Runs The Enemy's Story of the Battle
THE STORY OF CHIEF RUNS-THE-ENEMY
I FOUGHT at the Custer fight with a band of one hundred and thirty Two-Cattle [Two Kettle] Sioux under me. With the bravery and success I had had in former battles, I was able to command the force at this fight. We were encamped for two days in the valley of the Little Big Horn. The third day we were going to break camp and move farther along, but the old men went through the camp saying they were going to stay there still another day. After the cry had gone through the camp that we were to remain, the horses were all turned loose and were feeding on the hills north and west and south, and we were resting in the camp. Everything was quiet. I went over to the big tepee where there were several leading men, and we were sitting there talking and smoking. About ten o'clock a band of Sioux, who had been visiting the camp and had gone home, came rushing back with the tidings that the soldiers were coming. We could hardly believe that the soldiers were so near, and we were not very much depressed because of the report for two reasons: the soldiers had gone back to Wyoming, and we did not think they were near enough to attack us; and from the history of all our tribe, away back for generations, it had never been known that soldiers or Indians had attacked a Sioux camp in the daytime; they had always waited for night to come. And still we sat there smoking. In a short time we heard the report of rifles, and bullets whizzed through the camp from the other side of the river. I left my pipe and ran as hard as I could, as did all the others, to our tents. As I ran to my tent there was a scream ran through the camp "The soldiers are here! The soldiers are here!" The Indians who were herding the horses on the hill rushed to the camp with the horses, and the dust raised just like smoke. When I got to my tent the men who were herding the horses had got the horses there, and they were screaming. I grabbed my gun and cartridge belt, and the noise and confusion was so great that we did not know what we were doing. The women were running to the hills, and my heart was mad. The guns were still firing in the upper part of the camp. I did not have time to put on my war-bonnet; I jumped on the horse I had and made a pull for where the firing was. The first thing I saw when I got to the battle line was a horse with a bridle on with the lines hanging down, and a dead Sioux. When I got to the line of battle -- I thought I was quick, but I found a lot of Sioux already there -- they were rushing on up the hill. We were all naked, and the soldiers with their pack saddles and their uniforms on and their black horses looked like great big buffalo. The Sioux were all riding up the hill. We saw one lone Indian on the hill going down toward the soldiers, and the river. We could not see him as he came down the hill, but we could see the smoke coming from under his horse's head, and we all thought that he was going to make a charge on the soldiers, and we all charged. It seemed as though that one Indian had the attention of all the soldiers, and they were all firing at him. When we saw that the smoke was all going toward the soldiers that gave us a chance to charge from this side, and we all made a rush. When we made the charge we got them all stampeded. For smoke and dust we could not see the soldiers as they retreated toward the river. The Sioux were fresh, and we soon caught up with them. We passed a black man in a soldier's uniform and we had him. He turned on his horse and shot an Indian right through the heart. Then the Indians fired at this one man, and riddled his horse with bullets. His horse fell over on his back, and the black man could not get up. [Note: the only black man known to be on the battlefield was Isaiah Dorman, who had marrried a Lakota woman and lived with them for years before turning traitor and hiring on as a scout for the U.S. Army. See The Twisted Saga of the Unsung Seventh Cavalry Scouts for more info], I saw him as I rode by. I afterward saw him lying there dead. We fought them until they rolled and tumbled and finally had to go into the river, which was very deep. We made them cross the river. The country around the river in those days was very heavily wooded. We chased some of the soldiers into the woods, and others across the river and up the hill. I did not know the name of the commander of the soldiers at that time, but I afterward heard that it was Reno. I also heard afterward that they had a big trial and charged him with being a coward, but I praised him for rushing into the camp. The reason I praised him was that he only had a few soldiers and our camp was a great camp, and he came rushing into the camp with his few soldiers. In all the history of my great-grandfather I have never known of such an attack in daylight. After they retreated over the hills and we had killed a large number of them that battle was ended. I was at the Custer Battlefield this morning, and I noticed there were no monuments up for the soldiers who fell on the Reno Field. As we had finished with the Reno battle and were returning to camp we saw two men on the Reno Hills waving two blankets as hard as they could. Two of us rode over to where they were, and they yelled to us that the genuine stuff was coming, and they were going to get our women and children. I went over with the others and peeped over the hills and saw the soldiers advancing. As I looked along the line of the ridge they seemed to fill the whole hill. It looked as if there were thousands of them, and I thought we would surely be beaten. As I returned I saw hundreds of Sioux. I looked into their eyes and they looked different -- they were filled with fear. I then called my own band together, and I took off the ribbons from my hair, also my shirt and pants, and threw them away, saving nothing but my belt of cartridges and gun. I thought most of the Sioux will fall to-day: I will fall with them. Just at that time Sitting-Bull [Sitting Bull] made his appearance. He said, just as though I could hear him at this moment: "A bird, when it is on its nest, spreads its wings to cover the nest and eggs and protect them. It cannot use its wings for defense, but it can cackle and try to drive away the enemy. We are here to protect our wives and children, and we must not let the soldiers get them." He was on a buckskin horse, and he rode from one end of the line to the other, calling out: "Make a brave fight!" We were all hidden along the ridge of hills. While Sitting-Bull was telling this I looked up and saw that the Cheyennes had made a circle around Custer on the west, north, and east sides, and that left a gap on the south side for us to fill. We then filled up the gap, and as we did so we looked over to the Cheyenne side, and there was a woman among the Cheyennes who was nearest the soldiers trying to fight them. While Custer was all surrounded, there had been no firing from either side. The Sioux then made a charge from the rear side, shooting into the men, and the shooting frightened the horses so that they rushed upon the ridge and many horses were shot. The return fire was so strong that the Sioux had to retreat back over the hill again. I left my men there and told them to hold that position and then I rushed around the hills and came up to the north end of the field near where the monument now stands. And I saw hundreds and hundreds of Indians in the coulees all around. The Indians dismounted and tied their horses in a bunch and got down into the coulees, shooting at the soldiers from all sides. From the point that juts out just below where the monument stands about thirty of us got through the line, firing as we went, and captured a lot of Custer's horses and drove them down to the river. The horses were so thirsty that the moment we reached the river they just stood and drank and drank, and that gave us a chance to get off our horses and catch hold of the bridles. They were all loaded with shells and blankets and everything that the soldiers carried with them. Just then I returned to my men, and the soldiers were still on the hill fighting, with some of their horses near them. Just as I got back some of the soldiers made a rush down the ravine toward the river, and a great roll of smoke seemed to go down the ravine. This retreat of the soldiers down the ravine was met by the advance of the Indians from the river, and all who were not killed came back again to the hill. After the soldiers got back from the hills they made a stand all in a bunch. Another charge was made and they retreated along the line of the ridge; it looked like a stampede of buffalo. On this retreat along the ridge, the soldiers were met by my band of Indians as well as other Sioux. The soldiers now broke the line and divided, some of them going down the eastern slope of the hill, and some of them going down to the river. The others came back to where the final stand was made on the hill, but they were few in number then. The soldiers then gathered in a group, where the monument now stands -- I visited the monument today and confirmed my memory of it -- and then the soldiers and Indians were all mixed up. You could not tell one from the other. In this final charge I took part and when the last soldier was killed the smoke rolled up like a mountain above our heads, and the soldiers were piled one on top of another, dead, and here and there an Indian among the soldiers. We were so excited during the battle that we killed our own Indians. I saw one that had been hit across the head with a war axe, and others had been hit with arrows. After we were done, we went back to the camp. After the onslaught I did not see any soldiers scalped, but I saw the Indians piling up their clothes, and there was shooting all over the hill, for the Indians were looking for the wounded soldiers and were shooting them dead. Just as I got back to the camp I heard that a packtrain was coming from over the hills. I looked over the hills and saw the Sioux and Cheyennes moving that way. I remained a little while to look after my wife and children. After I had located my family I fired off my shells and got a new supply of ammunition and went toward the packtrain. When I got over there the fighting had begun. The packtrain had already fortified itself by making entrenchments. The Indians were on the outside firing into it, and the soldiers inside were firing at the Indians. During this last fight the sun was getting low. After it grew dark the firing continued; you would see the flash of the guns in the entrenchments. The Indians would crawl up and fire a flock of arrows into the entrenchments and then scatter away. This kept up all night. I did not stay, but went home. The next morning I went over there and found that the Indians still had the packtrain surrounded and the fight was still going on. We kept at long range. and continued our firing. The soldiers were all sharpshooters, and the moment we put our heads up they fired at us and nearly hit us. The news went around among all the Indians that they were to stay there, and that all the soldiers in the entrenchment would be so dry soon that they would have to get out and we would get them. I cannot quite remember, but I think it was about noon - we held them until then - when news came from our camp down on the plain that there was a big bunch of soldiers coming up the river -- General Terry with his men. As soon as we heard this we let the packtrain go and fled back to our camp. We at once broke camp and fled up the Little Big Horn, or Greasy Creek, as it is called by the Indians. If it had not been for General Terry coming up as he did we would have had that packtrain, for they were all dry -- they had had no water for two days. After we had killed Custer and all his men I did not think very much about it. The soldiers fired into us first and we returned the fire. Sitting-Bull had talked to us and all the tribes to make a brave fight and we made it. When we had killed all the soldiers we felt that we had done our duty, and felt that it was a great battle and not a massacre. With reference to the real reason for this fight I may say that the talk among the Indians was that they were going to compel us to stay on the reservation and take away from us our country. Our purpose was to move north and go as far north as possible away from the tribes. Our object was not to fight the Crows or any other tribe, but we learned that the soldiers were getting after us to try to compel us to go back on the reservation, and we were trying to get away from them. During the Custer fight our tents were not attacked, but after the battle the women gathered up their dead husbands and brothers, and laid them out nicely in the tepee, and left them. I understand that after we had left the tepees standing, holding our dead, the soldiers came and burned the tepees. According to my estimate there were about two thousand able-bodied warriors engaged in this fight; they were all in good fighting order. The guns and ammunition that we gathered from the dead soldiers of Custer's command put us in better fighting condition than ever before, but the sentiment ran around among the Indians that we had killed enough, and we did not want to fight any more. There has been a good deal of dispute about the number of Indians killed. About the closest estimate that we can make is that fifty Sioux were killed in the fight, and others died a short time afterward from their wounds.
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 170 - 179
Records indicate Runs The Enemy was born circa 1861, which means he was only 15 at the time of the battle, and therefore unlikely to have led 130 warriors. By comparison, Crow King -- who was major Hunkpapa war chief -- said he had 80 men under his direct command.
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