arrived, and Reno kept Benteen’s men with him. Martini was the only one of Custer’s men to survive. [Cooke: long beard. Martini as older man]

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Only survivor of Custer’s men?

Frank Finkel (1854-1930) claimed that at Custer’s Last Stand, he and his horse were shot. The horse bolted and ran several miles. After he recovered from his wounds, he tried to rejoin the Army, but he could not prove his identity—his fellow soldiers were dead. Frank was able to provide some details about the battle that weren’t available until long after his death. I suspect that after he found out that Custer had been wiped out, he made him himself scarce to avoid desertion issues, but who knows?

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Battle of the Little Bighorn—the Indian’s side:

General Custer had a reputation for massacring women and children. Major Reno’s command attacked the village, killing women and children. The Lakota/Sioux and Cheyenne thought Custer had a full Army. Thinking they were going to die, the warriors sent their families into retreat and attacked. A few teenage boys were told to stay behind to guard the women and children as they fled.

I recall the warriors cry: Today is a good day to die!

The warriors wiped out Custer’s detachment, leaving Major Reno and Captain Benteen dug in. Though the warriors could’ve killed this group too, Sitting Bull decided there had been enough bloodshed and called them off, ending the battle.

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Custer lacked luster

Custer’s Blunders

June 25, 1876, General Custer’s 7th Cavalry of about 700 soldiers were defeated by 1,500 Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. 274 soldiers died and about 41 Indians. Here is a list of Custer’s mistakes that I am aware of:

–Custer had the advance forces; he had been ordered to wait.

–Custer split his forces into 3.

–Custer planned to attack the village, not the warriors.

–Major Reno attacked first, firing into the tipis, killing women and children.

–Custer didn’t attack until after Reno had retreated and dug in.

–Custer scribbled a note, Capt. Benteen couldn’t read it, the Italian soldier didn’t speak English.

–Warriors left Reno and outflanked Custer, preventing his men from forming a defensive line.

–Reno’s blunder: he assumed Custer had the larger force, so he kept Benteen’s men.

–Benteen’s blunder: He should have paid more attention to the note.

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Custer’s Last Stand

General Custer and the 7th Cavalry were at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, surrounded by warriors. A rider broke through the enemy ranks. As his mount was shot under him, he ran to General Custer with a telegram.


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Joseph White Bull, Lakota Tȟatȟáŋka Ská, –April 1849 to June 21, 1947 was a nephew of Sitting Bull. He participated in the Battle of Little Bighorn and fought directly with General Custer. Some credit him with killing Custer. (Custer had a habit of killing women and children, so he had it coming)


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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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