Battle of Little Bighorn
The Battle of Little Bighorn was a two-day battle fought between several Native American tribes and the United States Calvary (Army) on June 25th and 26th, 1876. It is also known as Custer's Last Stand. The battle was fought near the Little Bighorn River in Big Horn County, Montana, and was part of a bigger war between the Sioux Nation and the U.S., which was called the Sioux War of 1876.
Before the battle, in 1868, the U.S. government had signed a treaty with one of the Native American tribes. The treaty had guaranteed that a portion of land in South Dakota to the tribe, which included the Black Hills. However, a few years later, gold was discovered in the Black Hills. Prospectors, people usually searching for gold or other valuable minerals, began to trespass on the Native American land.
The U.S. then decided they wanted the land returned but the Native Americans refused to give it up. Prior to the battle, the army was sent to clear the land of tribes and they attacked their villages. It was discovered that members of the tribes were gathering near the Little Big Horn River and the U.S. did not want them to escape.
One of the U.S. Calvary leaders was Lieutenant General George Custer. The Calvary battled several northern tribes of Native Americans, including the Cheyenne, Sioux, and Arapaho. The tribal army was led by Sitting Bull, who wanted to begin the war against the white Americans because they refused to leave the tribal lands located in the Black Hills.
The Calvary's goal was to force the Native Americans back onto their reservations. The fighters were divided into three columns. One of the columns was led by Custer. Another leader of the men was Major Marcus Reno, and in all, there were about 650 men. Reno began the attack from the south, approached and opened fire, but was immediately overwhelmed. They retreated into the hills and escaped and were saved when reinforcements arrived.
Custer's group approached from the north, and he noticed a Sioux camp and decided to attack it. The Native American forces, however, outnumbered the Calvary three to one forcing Custer and the troops to reorganize their strategy.
During this reorganization, and while waiting for back-up, another group of Native American fighters, led by Crazy Horse, cornered Custer and his men. Instead of retreating, and in desperation, Custer ordered his men off their horses and to stack their bodies forming a barricade for protection against the Native Americans.
Custer did not know how many Native American fighters he was up against, and he and his men were overwhelmed. It is estimated there may have been around 2,500 Native American fighters. Every one of Custer's men, about 210, including Custer, were killed in the battle. The fighting was fierce and 'Custer's Last Stand' lasted for less than an hour.
The native Americans won the Battle of Little Bighorn, technically the Indians were not victorious. More forces from the U.S. Calvary arrived and forced the Native Americans out of the Black Hills. Due to the brutal killing of Custer and his men, and the outrage of the deaths, the U.S. government redrew the boundaries of the Black Hills so that the land would no longer be a part of reservation property, and was eventually settled by the white men and not the Native Americans.
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