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Sitting Bull and His Grand Victory Over the Us Army at Little Big Horn in 1876

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MG is an air warrior with a distinguished career and now a corporate advisor, writer, and intrepid traveler and novelist



The Red Indians were the original inhabitants of the American continent but their civilization was primitive and they were very few in numbers. In addition, they had internecine warfare as there was a multitude of tribes who never saw Eye to Eye with each other. The Red Indians were not united and never believed in the policy of concentration of force and thus were easy prey to the US Army. The Red Indians were invariably beaten by the US Army, but in rare cases, they turned the tables and won decisive victories. One such victory was in 1876 in what is known as the Battle of Little Big Horn. The immediate reason for this battle was the war-cry raised by Sitting Bull when an earlier treaty entered into by him was violated as settlers swarmed the lands kept for Red Indians as per the treaty.

One other reason for the battle was the ongoing battles between the Red Indians and the settlers. The expansion of the white settlers into lands owned by the Red Indians infuriated the tribes. Over 3000 treaties were negotiated by the US government with the red Indians but it is on record that each one of these treaties was broken. This had to happen as the settlers who had come from England and Europe wished to develop the virgin and fertile lands in America.

On June 25, 1876, the Indian warriors led by Sitting Bull ( 1831-90) and Crazy Horse (1841-77) met the US Army near the Little Bighorn River in Montana Territory. The federal troops were led by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer (1839-76) against a band of Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. Tensions between the two groups had been rising since the discovery of gold on Native American lands.


The battle

The situation had become tense after the treaty with the Indian tribes was infringed. A war council was called by Sitting Bull who was a Sioux. At the war council, it was decided to fight the US Army and overall command was given to Sitting Bull. Another part of the Indian force was handed to Crazy Horse. The Army was aware of the war preparations of the Indians and had sent General George Custer who was commander of the 7th cavalry to crush the Indians.

Sitting Bull a Sioux was born in 1831 and had spent his entire life fighting the US Army and the settlers.

General George Custer was a man who had made a name for himself in the civil war and was rated as a professional soldier of high caliber. He had earlier bested the Red Indians many times and perhaps those victories made him a little complacent. He also planned to run for the US President as he thought that a win over Sitting Bull would lead him to the White House, given the American penchant to vote for war heroes.

March of General Custer

General Custer who had a low opinion of the Red Indians now marched against the Red Indians.

On 22 June 1876, the stage was set for the battle. General Custer assumed an easy victory and advanced towards the encampment of Sitting Bull. He wished to seize the initiative. But his intelligence was poor as he was not aware of the actual numbers with Sitting Bull. In addition, he ignored advice to match up with reinforcement under General Alfred Terry.

The Battle

General Custer laid out his order of battle and divided his force into 3 separate battalions. Two battalions were commanded by Captain Fredrick Bentsen and Major Marcus Reno while the third was under his direct command. He made plans to attack the Red Indian force supposed to be encamped close to the little Big Horn River.

The two battalions under the Bentsen and Reno opened the attack but Sitting Bull was ready as he had anticipated the attack. The attack failed and the battalions began to fall back. This was a setback and should have alarmed Custer but he was intent on finishing the battle. Worse he never anticipated the acumen of Sitting Bull and the tenacity of Crazy Horse.

Sitting Bull took command of a portion of the braves to defend the women and children. Crazy Horse mustered his force of 4000 braves and these attacked the main force of General Custer. It was a decisive swoop that took Custer and the US army completely by surprise. On that fateful day, each and every soldier of the force under Custer was killed. It was a massacre and along with Custer his two brothers and nephew also paid the price with their lives. It was a total victory. There is a memorial to the fallen soldiers that can be seen and the battlefield is almost intact. This was one of the rare occasions of a Red Indian victory.

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News reached Washington of the massacre and reinforced the white man's belief that the braves were a bunch of bloodthirsty men. The US Army rushed reinforcements. U.S. government increased its efforts to subdue the tribes. Within five years, almost all of the Sioux and Cheyenne would be confined to reservations. Both the leaders Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse were confined to reservations after negotiations.

Sitting Bull joined the rodeo off Buffalo Bill and received $50 for each event. He even went to Washington but he was a restless man and in 1890 he was shot in a scuffle with the police. 6 policemen also died that day. After his death, Sitting Bull achieved some recognition but his death was entirely avoidable.

Crazy horse was bayonetted to death by a soldier, which was again needless and avoidable. It is small consolation that a monument is under construction for him since 1948 in South Dakota. If completed as designed, it will become America's second tallest statue after the Statue of Liberty. Custer is considered a hero and people forget that he precipitated the clash by leading settlers to mine gold in reservation land.


MG Singh (author) from UAE on April 19, 2021:

Tom, well written, but all said and done Erroll Flynn was a fine actor.

MG Singh (author) from UAE on April 19, 2021:

Tom, this must have been a good movie from the view point of US Army.

MG Singh (author) from UAE on April 19, 2021:

Thanks Tom for your comment. The fact is the US Army doesn't have much of heritage for fighting anyone till the second world war and most of the time they're fighting only red Indians. I agree they were defeated in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and now Afghanistan.

MG Singh (author) from UAE on April 19, 2021:

Thanks, Tom, I have not read this book it is a good suggestion.

Tom on April 19, 2021:

Best book is bury my heart at wounded knee by dee brown

Tom on April 19, 2021:

Movie they died with their boots on 1942 movie on Custer eroll Flynn

MG Singh (author) from UAE on April 14, 2021:

Thank you COL, I quite agree with you that the US Army has not much of a heritage and during long-drawn-out wars, they have been unable to win any decisive victory.

Lt Col PARDUMAN SINGH on April 14, 2021:

Ii is an interesting account of a battle that is not so well known outside the United States. The US Army talks of its Heritage but their heritage just consists of fighting some red Indian tribes close to 100 years and that is not much of Heritage or act of chivalry. In most long-drawn-out wars like Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan they have been soundly defeated.

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