Friday, April 29, 2011

The Battle of Little Bighorn

This morning we paid a visit to the National Park Service unit which protects the battlefield where General Custer met his match in the Lakota chief, Sitting Bull.

Grave markers of calvary killed at Last Stand Hill

Custer was sent to force the Indians to go to the Reservation, but Sitting Bull and his followers didn’t want to give up their traditional nomadic lifestye.  Unbeknownst to Custer, he was far outnumbered by the Lakota and Cheyenne warriors.  At the end of the battle, Custer and the five companies under his command lost their lives.  Also on the battlefield were troops under the command of Major Reno and Captain Benteen, but these re-enforcements were unable to get to Custer.  Nearly half of the 600 men of the 7th Cavalry were lost.

The Indian Memorial as seen from Last Stand Hill
The battle was a victory for Sitting Bull and his warriors.  Of his 2,000 warriors, only about 100 were killed.  But the victory was short lived.  Following the battle, the Indians scattered and most ended up doing what General Custer was unable to accomplish--they returned to the reservation.

Grave markers of the Indians killed at Last Stand Hill
After the battle, the fallen warriors were removed from the battlefield and the soldiers were hastily buried where they had fallen.  A few years later, these bodies were reburied   on Last Stand Hill and a memorial erected.  The officers who lost their lives were buried in various cemeteries around the country.  There is a marker near the summit of Last Stand Hill which bears General Custer’s name.  His body has since been buried in the cemetery at West Point.

Memorial to the 7th Calvary

The battlefield covers a fairly large area.  A paved road extends from the Visitor Center along the length of the battlefield to the hillside held by Reno and Benteen.  Around the Indian Memorial, the Memorial to the 7th Cavalry, and Reno-Benteen battlefield are several paved paths which a visitor can walk out for a better view.  We didn’t do that today because it was really too cold and windy to be out of the car.

After our tour of the battlefield we spent the afternoon relaxing at home.  Our plan for tomorrow is to do the same.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

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