Eyewitness Reports in History Custer's Last Stand Part 3
An eyewitness account of the Custer's last stand at the Battle of Little Bighorn an important event in United States history.
Custer's Last Stand
Reno was a competent but unimaginative officer. He had earned fame in the Civil War but had never engaged in the very special art of Indian fighting. As the alarm spread through the Indian camp and more and more warriors joined the fray, Reno halted and deployed his command. In the skirmishing that followed, it became apparent that the cavalry was not only vastly outnumbered but was also outarmed, using single-shot carbines against an Indian arsenal which included many repeat-action Winchesters. Within 20 minutes, Reno gave the order for his troops to retreat to a wooded spot near the river. There he made his own stand, which ended about an hour later, with a severely depleted cavalry battalion struggling up the far banks of the river while Indian marksmen picked off the stragglers.
Neither Captain Benteen, who arrived shortly after Reno's retreat, nor Reno moved in the direction that Custer was by this time known to have taken. Several junior officers, infuriated by their commanders' refusal to exercise ordinary military judgment and march in the direction of gunfire, where Custer was evidently engaged in a pitched battle, made reconnaissance rides of their own to the high bluffs overlooking the Custer battlefield. But by that time all that remained of the Custer command were memories.
What actually happened in Custer's engagement with the Indians no one knows. Not even the warrior chiefs could say who had shot Custer, whom they called Long Hair. Many white men have vented their opinions in both public and private forums, but as the Crow scout Flying Hawk noted, "The white men's accounts are guesswork, based on circumstantial evidence, for no white man knows. None left."
Eyewitness Report: The report of the Hunkpapa chief Crow King was originally published in the Leavenworth Weekly Times, Thursday, Aug. 18, 1881:
"We were in camp and not thinking there was any danger of a battle, although we had heard that the long-haired chief had been sent after us. Some of our runners went back on our trail, for what purpose I do not know. One came back and reported that an army of white soldiers was coming, and he had no more than reported when another runner came in with the same story, and also told us that the command had divided, and that one party was going round to attack us on the opposite side.
"The first attack was at the camp of the Hunkpapas' tribe. The shots neither raised nor fell. The Indians retreated--at first slowly, to give the women and children time to go to a place of safety. Other Indians got our horses. By that time we had warriors enough to turn upon the whites and we drove them to the hill, and started back to camp.
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