Monday, June 23, 2014

Please Mr. Custer, I Don’t Wanna Go…

We’re currently camped at an RV park in the Little Bighorn River area of Montana. The place is called the 7th Ranch RV Camp, and ever since I first found it in the campground listings I’d been wondering what happened to the first 6 ranches. After exploring the area and seeing other businesses called the 7th this or the 7th that, a light bulb went on over my head. General Custer was in charge of the 7th Cavalry, so businesses  around Custer’s last stand have picked up “7th” for their names.


The first thing you see upon arrival at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is the cemetery.  And probably like most first-time visitors I assumed these are the graves of soldiers who died in the battle of June 1876. Actually, only a handful of these graves are those of this battle’s dead. This is a National Cemetery like Arlington and others around the country, so these graves are mostly soldiers who died in other wars.


Most of the dead of this battle of the Indian Wars are interred in a mass grave under this monument. Originally, the 300-plus dead were buried where they lay, but some years later the bodies were disinterred and moved to the mass grave or returned to relatives for burial. General Custer, for example, is buried at West Point.



The spots where each of the soldiers, and some civilians who were with the 7th,  fell are indicated with small marble markers. Interestingly, one of the civilians who died here was Boston Custer, and I’m sure there’s a record somewhere to indicate whether he was related to the General.




We spotted a couple of other markers indicating where some of the Indians were killed. Overall, the Sioux, Crow, Cheyenne and other tribes lost 100 warriors in the battles over two days.







There’s also a mass grave for the horses that died during the battle.






The battlefield is located on the Crow reservation and a tour guided by Native Americans was quite informative and entertaining. Luella told us that the 7th Cavalry under Custer was poorly trained (some even had very little experience riding horses) and poorly armed. The Indians had repeating rifles and the soldiers had single shot rifles that needed to be reloaded after firing.

There’s a very nice memorial for the Native Americans who died at the Little Bighorn, but it wasn’t built until 1991. It includes quotations from a number of well-known chiefs. I think this one sums up the Indian wars very nicely.



Blogger Kathie Meade said...

That about sums up what the white man did to these peaceful people.

1:38 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home