Chief Gall Told Us About the
lefield Ten Years After Seven
it on the
By D. F. BARRY, Who Took All of the Photographs Illustrating this Article and Who Holds the Copyrights on Them
Thirty-five years ago, June 26th,
1886, a reunion of the survivors of
Reno's and Benteen's battalions of
the Seventh Cavalry in the Custer
fight was held on the battlefield on
the Little Big Horn on the tenth anni
versary of that disaster. I had the
good fortune to be there on that oc
casion. Chief Gall, one of the great
est of the Sioux warriors, was there,
too, and told the story of the fight
as he saw it. I have heard of a num
ber of writers who have written al
leged histories of the Custer fight,
who have said they heard Gall tell
about the fight on the battlefield that
day. For their benefit I might state
D. F. Barry, author and illustrator
of this article.
that Gall did not talk on the 26th of
June. He told his story of the fight
on the' evening of June 24th to a
small group out on the battlefield,
starting to talk about 7 p. m. It was
10 o'clock when we left the field to
go to our camp. Today, of that few
who heard Gall tell about the battle
—there are but' three living. They
are General E. S. Godfrey, Colonel
Partello and myself. The others are
It has been said that the Sioux and
Cheyenne village was surprised at the
beginning of the fight. Gall told us
that the Indians knew where Custer's
soldiers camped the night before the
fight. He said that early in the
morning of the battle the Indians saw
the soldiers come out of a pass in
the hills, and pointed out the pass.
He said they saw the command div
ide into three groups and watched
Charlie Reynolds, who knew that de
feat and death would result from
the attack on the Sioux village, and
who died bravely with Reno's com
mand on the river bottom.
their progress toward the Little Big
Horn, where the Indian village was.
They even decided that the "big
Chief,'' meaning Custer, must be with
the command that was marching to
the left of them, which was correct.
Asked why they thought Custer was
with that group, Gall replied "be
cause they made the most dust."
That also was undoubtedly true, be
cause Custer had five cavalry troops
Major Reno, about whose head a
storm of controversy beat after the
Custer fight. He was dishonorably
discharged from the army in 1880
as the result of a drunken brawl.
Reno bad a brilliant Civil war
with him, while Reno and Benteen
had three each, and McDougall only
the one in charge of the pack train.
Gall said further that he, Crazy
Horse, Crow King, and Rain-in-the
Faca weal out to fight Custer's five
companies because they "wanted to
GENL F W.BEJIfTEBir
- ' '
W T-f-u <-/
Major Tom McDougall was given eonmand of the pack train by Custer before the latter rode into bis last fight. He joined lien teen and Reno, and fought through with them until
Terry and Gibbon arrived and raised the siege. Trumpeter Martin carried Custer's last orders to Benteen to "come quirk and bring the packs." Comanche was the only living
thing that survived five troops that Custer led into the fight. He was Captain Keogh's charger. Wounded in seven places, he recovered ami died at Fort Rilcv, Kansas, a dozen
years later. Dr. H. R. Porter was the only surgeon that survived the Battle of the Little Big Horn. General F. AY. Benteen was a gallant soldier, who had much to do with
bringing his and Reno's men through the fight. The steamer shown is the Rosebud, a well known boat in the upper Missouri and Yellowstone trade.
General George Armstrong Custer
light the big chief." The reasoning
of the Indians, their generalship and
their fighting ability have never been
excelled in Indian warfare.
Gall said he took no part in fight
ing Reno's command after Custer had
bçen wiped out.
One very modern Montana histor
ian recently claimed he watched the
fight early in the morning from a
high hill nearby and saw the finish.
I might state for his benefit that the
fight took place in the afternoon and
that there is no high hill near the
Custer field. This man even has the
nerve to say he begged Sitting Bull
not to mutilate Custer's body. When
Sitting Bull came on the field the
fight was all over and so was the
work of scalping and mutilation.
Sitting Bull, when he arrived,
made a talk, praising the Indians for
killing all of CuBter's men. He said:
"We will go to our camp and dance.
We have lost only a few people.
When the other soldiers find out we
have killed all of these soldiers, they
will be glad to go away."
Many writers about the Custer
fight have said that Rain-in-the-Face
was wounded in that battle. He was
not, but his horse was shot and killed
just as he came out of the timber.
In 1887, 11 years later, Rain-in-the
Face was on a buffalo hunt, and when
his horse stumbled his Colt's revolver
—which he had picked up in the Cus
ter fight—was accidentally discharg
ed, wounding him in the knee. He
always limped after that.
Most historians of the fight say
that Rain-in-the-Face cut Captain
Tom Custer's heart out, as be hated
that officer for treatment he had re
ceived at Fort Lincoln while a pris
Chief Gall a great fighter and Indian general, whose strategy and leader
ship at the Little Big Horn had much to do with Custer's defeat.
This was the first photograph ever taken of Gall.
oner. Dr. H. R. Porter, the only one
of the three surgeons who survived
the fight, who examined the bodies
after the battle, denies this and says
the heart was not removed. I have
a letter from General Benteen in
which he said he would make oath
to that. It is true, however, that
Captain Tom Custer was terribly mu
I am sorry to say that I am afraid
my friend, Rain-in-the-Face, was a
bad Indian. Major James McLaugh
lin, who has been in the Indian ser
vice for 60 years and the greatest
man in that service today, who had
charge of Gall, Rain-in-the-Face, Sit
ting Bull, Crow King and other noted
Indians, said he believed Rain-in-the
Face would kill a man for me if 3
asked him to do so—and that no one
would be the wiser. He was a crafty,
1 have gone over the field many
times. Chief Gall pointed out to us
where Crazy Horse was stationed
with about 400 Indians in his bunch.
fighting General Custer. The chiefs
told with pride of the charge Crow
King made on Custer in that fight.
The last order General Custer
sent was to Benteen to bring the
packs. That order was given to
Trumpeter Martin to deliver to Gen
eral Benteen. Martin reached Ben-1
teen and delivered the order, but by
that time there were too many In
dians between Benteen and Custer
for Martin to be able to return.
When the men of the Seventh cav
alry first saw r the Sioux and Cheyenne
village off in the distance, they were
eager to fight. Lonesome Charlie
Reynolds, the famous scout, said:
Boys, if we attack that village, we
will get more fight than we want.'
He was right about it. Poor Charlie,
he was killed in the valley with Reno.
That brave old fighter, General
Benteen summed up the cause for de
feat this way: "Too many Indians:
good riders, good shots and the best
fighters the sun ever shone on."
Sitting Bull was a medicine man
and undoubtedly had power in that
line. Officers and newspaper men
always wanted to interview him—
that was his long suit. Gall, Crazy
Horse, Crow King and other real
warriors, would refuse to talk. John
F. Finnerty, James Creelman and the
other newspaper men who were on
the old frontier in those days made
Sitting Bull famous
Some writers have said that Custer
reached and even crossed the Little
Big Horn before he was driven back,
Gall said Custer never reached the
river. He said he never saw men
fight so hard. He said it took about
35 minutes to wipe out Custer's com
mand. He said some of the men
Where Reno Crossed the Little Big Horn
started toward the timber along the
■ river at the last, but they were met
j by Rain-in-the-Face and his band and
j were all killed before they could get
| back to where Custer was fighting
in skirmish line.
j This historic battle will be written
land rewritten by hot air historians
until the end of time. Probably more
[ lies have been written about this
fight than any other that ever took
i place. Most of the men who rode
out that morning with Custer and
Reno and Benteen are sleeping the
sleep that knows no w'aking, and
what is written now cannot hurt
them. But it is a pity that a true
story of the fight cannot be written
and generally accepted, so that future
i generations will know the facts.
Rain-in-the-Face, a fierce and crafty
fighter, who took credit for killing
Captain Tom Custer anti mutilating
his body. He hated this brother
of the general, and rejoiced in the
opportunity for revenge.
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