XIV. STRANGE BEDFELLOWS ? Just how Custer really felt about the red man is perhaps not easy to tell -- there have those said he respected him, his simple life, but it fell upon him as a good soldier to deal with those who would not abide by the treaties and had to be managed, that in some ways he could see their side 8 that the government had not always been forthright and cheated them at every turn, that he saw the red man as the most admirable of men, that they had earned his respect in their having chosen in dignity and pride to fight for freedom and not submit to slavery, that he empathized with their plight, 16 that in a way he felt a kinship to him, brave and loyal in the great outdoors, the finest and noblest life of any man in all of history, and that he bore a great admiration for the plains Indian, and was sad in that he understood that the coming of the white man would mean the end of the redman for good, 24 that he undertook his duty under orders, and perceived that to be not to interfere on either side in the contest, but was merely there to see that peace and law and order prevailed, and that any one who broke that simply had to be dealt with, that he was but bearing his yoke. 32 Perhaps, but then again Colonel Custer was not a good soldier at all, what he and others would term genius was nothing but the most reckless gall. The cunning of which his is attributed was but an oversized ego and whim, and it was not admiration that he felt for the Indians, but contempt for him, 40 that simple-minded child of a human who needed the white man's hand to guide him. And he was not out to preserve peace in the land, he was out to get the red man, to engrandize himself on the wa. Why else would he permit his soldiers to disfigure bodies and the innocent slay? 48 This colonel, who called himself general, though he was busted from that rank, was a witting or unwitting pupper' -- no, in fact, the depths to which he sank were no mistake, for he agreed with them, and they fitted his purpose, indeed. As much as anything else, his glory and power were his only creed. 56 There were forces at work in the nation who saw a need to contain certain tendencies that Grant had, and some around him who remained locked in the tradition of Lincoln, and the American System mentality, even if that was not the purpose of many around him making policy. 64 Not that there was not corruption, though in fact, that was overblown, but it could be used to block him from going this way on his own. And Yellow Hair was as eager to enter this battle as any before, especially as it meant his star would rise and help open for him new doors. 72 Soundly rooted in the tradition of Jackson, pursuing the footprints of Cass, who had been Old Hickory's Secretary of War, and who had surpassed even the treachery of that role by authoring Popular Sovereignty and presiding over Southern secession when he served as Secretary 80 of State under Buchanan (though when the dye was cast, he resigned in protest never admitting that he had helped it come to pass), Custer maintained association with the Radical Republican, Michigan's Senator Zachariah Chandler who had been 88 appointed Secretary of the Interior late in 1875 by Grant, by then beseiged and broken, and had proceeded to implant his own reforms over the Indian Bureau which helped to bring about the condition Yellow Hair rode into -- indeed, it was from out 96 out of his office had come the order of that winter sent to the Sioux that they had to report to reservation or face the men in blue. He had not only utilized Custer to get at Belknap under the guise of corruption, but had interceded with Grant about whom the General despised, 104 the reckless Custer, and thus helped him win once again his command, perhaps strange bedfellows -- the "Democrat," Custer, and this "Republican." But the politics of the nation were deeply embroiled in turmoil -- in '72, there had been a great rift as some had sought to spoil 112 the re-election bid of President Grant by forging an alliance between a new liberal Republican faction and Democrats which had seen both these nominate Horace Greeley, that radical editor from New York. Reconstruction was dying -- party alliances were at a fork. 120 But Chandler had also done much more, for he had wanted the Civil War, supported Seward before the nomination of Lincoln, as self-appointed monitor, had harassed generals and hurt the war effort, opposed Greenbacks, pushed Lincoln to appoint Stanton, blocked civil service reform, and later led the impeachment of Johnson. 128 XV. CUSTER'S LAST STAND "Hoka hey!" cried Crazy Horse, and the warriors resounded the cry, "Hoka hey!, Let us go," the Sioux said. "This is a good day to die!" Crazy Horse said to his Oglala and all those with him here, as they lifted high their rifles and rode off echoing the cheer. 8 Terry and Gibbon had no knowledge of the setback which Crazy Horse had inflicted upon Crook just days before, as they met now at the concourse of the Rosebud and Yellowstone Rivers, and agreed upon a plan for Custer to survey along a trail left by the Sioux which ran 16 westward to the Big Horn Mountains. From there he was to wait at a point along the Little Big Horn River where all would congregate for a concerted attack. His orders were not to engage his men in battle with the hostiles until it could be waged by all of them. 24 But Colonel Custer wanted the glory he might win through victory, to soothe the sting of reprimand and his errant testimony, to gain once more the star he'd lost of brigadeer general, and to be afforded the acclaim he'd need to seek the Presidency. 32 Still, the orders he'd been given contained just loophole enough for him to have the latitude that would serve his swashbuckling guff by exercising his 'discretion,' although that's hardly the term that applies, and so instead of waiting, he rode on to claim his prize. 40 A forced night march brought the regiment to the bluff lying beween the Little Big Horn and the Rosebud. His scouts told him they had seen great numbers of Indians ahead toward the Little Big Horn to the west, and still others to their rear, which to Custer had to suggest 48 that his presence was known to them. Ahead of schedule now, he must either let them escape if they wanted to or act immediately to thrust battle upon unknown numbers. Never one to turn back from a fight and full of confidence, he prepared for the attack. 56 Twelve miles from the river, Custer detached Captain Benteen to go with a squandron off to the south, and then sent Major Reno with another three companies to cross a small creek and ride parallel, to the west, with Pahuska's five companies. He then applied 64 One company to return to the rear to guard the slow pack train. Nine miles further, he recalled Reno to ride as two columns until they came to a solitary teepee inside in which one dead Indian was found; it stood amidst signs that there had been a great village all around. 72 When word came of the encampment just across the river ahead three miles, and the scouts reported that a band of forty had fled toward it when they were sighted, Custer ordered Reno to ford the Little Big Horn, find the village, and attack, while he'd afford 80 close support. Reno rode off. Custer followed just in sight and then turned his men and rode with them away, off to the right. It had worked well at Washita and other times for Yellow Hair, but now the camp was strong with braves and they knew that he was there. 88 Before Reno reached the camp, the warriors poured out on him. With no help from Benteen or Custer, they dismounted, and then retreated from the shelter woods as the warriors picked away at his frantic, fleeing troopers. But his retreat from the fray 96 freed the forces of mounted Indians from their village defense so they could ride off against Custer who had by the commenced up a hill where he could see the Indian encampment just partly. He sent a message to Benteen to join him there quickly. 104 When Benteen received the message, he continued on ahead and came upon Reno's men and stopped to help, while Captain Weir led his troops toward the sound of heavy fighting, but along the way, they were engulfed by a wave of braves they fought off for the rest of the day. 112 Colonel Custer had ridden forward and been met by a three pronged force -- attacked at once by Chief Gall, Rain-in-the-Face, and Crazy Horse. Blocked on all sides, they dismounted -- with horses running off or killed, short of ammunition, they were picked off, one after another, until 120 the last of the rifles were silent, and all of the men lay dead -- two hundred and twelve soldiers of the Seventh Cavalry had she their blood in a desparate retreat on foot from the force of thousands mustered against them by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. 128 XVI. SHALL EAGLES BE CROWS? When the word of the death of Long Hair began to spread across the land, there was a great hue and cry arose. The public could not understand how the great 'hero' could have fallen. In fact, the same reckless way that had brought him victory in the past, had condemned him to death this day. 8 And now all the Democratic papers which had cried out so loudly when Grant had been refusing to let Custer go back to his command because of his adamant belief that he was the worst person that could be involved in such a brawl (he was careless and did not obey orders -- not a good soldier at all), 16 and had alledged that it was petty politics that, in reality, Grant was about, and that he was ruining a good soldier's career, now all began to shout for revenge against these red 'devils,' these 'blood-thirsty, savage' Sioux, retribution that they would cry for until the carnage was through. 24 It was not until two days after Custer's demise of 25th June, that Terry and Gibbon had arrived on the scene and found the bodies strewn, stripped of any useful garb or weapons. But the body of Custer, who had had his long hair trimmed for summer, was untouched. If they knew 32 that this was Pahuska's regiment and that they had killed Hard Ass, they did not desecrate or scalp him. General Sheridan amassed the men of every outpost from the Canadian border to Mexico and ordered all of these troops into the Sioux country to go. 40 Crazy Horse had surveyed the victory and then listened to the stories told before he went to cover his head. He felt weary now, almost old. There were skimishes with surviving soldiers that day and the next, and talk of one great charge to drive the white man out of the land. 48 But Crazy Horse was making other plans, and scouts reported they had seen another great army approaching. And so they abandoned where they'd been, removing the great encampment, in a long line, they marched to find shelter in the White Mountains leaving the Little Big Horn behind. 56 It was not in jubilation, but without joy the people turned. In their wake, the grass of the valley caught fire. As it burned, billowing clouds of pale smoke rolled up like thunder clouds. And the people slipped off quietly covered by the shroud. 64 Sitting Bull had anticipated what the army would do now and developed a strategy to deal with it knowing full well how the numbers would soon be with them. He split his army, intent on avoiding another major battle, into strong bands, and each was sent 72 in different direction, spreading them out over an area vast and wide. From the Moon of the Black Calf to that of the Falling Leaves, they tried to avoid the growing tide of bluecoats, who, though hindered by the rain and cold and lack of supplies, were able still to sustain 80 a continued march against them, subduing them one by one. They would die or go to the agency -- surrender and lay down their guns. Along the Yellowstone River, they were to encounter Sitting Bull, who sent a message to Colonel Miles, demanding that they pull 88 out so he could hunt there. "You scare all the buffalo away ... I want you to turn back ... If you don't, I will fight again." In a parley, he repeated his wish and told them to leave all their supplies for them, to which Miles replied, "Surrender and return to your reservations." 96 Miles gave Sitting Bull fifteen minutes to surrender or fight that day, and Tatanka turned his pony and briskly galloped away. Outnumbered by three to one, Miles rode through the prairie fire the Sioux had set to block their way, and struck hard at the entire 104 force of Sitting Bull which engulfed him, so that he was compelled to fall back into a defensive square, from out of which he shelled the warriors with artillery fire, breaking them, and they fled. For forty two miles he pursued them, leaving scores of them lying dead. 112 In the aftermath of battle, two thousand Sioux came in. Sitting Bull fled to Canada. Crazy Horse, knowing he could not win, sought to allude the soldiers. The twilight of the Sioux came to pass less than one year after Custer had fallen at Greasy Grass. 120 In exile, Sitting Bull was asked why he did not surrender and go in, and he said that he was a red man, that the Great Spirit had made him of different heart and wishes: "Each man is good in his sight. It is not necessary for eagles to be crows ... We die defending our rights." 128 XVII. THE GHOST DANCE The Sioux at the agency had signed papers relinguishing claim to the Black Hills and Powder River, and as more of the people came to the reservations, the Congress ordered all rations suspended until all the white demands were met and the non-agency Sioux were stilled. 8 And now even Crazy Horse, Tashunka Wikto, was telling them that he would go into the agency when the new grass came again. They gathered at his lodges to hear what he would say: "My brothers, our Uncle Spotted Tail has spoken to me this day. 16 There is no use to fight any more. We have no chance to defeat the pony soldiers. But what I say here is for myself. Your feet must do what your heart tells you. I have fought long. I love this Land of the Spotted Eagle. But I am tired and the soldiers stand 24 too many now. I am all done. I am going in. I have sought that Sitting Bull surrender with me, but he will not. He thought that he does not wish to die just yet. He has gone to the land of the Grandmother. His trail is broad, those who with him would stand, 32 may follow it. But my home is here on this Montana soil and to the east, in the Paha Sapa, sacred to our fathers. I will not run away. At least, I shall die here. I am going in. I gave my promise to follow Spotted Tail along the road to peace." He did not know it would mean jail. 40 When he rode in the next morning, half of the Sioux came, too, while the others rode north to Sitting Bull. Spotted Tail came and drew up next to him to ride with him: "We never have trouble here. The air is still and free from dust. The skies are always clear. 48 We keep the peace. You must listen and understand this I say." Crazy Horse nodded and rode ahead. It was the dust of the day when he got down from his horse and greeted the soldiers there. They promised he would not be harmed and he marched off to where 56 the soldiers escorting him led him -- the guard house of the agency troops. When the steel clamps closed upon his legs, he gave out a great whoop. He broke away from the soldiers having seen the iron bars, he would rather die than be caged off from the sun and the stars. 64 Crazy Horse ran toward the darkness, but shackled, only two strides, before one of the bayonets of a soldier struck his side. He stopped and stood erectly with the help of friendlier hands, but he told them to let him go, and so they let him stand. 72 "Can't you see I have my last wound ...," he told them as he turned and walked three proud steps toward the soldiers, then slowly collapsed down into the dirt of the agency prison yard. "Take him to the guardhouse, and clear this place at once," said the guard. 80 But Touch-the-Clouds would not move, he picked up the dying Sioux and carried him toward the guardhouse, followed closely by the two aging parents of Crazy Horse. His kidneys both pierced through, the post surgeon examined him, but there was nothing he could do. 88 His parents cried the words for him of the chant for Fallen Ones, the Katela Song of the Sioux, but even before they had done, Touch-the-Clouds asked Tashunka what message he had for the people: "Tell them it is no use to depend on me any more ..." 96 Crazy Horse now was in the arms of Wakanta Tanka. In defeat, the tribes were all on reservations. What ever it was they'd eat was doled out to them by the white man -- they sat around in idleness. The buffalo were gone now -- their lives full of emptiness. 104 But one among the Arapaho, set upon a vision quest, had dreamed he transported into heaven and was blessed by the Great Spirit who told him that the white man would be destroyed and that the buffalo and the Indian would come back if they employed 112 the ritual he was shown. His religion was expressed in the Ghost Dance. Before long, all across the west, Indians were leaving reservation to dance Wovoka's charms. And as they left the agency land, the army became alarmed. 120 The Ghost Dance Shirt that was worn when the ritual was performed was believed to protect them -- that soldiers' bullets could do no harm. And Sitting Bull hoped the dance would set the old Sioux spirit free, as they began to gather to dance the Ghost Dance at Wounded Knee. 128 Continue