Thursday, June 30, 2011

More History Of The "Little Big Horn"...!

Most of us know about the battle of the Little Big Horn, but there is a part of the story you may not know!

I was unaware of this particular history until I did a little research of the battle. It's always amazing to me how much more I learn about the history I thought I knew!

One thing you would think I should have learned by now, is to not take anything for granted! Time and time again, the fact that most history books leave out so many facets that are not considered important enough to be a part of the story.

So much for the integrity of the public school system!

Jun 30, 1876:
Soldiers are evacuated from the Little Big Horn by steamboat

After a slow two-day march, the wounded soldiers from the Battle of the Little Big Horn reach the steamboat Far West.

The Far West had been leased by the U.S. Army for the duration of the 1876 campaign against the hostile Sioux and Cheyenne Indians of the Northern Plains. Under the command of the skilled civilian Captain Grant Marsh, the 190-foot vessel was ideal for navigating the shallow waters of the Upper Missouri River system. The boat drew only 20 inches of water when fully laden and Marsh managed to steam up the shallow Big Horn River in southern Montana in June 1876. There, the boat became a headquarters for the army's planned attack on a village of Sioux and Cheyenne they believed were camping on the nearby Little Big Horn River.

On June 28, Captain Grant and several other men were fishing about a mile from the boat when a young Indian on horseback approached. "He wore an exceedingly dejected countenance," one man later wrote. By signing and drawing on the ground, the Indian managed to convey that there had been a battle but the men did not understand its outcome. In fact, the Indian was Curley, one of Lieutenant Colonel George Custer's Crow scouts. Three days earlier, he had been the last man to see Custer and his 7th Cavalry battalion before they were wiped out during the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

The following day, Grant received a dispatch from General Terry, who had found Custer's destroyed battalion and the surviving soldiers of the 7th Cavalry. Terry ordered Grant to prepare to evacuate the wounded soldiers. Slowed by the burden of carrying the wounded men, Terry's force did not arrive until June 30. Grant immediately received the 54 wounded soldiers and sped downstream as quickly as possible. With the Far West draped in black and flying her flag at half-mast, Grant delivered the wounded to Fort Abraham Lincoln near Bismarck, North Dakota, at 11:00 p.m. on July 5.

The fast and relatively comfortable transport of the wounded by steam power undoubtedly saved numerous lives. Yet, Grant was also the bearer of bad news. From Fort Abraham Lincoln, General Terry's report of the disaster was telegraphed all over the country. Soon the entire nation learned that General Custer and more than 200 men had been killed along the Little Big Horn River.

Now, I don't know about you, but I feel this bit of information is certainly important enough to be taught in schools today. After all, the way most history is taught now days...nothing is ever said about the survivors of the battle! I think that what happened to them is an important fact, don't you?

Let's get some fresh coffee and sit outside. It's hot already, but it's gonna get hotter!


Sixbears said...

We do ourselves a disservice when we only focus on the main event. The lead up and aftermath provide us with some interesting insights. It puts things in larger context.

russell1200 said...

You are misunderstanding what is being said here.

The survivors are the ones from the Reno-Benteen portion of the battle. Reno retreated (with some associated controversy) from the area of the battle, while off in the distance they could here Custer's command fighting.

Custer (in a very normal tactic of the time) had split his forces to do a type of hammer and anvil attack on the mobile Indian village. The difference this time was that there were a lot more Indians than expected. The Indian guides had warned him of this fact, but he had brushed them off. Thus the big controversy.

Everyone in Custer's portion of the command did die. There were no survivors. Any surviving wounded and the dead would have been chopped up and mutilated by the Indians. The Indians felt that your spirit would "continue on" in the form that your body left the battlefield. The Cheyenne/Sioux could be pretty brutal, but given that early in the attack the cavalry fired on the village and killed a number of women and children, their brutality was understandable.

So no, there were no survivors in Custer's command.

To see the two distinct areas of fighting look at the green areas here.

Ben in Texas said...

Yea, I gotta go with Russell on this one. I've read the report of that other group. They were the ones who survived, NONE of Ole Yellow Hair's group survived.

Custer's battle history was less than seller leading up to Little Big Horn. From what History I have read about him, he appears to have been a "know it all" and didn't listen to anyone's council but his own.

Lamb said...

I used to live in Montana not too far from the battle site. In fact, the rancher I worked for leased land for grazing that had been part of the battlefield. (Not the main battle) However, we still found a few artifacts here and there while rounding up the cattle for branding---artifacts which we were required to hand over to the local tribal (Sioux) council. It was interesting to see that that the Sioux and other tribes up there STILL hold the Crow in mild contempt for being Custer's scouts and for helping the US Calvary.

russell1200 said...

The crow had their reasons.

From: Richard White: The Winning of the West: The Expansion of the WVestern Sioux in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (it should google as a pdf)

"The experience of the Crows was much the same. Attacked along a front that ran from the Yellowstone to the Laramie Plains, they were never routed, but their power declined steadily. The Sioux drove them from the Laramie Plains and then during the 1850s and 1860s pushed them farther and farther up the Yellowstone. In the mid-1850s, Edwin Denig, a trapper familiar with the plains, predicted their total destruction, and by 1862 they had apparently been driven from the plains and into the mountains. They, too, would join the Americans against the Sioux."

In short, the Sioux had many aspects of an expansionary Empire. There is some pretty good evidence (based on the experience of the Comanche population collapse prior to 1860) that the relatively new horse culture on the plains could not be sustained unless it had territory to expand into.

HermitJim said...

Hey Sixbears...
I'm as guilty as anyone in doing just like you said!

Going only by what I was taught long ago!

I sure appreciate you coming by today!

Hey Russell1200...
The information I posted was taken from, and the focus was on the use of a steamboat to evacuate the wounded soldiers.

I didn't know until I read the article that there were any survivors from the 7th. I'm amazed that there were as many as there were, given the tactics used by Custer!

History is just full of surprises and I thank you for explaining to us where these guys came from!

The whole thing was a brutal disaster, I think!

I do thank you for coming by today!

Hey Ben...
Given what I've read about Custer, I would have to agree! Not a man to take advise very well!

I've known a few people like him in my life, haven't you?

Hey buddy, thanks for coming by today!

Hey Lamb...
Always interesting to find artifacts from the past! Like being on a big treasure hunt! Gives us a small connection to the past!

I really thank you for coming by today, my friend!

HermitJim said...

Hey Russell1200...
Again, thans for the information and the input.

There is always more to learn, that's for sure!

Thank you, sir!

Michael Ultra said...

In the late 70's I lived on the Crow reservation with my Indian partner. His name was Earl Biss, and was a quite famous oil painter. I learned a lot of things that are not in the history books. The Crow were smart enough to not make enemies of the white man.

edifice rex said...

I was just going to say, practically everybody teaches, if it's taught at all, that Custer was the only leader there, leaving Reno and his forces out. The true account of what happened, like with Wounded Knee, is very interesting but will never be taught in our schools.

HermitJim said...

Hey Michael...
I think that the accounts of what really happened will always be told with a pro stance given to the white man's side.

It seems to be the nature of the beast and we still do the same thing to a certain extent when talking about wars in other countries!

I would like to hear some of the views you heard while living with the Crows! Could learn a lot, I think!

Your visit is greatly appreciated!

Hey ER...
My favorite carpenter!

I guess that history as we were taught will always be one sided.

We have to be careful of all the misinformation, as well!

Many thanks to you, my friend, for coming by today!

JoJo said...

Hey I'm back! Thanks for guiding me this morning.
I loved reading all these accounts today. I will go back and read more on this battle.

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