The field of glory: Custer’s last stand (1876)

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“On the field of glory”

Custer, whom Grant attempted to disgrace, dies like a brave soldier, at the head of his column

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July 6 [1876] — An Inter-Ocean special dated Bismarck, Dakota Territory, July 1st, says information from the Sioux expedition dated Mouth of Big Horn, July 1st, says that General Custer left the mouth of Rosebud with twelve companies to follow the Indian trail of a large band of Hostile Sioux, and followed it up in the direction of the Big Horn. The Indians were making for the eastern branch of the little Big Horn.

General Terry, with Gibbon’s command of five companies of infantry and four of cavalry, started to ascend the Big Horn to attack the enemy in the rear. On the morning of the twenty-fifth two Crow scouts brought news of a battle on the previous day. Upon the receipt of this news the command commenced to march in a southernly direction, where smoke could be seen, which indicated that General Custer had fired the Indian village.

>> Also see: General Custer’s defeat and obituary (1876)

On the next morning the head of the column entered a plain bordering on the bank of the Little Big Horn river, where had recently stood an immense Indian village, three miles in length. The ground was strewn with slaughtered horses, cavalry equipment, and the dead bodies of nine Indian chiefs. The clothing of Lieutenants Sturgis and Porter were also found pierced with bullets. Further on was found the body of Lieutenant McIntosh.

Just then arrived the news that Colonel Reed was entrenched with the remnant of the Seventh Cavalry on a bluff nearby, waiting for relief. The command pushed on, and found Reed with the remainder of seven companies of Reno’s command which had been fighting since noon of Sunday, the twenty-fifth, until relieved by Terry on the night of the twenty-sixth. Terry’s arrival caused the Indians to retire.

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Reno knew nothing of the fate of the other five companies which were separated from them on the twenty-fifth to make an attack, under Custer’s command, at a point about three miles down the right bank of the stream. Custer had apparently made an attack on the Indians, ans was compelled to retreat, but was cut off from the main body. They were forced into a narrow recess, where horses and men were slaughtered promiscuously.

Here was found the bodies of Custer, his two brothers and nephew, Mr Read, Colonels Yates and Cook, and Captain Smith, all lying in a circle of a few yards, and here one after another of Custer’s brave command fell. Not a man escaped to tell the tale.


Top image: “Call of the Bugle” (The Battle of the Little Bighorn) by J K Ralston

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