The Battle of Little Bighorn: The Return to Bismarck
The Story of the Battle:
Causes of Warfare |
The Expedition Against the Native Tribes |
Native American Movements and Their First Conflict With the Troops |
Custer's Troops Take to the Trail |
Custer Divides His Command, and Reno Engages the Native Americans |
Custer's Last Battle |
Reno Battle Renewed by the Native Americans |
The March of Generals Terry and Gibbon and Their Arrival at the Battleground |
The Return to Bismarck |
The Story of the Failed Attack Released |
On the night of June 28, the entire command began its movement down the
Little Bighorn Valley to the site where the steamer Far West was moored
to the riverbank. The progress was so tedious and slow that only 4-1/2 miles
were covered, making the first camp just west of the Custer Battlefield. Most
of the next day was spent in destroying the enormous amount of camp equipment
and supplies left behind by the Native Americans.
Transporting the wounded on hand litters proved so unsatisfactory that mule
litters were constructed and used with more ease. Although the march, which
began again the evening of the 29th, was intended to be only a short one,
information was received that the steamer Far West was at the mouth of
the Little Bighorn, and it was decided to push on to that point. By 2 o'clock
on the morning of the 30th, all the wounded were safely on board the boat.
The Far West immediately moved down to the mouth of the Bighorn River
where it was necessary to wait 2 days to ferry General Gibbon's troops across
the Yellowstone. On July 3, the steamer started down the river and on to the
Missouri, Captain Marsh made the journey of over 700 miles to Fort Abraham
Lincoln in 54 hours, a record never equaled again by packet boats on the Missouri
One lone survivor who had served under Custer's immediate command was found
amid the havoc on the battlefield. This was Comanche, Captain Keogh's horse.
Wounded in seven places, Comanche was also carried to Fort Abraham Lincoln and
was nursed back to health and placed on the retired list by regimental order.
No person was allowed to ride or work the horse, which was saddled, bridled,
and paraded at every ceremony of the regiment. At the age of 30 years, Comanche
died at Fort Riley, Kans., where the regiment was then stationed. The horse's
body was prepared by Prof. L. L. Dyche, of the University of Kansas, and is now
displayed in the Dyche Museum at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kans.