Bruce Brown's 100 Voices...
Two Moon's Story of the Battle, #2
THE STORY OF CHIEF TWO MOONS -
IT WAS A September day. The hoarfrost had written the alphabet of the coming winter -- there was promise of snow. With Chief Two Moons and his interpreter we climbed the dreary slopes leading to the monument and graves of the Custer dead. Chief Two Moons took his position by the stone which reads: "Brevet Major General George A. Custer, 7th U. S. Cavalry, fell here June 26th, 1876." [Note: According to Pretty Shield, "the monument that white men have set up to mark the spot where Son-of-the-morning-star [Custer] fell down, is a lie. He fell in the water," as White Cow Bull also described. See Who Killed Custer -- The Eye-witness Answer for more info on the true circumstances of Custer's death.] A tiny flag waved by this stone, marking the spot where the hero made his last stand. The hills all about us wore a sombre hue; the sky kept marriage bonds with the scene. Cold, gray clouds hung over the ridges along which Custer rode with the daring Seventh. They draped the summits of the Big Horn Range on the far horizon in gray and purple. The prairie grass had come to the death of the autumn and it too creaked amid the stones. The heart beat quick at the sight of Chief Two Moons, a tall and stalwart Roman-faced Indian, standing amid the white slabs where thirty-three years before, clad in a white shirt, red leggings, without war-bonnet, he had ridden a white horse, dealing deathblows to the boys in blue, and with these deathblows the last great stand of the Red Man against the White Man. The battle echoes are heard again as Two Moons tells his story:
"Custer came up along the ridge and across the mountains from the right of the monument. The Cheyennes and the Sioux came up the coulee from the foot of Reno Hill, and circled about. I led the Cheyennes as we came up. Custer marched up from behind the ridge on which his monument now stands, and deployed his soldiers along the entire line of the ridge. They rode over beyond where the monument stands down into the valley until we could not see them. The Cheyennes and the Sioux came up to the right over in the valley of the Little Big Horn. Custer placed his men in groups along this ridge. They dismounted.
The men who had dismounted along the ridge seemed to have let their horses go down the other side of the ridge. Those who were on the hill where the monument now stands, and where I am now standing, had gray horses and they were all in the open. The Sioux and the Cheyennes came up the valley swarming like ants toward the bunch of gray horses where Long Hair stood. I led the Cheyennes up the long line of ridge from the valley blocking the soldiers, and I called to my Cheyenne brothers: 'Come on, children; do not be scared!' And they came after me, yelling and firing. We broke the line of soldiers and went over the ridge. Another band of Indians and Sioux came from over beyond the ridge, and when I got over there, I got off my white horse and told my men to wait, and we loaded our guns and fired into the first troop which was very near us. At the first volley the troop at which we fired were all killed. We kept firing along the ridge on which the troops were stationed and kept advancing. I rode my horse back along the ridge again and called upon my children to come on after me. Many of my Cheyenne brothers were killed, and I whipped up my horse and told them to come on, that this was the last day they would ever see their chief, and I again started for the bunch of gray horses on the hilltop. The Indians followed me, yelling and firing. I could not break the line at the bunch of gray horses and I wheeled and went to the left down the valley with the line of soldiers facing me as I went, firing at me, and all my men firing at the soldiers.
Then I rode on up the ridge to the left. I met an Indian with a big war-bonnet on, and right there I saw a soldier wounded. I killed him and jumped off my horse and scalped him. The Indian I met was Black Bear, a Cheyenne. I then rode down the ridge and came to a group of four dead soldiers; one of them had on a red flannel shirt, the other three had red stripes on the arm, one had three stripes, the other had three stripes and a sword. [Note: Seventh Cavalry survivor Edward Godfrey said that actually none of the Seventh Cavalry troopers were carrying sabers, and Rain In The Face agreed.] They all had on good clothes, and I jumped off my horse and took their clothes and their guns. When I turned back I could not see anything but soldiers and Indians all mixed up together. You could hardly tell one from the other.
As I rode along the ridge I found nearly all the soldiers killed. I again rode up to the ridge along which Custer's troops had been stationed. I found two or three killed and saw one running away to get on top of the high hills beyond, and we took after him, and killed him.
"The whole valley was filled with smoke and the bullets flew all about us, making a noise like bees. We could hardly hear anything for the noise of guns. When the guns were firing, the Sioux and Cheyennes and soldiers, one falling one way and one falling another, together with the noise of the guns, I shall never forget. At last we saw that Custer and his men were grouped on the side of the hill, and we commenced to circle round and round, the Sioux and the Cheyennes, and we all poured in on Custer and his men, firing into them until the last man was shot. We then jumped off our horses, took their guns, and scalped them.
"After the fight was over we gathered in the river bottom and cut willow sticks, then some Indians were delegated to go and throw down a stick wherever they found a dead soldier, and then they were ordered to pick up the sticks again, and in this way we counted the number of dead. It was about six times we had to cut willow sticks, because we kept finding men all along the ridge. We counted four hundred and eighty-eight with our sticks along the ridge. [Note: according to Seventh Cavalry survivor Edward Godfrey, the Americans counted 197 dead in the Custer fight, plus 19 whose bodies were never found, bring the total fatalities in the Custer fight to 216.] We were trying to count the dead there in the valley when General Terry came up from the other side, and we fled away. After the battle was over the Indians made a circle all over the ridges and around through the valley to see if they could find any more soldiers, as they were determined to kill every one. The next morning after the fight we went up behind the Reno Field and camped at Black Lodge River. We then followed the Black Lodge River until we came back to the Little Big Horn again. Then we camped at the Little Big Horn, moving our camp constantly, fearing pursuit by the soldiers.
"Before the Custer fight we went over on the Tongue River and found a camp of soldiers. We rushed upon them and took all their horses away, and the soldiers ran into the brush. We knew there would be other soldiers after us; we knew about where they were, and we felt they would pursue us. At Powder River the soldiers attacked our camp and destroyed everything, and that made us mad. When the soldiers came after us, on the day of the Custer fight, we were ready to kill them all. The soldiers were after us all the time, and we had to fight."
The lonely stretches of prairie, the lonelier graves, the pathetic remnant of Red Men - victors on this field - the hollow silence of these dreary hill slopes, the imperishable valour of two hundred and seventy-seven men who laid their lives on a blood-red altar, until the one lone figure of the great captain lifted his unavailing sword against a howling horde of savage warriors - glittering for a moment in the June sunlight, then falling to the earth baptized with blood -- is the solemn picture to forever hang in the nation's gallery of battles.
The Vanishing Race: A Record in Picture and Story of the Last Great Indian Council, including the Indians' Story of the Custer Fight by Dr. Joseph K. Dixon, Popular Library, New York, NY, 1913 p 180 - 189
According to Arapaho warror Water Man, Two Moon (or Two Moons) took over as commander of the Cheyenne forces at the battle of the Little Bighorn after Lame White Man was killed, while Weasel Bear recalled, "we Cheyennes were led by Two Moon."
Here is Oglala Sioux warrior White Cow Bull's description of Two Moon leading his warriors out to meet Reno's attack "at a gallop" at the beginning of the battle.
Here is another account of the battle by Two Moon from 1898 by Hamlin Garland.
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