Big Horn County, Montana
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Battle of Little Big Horn


The Battle of the Little Bighorn, 1876
Submitted by K. Torp

Battlefield painting
Little Big Horn Battle dramatization
In battle with Native American Lakota Sioux, Crow, Northern, and Cheyenne,
Little Bighorn Battlefield, June 26, 1875
Little Bighorn River, Montana.


Newspaper Account of "The Custer Massacre" along with a List of Casualties
This is on our national Genealogy Trails website


G.W. Custer
George Armstrong Custer
photographed between 1860 and 1865.
[Photograph: Library of Congress]

Custer with scouts and dogs
Custer at camp, 1874
Custer with Native American scout Bloody Knife (pointing to map).
The dog is believed to be Custer's dog, named Tuck - presumed to be a casualty at the battle.


Battle Map
as drawn by Lt. Robert Patterson Hughes
June 30, 1876

The Battle of the Little Bighorn — which is also called "Custer's Last Stand" and "Custer Massacre" and, in the parlance of the relevant Native Americans, the "Battle of the Greasy Grass" was an armed engagement between a Lakota-Northern Cheyenne combined force and the 7th Cavalry of the United States Army. It occurred June 25, 1876, near the Little Bighorn River in the eastern Montana Territory.

Battle Map

As the military stepped up its efforts at removing Indians from lands desired by white settlers, Native American tribes focused their attacks on soldiers. Having marched six weeks from Fort Abraham Lincoln in the Dakota Territory, the Seventh U.S. Cavalry was in pursuit of an estimated 800 Indian warriors headed west toward the Little Bighorn River in the Montana Territory, on June 22, 1876. As the cavalry neared the river, Custer divided his troops into four battalions: He ordered three companies to ford the river and charge an Indian village in the valley, three to scout to the southwest, and one to remain on the back trail guarding the pack train. He kept five companies with him and headed north on the high bluffs above the river, perhaps seeking to flank the village from that direction. He didn’t know that the Indian forces in the area had more than doubled since the last report. On June 25, all of the Seventh’s battalions engaged in fierce fighting and took heavy casualties; of the 210 men who rode with Custer, none survived. On June 25, 1876, George Armstrong Custer and 264 men of the 7th U.S. Cavalry were slaughtered by Teton Dakota/Sioux and Cheyenne along the banks of the Little Bighorn River in southeastern Montana. Although Custer's conduct is still in dispute, this map and accompanying letter (See Library of Congress website, Special Treasures section) by Lt. Robert Patterson Hughes, an aide-de-camp to expedition commander Major General Alfred Terry, strongly supports the theory that Custer acted recklessly--not only disobeying orders by engaging the enemy before help had arrived but by splitting his command into thirds in the face of overwhelming odds.
[Source: Library of Congress]


Battlefield Picture
This photo was most likely taken on July 7, 1877, one year and 12 days after the battle.
It is the earliest known photograph of the Little Bighorn Battlefield.

1st photo of Custer Hill

Looking west toward the Little Bighorn River, this was taken from the top of Custer Hill (also known as Last Stand Hill), by John H. Fouch, where a large granite monument now rests. About 10 bodies were found there, including that of Colonel Custer near the southwestern rim of the elevation; six horses lay in a convex perimeter on the east side.
Horse bones fill the immediate foreground, one with the mane still attached—bespeaking the early date of this picture. A boot top can be seen as well. Just beyond the first group of bones is another, marked by a wooden burial stake and clustered around what seems to be a shallow pit. Some of the bones appear human, but in fact, all are from animals.
(Source: Boston College Summer Magazine)


Custer's body was found with two bullet holes, one in the left temple and one just above the heart.
He was initially buried on the battlefield next to his brother Tom, but was later reinterred in West Point Cemetery, along with most of his officers, a year later. Custer was reinterred with full military honors at West Point Cemetery on October 10, 1877.

[Take that statement with a grain of salt... it is known that bodies were mutilated by the Indians, so that parts were everywhere, burials were a few days after the battle, bodies were thrown together in shallow graves due to the hard Montana soil, remains unavoidably intermingled and after burial, the sites were scavenged by animals. So yes, there are bones buried at West Point and they might even be some of Custer's.]

Several individuals claimed personal responsibility for the killing of Custer, including White Bull of the Miniconjous, Rain-in-the-Face, Flat Lip and Brave Bear. In June 2005 at a public meeting, the Northern Cheyenne broke more than 100 years of silence about the battle. Storytellers told that according to their oral tradition, Buffalo Calf Road Woman, a Northern Cheyenne heroine of the Battle of the Rosebud, struck the final blow against Custer, which knocked him off his horse before he died.


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