Little Bighorn does not tarnish the reputation of US soldiers at all, because there is something much more important beyond Benteen's and Reno's betrayal: the historic Last Stand, which has been attacked by the US army and the National Park Service since 1876
LAST STAND IN HISTORY
The National Park Service and the Pentagon refuse to tell the truth because it is another infamous American “mystery”. What about the reputation of the US army, the US flag, the 7th cavalry?
Well, Little Bighorn does not destroy the reputation of US soldiers at all. Let us see why:
Yes, it was a cover-up, but the army did not cause the disaster at all. President Grant did not send Custer to his death. Generals Sherman and Sheridan did not conspire to assassinate General Custer and his men. The responsibility of the crimes lays only on Frederick Benteen and Marcus Reno, who decided, during the ongoing battle (it was not planned), to send Custer and his men to hell.
They forced the army to help them with their acts of high treason. Generals Sherman and Sheridan had virtually no choice but to whitewash the affair in order to protect the budget of the Defense.
Does this eternally put shame on the US flag? Should US soldiers be ashamed when they visit Little Bighorn?
The cover-up was created to hide Benteen’s and Reno’s ugly truth. But there is another truth, a truth constantly downplayed by the cover-up, a truth that should be learnt and taught in all US military schools, institutes and academies.
They did it.
Despite Benteen’s and Reno’s betrayal, despite the fact that no support was in sight, Custer’s 210 men of the 7th cavalry did it.
We have cold facts, definitive evidence about the Last Stand. Saying that the Last Stand did not exist, or that the resistance was soft, is an outright lie. To reach this conclusion, Richard Fox had to ignore hundreds of Indian accounts, downplay one century of relic hunting, ignore the accounts by the men of the 7th cavalry and Terry’s men, and base his affirmation on… Benteen’s comments.
(Captain Benteen also stated, in the Reno Court of Inquiry, that Custer and his men were dead before Trumpeter Martini gave him the order to be quick.)
Of course, the National Park Service applauded Fox’s conclusions, and the Little Big Horn Associates gave him an award (also awarded is Frederic Wagner III, a Vietnam vet who thinks that questioning Benteen’s perjuries at the Reno Court of Inquiry is “unpatriotic”).
But today, everybody is so embarrassed about this affair that no one wants to talk about it anymore. After praising Fox in a documentary (1991), the British channel BBC changed its mind in the face of evidence and produced the best documentary/movie on the battle to date, with the Last Stand fully depicted (2007). Even the National Park Service remains discreet about its blunder.
Read the most important works published on the battle in recent years (Unger, Donovan, Sklenar, Donahue): no one accepts the “no Last Stand” fairy tale anymore. They all know that it is a part of the cover-up, although few are those who say it without obvious embarrassment.
Yes, they did it.
Forget the latest fashionable defamation on Frontier soldiers. Yes, they were poor emigrants who had bad food and a very hard life. Yes, Captain Keogh, for example, had a drinking problem. What could a soldier drink after a hard day in the West? Mineral water?
What did Keogh do during the battle? Did he desert his unit, like the drunkard Reno? Did he run away? Did he surrender? Did he cold-bloody betrayed his comrades, like Benteen?
No. Captain Keogh died with his men, and five dead Indian horses around him. He displayed astonishing heroism. As Lincoln famously said: "Tell me what brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals".
And what about this officer, maybe Lieutenant James Calhoun, who battled with Chief White Bull when the federal line was broken? And what about this soldier, a pistol in one hand, a carbine in the other, encircled by Indians, who fought until the last bullet (witnessed by White Bull)?
And what about the very Last Stand, Custer’s men behind their breastworks during half an hour? What about the numerous cartridges of his pistol found near George Armstrong Custer’s body? What about Lieutenant William Cooke and his famous beard, who, at the end of the battle, stood up in the middle of his dead comrades (witnessed by Wooden Leg)?
What about Indians admiring the courage of Custer’s men?
Riderless mounts scattered across the hills and ran to the river but the soldiers kept in order and fought like brave warriors. (Crow King)
It was a hotly contested battle. (Moving Robe)
The shootings [by the soldiers] Eagle Elk had witnessed within the last minutes had been enough to convince him of the good sense in staying away from the front lines. (Eagle Elk)
Even tough virtually surrounded, the soldiers put up a stiff resistance, for it was in this charge [chief Lame White Man’s charge] that the Lakotas lost more of their men. Red Horse thought that 136 Indians were killed and 160 were wounded in that phase of the battle. (Red Horse)
In fact, Hollow Horn Bear believed that the troops were in good order at the start of the fight, and kept their organization even while moving from point to point. (Hollow Horn Bear)
There was so much doubt about the outcome [of the battle] that I told the squaws to break the camp and be ready to leave. (Sitting Bull)
Here the soldiers made a desperate fight. (Red Hawk)
The Indians pressed and crowded right in around Custer Hill. But the soldiers weren’t ready to die. We stood there a long time. (Iron Hawk)
I had never seen before and would never see again soldiers so brave or fearless. (Low Dog)
Wait a minute: did these Indians want to please White journalists by praising the army? This is a very popular comment these days. After all, Whiteys cannot fight, can they?
Well, Indians also said that they did not understand why Reno was not coming to Custer’s aid (Sioux warrior Respects Nothing). Sioux Chief Red Horse thought that Reno was lacking ammunition (an ironically tragic comment, since Reno and Benteen had plenty of ammunition and the pack train quickly coming up). Sioux Chief Sitting Bull, while stating that Custer’s men were the “bravest men he had ever seen”, also said that Reno was a big cowardly papoose (sic). Red Feather and other spoke about the fleeing soldiers in the timber without any admiration.
Did these Indian witnesses not get the memo to praise the army in front of White journalists?
Or were they simply stating the truth, an embarrassing truth for 389 survivors led by Major Reno and Captain Benteen, and for an army and a government eager to cover up the story?
When Terry’s men arrived at the Little Bighorn site, they saw “plenty of evidence of hard fighting” (General Terry’s confidential report). General Sheridan himself noted the huge Indian casualties and the hard fighting in his own report. Yet, several months later, the "plenty of evidence of a hard battle" had disappeared. Suddenly, the US army had a short battle, low Indian casualties and Benteen’s mocking comments on the resistance (he compared the dead US soldiers to a bag of popcorn that fell on the floor).
When Lieutenant McClernand and Captain Clifford saw the Last Stand on Custer Hill, they observed an organized “circle of dead horses” (McClernand) and "40 men in organized resistance" (Clifford). Lieutenant DeRudio called the circle “breastworks”. Months later, this circle of 39 horses, covering 42 men who fought until the last bullet, had disappeared.
~ The accurate portrayal of the Last Stand, a painting by J.K Raltson, according to witnesses: a circle of 39 horses, used as breastworks ~
Conveniently enough, when the Little Bighorn battlefield National Monument had to select a painting on the battle, in 1976, they picked up one that fit Benteen’s lies: no circle of horses, no organisation. It still is the official painting of the site (Eric von Schmidt's "Here Fell Custer")
A totally inaccurate painting that is claimed to be “the most accurate one by Custer historians”. By whom? According to what evidence? None.
~The official painting of Little Bighorn battlefield (Eric Von Schmidt, Here Fell Custer, 1976): a very nice painting, except that there is no circle of 39 horses (no breastwork at all), a total breakdown, no organisation: Benteen's lies were chosen by the National Park Service, not the accurate version of the Last Stand. This is intentional, and a clear attempt to rewrite the story of the battle of the Little Bighorn. ~
As historian Paul Hutton rightly stated in 2001, the Last Stand existed, there should not be any debate about it.
In fact, what the US army and the National Park Service are doing at Little Bighorn Battlefield is simply whitewashing a splendid display of heroism by 210 men of the 7th cavalry, in order to protect Benteen and Reno and the cover-up.
If you ask for evidence of this heroism, read the Indian accounts. If you want to know why General Custer (youngest US Major General in history), Captain Tom Custer (two Medals of Honor), Captain Keogh (Papal soldier and Civil War veteran) and so many of their officers and soldiers were highly regarded in the US army, read Indian accounts, or accounts by Terry’s men who inspected the battlefield.
George Armstrong Custer’s men were betrayed and left behind by Frederick Benteen and Marcus Reno. But the story does not end there.
They fought. Held their ground. Built breastworks. Close fight. Pistol firing. 210 against 1’000 Indians. And, for the last 30 minutes, 50 US soldiers against 1’000 Indians.
Among them: Joseph Monroe, from France, Werner Lieman, from Germany. Thomas Custer, from the United States. Myles Keogh, from Ireland. John King, from Switzerland. And soldiers from Canada, Great Britain, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe.
This is not one of Longfellow’s poems. This is not a dream, this is not wishful thinking. This is no mythology. This is History. Cold facts, solid evidence.
They stood up to the task.
The visitors of Little Bighorn must not honor these men because they died, but because they lived. Because that day, on these hills, these poor emigrants did it, in such an astonishing way that even Indian accounts are full of admiration and respect.
One of the most glorious moments in the history of the 7th cavalry was on that hill, that day.
These men cared about honor, their flag and their army. Before History, their Code of Honour was and remains intact.
They were no bureaucrats, no elites, no PhDs. Their comrades were not coming. Captain Benteen was mocking their heroism. Major Reno was so drunk that could not even dress himself properly.
Let us listen to General-in-chief Nelson Appelton Miles, Lieutenant General of the United States of America in 1897, while studying the battlefield (letter to his wife, 1877): “The more I see of movement here, the more I have admiration for Custer.”
Their names were Myles Keogh, Thomas Custer, Joseph Monroe, Thomas Tweed, John Groesbeck, Charles Coleman, John Briody, George Armstrong Custer and many more of the 210 men of the 7th cavalry that covered themselves and the US army with glory.
The facts proving the Camerone of the United States army can be given to any official of the Department of Veteran Affairs or a National Park Service Ranger. In fact, many of them know these facts, especially the Little Bighorn rangers. But the Last Stand raises questions on Benteen and Reno.
The National Park Service and the US army have whitewashed this heroism. They have lied to the wives, the children, the parents, the brothers, the sisters, the relatives, the friends, the descendants, the American people, the soldiers of the 7th cavalry, past and present. They have lied on the fact that these soldiers and officers were true heroes, and really fought like devils that day.
They have whitewashed true, historical heroism.
25 June 1876, 133 years ago.
It really happened.
Custer's men did it.