7/19/96 - T+18 - The Last Stand
Tonight's update is going to be a guided tour of the Little Big Horn Battle Field and
National Cemetery. For those of you who don't know, The battle of Little Big Horn is where
Col. George Armstrong Custer with his 7th Cavalry met up with a fought with warriors from
the Lakota and Cheyenne Indian Nations. Custer's 500 men took on over 2,000 warriors and
needless to say, lost! Custer's force was divided into three groups. Companies E, F, and G
were with Custer, while the remaining companies of the 7th were with Reno and another of
Custer's officers. All of the group with Custer will killed, there were no survivors!
This first image is of the hill where
Custer and the remainder of his troops made their last stand. The battle started with
Custer's troops dug into a defensive position along a ridge. Chief Crazy Horse, remember
him from yesterday's monument, attacked this position with about 1,000 warriors. They
quickly broke the line and chaos set in. The left half of the line fell back to a ravine
and were promptly slaughtered. The right half of the line fell back to this hill and under
Custer's direct command, set up a rough defensive line. At this point in the battle you
have to admire the resolve of these men. In setting up their defense, they made the final
decision that this would be their last stand. We know this because they made the final
decision that any cavalryman could make. They shot their horses to use them as
breastworks. To a cavalryman this is the
final option because their horse is their right hand and closest companion. The second and
most important issue is that without their horses there was no chance for retreat! They
made the choice that this is where they would stand and fight, to win or to die! As we
know, they all died.
By looking closely you can see white stone markers surrounded by an iron fence on the
face of this hill. These markers indicate where each man fell and died. This next image is
a close up of these markers. The one in the center with a black shield on it is where
Of top of this hill is this monument
surrounded with the graves of the 260 men that died here. The men of the 7th Cavalry are
buried in a common grave in the grass area around the monument. The officers of the 7th
are buried back east in National Cemeteries. Custer is buried in the cemetery at West
Part of the battle field has been made into a National Cemetery. War veterans all the
way up to W.W.II are buried here. The cemetery is currently full and is close to new
burials. Many of the survivors of Little Big Horn chose to be buried here so that they
could be close to their fallen comrades.
Putting aside the military decisions
made here, putting aside the government's policies regarding Native Americans, you have to
have immense respect for the men who fought and died here. Their gallantry and dedication
in their fight should be an example to us all!
It was interesting to be here because a couple of weeks ago I was at Gettysburg where a
young Lt. Custer began his fame as a cavalry solder. Not I'm at the site where an older
Custer ended his carrier.
After leaving Little Big Horn, I turned south towards Wyoming. I like Montana, there
are no speed limits in the day time here! Crossing back into Wyoming, I was treated to a
wonderful light show in the skies southwest. I was able to enjoy the lighting without
having to endure the rain. I was able to skirt under the storm and into Casper WY to bed
down for the night. Have a great evening!