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The Dupuyer acantha. [volume] (Dupuyer, Mont.) 1894-1904, February 07, 1901, Image 3

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Story of the Battle as Gleaned From Indians
Who Participated.
■Omaha, Special, Dec. 20.—The war de
partment is preparing a volume on the
•Caster massacre in accordance with the
resolutions which passed congress two
years ago, and, as singular as It may
appear, interesting facts concerning that
terrible chapter in the Indian wars of the
plains are now developing, a ciu&rter of
a century after the battle and when most
of the principles in the sanguinary con
test have passed beyond.
It is no secret that for many years af
ter the wiping out of Gen. Custer and his
three coimpanies not an Indian oould be
found who would admit having taken part
in the battle. As no white man survived
that terrible onslaught It was with the
greatest difficulty that the facts leading
up to the battle were learned. Of course,
from the position of the bodies strewn
over the plains the average plainsman
•would read
Tlie Bloody Detulin of the FlKht
sufficient to show the desperate resistance
■of the troopers and show that the sol
diers were outnumbered probably five
hundred to one, yet the truth could not
be known except from the tongue of the
Indians who participated in the fight. The
vastness of the victory they had won
actually frightened the Indians and pre
vented them for years from boasting of
their part in the awful butohery.
Now, it begins to look as if the minute
details were about to be given to the
world through Frank Gourard, the vet
eran Foout, Indian fighter and pioneer
plain sma-n. Gourard receives his in
formation absolutely from Indian sources.
In fact, It is fitting that the public should
learn the real story of the battle through
old Frank Gourard, because, as the
.grizzled old plainsman admits, by rights
his bones ought to lie among the little
white headstones that glisten to-day in
the sunlight on
The Canter Battlefield.
Frank Gourard was scouting for Custer
at that time and but for an accident
would have been with Custer's forces In
stead of Reno's at the time of the fight,
■and of course Gourard would have been
killed, as were all of Custer's men.
Secretary of War Meiklejohn had a long
talk wiih Gourard on the subject of in
corporating his story in the government
story of the Custer affair, soon to be Is
sued. The conversation occurred this
week and Meiklejohn met the veteran*
«coût and Indian fighter in Omaha. Gou
rard had just returned from Pine Ridge
agency, where he had
D'incnnned the Custer Dnttle
with many of the survivors. The
Indians have known Gourard so long that
they trust him, even though they know
the unerring aim of the swarthy scout
is responsible for many of their braves
being sent to the happy hunting grounds.
It was a happy accident that resulted in
two persons who participated in the cam
paign which resulted in the tragic af
fair of the Little Rig Horn meeting Secre
tary Meiklejohn. The other was Capt.
Arrasmith, now on his way to join the
Twenty-second In Manila. Gourard and
Arrasmith were with Crook through that
memorable campaign, and their meeting
in Omaha was the first that had occurred
since they met in converging columns
■near the Custer battlefield a quarter of
a century ago. Gourard contributed ma
terially to the story he had to tell to
the representative of the w*ir depart
ment by narrating an experience he had
a few weeks ago on the reservation at
Pine Ridge.
The Plglit in Picture.
He met an Indian who had fifty water
colors of the famous fighting Indian
characters that could not be duplicated.
The Indian who exhibited them to Gou
rard said they had long been in posses
sion of the Pine Ridge Indians, and no
white man had ever seen them before.
It was a perfect pioture story of the fa
mous battle, showing Custer through all
his desperate charging, concluding with
the final struggle of a handful of troopers
and the dramatic finale, with the brave
general blowing out his own brains rather
than submit to capture and torture at
the. hands of his savage enemies.
Secretary Meiklejohn has written the
war department suggesting that Dr. ;,Ic
Gillicuddy, the ex-Pine Ridge Indian
agent and the most likely person to ap
proach the Indians on such a delicate
subject, be commissioned to make an
effort to induce the Indians to permit the
department to copy this remarkable pic
ture of the fight that It may be incor
porated In the government history.
Störy of the FlKht.
Discussing the subject, Frank Gourard
"As to the story, I can give it 10 you
in brief and tell you many things you
never heard before. You know, of course,
of the concerted effort nade by the half
dozen converging columns to hem the In
dians in and cow them out of their bellig
erent attitude. You know of how Custer
struck the trail one summer morning in
'70 and how he, according to his usual
tactics, divided his forces with Maj. Reno
at the crossing of the Rosebud creek,
which, by the way, we old fellows call
Reno creek. His idea was to hem the
Indians in. Custer never considered the
numbers of his foe. He would have gone
out with a single company in just the
same way to combat the whole howling
Indian nation, dividing his forces and
fighting them from both sides at once.
"You know the story of Reno's march
down the creek, his crossing of the river
and his sudden appearance before the
tepeM of the Indians, as much a sur
prise to him as to the Indians, of his
weak sort of an attack, his repulse and
retreat In disorder through the timber,
the crossing of the river and his taking
up a safe position In th* bluffs opposite
the scene of the engagement, with but a
handful of Indians to watch him a few
hours until flight.
"Now, the Indians knew nothing of the
division of the forces. When Reno took
up his position in the hills they intended
to wait until night and then assault and
finish him before dayligHt. Right here Is
where I am coming to the meat of the
story as told by the Indians and over
looked in the chronicles of the cattle.
Carter'» Appeurnnrp.
"Custer's route behind the bluffs and
down to the river through the bed of a
creek was longer than Reno's. Therefore
it was some little time after Reno had
been penned on the top of the bluffs that
Custer's company suddenly appeared be
fore the Sioux like an apparition, coming
through the dry creek bed to the bank
of the river. The Indians were dumb
founded, for was not this the body of
men whom they had left under guard of
their young men penned in the bluffs?
"As for Custer, it is undoubtedly true
that he knew nothing of the defeat or
even of the engagement of Reno, the
bluffs having cut off all sound of the
brief conflict.
' Still relying upon his subordinate, he
had no fear of the Indians, although he
could see that their tepees extended down
the valley for three miles. Neither did
he know that the Sioux, In order to de
ceive as to their fighting strength, had
crowded each tepee as full of young
bucks as they would hold. This is how
it is that, although the story writers
place the number of the Indians at about
3.000, the Sioux say they numbered
More Than 8,000.
"It was two hours past noon and Cus
ter's horses and pack mules, maddened
by thirst, became unmanageable at sight
of the water. One of the mules carrying
nearly all of the ammunition stampeded
into the river, and, sinking almost in
stantly in the quicksartd, was lost, with
all its precious burden, an accident which
caused the fight to end much more
abruptly than it otherwise would have
After allowing his horses to drink, Cus
ter halted his command in the protected
hollow made by the intersection of the
"reek bed with the banks of the river,
and reviewed the situation.
"Strangely enough, he could see no hos
tile demonstrations on the part of the
Indians. The women and children having
been hurried back from the scene at the
first attack, there were none but war
riors in the tepees. They had not intend
ed to attack the intrenched Americans
before dark, and no more would they
move against this body before nightfall,
especially since the Sioux appreciated the
fact that Custer had halted in a position
under whose protection he might have
held their entire force off for a number
of days.
Indian Strategy.
"Conjecturing that however he had es
caped his position in the bluffs that their
young men were still clinging stealthily
to his rear, the Sioux, with no intention
of making an immediate attack, but with
the aim to get into the most favorable po
sition, sent hundreds of their warriors
down the river under cover to cross un
perceived three miles below and fill the
ridges and high places of the line of
bluffs full of watchful, cruel and revenge
ful fighting force. Also unperceived a
number of braves made their way across
the river a short way down and secreted
themselves under the precipitous bank on
Custer's side.
"The Indians, under cover and watch
ing the little column like a thousand
hawks, could see the white leader show
ing signs of impatience and disquiet. He
scanned the country beyond the clump of
timber through his glasses again and
again. They could not know that he wa;
watcl-ing and hoping for some sign of
the ppproach of Reno, so no indication
would show that he had taken up his po
sition on the other side. This delay gave
the Indians plenty of time for their forces
to deploy and scatter over the most ad
vantageous positions in the high ground
round about.
Canter'* Mistake.
"Finally, well along in the afternoon,
the white leader did a thing for which the
Indians could hardly credit the evidence
of their eyes. Either tired of waiting for
Reno, or being sure that he must already
have taken his position unobserved on the
flanks of the Indians, Custer moved out
of the protected hollow and naturally for
tified ravine into the open of the exposed
hillside and marched down the river, the
slope of the bluffs resting on his right, on
his left at a distance of but a few hun
dred yards the precipitous bank of the
river, with a writhing pack of reds be
neath, and just beyond the water the
camp of more than 8,000 Indians in their
war paint. Custer's fate was sealed with
that command to advance, and there was
not an Indian but knew it and exulted in
his treacherous red breast at the thought
of the grand killing in store for him and
his comrades. There was no immediate
attack Custer was marching
Right Into the Trap,
and the Indians lay low and let him come
on, but from the time the little force
moved out of the hollow until the time
when the last man fell riddled with bul
lets there was not a moment when the
troopers were not covered by the s'ights
of a thousand rifles, while a thousand
itching fingers played with the set trig
"Apparently puzzled by the actions of
the Indians, and for the purpose of draw
ing them out, Custer halted after march
ing a considerable distance down the
river and fired a volUy across into the
straggling lines of tepees. Instantly the
volley was answered by a deadly fire
from tho under side of the river bank,
taking the soldiers so by surprise that
they fell back toward the peak of the
ridge, the Indians continuing tljeir fire.
Still without any intimation of the daA
ger behind them, the troopers mounted on
their horses and left a number of dead on
the field. With the Indians still under a
perfect cover, the soldiers had no chance
to reply with effect. They reached the
crest of the hills and were headed toward
the protection of the ridges and gullies
at a gallop, when the concealed Indians
opened a murderous fire upon them, di
rectly In front. Nearly a whole company
was mowed down at the first fire and the
column fell back, as the Indians had
planned, once more into the jaws of the
Ended Illn Own Life.
"Now right here is where one of the
most startling parts of this Indian version
comes in. You recollect the big bay
thoroughbred the Indians called Gourard
and which raced all through the North
west for years after the massacre? Well,
one of Custer's young lieutenants was
mounted on that horse that day. When
the column fell back under the fire the
big bay took the bit between his teeth
and thundering down right into the midst
of the redskins, burst savagely through
their lines, his head down, squealing with
rage, a diabolical incarnation of equine
"A number of Indians immediately de
tached themselves from the rest and gave
chase. They were hopelessly distanced
from the first. Nothing an Indian ever
rode could beat that horse. Finally, as
he streaked it out across the plateau near
ly a mile in the lead the Indians gave it
up and sitting back on their ponies
watched the flying horse in a fury of dis
appointment. Then they witnessed an
amazing thing, something which they,
with no conception of the code of honor
which actuate® officers In the United
States army, could not understand. They
saw the young lieutenant look back, and,
finding himself hopelessly out of the fight,
deliberately draw his revolver and
Slioot Himself Through the Head.
The horse stopped at once, and the In
dians, continuing the chase, captured him,
leaving thé body of the officer lying alone
on the sands. The first report of the
fight reported him missing, but a stone
was erected to his memory on the field.
"In the meantime Custer's men met in
front and on the river side by the same
deadly fire, were compelled again to re
treat, this time down the second side of
the fatal triangle, as you can see. So
they were driven again to lower ground,
fighting desperately all the while. The
troopers, having dismounted from their
horses, were now proceeding at a walk,
using their mounts as much as possible
for cover.
Caster's Death.
"At the spot where Custer met his death
there was a rally and a last stand, for
the Indians, bursting out of cover from
the front, swept down on the little band
like a lot of yelling fiends. The combat,
waxing into an 'incredible fury, was
waged almost hand to hand. The rifle
ammunition was exhausted, revolvers
were emptied, and the troopers, drawing
their sabers died fighting to the last
"Standing untouched through all
the melee, Custer must have be
gun to guess that the Indians
were making an effort to capture
him alive. Expecting nothing but the
cruelest and most inhuman tortures
from their hands, he fought until they
had closed in about him on every side,
until all the men immediately about him
were down, and then turned his revolver
against himself.
"After that the end was not long in
coming. The scattered survivors were
driven back along the third side of the
triangle, so that when the last men fell
he died within a hundred yards of the
place wher? the first was killed."
An Interesting Character.
To one fan.i iar with the sanguinary his
tory of the plains from 1872 until the up
rising at Pine Ridge, culminating in the
death of Sitting Bull in 1891, Gourard
stands as one of the most unique and in
teresting characters surviving. Capt.
Arrasmith, who has known him for years,
declares that as a scout he had no equal,
not even in the famous Kit Carson him
To-day fifty years of age, Gourard is in
appearance a type of the full-blooded
Sioux. Not a drop of Indian blood flows
in his ve'ns, however. A Sandwich isl
ander by parentage, a Calfornian by blrih,
he was endowed by nature with the phys
ical hardihood of a young mountain lion,
and the instincts of the most wily of
forest creatures. Captured by the Sioux
when but a child, he was reared as one
of them. From his captors he learned all
that nature and circumstances had taught
the crafty savage. He learned the lan
guages of the plains and became a master
in the sign code. His roam'ng with the
restless tribes gave him knowledge of
the topography of the country, which
served him well in after years.
Practical Curiosity.
Near the town of Baku, in the Rus
sian Caucasus are several tracts of
land whereon no cattle would feed, al
though they were covered with the
usual rich herbage. The superstitious
peasantry declared that an evil spirit
had bewitched the meadows in ques
tion. By and by there happened along
a practical, matter-of-fact English
man, who started to Investigate the
phenomena. He quickly discovered
that, although the grass was undoubt
edly rich and succulent, it tasted
strongly of paraffin, a substance the
flavor of which is strongly repugnant
to nearly all animals, but especially so
to cattle. Such was the origin of the
discovery of the Baku petroleum de
posits—deposits that have already
yielded millions of pounds' worth of
oil, and which show no signs of be
coming exhausted.
"The sultan is going to have a war
ship built in one of our big shipyards."
"Say, I wonder if he'll send over one
of the girls from the harem to christen
it?"—Cleveland Plain Dealer.
M> V.
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