Col. A.B.Welch notes on Custer


An 1872 description of Custer   

An 1873 Seventh Cavalry fight    

Stanley Expedition of 1873,

and a lengthy Discussion about Custer, Bloody Knife and California Joe      

Black Hills Expedition of 1874 

“How can the Great Father expect us to observe our obligations under treaty stipulations when he permits his white children to break it by coming into our country to remain without our consent?”

Custer’s Meeting with Indian Chiefs, 1875

Custer’s Special Field orders, June 20, 1876

Custer’s orders at Rosebud Camp, June 22, 1876

Fort Yates Pioneer, June 21, 1921

Custer’s Last Expedition leaves Fort Abraham Lincoln

White Man’s version of the Little Big Horn Fight

P.E.Byrne tells about the fight

Chip Creighton’s account of the fight

Anaconda Standard 25th Anniversary issue, May 26, 1901

Reno’s Command

         Troops A, B, D, G, H, K and M  

Pensioners of Reno’s Command as of April 9, 1927

General Terry’s first report, June 27, 1876

General Terry handles dead and wounded, July 2, 1876

Captain Poland’s Battle Report, July 24, 1876

Captain Sweet’s Battle Report, May 15, 1890

Commanche, sole survivor of Custer’s Command

Sioux who fought Custer, June 5, 1913 photograph

Custer’s Crow Scouts

Terry’s messenger to Sitting Bull in Canada, Circling Hawk

Names of Arikara, Mandan and Gros Ventre Scouts buried at Berthold, 1921

Indian Scout rosters, 1922 and 1928

Miscellaneous Memories

He was killed early in the fight

Fort Abraham Lincoln in 1940

Welch Pictographs

Items previously overlooked…added April 26, 2013

Bob Tail Bull & Otter Robe talk to Welch, 1926

Brininstool’s Report on Dr. Porter and Capt. Marsh of the “Far West”

SGT. Butler, the last man to fall at Little Big Horn

James Cedar’s story of the Little Big Horn fight

General Creel’s account of the Little Big Horn fight

Deaths of Isaiah, Custer’s personal servant, & Charley Reynolds

Reno Notes by Welch

Captain Arnold W. Shutter’s 1929 lecture on Custer’s Last Stand

Item just located with Kansas Historical Society, September 21, 2013

A. B. Welch letter of October 22, 1913 discussing visit to Fort Yates and discussions about Custer with “Old Timers”



An 1872 description of Custer   

Comments from Steve Welsh, 7th Cavalry

Welch note….Steve Welsh gives some interesting items to me…Bismarck, Oct. 28, 1921:

“I came out here with Sully in 1872.  We were camped once on a little creek north of where Bismarck now stands.  There was some burned timber there so we called it Burnt Creek and it bears that name even now.

“Then we moved down to another place on the bottoms near where the N.P.Bridge is now and a spring ran out of the hillside.  We called it Wards Creek.

“Once Custer came up where we were.  He was only a Lieut. Col. and Sully ranked him.  Custer had a lot of  hair hanging down to his shoulders and about a hundred scouts.

Sully said,  “Well, what have you got here?”

“Scouts,” said Custer.

Sully:  “Well, you stay behind here with them.  I don’t want any Indians scouting for me.  They may be all right for you, but I don’t want them.

Welsh:  “We went on and established Fort Rice.

Welch note…Welsh is an old soldier of early times in Dakota.



An 1873 Seventh Cavalry fight    

Chip Creighton, Seventh Cavalry, tells of an Indian fight near Mandan.  General Dandy was in command.  Never heard of General Dandy before…hmmmmm





 Discussion about the Custer, Bloody Knife and California Joe photo




Luce comments on “Joe,” Bloody Knife’s advice before the fight,  and Rain in the Face missing the fight.




Undated article in McLaughlin Messenger by Wm. V. Wade discusses California Joe, Johnny Brugher and others





Discussion about Custer, Bloody Knife and California Joe photo, continued

Welch note, undated:

The probability that this standing white man might be California Joe is dissipated  by reading “Life on the Plains,” (Custer), which relates the expedition to south of the Platte river through Kansas, Indian Territory and into Texas, sometimes called “The Wichita Mountains Expedition.”

On the last page Custer tells of his last meeting with California Joe, who left for California.  This was shown in a letter from California Joe dated March 16, 1874.  It is possible that he later joined Custer  – but, surely, not before the date of this letter.  In 1874 Custer left Fort Abraham Lincoln and explored the Black Hills.  This picture was taken in 1873 on the Stanley Expedition along the Yellowstone.

Also his dog, Blucher, was killed by an Indian while on the Wichita/Washita Expedition.

Pencil notation:  Cal. Joe  – Ch. Scout Washita Expedition

Jack Corbin  – Scout Washita Expedition

Note by Welch to “Johnny,” undated:

The two Indians interested in the map dress their hair as Sioux.  The one standing is parted on one side, more like the dress of the northern tribes or even as a Cheyenne.  The white man might be the Wagon Boss or Chief Civilian Scout.  Can you identify any of them?

The tent is a square one  – “N.P.Rwy.Co.”  It is late in summer and the wind blows for the flap is closed.  The camp has just been established for the grass is not trampled at the entrance of the tent.  It bears also the caption “Dakota Division.”  How proud those Indians are of their revolvers, gun and knife.

Found this in Billings and had it blown up to size.  Note the hounds.  Is the rounds hole at upper entrance an observation peep hole or a defect in the photo?  On the high prairie and might be in 1873 Yellowstone trip or an inspection trip by Custer.

Note by Welch, undated:

White man may be California Joe but he doesn’t look like him from a photo I have of him.  John Burkman was Custer’s Orderly, he called him “Old Nutriment,” as evidently he was always hungry.

There were 27 Arickaras along on this Expedition and, perhaps, one of these Indians may be Bloody Knife, Bob Tail Bull or some of the others.

This escort for the N.P.Surveyors left Fort Rice June 20, 1873.  The force was led by Col. Stanley and Lt. Frederick Dent Grant, the President’s son.  Charlie Reynolds was Chief Scout.  Custer had trouble with Stanley on this trip, taking a troop and going off by himself without orders, etc.  Stanley had to have a show-down with him.  Custer took along a colored many to do his cooking and a large iron stove which delayed the marches.

Custer also brought along a trader, one Baliran, to whom Stanley objected.  This Baliran and Honsinger, the veterinary surgeon, were killed on this trip, riding ahead of the main body to reach the advance point were cut off and dispatched by Rain in the Face.

Note by Welch, undated:

These two dogs  – could these be the “two other faithful companions” named Blucher and Maida, the two splendid specimens of the Scotch Staghound, who were destined to share the dangers of an Indian campaign and finally meet death in a tragic manner  –  one by the hand of the savage, the other by an ill-directed bullet from a friendly carbine.

On Sept. 25, 1868 (just five years before this picture was taken during the Stanley Expedition on the Yellowstone, if our premises are correct as to the date of the photo  – Custer was at Monroe, Michigan in involuntary retirement from his command because of certain observations as to Indians Agents and Traders AND their handling of Treaty Annuities, and had, in a way, been detached from his command by reason thereof, and was enjoying his enforced retirement among friends at the above-named place.

The 7th Cavalry had marched 300 miles west of Fort Leavenworth early in the spring of 1868, under the command of Col. General Sully, there to engage in operation against hostile Indians.  General Sherman, Sully and Sheridan asked for his return to active duty, and, on Sept 25th, 1868 he received wire from Sully regarding the request.  He left on the 26th, the day following, taking his horses and the two dogs mentioned.

See “Life on the Plains, or Personal Experiences with Indians,”  Ch XIII pp 124-5.  Sheldon & Company, 8 Murray St., New York, 1876, by Gen. G.A.Custer, U.S.Army



Stanley Expedition….Sioux Country Pioneer, Oct. 1925








Black Hills Expedition of 1874 

 Black Hills Expedition forming up





W. C.Badger story





N.D.Historical Society recap:

General Custer’s expedition consisted of the following troops:

Six Companies of the Seventh Cavalry from Fort Lincoln.

Four Companies of the Seventh Cavalry from Fort Rice.

Company “G,” Seventeenth Infantry.

61 Arikara Indian Scouts from Forts Lincoln and Rice.

The expedition left Fort Lincoln on July 2nd, 1874.  The Belle Fourche was reached on July 19th, a distance of 292 miles or 18½ miles per day.

August 3rd, Charlie Reynolds started on his ride to Fort Laramie, 75 miles.  This fort is on the left bank of the Laramie river about two miles from its juncture with the North Platte.  Was established by the Hudson Bay Company, later in hands of the American Fur Company and occupied by the Army in 1849.  Reynolds suffered greatly from lack of water in this trip through unknown Indian country.

The command returned to Lincoln on August 30th, having traveled 1,000 miles and explored 1205 miles.  The wagon train make 883 miles.



Welch notes, undated:

Young Hawk also went on Custer’s first trip to the Black Hills in 1874 and tells some rather strange stories of Custer’s temper.  One time he shot at Charley Reynolds and Bloody Knife.  Another time Issak, the black man, was beaten by Custer for not taking the right trail.

No Two Horns was a scout under Hanska or Long Hair, and all the Indians knew Gen. Custer by that name, he says.

I once asked Red Fish what Custer’s name was and he said it was “Hanska” or Long Hair.

Shoots Well was a scout for Custer.



Enemy Heart’s account of the discovery of gold:

Enemy Heart (Arikara) talks with Welch, Mandan, N.D., Dec. 16th, 1920.  Beauchamps (Arikara, with trace of French blood), Interpreter.

“Wherever I go I hear the name Mato Watakpe, and I have come down to see you today.  My name is Enemy Heart.  I was a scout with Custer that time we went to the Black Hill country.  All these men were Ree (Arikara) scouts with him then:

Enemy Heart, Standing Soldier, Little SiouxRed Bear,  Strikes Two

Besides these Rees, there were also Dakotah: Goose, Shoots Buffalo,  Left HandSpotted Eagle, Cold Hand.


“The Sioux claim to have discovered that gold then, but they did not.  I have forgotten just which Ree it was, but he found this gold stone in a spring where it came out of the ground and had washed the pebbles for a long time. (ed note: may have been Goose) He did not know that it was gold or that it was valuable, so he carried these yellow stones.  So, one time, Custer saw them and was excited about them and asked where he got them.  Then we found many of the little ones in that spring creek place and picked them up.  Custer took them.  I think this was 46 years ago that we did this.”

“After that we found out that what we had picked up in the stream was valuable and that white men would die for it.  Custer gave the word to all the people that it was there and all the white men in the world came to that place then and run over the Sioux lands there.  There was much trouble, too, and many people were killed in the fighting.”

“I want you to know that it was the Ree Scouts who found it first and not the Sioux, like they claim.”



Walter Sterland’s story

(Acquired by Welch June 15, 1929)

In 1874 Custer, with the 7th Cavalry, made a reconnaissance of the Black Hills District with a view of getting reliable data for the Government regarding the richness of the gold mines that were reported by the Indians and it was reported that no white man ever escaped with their lives that prospecting in the Hills, and the growing stock interests demanded that that part of the Dakotas be opened up to settlement.

Mr. Sterland saw the first gold dug that was taken from the ground in that region in 1875 by the professional prospector, McKee, that accompanied the expedition.

Custer’s guides across the country were two Indians by the name of Good Wood and Goose; Custer also compelled an old Indian that he captured in the hills to guide him and give what information he was possessed of for the guidance of the expedition.

The Custer expedition departed on their reconnaissance from Fort Lincoln and, when he was ready to start, it was found that he had a water-wagon for use along the route as it was expected that it would be necessary to haul water at times so that good water for culinary uses and for drinking purposes might be had; there had always been rumors of a scarcity of water in the region to be visited.

Custer, in his account of this expedition’s progress, makes mention of the fact that the ground was covered with a most magnificent growth of the indigenous grasses (Gramme and Mesquite being the two most noticeable grasses while the plant life in bloom was a never-failing topic of conversation and comment).  The beauty and numbers of the different flowers along the way were incomparable with anything before seen by members of the command.  Custer asserts that he picked sixteen varieties within his large tent one night after it had been pitched for his occupancy for the night.

This command went by way of Chante-Petee Creek and crossed the Cannonball river on a direct line from where it left the last-named creek to its crossing on Grand River when entering the hills.  Harney’s Peak was left to the west, and the expedition finally arrived at the vicinity of Rapid City and where Fort Meade was afterward built and here the prospector dug the first gold and the die was cast; the Indians hold on the country was broken and the Black Hills was opened to the settler, rancher and gold-digger and numerous cities were quickly built and soon commercialism held sway never again to give place to the hunter of the wild game.

It might be interesting, right here, that in the forepart of the century that Parkman saw Indians hunting buffalo on the Niobrara river successfully by bow and arrow; here, then, in less than three fourths of a century comes the white man with his repeating metallic cartridges shooting rifle seeking for gold.  Mr. Sterland saw the opening of the Hills district and the command marched in a directly north direction to the line of the N.P.Ry. which was reached at Young Man’s Butte.  Here a man died of mountain fever and was buried either on the De France farm or the Ellison’s.

After returning from the hills, the 7th Regiment was detailed for garrison duty at Fort Abe Lincoln or Rice until its departure for the west, where it was to meet its Waterloo; at the battle of Little Big Horn five companies of this famous regiment were killed to a man.

Had not Mr. Sterland been sent on detached service he would, in all probability, have shared the fate of those who fell on that fateful day; a day long remembered in the annals of the Army and the plainsmen.

On its way westward from Fort Abe Lincoln the command marched by way of the Curlew Creek bottom-lands and it had a most serious time of it, for the alkaline and gypsum clays of those bottoms are something too bad to be believed, unless one has encountered them.  At a point where Eagle Nest section house stands the whole transportation train and ordnance wagons mired down in the soap-holes and the wagons had to be unloaded and their contents carried to the hard land and also the wagons, themselves, were then reassembled and put together and the march resumed.

The camp where this command rested at the crossing of Beaver Creek could be identified as late as 1882 and many articles were picked up by different parties and kept as souvenirs; this camp was on 30-139-93 and the place where the camp was made remained well-marked for many years after the country was settled; a cup and saucer found by Mrs. James. H. Caldwell originated Mr. C’s stock-brand, which was the cup and saucer.

Custer crossed Green river at the ford of that stream where the old Government Trail crossed it, but did not follow the old trail more than one mile into the hills; he going straight ahead toward Pleasant Valley, the old trail turning south across the Heart three miles west of the confluence of the Heart and Green rivers.  Ash Coulee was the first Stage Station on the Keogh trail west of Green river and the station at Young Man’s Butte was the first one to the east.

Mr. Sterland was acting as scout for Col. Benteen in the Grand River country in the year 1875   After the massacre of the 7th Mr. Sterland remained with Gen. Sturges and partook of the honors of the expedition that brought Chief Joseph to book in the Nez Perces campaign; that notable event resulted in the pacification of the Nez Perces for all time.



Indian’s feelings of mistrust  – John Burke, Standing Rock Agent, Sept. 1, 1875

The expedition to the Black Hills by the military, and subsequent invasion of that country by parties in search of the precious metals, caused much dissatisfaction and bed feeling among the Indians.

They emphatically expressed their belief that the Government was trifling with their rights in permitting the treaty to be violated, and asked the pertinent question, “How can the Great Father expect us to observe our obligations under treaty stipulations when he permits his white children to break it by coming into our country to remain without our consent?”

The lawless invasion of the Black Hills by white men, in violations of the intercourse laws of the U.S. and treaty stipulations with the Indians, and the apparent tardiness or inability of the Government in removing them, caused great distrust and lack of confidence among the Indians toward all white men and the white man’s government.

When asked to go to the grand council at Red Cloud to participate in treating for the sale of the Black Hills, they very intelligently reviewed the whole condition of affairs, and finally refused to go, saying it was no use in making treaties when the Great Father would either let white men break them or had not the power to prevent them from doing so.

Notwithstanding that these Indians promised the commissioners who visited them here in August last that they would attend, yet when the time arrived for their departure they refused to go, assigning as the cause the reasons given.

I finally succeeded, however, in prevailing upon all the principal chiefs and headmen, with a number of their head soldiers, to go.  They are now in attendance at the council, participating in the deliberations, and favoring a sale of the Black Hills as a measure calculated to promote their best interests.

John Burke

U.S.Indian Agent  Standing Rock.



Custer’s Meeting with Indian Chiefs, 1875




Custer’s Special Field orders, June 20, 1876





Custer’s orders at Rosebud Camp, June 22, 1876





Fort Yates Pioneer, June 21, 1921

Custer’s Last Expedition leaves Fort Abraham Lincoln







White Man’s version of the Little Big Horn Fight






Chip Chreighton’s account of the fight




Anaconda Standard 25th Anniversary issue, May 26, 1901







Reno’s Command


Reno’s Command, Troop A


Reno’s Command, Troop B


Reno’s Command, Troop D


Reno’s Command, Troop G


Reno’s Command, Troop H


Reno’s Command, Troop K


Reno’s Command, Troop M




Pensioners of Reno’s Command as of April 9, 1927




General Terry’s first report, June 27, 1876


page 2








General Terry handles dead and wounded, July 2, 1876




Captain Poland’s Battle Report, July 24, 1876
















Captain Sweet’s Battle Report, May 15, 1890

John Kleinschmidt, of Mandan, was in possession of the original report made by Capt. Owen J. Sweet, 25th Inf., in ‘Report on the Custer Battlefield  – May 15th, 1890.’  From the handwritten report I (i.e. Maj. Welch) have copied the following:


“On examination of the field it was found that the resting place of only 217 officers and men had been marked, exclusive of the places where  Boston Custer and Arthur (Autie) R. Reed fell, a difference of 29 graves.  Lieut. Porter’s not inclusive.  This necessitated additional, and trying, work in an attempt, if possible, to discover and verify the resting places of the 29 missing bodies.  A daily skirmish line searched over an area of about 2 square miles of the battlefield and the last of the 29 missing bodies were found and buried and the last headstone erected.  During the search four bleaching skeletons of men were found and, for some reason of neglect, had remained unburied and with God’s canopy alone to cover them for 14 years.  From developments I believe that the remains of all soldiers on the Custer field are buried where they fell.”

“The shape of the field held by Custer’s lines, as shown by the graves, is nearly square.  The lines held by Calhoun and Yates and Smith being, perhaps, ½ less in length than the so-called East and West lines.”

“On the lines held by Troop L, Calhoun and Crittenden, 38 men fell.  On the West line, marched over by Troop E, Smith and Sturgis and T. Yates and Van Reily, either in column of fours, or from the left flank of the skirmish line, from near the extreme right of Calhoun’s line, which at that time was covering Custer’s rear, to near the Bug-Deep-Cut Ravine, and near where the final left flank of Troop E rested in said Ravine, only 13 men fell.  From the head of Big-Deep-Cut Ravine and the extreme left of Smith’s line, as his body was found in the Custer group, probably 200 yards from his troop, it is probable that Lieut. Sturgis was left in command and there killed on his part of the field, and his body, with others, mutilated beyond the possibility of human recognition.  From the tope of the ridge, Smith’s center, to within about 200 yards of the Custer Group, the right of Smith’s line, 26 men fell, some of whom were from the left of Flank of Troop F.  In the center group and at, and in the immediate, vicinity of the monument, 56 men fell, General Custer, Boston Custer and A.R.Reid, inclusive/  This number includes the balance of Yates troop and several men of Troop C, Capt. Tom Custer and Lieutenant Harrington.”



“From the monument down the slope where Keough fell, thence in and up a ravine to its head to near the extreme left flank of Calhoun’s line near Crittenden’s (20th Inf) grave, 86 men fell.  A few of these men near this flank where Calhoun’s men.  Those in the center of this line Troop I, Keough and Porter, and those on Keough’s flank nearest the monument, nearly the whole of Troop C, Capt. Tom Custer.  The nearest grave to the monument on this slope and on the flank of Troop C is that of Mark Kellogg, the New York Herald correspondent.  On the right hand side of monument ridge, going toward Crittenden’s gave, and about opposite the possible flank of Troop C, where it joined Troop I, 10 men fell, making a total of 246 officers and men over whom headstones were erected on the Custer field.  Two headstones, one for Lt. McIntosh and the other for Dr. DeWolf, being erected on the Reno field, and that of Lieut. Porter being returned to the Post, and turned over to the Post Quartermaster, accounts for 249 headstones.”

“In all papers in my possession Lieut. Porter’s remains are reported missing, not found, etc., and I was totally unable to harmonize conflicting statements by which to definitely locate and satisfactorily determine where he fell, though I am mostly convinced from all I can learn that he fell with Troop I, Keough’s, and was buried as unknown, by reason of his remains being mutilated beyond recognition.”

“I am at a loss to conjecture, unless thru error, why this stone was furnished, and none for Sturgis and Harrington, as what relates to the former, applies to the two latter, the exception being that articles of clothing, etc., of Porter and Sturgis were found, especially on the flat, and positively recognized, while not a vestige of Harrington was ever recognized.”

“But few skulls were found unbroken and comparatively few pieces were found with the remains as a rule, the whole field showing indications of the terrible mutilations that took place, as evidenced by the many pieces of broken skulls, hands and feet bones, etc., that were found scattered around in all directions.  The same indications to a much less extent exist on the river flat between Ash Grove and the river on that part of the Reno field notwithstanding that the remains of those who fell there, were disinterred, and buried under the monument.  This fact was discovered when I was locating the spot where Lieut. McIntosh fell.  On the Reno field on the bluff several human bones were also found scattered about.  The Crows report a possibility of some unremoved remains on the flat between the Ash Grove, nearer the timber and river than the vicinity where Lieut. McIntosh and Chief Scout Reynolds fell.  Guide Campbell also said that he knew in this locality, positively, where at least one body was not removed.”

“Gall and Sitting Bull and all Indians who have spoken about the Custer fight, agree on these points: 

 1st, that Custer made some kind of effort to develop the ford on the Little Big Horn at the foot of Sitting Bull hill, its bank, depth of water, etc., in an attempt and with the intention of attacking the Indian village in that vicinity, as per his promise to Reno to support the latter’s attack with his Battalion.  At least two men are reported as having been shot from their horses at the time the reconnaissance was made.

 2nd  – that during the fight, a small detachment of soldiers escaped or charged through the Indian village in an attempt to escape or communicate with Reno who must have been, or supposed to have been, on the flat, by way of this ford, but were cut off and killed in some ravines near this point.  A most thorough search made in this vicinity, personal and otherwise, failed to develop graves or skeletons other than of several horses and a few scattering human bones.  If men were killed in this locality, their bones would necessarily be covered by the continuously washing, and caving in of the banks of these ravines at the time of all heavy rainstorms.  I regard this a fair inference and the presumption is also highly probable in accounting for the loss of all traces of Lieut. Harrington.  He may have been in command of Custer’s advance to the ford and fell there at the time, or, what is quite as probable, he was with Capt. Custer’s Troop, which was with Gen. Custer to the end,  that the latter may have ordered him to take a detachment and cut his way through to Reno and Benteen for assistance, and in making the attempt he may have been one who fell near the ford as described by the Indians.

 3rd  – That Custer dismounted on the hill and fought on foot to the end.  That the horse-holders were first disposed of and nearly all the horses stampeded and captured with the extra ammunition in the saddle pockets.  This last claim I believe true beyond doubt, for from personal observation, there are not fifty skeletons of horses on the battlefield.”

 “The great amount of ground covered by the 5 Troops and the thin and weak lines on part of the field as evidenced by the small number who fell at these points, clearly indicates that only thorough and stubborn and decisive stands were made, viz:  Keough, with perhaps 60 odd men, Troop E and Troop F in ravine over 50 men and Custer’s final stand with about 50 men.”

“All parts of the field show evidences of a large number of men who fell by twos, or as comrades in battle, and finally, that the two week’s study and observation on the field convinces me that Custer withstood the attack until his ammunition was exhausted, when every mad died at his post with his face to his foe.”




Commanche, sole survivor of Custer’s Command

Sole survivor of Custer’s Command at Little Big Horn.  Barry wrote “a memory of the Custer Fight,” which appeared in the Sports Afield magazine.  Among the things he brought out was that Commanche, the horse which became famous because it was the only animal found alive on the field, was not ridden by General Custer as was generally  believed, but by Captain Myles W. Keogh.




Sioux who fought Custer, June 5, 1913 photograph

lb73-indians-who-fought-custerWelch note on back of photo:

Picture taken at Porcupine river, N.D., June 5, 1913 at adoption ceremonies of A.B.Welch.  All of center group of old Indians were in Custer massacre.  Chief John Grass, Chief Justice of the Sioux Nation, was in the Custer Massacre.  Coup stick held by Indian has seven feathers, or more, on it, indicating that the Indian has killed seven men.  Chief John Grass, standing to left of Mr. Welch.  Red Tomahawk standing left of John Grass, killed Sitting Bull.  Red Tomahawk was Indian Policeman at the time and was ordered to bring in Sitting Bull, dead or alive.



Leo Cadotte talks to Welch, May 6, 1941, Oak Creek, S.D.:

“….that at Washington (Indian Bureau), Indians are still considered ‘hostile’ if they had relatives in the Custer Battle.”




Custer’s Crow Scouts

Notes to Welch, by W.A.Falconer, Bismarck, N.D., April 27, 1923:

Curley recently was awarded a pension by the Government.  He no doubt received this pension for being a scout for the government during the years 1876-77, and not on account of being an alleged sole survivor of the Custer Battle.


There were no survivors of the Custer tragedy, except a horse found on the battlefield two days later by Captain Newlan who recognized the horse as Comanche, owned by Captain Keogh, who was killed with Custer’s Battalion.

Curley was never in the fight, he hid in a ravine and watched the fight until the soldiers were all killed.  He stole away after dark, and two days later, on the morning of June 27th, he found the steamer Far West at the mouth of the Little Big Horn River and, by means of sign language, he told the men on board of the disaster which befell Custer and his battalion.  Later, when an interpreter was procured, Curley told a cock and bull story about picking up two Sioux blankets during the fight; that he went to Custer and told him to throw one of the blankets over his head and that he would help him to escape.  This story of Curley’s was published over 46 years ago in Gen. Custer’s Memoirs, Sheldon & Co., New York.

No one took any stock in Curley’s story because anyone who knows how Sioux fought in those days knows that they were stripped to the skin, with only a breech clout, and they did not have any blankets around them on that hot day of June 25th, 1876, and there were no blankets on the battlefield for Curley to pick up if he had been there.

Another thing…Curley never knew, nor had never seen, Custer until about three days before the battle. Curley made a true statement which was published in the June 1916 number of the Teepee Book, Sheridan, Wy.  Curley says, in this statement:

“I was a young fellow.  I was only sixteen or seventeen and didn’t know much about fighting at that time.  If I had been older when they had the war I might have done something, and if I had been older I wouldn’t have run off.  After I got off the high hill, I rode where the steamboat was.”

Before Custer left the mouth of the Rosebud river on June 22nd, Lieut. Bradley, who had charge of the Crow Indian Scouts, selected six of them and turned them over to General Custer.  Hairy Moccasin, one of these Crow scouts, afterward made a statement which was published in the Teepee Book.  He said:

“Custer said, “You go find that village.”  I went to a butte on the head of Reno Creek from where I could see the Village.  I went and reported the camp to Custer.  He asked if there were any running away from the camp?  I said, “no.”  When we separated, Half-Yellow-Face and White Swan were ordered to go to Reno.

Goes-Ahead, White Man, Runs Him, Curley and myself were ordered with Custer.  From the high point north of where Reno later entrenched himself, we could see the village and could see Reno fighting.  We four scouts turned and charged north to where Custer was headed for, and we saw no more of Curley after that.  I don’t know where he went.  Custer told Mitch Bouyer, the guide, to tell us to go back to the pack train, which we did.”

From where the Crow Scouts left Custer and to the point where Custer was killed was over three miles.  As stated, Curley never went into the battle, and he was no more a survivor than the four other Crow Scouts who were nearer the battlefield than Curley was, and these four scouts have never claimed to be survivors of the Custer Battle.

Welch comments on Falconer’s story:

He is one of the very oldest settlers now alive and knows what he says is true.  Just recently a so-called survivor has been discovered somewhere in the East.  His story is that he was struck in the head with a stone club during the fight; that he lost all memory until this month; that he suddenly came into his right mind and now wants to draw a pension on the strength of that story.

1923, W.



Terry’s messenger to Sitting Bull in Canada, Circling Hawk





Names of Arikara, Mandan and Gros Ventre Scouts buried at Berthold, 1921




Indian Scout rosters, 1922 and 1928




Miscellaneous Memories




E.S.Luce, Custer Battlefield National Cemetery, p 3





He (Custer) was killed early in the fight




Fort Abraham Lincoln in 1940




Welch Pictographs





Bob Tail Bull & Otter Robe talk to Welch, 1926

bobtail bull

Brininstool’s Report on Dr. Porter and Capt. Marsh of the “Far West”

brinninstool no 1

brinninstool no 2

brinninstool no 3

brinninstool no 4

brinninstool no 5

SGT. Butler, the last man to fall at Little Big Horn

sgt butler

James Cedar’s story of the Little Big Horn fight

james cedar

General Creel’s account of the Little Big Horn fight

creel no 1

creel no 2

Deaths of Isaiah, Custer’s personal servant, & Charley Reynolds


Reno Notes by Welch

reno notes

Captain Arnold W. Shutter’s 1929 lecture on Custer’s Last Stand

shutter no 1

shutter no 2

shutter no 3 shutter no 4 shutter no 5 shutter no 6 shutter no 7 shutter no 8 shutter no 9 shutter no 10 shutter no 11 shutter no 12