Custer & the Battle of Little Big Horn

Custer & the Battle of Little Big
Opposing Forces
US Army 7th Cavalry Regiment
Led by:
Gen. George Armstrong Custer
Arikara Indians
Crow Indians
Lakota, Cheyenne,Arapaho Indians
Led by:
Sitting Bull
Crazy Horse
Brief Background
Battle of the Great Sioux War 1876-77
a.k.a Black Hills War
Red Cloud’s War 1866-67  Treaty of Fort Laramie –
ownership of Black Hills + hunting rights in MT, WY, SD
Possibility of gold in the Black Hills  trespassers 
Indians attacked  Black Hills War
Why did Indians aid Custer
Arikara, Crow Indians were promised land after the victory
Age old feud with the Lakotas and Cheyennes
Expert trackers
Poorly armed
3 columns led by Alfred Terry, George Crook, John Gibbon
Each commanded 14; 21; 10 companies.
1 company ~ 80 - 200 soldiers
The Plan: the 3 columns approach from different angles,
surround Sitting Bull’s encampment and attack as 1 main
The Sioux also had expert scouts  knew what was
coming  Crazy Horse engaged Crook  Crook retreated
The actual battle
1876 June 22 – 7th Cavalry – reconnaissance mission –
Native American village on the opposite side of Little
Bighorn River.
Custer’s plan:
12 companies  3 batallions
Marcus Reno – 3 companies – south
Frederick Benteen – 3 companies – cut off escape routes
George A. Custer – 6 companies – north
Batallion ~ 300 – 1200 soldiers
Assumed the village was inhabited by a couple of hundred
women, children and old men
Reno – south – mounted Sioux warriors – R. outnumbered
5:1  retreat  rejoined with Benteen’s troop – with
Gen. Terry’s troops arriving they were saved
Custer – few miles north - ~210 soldiers engaged the
Lakota & Cheyenne forces – Crazy Horse joined the
battle (about 1000 warriors)  Custer surrounded. 
Custer retreated to higher ground – Custer’s Last Stand
By the time Gen. Terry arrived the soldiers were stripped &
ritually mutilated… Except Custer.
Custer’s death and the US Army’s defeat, outraged the
nation demanded blood  the Black Hills incident was
soon settled, the reservation’s borders redrawn excluding
the Black Hills.
United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians (1980)
Supreme court ruled in favor of the Sioux tribe  they had
to be compensated, however they refused to take the
money + interest which in 2010 is about 570 mill. USD