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100 Voices: Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Crow, Arikara and American Eye-witness accounts of the Battle of the Little Bighorn

100 Voices: Full List * Crow/Arikara * Sioux/Cheyenne * American * Rosebud

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Features: Bogus Crazy Horse Photos * Unsung 7th Cavalry Scouts Saga
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Source materials for "Conversations With Crazy Horse" by Bruce Brown

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Little Hawk's Story of the Battle
A Minneconjou Sioux's account of the Battle of the Rosebud

From an interview with George Bird Grinnell on September 5, 1908.

Note

LITTLE HAWK'S ACCOUNT

Northern Cheyenne warrior Little Hawk in 1880THEY [THE CHEYENNES] were camped down at big bend of Rosebud when he went to Brave Wolf and proposed that they should go to war. When they set out they came south from big bend through this country and went over on Pole Creek. As they were about to go down into the valley they discovered a lot of soldiers coming but soldiers did not see them. They turned about and came back. They came down Rosebud and found Cheyenne camp at mouth of Muddy. They reported soldiers on Pole Creek. A good many young men who were brave and strong and able to make a quick trip ... started after night and travelled all next day going a little way and then stopping. Scouts sent ahead had discovered that soldiers had come as far as Tongue River and had stopped there. They went close to Tongue River and waited, having determined to make a night charge thinking that they could stampede the soldier horses. When night came and they thought soldiers were sleeping, they slipped up close and charged and began to shoot but the soldiers must have been sitting up with guns in their hands for a rain of bullets met them. They fought for a time but no one was killed on either side, so far as they knew. Then they left soldiers and came away and returned to their camp. This was in 1876.

When camp moved they went to where . . . [Thompson Creek] now is and then to Reno Creek. That night Little Hawk called four young men, and said to them let us go out and see if we can not get some horses from the white people. They saddled up and started. They went through the Wolf Mountains then went on, at length stopped to wait for day. At day they went on and struck through the hills and about noon reached the big bend of Rosebud. . . . As they went down Rosebud they saw a big herd of [buffalo] bulls. Little Hawk told the young men that they would kill one and would roast some meat. He approached the bulls and shot one, and broke its back and it dragged itself down near the creek and they killed it and found close to it a nice spring. They began to skin the buffalo and one started a fire.

Before they had the meat roasted a big band of buffalo cows came in sight. They told Crooked Nose to stay and roast the meat while they went to look for a fatter animal. [Note: According to Wooden Leg, Crooked Nose killed Custer's favorite scout, Bloody Knife, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.] The men were Yellow Eagle . . . [,] Crooked Nose . . . [,] Little Shield . . . [,] White Bird . . . [and] Little Hawk.... They looked back at Crooked Nose cooking meat and saw that he was motioning them from side to side for them to come back. They turned their horses and rode back without killing this fat cow. When they reached him, Crooked Nose said to them, "On that hill by those red buttes I saw two men looking over and after looking a little while they rode up in sight, each leading a horse. They rode out of sight toward us. I think they are coming in our direction right toward us." Little Hawk said, "Saddle up quick. I think those are Sioux. We will have some fun with them."

They saddled and rode up a little gulch. When they got up there a little way he [Little Hawk] stopped his horse and looked over and as he raised his head it seemed as if the whole earth were black with soldiers. He said to his friends, "They are soldiers," but he said it very low for the soldiers were so close that he was afraid they would hear him. He turned and got on his horse and Little Shield said, "The best thing we can do is to go back to where we were roasting meat. There is timber on the creek and there we can make a stand." But Little Hawk did not hear him say this and jumped on his horse and started and the others followed him. As he was riding, he lost his field glasses but he did not stop. He went down to Rosebud and into the brush and through it up the creek. He left a good many locks of his hair in the brush.

Keeping on up the Rosebud and so out of sight of troops who had not yet reached the river, they came to a big high butte about three miles above soldiers. They were not discovered. There they stopped and looked back. They could still see the soldiers coming down the hill with the naked eye. If they had not killed the buffalo they would have kept on and ridden right into the soldiers. The buffalo bull saved their lives. Coming up the creek they did not lope. They just raced their horses fast as they could go.

When they left this round butte they rode on over the mountains toward the Little Big Horn. After they had crossed the mountains they rode along the foothills of the Wolf Mountains and just as day began to break they came to the camp which had moved just a little way down Reno Creek. When they got near camp they began to howl like wolves to notify them that something had been seen. Some early rising Sioux came out and met them and asked, "who are you, Sioux or Cheyenne?" They said, "Cheyenne," and the Sioux turned and left them but notified the Cheyennes that some of their people were coming. Soon the whole camp was aroused. They got into camp just at good daylight. They supposed this was the big outfit of which Custer's command was a part. When they reached camp all the men began to catch their horses and to get ready. All painted themselves, put on their war bonnets, paraded about the camp two-by-two, and then struck out for the soldiers going straight through the hills.

Pictograph by Cheyenne woman warrior Buffalo Calf Road Woman at the Battle of the Rosebud from Spotted Wolf / Yellow Nose Ledger book

About midday they reached the place where the soldiers were camped, just where they had first seen them. Many people charged, but one man who had the best horse was in the lead. [This was] Chief Comes In Sight. His horse's hind leg was broken before he reached the soldiers. The Cheyennes retreated toward the hills and left Chief Comes In Sight on foot. He was walking away and all the soldiers were shooting at him as hard as they could. His sister [Buffalo Calf Road] was with the party riding a gray horse. She looked down and saw her brother there and rushed down to meet her brother and he jumped behind her and she brought him off. Neither was hit. The soldiers made a charge and drove the Cheyennes back, but the Cheyennes charged, White Shield leading, and drove the soldiers.

They came near killing a whole company. They fought till late in evening and then stopped. Only one Cheyenne was killed in fight, . . . Thin Hair. He was shot through the bowels from in front backward. [Note: here is Sioux warrior Lazy White Bull's account of dragging Thin Hair -- called Sunrise by the Sioux -- off the battlefield after he was shot].


Lakota and Cheyenne: Indian Views of the Great Sioux War, 1876 - 1877, compiled, edited and annotated by Jerome A. Greene, University of Oklahoma Press 1994 p 21 -26
NOTE:

Here is Little Hawk's account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn eight days later.


This is a FREE EXCERPT from Bruce Brown's
100 Voices

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"Who Killed Custer -- The Eye-witness Answer" by Bruce Brown cover

Who Killed Custer? + 100 Voices
by Bruce Brown
Web book + Audio Book Bundle

Who Killed Custer? -- the book that revolutionized Little Bighorn studies -- hotlinked to 100 Voices -- the largest and most complete collection of eye-witness accounts of the Battle of the Little Bighorn anywhere, in any form! Includes Who Killed Custer? Audio Book too!


All Searchable with your Web browser!


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