Little Big Horn Battle Survivors Talk to Col. A. B. Welch

All Yellow talks to Welch about the Four Great Men of the Little Big Horn Fight, 1925 & 1927

Bear’s Belly talks about his Coups during the Little Big Horn Fight, 1927

Bear’s Heart. His part in the Little Big Horn Battle, a short Biography, 1931 and Interview with Welch, 1933

Bloody Knife’s death in the Little Big Horn Fight. Emeron White talks to Welch, 1922 and Frances Zahn talks to Welch, 1941

Crawler’s and His Wife’s Participation in the Little Big Horn Fight, 1939

Crazy Horse’s part in the Little Big Horn Fight.   Welch Undated Notes, John Grass comments, undated and, All Yellow talks about where he is buried, 1923

Chip Creighton, who was with Reno’s Command at the Little Big Horn Battle,  Photographed with old Indian Scouts, 1924

Flying By’s part in the The Little Big Horn Fight,  told by Long Bull, 1926

Foolish Bear talks to Welch, 1936

Gall, undated Welch notes

Gayton’s account of Sioux Deserters at The Little Big Horn Fight, 1927

Chief John Grass talks to Welch about the Little Big Horn Fight, 1915

Chief John Grass may have laid the Plans for the Little Big Horn Fight, 1943

Lt. Harrington’s fate after the Little Big Horn Fight. Interviews with Bill Zahn, 1921 and Val Solen, 1922

Kills in the Water’s Participation in the Little Big Horn Fight, 1941

Little Brave and his Pinto Pony, in the Little Big Horn Fight, 1921

No-Two-Horns Participation in the Little Big Horn Fight, 1928

One Bull’s and White Bull’s comments on the Little Big Horn Battle, 1936

One Bull’s and White Bull’s  “pictographic” account of the fight, 1936

Rain in the Face: Black Bear talks to Welch and says Rain was not in the fight!,1921

Red Star’s account of the Fight, as told by his Nephew, Miles Horn,  1938

Red Tomahawk talks about casualties in the Little Big Horn fight to Welch, 1915

Red Woodpecker’s story, told by A. C. Wells of Standing Rock Agency, 1929

Reno References gathered by Welch

Two Bulls, one of ‘Sitting Bull’s People,’ Little Big Horn account, 1930

Taylor, W.O., of Troops M and A, Seventh U.S.Cavalry, account of the fight, 1922

White Cow Walking talks to Welch, 1917, 1922, 1927, 1929

Young Hawk’s story, 1921

White Track stories from All Yellow, 1925 and Frances Zahn, 1926

Woman Warrior, 1921

Frances Zahn talks about soldier who almost survived, 1921

Welch presents his theory of “How it Might Have Been,” 1944 



All Yellow talks to Welch about the Four Great Men of the Little Big Horn Fight, 1925 & 1927

ALL YELLOW SAYS, July 27th, 1927:

“The people who followed Sitting Bull selected four men to be leaders.  Sitting Bull was  Medicine Man.  These four men were

Charging Thunder – who had many battle wounds.

Gall – who was a very brave soldier.

Crow King.   He was brave too.


These men were to be respected and obeyed in the order in which they are named above.  Charging Thunder was a very great man, and you gave his name away for him, to that Frenchman Head Soldier, Marashall Foch.”

Gall                                 Crow Kinglb1-gall-and-crow-king-photos

 ALL YELLOW TALKS TO WELCH, December 30, 1925:

He also said that the man who killed General Custer was named Ajemakasan (White Track).  He was half Sisseton and Half Hunkpati and All Yellow insisted in calling him a wicheyelo.  He said that he never came back to the United States but died in Canada, and that he dressed up in Custer’s clothes, and had a revolver which belonged to Custer, but that he threw that away.

I do not take any stock in this story – W.

Editor’s note:  This All Yellow is most likely the son of the All Yellow who took part in the fight.



Bear’s Belly talks about his Coups during the Little Big Horn Fight, 1927

BEAR’S BELLY’S COUPS, November 3rd, 1927:

Today, I made arrangements with the officers of the Fourth Infantry at Ft. Lincoln, to receive 17 old men and women of the Arikaras.  At four o’clock they sent a truck for the Indians and we were at the parade ground at 4:30 f or the review.

Chip Creighton and Bears Bellylb10-chip-and-bears-belly

Bears Belly is an old time scout of Ft. Abraham Lincoln, for General Custer and tells many stories of the warlike times of the ‘70’s at that post.  He made a short characteristic Indian speech to the officers and their ladies.

Asked why he wore two feathers in his hair, he said:  “they are for two honors of mine.  I was a scout for Custer.  When we were close to the Sioux village on the Little Big Horn, we discovered several tipis with Sioux in them.  Two of the men were alive.  I struck them both there.  Therefore, I wear two honor feathers.  Then we killed them.”



Bear’s Heart. His part in the Little Big Horn Battle, a short Biography, 1931 and Interview with Welch, 1933

Welch Comments, 1931

Bear Heart, born 1859, warred against the Crows and the Mandans, in his youth, and made trouble for soldiers at Forts Rice, Abraham Lincoln and Buford.

He took part in the Custer battle on the Little Big Horn in 1876, and surrendered in Canada and was brought down to Ft. Yates and turned loose with Sitting Bull and Gall.

He is a typical Sioux; strong features – a good study for an artist; pompous, proud, inclined to be overbearing; a dancer and follower of old time customs and ceremonials; superstitous; tall, erect, sharp in trading; what is known to me as “a buffalo Indian,” an old timer who has been rather roughly handled by the advance of civilization.

Bears Heartlb3-bears-heart-photo

Bear Heart, Hunkpapa,  talks to Welch, Mandan, ND, July 27, 1933:

Present: Bull Bear, Bear’s Heart, Afraid of Bear (Pabaska), A.B.Welch

Question by Welch: How old were you when you were with the Dakotah in Montana? (Custer, 1876).

Answer by Bear’s Heart: I was 17 years old then.  I did not have any gun.  I had bow and arrows.  Lots of the young men did not have guns.  There were many fireplaces there (meaning tribes and bands).  They were on the west side of the Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn).  Some soldiers crossed the water and rode in on the south end of the camps.  It was halfway in the camp (north and south).  Some more soldiers rode toward the ford there.  They found a boy there and shot him.  There were some women there, too, but they hid and did not get killed.

Question by Welch: How many of these soldiers crossed the water there?

Answer by Bear’s Heart: None of them.  They did not cross.  The Dakotah crossed after them and run them. (This is an old buffalo hunting term of “chasing.”)  There was some water in the draw.  There is where I went.  The soldiers had some horses hidden there.  There was lots of shooting and excitement then toward the north.  I rode that way with many warriors.  I saw several dead men.  Most of them were soldiers.  I did not do anything great.  I was there with the others where the soldiers were killed.  It was fast.  It did not take long.  I think half an hour.

Question by Welch:  How old are you now?

Answer by Bear’s Heart: I am 74 winters now. Then I picked up a soldier’s gun and took some shells.  I went to the Hill (paha) after that and shot at them there.




Bloody Knife’s death in the Little Big Horn Fight. Emeron White talks to Welch, 1922 and Frances Zahn talks to Welch, 1941

EMERON WHITE, DAKOTAH, FORT YATES, AUGUST 17, 1922, talks to Welch about how Bloody Knife may have died at the Little Horn:

The Sioux people sing a song about a Ree Scout who died with Custer.  They call him Mahkpia Tatonka (Buffalo Cloud).  He rode a swift horse but it was wounded and they got around him.  The scout begged for his life and named the first born of the families of these Hunkpapa who were around him.  This is sacred to the people to name the first born and they always let an enemy get away when they do that.  But this time everyone was excited and so they killed him there.  I think maybe that it was Bloody Knife, his other name.  They are all sorry for that thing now and sing this song in his honor:

“Where is Buffalo Cloud?

  Here he lays.”

Welch also writes as his version of a translation:

“The horse came alone

  Where is his rider.”

Bloody Knifelb7-bloody-knife-photo


FRANCES ZAHN TALKS WITH WELCH  about why the body of Bloody Knife was defiled,  January 6th, 1941:

“Did you know that Bloody Knife, the Chief Indian Scout for Custer, was half Ree and half Sioux?  He was.  That’s why the Sioux at the Battle killed him and dragged him around the camp.  They felt that he was a traitor to them.

Bloody Knife has a daughter still living.  Her name is He Maza (Iron Horn) and she is married to Feather Ear Rings, a Sioux, and now lives at Kenel, S.D. – near the place where Fort Manuel was built.”



Crawler’s and His Wife’s Participation in the Little Big Horn Fight, 1939


Notes on back of faded photograph:  Chief Crawler, age 77 in this photo of 1906 by O.B.Tripp, Hettinger.

Was 5 times Great Chief among ‘Setting Bulls’ (sp.) People.  He was a Sihasapa  or Blackfeet Teton, his wife named Sun Flower Face.  He was born in 1830 on the Moreau River and was from the family of a chief and he attained great note and influence among the Tetons.  He was alive, but frail, in 1908.

Crawler, 1908

He lived at Laughing Woods on the Grand River, some eight miles above the location of the sub-station called Bull Head, on the Standing Rock. This is the exact place where Mrs. Francis Wiggins Kelly was bought of the Hunkpapas from Brings Plenty, who owned her at that time.  Crawler was the man who went into the tipi and offered the horses for her.  The Blackfeet got away with her and turned her over to the whites at Fort Sully in the fall of 1864.

Several Indians have told me that Crawler was a member of the Fool Soldiers Band of Warriors.


December 17th, 1939.   Present – Mrs. Eva Little Chief and her husband.  Told by – Eva Little Chief.

Mrs Crawler was sick one time.  I went to see her that time.  She was very sick.  She told me that one time she had a nephew, the son of her brother, who was a cripple. She took care of him.  He had a bad backbone.  She carried him around with a dog travois.  She placed him on those poles.  The dog then dragged him around that way.  She got awful tired of looking after him. She told him he never would walk; that it would be better if he were dead.  He said, ‘yes.”

They got to the Little Greasy Grass (Big Horn).  The soldiers were going to fight them that time.  She said to the crippled boy, “if you died someplace, you would just be dead.  If you are killed by the enemy you would be brave.  Then I could sing for you.”  He said, “yes.”

So when the soldiers came she placed him upon the dog travois.  She put him out there in the middle where the soldiers would kill him.  She hit him with a stone club.  By and By the soldiers did kill the boy.

That made him a brave man.  She often would sing a song for him and call out his name among the people.



Crazy Horse’s part in the Little Big Horn Fight.   Welch Undated Notes, John Grass comments, undated and, All Yellow talks about where he is buried, 1923



CHIEF JOHN GRASS talks to Welch about Crazy Horse, undated:

”The Sioux have produced some very great men…Crazy Horse was a dashing, but a thoughtful soldier…”

ALL YELLOW talks to Welch about where Crazy Horse is buried, Cannon Ball N.D., April 23, 1923.:

We were talking about American Horse, Red Cloud and other old men of the Nation.  Do you know where Crazy Horse is buried?  “I have seen that place where he lays now.  It is about eighteen or twenty miles north of the Agency, Pine ridge.  It is on the Wounded Knee Creek, where they had that fight.  That is after Sitting Bull was killed.  The hostiles went there that winter.  The grave is on a high cut bank above the water.  He is just one man buried there, I think. The Crazy Horse.  He’s pretty good soldier for Indians. I’ve seen that place.”



Chip Creighton, who was with Reno’s Command at the Little Big Horn Battle,  Photographed with old Indian Scouts, 1924

Chip Creighton and group of old Custer Scouts, 1924lb10-chip-creighton-and-scouts


Running Wolf and Little Sioux, Arikara Scouts for Custer, 1924lb12-running-wolf-and-little-sioux


Three Foxes and Red Bear, Arikara Scouts for Custer, 1924lb13-three-foxes-and-red-bear



Flying By’s part in the The Little Big Horn Fight,  told by Long Bull, 1926

LONG BULL talks to Welch about Minniconjou Leaders, May 7th, 1926:

Long Bull told me that he (Flying By) was a leader of a band of Minniconjou at the battle of the Little Big Horn, but that the real leader of the Minniconjou was Magaska (White Swan) and, after him, Hump came.

The father of Flying By was Chante Witko (Foolish Heart).  This is the White Swan who was the father of my foster mother, the wife of Chief John Grass.  His Indian name is Kinyan Hiyaye.



Foolish Bear talks to Welch, 1936

WELCH NOTES about Foolish Bear, May 25th, 1936:

Today, while upon the Elbowoods Reservation, I saw a man taking a bath in a creek.  I recognized him as Foolish Bear, the Gros Ventre scout.  Later in the day I called at his log house and both he and his wife appeared delighted to see me again.  He looked to be well and hearty.  He told me that he was 84 years of age.  Also, that all Custer’s Scouts were dead except 3, all Gros Ventre.  They were himself, Adelaide Stevenson (Bear in the Water) and Bear’s Chest.

Foolish Bear, 1924lb14-foolish-bear-photo

Today, Oct. 26, 1936,  I called on Foolish Bear at his house on Shell Creek, south of Van Hook.  There I found Chief Drags Wolf – both Gros Ventre:

Foolish Bear told me that he used to carry the mail between Fort Buford, at the mouth of the Yellowstone, and Fort Stevenson.  The danger was great at all times on account of roving bands of hostile Sioux, Assiniboines, Blackfeet (Piegans) and bands of other tribes coming into that point and following the valley of the Missouri.  He said that it took five days to make the trip in the winter time, and he camped out every night, if he slept at all.  In the summer he made wide detours to pass hostile hunters and warriors out ‘for enemy hair.’ In spite of these hardships and dangers, he said that he always held to the mail, even though he had to speed up, and always arrived with his mail.  He was very proud of having been of use to the soldiers at both forts.  At one time he was chased right up to the fort when coming to Stevenson.

He was chasing Sioux horses during the Custer fight, and was a scout under Bloody Knife at that time, with the Custer column.  He is a grand old man – dignified, polite.  Talks good Sioux.



Gall, undated Welch notes

…and later on his real military genius was displayed when, while in command of the Indian warriors of the Dakotah nation on the Little Big Horn, he fought the column of General Custer to a finish.  This was June 25th, 1876.


After this battle, he fled to asylum over the line into Canada, but, in 1880, he, together with Crow Chief, an other prominent Dakotah, withdrew from the followers of Sitting Bull and, with their bands, surrendered to Major Ilges at Poplar Creek, Montana, January 1st, 1881.

He was taken to the Standing Rock Reservation and, at once, denounced Sitting Bull as an imposter.



Gayton’s account of Sioux Deserters at The Little Big Horn Fight, 1927

Welch notes, January 13th, 1927….Sioux Scouts with Custer:

Authority, William Gayton, of Sioux Blood, Fort Yates, N.D.

This man is of the well-known early family of the Gayton name, who had a place across from the mouth of the Cannon Ball in very early days, and married into the Sioux.  Has lived for the last 32 years on the Standing Rock; is educated and speaks the Sioux as well as English.  He says that he knew the two Sioux names, and that they told him that they were with Custer and deserted just before the fight started.  All the Sioux knew about it but protected them for it.  They are both dead at this date.  The two men were named ‘Carrier’ and ‘All Buffalo’ (or Wholly or Entirely Buffalo), and were Teton Sioux.




Chief John Grass talks to Welch about the Little Big Horn Fight, 1915

The story of the Custer Fight on the Little Big Horn, June 1876, as told by Chief John Grass (Pezhi) to his adopted son, A. B. Welch, probably around 1915:

Questions by Welch:

“Father, there are many stories told about his great fight, by white people.  As they were all killed, who were with Custer’s immediate command, how am I to know if these stories are correct?  I would like to have you talk to me about this battle and tell me the truth as you saw it yourself.”

Chief John Grass, 1917lb19-chief-grass-photo

Answer by Grass, head Chief of the Sioux Nation:

“My son, I will speak.  Many people say that I was not there, and that does not displease me.  What I say, I will ask you not to write in your books so that the people can read, until I am dead.  There are some other men now living who were there, and the people do not know about it.  If they object, you must not write it until they permit you to also.  Because the Government treat us badly for that thing yet, and some men might suffer more.  We are afraid to let them know.”

“There were nine Dakotah tribes camped there.  We were many people.  There were about ten thousand people along the river banks.  I do not know just how many.  There were a few other Indians there with us, some from other tribes not Dakotah.  We had many tipis.”

“Many brave men and good hunters were there.  Pizi (Gall), Tatonka Iyotonka (Sitting Bull), Tasunka Witko (Crazy Horse), my father and myself were there.  We knew that Hanska (literally, Long Hair, Custer) was on the way to fight us.  We did not want to fight.  We were Dakotah people and this means ‘Friendly People.’  We had scouts for many days watching Custer and Crook come on.  So we marched in two camps.  One of these was a small one of about six hundred men and when Custer found their trail, which we made plain to read, he went after them.  The other camp was to the south of them about twelve miles, and this was the big camp with the women and children and old men and the rest of the warriors.  Crazy Horse joined them after he had sent Crook back home.  Custer never knew about this part of our march.  But he should have known.  We had come fast from the Powder River to the Big Horn where the creek flows in, and made camp there, as it was a good place to fight, if we had to.  We camped on the west side with the water between us, so he would have to cross.”

“Custer cut his long hair off his head that night and we looked for him but could not see him.  But when he gave commands, we could tell his voice and knew him for sure, and then his face proved it, too.  We think that when the man who gives the commands gets killed that the rest of the soldiers will get mixed up.  We watched for the man who gave commands and it was Custer with cut-off hair that day.  I think many of the men with him were drunk with whiskey.  They tried to scare us and waved their arms and shot into the air like cowboys when they rode down the hill.  He was a brave man or he did not know how to give battle, for he rushed upon the village waving his arms when he came.”

“There were five men rode ahead of the rest.  They were killed first.  One of them was General Custer.  We rushed out of a draw in the hills and rode against them then.  After the man who gave commands was killed, they carried his body back up the hill between them on horses, but the soldiers were all mixed up.  I saw two soldiers in a hole drink from a bottle and then throw at an Indian.  We rode around them.  They waved their arms and fired into the air and they yelled a lot.”

“Then we were all mixed up with the soldiers.  There were many shots and much noise but we knew that Custer did not have any cannon.  Then someone came from Gall and said not to shoot any more but to ride in toward the center and kill with clubs.  Most of them were killed with clubs then.”

“Then Crazy Horse came up.  He had Oglala and Minniconjou.  Some of the soldiers were scalped and we took their leather boots to make soles for our moccasins for ourselves.”

“I do not think that Custer was a great man, but he was brave to fight so many of us.  He could not get away then.  We killed three scouts of the Ree people who were with him.”

“Then we went away from that place.  I came back here in two days and nights.  I saw some mules hitched to a wagon.  They had been turned loose.  I think the driver came up and saw the fight and then run away.  He was the only one to get away, I think.  That is all.  I am through.”

Chief John Grass, early 1880’slb16-young-john-grass

Question by Welch:

“Did you want to kill Custer or capture him?”

Answer by Grass:

“We wanted to kill him because he gave the orders to the soldiers.”

Question by Welch:

“Did he commit suicide?”

Answer by Grass:

“No, he came with the five men ahead and was the first man to die.”

Question by Welch:

“Did you consider him to be a great man?  It is said that you thought he might be President and then help you, if you captured him and treated him well.”

Answer by Grass:

“No, we did not want him and I never heard of him doing anything big.”

Question by Welch:

Were there any white men in your camp fighting with you?”

Answer by Grass:


Question by Welch:

“What did Sitting Bull do?”

Answer by Grass:

“He was singing and making himself holy.”

Question by Welch:

“Where was your own tipi?”

Answer by Grass:

“Right there.” (pointing to a spot on a rough Indian drawing)

Question by Welch:

“Were you in the camp when the fight began?”

Answer by Grass:

“There was no one (meaning warriors) in camp when Custer started to charge it.  They were fighting in the other two places away south of where I was.  Others were watching in the draws in the hills and waiting for Custer to get there.  We knew he would.  He was a fool.  He was brave to do it.  He smoked a pipe with me in the Black Hills in two years before that time.  He told us that he was there to protect poor Indians from bad white men.  He said that there would never be any fighting with the army people.  He lied to me.  He should not have smoked the pipe when he knew he had to do what they told him in Washington.  He did not have the right to smoke with us and tell us those things.  He did not have to tell us those things and it had been better if he had not done so.  Two years after that smoking he died like I have told you. I am tired.  Someday I will tell my son more about this thing.”

End of conversation with Chief John Grass)

WELCH INTERVIEW WITH A.McG.BEEDE (Judge, Sioux County), July 11th, 1920:

“I know of a certainty that he (Grass) was in command of the Indian warriors in the north end of the village on the Little Big Horn and that the fight was practically over with Custer when Gall arrived from the fight with Reno’s command to the south.  And John Grass beat the steamer to Standing Rock country with a few men, and it was always supposed that he was staying quietly there during that entire campaign.

WELCH NOTE, talk with Grass, undated:

I am told by Chief Grass that Scarlet Point commanded the Isante and Yanktonai at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876 and fled into Canada with Sitting Bull after the scattering of the Dakotah then.  He probably died there as I do not hear of him since that time.



Chief John Grass may have laid the Plans for the Little Big Horn Fight, 1943

Welch and Angela Boleyn interview  Leo Cadotte (son of Grass’ sister, Auntie Cross), Mandan, N.D., September 6th 1943: 

(Angela Boleyn was a writer-friend of Welch, creating a life story about John Grass)

In a long conversation, Leo Cadotte states as follows:

Leo Cadotte, John Grass’ nephew, with Welch, 1943 lb20-leocadotte-photo

Now this is what I want to talk about:  You have said that Chief John Grass was the man who planned the campaign when they killed those men in Montana (W-This refers to the Custer affair).  You are writing a book about our relative Grass.  He has told you what part he played in that.  I have talked with many people, old ones, who knew.  They always denied that thing.  But you know.

Now they think that they are placing John Grass in a bad position before you.  They say: “He (Welch) has the truth now.  If he has the truth, and does not tell it – what is the use of having it if he cannot tell it.” That was a long time ago; the archives cannot be changed now; We think that it is time to tell it now.  It cannot hurt anyone now.  The claims we have against the Government will be put off from time to time anyhow.  Auntie Cross is very old and will die pretty soon. She wanted Charging Bear to know but was afraid of punishment by the Government.  She wanted to tell him (W-Welch) but was fearful of consequences.  etc., etc.

Aunty Cross, John Grass’ sister, with Welchlb20-auntie-cross-and-welch

Cadotte continued:  So I believe it is all right for you to write it.  The truth cannot hurt now.  The archives have the Sihasapa as a ‘peaceful Teton tribe.’  Too much has been written and is now in the archives and they will remain that way.

Asked about details, he continued:  The Oohenopa (Two Kettles) and the Sihasapa were together there.  They nearly always camped together.  Black Moon was with them – he was Headman of the Brave Hearts (Police). (W-the Brave Hearts was the largest of the Soldier Societies, and there were members in every tribe of the Tetons and even in the Isanti Division of the Dakota).  Tall Mandan was also a Head Man of the Brave Hearts and was with the camp.  They broke camp down somewhere along the Padani Wakpe (W-Grand river – meaning the River of the Arikara on account of their villages being at the mouth of that river) and went west into the valleys of the rivers flowing northward into the Hehaka Wakpe (W-Elk river, as they called the Yellowstone).

Before this time, General Custer had seen Grass and some other powerful men and wanted them to go with him into Montana country.

Chief Grass told him like this: ‘You have smoked with me  You have said that as long as water flows there will be peace between us.  Therefore, you will not need me with you because you are going in peace.  You have Padani Scouts with you who know the trails that way.’  But, he could not believe that Custer would take so many soldiers with him if he was really going in peace.  He did not want to be identified with a war expedition against his own people.  When they broke camp they moved west to be out there.  We believe that Grass laid out the general plan to congregate in the valley of the Greasy Grass.  (W-This is the Big Country).  Crazy Horse was a young man.  He could not have made the plan or he would have kept away from Gen. Crook. No one ever said that Sitting Bull laid out the plan.  Gall was doing just what Sitting Bull wanted him to do.  Therefore, Gall did not do it.  It was not Black Moon because he was not a Chief, but a Head Man of the Soldiers Society.  Then came the battle.  Crazy Horse obtained much notoriety because he was where Custer came into the valley and started for the ford.  Gall was fighting at the south end of the village and did not reach the Custer ground until the battle was almost over.  Sitting Bull did not fight.

After the battle Chief Grass went back fast to the Grande River.  Tall Mandan probably went with him because he appeared there too.  You ask who Scabby Head was and I cannot tell you because I do not know.  Black Moon talked much after that and it is said that he was a great warrior at that fight.  The old people never did call him Scabby Head.  But the Sihasapa, nearly every young man among them, were there together with the Two Kettle fighting men.  Their camp was about in the middle there.  They probably fought with those of Crazy Horse.  As the camps came in, they extended the camp line from Sitting Bull’s camp toward the north – so Chief Grass’ Sihasapa and Two Kettle must have appeared there and camped about the third in line toward the north.  Crazy Horse’s band must have come in at the about the same time as the Cheyenne, and camped at the far north.  (W-This seems logical according to the ‘map’ made by One Bull which shows the arrangement of the camps just before Custer struck them.  It also agrees with the map made for me by Red Fish, a hostile Yanktonaise Chief, who made a mark on it and said ‘Chief Grass sat here.’  This last mentioned map shows the Council held after they had left the battlefield as troops started up the Big Horn after ferrying across the Yellowstone).

During this long conversation, Cadotte said several times, that he thought it would be all right now to tell the truth about it, and that it should be written by Mato Watakpe (Welch) and Mrs. Boleyn.

Excerpt from Angela Boleyn letter to Welch, referring to the foregoing conversation:

…Most interesting about Tall Mandan and Black Moon.  But I think Scabby Head was Grass.  A name he took or thought up at the moment he needed one, for Leo said it was not Black Moon.  So Grass must have said something like this, ‘Say Scabby Head was in charge of the Sihasapa.’ Yes? and we have the story of the chiefs who smoked with Custer before he went after Sitting Bull and his hostiles and which culminated in the Custer Battle.  Grand stuff.



Lt. Harrington’s fate after the Little Big Horn Fight. Interviews with Bill Zahn, 1921 and Val Solen, 1922


Welch interview with Bill Zahn, June 4th, 1921:

Question by Welch: Have you ever heard of the soldier called Harrington?

Answer by Zahn: He was supposed to have been captured at the battle on the Greasy Grass.  His widow got the idea that he had been captured and burnt at the stake.  He never was. I have talked to a whole lot of Indians who were there.  This is what they say:  That after the battle was almost over, some Indians saw a man on horseback quite a long ways away from the place.  One said, ‘That is a soldier there, let us ride after him.’ ‘No,’ was the reply, ‘It is no use. The white soldiers horses are fast.’  ‘Yes, I know,’ said the first one, ‘they are good for a short distance and our ponies are good for a long distance.  We can get him.’  So they went after this horseman.  After a time they commenced to gain upon the rider ahead.  His horse was jaded and slowing up.  There was no escape.  Suddenly the Indians saw the smoke of a gun or revolver and the rider tumbled off the horse.  They were superstitious and did not go up to where he lay.  I guess he shot himself all right.  A body was found with soldier clothes and buttons close to where they say this happened, a long time afterward, and it is supposed to have been that of Harrington, as his body was not found with the other dead soldiers upon the field.  The Indians now talk about his widow being Wakan and of having seen her spirit hunting Harrington in different places.

Welch interview with Lucille Van Solen, December, 1922:

Lucille Van Solen speaks:  My mother used to tell the story of the death of this Lieut. of General Custer’s.  The day after the fight on the Little Big Horn, three Dakotah were riding along.  They saw a horseman in the distance, who was evidently a white soldier on a Kentucky horse.  They said, ‘come let us chase this white soldier and kill him.  So they took up the pursuit, but one said, ‘No, we cannot catch him.  His horse is too fast.’  Another said, ‘His horse is fleet, but ours will not tire out so easily and we can get him.’  So the pursuit was maintained.  They covered some distance and entered rough ground where the soldier’s horse tired rapidly, but still kept far to the front of the three pursuers.  Finally, one said, ‘Come, let us stop now.  We cannot get him.’  another said, ‘I will go as far as the corner of that hill and, if I don’t catch him, I will come back then.’  So the two stopped and the other kept up the chase.  This man has told my mother his story as follows:

“I urged my horse to top speed.  I drew nearer to the white soldier on the big horse.  He looked around.  I rode hard.  We were coming closer to the hill where I was to turn back.  He got to the hill.  I was just about to turn my horse.  I was going back.  The white soldier could then journey on.  I gathered up my string to swing my horse.  Just then the white soldier looked over his shoulder.  I was so close I could see his white face. He was frightened with the fear of death. I knew that.”

“My horse started to swing his turning circle.  I heard a shot.  I looked at the white soldier.  He was falling off his horse.  There was smoke.  He fell.  I circled around him. I was afraid he was not dead.  It might be a trap to kill me.  Finally, I rode in fast behind my horse’s neck.  He was dead then.  He killed himself.  The horse was too tired to take with me.  I did not want the saddle.  I took off a ring from his finger.  I think this was the man of ‘The Woman in Black’ (see my notes on this-W).  I have always kept the ring.  I want three dollars for it.  Here it is.”

Mrs. Van Solen continues:  My mother said she did not have the money with her or she would have bought it.  She has seen many West Point Class Rings and she is positive it was one of them.  A few days after that she met this Indian and asked for the ring saying she had the money now.  But the Indian evidently was frightened regarding it, and said that he had never heard of any ring, and that my mother must have been dreaming about it.  His children are now living on the Standing Rock in the Bull Head country and they may still have it.

Welch note:  A year or two after the fight, a skeleton was found some distance from the battlefield.  There were buttons and other things around which identified it as that of a U.S.A. Officer.  A short distance away from the bones lay the remains of a McClellan saddle and the bones of a horse.

Lucille Van Solen, obituary noticelb25-vansolen-article_0



Kills in the Water’s Participation in the Little Big Horn Fight, 1941

He relates a war story with Welch, May 6, 1941:

I was in six battles.  That fight in Montana was one of them.  At that fight the soldiers were scared; they fired their guns into the air; we rode over them and killed them with stone clubs.  They attacked us; we killed them quickly.

The battle I talk about was the hardest one I was in.  It was up near the line (W-Canadian) we were after game; there were Sihasapa, Hunkpapa, Itazeptcos (W-Sans Arcs); Minniconjous there toghether.  This was 1879.  We were moving camp westward; we met many enemies – they were Kange Wisasa (W-Crows) and Wasicun (W-Whites).  They were together; they attacked us then.  This fight was on Muddy Creek.  My horse was tied and became excited and wild; I had much trouble in untying him and mounting; the enemy shot at me and the place was full of arrows and bullets, but I got mounted and rode with three of my brothers.  (W-whether of not these three men were blood brothers is not known.  Perhaps Society Brothers).  Many enemy horses were war-painted with red lightning and they had red cloth tied to them.  There was a ford at this river.  Here we waited for them to charge us;  we caught them in a deep gully at the river.  We killed many of them.  We drove them then.  One of the Dakotah horses came running; it was shot in two places – one wound in each shoulder.  The rider was a Dakotah woman; who was dead there.  At last we run them like buffalo; they ran off a steep place; they did not know it was there.  The enemy had red paint on their hair in front.  We killed five of them.  The woman was the only Dakotah who was killed.  We ran them all day;  the horses gave out and some died from running too hard.  It lasted all that day.

There was one Sioux woman in the Custer Battle.  No one knows who killed Custer.  His soldiers shot into the air.  We rode into them and killed them with war clubs.  No one even knew Custer at the time.  They were attacking us and we fought them.

John Cadotte, Kills In the Water, High Reach, White Cloud, Leo Cadotte, Welch, 1941lb26-kills-in-the-water-photo



Little Brave and his Pinto Pony, in the Little Big Horn Fight, 1921

Fort Berthold visit, October 1921, by Welch:

After walking through the ruined village we went to the grave of the Scouts to the northeast of the old site.  These graves of 102 Scouts, who served the United States Army in the early days, all lie together in a well-kept plot.  The flag flies on important days from a tall staff and each grave is marked by a U.S. headstone.  The Scouts Little Brave, Bob Tail Bull and Bloody Knife were all killed with Custer and their bodies were buried where found.  The stones, however, are erected at Berthold.  Later in the ceremonies, the people sung a song about Little Brave, which ran something like this:

The pinto horse came home alone.

Little Brave never came again.

They told me that Little Brave had ridden a pinto pony, which long after the fight on the Little Big Horn, came into the camp from across the river and walked around, neighing, and seemed to be hunting for the Indian Scout.  They treated the horse very well and never allowed any one to ride it but a brave man after that.



No-Two-Horns Participation in the Little Big Horn Fight, 1928

Welch biographical notes, April 20, 1928

“…The pipe was made by an old man of the Sioux, who is still living.  His name is No Two Horns (He Nopa Wanica, literally Horns Two Without).  He was a scout for General Custer at old Fort Abraham Lincoln in the spring of 1876.  When the expedition started, he thought the troops were procceding against his own people, so he ‘went over the hill.’  He was present with the Sioux at the battle of the Little Big Horn (Greasy Grass as the Sioux call it), and had a horse shot under him that day in June, 1876.  He was present when General Godfrey was here at the 50th Anniversary of the battle, and danced for the ‘soldiers who were so brave and foolish.’

No Two Hornslb27-no-two-horns-photo




One Bull’s and White Bull’s comments on the Little Big Horn Battle, 1936

Welch notes, Sept. 18th, 1936

On this day I took Frank Everts and Tommy Thompson, both of Bismarck, to the Indian Fair at Ft. Yates.  Several hundred Sioux were camped there and, after inquiring where One Bull was camped, called at his camp where we found him and his brother, White Bull.  We divided a large parcel of old worn clothing and shoes among his people, and they were thankfully received and will be used, too.

Sitting Bull’s shieldlb28-sitting-bull-shield

When we got down to serious talking, I found out that One Bull had been occupied in the fight against Reno, at the south. Here, he had picked up Good Bear, who was afoot, and surrounded by the soldiers.  He took him on his horse and rode straight through the line of soldiers in the woods. When he got to the river, he got off and killed a soldier on the left bank (west), one in the water and another on the east side, or right bank.  Killed them with a stone club, as he was armed with but a stone headed club and Sitting Bull’s shield.  White Bull, however, became involved at the north end against Custer’s troops.

He said that he got there and rode into the smoke.  “There were three rocks there.  There were men behind each stone.  I rode at these stones.  The man at the middle stone shot me through the right leg.  My horse fell, but got up and ran away.  I saw him fall again as a bullet struck him.  I fired at the middle stone man.  I shot him in the head two times.  I stripped his belt from him.  It had two revolvers in it.  This man was Pahanska (Long Hair – Custer).  I killed him there.  I saw the same stone there ten years ago.” I asked him if he ever hears that Grey Track shot Custer.  He said that he never heard of Grey Track killing him and, of course, disputed the statement.

I asked what time it was.  They both said that “The boy was killed first.  That started the fighting.  That was just before the middle of the day time.  We had not eaten at mid-day yet when it was all over.  Then we ate something and talked and sang about it.  Some were still fighting that man on the hill (Reno’s outfit).”  They seemed surprised that I did not know what time it was.  “The army had watches and keep track.”

White Bull was born ‘four winters before Four Horns was killed,’ and that was two winters after a white man built a dry log house where the Cedar and Cannon Ball run together.  This makes him 87 years old according to my winter count of the Hunkpapas.  So he was born in 1849.

One Bull, on left, White Bull, on rightlb29-one-bull-and-white-bull-photo

One Bull was 84 years old. ‘…born three winters after Four Horns was killed.’  So he was born in 1852.  He is the nephew of Sitting Bull; age 82 years lives on the Grand River in South Dakota.  Is Hunkpapa and son of Sitting Bull’s sister.  He was present at the Battle of Little Big Horn and took an active part in the fighting.  Another name for him is “Kills in the Water” – from the fact that he killed one of Reno’s men in the river during the fight.

They showed me their ‘map’ of the Custer fight, and promised to make me one of them.  It is an Indian drawing and is quite graphic, containing considerable information. (See One Bull’s and White Bull’s “Pictographic” story of the Little Big Horn Fight on the following posting).



One Bull’s and White Bull’s  “pictographic” account of the fight, 1936

Welch notes, Sept. 18th, 1936:

One Bull and White Bull showed me their ‘map’ of the Custer fight, and promised to make me one of them.  It is an Indian drawing and is quite graphic, containing considerable information.

The ‘Map’ (Wowapi) of Tatanka Wajina (One Bull) … an article submitted by Welch to the National Geographic Society, 1934.

The Map – is on canvas, 38 inches by 8 feet, the pencil was first used then gone over with ink and the figures then painted with crayon colors.  In large letters across the map are the words             “CUSTER’S WAR”





Welch notes, expanding upon the story told by One Bull about the ‘Map:’

The white soldiers are indicated by hats, blue clothes and heels on their feet.  Some saddles are also shown.  One Bull is indicated in three places – riding an orange colored horse, carrying a stone club and the shield of Sitting Bull with the Thunder Bird on it.  The first scene (a) is where he rides forth toward Reno’s men indicated by three flags and five pictures which represent trees.  Here he found his friend Good Bear afoot and shot in the leg.  He got him on his horse and carried him through the troops lines.  His own horse was shot in the right hind leg.  That is the second picture (b).  Then the next scene (c) shows him across the river (a brown line) striking a mounted soldier and tumbling him from his mount.  another soldier lies dead at that point.  The one he killed in the water is not indicated.  The stone with which he killed these three men is now in my collection, but on a different handle.  He does not claim to have been  fighting against Custer’s immediate command.

Pictograph of the Custer Battle, Sections 1 and 2lb31-first-and-second-scenes-of-map

Pictograph of the Custer Battle, Section 2mpls-indians-run-over-custer


Pictograph of the Custer Battle, section 3lb31-third-scene-on-map

Pictograph of the Custer Battle, section 3 in colormpls-elarged-charge


The drawing (d) shows five ‘camps’ of Indians.  The one on the north Sahiyela (Cheyennes) under Caga; the next is the Oglala under Chief Red Cloud and Crazy Horse; the third camp from the north is that of the Itazipco (Sans Arc or ‘without bows’) under Spotted Eagle; the fourth is the Mnikowoju (which I generally spell as Minniconjou) under the leadership of One Horn and Makes Room; the last (south) is the camp of the Hunkpapa under Sitting Bull and Four Horns (a relative of Sitting Bull).


Pictograph of the Custer Battle, section 4lb31-fourth-scene-on-map

Pictograph of the Custer Battle, section 4, left side expandedmpls-camps-left

Pictograph of the Custer Battle, section 4, right side expandedmpls-camps-right

His story agrees with most other Indians when he says that the first shot was fired by soldiers at two men and a boy who were looking after horses.  The boy was named ‘Deeds’ and he was the son of Little Bear.  He was killed.  Other Indians have told me that there were two women with the boy.  In the northwest corner (e) is indicated the camp of women and children and some old men being led to safety by mounted boys and youths.

Pictography of the Custer Battle, section 5

Pictography of the Custer Battle, section 5 in colormpls-indian-charge

Pictography of the Custer Battle, section 6mpls-6th-scene

Pictography of the Custer Battle, section 6 in colormpls-troops

In the northeast corner (f) is the circle of the General’s fight. Clubs and arrows are shown many times, but few rifles indicated.  He said that there were only a few guns used as Crazy Horse had fought General Miles a few days before and used all his ammunition then.  Clubs were used by most of the warriors he said.  It is a very colorful painting and I consider it to be one of my most valuable articles of Indian collection.  One Bull awoke me one night at 1:30 am to give it to me, after have driven over 50 miles in the cold – April 15, 1937.



Rain in the Face: Black Bear talks to Welch and says Rain was not in the fight!,1921

Mandan, N.D., Oct.8th, 1921, Interpreter: Basil Two Bears

Question by Welch:  Colonel Shields in a book named “The Blanket Indian,” says that Rain-in-the-Face went to Canada after he got away from Fort Lincoln that time.  Tell me about it.

Rain in the Facelb34-rain-in-the-face

Answer by Mato Sapa (Black Bear):  Rain-in-the-Face was my cousin.  His father and my own father were sons of the same father. Rain-in-the-Face’s father was named Ito Mato (Bear Face).  My father was Wakiah Lute (Red Thunder).

We hunted all the time together.  When he got away from the fort (1874) that time he came to the Cannon Ball.  We had a camp on a flat there.  He came to us.  He stayed all winter there.  Then we had a council about the Black Hills.  We went to it, away south it was.  Rain-in-the-Face and I went together.  After that we went where Sitting Bull was.  That was out on the rivers in Montana.

In the summer (1876) we both came back to the Cannon Ball country.  Rain-in-the-Face shot himself in the leg.  We were hunting buffalo.  He was lame after that.  That was in (1876).

He was not in that fight there in Montana with Custer.  Neither was I.  He did not make any run into Canada.  No man could do that in three days and three nights.  He was not a snowshoe man either.  I never saw him use them.  When the snow was deep we stayed in camp if we could.

 Question by Welch:  Were any of the soldiers mutilated after that fight on the Greasy Grass with Custer?

Answer by Black Bear:  Yes.  Some were. Custer was not.  His brother was not.  I have heard it said that he was.  He was not.  General Custer met death by bullet.  One of the first to die.  The rest were mostly all killed with clubs.  This pounds in their heads some.  Maybe white people thought that was mutilated.  It was not.  We had few guns then.  If we shot bullets or arrows across, some Indians would be killed.  So they ran in close.  They jumped off their horses.  They killed with clubs then.  It is a brave thing to strike your enemy when he is living yet.  Rain-in-the-Face did not kill there.  He did not eat any one’s heart.  He was not there.  I am his father’s brother’s son.  I was with him myself.  I know.  We afterward went to Sitting Bull’s camp in Canada.

Note by Welch:  I believe this man’s story.  He laughed at this trip of 300 miles.  At the same time, Rain very probably did tell the story as written by Colonel Shields in the “Blanket Indian.”  I know the old Col. and do not believe he would willfully lie about a thing like that.  I also believe that Rain was not in the Custer fight.  This Black Bear told me about the buffalo in which Rain shot himself by accident.  He spoke like this happened about the time  of the fight in Montana – many days hard riding toward the west.



Red Star’s account of the Fight, as told by his Nephew, Miles Horn,  1938

Script from April 13, 1938 Broadcast over Radio Station in Sheridan, Wyoming.

(note: Spelling and grammer not changed from balance of script)


say that at the same time I feel in my heart that I must endeavor to the best of my ability in order to entertain you by telling you a short story in regard to what is known to the Indian Scouts as the “Last Command by General George A. Custer to his Arickree Indian Scouts” just before the battle on the banks of the Little Big Horn River. My uncle, whose name is Red Star who was one of the enlisted Indian Scouts attached to the Seventh Cavalry, has told me time and time from the time the Seventh Cavalry left the Old Fort Lincoln Post near Bismarck, North Dakota, as follows:

This was the night of the 24th of June on Rosebud Creek near Busby, Montana.  The night was warm and taps signals had blown or given for silence as usual.  We as Scouts being by ourselves away from the White Soldiers layed in silence trying to sleep but it seem as though that we couldn’t sleep that very night as the scouts were whispering in low tone to one another that we were now in the dangerous country, and that we may see battle in a day or two.

In the meantime our interpreter, escourted by a sargent, walked up to where we layed and in his interpretation said that Red Star, myself and Boy Chief is to report to Long Hair at once, as General Custer’s Indian name was Long Hair.  And of course myself and Boy Chief was soon walking to the General’s tent escourted by a sargent.  As we stood we noticed a little table with some paper on it in front of the General, or Long Hair.  Besides him was his brother, Charley (Reynolds), and the rest of his staff.  Long Hair began to talk in a low voice to our interpreter and to his staff, and it seem that his voice began to get louder to the end. Interpreter turn to us and said Red Star and Boy Chief, Long Hair has picked you two Scouts tonight that you two men must be up on those high hills just before sunrise and make it a point to get back to camp with your reports as quick as possible to me, of what you have seen beyond those hills.  These hills are known today as Wolf Mountains.  We than went back to our beds and according to the orders we had to picketed our ponies close to where we could see them while they grazed a little. And in my wake, I noticed the morning star was up and at once jumped to my feet and woke Boy Chief telling him that it was time to go.

We both saddled up and off we were on our way for the Wolf Mountains, this must be almost 3.O’clock in the morning on the 25th day of June.  As we trotted and galloped most of the way our ponies seem to feel pretty good by there actions, for the early morning breeze was cool.   As we approached the foot hills we then noticed that the break of day had come.  We then made the climb on our ponies as far as we could until our ponies got winded and then left our ponies there and proceded our climb on foot.  In a little while we were on top of one of the nearest hills, We would come to.  As we both squatted down in order to gain a little wind and besides that our sweat had started a little.  The day light had come and with our own sights we could see quite a distance, but the sun had not shown up yet and it seemed to me that that very moment the horizon of the east just before sun up, was the prettiest red colors that we ever saw and as we sat and gayzed at these changeable colors of the horizon and it seem that blood color was stronger than any other color.  Although we hesitated to discuss anything further in regard to the blood colors of the horizon.

As the sun came up almost over the horizon we then began to look through our small telescopes toward the direction of the Little Big Horn river about where Crow Agency is now.  We could not see no teepe but we saw many thousands of ponies up on the next bench from the river bottoms on both sides of the river, and there was a heavy black smoke which seem to form in a cloud shape like out of the river bottoms, which indicate that the big camp down on these bottoms numering almost 10,000 Indians had starded there morning fires for meals.  We knew what was to take place that day and without no hesitation I pull’d out my Indian pipe which was a small one make of genuine red pipe stone, with a little wooden stem.  I filled the pipe with my tobacco.  As I lit my pipe and with a few puffs I then held the lited pipe up toward the skies and with trembling words I said “Great Father take this smoke with us and that you will guide us today. We are in fear because you have showed us the blood sign this morning.”  After we had smoked our pipe we were soon on our way back.  At about half way we met two more other scouts in which they relayed the reports right back to camp.  In a little while we were at camp.  As we rode in, a scout sergent rush’d up to us with two big cups of hot coffee and 4 or 5 hard tacks a piece.  As we chattered away with other scouts around us and at the same time trying to drink up our hot coffee, Bob Tail Bull, who was an Indian Scout Sergent, made a few remarks in a loud voice to all of us scouts.  That he had warned Long Hair that he must not try to make any attack today as the scouts reports shows that there are too nemorous in number of the whole camp over those hills to compair of what Long Hair has here.

But, No, Long Hair insists on making an attack at once, he said.  The White man has taken our happy land away from us and now the same white man is making us fight for him to our brothers.  And to those who may loose there lives today will be remembered and those who will be lucky to get back home will have a story to be remembered.  So its a good thing to try to be a man.  So lets be men today.  By this time the trumpets had sounded for mount and then the march.

And as the march proceded, it seem that our march that morning was the fastest march that we had ever made for about 10 miles to the head of what is known today as Reno Creek.  And as the outfit was just about the top of the little divide, we then heard the trumpets signal for half and then to dismount.  At this time it must have been almost 9.o’clock.  And as us Scouts being by our selves in a group near the White Soldiers, squatted down on the ground and prepared for a few puffs of smoke with our own pipes.

As we chattered, we noticed that all the horses were quite winded and there breths were in puffing motion and we noticed the foamy like sweat, running and driping down on there limbs.  And in a few moments our Scout Sergent who is Bob Tail Bull was with us of course where we were, was then call’d on to report to where Long Hair stood with his staff.  (This I say were the last orders given to us by Long Hair or General Geo. A. Custer).

And as Bob Tail Bull was on his horse already and on his return to where we were, he began to encircule us scouts by the walk of his horse.  And as he began to announce in a crie fashion is follows:

Long Hair has chosen me, Bloody Knife, Little Brave and Curley, a Crow Indian to go with his outfit and will charge on the north end of the camp. And We-No (which he meant to say Reno) was to take almost as many men as Custer had and the balance of the Scouts also down the creek known today as Reno Creek.  And that Reno was to select for his stand as he may see fit in approaching the mouth of the Creek.  And that Long Hair would make his charge first and then Reno would come in after that, in order to close up on the camp.  And that all scouts with Reno are not allowed to fight in this battle, except myself, Bloody Knife, Little Brave and Curley.  But you are under orders that you scouts must try to take away as money ponies and as far away from camp as you can drive them and to have lots of life in doing so.


And further more, I do not know if Long Hair has allowed his soldiers to drink the Crazy Water, which means whiskey.  But at the same time I will say this to all of you scouts that there shall be no drinking of crazy water by any of you.  If Long Hair and his men wants to drink at this time let him do so.  This is war time and I want you to be in your right mind during the action in the battle.

And before the trumpets sounded for mounts, we could see quite a few bottles being thrown by hand, off to one side.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -Welch Note: TO READERS: I do hope that there is nothing containing in this story that would hurt anybody’s feelings because even the surviving scouts always kept that part hidden where the soldiers cleaned up there last few drinks, which might have been two or three hours before the battle took place.  And it goes to say, that to all readers of this story as told by one of Custer’s Scouts shows that the commands given to Scout Seargent Bob Tail Bull for his Indian Scouts were the last commands given by Gen. Geo. A. Custer to his Scouts. — At about 9.o’clock A.M. on the 25th day of June in the year of 1876, on the top of a little divide near the head of whats known today as Reno Creek.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – As the trumpets sounded for mounts and then the march as as we were given orders that we as scouts would take the lead down the creek at almost a mile ahead, we did so, and as we rode along and to our surprise we saw one teepe some where’s near the forks of Reno.  And with a few war cries or whoops we were soon on our way charging on the teepe.  As we rode up swiftly and striking the teepe with our quirts or either the butt end of the carbine which represents a cue to strike the enemy on his teepe, that’s for only the first strikes, second and third Young Hawk one of our scouts, ripped the teepe with his big knife.  In which we discovered that the teepe was only a burieal teepe as there was a dead body all wrapped up.

As we proceeded our route and as we look back we could now see Reno and his outfit moving rapidly but Custer or Long Hair had already gone out of sight over on the north side of Reno Creek and from there to so west straight for the river.

As Reno approached the river, at this time at about where I stood, we could now see a little cloud of dust rolling up from the north end of the camp just across the river.  “Long Hair has charged on the camp already.” one scout yelled.  And in the meantime Reno had made an attempt to charge on this end but by force retreated back before he got out to far from the river.  The sight of the whole camp seem’d to me the biggest camp of Indians that I ever saw.  Long Hair had retreated also and we could see that he was over taken on the north ridge and there the smoke and dust rolled up for about an hour and half and then quieten down.

Reno has been criticized in a way, but we as Scouts believe earnestly that Reno was a better judgement of caracter for a soldier leader.   (end)



Red Tomahawk talks about casualties in the Little Big Horn fight to Welch, 1915

Red Tomahawk talks about casualties in the Little Big Horn fight to Welch, 1915

September 1915:

“There were 3 Cheyennes, 5 Sioux and 2 Nez Perce killed at the Custer fight.  There were 164 Indians killed at Shot-in-the-knee-water place (Wounded Knee) by the soldiers.”

Red Tomahawklb40-red-tomahawk-photo

October 9, 1915:

“There were a few Hohe (Assiniboine) in the Custer Campaign with us.”



Red Woodpecker’s story, told by A. C. Wells of Standing Rock Agency, 1929

He told me that he had been asked by Major McLaughlin to come into the Standing Rock Agency, and did come from vicinity of Faribault, Minn, in 1861.  Said that his father had been killed by the Yanktonaise during the Minnesota massacres and that he himself had been taken captive by the hostiles.  One man took his part and prevented his death, but that several Indians had beaten him with sticks and clubs to ‘take coup.’  His arms were scarred by the wounds.  Years after he tried to obtain depredation claim damages, but never could prove points necessary, but that during his investigations he and across the Indian who saved him.  He drove out to Ft. Yates from Minnesota.  One time he made a trip to the Black Hills with Goose, Grass, Red Woodpecker to find gold.  This was in 1875.  The Indians had a quantity of gold and said they could find the spot from which they had taken it.  However, they could not do so and Wells thinks that the gold they had was some gold carried by the boat which was wrecked and men killed at Wards Creek, just north of the N.P.Rwy bridge between Bismarck and Mandan.  I know that Grass had some gold for he showed it to me and told me the same story – that he could show me the spot in the Hills from which he had taken it.

While talking with Red Woodpecker one day, Wells said that that Indian told him that they all were crazy after they had killed the soldiers of Custer’s command, and that some of the Indians cut open the bodies and ate pieces of the dead men’s livers.  However, Wells said he did not believe that story.



Reno References gathered by Welch

Reno’s position behind the Cut Bank:

Undated:  I have been told by several old Indians who took part in the Custer Battle on the Little Big Horn that Major Reno had a very strong position where they were behind the cut bank on the edge of the timber, from which they retreated.  They said they thought that he was safe there and wondered how they would get him out and were overjoyed when they noticed his men leaving in disorder.  They thought he would be able to hold it, but he run away.

Comments on Bob Tail Bull:

Undated:  They also said that the Arikara Scouts with Reno were brave men and that they did not get to kill many of them.  Bob Tail Bull was killed a long way to the left or west of the troops, where it took a lot of Dakotahs to get him.  He was singing his song when they rode at him and finally dismounted him and killed him.

One Feather:  Undated:  One Feather was a Custer Scout and crossed the river with Reno.

Fred F. Garrard, probably born around 1830:

Undated:  According to information obtained from Mrs. Anna D. Wilde, Blackwater, N.D., who is a niece of this man, he died in 1916 or 1917 and was buried at St. Cloud, Minn., By the side of his two Indian daughters there.  Another daughter of his is a Sister in the convent at Mandan.  Her name is Sister Anastasia and she teaches music.  The other two sisters were also members of the St. Benedictine order.  The above refers to the Indian trader at Fort Berthold Indian village.  He was also the official interpreter for Custer on his last trip and took in the affair with Reno’s troops.

Fred Garrard was the first Indian interpreter employed by General William P. Carlin and could speak the Sioux, Arikara, Gros Ventre and Mandan languages.  He was with the various expeditions out from Fort Abraham Lincoln up to the including the expedition of 1876 and in the fight of the Little Big Horn he was left with the Reno command, thereby saving his life.

Bill Wade, of McLaughlin, S.D., talks to Welch, 1926:

“Bloody Knife and Bob Tail Bull, two Arikara, were both killed at the Custer fight, out on the left blank of Major Reno’s command.”

Sand Hill Crane talks to Welch, November 6th, 1924, Mandan, N.D.:

“…Yes.  I was at the Little Big Horn Fight.  I was on a hill.  I was not with the coward, Reno.  He ought to put on a woman’s dress.  I was with Captain Tom Custer in the morning.  Then I went after the Sioux horses.  I caught several that day.  My uncle, Bloody Knife got killed there.”



Two Bulls, one of ‘Sitting Bull’s People,’ Little Big Horn account, 1930


Told to Welch, Mandan, N.D., November 19th, 1930:

This old Indian was in this fight and tells the following story of what he saw.  He is Hunkpapa and married to the sister of Crow Ghost.  Later on he was a policeman and a member of an Indian detachment, now draws a pension from the Government for those services.

Two Bullslb42-two-bulls-photo

“I was in that fight with the soldiers of Long Hair.  It was a big camp on river there.  The south end of it was where my people were.  There was a little draw running along there.  Sometimes it had water in it.  Our lodges were lined up along it and they were about the last in the village.  When we saw the soldiers cross the creek, we went back into the village a ways.  Then we began to shoot from there.  Then we charged out with the horses.  Some went around the end of the soldier’s line.  I was in the trees and saw some things.  These soldiers run back to the creek.  They tried to get across.  Several white soldiers were killed there.  The banks were high.  I had two revolvers.  That’s all I had.  We killed some there at the water crossing.

Then some Indians told me, they said “Here is something different.”  I went into the trees.  There was a dead man there.  He was stripped.  They said “This is a black man.  It is Ishea.”  (Welch note – this was probably Isiaah, Custer’s black servant).  This black man had an elk tooth.  It was tied on his wrist.  I knew that tooth.  I had seen it before.  Because this black man was dead at the south end of the village, we thought we were fighting Long Hair.  Then a white man came out of the trees.  He was an officer.  He had stripes on his sleeves. We ran at him.  We clubbed him then.  He died there.  If he had stayed in the trees he would have been safe.

Then two Indians came riding hard.  They shouted that Long Hair was up there.  They said “Ride down close along the line of timber.”  So we rode down the river along the trees.  There was shooting pretty soon ahead of us.  We came then to where there was much noise.  There was much smoke.  We rode into that.  I could not see much.  I saw a soldier or two in the smoke.  I saw some dead horses too.  Some other horses were plunging and trying to get away.  I rode fast.  My horse fell down.  I had a rope tied to my waist to hold him.  But he was dead.  I cut the rope.  I had a costly bridle on him.  It was a Mexican bridle.  It was silver on it.  I pulled it off and carried it with me.  I saw some Indians running back.  I went too. I jumped about and dodged all the time.

Then I saw a man.  He had both hands on the ground and he was bloody.  He had long hair.  He was a Gros Ventre.  (Custer’s Scout) I asked him if he was shot.  He said “Yes. Through the hips.”  He was scalped.  The blood was running over his face.  I said “I’ll help you Brother.”  I held one of my revolvers to his head.  I killed him then.  That is all I know about that fight.  I struck three enemies.  One was the officer who came out of the trees.  One was the black man.  One was the Toka Indian.  We went away



Taylor, W.O., of Troops M and A, Seventh U.S.Cavalry, account of the fight, 1922


Orange, Mass., 3.14.22


Mandan, N.D.

Dear Sir yours Feb 10th at hand.  I am very glad to hear from you.  One thing I am finally satisfied of and that is that the Indians have ever been treated in a might bad way.  I have heard of John Grass, and may have seen him at Standing Rock where I have been sent when I was stationed at Fort Rice.  Was Grass at the Little Big Horn.  I have heard that Inkpaduta was but did not feel quite, he had rather of a bad reputation, I believe.

One of your statements bothers me a little.  The Official Report of Major Reno gives as killed ‘Ree Scouts Bloody Knife, Bob Tail bull and Stab, someone else calls him Little Horse.  I suppose Reno ought to know for he got his information from Lieut. Varnum who had charge of the Scouts.  Varnum in a letter to me in 1921, says he had to report 21 Rees as ‘missing,’ when he made out his muster roll June 30th.  Later on they were found at Powder River, where ‘he paid them off and dropped them from the rolls.’  Forked Tounge and Goose remained on the hill with Reno.  Goose being wounded in the hand.  Among Varnum’s Scouts was one named Billy Cross, and one name _____ Baker.  I have never heard of them since.  I am expecting a copy of Vol 6th W.D.Hist.Society, with a long story of the Ree Scouts.  I think your opinion of Curley, the Crow, is all right, and you might say the same of three more of his gang who started in with Custer and Mitch Bouyer.  Bouyer stayed, and is there yet.  The other three did not.  I have never heard just where Bob Tail Bull and Stab, or ‘Little Horse,’ were killed, but as the greater part of the Scouts went into the fight (on the bottom) on our extream left I have supposed it was over there, or else when the Sioux started them on the run and perhaps killed one or two then.  Anyway they, ‘the Rees,’ ‘kept going’ until they reached Powder river, a little over 100 miles in an air line.  When leaving the field they passed near Benteen’s Battalion, who reported them ‘with a small bunch of horses’ and one of the Infantry guard there at Powder river, in a letter to me, says ‘they were a badly demoralized gang with arrows still sticking in some of their horses.’

I do not recall ‘Spike McDonnough’ at Rice, ask him is McNutt the Bar-Keep is still there.  I do remember Isaiah Dorman, the colored interpreter, who was killed near Bloody Knife and Charley Reynolds.

I have heard of Creighton of L Troop, and think I wrote to him a while ago but got no reply.  I am going to enclose a list of enlisted men of L Troop killed at the Little Big Horn, and if you would ask him to look it over, and make any such corrections as he is positive of, I would be greatly obliged.

There was also one ____ Flanagan of the 7th, who died there not so very long ago, I wish I had a clipping of his death from some Mandan Paper, or the exact date.  I am wondering if W.C.Badger has a picture of Fort Rice, I am very keen for anything of the kind.

When I was at Fort Lincoln in 1875 I walked over to where (I suppose) Mandan is located and found many gun flints, arrowheads and bits of pottery.

I shall have to ‘chin’ on your story about Custer’s death and who killed him, also about Gall.

Very Sincerely Yours,

W.O.Taylor, Orange, Mass., Late of Troops M and A., 7th U.S.Cavalry, 1872, 1877.lb46-taylor-list-of-deaths



White Cow Walking talks to Welch, 1917, 1922, 1927, 1929

WHITE COW WALKING, talks to Welch, July 11th, 1917, Bismarck, N.D. “I saw many soldiers dead all around – many of them.  I was in a tipi close to where Red Cloud (Mahkpia Luta) and Gall was and someone cried out for him many times.  He stayed still. When the ‘Holy time’ came for him, he went out quickly and cried out for his soldiers.  Then they came all around him and they went out to fight and went toward the south.  I was fighting and there were many guns all around me.  I only had one horse and I hit him with my quirt and he ran with the rest around and around the soldiers.  Many died there.  My woman’s sister was killed there that time.  She died.  Many were struck with bullets but few were killed of us.  I did not see Sitting Bull.  He was dancing some place then. I was dead (i.e. unconcious) for a long time, I think it was two days, and I walked and walked.  Then I got another horse in Idaho south of Montana (Wyoming?).  The Indians all run away after that and some went to Canada (The Queen’s Country) and some went back to the Cannon Ball country.  The soldiers put iron on their wrists and ankles after that.  Pizi (Gall) was one of them.  But I stayed out in Montana for two years and then came home and no one spoke to me about it, so I was all right. I was brave and strong and the bullets went through my side but did not kill me.  There were Hunkpapa, Sichangue, Minicoujou, Oohenopa, Oglala, Sihassapa and many others.” He said there were many Isantees and mentioned the little known division of Tetons called Mihkpiya-to … Blue Sky or Cloud, Arapaho .. probably a small band which took their name from their leader or chief. He made signs of great excitement and noise and a hurrying to and fro among the Indians.  He made a circle which represented the soldiers and another one outside that, which represented the Indians. Interrupted at this point and the ‘holy time’ was gone.  I could not get him to enter into more conversation regarding the matter, at that time.

White Cow Walkinglb47-whitecowwalking_0

Recounted to A.B.Welch by White Cow Walking, in Dakotah language with no interpreter, at Mandan, N.D., November 2nd, 1922 and accompanied by three hand-drawn ‘maps’: Exhibit 94:  ‘Map’ of Custer Battlefield. Exhibit 95:  ‘Picture’ of the Council after the Fight. Exhibit 96:  ‘Picture’ of the ‘Surround’ by the Sioux at the Custer Fight. This old Indian had on a new overcoat with a fur collar, and a new cap, which some woman had given to him. Upon reading a letter which I had written for him to carry and display, he felt grateful and, as all other signs were right, he said: “I will make a drawing of this fight:

EXHIBIT 94, MAP OF CUSTER BATTLEFIELDlb50-whitecowwalkingmap-of-battle-site_0

This is the Greasy Grass Creek (1).  I was with the Hunkpapa camp which was right in the bend.  After them was the camp of the Oglala.  Here the Sheyenne were camped.  The Sihasapa came next with the Miniconjou and beyond them were the lodges of the Itazepechos and the Sicangu.  Beyond them the Mahkpia To (Arapahoes) and the Oohenopa.  (He marked each place and dotted between them).

Here were high hills (2).  Our leader was Pizi (Gall). When the horse soldiers were crossing the stream, he did not move.  He sat in his lodge.  After a little while he came out.  He was crying loudly, to fight them down there.

Then a Dakotah came running on horse.  He cried very loud that Pahanska (Long Hair – Custer) was going to come down on our end of the village.  Gall said, ‘All right.  Wait.  The plan is good.  We will fight him when he comes down the hill.  They will all be killed there.  When we have those other men killed, I will come back.’ And he sung a war song as he jumped on his horse and went toward the south through the lodges.

Everybody was running.  Some went to the south and others went to the north and east across the stream.  We hid ourselves along a little waterway.  There was no water in it.  Custer would come close to it when he came.  Some went to the other side of the hill and waited.  Soon there was much shooting south of us.  We knew they were driving the enemy.  It was very satisfying to us as we hid in the long grass there.

Then Pahanska came.  He rode down the hill between the waterway and the other side.  They yelled very loud, those soldiers.  Their horses were different than ours.  They were fast for a short distance.  Then the shooting commenced.  We rode out from the hiding places.  Many of us had good rifles.  Many had bows and arrows.  We all had clubs, too.  Just as the fight begun, I saw one of his Arikara scouts leave them and start toward the high hills.  I went after him.  I killed him with a club.  I took off his hair (3).

Then I went back fast.  The soldiers were in different places.  We surrounded them and rode around like a buffalo surround.  They did not last long.  We rode in close and jumped off.  We used clubs then.  Here is where Pahanska came and here is where his soldiers laid dead (4-5).

I am old now and do not remember how loud the guns were.  I can not think how the blood smelled.  I remember many men were dead.  We took off their clothes.  We cut off the boot tops for moccasins.  Many Dakotah were barefooted.  Their moccasins were worn out.  I did not see Pahanska.  We caught many good horses then. When Gall came up, the soldiers were dead.  Many were wounded and were crawling around.  Some women killed them then.

Then I was dead for three days (Mind was a blank and he never was able to think of a thing which happened during those three days, he often told me).

EXHIBIT 96 SURROUND AFTER THE CUSTER BATTLElb51-white-cow-walking-surround


Then I was on a high hill right here (6, at top right corner of Exhibit 94).

There was a council (Exhibit 95).

EXHIBIT 95, COUNCIL AFTER THE CUSTER BATTLElb52-whitecowwalkingcouncil_1



Gall sat there (7), Sitting Bull sat here (8).  Grass sat here (9).  Mato Ogli  was across the circle, here (10).  There were many rows of men sitting behind them.  We looked down like birds at the country.

When we were at Council, there came some big guns, bursting.  We went to Canada, then.  Where we crossed the Missouri river it came up to our horses bellies.  It is a good place to cross.  No one knows it but us.  The Yellowstone was crossed easily, too.

That is all.  I am hungry.”

Welch notes…on these maps:

Exhibit 94…the map of the battlefield may not be correct as far as the river is concerned as he tried to keep it all on the sheet of paper.  I have traced his pencil marks with ink.  The trail across the Missouri shows in pencil on the same sheet.  So the map is in reality, two maps.

Exhibit 96…the surround shows the inside circle with soldiers inside, afoot, as indicated by foot marks around the circle and horses tracks leaving the circle.  This indicates that they lost their cavalry horses.  The dashes indicate Dakotah riding in the surround, as there are horse tracks leading in from several different directions and others entirely around the circle.

WHITE COW WALKING, talks to Welch, August 31st, 1929,  about his time with Sitting Bull’s Outfit while in Canada and a penalty exacted by a Sioux Soldier Society (“Brave Hearts”)

Translator – Frances Red Tomahawk

Red Tomahawk and wife were in my office to make a call and a ‘talk.’  Old White Cow Walking came in to see me, and while there, Tomahawk asked me if the old man had ever told me the story of his being a prisoner of the Soldier Society.

“While they went with Sitting Bull’s outfit into Canada after the Montana fight, they entered into an agreement with the British that they would neither steal or molest the whites or the countryside.  But his old man and another young fellow by the name of White Bird, did steal something from the whites and that thing was reported to Sitting Bull, who ordered both the men to be given over to the Soldier’s organization which was in charge of the Indian camp.

Those men decided that they had done very wrong and that they might all be sent below the line into the U.S. for that.  They took both of them and tied ropes securely to their thumbs and hung them up, with their faces toward the sun.  They hung all day, without food or drink. It was a terrible punishment for them and a great example for the other Indians.  At sundown they were cut down.

The guards posted over them all day were Black Thunder (who is the father of Mrs. Frances Red Tomahawk) and Circling Hawk.  The Society had the right to inflict such punishment as they deemed proper for any crimes committed while they were on duty.

The old man did not remember the name of the society.  “Brave Hearts,” says One Bull.

WHITE COW WALKING visits me (A.B.Welch), October 23rd, 1927, Mandan, N.D.

He called at the residence today coming in with his head hanging and his gaze upon the floor, in sorrow for his old wife who died recently.  After telling me all about it and how all the people were very sad with him, he said: “I was sitting in my house.  I was heavy hearted then. My wife was dead now.  Then she came into the house.  She stood there.  She looked at me then.  She said, ‘You must travel now.  Go away.  Go talk with Mato Watakpe (my name).  He will talk to you.’  So, then I caught up my horses.  I put harness on them.  I got in the wagon. I came without sleep then. All day and night I come along. Now I am here. I am glad.”

So I gave the old warrior some clothes and filled his water cask in the wagon, and we smoked and talked.  He went away to make a camp someplace.  The older Indians are very superstitious and are inclined to get away from their homes at a death and go most anywhere.  They have a fear of ghosts or shades of the departed relatives




Young Hawk’s story, 1921

YOUNG HAWK’S STORY OF THE FIGHT As told to Welch by Wild, an Arikara, at Fort Berthold, N.D. Sept. 14, 1921

This story was told to me by Wild, an Arikara, of education.  They think Young Hawk told the best story of the fight and at a conference of the living scouts, Wild was instructed to tell the above story to me, just like Young Hawk had told it to them many times.  Little Sioux and Enemy Heart were present and said it was told right.  Young Hawk is buried with the scouts at old Fort Berthold.

“There were many of our people scouting for Custer that time.  Bloody Knife was the chief of them.  There were Mandans, Arikara and Hidatsa (or Gros Ventres), altogether as scouts.  Bloody Knife, Bob Tail Bull and Little Brave were killed there with his men and we never got their bodies.  The pinto pony which Little Brave rode away on, came back a long time after that, alone.  There was much wailing when the horse came back.  We all think that Young Hawk, an Arikara, told the most truthful story of the fight and now I tell it to you.  We do not like to hear that battle spoken of as a massacre.  It was not.  The Sioux were very savage, brave, fighting men.  They had just cause to be where they were according to their treaties.  The soldiers were a hard lot of men in those early times.  They fought a battle.  The best men won.  These men were our enemies – the Sioux.  But it was not a massacre.  It was not murder.  We admire the Sioux in the way they fought that day.  Here is what Young Hawk said to us many times.”

Young Hawk’s Story

“I was a scout under Bloody Knife, the Arikara. We went with Custer.  I was only 19 years old then.  I was young and full of bravery.  It was all a wonderful thing for me to go.  I did many things then which I would hesitate to do after I got more years upon my head.  I was impetuous.  I was filled with the joy of living.  When I rode away from Fort Lincoln that day I was glad.

“The first time I enlisted it was with Lieut Guleg (Welch note – probably Lieut. Gurley) at Fort Lincoln place.  Custer came that time with many horse soldiers and put them down on the flats by the river by the other fort.  There was some talk about gold and Custer went to the Black Hills then.  I went along.  When I enlisted these Arikara did too:  Strikes Two, Enemy Heart, Standing Soldier, Horns in Front, Red Bear, Little Sioux, Growling Bear, Rough Horn, Bears Eye, Wolf Stands in the Cold, Dry Bear or Lean Bear, Bull Neck, Pretty Wolf,  Angry Bear, Black Rabbit, Fool Bear, Goose, Left Hand, Paint, Charging Buffalo Bull, See the Track, Bear Robe, String of Ear Rings, Crow Bear, Angry Bull, Carries the Mocassins, Bull in Water, Bears Ears, Pointed Hill, Two Bulls and Bears Belly.  We found some gold there but the timber was bad so we came out on the Mussel Shell with Charley Reynolds and Bloody Knife, Rough Horn, Bears Ears and Red Horse. Some horse soldiers went with us and we got out of the country at Bears Butte and went back then to Fort Lincoln.

“ My father, Horns in Front, and myself and some others went with Custer again with Son of the Star, father of Sitting Bear.  There were 23 new ones that went.  Boy Chief and some Mandans went, too.  Owl and Wagon came along.  They were Arikara boys then.  F.F.Gerard and Peter Beauchamp were there then at Fort Lincoln when we got there.  We stayed in Bismarck several days and then got across to the fort.  There were some Dakotah Scouts, too, for or five, I think.  We went up the Heart River the first day.  Custer and his soldiers and the scouts.  It had rained for this was in May 1876.  In seven days we reached Young Man’s butte (Welch note – head of the Knife River).

We crossed the Little Missouri at Soldier Hill place (Sentinel Butte). We went on many days and, at Powder river, Custer sent me, Forked Horn, One Feather and a Dakotah named Caroo to scout up the Powder river and some horse soldiers went, too.  If we found the trail of the Sioux we were to go back with the news to Custer.  When we got to the Tongue river we went up that and got into the mountains there.  When we got to the Rosebud river, Forked Horn made me go in a different direction from the rest and I found an abandoned camp and buzzards flying over it. There was a Dakotah horse standing there and the banks water was trampled with many horse tracks.  There had been about 350 people there and it was about two weeks or more old.

The next day we found a place where there had been a battle and some people had been killed there.  It was right on the tracks of the Sioux from the camp we found the day before.  Beauchamp said it was the Bozeman party.  Forked Horn said that ‘if the Dakotah see us now we will not live long after that.’  From that place we went over to the Elk River (Yellowstone) and got to the camp of Long Hair.  The next camp was on the Powder River, June 11th, they say.  At this camp I saw Custer and Bloody Knife having a talk.  Bloody Knife was sick and did not want to die in a lodge.  He wanted to die fighting.  So, he said, ‘We should find the Sioux and fight right away.  Maybe I will not live long and I want to fight now.’  Custer said, “No, I am going to attack them in the morning time or at night.  If I see you or any of the scouts running away I will kill you.’  Bloody Knife then said, ‘Yes, that is all right.  If you see my back that way you can kill me. But, if I see you, or any of your soldiers, going that way (to the rear) I will kill you, too.’  I also saw the man with the dark face (Reno) take out his pistol to shoot High Bear.  High Bear drew a knife, but someone stopped it.

We went then to the mouth of Tongue River (June 16th) from there and there was a Sioux village there with several scaffolds with men on top dead.  We soon thereafter reached the Rosebud river (June 21st).  After that we found a Sun Dance circle of the Sioux (June 24th).  I found three stones with red paint on them in a row.  This meant victory for the Sioux.  Along the Rosebud we scouts found many old Sioux camp places.  Then we rode all night and Stabbed made medicine for the fight.  The army came up the foot of the hill.  Custer said we had not been seen, but we scouts knew better than that and knew that we were watched all the time from somewhere.  Custer told us to go right after the Sioux horses and run them off.  The soldiers let the flag fly here and we all got ready to fight then.  I saw some Dakotah scouts by a Sioux tipi and Lucky Man (Charley Reynolds) saw them, too.  We rode at the tipi hard and Strikes Two hit it with his whip.  I got off and slashed a hole in it and inside saw a dead man in a buffalo robe on a little scaffold.  Then I rode to the Little Big Horn and saw across on the west side of the Little Big Horn river.  Boy Chief, Red Star, Red Bear and Goose and I could see many Dakotah to the left. The soldiers got off their horses and made a line and the Dakotah rode in front of it back and forth.  I went off to the right and got with Goose and Big Belly.  I could see Red Bear, Forked Horn, Goose, Fool Bear and two Crow Scouts.  Bob Tail Bull was out in front and Bloody Knife was behind us.  He came to me and said, ‘We are getting the Sioux horses.  Custer told us to do that thing.’  Lots of soldiers were being killed here.  I took a Dakotah horse.  The rider had been killed right in front of me.  I gave the horse away then to a scout, Big Belly.’

Bob Tail Bull was away toward the left over by the hills and the Sioux were collecting there in great numbers and they finally rode in a swarm toward him.  Our men and soldiers were swept back at the left toward the river, and then they all went across on running horses.  The Sioux were very brave and came very close to us.  The soldiers went up a bluff on the east side.  I was the last one of the Scouts to go back across the river.  I wanted to strike a Sioux, but I finally got over with Crooked Horn (Forked Horn) and we waited for Bob Tail Bull to come to us from farther down the river.  We went to where he crossed to help him.  He came over after I did.  Goose and myself and Bob Tail Bull shot at the Sioux as they came and they swerved away from us then.

We got into some thick brush and found four other scouts there.  We all had our horses but the Sioux were all around us.  Goose was wounded in the right hand then.  I was young and brave and wanted to die then. I was mad then and took off my clothes to die like a good man.  One of the Crow Scouts was shot in these trees.  I crawled out of the timber and I fired many times at the Sioux, but they did not hit me.  It was good to see the enemy die after I shot at them.  I laughed and yelled then.

Then I got to where Forked Horn was behind some brush and a Sioux on a grey horse came close and I shot him.  The horse was tied to the body of the Sioux and I killed him, too, and in a few minutes I killed another one who rode at me.  When they had been all around for a time they rode away toward the north and I looked around and saw the flag flying on a hill and there were soldiers there.  Forked Horn said, ‘My Grandson, we will try to get up there.’  I fired at some more Dakotah between us and the flag and then tied a handkerchief on a stick and we started up there.  We had two wounded men with us and when we got up close there the soldiers fired at us and I fired back at them, too.  But we got into them and they were digging ditches to get into. Just as we got there the Sioux came back on the east side of the river and started to attack us again.  (This was after Custer had been killed and they returned to attack Reno).  Before I got into the soldier’s camp, the Sioux chased me and someone killed my horse.  I don’t know whether it was the Dakotah or the soldiers who did it.  I ran to the white men then and the pack mules were there and an officer told me that Bob Tail Bull was killed.  Then I caught the pinto pony Little Brave rode.  The other scouts were there we went into a gully close by where we lost many soldiers and horses killed.

The fight lasted there until darkness came and we stayed awake all night then.  Then the next day we fought from light to afternoon (June 25th).  I always stayed on the side where the Sioux came from and did good fighting all the time.  Then Goose, Forked Horn, Fool Bear and myself were given soldier’s fast horses and sent off with messages.  A white man went, too.  We went after dark to take the messages.  We were to get through somewhere and get the messages to the President of the United States, but we had to come back as there were too many Dakotah and none of us could get through them.  In the morning (the 26th) fight started again and the Indians were very close to us then but they all left us quick for some reason.  About just after noon we saw them all going away on horses and they reached their camp and took all but five tipis down and went away up the river, Forked Horn and myself were sent to see who they were.  They were white soldiers and we went back. (This was Gibbon’s column arriving).  Gerrard told us that this new party were the white soldiers they had been looking for.  Custer should have waited for these soldiers.  There were too many Dakotah.

Then we went up to find Custer’s body and see the things just as they were then.  We scouts watched for the Sioux and, at last, the soldiers found him.  There were many horses and dead men around there.  Many Indian horses, too, and the soldiers were stripped mostly.  Then we went over to the Sioux village place and found Bloody Knife where he lay.  There were five tipis left there.  We found four groups of dead Dakotah laying on robes, twelve or fourteen men in all.  The white soldiers took their buckskin shirts and ornaments, and there was things thrown all around as the Dakotah got away quickly.  We found the negro (Isaiah) dead by the prairie dog town (south of where Reno went into action). His penis was cut and there was blood in a bowl by his head.  Then we found Little Brave dead and his head was all pounded up.  We went back to the mules and had something to eat then.

After dark Forked Horn and myself went back to the Sioux camp and get some dried meat.  We found a white soldier there with a scalp on a stick, which we saw was that of Bloody Knife as it was white haired.  This man gave me a black horse then which was a Dakotah horse.

In the morning we looked for dead soldiers and found some in the water where they had crossed and also found an Arikara scout but could not tell who he was as he was pounded so. I think it must be Bloody Knife.  We found some more along the trail.  Then we started for the end of the Big Horn and I led a horse with Goose on a travois.  When we got to the Elk river there was a steamboat there (The ‘Far West,’ Captain Grant Marsh).  When I saw my father I gave him my black Dakotah horse.  That is all.

Now I will tell you what I think.  Reno had no hat and had a handkerchief around his head like an Indian.  I know there was much whiskey in his saddle bags.  I think he was very drunk.  He cried like a woman and I think he was not brave and did not want to die there.  It was a good fight and lasted a long time.  But I am old now.  Let us have something to eat now.  I have talked to my Dakotah friend, Mato Watakpe (Welch), and he is my cousin.”

Notes by Welch…General Terry was called ‘Man Wearing Bear Robe.’  Colonel Gibbon – ‘Chief with a Red Nose.’  Crows called Terry – ‘No Hip Bone.’  Young Hawk left the boat and with several other Ree scouts scouted with General Crook who was following the Sioux trail. At the Little Missouri, he and Running Wolf left with dispatches for Fort Lincoln. They rode all night and day to Sentinel Butte and then all night and day and reached Lincoln OK.

DAKOTA TERRITORY, 1873lb57-dakotamap



White Track stories from All Yellow, 1925 and Frances Zahn, 1926

All Yellow talks to Welch, December 30th, 1925:

He also said that the man who killed General Custer was named Ajemakasan (White Track).  He was half Sisseton and half Hunkpati and All Yellow insisted in calling him a Wicheyelo.  He said that he never came back to the United States but died in Canada, and that he dressed up in Custer’s clothes, and had a revolver which belonged to Custer, but that he threw that away.  I do not take any stock in his story.

Corroboration of above Custer Story,

Frances Zahn, half blood, educated, to Welch, April 21st, 1926.  Indian name is Makhpia kin yapi (Floating Cloud):

This young man called on me today at Mandan.  He was returning from a visit to his relatives on the Fort Totten Reservation, and while there heard that a woman knew who killed Custer.  So he drove out to her place.  She was a large woman, Isanti, and her name is Mrs. Big Shoulder.  She told Zahn that her father was the man who killed Custer.  His name, as given by Zahn, is Oyehota – and he translated it as ‘Gray Track.’ She said that he belonged to the Isanti and came from wooded Mountain country.  They often called him Inkpaduta (Scarlet End or Point) and thought he was a relative of the renegade of that name.  He was in the fighting and came back with a sorrel horse and saddle, which was identified as that ridden by Custer.  In the swirl of the fight he shot at this man two times and thinks that he killed him as he fell then.  He did not have long curls but did have on a buckskin coat and fired with a white handled revolver.

Compared with the story of All Yellow, this seems to bear it out, and may be the real story of Custer’s death.  He died in Canada two years ago, being afraid to ever come back to the United States.



Woman Warrior, 1921

Welch interview with Bill Zahn, June 4th, 1921

“This woman, ‘Cow Boy,’ rode with the Indian warriors at the battle on the Greasy Grass.  She was the only woman in the surround.”

Blue Thunderlb61-bluethunder

Welch note…she is the wife of Blue Thunder.



Frances Zahn talks about soldier who almost survived, 1921

Welch interview with Bill Zahn, June 4th, 1921:

“At the battle on Greasy Grass two Dakotah came across a soldier who was badly wounded.  They thought they might get him away from the place alive so took him up between them on their horses.  After they had gone some distance, one said, ‘He is going to die,’ and the other said, ‘Well, lets kill him then.’ So one of them held his head up and the other hit him with the butt of his gun and killed him there.”




Welch presents his theory of “How it Might Have Been,” 1944 

Welch letter to E.S.Luce, Custer Battlefield National Cemetary (Luce’s spelling), June 1944:

“We know that some Indians left the Reno engagement and preceded to the Custer Field.  This probably took place very soon after Reno’s Charge to the Rear.  Many of the participants in the fight at the south end of the village have told me that they were in both fights, and many were certain that they helped chase Reno across the river and then ‘went with many others’ to the Custer attack.  Gall was one of these warriors who were in both fights – although those who went in from the south arrived too late to do much of anything except ‘get horses.’ One Bull was another and I could name many others as well.lb62-cavalry

They most likely were on the left bank of the Little Big Horn when they disengaged from Reno; we do not know what the bends of the river were then, but One Bull says that the men he went with kept just outside the trees along the bank.  Perhaps there were trees on both banks at that time, and then, too, it looks to us now that the left bank would be easier for them to go north as the left bank is not so cut up by gullies and hills.  So, say that they went north via the left bank.  That was 68 years ago; erosion has played a part in changing the terrain, especially on the right bank, and it well might have been that what your map indicates to be ‘Deep Coulee’ could have been much deeper and the sides much steeper, therefore the Indian remembers it as it was then, and calls it “Deep Cut Ravine or Coulee.’  Captain Sweet also calls it a similar name in his 1890 report.  The objective of these reinforcements was to reach the fighting field.  Therefore, would it not be plausible for them to take the first fair approach they came to and they were going rapidly, you may be certain.  Therefore, my ‘sense’ indicates that they took your Deep Coulee as it reached in the direction of the general engagement and they might even have seen some activity as they approached.  I can not see any reason for using Medicine Tail – providing they approached from the south via the left bank of the Little Horn.  Furthermore, I believe that the reinforcements from the Reno engagement were more numerous than is generally believed; much credit has been given to the Crazy Horse approach from the northwest – but if our surmise is correct – another group approaching from the south up the Deep Coulee had Custer flanked from a new front, at about the point where we inspected that fine ‘defensive position.’…I forget the officer’s names and the troop caught at this point.  If Custer arrived in column, it might have been possible that he ordered a flank movement and attempted to advance in line to the ford-over terrain that may not have been too difficult and before being too closely engaged; however, with Crazy Horse coming in from the broad, hidden gullies upon his right flank (if he was then advancing in line toward the ford) and no doubt being now engaged with a frontal force from the village – he might have sensed his dangerous position, halted and left those two troops (which seemed to have died in line just beyond your cemetery) in to hold off the advance from in front – but just suddenly found himself in a condition of attack from every point. Then, too, there is another reason why it might have been your Deep Gully; many of the men with whom I have talked, say that when they arrived they ‘went after horses.’ – in that vicinity they found a line of horseholders east of the present road running south from the Monument and horses running loose and wild, troopers probably killed by that time.  The headstones now indicating the gully where they were held.  The two troops down the hill from the monument and close to your cemetery probably were heavily engaged by an attack from the river front – when they found themselves so hotly charged from the ridge (by these reinforcements from the Reno field) that they did not have time even to rally in a group, but died in line from fire and clubs from both front and rear.  They cut the Seventh into several groups and then liquidated them in detail.

I like to think that Custer and a few troopers made a ‘last stand’ at the apex of the hill