The Battle of Little Bighorn: The Story of the Failed Attack Released
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 |
The Far West landed its cargo at Bismarck at 11 p. m., July 5, 1876,
and within a few minutes the news of the battle and its details were being
given to the world. The most difficult task was to break the news to the
families of those who had been killed. Mrs. Custer expressed the feeling of
herself and others when she wrote in Boots and Saddles (1885),
"This battle wrecked the lives of twenty-six women at Fort Lincoln, and
orphaned children of officers and soldiers joined their cry to that of their
To send out news of the battle, J. M. Carnahan, the telegraph operator at
Bismarck, took his seat at the telegraph key and for 22 hours he hardly moved
from his chair. Upon completion of this message, he remained another 60-odd
hours at the key without rest or sleep sending newspaper dispatches throughout
News of the defeat of the attacking force was heralded under big headlines
by the press of the day. It brought repercussions from many parts of the
country. Investigations were demanded as to the causes of the failure.
Accusations and insinuations concerning the blame for what had happened led
from Fort Abraham Lincoln to Washington. President Grant regarded the defeat as
a "sacrifice of troops" by Custer. Others condemned Reno and Benteen.
Some of the mystery occasioned by the battle remains unsolved.
For the surviving troops there was little rest until the Native Americans so
completely victorious on the Little Bighorn, were eventually concurred and
oppressed. As the Native Americans disengaged, some were pursued and finally
overtaken in the Battle of Slim Buttes. Others escaped and, with Sitting Bull,
took refuge from US government aggressions across the international border in
Canada, until they were induced to return peaceably and were confined to the
reservation. Except for the Battle of Wounded Knee Creek in 1890, there were no
further armed conflicts with the Sioux, who outnumbered and by whites were
forced to give up their homeland.
One year after the battle, during the summer of 1877, Company I, Seventh
Cavalry, under the command of Capt. Michael V. Sheridan, returned to the
battlefield. The bodies of 11 officers and 2 civilians were exhumed and shipped
to the homes of the relatives of the deceased. General Custer's remains were
sent to the post cemetery at the United States Military Academy, West Point, N.
Y, and reburied October 10, 1877.
The remaining bodies, with the exception of Lieut. John J.
Crittenden, were carefully reburied in one large grave on top of Custer Hill,
within the enclosure on which a large granite memorial now stands. Lieutenant
Crittenden's body, upon request of his relatives, remained buried on the
battlefield until 1931, when it was exhumed and buried within the national