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The Anaconda standard. [volume] (Anaconda, Mont.) 1889-1970, March 19, 1893, Image 5

Image and text provided by Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT

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Historyof Court Last ud MM^fcsjMMl
HowIt Was Painted and Haw It^Looks^Accurate In Dotall^^Critiolams and^Comments.
Bum,Mart* IB.^John Ifutvaay. the^artlat. whose treat painting of ^Custer's^Last Rally^ ia on exhibition at Mavutre'a^opera house, had a personal acquaintance^with the brave Cuater, and spent aerei^years in Montana and on the battleground^of the little Big Horn, at the forts, among^the frontiersmen, soldiers and Indiana,^for the purpose of sketching the picture^from reality, or the beet that could be got^of it. He spent much time among Reno's^soldiers, and learned all there was to^learn of that noroio and memorable last^rally, and the result was a wonderful^painting, both artistically and historically^correct. The vast canvas presents a pain^^fully real and overwhelming picture of^1 hat awful struggle in the midst of terrific^lighting. Some 60 figures are there la full^liniah and detail and of Ufa else, ia the^middle, and many times that number over^tlie rest of the ground, and swarms of^savage Sioux in their war bonnets, fran^^tic, mostly on pontes, driving through the^background, through smoke, like a hurri^^cane of demons. Many of the figures^are wonderful. Custer stands In the^middle with dilated aye and extended^arm, aiming a huge cavalry pistol and^fighting to tba death, and one can almost^hear the echo of his famous ^Conn on,
boys,corns on; we'll whip h1 out of
them. His horse is superbly drawn, snd^lull of firs and action. Captain Cook,^wounded and bloody, half kneeling, is^noar Cuater, cooly aiming his revolver.^The dead and the dying soldiers and In^^diana ; the slaughtered horses used for^breastworks, all inexpressibly dreadful^and real, yet with an attraction and^lieauty that impresses itself indelibly^upon the memory. The great artist con^^centrated upon that awful carnage his^gmius, the eye sees nothing but the fig^^ures engaged in that desperato struggle,^and the necessary landscape on the pic^^ture la but an Incident to the great work.^Lesser artists would have painted an^elaborate laodscabe and mads the battle^none an incident. Mulvany painted^Custer and bis last rally.
Manywho ess the painting express sur^^prise and disappointment to see Custer's^famous long hair missing, but even in^that tba picture is historically correct,^although It Is not generally known that^just before be started on the fatal expedi^^tion hs complied with a sentimental and^oft made request of Mrs. Custer and had^his hair cut He mads a trip to Bismarck^for the pnrposs and when shorn of his^famous locks be had his photograph^taken. From that photograph presented to^Mr. Mulvany by Captain McDougall^of the Seventh cavalry, than stationed at^Fort Hayes, Standing Rock agency, the^picture of Custer, ss it appears on the^^tainting, was taken by the artist. On that^fatal day, too^an unusual thing^Custer^wore a buckskin suit, which is faithfully^lKMTtraysd on the painting, and hs wore^the only sabre carried by the troop that^day, which is another notices bis fact on^the picture.
Mr.Mulvany's intimate knowledge of^Custer's brilliant career from the time be^forded the Cbickahotuany river to his last^rally on the Little Big Horn makes a^thrilling story, and introduces a number^of interesting facts unknowu to the pub^^lic Mr. Mulvany holds a theory that ia^Mtmewhat startling, la that he blames^General Grant for Custer's frightful end^nnd the disaster attending it. Early in^1M7U it was determined by the government^to make war u|m^n the hostile Sioux, then^presumably under Sitting Bull. General^Terry, who waa in command of the de-^I nnnient, was ordered to cooperate with^General Crook, who waa to move upon the^hostiles from Fort Russell, near Chey^^enne. A small column from the North^^west was also to cooperate. The column^under General Terry was forming at Fort^Lincoln, under the direction of General^Custer, and that officer was designated by^Generals Sherman and Sheridan to its^command. The reason for this waa purely^Custer's former brilliant handling of^tlio Indian troubles in Southern Kansas^and on the Washita. He was recognised^as the boat Indian fighter of the day by^the forein st generals of the army. But^while he was bard at work organising for^the campaign he was summoned to Wash^^ington aa a witness to testify es to some^irregularities in the war department. He^went to Washington, appeared before the^congressional investigating committee,^nuswered their questions and at once^sought to return to his command at Fort^Lincoln. Etiquette demanded that be^should see ami take leave of the presi^^dent, and also General Sherman, then^general of the armies, superceding Gen^^eral Grant. President Grant refused to^soe General Custer. Three times be called^at the white bouse, but was each time^^^^ unpolled to wait for hours, nor did a let^^ter he wrote to the president have any^better result. Custer learned that the
f(residentwas incensed against him for^mving testified, und hence his persistent^efforts to have an interview ana diaahuso^the president's mind of prejudice against^him. The questions that Custer an^^swered before the committer, however,^were only corroborative. Numbers of^others had answered questions and the^consensus of the inquiry would have im^^peached General Belknap, secretary of^war; Babcock. the president's private^secretary, had they not resigned. Orville^Grant, the president's brother, alno en^^gaged in the conspiracy, carried the stain^almost to the seat of the president. The^aiain was the traffic in autlarships^winch pervaded the army, and which^was enginecied by Mrs. Belknap, wholly^unknown to the secretary of war or Pres^^ident Grant. All this led tba Utter to be^^lieve that General Custer was anxious to^rune to Washington to toll something^that might injure the administration.^Tailing to see the president. Custer called^on General Sherman. That officer had^left suddenly for New York. Custer,^therefore, took the train for the W-*st. and^arriving in Chicago, found a dispstch^ordering him to report to General Sheri^^dan, a bo bad heatlquarters in tli at city.^Sheridan, it seems, had receiver/i a dis^^patch to hold General Custer in Chicago^f ir I urthrr orders, and stating lbs t he was^not justified ill leaving Washing-.on with^^out seeing has president. Tte coin-^iiiandi-r-iti*^hirf of the army was de-^ti i mined to have a little petty revenge on^tin unfortunate by the use of red tape. It^v an ordered that the expedition ftom^l ort Lincoln should proceed witiemt him.^lie was finally allowed, however, to ac-^^ ^inpany his own regiment a lien the col^^umns moved on the campaign.
Asteamer proeeeded un the Missouri^river and thenee up the Yellowstone, ear-^rving provisions nnd General Te.-ry and^BtaiE The savalry nnd infantry marched,^ki'liing abreast of the steamer. The In^^dians acre supposed to be sonsrahere
aroundthe headquarters of the^As the column advanced toward the sup^^posed Indian rendesvous a so mi ling party
waasent out under Major Reno,^ported having found a fresh an^trail on the Upper Rosebu 1, and^towards the Little Big Horn.^Terry sent Cuater out upon the trait, giv^^ing him discretionary power either to^attack the enemy or await the arrival of^Terry or Gibbon. Having struck the trail^on the upper Rues bud after three days'^march. Custer's scouts reported that the^Indiana were in the valley of the Little Big^Horn. He erusssrt the dlride between the^Rosebud and the Utile Big Horn by day^^light the following morning. June 36th,^found himself on one of the email tributa^^ries of tlie latter. He divided his com^^mand, placing three companies under Ma^^jor Reno, three under Captain Ben teen,^one under Captain McDougall to guard^the pack train, and taking five companies^himself. As they descended the valley a^few Indians wars seen, and it was deter*^mined as they could not surprise the vil^^lage, to advance to the attack at once.^Reno was ordered forward to eroea tba^little Big Horn and charge the head of the^Indian village, Benteen to move wall to^the left and rapidly feel if there were any^of the enemy above them, and If not, to^Join Reno in bis fight, which would by that^time necessarily be oa. Those movements^were not only to feel the enemy but to^mask tba mora important movement that^Custer waa about to make, which was to^strike the center or lower part of tba vil^^lage, white the attention of the Indians^would be called, first, to Reno's attack^and then to Benteen'a coming to hie sup^^port, should ha have dona so. Custer's^Idea was to charge the Indians with terifie^force. He lost considerable time In his^effort to got through tba hills before ha^found the crossing, and banco his ultimate^destruction. Had Reno made a charge^down the village and then retreated to the^timber. If forced to do so, hs would have^carried out to the letter his orders from^Custer, and a victory for the troops would^have followed, but ha halted in the timber,^and Benteen, after he departed from the^main command, scouted leisurely up the^river for a few miles and then returned^and met Reno on the hills after hie re^^treat, snd instead of going to Custer's as^^sistance remained with Reno. Shortly^afterwarde Captain McDougall cams in^with packs, and there tho aeven squadrons^remained within sound of Custer's firing^all afternoon without making any effort to^reinforce him or come to bis assistance in^any way. A high authority in Washington^had so humiliated the unfortunate Custer^that it became possible for subordinates^to disobey his orders on the field of battle.^The ignominious and cowardly flight of^Reno snd bis command is a matter of fa^^miliar history. Tlie heroic fight of Custer^and his men that day is equally familiar.^The few bravo fellows that were left alive^when lie made bia Inst rally gathered^around their beloved commander and re^^solved to die as only brave men can die-^lighting to the last. They shot^their horses and made breastworks of^them, end the dauntless fellows defended^their position on the hilltop for hours, un^^til nearly sundown, before they were all^killed. Had Cuater been in Reno's place^and Sheridan In Custer's the history of^that bloody day would have been written^in different colors.
Mr.Mulvany tolls, from his personal^recollections of the event, a story ot^Custer, which showed the daring character^of the man. It waa at the battle of A Idle,^Virginia. Custer was sent with a dispatch^from General Plsasanton to the com^^mander of the union cavalrymen that the^enemy was about to charge and to be in^readiness to repell it. Custer delivered^his message ana no sooner had hs dona^so than hs noticed a movement on the^part of the enemy. Presently ha saw^tbsm rushing forward at a mad pace, and^tlien the latent genius of the man wss^aroused to a frensy. He well knew that^tba momentum of that charge would^smash his entire Unas,ware they to remain^passirs and rely upon their firs. In^^stantly ha galloped to the front of the^lines, and drawing his long Toledo blade,^yelled: ^Come on boys, come on I^Charge! We'll whip h- out of them I^^Kllpatrick and a number of other gallant^officers were In command of the troopers,^and seised with the enthusiasm of Custer,^shouted to their men to ^Come on, boys,^come on.^' The man wavered and^wouldn't move, but Custer in his wild an*^tbusiasm, waving his sword, rushed down^the lines yelling again and again: ^Come^on boys, coma on! We'll whip h^ out of^them!^ The officers rushed after Custer,^enthused by bis heroism, yelling in^turn to their troops to ^Come^on, boys, come on.^ Presently tlie^troopers took up the enthusiasm^snd with a wild yell away they went,^charging like mad men toward the enemy.^The golden curls and straw bat of Custer^were their beacon light in this, tbeir first^heroic charge. Presently the wearer of^that straw hat and golden curls was slash^^ing away at the enemy right in tbeir^midst. The troopers saw the desperate^odds against tho heroic fallow, and fren-^tied to desperation, they plunged forward^to the rescue. They no longer needed^their own officers to arouse them to some^of the mo.-t desperate fighting of the war.^That straw bat and blonde curia, ever in^the thickest of the fight, waa tbeir war^cry. Wherever that Toledo blade waa^seen flashing the troopers would rush to^the rescue, and so enthused did they be^^come with tlie glory of the mad fight that^they routed the enemy, driving them back^upon their artillery and infantry for aup-^port. Custer came out of tba battle un^^scathed.
JohnMulvany, the painter of ^Custer's^Last Rally,^ waa born In Ireland and^talks like a Rhinelander. He came to^America wben 12 years of age and pur^^sued art studies in New York. During the^war be waa on the battlefields at the front^sketching the details of battle scenes, and^it is this fact which gives to his work so^much realism of terrible fighting. After^the close of the war he went to Europe and^continued hie studies in the boat art^schools. Mr. Mulvany lias executed many^works of a high order of artistic merit.^Hia ^Trial of a Horse Thief.^ ^A Com^^rade's Appeal,^ ^Love's Mirror,^ ^The^Cavaly Fight at the Battle of Aughrlm,^^^Custer's Last Rally,^ and ^MrPhereon^and Revenge,^ Logan rousing his men to^heroic efforts at the great ^Battle of At^^lanta,^ after the death of McPboraon. are^among the most striking exsmplea of his^work.
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