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Post A Veteran of Little Bighorn
Created by John Eipper on 12/26/14 3:26 PM

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A Veteran of Little Bighorn (Timothy Brown, USA, 12/26/14 3:26 pm)

Veterans--and wars--come in all shapes and sizes.

My mother was working at the Veteran's Hospital in Reno while I was in Junior High. Knowing my fascination with history, she told me there was an interesting patient in its long-term ward I might enjoy meeting. He turned out to be a 90+ year-old northern Cheyenne Army scout and a survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Asked what it had been like, he responded:

"It was a damned good fight, until we ran out of white men!"

A belated Merry Christmas to all and best wishes for the New Year.

JE comments: Little Bighorn was in 1876! It's stunning to realize that Tim Brown is but "one degree of separation" from a veteran. This is a far rarer encounter, say, than meeting a survivor of Gettysburg (1863), as no more than 2500 Cheyenne, Lakota Dakota, and Arapaho fighters took part.  As for the white men--well, they ran out.  (General Custer is the most famous Native Son of nearby Monroe, Michigan.)

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  • Native American Wars (Richard Hancock, USA 12/30/14 2:01 PM)
    In response to Tim Brown (26 December), I had always thought that the battle of the Little Big Horn of June 25, 1876 was the greatest defeat suffered by the US Army in engagements with American Indians. This engagement resulted in 253 solders killed and 53 wounded. It turns out that this was the greatest defeat in the West which became well-known through the writings of dime novelists.

    The defeat of the Spaniards in New Mexico in 1680 by Indians organized by the Pueblo Indian Popé was a greater loss than the Little Big Horn, because it resulted in 380 Spanish deaths plus those of 21 Franciscan missionaries. New Mexico was abandoned by the Spaniards until 1694, when it was reconquered by Diego de Vargas.

    It turns out that the greatest defeat of the US Army by Indians took place in Indiana on November 4, 1791 when General Arthur St. Clair's 1700 soldiers where defeated by an alliance of Indians in what was then called the Northwest Territory (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota). Six hundred American soldiers were killed and 250 were wounded. The Indians lost only 12-50 men. I learned of this last battle through a book review in the Dec. 28 Wall Street Journal by Fergus M. Bordewich. The book is, The Victory With No Name, by Collin G. Galloway, Oxford, 253 pages.

    Gregory F. Michno in his Encyclopedia of Indian Wars, Mountain Press Publishing Company, Missoula, MT, 2003, made a tabulation of Army records in the West from 1850-1890. He stated that the total amount of casualties (dead, wounded and captured) for this period was 21,586, of which 14,990 were Indians and 6,596 whites, including military and civilian. He concludes, "While we should not romanticize frontier violence, neither should we deny the facts: the West of the nineteenth century was dangerous, destructive, bloody--in a word, wild."

    JE comments:  Wild, certainly.  I'd like to know more about the 1791 battle in Indiana.  Is this the "victory with no name" referred to in Galloway's book?
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