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The Battle of the Little Bighorn —also known as Custer's Last Stand and, by the Native Americans involved, the Battle of Greasy Grass Creek—was an armed engagement between a LakotaNorthern Cheyenne combined force and the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. It occurred on June 25 and June 26, 1876, near the Little Bighorn Rivermarker in eastern Montana Territory, near what is now Crow Agency, Montanamarker.

The battle was the most famous action of the Great Sioux War of 1876-77 (also known as the Black Hills War) and was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne, led by Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake). The U.S. Seventh Cavalry, including a column of 700 men led by George Armstrong Custer, suffered a severe defeat. Five of the Seventh's companies were annihilated; Custer was killed, as were two of his brothers, a nephew, and a brother-in-law. Total US deaths were 268, including scouts, and 55 were wounded.

This was not the highest number of casualties in a battle by Native Americans against U.S. forces, however. That happened in 1791 at the Battle of the Wabashmarker when the U.S army command suffered more than 600 fatalities. Americans were deeply shocked at Custer's defeat by the Sioux and Cheyenne. Public responses to the Great Sioux War changed. The battle, and Custer's actions in particular, have since been studied extensively by historians.

Battle of Little Bighorn

In 1875, Sitting Bull created the Sun Dance alliance between the Lakota and the Cheyenne, a semi-religious festival where young men were transformed into warriors. One had taken place around June 5, 1876, on the Rosebud River on Montana, involving Agency Indians who had slipped away from their reservations to join the Hostiles. Sitting Bull during the event reportedly had a vision of "soldiers falling into his camp like grasshoppers from the sky." At the same time, a summer campaign planned by military officials was well under way to force them back onto their reservations, using both infantry and cavalry in a three-pronged approach:

Col. John Gibbons column of six companies (A, B, E, H, I, and K) of the 7th Infantry and four companies (F, G, H, and L) of the 2nd Cavalry marched east from Fort Ellismarker in western Montana on March 30, to patrol the Yellowstone River.

Brig. Gen. George Crooks column of ten companies (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, I, L, and M) of the 3rd Cavalry, five (A, B, D, E, and I) of the 2nd Cavalry, two companies (D and F) of the 4th Infantry, and three companies (C, G, and H) of the 9th Infantry, moved north from Fort Fettermanmarker in the Wyoming Territory on May 29, marching toward the Powder Rivermarker area.

Brig. Gen. Alfred Terrys column, including twelve companies (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, and M) of the 7th Cavalry under General George Armstrong Custer's immediate command, Companies C and G of the 17th U.S. Infantry, and the Gatling gun detachment of the 20th Infantry departed westward from Fort Abraham Lincoln in the Dakota Territory on May 17. They were accompanied by teamsters and packers with 150 wagons and a large contingent of pack mules. Companies C, D, and I of the 6th U.S. Infantry, moved along the Yellowstone River from Fort Buford on the Missouri Rivermarker to set up a supply depot, and joined Terry on May 29 at the mouth of the Powder River.

The coordination and planning began to go awry on June 17, 1876, when Crook's column was delayed after the Battle of the Rosebud. Surprised and, according to some accounts, astonished by the unusually-large numbers of Indians in the battle, a defeated Crook was compelled to pull back, halt and regroup. Unaware of Crook's battle, Gibbon and Terry proceeded, joining forces in early June near the mouth of the Rosebud River. They reviewed Terry's plan calling for Custer's regiment to proceed south along the Rosebud, while Terry and Gibbon's united forces would move in a westerly direction toward the Bighorn and Little Bighorn rivers, the likely location of Indian encampments where all elements would converge around June 26 or 27, attempting to engulf the Indians. On June 22, Terry ordered the 7th Cavalry, comprised of 31 officers and 566 enlisted men under Custer, to begin a reconnaissance and pursuit along the Rosebud, with the prerogative to "depart" from orders upon seeing "sufficient reason." Custer had been offered the use of Gatling guns but declined, believing they would slow his command.
While the Terry/Gibbon column was marching toward the mouth of the Little Bighorn, on the evening of June 24, Custer's scouts arrived at an overlook known as the Crow's Nest, 14 miles (23 km) east of the Little Bighorn River. At sunrise on June 25, Custer's scouts reported they could see a massive pony herd and signs of the Indian village roughly in the distance. After a night's march, the tired officer sent with the scouts could see neither, and when Custer joined them, he was also unable to make the sighting. Custer's scouts also spotted the regimental cooking fires that could be seen from 10 miles away, disclosing the regiment's position.

Custer contemplated a surprise attack against the encampment the following morning of June 26, but he then received a report informing him several hostile Indians had discovered the trail left by his troops. Assuming his presence had been exposed, Custer decided to attack the village without further delay. On the morning of June 25, Custer divided his 12 companies into three battalions in anticipation of the forthcoming engagement. Three companies were placed under the command of Major Marcus Reno (A, G, and M); and three were placed under the command of Capt. Frederick Benteen (H, D, and K). Five companies (C, E, F, I, and L) remained under Custer's immediate command. The 12th, Company B, under Capt. Thomas McDougald, had been assigned to escort the slower pack train carrying provisions and additional ammunition.

Unbeknownst to Custer, the group of Indians seen on his trail were actually leaving the encampment on the Big Horn and did not alert the village. Custer's scouts warned him about the size of the village, with scout Mitch Bouyer reportedly saying, "General, I have been with these Indians for 30 years, and this is the largest village I have ever heard of." Custer's overriding concern was the Indians would break up and scatter in different directions. The command began its approach to the Indian village at 12 noon and prepared to attack in full daylight.

Seventh Cavalry organization

The Seventh Cavalry was a veteran organization created just after the American Civil War. Many men were veterans of the war, including most of the leading officers. A significant portion of the regiment had previously served four-and-a-half years at Ft.marker Rileymarker, Kansasmarker, during which time it fought one major engagement and numerous skirmishes, experiencing casualties of 36 killed and 27 wounded. Six other troopers had died of drowning and 51 from cholera epidemics.

Half of the 7th Cavalry's companies had just returned from 18 months of constabulary duty in the Deep South, having been recalled to Fort Abraham Lincoln to reassemble the regiment for the campaign. About 20 percent of the troopers had been enlisted in the prior seven months (139 of an enlisted roll of 718), were only marginally trained, and had no combat or frontier experience. A sizable number of these recruits were immigrants from Irelandmarker, Englandmarker and Germanymarker, just as many of the veteran troopers had been before their enlistments. Archaeological evidence suggests that many of these troopers were malnourished and in poor physical condition, despite being the best-equipped and supplied regiment in the army. A 7th Cavalry survivor's account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn | url = | work = Conversations with Crazy Horse | accessdate = 2008-08-19}}

Of the 45 officers and 718 troopers then assigned to the 7th Cavalry (including a second lieutenant detached from the 20th Infantry and serving in Company L), 14 officers (including the regimental commander, Col. Samuel D. Sturgis) and 152 troopers did not accompany the 7th during the campaign. The ratio of troops detached for other duty (approximately 22%) was not unusual for expeditions of this size, and part of the officer shortage was chronic, due to the Army's rigid seniority system: three of the regiment's 12 captains were permanently detached, and two had never served a day with the 7th since their appointment in July 1866. Three second lieutenant vacancies (in E, H, and L Companies) were also unfilled.

Custer's assumptions

As the Army moved into the field on its expedition, it was operating with incorrect assumptions as to the number of Indians it would encounter. The Army's assumptions were based on inaccurate information provided by the Indian Agents that no more than 800 hostiles were in the area. The Indian Agents based the 800 number on the number of Indians led by Sitting Bull and other leaders off the reservation in protest of US Government policies. This was a correct estimate until several weeks before the battle, when the reservation Indians joined Sitting Bull's ranks for the summer buffalo hunt. As one historian wrote:
"The (US) Army's strength estimate didn't change, because the civilian Indian agents on the reservations didn't tell the Army that large numbers of Indians had left."
Nor did the agents take into account the many thousands of "reservation Indians" who had "unofficially" left the reservation to join their "uncooperative non-reservation cousins led by Sitting Bull". The latter were those groups who had indicated that they were not going to cooperate with the US Government and live on reservation lands. They had essentially voted with their feet to defy US Government policy. Custer unknowingly faced thousands of Indians, in addition to the 800 non-reservation "hostiles". All Army plans were based on the incorrect numbers. While after the battle, Custer was severely criticized for not having accepted reinforcements and for dividing his forces, it must be understood that he had accepted the same official Government estimates of hostiles in the area which Terry and Gibbon also accepted.

Additionally, Custer was more concerned with preventing the escape of the Indians than with fighting them. From his own observation, as reported by his trumpeter John Martin (Martini) Custer assumed the Indian warriors had been sleeping in the morning of the battle, as virtually every native account attested later, giving Custer a false estimate of what he was up against. When he and his scouts first looked down on the Indian village from Crow's Nest across the Little Bighorn River, they could only see the herd of ponies. Looking from a hill after parting with Reno's command, Custer could observe only women preparing for the day, and young boys taking thousands of horses out to graze south of the Indian village. Custer's Crow Indian scouts told him it was the largest Indian village they had ever seen. When the scouts began changing back into their native dress right before the battle, Custer released them from his command. While the village was enormous in size, Custer thought there were far fewer warriors to defend the village. He assumed most of the warriors were still asleep in their teepees.

Finally, Custer may have assumed that in the event of his encountering Indians, his subordinates Benteen and the pack train would quickly come to his aid. Rifle volleys were a standard way of telling supporting units to come to another unit's aid. In a subsequent official 1879 Army investigation requested by Major Reno, the Reno Board of Inquiry (RCOI), Benteen and Reno's men testified that they heard distinct rifle volleys as late as 4:30 pm during the battle.

The Battle

Movement of the 7th Cavalry

A: Custer B: Reno C: Benteen D: Yates E: Weir

Reno's attack

Movement of Major Reno's three Companies

The first group to attack was Major Reno's second detachment (Companies M, A and G), conducted after receiving orders from Custer issued by Lt. William W. Cooke, as Custer's Crow scouts reported Sioux tribe members were alarming the village. Ordered to charge, Reno began that phase of the battle. The orders, made without accurate knowledge of the village's size, location, or the warriors' propensity to stand and fight, had been to pursue the Indians and "bring them to battle." Reno's force crossed the Little Bighorn at the mouth of what is today Reno Creek around 3:00 p.m. They immediately realized that the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne were present "in force and not running away."

Reno advanced rapidly across the open field towards the northwest, his movements masked by the thick bramble of trees that ran along the southern banks of the Little Bighorn river. The same trees on his front right shielded his movements across the wide field over which his men rapidly rode, first with two approximately forty-man companies abreast and eventually with all three charging abreast. The trees also obscured Reno's view of the Indian village until his force had passed that bend on his right front and was suddenly within arrow shot of the village. The tepees in that area were occupied by the Hunkpapa Sioux. Neither Custer nor Reno had much idea of the length, depth and size of the encampment they were attacking, as the village was hidden by the trees. When Reno came into the open in front of the south end of the village, he sent his Arikara/Ree and Crow Indian scouts forward on his exposed left flank. Realizing the full extent of the village's width, Reno quickly suspected what he would later call "a trap" and stopped a few hundred yards short of the encampment.

He ordered his troopers to dismount and deploy in a skirmish line, according to standard army doctrine. In this formation, every fourth trooper held the horses for the troopers in firing position, with five to ten yards separating each trooper, officers to their rear and troopers with horses behind the officers. This formation reduced Reno's firepower by 25 percent. As Reno's men fired into the village and killed, by some accounts, several wives and children of the Sioux leader, Gall or Pizi, mounted warriors began streaming out to meet the attack. With Reno's men anchored on their right by the impassible tree line and bend in the river, the Indians rode hard against the exposed left end of Reno's line. After about 20 minutes of long-distance firing, Reno had taken only one casualty, but the odds against him had risen (Reno estimated five to one) and Custer had not reinforced him. Trooper Billy Jackson reported that by then, the Indians had begun massing in the open area shielded by a small hill to the left of the Reno's line and to the right of the Indian village. From this position the Indians mounted an attack of more than 500 warriors against the left and rear of Reno's line, turning Reno's exposed left flank. They forced a hasty withdrawal into the timber along the bend in the river. Here the Indians pinned Reno and his men down and set fire to the brush to try to drive the soldiers out of their position.

After giving orders to mount, dismount and mount again, Reno told his men, "All those who wish to make their escape follow me," and led a disorderly rout across the river toward the bluffs on the other side. The retreat was immediately disrupted by Cheyenne attacks at close quarters. Later Reno reported that three officers and 29 troopers had been killed during the retreat and subsequent fording of the river, with another officer and 13–18 men missing. Most of these men were left behind in the timber, although many eventually rejoined the detachment.
Bloody Knife

Reno's hasty retreat may have been precipitated by the death of Reno's Crow Scout Bloody Knife, who had been shot in the head.

Reno and Benteen on Reno Hill

Atop the bluffs, known today as Reno Hill, Reno's shaken troops were joined by Captain Benteen's column (Companies D, H and K), arriving from the south. This force had been on a lateral scouting mission when it had been summoned by Custer's messenger, Italian bugler John Martin (Giovanni Martini) with the hand-written message "Come on...big village, be quick...bring pacs" ("pacs" referring to ammunition, meaning that by this time Custer was most likely aware of the large numbers of Indians they were having to face). Benteen's coincidental arrival on the bluffs was just in time to save Reno's men from possible annihilation. Their detachments were reinforced by McDougall's Company B and the pack train. The 14 officers and 340 troopers on the bluffs organized an all-around defense and dug rifle pits using whatever implements they had among them, including knives.

Despite hearing heavy gunfire from the north, including distinct volleys at 4:20 p.m., Benteen concentrated on reinforcing Reno's badly wounded and hard-pressed detachment, rather than continuing on toward Custer. Benteen's apparent reluctance to reach Custer prompted later criticism that he had failed to follow orders. Around 5:00 p.m., Capt. Thomas Weir and Company D moved out against orders to make contact with Custer. They advanced a mile, to what is today Weir Ridge or Weir Point, and could see in the distance Indian warriors on horseback shooting at objects on the ground. By this time, roughly 5:25 p.m., Custer's battle may have concluded. The conventional historical understanding is that what Weir witnessed was most likely warriors killing the wounded soldiers and shooting at dead bodies on the "Last Stand Hill" at the northern end of the Custer battlefield. Some contemporary historians have suggested that what Weir witnessed was a fight on what is now called Calhoun Hill. The destruction of Keogh's battalion may have begun with the collapse of L, I and C Company following the combined assaults led by Crazy Horse, White Bull, Hump, Chief Gall and others. Other Indian accounts contradict this understanding, however, and the time element remains a subject of debate. The other entrenched companies eventually followed Weir by assigned battalions, first Benteen, then Reno, and finally the pack train. Growing Indian attacks around Weir Ridge forced all seven companies to return to the bluff before the pack train, with the ammunition, had moved even a quarter mile. There, they remained pinned down for another day, but the Indians were unable to breach this tightly held position.

Benteen displayed calmness and courage by exposing himself to Indian fire and was hit in the heel of his boot by an Indian bullet. At one point, he personally led a counterattack to push back Indians who had continued to crawl through the grass closer to the soldier's positions.

Custer's fight

Interpretations of Custer's fight are conjecture, since none of his men survived the battle. The accounts of surviving Indians are conflicting and unclear.

While the gunfire heard on the bluffs by Reno and Benteen's men was probably from Custer's fight, the soldiers on Reno Hill were unaware of what had happened to Custer until General Terry's arrival on June 26. They were reportedly stunned by the news. An examination was immediately made of the Custer battle site, but soldiers could not determine what exactly had transpired. Custer's force of roughly 210 men had been engaged by the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne about 3.5 miles (6 km) to the north. There was evidence of organized resistance, including what appeared to be breastworks made of dead horses on Custer Hill. The Indian dead had mostly been removed from the field. The 7th's dead were identified as best as possible and hastily buried where they fell.

Custer was found to have been shot in the left chest and left temple. Either wound would have been fatal, though he appeared to have bled from only the chest wound, meaning his head wound may have been delivered post-mortem. He also suffered a wound to the arm. Some Lakota oral histories assert that Custer committed suicide to avoid capture and subsequent torture. Several Indian accounts do note multiple soldiers committing suicide near the end of the battle, but the claim of Custer's suicide is usually discounted since he was right-handed. His body was found near the top of Custer Hill, since also known as "Last Stand Hill." A tall memorial obelisk inscribed with the names of the 7th's casualties has been erected there. Most of the dead were stripped of their clothing, ritually mutilated, and in an advanced state of decomposition, making identification of many of the bodies impossible.

Several days after the battle, Curley, Custer's Crow scout who had taken his leave of Custer near Medicine Tail Coulee, gave an account of the battle which indicated that Custer had attacked the village after attempting to cross the river. He was driven back, retreating toward the hill where his body was found. The scenario seemed compatible with Custer's aggressive style of warfare and with evidence found on the ground, forming the basis of many popular accounts of the battle. The story of Custer's purported heroic attack across the river, however, was undermined by the account of participant Chief Gall, who told Lt. Edward Settle Godfrey that Custer never came close to the river. Gall's account, however, was criticized by Cheyenne and Sioux participants.

Custer at Minneconjou Ford

Having isolated Reno's force and driven them away from the encampment, the bulk of the native warriors were free to pursue Custer. The route taken by Custer to his "Last Stand" remains a subject of debate. One possibility is that after ordering Reno to charge, Custer continued down Reno Creek to within about a half mile (800 m) of the Little Bighorn, but then turned north, and climbed up the bluffs, reaching the same spot to which Reno would soon retreat. From this point on the other side of the river, he could see Reno charging the village. Riding north along the bluffs, Custer could have descended into a drainage called Medicine Tail Coulee, which led to the river. Some historians believe that part of Custer's force descended the coulee, going west to the river and attempting unsuccessfully to cross into the village. According to some accounts, a small contingent of Indian sharpshooters opposed this crossing.

White Cow Bull claimed to have shot a leader wearing a buckskin jacket off his horse in the river. While no other Indian account supports this claim, if White Bull did actually shoot a buckskin-clad leader off his horse, some historians have argued that Custer may have been seriously wounded by one of these marksmen. Some Indian accounts claim that besides wounding one of the leaders of this advance, a soldier carrying a company guidon was also hit. Troopers had to dismount to help the wounded men back onto their horses. The fact, however, that both of the non-mutilation wounds to Custer's body (a bullet wound below the heart and a shot to the left temple) would have been instantly fatal casts doubt on the proposition that either remounted wounded soldier was Custer.
Lieutenant Colonel Custer and his U.
Army troops are defeated in battle with Native American Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne, on the Little Bighorn Battlefield, June 25, 1876 at Little Bighorn River, Montana.
Inaccurately shows Custer in a blue uniform and long hair

The attempted fording of the river at Medicine Tail Coulee might explain Custer's purpose for Reno's attack, that is, a coordinated "hammer-and-anvil" maneuver, with Reno holding the Indians at bay at the southern end of the camp, while Custer drove them against Reno's line from the north. Other historians have noted that if Custer did attempt to cross the river near Medicine Tail Coulee, he may have been inspired by the belief that it was the north end of the Indian camp, when in fact it was only the middle. Some Indian accounts, however, place the Northern Cheyenne encampment and the north end of the overall village to the left (and south) of the opposite side of the crossing. The exact location of the north end of the village remains in dispute, however. Custer had tried a variation of this same sort of tactic at the 1868 Battle of Washita Rivermarker – a simultaneously converging attack.

Other views of Custer's actions at Minneconjou Ford

Other historians claim that Custer never approached the river, but rather continued north across the coulee and up the other side, where he gradually came under attack. According to this theory, by the time Custer realized he was badly outnumbered, it was too late to break back to the south where Reno and Benteen could have provided assistance. Two men from the 7th Cavalry later claimed to have seen Custer engage the Indians, including the young Crow scout Ashishishe, known by his translated name Curley, and the trooper Peter Thompson, who allegedly fell behind Custer's column. The accuracy of their recollections remains controversial, with battle participants and historians almost universally discrediting Thompson's claim.

A new interpretation is based on recent archaeological evidence and Indian testimony. In the 1920s, battlefield investigators discovered hundreds of .45-70 shell cases along the ridge line, known today as Nye-Cartwright Ridge, between South Medicine Tail Coulee and the next drainage at North Medicine Tail (also known as Deep Coulee). Historians believe Custer divided his detachment into two (and possibly three) companies, retaining personal command of one while presumably delegating Captain George W. Yates to command the second.
This 1920s' evidence supports the theory that at least one of the companies made a feint attack southeast from Nye-Cartwright Ridge straight down the center of the "V" formed by the intersection at the crossing of Medicine Tail Coulee on the right and Calhoun Couley on the left. The intent may have been to relieve pressure on Reno's detachment, (according to Crow scout, Curley, possibly viewed by both Mitch Bouyer and Custer) withdrawing the skirmish line into the timber on the edge of the Little Bighorn River. Had they come straight down Medicine Tail Coulee, their approach to the Minneconjou Crossing and the northern area of the village would have been masked by the high ridges running on the northwest side of the Little Bighorn River. That they might have come southeast, from the center of Nye-Cartwright Ridge, seems to be supported by Northern Cheyenne accounts of seeing the approach of the distinctly white-colored horses of the Company E, known as the Grey Horse Company, and that its approach was seen by Indians at that end of the village. Behind them, a second company, further up on the heights, would have provided long-range cover fire. Warriors could have been drawn to the feint attack, forcing the battalion back towards the heights, up the north fork drainage, away from the troops providing cover fire above. The covering company would have moved towards a reunion, delivering heavy volley fire and leaving the trail of expended cartridges discovered 50 years later.

Last stand on Custer Hill

In the end, the hilltop was probably too small to accommodate the survivors and wounded. Fire from the southeast made it impossible for Custer's men to secure a defensive position all around Last Stand Hill. On Last Stand Hill, the soldiers put up their most dogged defense. According to native accounts, far more Indian casualties occurred in the attack on Last Stand Hill than anywhere else. The extent of the soldiers' resistance indicated they had few doubts about their prospects for survival. According to Cheyenne and Sioux testimony, the command structure rapidly broke down, although smaller "last stands" were apparently made by several groups. Custer's remaining companies C, E, and K were soon eradicated, with the final c. 28 survivors making a running dash through Indian lines south for the river. They were trapped in the box canyon called "Deep Ravine" . Their deaths signaled the end of the battle and the annihilation of Custer's five companies. It must be noted that no human remains associated with the batte have ever been found in "Deep Ravine".

By almost all accounts, within an hour, Custer's force was completely annihilated. David Humphreys Miller, who between 1935 and 1955 interviewed the last Indian survivors of the battle, wrote that the Custer fight lasted less than one-half hour. The Lakota asserted that Crazy Horse personally led one of the large groups of warriors who overwhelmed the cavalrymen in a surprise charge from the northeast, causing a breakdown in the command structure and panic among the troops. Many of these men threw down their weapons while Cheyenne and Sioux warriors rode them down, "counting coup" with lances, coup sticks and quirts. Some Indian accounts recalled this segment of the fight as a "buffalo run."

Numbers of Native American combatants

The exact number of Indian warriors participating in the battle has never been ascertained, and remains a matter of debate among historians. It has been estimated that in the overall battle, the warriors outnumbered the 7th Cavalry by approximately three to one, or roughly 1800 against 600. In Custer's fight, this ratio could have increased to as high as nine to one (1800 against 200) after his isolated command became the main focus of the fighting. Some historians, however, claim the ratio of the Custer fight to be as low as three to one. Custer's detachment was certainly outnumbered and was caught in the open on unfamiliar terrain. It is interesting to note that within weeks of the battle, the estimate of the number of Indian warriors steadily increased. Benteen's letter to his wife, dated soon after the battle, indicates 3000 Indians, while his later estimates were much higher.

Debate over effectiveness of cavalry weapons

In defense of Custer, some historians claim that some of the Indians were armed with repeating Spencer, Winchester rifles and Henry rifles, while the 7th Cavalry carried single-shot Springfield Model 1873 carbines, caliber .45-70. These rifles had a slower rate of fire than the repeating rifles and tended to jam when overheated. The carbines had been issued with a copper cartridge, and troopers soon discovered that the copper expanded in the breech when heated upon firing, the ejector would then cut through the copper leaving the case behind, thus jamming the rifle. Troopers were forced to extract the cartridges manually with a knife blade, rendering the carbines useless in combat except as clubs. During Reno's fight, Captain French was reported to have sat in the open, completely exposed to Indian gunfire, extracting jammed shells from guns, reloading, and then passing them back to troopers in exchange for other jammed weapons to clear.

Yet the Springfield Model 1873 was selected by the Army Ordnance Board after extensive testing in competition with other rifles. It was considered to be the most reliable rifle after multiple weathering tests. The choice of a single-shot rifle over repeat-firing rifles was a deliberate attempt to prevent overuse of ammunition, following the Army's emphasis at that time on marksmanship and taking into account the expenses associated with every cartridge's arriving at the end of a supply line. While Indian accounts of the Custer fight note men throwing down their rifles, in panic or possibly anger, allegations of jammed Springfield carbines do not appear in other confrontations during the Indian Wars. The jamming could have been due to the men's lack of familiarity with the Springfields. Several weeks before the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the 7th Cavalry were issued with the new Springfields to replace their Spencer repeating carbines.

Additionally, subsequent archaeological excavations of the battlefield from 1983 to present have been able to discover evidence left over from earlier attempts to clarify the problem of jammed weapons. Fox, in 1993, notes that only 3.4% (3 out of 88) of .45/55-caliber Springfield cartridge cases from the Custer battlefield and 2.7% (7 out of 257) cases from the Reno-Benteen field exhibit any indication they were pried from jammed weapons. These findings tend to place the accounts of jammed carbines as either fiction or misconception.

Indian accounts, documented in paintings on buffalo hides, indicate a fight between Indian bows and arrows and cavalry pistols. While this representation may support the claims of the Army's carbines' malfunctioning, the single-shot Springfield rifles used by the 7th had a much greater range than the Winchester and Henry rifles supposedly used by the Indians. Thus, if the troopers used skirmishers covering fixed arcs of fire, the soldiers would have been able to keep the Indians at bay for some time. Indian leaders spoke of several charges against the soldiers' positions that were repulsed, forcing the Indians to return to cover below the ridge.

As more Indians joined the fight, fire on Company L and Company C's two positions increased steadily in intensity. Indian accounts describe warriors deliberately rushing army positions with bright robes to induce panic in the cavalry mounts. Another account related that soldiers (probably I Company, held initially in reserve over the crest of Finley Ridge) were rushed by warriors waving blankets and by lone warrior "bravery runs," which forced some troopers to choose between holding horse reins or letting go of them and returning fire. Soldiers aiming at oncoming Indians often had their hands involuntarily pulled upwards by the frightened mounts, resulting in weapons discharged upwards as horses reared. When horses carrying ammunition packs were driven off, the Indians quickly gained control of them.

While some warriors came armed with rifles (including antiquated muzzle-loaders and Army Sharps carbines which they had acquired years earlier in trades with the settlers along the South Platte), the Indians also carried a large variety of primitive weapons including bows and arrows and several styles of heavy, stone-headed war clubs. According to the Indian accounts, at least half of the Indian warriors were armed only with bows and "many arrows," making it the primary weapon. Many of the participants, including the thirteen year-old Black Elk, claimed to have acquired their first gun from dead troopers at the battle. The Sioux warrior White Bull described the Indians as systematically stripping slain troopers of their guns and cartridge belts. As the losses mounted among Custer's men, the soldiers' fire steadily decreased, while the gunfire from the Indians increased until finally reaching a crescendo. The Cheyenne participants gave similar testimony: the Indians' firepower was increased by the new carbines they took off the soldiers, and the large amounts of ammunition they were constantly recovering from the saddlebags of the troopers' captured horses.

The exposed terrain of the battlefield also gave Lakota and Cheyenne bows and arrows a deadly advantage over the troopers on the ridge. The heights above the Little Bighorn River, unlike the valley itself, are considered completely unsuited for mounted troops. Custer's men were essentially trapped on higher ground from which direct fire at the Indians through the high, dense brush would have been difficult. On the other hand, the Lakota and Cheyenne would have been able to launch their arrows from heavy sagebrush below the ridge where Custer's men were making their stand by arcing their arrows upward over obstacles at the puffs of smoke from the troopers' weapons. A large volume of arrows would have ensured severe casualties. In fact, many of the slain troopers had multiple arrows protruding from their bodies. Many also had their skulls crushed, possibly by the stone-headed war clubs. It is unknown if these injuries occurred during the battle or post-mortem. Some accounts of the Indian wars describe Indian women coming onto the field after a battle and systematically bashing in the heads of the enemy dead and wounded alike.

More on Custer's final resistance

Recent archaeological work at the battlefield site indicates that organized resistance in the form of skirmish lines probably took place. The remainder of the battle possibly took on the nature of a running fight. Modern archeology and historical Indian accounts indicate that Custer's force may have been divided into three groups, with the Indians' attempting to prevent them from effectively reuniting. Indian accounts describe warriors (including women) running up from the village to wave blankets in order to scare off the soldiers' horses. Fighting dismounted, the soldiers' skirmish lines were most likely overwhelmed. Studies show that it would have taken an hour to cover the long stretch over which the troopers died and by most accounts, the battle was over within this time. Army doctrine would have called for one man in four to be a horseholder on the skirmish lines and, in extreme cases, one man in eight. A couple of years after the battle, markers were placed where men were believed to have fallen, so the placements of troops have been roughly construed. The troops evidently died in several groups, including on Custer Hill, around Captain Myles Keogh, and strung out towards the Little Big Horn River. As individual troopers were wounded or killed, initial defensive positions would have become untenable.

Last break-out attempt by twenty eight troopers

Modern documentaries suggest that there may not have been a "Last Stand," as traditionally portrayed in popular culture. Instead, archaeologists suggest that, in the end, Custer's troops were not surrounded but rather overwhelmed by a single charge. This scenario corresponds to several Indian accounts stating Crazy Horse's charge swarmed the resistance, with the surviving soldiers fleeing in panic. At this point, the fight became a rout with warriors riding down the fleeing troopers and hitting them with lances and coup sticks. Many of these troopers may have ended up in a deep ravine 300–400 yards away from what is known today as Custer Hill. At least 28 (most common number associated with burial witness testimony is 28) bodies, including that of scout Mitch Bouyer, were discovered in or near that gulch, their deaths possibly the battle's final actions. Although the marker for Mitch Bouyer has been accounted for as being accurate through archaeological and forensic testing, it is some 65 yards away from Deep Ravine. Other archaeological explorations done in Deep Ravine have found no human remains associated with the battle. According to other Indian accounts, about 40 men made a desperate stand around Custer on Custer Hill, delivering volley fire. The great majority of the Indian casualties were probably suffered during this closing segment of the battle as the soldiers and Indians on Calhoun Hill were more widely separated and traded fire at greater distances for most of their portion of the Battle than were the soldiers and Indians on Custer Hill. It is important to note that some 47 marble markers, originally intended for Reno-Benteen Hill, were mistakenly taken to the Custer side of the battlefield. Soldiers told of placing two markers over a body, one at the head and one at the foot of the soldier's remains. This may explain the pairing of double markers at several places especially on Calhoun Hill and at other places at that end of the battlefield.

Indian casualties

Indian casualties have never been determined and estimates vary widely, from as few as 36 dead (from Indian listings of the dead by name) to as many as 300. The Sioux chief Red Horse told Col. W. H. Wood that the Indians suffered 136 dead and 160 wounded during the battle. Many historians do not agree with these categorical numbers, since Indians did not keep such statistics.

The aftermath

After the Custer force was annihilated, the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne regrouped to attack Reno and Benteen. The fight continued until dark (approximately 9:00 p.m.) and for much of the next day, with the outcome in doubt. Reno credited Benteen's leadership with repulsing a severe attack on the portion of the perimeter held by Companies H and M. On June 26, the column under General Terry approached from the north, and the Indians drew off in the opposite direction. The Crow scout White Man Runs Him was the first to tell General Terry's officers that Custer's force had "been wiped out." Reno and Benteen's wounded troops were given what treatment was available at that time; five later died of their wounds. One of the regiment's three surgeons had been with Custer's column, while another, Dr DeWolf, had been killed during Reno's retreat; the remaining doctor, Assistant Surgeon Henry R. Porter, was assisted by interpreter Fred Gerard.

News of the defeat, arriving in the East just as the U.S. was observing its centennial, came as a great shock to a nation accustomed to battlefield victories and increasingly convinced of its inherent superiority and manifest destiny. Investigations were launched, although their effectiveness was hampered by a concern for embarrassment, especially of Custer's widow, Elizabeth Bacon Custer. She lived until 1933, thus preventing much serious research until most of the evidence was long gone.

7th Cavalry casualties

The 7th Cavalry suffered 52 percent casualties: 16 officers and 242 troopers killed or died of wounds, 1 officer and 51 troopers wounded. Every soldier in the five companies with Custer was killed (3 Indian scouts and several troopers had left that column before the battle; an Indian scout, Curly, was the only survivor to leave after the battle had begun), although for years rumors persisted of survivors. The sole surviving animal reportedly discovered on the battlefield by General Terry's troops was Captain Keogh's horse Comanche.

Comanche in 1887
Scene of Custer's last stand, looking in the direction the Indian village and the deep ravine.
Photo by Stanley J.
Morrow, spring 1877.
In 1878, the army awarded 24 Medals of Honor to participants in the fight on the bluffs for bravery, most for risking their lives to carry water from the river up the hill to the wounded. Few on the non-Indian side questioned the conduct of the enlisted men, but many questioned the tactics, strategy and conduct of the officers. Indian accounts spoke of panic-driven flight and suicide by soldiers unwilling to be captured by the Indians after seeing the terrible fate of those who fell into Indian hands while still alive.

7th Cavalry reconstituted in July 1876

Beginning in July, the 7th Cavalry was assigned new officers and recruiting efforts begun to fill the depleted ranks. The regiment, reorganized into eight companies, remained in the field as part of the Terry Expedition, now based on the Yellowstone River at the mouth of the Big Horn and reinforced by Gibbon's column. On August 8, 1876, after Terry was further reinforced with the 5th Infantry, the expedition moved up Rosebud Creek in pursuit of the Lakota. It met with Crook's command, similarly reinforced, and the combined force, almost 4,000 strong, followed the Lakota trail northeast toward the Little Missouri River. Persistent rain and lack of supplies forced the column to dissolve and return to its varying starting points. The 7th Cavalry returned to Fort Lincoln to reconstitute.

The Army expanded to end remaining Indian resistance

The Army as a whole was expanded by 2,500 men to meet the emergency resulting from the disaster befalling the 7th Cavalry. The Democratic Party-controlled House of Representatives actually abandoned for a session its campaign to drastically curtail the size of the Army. Word of Custer's fate reached the 44th United States Congress as a conference committee was attempting to reconcile opposing appropriations bills approved by the House and the Republican Senate. A measure originally sponsored by the Texasmarker delegation to increase the size of cavalry companies to 100 enlisted men was approved on July 24, and the ceiling on the size of the Army temporarily lifted by 2,500 on August 15.

Battle controversies

The Battle Of The Little Bighorn was the subject of an 1879 U.S. Army Court of Inquiry, made at Reno's request, in Chicagomarker, during which his conduct was scrutinized. Some testimony was presented suggesting that he was drunk and a coward, but since none of this came from army officers, Reno's conduct was found to be without fault. The charge of cowardice has been leveled at Reno throughout the years due to his hastily ordered retreat. Reno defenders point out that while the retreat was disorganized, Reno did not withdraw from his position until it was clear that he was outnumbered and outflanked.

Benteen has been criticized for "dawdling" on the first day of the fight, and supposedly disobeying Custer's written orders to bring "pacs" (ammunition). However, Benteen has also been acknowledged by many historians for supporting and defending Reno's men on Reno Hill.

Critics point out that Custer made strategic errors from the start of the campaign, refusing the use of a battery of Gatling guns and General Terry's offer of an additional battalion of the 2nd Cavalry led by Capt. James S. Brisbin. Custer's reasoning was that the Gatling guns would impede his march up the Rosebud and hamper his mobility. Considering his rapid march en route to the Little Big Horn, averaging almost a day, this was an accurate assessment. Each gun was hauled by four horses and it often became necessary for soldiers to drag the guns by hand over obstacles. These problems do not change the fact that the Gatling guns would have been a decided equalizer in the face of Indian superiority, and that elsewhere in the Indian wars, the Indians often reacted to new army weapons by breaking off the fight.

Custer believed that the 7th Cavalry could handle any Indian force encountered, and that the addition of the four companies of the 2nd would not alter the outcome. When the offer of the men of the 2nd Cavalry was made, he reportedly replied to Brisbin that the 7th "could handle anything." There is evidence that Custer suspected that he would be outnumbered by the Indians, although he did not know by how much. Custer divided his forces anyway, creating a situation in which the entire column could have been defeated in detail, had it not been for Benteen and Reno linking up to make a desperate yet successful stand on the bluff above the southern end of the camp.

The division of his force into four smaller detachments (including the pack train) can be attributed to inadequate reconnaissance on his part, and the deliberate ignoring of the warnings given by his Crow scouts. It was also a clear tactical error by the military doctrine of his time. In some respects, events overtook Custer, so that by the time the battle had begun, he had already divided his forces into three battalions of differing sizes. In doing so he kept the largest with himself. Consequently, his men were widely scattered and unable to support each other.

It has been argued that one of Custer's greatest concerns before the battle was that the combined tribes would escape to the south and scatter into different groups. Thus he considered an immediate attack on the south end of the camp to be the best course of action. Criticism of Custer was not universal, however. Lieutenant General Nelson A. Miles wrote in 1877 while investigating the battlefield, "The more I study the moves here [on the Little Big Horn], the more I have admiration for Custer." Yet the regular army's stance has historically been to find ways to exculpate Custer, and to blame the Indians' alleged possession of large numbers of repeating rifles and numerical superiority for the defeat.

For years, a debate raged as to whether Custer had disobeyed Terry's orders by attacking the village before his reinforcements arrived. Almost 100 years after the battle, a document surfaced indicating Terry had actually given Custer considerable freedom to attack the Indians if he deemed the action necessary.

Death of Custer – A dramatic portrayal of Sitting Bull stabbing Custer, with dead Native Americans lying on ground, in scene by Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show performers. c.1905

Sympathy for widowed Elizabeth Bacon Custer, who never remarried, suppressed active research of the battle (and potential criticism of her husband) in that a number of participants decided to wait for her death before disclosing what they knew. However, she outlived almost all of them, while authoring three popular books that upheld her husband's reputation. As a result, the fight at the Little Bighorn was recreated along tragic Victorian lines in numerous books, films and other media for the next 80 years. Custer's legend became embedded in the American imagination as a heroic officer fighting valiantly against savage forces, an image popularized in Wild West extravaganzas hosted by showman "Buffalo Bill" Cody, Pawnee Bill, and others.

In November 2006, an ethnologist theory by Thomas Bailey Marquis in his 1933 book The Cheyennes of Montana was revived. Marquis stated that the Indians present at Little Bighorn (and on the Plains in general) considered the Sioux War of 1876 to be a misnomer, that in actuality the Lakota participated not as the main antagonist of the U.S. government but only as allies of the Cheyenne, whom they considered the actual objective of the military campaign. Had the Lakota, who did not have the tribal unity and central authority epitomized by the Cheyenne, not taken this view, the theory concludes that the close alliance between the peoples would not have occurred and the outcomes of the campaign could have been greatly different.

By the end of the 20th century, the general recognition of the mistreatment of the various Indian tribes in the settling of the American West, and the perception of U.S. Cavalry's role in it, have altered the image of the battle (and by extension, of Custer) to that of a confrontation between relentless U.S. westward expansion and Native Americans defending their traditional lands and way of life.

Battlefield preservation

2005 The battlefield today.
Indian Memorial
Marker stone on the battlefield.
The site was first preserved as a national cemetery in 1879, to protect graves of the 7th Cavalry troopers buried there. It was redesignated Custer Battlefield National Monument in 1946, and later renamed Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in 1991. In 1967, Major Marcus Reno was reinterred to the cemetery with honors including an eleven-gun salute.

Memorialization on the battlefield began in 1879 with a temporary monument to U.S. dead. This was replaced with the current marble obelisk in 1881. In 1890 the marble blocks that dot the field were added to mark the place where the U.S. cavalry soldiers fell. The bill that changed the name of the national monument also called for an Indian Memorial to be built near Last Stand Hill. On Memorial Day 1999, two red granite markers were added to the battlefield where Native American warriors fell. As of December 2006, there are now a total of ten warrior markers (three at the Reno-Benteen Defense Site, seven on the Custer Battlefield).

7th Cavalry officers at the Little Bighorn

Civilians killed

Notable scouts/interpreters in the battle

1907 photo of three of Custer's scouts: White Man Runs Him, Goes Ahead and Hairy Moccasin

Indian leaders in the battle

Battle of the Little Bighorn in popular culture

  • Soon after the battle, Anheuser-Busch commissioned a painting of "Custer's Last Stand" which was distributed as a print to saloons all over America. The painting itself was so common as to became a cultural icon. It is reputed to still be in some bars today.
  • The 1936 film serial Custer's Last Stand is a heavily fictionalized version of events leading up to the battle.
  • One of the most famous films based on the incident was They Died with Their Boots On (1941), a highly fictionalized version of Custer (Errol Flynn) and the battle.
  • The 1956 novel The Dice of God written by Hoffman Birney features a fictionalised account of the battle. It was filmed by Levy-Gardner-Laven in 1965 as The Glory Guys.
  • The 1958 Walt Disney Studios film Tonka is a highly fictionalized history of the horse Comanche that survived the battle. This was the first film to tell the story from the Indian point of view, with a fairly accurate version of the battle taking place near the end of the film.
  • In 1960, country singer Johnny Horton released the album "Johnny Horton Makes History" featuring the song Comanche (The Brave Horse) about the only animal to survive the Battle of Little Big Horn.
  • That same year, 1960, Larry Verne released a hit song titled "Please, Mr. Custer" about a fictitious cavalryman who asked Custer not to join the battle after a nightmare he experienced the night before. This song was later re-recorded by Marty Robbins.
  • An episode of the 1962 Saturday morning cartoon series Beany and Cecil featured a wild west dessert establishment called Custard's Last Stand. This gag was repeated decades later in the show Histeria! (see below), though it is unknown whether that show's staff was aware of the earlier use.
  • In a 1963 episode of The Twilight Zone titled "The 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms," three members of a modern National Guard troop suddenly join the battle on the side of Custer.
  • Published in 1964, Thomas Berger's novel "Little Big Man" (on which the later movie was based) follows the life story of one Jack Crabb, as he becomes the sole white survivor of the Custer battle.
  • The 1965 film The Great Sioux Massacre stars Philip Carey as Custer and Darren McGavin as Captain Benteen.
  • A 1967 television series Custer, starring Wayne Maunder in the title role, lasted 17 episodes before cancellation.
  • The 1967 film Custer of the West stars Robert Shaw as Custer and concludes with the Little Big Horn battle.
  • The 1970 film Little Big Man portrays a manic and somewhat psychotic Custer (Richard Mulligan) realizing to his horror that he and his command are "being wiped out." (Mulligan would later reprise his "crazy Custer" character in the 1984 film Teachers).
  • The 1977 television film The Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer, starring James Olson as Custer, was based on a controversial best-selling novel by Douglas C. Jones in which Custer survives the battle and must explain his actions in court.
  • The television miniseries Son of the Morning Star, based on Evan S. Connell's bestselling book, debuted in 1991. The film recounted the story of Custer (Gary Cole) and the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
  • The 2005 TV miniseries Into the West shows a version of the battle.
  • George MacDonald Fraser places his fictional anti-hero, Flashman at the battle in the book Flashman and the Redskins. Flashman survives the battle thanks to an Oglala Indian girl (Walking Blanket Woman) who takes pity on him in her eagerness to join the main battle, and to his illegitimate son, Frank Standing Bear, who had grown up among the Sioux. Flashman elsewhere comments that the Battle of the Little Big Horn is more proof that any sane person should run the other way from any military action where the Irish tune Garryowen is played beforehand. The drinking song was also popular among British soldiers at the Charge of the Light Brigade, which he also survived, barely.
  • A short story by Frederick Forsyth, in his collection "The Veteran", concerns a fictional survivor of the battle.
  • Blazon Stone album by German power metal band Running Wild includes a song titled "Little Big Horn", depicting the battle.
  • The battle appears on a level of the computer game Age of Empires III: The War Chiefs where the player must kill Custer and his troops as part of the Indian army.
  • Return Of The Pride album by rock band White Lion includes a song titled "Battle at Little Big Horn", depicting the battle.
  • In the 2009 film Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian, Custer is a main character in the film played for comedy as a vain and inept military tactician by Bill Hader.
  • In the upcoming video game Darkest of Days one level has you play as a soldier under Custer’s command during the Battle of Little Bighorn. It is shown inaccurately however, as the battle takes place on a hill instead of a plain.

See also Cultural depictions of George Armstrong Custer

Eyewitness accounts

From the Indian village

  • Afraid of Eagle
  • Circling Hawk
  • Moving Robe Woman (known later as Mary Crawler)
  • Crow King
Siasapa (Blackfoot Lakota)
  • All Yellow
  • Bear's Ghost
Oohenonpa (Two Kettle Lakota)
  • Runs the Enemy
Oglala Sicangu (Brule Lakota)
  • Charging Hawk
  • Crow Dog
  • Bear, Dewey
  • Charging Hawk
Sans Arc Lakota, tribe unknown
  • Bobtail Bear
  • Bears Heart
Northern Cheyenne
  • American Horse
  • Big Beaver
Southern Cheyenne
  • Brave Bear

7th Cavalry


Indian Scouts

Company A
  • Moylan, Myles
  • DeRudio, Charles C.
  • Heyn, William
  • Culbertson, Ferdinand
  • Roy, Stanislaus
  • Hardy, William G.
  • McVeigh, David
  • Nugent, William D.
  • Taylor, William O.
  • Nugent, William D. (1852–1934)

Company B
  • Coleman, Thomas W.
  • DeVoto, Augustus L.
  • McDougall, Thomas M.
  • Knipe, Daniel A.
  • Thompson, Peter

Company M
  • Newell, Daniel (1846–1933)

Quartermaster Employees


  • Sklenar, Larry, To Hell with Honor, General Custer and the Little Big Horn, Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8061-3472-0.
  • Barnard, Sandy, Digging into Custer's Last Stand. Huntington Beach, California: Ventana Graphics, 1998. ISBN 0-9618087-5-6.
  • Brininstool, E. A., Troopers With Custer. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, 1994. ISBN 0-8177-1742-9.
  • Connell, Evan S., Son of the Morning Star. New York: North Point Press, 1984. ISBN 0-86547-510-5.
  • Dustin, Fred, The Custer Tragedy: Events Leading Up to and Following the Little Big Horn Campaign on 1876. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Edwards Brothers, 1939.
  • Elliot, M.A. Custerology: The Enduring Legacy of the Indian Wars and George Armstrong Custer. University of Chicago Press, 2007. ISBN 0-226-20146-5.
  • Fox, Richard Allan, Jr., Archaeology, History, and Custer's Last Battle. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8061-2496-2.
  • Goodrich, Thomas. Scalp Dance: Indian Warfare on the High Plains, 1865-1879. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1997. ISBN 0-8117-1523-X.
  • Graham, Col. William A., The Custer Myth: A Source Book for Custeriana. New York: Bonanza Books, 1953.
  • Grinnell, George Bird. The Fighting Cheyennes. Norman: The University of Oklahoma Press, 1915; reprint 1956, ISBN 0-7394-0373-7.
  • Hammer, Kenneth. Men with Custer: Biographies of the 7th Cavalry: June 25, 1876. (Ronald H. Nichols, editor). Hardin, Montana: Custer Battlefield Historical and Museum Association, 2000. ISBN 1-892258-05-6.
  • Hardoff, R. G. (editor), Camp, Custer and the Little Big Horn. El Segundo, California: Upton and Sons, 1997. ISBN 0-9127-8325-7.
  • Mails, Thomas E. The Mystic Warriors of the Plains: The Culture, Arts, Crafts and Religion of the Plains Indians New York: Marlowe & Co., 1996. ISBN 1-5692-4538-X.
  • Michno, Gregory F., Lakota Noon, the Indian narrative of Custer's defeat, Mountain Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8784-2349-4.
  • Miller, David, H., Custer's Fall: The Native American Side of the Story, University of Nebraska Press, 1985. ISBN 0-4520-1095-0.
  • Neihardt, John G. (editor), Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux. University of Nebraska Press, 1979. ISBN 0-8032-8359-8.
  • Nichols, Ronald H. (editor), Reno Court of Inquiry. Hardin, Montana: Custer Battlefield Historical and Museum Association, 1996.
  • Panzeri, Peter, Little Big Horn, 1876: Custer’s Last Stand. London, UK: Osprey, 1995. ISBN 185532458X.
  • Perrett, Bryan. Last Stand!: Famous Battles Against the Odds London: Arms & Armour, 1993. ISBN 1-8540-9188-3.
  • Reno, Marcus A., The official record of a court of inquiry convened at Chicago, Illinois, January 13, 1879, by the President of the United States upon the request of Major Marcus A. Reno, 7th U.S. Cavalry, to investigate his conduct at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, June 25-26, 1876. on-line in the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.
  • Sarf, Wayne Michael, The Little Bighorn Campaign: March-September 1876, Conshohocken, Pennsylvania: Combined Books, 1993. ISBN 1-5809-7025-7.
  • Scott, Douglas D. & Connor, Melissa: Context Delicti: Archaeological Context in Forensic Work. In: Haglund, W.D. & Sorg, M.H. (eds.): Forensic Taphonomy: The Postmortem Fate of Human Remains, CRC Press, pp.: 27-38; Boca Raton, 1997.
  • Vestal, Stanley. Warpath: The True Story of the Fighting Sioux Told in a Biography of Chief White Bull Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1934. ISBN 0-8032-4653-6.
  • Viola, Herman J., Little Bighorn Remembered: The Untold Indian Story of Custer's Last Stand. Westminster, Maryland: Times Books, 1999, ISBN 0-8129-3256-0.
  • Wert, Jeffry D. Custer: The Controversial Life of George Armstrong Custer. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. ISBN 0-6848-1043-3.


Further reading

  • Chiaventone, Frederick J., A Road We Do Not Know: A Novel of Custer at the Little Bighorn. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. ISBN 0-6848-3056-6.
  • Connell, Evan S., Son of the Morning Star: Custer and The Little Bighorn. New York: North Point Press, 1984. ISBN 0-8654-7510-5.
  • Gray, John S., Custer's Last Campaign: Mitch Boyer and the Little Bighorn Reconstructed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991. ISBN 0-8032-7040-2.
  • Hammer, Kenneth M. Men with Custer: Biographies of the 7th Cavalry: June 25, 1876. (Ronald H. Nichols, editor). Hardin, Montana: Custer Battlefield Historical and Museum Association, 2000. ISBN 1-8922-5805-6.
  • Hammer, Kenneth (editor), Custer in ’76: Walter Camp’s notes on the Custer Fight. Provo: Brigham Young University, 1976. ISBN 0-8061-2279-X.
  • Keegan, John, Warpaths. London: Pimlico, 1996. ISBN 1-5501-3621-6.
  • Michno, Gregory F., Lakota Noon: The Indian Narratives of Custer's Defeat. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-8784-2349-4.
  • Michno, Gregory F., The Mystery of E Troop: Custer's Grey Horse Company at the Little Bighorn. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing, 1994. ISBN 0-8784-2304-4.
  • Sandoz, Mari, The Battle of the Little Bighorn. Lippincott Major Battle Series. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1966. ISBN 0-8032-9100-0.
  • Scott, Douglas D. & Connor, Melissa: Context Delicti: Archaeological Context in Forensic Work. In: Haglund, W.D. & Sorg, M.H. (eds.): Forensic Taphonomy: The Postmortem Fate of Human Remains, CRC Press, pp.: 27-38; Boca Raton, 1997.
  • Sklenar, Larry, To Hell with Honor, General Custer and the Little Big Horn, Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8061-3472-0.
  • Utley, Robert, Cavalier in Buckskin: George Armstrong Custer and the Western Military Frontier. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press; Revised edition, 2001. ISBN 0-8061-2292-7.
  • Welch, James and Stekler, Paul, Killing Custer: The Battle of the Little Bighorn and the Fate of the Plains Indians. New York: Norton, 1994. ISBN 0-3933-2939-9.

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