Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Custer's final days on Earth were hot and bloody -- myths abound to this day so we set the record straight


The much visited Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument memorializes a major battle fought on June 25 and 26, 1876.

Native people celebrate their culture with a drum ceremony June 25.
WHEN LIEUTENANT Colonel George Armstrong Custer traveled to Montana, to bring "hostile Indians" under control, he was already famous, a decorated Civil War hero and career military man.
He had no reason to believe his next mission would go wrong -- but, boy, howdy, did it. Big time.
 For Custer and 262 of his men, the battle, known for decades as "Custer's Last Stand," was bloody, brutal and fatal.
FOLLOWING orders from President Grant, the Army was charged with removing the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne peoples to the Sioux Reservation in Dakota Territory. Naturally, the native people resisted. They were there first.
A young native American dancer arrives at the battlefield June 25.
While there are many myths about the details, the facts are: The battle between the Indian people and the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry was on June 25 and 26, 1876.  It involved 31 officers, 586 soldiers, 33 Indian scouts and 20 civilian employees. They did not all die.
WHEN THE smoke cleared on the evening of June 26, 262 were dead, 68 were wounded and six later died of their wounds. Custer’s Battalion – the five companies of C, E, F, I and L – was wiped out.  Many of the seven other companies under Major Marcus Reno and Captain Frederick Benteen survived.
Custer's decision to divide up his troops contributed to his demise, historians and military strategists agree. Men from the other companies admonished him: "don't be greedy -- save some Indians for us." Ironic in view of what
Native American flags lead the way to a beautiful memorial honoring
the fallen Indian people, with quotes from their leaders about peace.
I GREW UP with the moniker, "Custer Battlefield," but the name was, rightfully  changed to Little Bighorn Battlefield, honoring the lost on both sides. A striking Indian Memorial was dedicated in 2003 and completed in 2013 and now stands proudly just 75 yards northeast of the 7th Cavalry monument for Custer and his men. Red granite "warrior markers" honor fallen native warriors.  With the contrast of 265 white marble military headstones for the Custer contingent, visitors get a balanced story. We should have long ago honored the fallen Indian people and the end of their way of life.
Indians join in part of a re-enactment of Custer's last days last weekend.
COMING NEXT at whereiscookie
CUSTER'S MISTAKES were many, but mainly he radically misjudged the numbers of the Indian warriors and he divided his companies. We're clearing up the misconceptions and "holes" in the story. For instance, most people don't know that water travel played a role in the expedition and probably saved many lives.  After  “being whipped and driven up the hill by Indians,”wounded men from Benteen's and Reno's commands were transported by steam boat to medical care in North Dakota. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekends and Wednesdays at www.whereiscookie.com
Absarokee's Saturday Market is this Sunday, July 5, complete
with barbecue, crafts and yours truly signing "Lilian's Last Dance."
And if you're anywhere near this corner of Montana, don't forget  the Sunday, July 5, Saturday Market and the legendary Barbecue Cook-off in Absarokee. Head for Itti Bitti Bistro for barbecue under the Big Sky! Tasty stuff. And I'll be signing my new novel, "Lilian's Last Dance."!

1 comment:

  1. Red Lodge RoadiesJuly 2, 2015 at 6:36 AM

    This is fascinating stuff. We've been following whereiscookie for several years now, attracted by the fine tips on hotels, off-road surprises and pet travel. Loved this take on Custer & the Indians. Will be in Absarokee, Montana, Sunday! Sounds fun. We went a couple years ago and the barbecue was devoured before we ordered! Better get plenty of goods this time!