Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Custer "Invades" Montana

George Armstrong Custer

An excerpt from the Montana chapter of America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil...

"Historians and writers slow down to observe the phenomenon of Custer’s defeat at Little Bighorn in much the same way motorists tap the brakes to observe a smoking wreck on the interstate. Little Bighorn, which was fought during the Great Sioux War, was the deadliest battle in Montana’s recorded history.
Custer fell here
George Armstrong Custer was a body in motion that stayed in motion until he finally came to rest at the Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana on June 25, 1876. After graduating thirty-fourth out of a class of thirty-four at West Point in 1861, Custer was immediately swept up in the conflagration of the Civil War. Custer disdained the slow-moving infantry; he was a horseman and a natural cavalryman. He fought for his country as a dashing Union cavalry o cer, serving at the First Battle of Bull Run and the Battle of Gettysburg, and was present at Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Custer, a lifelong Democrat from Ohio, was said to have held presidential aspirations.

His long blond hair and swagger attracted the attention of Elizabeth “Libbie” Bacon, whom he married. In 1867, military discipline could not prevent the uxorious Custer from going AWOL to reunite with Libbie—for which he was court-martialed on eight counts, the most egregious charge being abandonment of his command.

During the 1873 Yellowstone Expedition, at the Battle of Honsinger Bluff, Custer encountered opponents he would meet again—the forces of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.  is time Custer and most of his men managed to live through the experience.

Prior to Little Bighorn, Custer was advised to equip his unit with the latest in killing technology: Gatling guns. He refused as their transportation might slow him down. Custer also made the fatal mistake of dividing his command.

Chief Crazy Horse had assembled approximately 1,800 warriors, who outnumbered Custer’s 7th Cavalry by about three to one. Many of the Sioux warriors were armed with Winchester repeating rifles that were superior to the Springfield rifles Americans carried. Of course, not all Indians opposed Custer. Many Crow Indians served as scouts with the 7th Cavalry.

Giovanni Martini

Some of the American soldiers that served with Custer were foreign born. Many were Irish or English. Giovanni Martini, Custer’s bugler, was a veteran of the Italian Army. Martini carried Custer’s last message to Captain Frederick Benteen, urging him to “Be quick. Bring packs.” As a result, Martini survived the battle and died in Brooklyn in 1922 after being struck by a beer truck!
After Custer’s death at Little Bighorn, along with 268 of his men, many tried to adapt the Custer legend to their own purposes. His widow Libbie wrote three books that unconvincingly attempted to exonerate her husband by blaming Major Marcus Reno for the debacle. But also Bill Cody exploited the Custer legend by staging reenactments of the battle, sometimes using Indians who had participated in the actual battle. Anheuser Busch transformed Custer’s apotheosis at Little Bighorn into a poster that adorned thousands of saloons across America.

In 1877, Crazy Horse was captured and held at Fort Robinson in Nebraska. He was killed by a bayonet-wielding guard that same year. Sioux resistance weakened after the death of their charismatic leader."

Signed copies of America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil are available at the Rocky Mountain Military Museum and here...www.americainvaded.com

Regular copies may be purchased from Amazon...www.amzn.com/0692902406

No comments: