What really (probably) happened at the Battle of the Little Bighorn

(Battle of the Little Bighorn, pencil & ink illustration by Stephen Standing Bear, C1920)

There has been more written about the battle of the Little Bighorn than almost any other single event in history. The mystery of what actually occurred and the romance of ‘Custer’s last stand’ has captured imaginations of the public since 1876. From alarming headlines of ‘No officer or man of 5 companies left to tell the tale’, to stage productions, re-enactments in ‘Buffalo Bill’s Wild West’ as well as comic-books, a multitude of films, books and toys, the events of 25th June 1876 has almost constantly been in popular culture through not just the USA but the western world. Stories have been largely theoretical, often ignoring the evidence of those who survived the battle- whether among the Reno/Benteen command, the Arikara and Crow Scouts or the Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. In modern times the native accounts have been given consideration, often by testimonies given long after the event or handed down after the death of the participants. Archaeology has provided new and compelling evidence, and nature has played its part; the fire over the battlefield area in 1983 exposed artefacts hidden since that fateful Sunday afternoon.

Background to the campaign

Many of the Lakota and Cheyenne and their allies rejected the idea of the US government 'Indian agencies'. Aside from the primary issue of having to give up their nomadic way of life, nothing about the agencies was appealing. Even before the Red Cloud war of 1866-8, agencies were known to contain the most arid lands. Game had been scared away by the railroads which were spanning the nation in the haste to join East and West, and government promised provisions were often late and of poor quality. Monies owed to native people through treaties were paid through their agents who firstly paid the agency traders for any dues from credit extended to native people. This practice was notoriously corrupt, and native people tended to receive very little of their dues.

Many of those who resigned themselves to reservations still left to hunt in their traditional lands. Indian Agents were paid to keep the people on the reservations, and so blatantly lied about the numbers of people who were leaving the agencies. Discontent led many to follow the Hunkpapa chief Sitting Bull in rejecting agency life altogether and returning to life on the plains.

The US government issued a proclamation on 6th December 1876, declaring that any natives not in their reservations by 31st January would be considered hostile and would be returned to their reservations by force. During December and January, the weather conditions and deep snow would have made travel almost impossible, even if these ‘hostiles’ were inclined to return to their designated reservation. The US government was spoiling for a fight. General Phil Sheridan, who once famously said ‘The only good Indian I ever saw was dead,’ was the man to give the government the fight they wanted. He didn’t even wait for the government’s deadline to expire before planning a campaign.

The army’s plan was to force the natives to battle and then bring the survivors back to the reservation. Generally, the Indians would move their camp away from the army faster than the army could pursue them. A pincer movement was devised in order to block the natives fleeing the field. General Gibbon with around 450 men from the 7th Infantry and 2nd Cavalry would march West from Fort Ellis. General Crook with about 1300 men made up of companies from the 4th and 9th Infantry and 2nd and 3rd Cavalry as well as a large contingent of Arikara warriors would march North from Fort Fetterman. General Terry with about 1000 men made up of companies of the 3rd, 6th, 17th and 20th Infantry and the entire regiment of the 7th Cavalry would march East from Fort Abraham Lincoln.

Facing off against the combined US forces would be up to 12,000 people from the Lakota, Arapaho and Cheyenne nations, of which around 2500 were warriors. Some sources have quoted upwards of 10,000 warriors but most modern sources tend to agree on 1500-3000 warriors. Due to misreporting by the Indian Agents, the US forces were expecting only a fraction of the numbers they would end up opposing. Native combatants had warrior societies such as the famous Cheyenne Dog Soldiers, but there was little coordination and organisation on the battlefield. Warriors fought for individual honour and often proved hard to control by their war leaders. The warriors at the Little Bighorn would fight under many leaders, the most famous of which were Gall, Lame White Man, and Crazy Horse.

The campaign begins

It was April 1876 before the campaign was underway. Due to the distances between the commands, communication was limited. General Gibbon’s troops were harassed by war parties but were not heavily engaged. He underplayed the numbers of warriors he’d seen evidence of to his superior, General Terry, perhaps in order to negate accusations of failing to pitch into the enemy. On the 8th June, General Terry’s force joined with Gibbon’s and they advanced together in search of the Indian camp.

On the 17th June, General Crook’s force was surprised at breakfast by a large body of warriors. Sitting Bull had a vision of a great victory and told of many Bluecoats falling into the Indian camp. The natives were confident of victory. The Arikara and Crow mercenaries were the first to fight the attacking Lakota and Cheyenne, plunging into the attacking warriors in a mounted melee. Soldiers could only watch, unable to tell friend from foe. The charge by the Arikara and Crow warriors gave time for Crook to prepare, allowing the soldiers to counterattack the Sioux and Cheyenne force. The fighting quickly devolved into fragmented skirmishes and close-quarter fights with little overall command and control. At one point, some native warriors circumnavigated Crook’s positions to attack his camp, killing a young Arikara who was guarding ponies. Crook was convinced he’d stumbled upon the main Indian camp and tried to press an attack through the native force to strike their camp, which he wrongly believed lay just two miles beyond the battlefield. Suspicious of a trap, Crook withdrew his Cavalry who were about to blunder into an ambush through a ravine in their attempt to strike the supposed enemy camp. Warriors poured out of the ravine; the US soldiers are now on the defensive. With neither side making good headway in confused fighting around rocky bluffs, the natives withdrew to their camp and celebrated a great victory. Crook, remaining in possession of the battlefield, also declared victory. When warriors returned to the battlefield the next day, they found Crook and his force had left.

Official records show few deaths on the US side, but unusual numbers of deserters are listed for the day before the battle from companies which were heavily engaged yet reported no battlefield dead. It seems likely that Crook’s official report underplayed the number of his dead. With up to 50 dead and 100 wounded, Crook withdrew from the campaign. He made no attempt to communicate to General Terry news of his engagement or the unprecedented numbers he encountered.

The 7th Cavalry depart

General Terry’s column picked up the trail of the hostiles following a scout by Brevet Colonel Marcus Reno of the 7th Cavalry. Terry gave Reno command of the scout with half the regiment, much to the anger of the 7th’s field commander, Brevet General George Custer, who had fallen out of favour with President Grant after testifying against Grant’s brother on corruption charges. Custer’s successful cavalry charges during the civil war, coupled with his dash, shameless self-promotion and lobbying by his wife Libby, had made him a household name in the United States. His disobedience, arrogance and lack of concern for the suffering of his troops had made him as many enemies as friends. Custer heavily criticised Reno for the scout: Reno had exceeded his orders, exploring further than intended. General Terry detached Custer and the entire 7th cavalry to pursue the trail. They plan to attack the presumed position of the Indian camp in a pincer movement on the 26th June. Terry, knowing of Custer’s lust for glory, ordered Custer to wait for him. ‘No, I will not.’ Custer replied. Terry offered Custer two companies of Gibbon’s 2nd Cavalry and Gatling guns. Custer refused the offer of both, insisting that the 7th could handle anything it encountered.

The 7th Cavalry

By 1876, the 7th Cavalry was a famous regiment. One of 10 cavalry units in the US army, it was formed after the civil war and made up of volunteers. Custer wasn’t the overall commander of the 7th, but as Colonel Sturgis was on permanent detached duty, Custer retained field command. Most of the officers of the 7th were veterans of the civil war and had to accept commissions at lower ranks to continue service in the reduced post-war army. Custer had finished the civil war as a General but served in the 7th as Lieutenant-Colonel. Officers were, as a courtesy, addressed by their highest attained rank. Colonels Reno and Benteen were serving in the 7th as Major and Captain, respectively.

The highly trained 7th Cavalry of earlier campaigns no longer existed. As old troops had mustered out, a high portion of the regiment was made up of raw recruits, many of which had only joined the regiment in April 1876 at Fort Abraham Lincoln. Some of them had never ridden a horse before and received little training before the campaign. Up to a third of the regiment was made up of recent European immigrants to the US, some of which could speak little English.

The equipment handed out to the 7th Cavalry was substandard. Rations were often spoiled and included hardtack left over from the civil war. The regiment had the latest carbines, but they were single-shot and had to be reloaded after each round was fired. Ammunition was poorly made: the army was often cheated by manufactures scrimping on costs with supplies to the army. The cartridges the carbines fired were made with very thin brass and prone to expanding under heat - the result being that once a carbine had been fired even just a few times a round might become jammed in the chamber. Although often depicted with sabres, the 7th cavalry had left all their swords at Ft.Abraham Lincoln; hundreds of steel swords rattling inside their metal sheaths were sure to alert enemies of the cavalry approach.

One of the biggest internal problems the 7th Cavalry had to deal with were the personal divisions. The regiment was segregated between those who looked up to their dashing commander, and those who despised him. Colonel Benteen emerged as the figurehead of those in the anti-Custer camp. Benteen had publicly criticised Custer for abandoning Major Elliot during the Washita campaign. Custer’s reputation had suffered for leaving the field after his attack on Chief Black Kettle’s camp in November 1868 without ascertaining what had happened to the missing Major Elliot and 19 troopers. The bodies of Elliot and his men were later found naked and mutilated.

The Plains Indian Warriors

Sitting Bull is often credited with command of the combined Indian forces during the Little Bighorn campaign. Although it is true that Sitting Bull was the spiritual leader of the group, he took no active part in the battles during 1876, instead rallying the non-combatants, offering moral support and unifying the people.

Crazy Horse is often credited as a chief among the Lakota warriors, although he was a famed war leader he was never made a chief. Crazy Horse was granted the honour of becoming a ‘Shirt Wearer’ but lost the honour after running away with his childhood sweetheart, who had since married another man. Crazy Horse married and had one daughter called ‘They Are Afraid Of Her’. She died in 1873 at three years of age. Crazy Horse was away from camp at the time of her death, when he learned of the tragedy, he sought out his daughter’s burial scaffold and lay beside her body for three days.

Crazy Horse was famed for his prowess in battle. He was considered to have strong power. A vision he had as a youth was interpreted to indicate that he should never tie up the tail of his pony as many warriors did, or to take scalps from his enemy dead. He had a sacred stone he wore by a chord around his torso and it was said that he could not be injured by bullets while he wore it. He used little or no war-paint and rode into battle wearing a single Eagle feather rather than a full war bonnet. He was considered shy and aloof; he wouldn’t allow a photograph to be made of him, although one exists its authenticity is in question. Crazy Horse was famed for his generosity: he gave away practically everything he ever came into ownership of that he didn’t need through necessity. Men followed him because of his reputation.

The Cavalry close in

Determined to plough into the enemy and win all the glory, Custer pressed his troops hard. They made a forced night-march on the 24th. They knew they were close on the trail of the ever-moving Indian camp. Custer intended to rest his troops on the 25th and then attack at dawn on the 26th.

In order to speed his advance, Custer had refused any wagons and instead carried all the regiments supplies on mules. The ornery creatures had to be constantly herded. When soldiers caught up with a mule which had strayed, they found Indians searching through it’s packs. The Indians rode off at a gallop - Custer was certain they would alert the camp and he would lose his element of surprise, so ordered his exhausted troops to mount up and continue the search for the camp.

Crow and Arikara scouts sighted evidence of the Indian camp from a high point on which a tepee was found containing the body of a warrior who had been mortally wounded during the Crook fight on the Rosebud River. The scouts told Custer that they could see a massive pony herd in the distance and warned Custer that he didn’t have enough men to attack such a large camp. Custer couldn’t see the herd and accused the scouts of being afraid and told them if they were not brave, he would make women of them. One of the scouts retorted that if he did that to all his frightened soldiers, it would take a long time.

Custer divided his force. He sent three companies under Colonel Reno along the Little Bighorn River, while Custer rode along the opposite side of the river with five companies. Colonel Benteen was sent scouting wide with three companies looking for satellite camps, while the remaining company escorted the mule train carrying the regiments' scant supplies.

Just after 3pm, Reno’s command came within sight of the village. Custer’s orders were for Reno to charge into whatever he found and that he would be supported by the entire regiment. Reno ordered a charge. He had about 150 troopers with him and a handful of scouts. Custer was spotted from the bluffs at the head of ‘E’ company: the ‘white horse company’ (The 7th cavalry companies mounts were colour coordinated except ‘M’ company which contained mixed colours). Custer waved Reno on, urging him to attack.

Reno called a halt short of the village. He ordered his troops to dismount and form a skirmish line. One trooper couldn’t keep control of his horse which carried him on into the camp: he was never seen again. One in four men were required to hold the reins of the mounts, severely reducing the firing effectiveness of the cavalry. Warriors surged out of the village to meet the attackers. One of Reno’s men later remarked that if they had proceeded in their charge another 200 yards, not a man among the command would have escaped alive.

Reno had attacked at the end of the village, where the Hunkpapa Sioux were encamped. They were not expecting an attack - especially so late in the day. Many rushed into battle without warpaint or any other preparations. Non-combatants rushed to get away. Sitting Bull called for calm and tried to gather everyone he could together. The first casualties were young boys who were looking after part of the pony herd.

Seeing the start of the assault on the end of the camp, Custer’s adjutant, Lieutenant Cooke, scribbled hasty orders to Colonel Benteen. The orders read ‘Benteen, come quick. Big camp. Bring (ammunition) packs. P.S. bring packs.’ The orders were given to an Italian orderly who rushed towards Benteen’s command.

Custer’s battle plan

It seems likely that Custer’s plan was the same one he used to success at the Washita in 1868. The massacre there was hailed as a ‘great victory’ despite the loss of Major Elliot and his troopers. After the massacre of mostly civilians, warriors from surrounding camps had converged on Black Kettle’s camp, massively outnumbering the cavalry. Custer had used hostages as a human shield and the Indians let Custer leave with his prisoners.

If Custer could head off the non-combatants fleeing Reno’s attack, he could compel the native warriors to capitulate. A relatively bloodless victory would save Custer from accusations of the butchery of either his own men or his enemy. Custer knew that Reno’s command was hard pressed - they were facing the entire might of the native counterattack. Custer, possibly mindful of the lingering damage to his reputation over the Major Elliot incident, further divided his command to support Reno. Custer’s brother-in-law, Captain Calhoun with I and L companies, deployed above the village in a skirmish line in order to draw some of the heat from Reno’s men.

Custer, with the remaining three companies would proceed down to the Little Bighorn river, cross it at the far-end of the camp and head-off the fleeing non-combatants and win the battle. That was the plan anyway.

The Reno valley fight

It didn’t take long for Reno’s position to become precarious. In danger of being outflanked, Reno ordered his men to mount-up and retreat to the nearby woods. Once there they came under increasing pressure from groups of Indians who laid down a suppressing fire on the soldiers. Reno was likely in fear of being charged or even surrounded. He was accompanied by Custer’s favourite scout, the Arikara Bloody Knife, when a bullet struck Bloody Knife in the head; his brains splattered over Reno’s face. Reno lost control. He gave contradictory orders to his men, ordering them to mount, then dismount and then mount again. Eventually he shouted that anyone who wished to live should follow him, and he rode out of the woods at full pelt. He would later call this a charge.

As soon as the cavalry left the cover of the woods they were charged by warriors. Reno plunged into the Little Bighorn river and scrambled up the far side and on up toward the bluff now known as Reno hill. Warriors rode up alongside the soldiers and shot them out of their saddles. It was later remarked that it was like a Buffalo Hunt. Reno lost 29 men killed while trying to ford the river. Civilian scouts Charley Reynolds and Isiah Dorman along with 2 Crow and 4 Arikara scouts also died while trying to keep up with Reno. From the hilltop, Reno’s troops could see a small group of soldiers making a last-stand by the river where they were quickly overrun and killed. Several men, including Charles Varnum, the chief of scouts either didn’t hear the command to retreat (or charge, as Reno would call it). No bugle-call was given and those men who either didn’t hear Reno or were not able to keep up were stranded in the woods. Soldiers left wounded on the field were slaughtered and mutilated by vengeful women from the village.

Benteen receives his orders

Orderly Martin reached Benteen with his note from Lt.Cooke. The orders confused Benteen. He was expected to rush to Custer’s aid but to bring the ammunition. The mules were slow and had fallen behind. Benteen couldn’t both rush and bring the packs. Each trooper carried 100 rounds of carbine ammunition, but in a fierce fight they could potentially burn through it very quickly. Benteen decided to bring the ammunition packs. He watered his horses and waited for the mule train.

Indian counterattack

With two companies providing cover for Reno, Custer sent at least one company down to the river to find a ford. There are conflicting reports as to whether they reached the river as no archaeological evidence has been found of troopers at the river. Custer moved his command further along the bluffs over the river, possibly having realised that he wasn’t at the opposite end of the camp but the middle. The river banks were very muddy and the river deep, making it impassable except at certain points. Many native accounts suggest that some troopers were looking for a place to cross the river when they were fired upon. Some accounts have suggested that it was E company which tried to ford the river. No soldier was able to cross and warriors under Gall and Lame White Man counterattacked before Custer could find a ford. Meanwhile, Captain Calhoun’s attempt to draw fire from the Indians may have worked too well. Word spread to the warriors fighting Reno’s men that soldiers were trying to attack the women and children. They left Reno’s men alone and rushed to fight Custer’s troops.

Some oral accounts from native survivors of the battle report that a great many warriors snuck up the sides of bluffs overlooking Custer’s men, possibly along Medicine Trail Coulee. Once in position, they rose as one and fired a volley into the flanks of soldiers who were standing immobile while waiting for word of a place to cross the river.

Benteen Arrives

Benteen’s command approached Reno’s position after 4pm. Reno hailed Benteen and implored him to stop, declaring that he’d lost half his men. Benteen later reported that he heard a tremendous clamour of gunfire, like a ragged volley in the distance. This was probably the opening salvo that Gall’s warriors poured on Custer’s men. Captain Weir urged Benteen to support Custer. Benteen decided to stay with Reno. Benteen began organizing a defence while Reno went down the hill to look for the body of his friend, Lieutenant Hodgson. Reno hurried back up when shot at by some warriors. Realising that his superior officers were not going to march to the sound of the guns, Captain Weir took off on his own in the direction of the fighting. His company of about 40 men followed, and assuming Reno had issued orders to move out, Benteen followed with his companies.

Custer’s last stand

Many of Custer’s men were shot out of their saddles in the opening salvo. A rout followed. The flanking companies under Captain Calhoun were quickly overwhelmed and almost all were killed. Cartridge placements on the field indicate that the troopers began to bunch together, making it easier for them to be shot by their foes. Custer rallied his troops as they neared a high point, now known as Last Stand hill. A few of Calhoun’s men were able to catch up. Custer may have reasoned that if he occupied the high point, he’d be more easily spotted by Benteen and better able to defend on the high ground. Custer had rode into the fight with around 210 troopers. By the time they got to Last Stand Hill, there were about 50 left alive.

Crazy Horse had led a few hundred mounted warriors around the bluffs out of sight of the cavalry. He intended to cut-off their retreat, capturing Custer’s men in the very same pincer movement Custer had intended for the Indian village. Crazy Horse reached the summit of the hill just before Custer.

The command structure among the Custer’s command seems to have completely broken down around this time. Soldiers shot their horses, using their carcasses as cover. It’s unclear if Custer gave the order to shoot the mounts or if he was already dead by this point. Killing the mounts might have provided cover, but it deprived the cavalry of their mobility and means of escape. 10-20 men including half-Indian scout Mitch Boyer tried to break through the warriors which now surrounded them, but they were all cut down. At least one almost escaped: his horse sped past Sioux warriors who were unable to catch him, as they were about to give up the chase the trooper, no doubt fearing a grusome end at the end of an Indian blade, shot himself in the head.

Most of the native casualties occurred in this last phase of the battle. Knowing they were doomed, the remaining soldiers fought desperately. To negate the cover of the horse carcases, warriors shot their arrows in an arc to rain down on the troopers. Then, they rushed in and finished them off. Some of the last soldiers shot themselves rather than face the torture every white man feared he would face if captured by an Indian. It has been said that the ‘last stand’ lasted about as long as it takes a hungry man to eat his meal.

Benteen-Reno fight

Captain Weir’s troops neared Custer’s position too late to be of assistance. They could see dust clouds from the victorious warriors riding around the fallen soldiers in triumph. Weir wasn’t sure what he was watching but reported he could see Indians ‘shooting at objects on the ground’. When a body of mounted warriors approached, they were at first mistaken for Custer’s men. Realising the error and the precarious position they were in, the troopers retreated to Reno hill.

The defence of Reno hill was largely organised by Colonel Benteen, who should have been subordinate to Reno. The troops dug rifle pits and the mounts, along with all the supplies, were corralled in the centre. Throughout the rest of the 25th June and through all of the 26th, warriors made small attacks at the besieged troopers and kept them pinned down with sniper-fire. There were some charges but no all-out assault: The Sioux had learned their lessons from previous battles such as the Wagon Box Fight and now caused more casulties among the soldiers than they suffered themselves. The soldiers were trapped. The Sioux-Cheyenne victory was complete and Sitting Bull’s vision had been proven true.

The cavalry suffered moderate casualties during the siege. Water quickly ran out. Several Medals of Honour were later awarded to troopers who snuck down to the river to collect water for the wounded. Survivors from the Reno valley fight who had hidden in the woods made their way to the hilltop singly or in small groups. The siege was only broken when General Terry’s troops arrived on the 27th. Seeing his approach, the Indian camp broke up and split into their individual factions, going their seperate ways.

Aftermath

The 7th cavalry suffered 265 dead and over 50 wounded, some of which later died from their wounds. The Sioux-Cheyenne alliance suffered less than 30 warriors and up to 10 non-combatants killed with an unknown number of wounded.

At first the survivors of the 7th cavalry refused to believe that Custer had been defeated. Their bodies were found naked and mutilated, just as Elliot’s men had been. There are conflicting reports over whether Custer was mutilated; most accounts suggest that he was the only one not mutilated. During the Fetterman massacre in 1866, one trooper who fought bravely was not desecrated, and it was thought the Indians similarly honoured Custer. Native accounts however, indicate that they didn’t know Custer was at the battle until later because he had cut his famous blond locks. It has also been alleged that Custer was mutilated and that 7th cavalry survivors concocted the fiction that he wasn’t in order to spare further sorrow to Custer’s widow. Custer suffered two bullet wounds: one to his torso and one to his left temple. It was suggested that Custer, like many of his men, shot himself. This theory has been disregarded largely because he was right-handed, but cartridges found around his body showed that in the end he was fighting with two pistols. Custer had filled his command with his relatives, and so the entire male line of the Custer family died at the Little Bighorn including his teenage civilian nephew, Autie Reed.

Many reports emerged of a ‘sole survivor’ from Custer’s command. Many of the stories are far-fetched and deserve no attention. One body was found some distance from the battlefield; it appears that having fled the battle, the trooper’s horse collapsed and the rider broke his neck in the fall. The remains of another horse belonging to the 7th cavalry was found many miles away. A German named Frank Finkle had a claim that seemed to relate to this finding, in which he rode his horse until it died and then walked until he came to a farm where he was nursed to health. Historians are divided over whether his story is true; there was no Frank Finkle in the 7th cavalry, but there was an August Finkle, and many men who were serial deserters signed up under a pseudonym to escape detection.

One cavarly horse, Commanche, survived the last stand. The horse had belonged to Captain Keogh and was found standing near his body with multiple wounds. The horse was going to be shot but was instead ordered to be taken back to the fort where it was nursed back to health. The soldiers of the 7th cavalry were forbidden to ride Commanche, who still took up his position on parade where he would’ve stood when ridden by Captain Keogh. The soldiers often treated Commanche to a bucket of beer when they received their pay.

Colonels Reno and Benteen were heavily criticised for their actions or inactions during the battle. Reno’s reputation suffered so much that he demanded a court of enquiry to exonerate himself: it worked, he produced a list of signatures of troopers who attested to his good conduct. There are allegations that many of the signatures were forgeries, but accounts from survivors largely support Reno’s claims. There were allegations that Reno was drunk throughout the battle, although this was potentially started by two mule-packers who Reno had admonished for stealing whiskey from the mule train. The Crow Scout, White Man Runs Him, claimed that alcoholism was rampant among the troopers and that many drank whiskey on the morning of the battle.

Captain Weir died within months of the battle, overcome with grief at his failure to support Custer’s command. The Little Bighorn was the last great battle of the Plains Indian Wars. Outrage over the death of America’s soldier-celebrity led to calls for vengeance. The Sioux and Cheyenne were hunted, many escaping, at least temporarily into Canada. They never again joined together in such a large encampment.

Crazy Horse was a wanted man. He evaded the pursuing army for almost a year. Eventually, he surrendered with his last few starving followers. He had foreseen his death years before, with his arms held by one of his own people. Suffering under harsh conditions on the reservation and refusing to go to Washington to meet the President, Crazy Horse spoke of leaving the reservation and was arrested. On 5th September 1877 he tried to escape detention and was bayonetted by a soldier while a Lakota working as a camp policeman tried to restrain him. Similarly, Sitting Bull was executed by his own people; Indian Police came to arrest him at the Standing Rock agency on 15th December 1890. When Sitting Bull tried to resist, he was shot to death. Two weeks later, hundreds of Lakota - mostly women and children - were massacred by the 7th cavalry at Wounded Knee. The site of the Little Bighorn battle is now within the boundary of the Crow reservation in Southern Montana.

Biblography;

Troopers with Custer, Brinstool, 1952

With Crook at the Rosebud, Vaughan, 1956

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee, Brown, 1970

1876 Facts about Custer and the battle of the Little Bighorn, 1999

Little Bighorn 1876, Panzeri, 1995

Crazy Horse and Custer, Ambrose, 1975

The Indian Wars, Treur, 2017

From the heart of the Crow country, Medicine Crow, 1992

My life on the Plains, Custer, 1874

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