The Little Big Horn Battlefield Will Make You Disrespect Custer

If you want to have a chilling experience, take an RV trip out to see the Little Big Horn Battlefield  National Monument.

It sits alone on a large prairie, whose grasses blow constantly in the same winds that must have been there the day of this massive slaughter.

The few times we went there, it was hot, but those winds did not cool us.  Instead, they made us feel as though we were baking in an oven.

George Armstrong Custer
CC-PD-Mark, USPD, via wikimedia commons

Getting There

If you pass through Sheridan, Montana and follow the signs to Crow Agency (the Government Headquarters of the Crow Tribe), you will find yourself driving up a long hill that ends with a view of a large monument and an air conditioned building which houses a small museum and is manned by park rangers who present talks about the Battle of the Little Big Horn and what life was like for the soldiers who died there prior to the fight.

The Museum

The museum is geared more to the whites than to the Native Americans, although there is a beautifully done mural on one wall that depicts the battle.

It traces some of the history of the place, and puts a great deal of emphasis on Custer himself.

While visiting there, it is easy to be lulled into a sense of sadness and pity , but also a feeling of respect for the man who is personified there as a great war leader.

It is only when you leave the comfort of the air conditioning and move on to the monument, that you are forced to face the truth of the place.

If you want to know the real details, this book will give them to you.

The Monument and Battlefield

You can feel the disgust as soon as you see the hundreds of white markers, each noting the place where a young solder died and then understand the real horror of the monument itself, for there, beneath it, in a mass grave,are buried all of the bodies.

These were young men who trustingly gave their lives, not for honor, but because one man was not what he seemed to be and was arrogant enough to think he had the skills to defeat Sitting Bull in a battle his troops could not possibly win.

Yes, Custer died, too, and he took his brother with him, but you leave that place knowing in your heart, that the choice was his.  Those other dead boys had no choice.

He miscalculated, and he lost.

Imagining what is buried beneath that monument leaves you sick at heart.

The Beauty Belies the Horror

The shame of it is that the location is beautiful.  You can walk down among the markers with the shining sun warming you, smell the fresh air and yet weep for what happened there.

Visiting The Little Big Horn Battlefield was a moving experience that, to this day, I have never forgotten.

If you go, be prepared to have this happen to you, too.

I have never forgiven Custer for what he did, and I never will.
Little Big Horn Battlefield