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PAGE 2

Battle Of The Little Big Horn
by [?]

General Terry was chosen to head the expedition against the hostile Sioux, and Custer was to go as second in command.

Terry was older than Custer, but Custer had seen more service on the plains. Custer demurred–threatened to resign–and wrote a note to the President asking for a personal interview and requesting a review of the situation.

President Grant refused to see Custer, and reminded him that the first duty of a soldier was obedience.

Custer left Washington, glum and sullen–grieved. But he was a soldier, and so he reported at Fort Lincoln, as ordered, to serve under a man who knew less about Indian fighting than did he.

The force of a thousand men embarked on six boats at Bismarck. There a banquet was given in honor of Terry and Custer. “You will hear from us by courier before July Fourth,” said Custer.

He was still moody and depressed, but declared his willingness to do his duty.

Terry did not like his attitude and told him so. Poor Custer was stung by the reprimand.

He was only a boy, thirty-seven years old, to be sure, but with the whimsical, daring, ambitious and jealous quality of the center-rush. Custer at times had his eye on the White House–why not! Had not Grant been a soldier?

Women worshiped Custer, and men who knew him, never doubted his earnestness and honesty. He lacked humor.

He was both sincere and serious.

The expedition moved on up the tortuous Missouri, tying up at night to avoid the treacherous sandbars that lay in wait.

They had reached the Yellowstone River, and were getting into the Indian Country.

To lighten the boats, Terry divided his force into two parts. Custer disembarked on the morning of the Twenty-fifth of June, with four hundred forty-three men, besides a dozen who looked after the pack-train.

Scouts reported that the hostile Sioux were camped on the Little Big Horn, seventy-five miles across the country.

Terry gave Custer orders to march the seventy-five miles in forty-eight hours, and attack the Indians at the head of their camp at daylight on the morning of the Twenty-seventh. There was to be no parley–panic was the thing desired, and when Custer had started the savages on the run, Terry would attack them at the other end of their village, and the two fleeing mobs of savages would be driven on each other, and then they would cast down their arms and the trick would be done.

Next, to throw a cordon of soldiers around the camp and hold it would be easy.

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Custer and his men rode away at about eight o’clock on the morning of the Twenty-fifth. They were in high spirits, for the cramped quarters on the transports made freedom doubly grateful.

They disappeared across the mesa and through the gray-brown hills, and soon only a cloud of dust marked their passage.

After five miles had been turned off on a walk, Custer ordered a trot, and then, where the ground was level, a canter.

On they went.

They pitched camp at four o’clock, having covered forty miles. The horses were unsaddled and fed, and supper cooked and eaten.

But sleep was not to be–these men shall sleep no more!

The bugles sounded “Boots and Saddles.” Before sunset they were again on their way.

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By three o’clock on the morning of the Twenty-sixth, they had covered more than seventy miles.

They halted for coffee.

The night, waiting for the dawn, was doubly dark.

Fast-riding scouts had gone on ahead, and now reported the Indians camped just over the ridge, four miles away.

Custer divided his force into two parts. The Indians were camped along the river for three miles. There were about two thousand of them, and the women and children were with them.

Reno with two hundred fifty men was ordered to swing around and attack the village from the South. Custer with one hundred ninety-three men would watch the charge, and when the valiant Reno had started the panic and the Indians were in confusion, his force would then sweep around and charge them from the other end of the village.