Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Black Buffalo Woman

Little Big Horn River, Montana

All of my heroes are pathetic losers.  You have G. Gordon Liddy, General Robert E. Lee, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel and Jim Morrison.....not to mention Sonny Bono....General George Custer makes the list without breaking a sweat.


Custer made Major General during the Civil War at the age of 25. He had eleven horses shot out from under him during the Battle of Culpepper Courthouse. He was 37 on June 25, 1876 when his career came to an abrupt end in Montana.

I'm not one to criticise a great military leader, but it seems odd that Custer would divide his forces into three prongs at the banks of the little Big Horn River and then subdivide his remaining third into two wings.

He asked his second in command, Major Reno, to attack the Lakota camp from the South.  Reno's men were routed as the Lakota boiled out of camp like hornets.

Custer's own 209 men, after attacking from the North,  moved to a hilltop, shot their horses in the head and used their carcasses for what has been described as well-organized breastworks and last ditch bid for survival.

The whole thing was the result of a rather shameful land grab by American authorities who had reneged on a previous treaty because of the discovery of gold in the Black Hills.

The slaughter of the buffalo  upon which the Lakota depended for food was just another shameful chapter in the history of the American expansion....but we may feel collectively no more responsible for those outrages than today's Germans are responsible for the excesses of the 1930s and 40s....all those old krauts are dead too...maybe we should try harder to be a force for good?


 The Bighorn Mountains were off to our left as we moved up though Buffalo and Sheridan...antelope and deer browse the grassland with no apparent fear...


 They've placed dead soldier markers all over the battlefield where Custer's last command was wiped out. A CSI type investigation of firing pin marks on cartridge cases and arrowhead types and broken finger bones and crushed skulls was also done...it all jives very closely with contemporaneous Indian accounts of the battle...and they were the only ones talking...


There is a National Cemetery here. The first 200-300 graves are for Custer's soldiers, civilians and Crow Indian scouts ...

 
after that you start seeing old Indian Scouts, Spanish American war vets, WWI soldiers and eventually WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan...totally cool...I could be here someday...or not...LOL...My outfit was the 7th Military Airlift Squadron running cross-Pacific missions in and around Viet Nam...we used to joke that we were the offspring of Custer's 7th Cavalry.


This is a shot of The Little Big Horn River today....The Lakota and Cheyenne had established a large camp on the river in search of antelope when Custer decided to try to force them into a smaller reservation...



Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse were two of the best known Indian leaders. They engineered Custer's ignominious defeat. Below is an actual photo of sitting bull....Sitting Bull fled to Canada after Little Big Horn. He returned five years later and in 1890 was killed by Lieutenant Henry Bull Head. Sitting Bull's death coincided with the massacre at Wounded Knee and may explain the Ghost Dance movement that spread widely at the time.


This is an artists rendition of Crazy Horse. A gigantic statue of Crazy Horse is being carved out of a granite mountain  in the Black Hills. The project has been underway for 70 years and may take another 500 to complete. The effort makes Gaudi's church in Barcelona seem fast-paced by comparison. Here is a link to my Blog about the Crazy Horse project. When finished it will be the largest statue in the world....bigger than the pyramids...carved from the hardest rock in America...



Wiki has this story about Crazy Horse.....
""In the fall of 1867, Crazy Horse invited Black Buffalo Woman to accompany him on a buffalo hunt in the Slim Buttes area of present-day northwestern South Dakota. She was the wife of No Water, who had a reputation for drinking too much. It was Lakota custom to allow a woman to divorce her husband at any time. She did so by moving in with relatives or with another man, or by placing the husband's belongings outside their lodge. Although some compensation might be required to smooth over hurt feelings, the rejected husband was expected to accept his wife's decision. No Water was away from camp when Crazy Horse and Black Buffalo Woman left for the buffalo hunt.

No Water tracked down Crazy Horse and Black Buffalo Woman in the Slim Buttes area. When he found them in a tipi, he called Crazy Horse's name from outside. When Crazy Horse answered, No Water stuck a pistol into the tipi and aimed for Crazy Horse. Touch the Clouds, Crazy Horse's first cousin and son of Lone Horn, was sitting in the tipi nearest the entry. He knocked the pistol upward as No Water fired, deflecting the bullet to Crazy Horse's upper jaw. No Water left, with Crazy Horse's relatives in hot pursuit. No Water ran his horse until it died and continued on foot until he reached the safety of his own village".

A bronze statue by James Ford imagines Black Buffalo Woman....as she might have been...I took a long walk along a dirt road this morning just after sunrise...it's beautiful country...a herd of about 20 mares and colts stared at me strangely on the road...they were "paints"...the creek here is named after Major Reno....After Custer asked him to attack from the South he led his men in a mad scramble to run away from the Lakota camp and lived to fight another day and bury Custer...


Reno was later charged with public drunkenness and with making unwanted advances toward another officer's wife. He was also charged with cowardice and drunkenness for his behavior at Little Big Horn and also indicted for peeking though the bathroom window of the daughter of his commanding officer...


 the hilltop of Custer's last stand....the last 50 or so of his 209 men fell here at the spots indicated by markers...after shooting their horses....

No comments:

Post a Comment