From The Editor
by David E. Roth
The Little Bighorn Campaign: Civil War Veterans Die on the Plains
by Neil C. Mangum
By the mid-1870s, the situation on the northwestern plains had grown extremely unstable. Settlers were flowing into the lands of the Sioux and other Plains Indians along the Bozeman Trail. The United States army guaranteed the safety of these settlers and prospectors as they made the trip. Furthermore, the United States government was starting to insist that the Sioux and others confine themselves to reservations, something which a large portion were unwilling to do. The second to last straw came when the Black Hills, for centuries a precious land to the Sioux, was opened up for settlement and gold mining. And finally, leaders of the non-reservation Sioux such as Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse were ordered to relocate to reservations with their followers by January 31, 1876, or face destruction at the hands of the United States army. As a result, three separate columns from different departments entered the territory of the Sioux and moved to find their main camp. Custer’s 7th Cavalry was in the Dakota Column led by General Alfred Terry. George Crook’s column was attacked along the Rosebud River on June 17, 1876, and driven back. This defeat took Crook’s column out of the campaign and would have disastrous consequences for Custer. The 7th Cavalry and attached scouts had around 647 men for the upcoming battle. They ended up facing almost 2000 warriors, over double the number they had been told to expect. Typically, Indians would flee if attacked directly, as they did not like to take casualties. Due to a recent vision of Sitting Bull, however, the Sioux and their allies stood and fought at the Little Bighorn. On June 25, 1876, Custer approached the Sioux camp from the south. It was located on the west bank of the Little Bighorn. At this point, Custer divided his force, sending a battalion under Major Marcus Reno to the west side of the waterway. Reno held his own at first, but he ordered a retreat back across the Little Bighorn, losing quite a few men in the process. Meanwhile, Custer had continued moving north along the east side of the river. Eventually, the Sioux managed to surround his force, killing them all. Reno, Frederick Benteen, and the other portions of Custer’s force stayed put on a hill and did not come to Custer’s aid. They discovered several days later that Custer and his entire command had been killed and mutilated. The Sioux and their allies won the battle, but they lost the war. The disaster only further strengthened the resolve of the United States to force the Plains Indians onto reservations, and even the great Sitting Bull surrendered and moved onto a reservation within a few years. Custer fought the worst battle of his career at the Little Bighorn, and his failure cost him his life and those of his men.
Galvanized Yankees: Rebels Trade Prisons and Guards for the Plains and Indians
The United States army was stretched exceedingly thin by the Civil War, and men were needed to fight the Plains Indians. A convenient source of manpower, provided they were willing, was the group of Confederate prisoners then held in Northern Prisoner of War camps. These men were assured that they would not have to fight fellow Confederates, and they also escaped the deadly prison camps. Eventually six regiments of “United States Volunteers” were raised to fight Indians and garrison forts on the frontier.
7th U.S. Cavalry Order of Battle
Books reviewed in this issue:
1. The Peninsula Campaign of 1862: A Military Analysis by Kevin Dougherty
2. Basil Wilson Duke, CSA: The Right Man in the Right Place by Gary Robert Matthews
3. Soldier of Southwestern Virginia: The Civil War Letters of Captain John Preston Sheffy edited by James I. Robertson, Jr.
Davis’ Book Note On Other New Titles:
1. Lincoln in the Times: The Life of Abraham Lincoln As Originally Reported in the New York Times edited by David H. Donald and Harold Holzer
2. John M. Schofield and the Politics of Generalship by David B. Connelly
3. McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse
4. Our Connection with Savannah: A History of the 1st Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters by Russell K. Brown
5. Hell’s Broke Loose in Georgia: Survival in a Civil War Regiment by Scott Walker
6. Plain Folks Fight: The Civil War and Reconstruction in Piney Woods, Georgia by Mark V. Wetherington
Among the topics in this issue’s “Camp Talk” are the preservation of Fredericksburg’s Slaughter Pen, the “bronzing” of Ed Bearss, the acquisition of the Shelton House at Richmond National Battlefield Park, and a new visitor center at Monocacy.
Driving Tour – Civil War Veterans Die on the Plains
by Dave Roth
The Battle of the Little Bighorn, June 25, 1876
by Dave Roth
Editor Dave Roth takes readers on a tour of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, most of which lies on land inside of the Crow Indian Reservation. Among the sites covered are the main India Encampment, Sharpshooter’s Ridge, Medicine Tail Ford, Calhoun Hill, and Last Stand Hill.
The Battle of the Rosebud, June 17, 1876
by Dave Roth
Mr. Roth covers all of the tour guides in this issue, here taking readers on a tour of the earlier fight along Rosebud Creek. Apparently the site is difficult to interpret since nothing is marked.
A Brief History of Red Cloud’s War As Told Through the Lives of Five Civil War Veterans
by Dave Roth
Editor Roth here relates the stories of five soldiers, Colonel Henry B. Carrington, Lt. George W. Grummond, Captain William J. Fetterman, Colonel John E. Smith, and Lt. Col. Luther P. Bradley, and how they experienced Red Cloud’s war just after the Civil War ended.
B&G Back Issues
Leave a Reply