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Mount Alexander Mail Tuesday August 22, 1876

This article is titled: THE BATTLE OF LITTLE HORN

Not A Man Left To Tell The Sad Tale: From the San Francisco Chronicle, we take the following description of the terrible and disastrous battle of Little Horn.

Stillwater (Montana), 2nd July 1876.— Muggins Taylor, scout for General Gibbons, got here last night direct from Little Horn River  General Custer "found the Indian camp of about 2000  lodges on Little Horn, and immediately attacked the camp. Custer took five companies and charged the thickest portion of the camp. Nothing is known of the operation of his detachment, only as they are traced by the dead. Major Reno Commanded the other seven company, and attacked the lower portion of the camp.  The Indians poured in a murderous fire from all directions.  The greater portion fought on horseback.  Custer, his two brothers, nephew, and brother-in-law, were all killed, and not one of his detachment escaped.  Two hundred and seven men were buried in one place, and the number of killed is estimated at 300, with only 31 wounded.  The Indians surrounded reno's command, and held them for one day in the hills, cut off from water, until Gibbons' command came in sight, when they broke camp in the night, and left. The seventh fought like tigers, and were overcome by more brute force.  The Indian loss cannot be estimated, as they bore off and cached most of their kill.

The remnant of the seventh cavalry and Gibbons command are returning to the mouth of Little Horn, where a steamboat lies.  The Indians got all the arms of the killed soldiers. There were seventeen commission officers killed.  The whole Custer family died at the head of their column.  The exact loss is not known, as both the Adjutant and Sergeant-Major were killed.  The Indians camp was from three to four miles long, and was twenty miles up the Little Horn from its mouth.  The Indians actually pulled men off their horses in some instances.  The battle was fought on the 25th, thirty or forty miles below the Little Horn.  Custer attacked the Indian village of from 2500 to 3000 warriors on one side, and Colonel Reno was to attack it on the other.   Three companies were placed on the hill as a reserve.  The whole number of killed was 315.  General Gibbons joined Reno.  The Indians left the battleground.   It looked like a slaughter pen, as it really was, being in a narrow ravine.  The dead were very mutilated.  The situation now looks serious.  General Terry arrived at Gibbons' camp on a steamboat and crossed the command over and accompanied it to join Custer, who knew it was coming before the fight occurred. Lieutenant Crittenden, son of General Crittenden was among the killed.

   

A telegram to the New York Herald gives the following of Colonel Reno's struggle: The Indians opened with a fire and a deafening war-whoop. The hills were black with them, and they were variously estimated at from 2,000 to 4,000 while Reno's command at that time did not number over 400 men, one-third of whom had to protect the horses and pack animals, and were in a great measure of no use in resisting the Indians' assault, and the situation was desperate in the extreme.  In the afternoon the sun became very hot, and the men, who had been without water for thirty-six hours, were almost famished.  The horses showed signs of perishing, and the wounded begged piteously for water.  It was about  two hundred yards down the hill to water, and every inch of ground was covered by Indian-sharp shooters.  Colonel Reno determined to get water at all hazards.  While one company took kettles and canteens another charged down the hill by their side and engaged the attention of the Indians while the kettle was being filled.  A dash was made and the men went bravely to the river and dipped up the water, while a heavy stream of fire was kept up over their heads.  Five men fell in the charge to get the water. 

At night fall the Indians drew off, and colonel ordered the river front of the camp to be closed in order that water for animals might be had.  The work was done, and all the animals were watered and a good supply for the rest of the day obtained.  The wounded suffered terribly, Dr. De' Wolf having been killed early in the action, leaving only one surgeon, Dr. Porter, to attend to the wounded, over twenty of whom were in bad condition and but few supplies of any kind on hand to relieve their suffering.  Every one wondered what had become of Custer.  Many thought he had been cut off and had gone down to the Big Horn to join General Gibbons' column, which was expected to be at the mouth of the Little Horn, only seven miles distant, on the 26th.

On the morning of the 26th the Indians renewed the attack furiously. They seemed to regard it only as a question of time but were willing to wait until the men run out of supplies.  Great suffering was endured for want of water.  For miles back, the country was full of Indians, to cut off any who attempted to escape, and not even a courier could be got through their line.  Fighting continued on from 6 o'clock to noon, when the Indians began to leave.  About two o'clock a great commotion was observed in the village. Lodges were pulled down, and the Indians in crowds of hundreds hurried out of the valley and into the wild hills. Later in the day the stampede continued, but was conducted in so orderly a manner as to lead Colonel Reno to believe that they were only moving their village to get grass for their immense herd of animals.  At nightfall Colonel Reno's front was totally free from Indians, and the command passed a quiet night.  On the morning of the 27th not an Indian was to be seen. This hasty departure was, of course, due to their knowledge of Gibbon's advance with infantry.  Many of the men found dead on Custer's field were horribly mutilated, and most of them had their skulls smashed by stone mallets. This was the work of the squaws, who swarmed the battle-field, robbing and mutilating the bodies of the dead and killing the dying and wounded.