Custer Killed at the Little Bighorn

265 Men of the Seventh Cavalry Will Not Be Returning to Fort Abraham Lincoln
Bismarck, July 6, 1876

Word has just been received here of the death of Colonel George Armstrong Custer and 265 men of the Seventh Cavalry in their mission to force Indians to the reservations. Custer’s troops were one of a three-pronged attack on the Indians, mostly Cheyenne and Lakota who had gathered in the Little Bighorn country of Montana for the annual hunt. General Alfred Terry had devised a sensible strategy, if all went as planned. It did not.

Custer could not wait. Certain that his column of the Seventh Cavalry could handle a handful of Indians, on the morning of June 25 he ordered an advance. Unknown to him, he had stumbled upon the main encampment with about 2,500 warriors. Skirmishing began at noon. When scouts reported many of the enemy fleeing, Custer swung his command toward the encampment. The warriors swept down on him. He and his column were dead within a few hours. Only the arrival of General Terry saved the other columns of the Seventh Cavalry. The general intends to pursue the non-reservation Indians until they surrender.

The public is stunned by the news of Custer’s defeat. Those who are knowledgeable about matters in Dakota are not surprised that many of the Lakota and their allies have continued to resist the army and white encroachments onto their land. Leaders such as Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull have nothing to do with treaties and desire to have their people continue in their hunting ways. That is what they were doing in the Bighorn country.

The flow of thousands of gold seekers into the Black Hills and the frantic efforts of government officials to buy rights to those Hills from the Lakota have created considerable tensions in Dakota. The recent turn of events should not be surprising.


By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton


Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council

Subject Matter

Social Studies

North Star Dakotan:

Journals and Art Work: The Indian People, The Trade, and The Land

The Indian People

The Purchase and Exploration of Louisiana

The Fur Trade

Dakota Territory

The Military Frontier

The Reservation System

George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Great Dakota Boom, 1878-1890

Reservation Troubles, 1886-1890

The Making of a State and a Constitution

The North Dakota Economy, 1890-1915

Life on the Indian Reservations

The North Dakota National Guard and the Philippines

North Dakota, The Great War and After

The Nonpartisan League's Rise to Power

The Nonpartisan League in Power

The Nonpartisan League's Decline

The 1920s

1930s: North Dakota's Economic and Political Climate

The New Deal in North Dakota

The Road to World War II

North Dakota and American Society

North Dakota Optimism and Economic Developments

North Dakota and Political Change

Related Media

  1. Dakota Datebook: Death of Custer Survivor
    Audio: Did Gabriel Guesbader survive the Battle of the Little Bighorn?
  2. Dakota Datebook: Custer’s Farewell
    Audio: In 1876 George Custer met his end.
  3. Dakota Datebook: Custer’s Battle Flag
    Audio: George Custer rode into battle with his wife's handmade flag.