Friday, October 14, 2011

Spirits of Little Bighorn - Little Bighorn Valley in Southern Montana

In the plains of southern Montana in 1876, a long and bloody war between the U.S. Army and the Native Americans of the western plains known as the Black Hills War or The Great Sioux War culminated in a battle at a valley known as Little Bighorn.  The 7th Calvary Army forces which numbered over 700 were led by General George Armstrong Custer and were grossly outnumbered by over 1800 warriors of the combined forces of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes.  


Artist's depiction of Custer's Last Stand at Little Bighorn 1876

In the aftermath of the battle, 268 cavalrymen and over 100 native warriors and many horses lay dead on he field.  Many of the soldier's were mutilated beyond recognition while the warriors were gathered up by their tribesman and taken away for a proper burial.  The natives believed that these fallen soldiers would never rest.



The aftermath of the Battle of Little Bighorn.  Remains of horses litter the prairie which were later interred along with the soldiers. A memorial marks their resting place at Little Bighorn National Monument.
Last Stand Hill in 1894

Five of the the 7th Calvary's companies were totally wiped out leaving 268 U.S. Soldiers dead including General George Armstrong Custer himself.  It is believed that in Custer's individual battle, American soldiers numbered just over 200 and encountered the entire combined Native American force.  This individual battle would become known as Custer's Last Stand.  This spot is marked on what is today known as Last Stand Hill.  It is said that a man once encountered the spirit of General Custer at this spot who spoke to him about details of the battle.  Custer's apparition has been spotted near and in the visitor's center at the foot of Last Stand Hill along with a rush of cold air.



General George Armstrong Custer who met his end at the Battle of Little Bighorn

One of Custer's cavalrymen, Second Lieutenant Benjamin Hodgson, died a terrible death near the crossing of Little Big Horn River where his body was found.  A monument marks the spot where he was found.  Hodgson's ghost has been seen in various places, but most notably in and around the stone house which now serves as the park's superintendent's quarters.  One evening it is said that a park employee awoke to find an apparition sitting at the kitchen table.  Sometime afterward, she saw a photo of a soldier who wore a long distinguished mustache, the employee exclaimed that the man in the photo was the ghost that was in the kitchen.  It was a photo of Benjamin Hodgson.



Second Lieutenant Benjamin Hodgson died a terrible death at the Battle of Little Bighorn.  A memorial marks the spot where he fell as well as many other soldiers and Native Americans who fought and died.

There have been several visitors who claim to have seen Native American warriors in full attire sitting on their horses on top of a bluff.  Some have seen them riding over the hills then disappearing into thin air.  Others have heard the sounds of battle, the shouts of the warriors along with gun fire.  Many of these occurrences have happened at the local cemetery.



Crazy Horse was one of the Native Americans who fought at the Battle of Little Bighorn.  He survived the battle.
Markers indicate where soldiers fell during the Battle of Little Bighorn

Park employees were not the fist to see the dead roaming the plains of Little Bighorn.  The people of the Crow tribe have believed for years that the spirits of the Little Bighorn would rise at night then return to the the netherworld when the sun rose again.  When the park was established, they nicknamed the park attendant the "ghost herder" symbolizing that when they lowered the flags at sundown, the ghosts would come, then disappear when the attendant would raise the flag at dawn.  This would in a sense, send the dead back to the spirit world.



A special marker indicates the spot where General George Armstrong Custer met his end on Last Stand Hill at Little Bighorn National Monument

1 comment:

  1. It is nice to see the Indian, Native American markers now going up on the battle ground.

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