We often discuss the tactically inept decisions made by Custer before the Battle of the Little Bighorn without scrutinizing the uglier details of the battle itself. It’s not that much of a surprise. We want to know what went wrong or what would have happened if things had gone differently that day. What do we care if an arrow shaft was forced up Custer’s penis after the battle was over? Oh, wait, we do.
Certainly, it was common for Native Americans to mutilate the bodies of their dead enemies, but probably not for the reasons you think. Most of us are probably led to believe that the tribes were made up of fearsome warriors, sadistic butchers who were far enough removed from the comforts of civilization that they could do such a thing as shove an arrow up a man’s…well, you get the picture. But that’s not the way it was.
Sure, the Native Americans were fearsome warriors. Many of the longest-lasting, most oft-remembered cultures and civilizations on earth were made up of the same. We can’t speak of the Roman Empire without exploring the military prowess of its legions–or the butchery that they routinely committed.
The Native Americans didn’t butcher their fallen foes for want of blood and glory. They did it because they too believed in an afterlife, and they believed that mutilating their enemies in this world would prevent them from becoming a threat in the next. They were violent with us because we were violent with them.
Mutilation took many forms. Everyone knows about scalping, but it often went beyond that. It didn’t always occur after death, either. Some tribes–such as the Comanche–wanted to make a point. Matilda Lockhart described her rape and torture in the months she was held captive before a deal was made for her release. These are the stories that persevere, even though the Comanche were quite different in their interactions with white settlers than most other tribes, and even helped exterminate some of those tribes.
It’s up for debate whether or not the Native Americans responsible for mutilating Custer would have even recognized the man or known who he was, but we focus on that detail when we talk about it at all. Everyone was treated similarly; not just Custer. Then again, all we have to go on are the uncorroborated stories and reports introduced decades later.
None of the stories are ever so simple when entertained without context.
There have been over 30 movies and several television films that document the events of Custer’s Last Stand in 1876 during The Battle of Little Bighorn during The Great Sioux War. George Armstrong Custer was a cavalry commander tasked with removing a group of Native Americans from The Black Hills in South Dakota. Unfortunately, Custer was greeted by thousands of Indians. Rather than retreating, he fought on leading his troop of 210 men to death.
The first Hollywood depiction was a silent film in 1912 entitled Custer’s Last Fight, directed and starring Francis Ford as Custer. In 1936, the first “talkie” was produced about Custer’s Last Stand. The film starred Frank McGlynn Jr and was produced by Poverty Row Studio. The movie was well received despite having many historical inaccuracies. The same year, famed director Cecil B. DeMille also directed The Plainsman, a film that fictionalized famous people from the west including General Custer. Custer was played by John Miljan.
In 1940, Santa Fe Trail a movie that has nothing to do with The Battle of Little Bighorn was released. The film had a subplot revolving around Custer attempting to woo Kit Carson Holliday who is not based on a real person. The reason why this movie is significant is that Custer was played by former (but not yet) President Ronald Reagan. This movie is constantly confused with the 1941 movie They Died With Their Boots On in which Errol Flynn starred as Custer. This is because both movies had the same leading woman. However, this movie is actually about General Custer’s life from the military academy to the civil war to his last stand. But it is still considered a highly fictionalized version according to a criminal attorney Odessa.
In the 1950s, the story began to portray Native Americans in a more sympathetic light with films such as the 1954 film Sitting Bull and the 1958 Disney film Tonka. In Sitting Bull, the story follows a soldier who is outraged by the treatment of Indians. In Tonka, a native American (played by white actor Sal Mineo) trains a horse that ends up being used by the US Calvary against his own people. Custer was played by Douglas Kennedy and Britt Lomond respectively.
The mythic quality of Custer has made him a character that appeals to every generation as we will never know exactly what happened at Little Bighorn. He’s been featured in art, featured in music and the subject of many novels and video games. Whether he is an Indian sympathizer or Indian murderer will forever be debated.
Scalping is a brutal form of torture and murder practiced throughout history and by no means a Native American invention. The technique by which a person was scalped depended on how the scalper was taught. Among the Native Americans it varied from tribe to tribe. Each had its own method, but other factors were in play as well. Shape of the scalp. Size and purpose. How did the victim wear his or her hair?
Individuals chosen for scalping were usually dead or dying, and some survivors have actually described the process as relatively painless, even though the methodology seems to make a lack of pain impossible. Two semicircular cuts are made on either side of the scalp, and then the skin is torn away by grasping at the hair. Ironically, Native Americans acquired more precise instruments that were eventually called “scalping knives” from the European settlers themselves.
Believe it or not some people did survive after receiving prompt medical attention. The treatments for such a wound are mostly obscure, but the idea behind any such surgery is obvious. In order to stand a good chance of survival, a person must be allowed to regrow their lost skin. It is thought that the slow process must have included the puncturing of the diploe, a layer of spongy bone between the inner and outer layers of the skull. This allowed blood to blow, and new spots of skin to slowly regenerate the layer of lost dermis.
Was custer scalped?
Perhaps he was, but perhaps not. The Native Americans who killed him had no idea that anyone of note was heading the army of men. They would not have recognized him even if they had known he was there, even though many stories seem to say otherwise. Custer’s body was found with two fatal wounds–bullets to the head and heart.
When the slaughtered men who fought under Custer were discovered by General Terry a full two days later, most bore mutilations. The majority were stripped and scalped. Lieutenant Edward S. Godfrey said that an arrow had been forced up the shaft of Custer’s penis. Whether or not this is true is of course up for scholarly debate!
Custer’s body and that of his brother were buried shallowly there on the battlefield. They were rediscovered a year later. Their bones had been scavenged and scattered by animals.
General Custer was ahead of his time when it came to his knowledge of skincare, haircare, and style. The General was once referred to as flamboyant, at the least. When Custer wasn’t in the middle of a bloody war, his sense of style was tip-top. He was known for wearing elegant coats, spurs on his boots, a scarf around his neck, that usually matched the rest of his outfit, and his flowing golden locks. He often scented his hair with cinnamon oil, which kept it spicy.
He may not have known it, but Custer was ahead of his time when it came to hair care and beauty. Cinnamon is now a common beauty applicant that has a variety of uses. One of the most applicable beauty techniques to General Custer’s habits, is the relationship between cinnamon and hair. Cinnamon is considered by many beauty experts as a homemade and natural way to make your hair spicy by either stimulate your hair growth or to lighten the color of your hair.
How is Cinnamon Oil Used as a Hair Product?
One of the most common ways cinnamon oil is used as a hair product is a hair growth stimulant. In order to stimulate hair growth with cinnamon, you must create a cinnamon masque from mixing cinnamon with honey and olive or coconut oil. The next step is to apply the masque to your scalp weekly. Over time, your hair will begin to grow at a more rapid rate.
Another way that cinnamon oil is used as a hair product is a hair dye. The mixture of honey and cinnamon contains natural agents that lighten your hair, like lemon juice, without drying it out. When applying the mixture, try not to get it on your scalp to avoid burns from the cinnamon which is a heating agent. You may need to apply this product once per week for maximum results.
Cinnamon is great for your hair. Even if you do not intend to lighten or grow your hair, it can be applied to regenerate and promote the health of your hair. The cinnamon application is known to reduce frizz, reduce dandruff, moisturize and soften, and makes your hair shine. Cinnamon has been used as a hair care agent for many years. If you have always admired General Custer’s hair, now you know his secret. Find a recipe and try it out for yourself.