Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Crazy Horse's Account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn

"The Custer Fight," by Charles Russell
Crazy Horse's Account
BISMARCK, D.T. (N.D.) - On June 11, 1877, the Bismarck Tribune featured the following article.  It was published on nearly the anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  The author’s name wasn’t published with the account but the author was reporting for the Chicago Times. 


An Indian Version of the Massacre as from the Lips of Crazy Horse Himself

Chicago Times Special. 

Camp Robinson, Neb., May 24th via Cheyenne [Wyoming], May 25th. - General Crook, Maj. Randall and Lieut. Schuyler arrived here at noon yesterday, accompanied by your correspondent. The 4th Cavalry, Col. McKenzie commanding, are ordered from here to the department of the Missouri, and will leave on the 26th inst. Their headquarters will probably be at Fort Sill, Indian Territory. It is not definitely known what troops will relieve them. One company of the 8th Cavalry, Capt. Wessel’s, left Sidney barracks on the 22nd to form part of a permanent garrison for the summer, and the probabilities are very strong that the post will be garrisoned by companies of the 3rd Cavalry. Gen. S. P. Bradley, Lieutenant-Colonel of the 9th infantry, now at Omaha Barracks, is assigned to the command here. Your correspondent has obtained some very valuable information in regard to


from Crazy Horse through Horned Horse his spokesman, which is authentic and confirmed by other chiefs. I interviewed these chiefs this afternoon, Lt. Clark arranging for the meeting, and William Hunter acting as interpreter, a man perfectly and thoroughly conversant with the Indian language. This is the Indian version and the first published. The attack was made on the village by a strong force at 11 o’clock in the morning, at the upper end of the village. This was the force commanded by Maj. Reno, and very shortly afterward the lower end of the village was attacked by another strong force, that commanded by Custer.


into seven different bands of Indians, each commanded by a separated chief, and extended in nearly a straight line. The bands were in the order mentioned below, commencing from the lower end, where Custer made his attack. First the Uncapapas, under Sitting Bull; 2d, the Ogallalas, under Crazy Horse; third, the Minneconjous, under Fast Bull; 4th, the Sansarcs [Itazipco], under Red Bear; fifth, The Cheyennes, under Ice Bear; sixth, the Santees and Yanktonai, under Red Point of the Santees; seventh, the Blackfeet [Sihasapa], under Scabby Head. The village consisted of eighteen hundred lodges, and at least four hundred wickayups, a lodge made of small poles and willows for a temporary shelter. Each of the wikayups contained four young bucks, and the estimate made by Crazy Horse is that each lodge had from three to four warriors. The estimate of the three made


of seven thousand Indians. This is the lowest estimate that can be made, for there were a good many Indians without shelter, hangers-on, who fought when called upon, and the usual number was much above seven thousand. The attack was a surprise and totally unlooked for. When Custer made the charge the women, papooses, children, and in fact all that were not fighters, made a stampede in a northerly direction. Custer seeing so numerous a body, mistook them for the main body of Indians retreating and abandoning their villages, and, immediately gave pursuit. The warriors in the village, seeing this, divided their forces into two parts, one intercepting Custer between their non-combat and him, and the other getting his rear. Outnumbering as they did, they had him at their mercy, and


Horned Horse says the smoke and dust was so great that foe could not be distinguished from friend. The horses were wild with fright uncontrollable. The Indians were knocking each other from their steeds, and it is an absolute fact that young bucks in their excitement and fury killed each other, several dead Indians being found killed by arrows. Horned Horse represented this hell of fire and smoke and death by interuning his fingers and saying: “Just like this, Indians and white men.” These chiefs say that they suffered a loss of fifty-eight killed and over sixty wounded. From their way of expressing it, I should judge that about sixty percent of their wounded died.


Reno was fighting in the upper part of the village, but did not get in so far as to get surrounded, and managed to escape. They say had he got in as far as Custer, considering over half the village, could join the northern portion in besieging him. The Indians claim that for


they would have got Reno. They would have surrounded and stormed him out or would have besieged and eventually captured him. From what I know of Crazy Horse I should say that he no doubt is capable of conducting such a siege. In both the Rosebud fight and the Custer massacre the Indians claim he rode unarmed in the thickest of the fight, invoking the blessing of the Great Spirit on him – that if he was right he might be victorious, and if wrong that he be killed. Some details were also learned in regard to


The Indians say in the later fight 86 Indians were killed and 63 wounded. Crazy Horse says from Gen. Crook left Goose Creek, forty miles from the Rosebud battle field, he was continually watched by spies. The first attack on the troops was made by the Cheyennes, Ogallalas, Mnneconjous and Sansarcs [Itazipco], whose combined force was about fifteen hundred. Above the point where the attack was made, about eight miles, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, with about five thousand Indians were camped. The attack was made with the idea that when the Indians retreated the troops would then fall into their strong-hold. It shows as much generalship to avoid


as to win a battle, and in this case just such generalship was shown by Gen. Crook. In an interview this afternoon, these chiefs also said that they knew the time Lieut. Sibley left the main column with Frank Gruard for a guide, on the famous scout where Sibley saved his detachment by leaving his horse in camp and returning on foot, and but for the jealousy between the Indians the party would surely have been captured. But the Cheyennes insisted on having the lion’s share of horses and plunder and delayed their attack until Sibley


with the loss of only his stock and supplies. The above undoubtedly is a truthful version of the engagement mentioned. No one was present at the interview with your correspondent but the chiefs and the interpreter. Hesitation was at first manifested, but after some questioning and talking on minor topics, Horned Horse told his story readily, which met with approval of Crazy Horse and Red Dog, a friendly Indian who was present.


  1. War is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

  2. what happen to the great Chief...Puma Face...???