Genealogy Trails

The Battle of the Little Bighorn, 1876
Custer's Last Stand
Battle of the Greasy Grass


War

Indian Wars

Date of Battle

June 25 June 26, 1876

Location

Near the Little Bighorn River, Big Horn County, Montana

Result

Native American victory

Nat. American Commanders

Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, Arapaho

Commanded By: Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, with 949 lodges (probably 900 - 1,800 warriors)

U.S. Commanders:

George A. Custer, Marcus Reno, Frederick Benteen, James Calhoun with 31 officers, 566 troopers, 15 armed civilians, 35-40 scouts of the 7th Cavalry

Maj. Marcus Reno
Major Marcus Albert Reno, engaged in Little Bighorn on June 25- 26, 1876, and set up a hospital during the hilltop fight to care for wounded.

Col. Fred Benteen
Col. Frederick Benteen
7th Cavalry

Lt. James Calhoun
Lt. James Calhoun
Seventh Cavalry, in uniform. Calhoun was killed at Little Big Horn, 1876.

     

George Armstrong Custer
George A. Custer
[between 1860 and 1865]
Picture from the Library of Congress

Casualties


Nat. American: Believed to be at least 36 killed, 168 wounded
(according to Sitting Bull); or 136 killed, 160 wounded (according to Red Horse)

U.S.: 268 killed (16 officers, 242 troopers, 10 civilians/scouts), 55 wounded

Native American scouts for George Custer
[between 1880 and 1900?]

Four Native Americans (Crow) who served as scouts for George Custer stand around grave markers that memorialize the battle of the Little Bighorn. One of the markers is a wooden cross, the others are stone arches. Two of the scouts hold rifles.

[Pictures from the Library of Congress]





First Account of The Custer Massacre
Source: "Tribune Extra", Bismark, D. T., July 6, 1876
[Transcribed for Genealogy Trails by : Cathy Ritter]

Massacred...Gen. Custer And 261 Men The Victims.
No Officer or Man of 5 Companies Left To Tell The Tale.
3 Days Desperate Fighting by Maj. Reno and the Remainder of the Seventh.
Full Details of the Battle.
List of Killed And Wounded.
The Bismark Tribune's Special Correspondent Slain.
Squaws Mutilate and Rob the Dead.
Victims Captured Alive Tortured in a Most Fiendish Manner.
What Will Congress Do About It?
Shall This Be the Beginning of The End?

It will be remembered the the Bismark Tribune sent a special correspondent with Gen. Terry, who was the only professional correspondent with the expedition. Kellogg's last words to the writer were: "We leave the Rosebud tomorrow and by the time this reaches you we will have met and Pocahe?? the red devils, with what results remain to be seen. I go with Custer and will be at the death.How true; On the morning of the 22d Gen. Custer took up the line of march for the trail of the Indians, reported by Reno on the Rosebud. Gen. Terry apprehending danger urged Custer to take additional men but Custer having full confidence in his men and in their ability to cope with the Indians in whatever force he might meet them, declined the proffered assistance and marched with his regiment alone. He was instructed to strike the trail of the Indians, to follow it until he discovered their position and report by courier to Gen. Terry who would reach the mouth of Little Horn by the evening of the 26th. Custer scouts reported the location of a village recently deserted, whereupon Custer went in to camp, marching again at 11 p. m. continuing the march until daylight, when he again went into camp for coffee. Custer was then fifteen miles from the village located on the Little Horn, one of the branches of the Big Horn, twenty miles above its mouth, w__ch ___ld lie seen from the top of ___and___ ___ General Custer pushed on. The Indians by this time had discovered his approach and soon were seen mounting in great haste, riding here and there. It was presumed in full retreat. This idea was strengthened by finding a freshly abandoged Indian camp with a deserted tepee, in which one of their dead had been left, about six miles from where the battle took place. Custer with his usual vigor pushed on making seventy-eight miles without sleep and attacked the village near its foot with companies C, E, F, L, and I., of the Seventh Cavalry, Reno having in the mean time attacked it at its head with three companies of cavalry which being surrounded, after a desperate hand to hand conflict, in which many were killed and wounded, cut their way to a bluff about three hundred feet high, where they were reinforced by four companies of the cavalry under Col. Benteen. In gaining this position Col. Reno had to recross the Little Horn, and at the ford the hottest fight occurred. It was here where Lieutenants McIntosh, Hogsson and Dr. Wolf fell; where Charley Reynolds fell in a hand to hand conflict with a dozen or more Siouxx emptying several chambers of his revolver, each time bringing a red skin before he was brought down--shot through the heart. It was here Bloody Knife surrendered his spirit to the one who gave it righting the natural and hereditory foes of his rifle as well as the foes of the whites.

The Sioux dashed up beside the soldiers in some instances knocking them from their horses and killing them at the pleasure of the red devils. This was the case with Lt. McIntosh, who was unarmed swept with a saber. He was pulled from his horse, tortured and finally murdered at the pleasure of the red devils. It was here that ___Girard was separated from the command and lay all night with the wrenching floods dealing death and destruction to his comrades within a few feet of him , and, but time will not permit me to relate the story, through some means succeeded in saving his fine black stallion in which he took so much pride. The ford was crossed and the summit of the bluffs, having, Col. Smith says, the steepest sides that he ever saw ascended by a horse or mule reached though the accent was made under a galling fire.

The companies engaged in this affair were those of Captain Boylan, French and McIntosh. Col Reno had gone ahead with three companies in obedience to the order of Gen. Custer, fighting most gallantly, driving back repeatedly the Indians who charged in their Trent, but the fire from the bluff __fng so _nilling, forced the movement heretofore alluded to __un_ls were given and soon Benteen with the four companies came up in time to save Reno from the fate with which Custer about this time met. The Indians charged the hill time and again but were each time reprised with heavy slaughter of its gallant defenders. Soon, however, they reached bluffs higher than those occupied by Reno and opened a destructive fire from points beyond the reach of cavalry carbines. Nothing being heard from Custer, Col Weir was ordered to push his command along the bank of the river in the direction he was supposed to be, but he was soon driven back, retiring with difficulty. About this time the Indians received strong reinforcements and litterally swarmed the hill sides and on the plains, coming so near at times that stones were thrown into the ranks of Col. Reno's command by those unarmed or out of amunition. Charge after charge in quick succession, the fight being sometimes almost hand to hand. But they drew off finally, taking to the hills and ravines. Col Benteen charged a large party in a ravine, driving them from it in confusion. They evidently trusted in their numbers and did not look for so bold a movement. They were within range of the corral and wounded several packers. J. C. Wagoner, among the number, in the head, while many horses and mules were killed. Near 10 o'clock the fight closed, and the men worked all night strengthening their breastworks, using knives, tin cups and plates, in place of spades and picks, taking up the fight again in the morning. In the afternoon of the second day the desire for water became almost intolerable. The wounded were begging piteously for it; the tongues of the men were swollen and their lips parched and from lack of rest they were almost exhausted. So a bold attempt was made for water. Men volunteered to go with canteens and camp kettles, though to go was almost certain death. The attempt succeeded though in making it one man was killed and several wounded. The men were relieved, and that night the animals were watered. The fight closed at dark, opening again next morning and continuing until the afternoon of the 27th. Meantime the men became more and more exhausted and all wondered what had become of Custer. A panic all at once was created among the Indians and they stampeded from the hills and from the valleys and the village was soon deserted except for the dead. Reno and his brave hand felt that succor was nigh. Gen. Terry came in sight and strong men wept upon each others necks but __word __ t__d___. Hand shaking and ___ im_ations were scarcely over when Lt. Bradley reported he had found Custer dead, with one hundred and ninty cavalry men. Imagine the effect. Words cannot picture the feeling of these, his comrades and soldiers. Gen Terry sought the site and found it to be too true. Of those brave men who followed Custer, all perished; no one lives to tell the story of the battle. Those deployed as skirmishers, lay as they fell, shot down from every side having been entirely surrounded in an open plain. The men in the companies fell in platoons, and like those on the skirmish line, lay as they fell, with their officers behind them in proper positions. General Custer, who was shot through the head and body, seemed to have been among the last to fall and around and near him lay the bodies of Col. Tom and Boston, his brothers, Col. Cathorn; his brother-in-law, and his nephew young Reed who insisted on accompaning the expedition for pleasure. Col Cook ___ the members of the non-commissioned staff all dead - all striped of their clothing and many of them with bodies terribly mutilated. The squaws seem to have passed over the field and crushed the skulls of the wounded and dying with stones and clubs. The hands of some were severed from the body, the privates of some were cut off, while others bore traces of torture, arrows having been shot into their private part while yet living or other means of torture adopted. The officers who fell were as follows; Gen. G. A. Custer; Cols. Geo. Yates, Miles Keegh, James Calhoun, W. W. Cook, Capts. McIntosh, A. E. Smith, Lieutenants Riley Critenden, Sturgis, Harrington, Hod__- and Porter. Asst Surgeon De Rolf. The only____, Mr. Reed, Charles Reynolds, Isiah, the interpreter from Fort Rice and Mark Kellogg, the lafter the Tribune correspondent. The body of Kellogg along remained unstriped of its clothing and was not mutilated. Perhaps as they had learned to respect the Great Chief Custer, and for that reason did not mutilate his remains they had in like manner learned to respect this humble shover of the lead pencil and to that fact may be attributed this result. The wounded were sent to the rear some _ourteen miles on horse litters striking the Far West sixty odd miles up the Big Horn which point they left on Monday at noon reaching Bismark nine hundred miles distant at 10 p. m.

The burial of the dead was sad work but they were all decently interred. Many could not be recognized among the latter class ___some of the officers. This work being done the _______back to the base where Gen. Terry awaits supplies and approval of his plans for the future campaign.

The men are worn out with marching and fighting and are almost wholly destitute of clothing.

The Indians numbered at least eighteen hundred lodges in their permanent camp, while those who fought Crook seems to have joined them, making their effective fighting force nearly four thousand. These were led by chiefs carrying flags of various colors, nine of which were found in a burial tent on the field of battle. Many other dead were found on the field, and near it ten squaws at one point in the ravine-evidently the work of Ree or Crow scouts.

The Indian dead were great in number, as they were constantly assaulting an inferior force. The camp had the appearance being abandoned in haste. The mo__ georgeous ornaments were found on the bodies of the dead chiefs, and hundreds of finely dressed and painted robes and skins were thrown about the camp. The Indians were certainly severely punished.
We said of those who went in battle with Custer none are living--one Crow scout himself in the field, and witnessed and survived the battle. His story is plausable, and is accepted, but we have not room for it now. The names of the wounded are as follows:

LIST OF WOUNDED
Private Davis Comy, Co 1, 7th Cav., right hip; McDonnall, D. left leg, Sergt. John Paul H. Back: Priv. Michael C. Madden K. right leg; Wm. George H. left side died July 31 at 1 a. m.; 1st Sergt. Wm. Heyn, A. left knee; Pri_ John Mc Vay, C. hips; Patrick Co_oran, K. right shoulder; Max Wilke, K. left foot; Alfred Whitaker, C. right elbow; Peter Thompson, C. right hand; Jacob Deal, A. face; J. H. Meyer, M. Back;
Roman Rutler, M. right shoulder; Daniel Newell, M , left thigh; Jas. Muller, H, right thigh; Elijah T. Stroude, A. right leg; Sergt. Patrick Carey, M. right hip; , Privt. James E. Benett, C. body, died July 5th at 3 o'clock; Francis Reeves, A. left side and body; James Wilbur, M. left leg; Jasper Marshall, I. left foot; Sergt. James T. Riley, E. back and left leg; , Privt. John J. Phillips, H. face and both hands; Samuel Severn, H. both thighs; Frank Bruns, M. face and left thigh; Corpl. Alex H. Bishop, H. right arm; , Privt. James Foster, A. right arm; W.E. Harris, M. left breast; Chas. H. Bishop, H. right arm; Fred Housted, A. left wrist; Sergt. Chas. White, M. right arm; Privt Ti__ ___, M. right ___; Chas. Campbell _ _ _ right shoulder; John Cooper, H. right elbow; John McGuire, C. right arm; Henry Black, H. right hand; Daniel McWilliams, H. right leg.

An Indian scout, name unknown, left off at Birthold; Sergt. M. Riley, Co 1, 7th Infantry, left off at Buford, Consumption; , Privt. David Ackison, Co. E. 7th cav. Left off July 4th at Buford, Constipation.

The total number killed was two hundred and sixty one, wounded 52. Thirty-eight of the wounded were brought down on the Far West; three of them died en route. The remainder are cared for at the field hospital.
De Rudio had a narrow escape and his escape is attributed in the noise of beavers, jumping into the river during the engagement. De Rudio followed them, got out of sight, and after biding for twelve hours or more finally reached the command in safety.
The body of Lt. M_ _ lgson did not fall into the hands of the Indians, that of Lt. McIntosh did ___ was brutly mutilated; McIntosh, although a half-breed was a gentleman of culture and esteemed by all who knew him. He leaves a family at Lincoln, as does Gen. Custer, Cols. Calhoun, Yates, Capt. Smith and Lt. Porter. The unhappy Mrs. Calhoun loses a husband, three brothers and a nephew. Lt. Harrington also had a family, but no trace of his remains was found. We are indebted to Col. Smith for the following full list of the dead; to Dr. Porter for the list of wounded which is also ful:

Killed
Field and staff.
George A. Custer, Brevt. Major General.
W. W. Cook, Brevt. Lt. Colonel
Lord, Asst. Surgeon
J. M. DeWolf. Acting Asst. Surgeon
N. C. _ _ _ t,
W. W. ___ K_ _ g Major.
Henry Voss, Chief Insp_r.

A.
Henry Daltans Corp.
G. K. King Corp.
J. F. Armstrong , Privt.
James Drinaw , Privt.
Wm. Moody , Privt.
R. Rowlins , Privt.
James McDonald , Privt.
John Sullivan , Privt.
Thos. P. Switzer , Privt.

B.
Benj. Hodgson, 2d Lieut.
Richard Doran , Privt.
George Musk , Privt.

C.
T. W. Custer, Brevt. Lt. Col
H. M. Harrington, 2d Lieut. -- The body of Lt. Harrington was not found, but it is reasonably certain that he was killed.
Edwin Ralin, 1st Sergt.
Finley, Sergt.
Finkle, Sergt.
French, Corpl.
Foley, Corpl.
R_ _ n, Corpl.
Allen , Privt.
Criddle , Privt.
King , Privt.
Buckwell , Privt.
Elaman , Privt.
Engle , Privt.
Brightfield , Privt.
Fumand , Privt.
Griffith , Privt.
Hamel , Privt.
Hattisoil , Privt.
Kingsoutz , Privt.
Lewis , Privt.
Mayer , Privt.
Phillips , Privt.
Russell , Privt.
Rix , Privt.
Ranter , Privt.
Short , Privt.
Shea , Privt.
Shade , Privt.
Square , Privt.
St. John , Privt.
Thadius , Privt.
Van Allen , Privt.
Warren , Privt.
Windham , Privt.
Wright , Privt.

D.
Vincent Charley Furrier
Patrick Golden , Privt.
Edward Hansen , Privt.

E.
A. E. Smith Brevt. Capt.
E. Sturgis 2nd Lt. The body of Lt. Sturgis was not found, but it is reasonably certain he was killed.
F. Hohmeyer 1st Sergt.
Egnen Sergt.
James Sergt.
Rucan Corp.

I.
James Calhoun 1st Lt.
Miller , Privt.
Tweed , Privt.
Veller , Privt.
Cochan , Privt.
Kiefer , Privt.
Andrews , Privt.
Crisfield , Privt.
Harrington , Privt.
Haugge , Privt.
Kavaugh , Privt.
Lobering , Privt.
Maloney , Privt.
Schmidt , Privt.
Lunon , Privt.
Semenson , Privt.
Riebold , Privt.
O' Connell , Privt.
J. J. Crittenden 20th Inf.
Butler 1st Sergt.
Warren 1st Sergt
Harrison Corpl.
Gilbert Corpl.
Seiller Corpl.
Walch Toptr.
Adams , Privt.
A_ _ dely , Privt.
Burke , Privt.
Cheever , Privt.
McCut , Privt.
McCarthy , Privt.
Dugan , Privt.
Maxwell , Privt.
Scott , Privt.
Babcock , Privt.
Perkins , Privt.
Tarbox , Privt.
Dye , Privt.
T_ _ ler , Privt.
Galvin , Privt.
Graham , Privt.
Hamilton , Privt.
Rodgers , Privt.
Snow , Privt.
Hughes , Privt.

K.
D. Whittney 1st Sergt.
Hughes Sergt.
J. J. Callahan Corpl.
Julius Helmer Trptr.
Eli U. T. Clair , Privt.

I.
M. W. Keogh Col.
J. E. Porter - the body of Lt. Porter was not found, but it is reasonably certain he was killed.
F. E. Varden 1st Sergt.
J. Burtard 1st Sergt.
John Wild Corpl.
_. C. Morris Corpl.
S. T. Staples Corpl.
J. M. Gucker Trptr.
J. Patton Trptr.
H. A. Bailey Blacksmith
J. E. Broadhurst , Privt.
J. Barry , Privt.
J. Conners , Privt.
T. P. Downing , Privt.
Mason , Privt.
Bl___ , Privt.
Meyer , Privt.
McElroy Trptr.
Moor Trptr.
Baker , Privt.
Boyle , Privt.
Bauth , Privt.
Conner , Privt.
Daring , Privt.
Davis , Privt.
F___ll , Privt.
Hiko , Privt.
Haler , Privt.
Hi_ _ , Privt.
Henderson , Privt.
Henderson , Privt.
Leddisson , Privt.
O'Conner , Privt.
Rood , Privt.
Reese , Privt.
Smith 1st , Privt.
Smith 2nd , Privt.
Smith 3rd , Privt.
Stella , Privt.
Stafford , Privt.
Schoole , Privt.
Smallwood , Privt.
Turr , Privt.
Vaugunt , Privt.
Walker , Privt.
Bragew , Privt.
Knight , Privt.

K.
O. W. Yates Capt.
W. Van Riley 2nd Lt.
Kenney 1st Sergt.
_ Nuy___ Srgt
W______ Srgt
Wilkinson Srgt
Coleman Capt.
F_eman Capt.
Br_ody Capt.
Brandon Furrier
Manning Blacksmith
Atchison , Privt.
Brown 1st , Privt.
Brown 2nd , Privt.
Bruce , Privt.
Brady , Privt.
Burnham , Privt.
Cather , Privt.
Carney , Privt.
Dohman , Privt.
Donnelly , Privt.
Gardner , Privt.
Hammon , Privt.
Kline , Privt.
Krinnth , Privt.
Luman , Privt.
Losse , Privt.
M_ _ _ on , Privt.
Madison , Privt.
Monroe , Privt.
Ruddew , Privt.
Omeling , Privt.
Sicfods , Privt.
Sanders , Privt.
Wanew , Privt.
Way , Privt.
Lerock , Privt.
Kidey , Privt.
E. C. Driscoll , Privt.
D. C. Gillette , Privt.
C. H. Gross , Privt.
F. P. Holcomb , Privt.
M. E. Horn , Privt.
Adam Hitlatter , Privt.
P. Killey , Privt.
Fred Lehman , Privt.
Henry Lehman , Privt.
E. P. Lloyd , Privt.
_. Melchargey , Privt.
_. Mitchell , Privt.
________ , Privt.
J. O'Bryan , Privt.
J. Parker , Privt.
F. J. Pitter , Privt.
Geo. Post , Privt.
Jas. Quinn , Privt.
Wm. Reed , Privt.
J. W. Rossberg , Privt.
D. L. Lymo_ _ , Privt.
J. E. Troy , Privt.
Chas. Van Bramer , Privt.
W. B. Whaley , Privt.

G.
Daniel McIntosh 1st Lt.
Edward Botzer Sergt.
M. Considine Sergt.
Jas Martin Capt.
Otto Hageman Capt
Benj. Wells Furrier
Henry Dowe Trptr.
Crawford Selby Saddler
Benj. F. Rodgers , Privt.
Andrew J. Moore , Privt.
Jno. J. McGiniss , Privt.
Edward Stanley , Privt.
Henry Seafferman , Privt.
John Bupp , Privt.

H.
Geo. Lee Corpl.
Julian D. Jones , Privt.
Thos. E. Meador , Privt.

M.
Miles F. O'Hara Sergt.
Henry M. Scollier Corpl.
Fred Stringer Corpl.
Henry Gordon , Privt.
H. Klotzbursher , Privt.
G. Lawrence , Privt.
W. D. Meyer , Privt.
G. E. Smith , Privt.
D. Somers , Privt.
L. Tanner , Privt.
H. Tenley , Privt.
H. C. Voyt , Privt.
Boston Custer Civilian
Arthur Reed Civilian
Mark Kellogg Civilian
Chas. Reynolds Civilian
Frank C. Mann Civilian

Indian Scouts
Bloody Knife
Bobtailed Bull
Stab

Total number of Commissioned officers killed 14
Actg asst Surg 1
Enlisted men 237
Civilians 5
Indian Scouts 3

Source: "Tribune Extra", Bismark, D. T., July 6, 1876
[Transcribed for Genealogy Trails by : Cathy Ritter]


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