We've all heard of Little Big Horn and Custer's Last Stand...but can we remember the story?
In 1874 Gold Was discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Naturally, many white farmers fled their homes into the Black Hills territory, which had been ceded to the Sioux Indian in the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. This treaty was a result of an odd congressional committee who set out to make peace with the natives of the western lands.
The Indian Peace Commission was established to end the wars and skirmishes and prevent future Indian conflicts. The United States government set out to establish a series of Indian treaties that would force the Indians to give up their lands and move further west onto reservations. One of the defining moments of Manifest Destiny... makes you proud to be an American, huh?
The Treaty clearly described that these lands belonged to the Sioux tribe. But, in the winter of 1875 the U.S. ordered the Sioux to return to their reservation. Communication was not a strong point of the primitive Sioux, so there were many Indians who did not get the message who were considered "hostile". So the U.S. Army prepared for battle to force the Sioux back to the reservation.
Custer headed a division charged with locating and routing tribes organized for resistance under Chief Sitting Bull. Custer's original plan was to team with General Alfred H. Terry and entrap the Lakota Sioux and the Cheyenne tribe at the mouth of the Little Big Horn and force them back to their reservations.
However, Custer found Sitting Bull encamped on the Little Big Horn River in Montana. Against orders, Custer waged an immediate attack. Bad idea. In less than an hour, the five companies under Custer's immediate command were slaughtered. For several days the few U.S. soldiers who remained continued to fight for their lives in hopes that relief would come. Smooth move by Custer. Disobeying orders and making an executive decision really worked out for him here.
When reinforcements came, on June 27, the Indians retreated. General Terry, arrived at Little Big Horn to find the bodies of nearly one third of Custer's 7th Cavalry, including Custer and his brother.
This, however was a short lived victory for the Native Americans. The Battle of Little Big Horn alerted the public to the savagery of Native Americans and federal troops were ordered to the Black Hills area to show the Sioux and the Cheyenne what manifest destiny was really about.