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Battle of the Little Bighorn (June 25–26, 1876)

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Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer's Last Stand and, by the Native Americans involved, as the Massacre at Greasy Grass, was an armed engagement between combined forces of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, against the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The battle, which occurred on June 25 and 26, 1876 near the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana Territory, was the most prominent action of the Great Sioux War of 1876. It was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Gall, inspired by the visions of Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake). The U.S. Seventh Cavalry, including the Custer Battalion, a force of 700 men led by George Armstrong Custer, suffered a severe defeat. Five of the Seventh Cavalry's companies were annihilated; Custer was killed, as were two of his brothers, a nephew, and a brother-in-law. The total U.S. casualty count, including scouts, was 268 dead and 55 injured.

Public response to the Great Sioux War varied at the time. The battle, and Custer's actions in particular, have been studied extensively by historians.

Participants in the Battle

An obelisk commemorates the U.S. Army dead, and marks the spot of the mass grave where all US soldiers were re-buried.

Battle participants: 7th Cavalry officers at the Battle of the Little Bighorn

  •     Commanding Officer: Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer (killed)
  •     Maj. Marcus Reno
  •     Adjutant: 1st Lt. William W. Cooke (killed)
  •     Assistant Surgeon George Edwin Lord (killed)
  •     Acting Assistant Surgeon James Madison DeWolf (killed)
  •     Acting Assistant Surgeon Henry Rinaldo Porter
  •     Chief of Scouts: 2nd Lt. Charles Varnum (detached from A Company, wounded)
  •     2nd in command of Scouts: 2nd Lt. Luther Hare (detached from K Company)
  •     Pack Train commander: 1st Lt. Edward Gustave Mathey (detached from M Company)
  •     A Company: Capt. Myles Moylan, 1st Lt. Charles DeRudio[
  •     B Company: Capt. Thomas McDougall, 2nd Lt. Benjamin Hodgson (killed) as Adjutant to Major Reno
  •     C Company: Capt. Thomas Custer (killed), 2nd Lt. Henry Moore Harrington (killed)
  •     D Company: Capt. Thomas Weir, 2nd Lt. Winfield Edgerly
  •     E Company: 1st Lt. Algernon Smith (killed), 2nd Lt. James G. Sturgis (killed)
  •     F Company: Capt. George Yates (killed), 2nd Lt. William Reily (killed)
  •     G Company: 1st Lt. Donald McIntosh (killed), 2nd Lt. George D. Wallace
  •     H Company: Capt. Frederick Benteen, 1st Lt. Francis Gibson
  •     I Company: Capt. Myles Keogh (killed), 1st Lt. James Porter (killed)
  •     K Company: 1st Lt. Edward Settle Godfrey
  •     L Company: 1st Lt. James Calhoun (killed), 2nd Lt. John J. Crittenden (killed)
  •     M Company: Capt. Thomas French

Native American leaders and warriors in the battle (Marker stone on the battlefield)

  •     Hunkpapa (Lakota): Sitting Bull, Four Horns, Crow King, Chief Gall, Black Moon, Rain-in-the-Face, Moving Robe Woman, Spotted Horn Bull, Iron Hawk, One Bull, Bull Head, Chasing Eagle
  •     Sihasapa (Blackfoot Lakota): Crawler, Kill Eagle
  •     Minneconjou (Lakota): Chief Hump, Black Moon, Red Horse, Makes Room, Looks Up, Lame Deer, Dog-with-Horn, Dog Back Bone, White Bull, Feather Earring, Flying By
  •     Sans Arc (Lakota): Spotted Eagle, Red Bear, Long Road, Cloud Man
  •     Oglala (Lakota): Crazy Horse, He Dog, Kicking Bear, Flying Hawk, Chief Long Wolf, Black Elk, White Cow Bull, Running Eagle, Black Fox II
  •     Brule (Lakota): Two Eagles, Hollow Horn Bear, Brave Bird
  •     Two Kettles (Lakota): Runs-the-Enemy
  •     Lower Yanktonai (Dakota): Thunder Bear, Medicine Cloud, Iron Bear, Long Tree
  •     Wahpekute (Dakota): Inkpaduta, Sounds-the-Ground-as-He-Walks, White Eagle, White Tracking Earth
  •     Black Powder (Sioux Firearms trader): Black Powder, Johann Smidt
  •     Northern Cheyenne: Two Moons, Wooden Leg, Old Bear, Lame White Man, American Horse, Brave Wolf, Antelope Women, Thunder Bull Big Nose, Yellow Horse, Little Shield, Horse Road, Bob Tail Horse, Yellow Hair, Bear-Walks-on-a-Ridge, Black Hawk, Buffalo Calf Road Woman, Crooked Nose, Noisy Walking
  •     Arapahoes: Waterman, Sage, Left Hand, Yellow Eagle, Little Bird

Notable scouts/interpreters in the battle

Three of Custer's scouts accompanying Edward Curtis on his investigative tour of the battlefield, circa 1907. 

  • Left to right: Goes Ahead, Hairy Moccasin, White Man Runs Him, Curtis and Alexander B. Upshaw (Curtis' assistant and Crow interpreter).

The 7th Cavalry was accompanied by a number of scouts and interpreters:

  •     Bloody Knife: Arikara/Lakota scout (killed)
  •     Bob Tailed Bull: Arikara scout (killed)
  •     Boy Chief: Arikara scout
  •     Charley Reynolds: scout (killed)
  •     Curley: Crow scout
  •     Curling Head: Arikara scout
  •     Fred Gerard: interpreter
  •     Goes Ahead: Crow scout
  •     Goose: Arikara scout (wounded in the hand by a 7th Cavalry trooper)
  •     Hairy Moccasin: Crow scout
  •     Half Yellow Face, leader of Crow Scouts, also known as Paints Half His Face Yellow    
  •     Isaiah Dorman: interpreter (killed)
  •     Little Brave: Arikara scout (killed)
  •     Little Sioux: Arikara scout
  •     Mitch Bouyer: scout/interpreter (killed)
  •     One Feather: Arikara scout
  •     Owl: Arikara scout
  •     Peter Jackson: half-Pikuni and half Blackfoot brother of William, scout
  •     Red Bear: Arikara scout
  •     Red Star: Arikara scout
  •     Running Wolf: Arikara scout
  •     Sitting Bear: Arikara scout
  •     Soldier: Arikara scout
  •     Strikes The Lodge: Arikara scout
  •     Strikes Two: Arikara scout
  •     Two Moons: Arikara/Cheyenne scout
  •     White Man Runs Him: Crow scout
  •     White Swan, Crow Scout (severely wounded)
  •     William Jackson: half-Pikuni and half Blackfoot scout
  •     Young Hawk: Arikara scout

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