Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Little Bighorn Battlefield, Montana

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument was one of my favorite stops on our recent trip to northern Wyoming and southern Montana.  I had a lot of preconceived ideas about the area where Custer had his famous "last stand" and most proved to be wrong.

The first thing you see when you arrive is Custer National Cemetery, which was for military veterans and their families until 1978.
I liked the way the sprinklers changed the mood of the cemetery.  Bodies of the soldiers who fell during the battle were not buried here, but in a mass grave on last stand hill.  Custer's body was sent to West Point.
The Battlefield is adjacent to the cemetery and is scattered over a much larger area than I expected.  Monuments to fallen soldiers have been placed where they fell, not where they are buried.  Most of the battleground has been left in a natural state so that many monuments rest in tall prairie grass.
These monuments are for Indian scouts who died while working for the American Army.  There are also a few monuments for civilians, and brown monuments for Indians from the opposing forces.  I expected the battlefield to be on one relatively small hill, but notice the vast expanse of high ground in this photo, and the Little Bighorn River in the background.
Lt. Col. Custer fell on Last Stand Hill.  His monument is in the middle of a tight cluster of fallen soldiers.
A modern Indian Memorial is entirely different than all the other monuments and gravestones in the area.  This photo is a fragment of a sculpture of Indians on horseback.  There are several sections commemorating the tribes and family names involved in the battle, and I enjoyed meeting a family who pointed out the name of their ancestors on the wall.  If you enjoy American History, don't miss Little Bighorn Battlefield.

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