(Billings, MT) Hi 58 Lo 46 – What a gray, rainy, miserable day this was weather-wise. It was raining when we got up, and it never stopped all day. Perfect day for sightseeing, right? Well, maybe not. But we weren’t going to let the weather stop us from seeing the Little Big Horn Battlefield, where Gen. George A. Custer and 262 of his men were killed at the hands of over 2,000 Lakota and Cheyenne indians led by Chiefs Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull in June 1876.
Jerry came by late this morning to pick us up and he drove the one-hour trip to the battlefield. As we entered the park we passed by the Custer National Cemetery. (Click on photos to enlarge them.)
The cemetery contains the graves of fallen military veterans of several wars, but none of those killed at Little Big Horn are buried here.
We arrived at the Visitors Center just in time to hear a ranger lecture about the battle. He was very entertaining as he described in detail how the battle played out over two days in June 1876. After he was finished we watched a 25-minute video, browsed the museum exhibits, then set out on the 4.5-mile drive through the park. We were disappointed by the rainy weather, but the countryside was still beautiful with the rolling grassy hills.
The entire battle of Little Big Horn was fought over two days by 600 troops of the 7th Cavalry, commanded by Gen. Custer. There were three battalions, led by Custer, Maj Marcus Reno and Capt Frederick W. Benteen. Scattered all around the battlefield were markers denoting where soldiers fell and were originally buried.
There were also markers for some of the indians who were killed.
Reno and Benteen’s units were routed by the indians and were forced to retreat to defensive positions. But Custer and his men fought the last battle at Last Stand Hill, where he and all of his men, greatly outnumbered, were killed. The site now has a monument dedicated to those who died in the battle.
As this plaque under the monument explains, all of those who were originally buried around the battlefield where the markers are were later reinterred in a single grave on this site, with the officers later moved to other cemeteries around the U.S.
Close by the monument is a marker denoting where Custer fell.
About ten years ago a new memorial to the native americans who were killed in the battle was installed. It was raining too hard to walk over and get a close look at it, but I took this photo of the back side of it from the road.
Despite the miserable weather, we’re so glad we got to see this historical place. We returned to Billings and the rain finally stopped. We had dinner at Famous Dave’s BBQ, then Jerry brought us home and visited with us for a while before we had to say goodbye. He’s leaving tomorrow morning to continue his travels around the west. Be safe Jerry, it was great to see you and spend a fun weekend with you.
We’re going to run some errands tomorrow and get ready for our departure on Tuesday. See you tomorrow.