George Custer – Death on the Greasy Grass 1876


George Armstrong Custer and the Little Bighorn

General George Custer died on June 25, 1876 in Montana Territory. Was your ancestor with him or did they survive?


It was hot, as only a Montana summer could be. The air was filled with dust, the stench of men and animals, the shrill call of eagle bone whistles, and death.

Here on the Greasy Grass, Indians of the Great Plains had gathered to celebrate summer and the good life. At a Sundance a few weeks earlier, Sitting Bull, the spiritual leader of the Hunkpapa Sioux, had 100 pieces of flesh cut from his arms and danced staring at the sun until he fainted. When he awoke, he told of his vision of “soldiers falling into camp”, a sign that soldiers would attack, but would be defeated.

George Custer Wanted to Give the Nation a Birthday Present

Back East, the Nation was preparing to celebrate its 100th birthday. In the West, three columns of soldiers were hoping to give the country a happy birthday by capturing thousands of “hostiles” in a three-pronged pincer. From the west came General Gibbon, from the south General Crook, and from the east General Terry.

In late June, the Indian trail was struck. General Terry’s ablest Indian fighter was dispatched to find the huge village and then wait for Gibbon’s column before attacking. The Indian fighter found the village on Sunday, June 25, 1876. He split his command into three groups and then attacked. After a few hours of fighting George Armstrong Custer and over 200 men of the 7th Cavalry lay dead on a hillside overlooking the Greasy Grass—the river the soldiers knew as the Little Bighorn.

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