*Explains the Lakota oral legends and the origins of the names Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.
*Analyzes the three men and their legacies.
*Includes a Bibliography for further reading.
The Battle of the Little Bighorn is one of the most famous battles in American history and to this day remains one of the U.S. Army's biggest debacles. It was also the most decisive victory a Native American tribe had against the U.S. as it steadily pushed westward and forced native tribes off their land. The battle forever linked Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and George Custer, and it also made them American legends.
Like Geronimo in the Southwest during the same era, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse fought in several skirmishes against settlers and U.S. forces across the Plains during the 1860s on the way to becoming leaders of the Lakota. While it is still debated whether Sitting Bull was the "Supreme Chief of the whole Sioux Nation" by 1868, it's clear that he was one of the influential leaders of the Lakota. And when The Great Sioux War of 1876 began, Sitting Bull was recognized as the most important leader among all Native American tribes on the Plains, and the one to turn to for those who intended to keep fighting whites.
At the Battle of the Little Bighorn, during which an estimated 2,000 Lakota and Cheyenne warriors inspired by one of Sitting Bull's visions routed and then annihilated the 7th U.S. Cavalry led by Custer, Crazy Horse was the one who executed the vision, leading his warriors against two of the 7th Cavalry columns, and oral legends claim he led the charge that started the rout of Custer's column. That disaster led the American government to double down on its efforts to "pacify" the Sioux, and by the end of the decade many of them had surrendered and been moved onto a reservation. Both Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull became celebrities of sorts after their eventual surrender, and both suffered controversial deaths on reservations that had their tribesmen claiming they were assassinated.
Though he's now best remembered for "Custer's Last Stand", George Armstrong Custer began June 25, 1876 as one of America's better regarded cavalry officers, and a man whose ambitions might one day take him to higher office. In fact, decades before radio and television existed, Custer mastered the art of public relations, dressing impeccably and having newspaper correspondents accompany him on campaign, all in an effort to help cultivate and enhance his legacy. Custer's efforts worked, with one biographer noting that Americans during the 19th century viewed him as "a cavalier without fear and beyond reproach."
Much like famous Confederate cavalry leader JEB Stuart, Custer added substance to the style. Despite being in his early 20s when the Civil War started, Custer rose through the ranks so quickly that he famously commanded a brigade of Michigan cavalrymen at Gettysburg, fighting the vaunted JEB Stuart and his horsemen to a standstill on the climactic 3rd day of that battle. Custer's success continued through until the end of the war, with his men playing an integral role during the Appomattox Campaign that forced the surrender of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Had Custer's career ended there, he would have been both successful and largely forgotten.
Meeting at Little Bighorn details the lives of the three men and their feateful meeting at Little Bighorn, but it also humanizes them and addresses the controversies surrounding their lives and their famous battle. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events in his life, you will learn about Custer, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse like you never have before, in no time at all.
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