Bruce Brown's 100 Voices...
Strikes Two's Story of the Battle
STRIKES TWO'S NARRATIVE
Up the Rosebud we found trail and on morning of June 25 got word that Sioux camp had been located. At divide on June 25 Custer said, "There are other soldiers coming to attack the village, and I want to be there first so that we will get the honor of fighting the Sioux. I want you to charge the camp first and capture all the horses you can." At lone tepee Custer became impatient and said that we were slow and if he had to urge us again to go forward he would take our guns and horses and put us afoot. [Note: Here is Red Bear's account of the same incident, complete with the Scouts' amusing backtalk.] We now started out fast and forded Little Bighorn and soon overtook a bunch of horses herded by two Sioux. We followed horses and soon saw the village, and Sioux came out of village to help the two herders.
The village was not stirred up and Forked Horn, Red Foolish Bear, Little Brave, Watoksha,2 Caroo,3 Machpiya Sha,4 Bobtail Bull and Strikes Two ... had a little skirmish [note: this could be the murder of the Sioux women and children at the outset of the battle depicted in the Little Wolf Ledger. The fact that Strikes Two is circumspect about something that would normally be recounted in proud detail suggests he is actually refering the foul murder of a dozen or more Sioux women and childen, whose bodies were found in small ravine after the battle by scout George Herendeen], and Bobtail said, "Look for a means of escape if the soldiers were to retreat, as there are more people here than we thought... All this was while the soldiers were deploying and before their fight began. In this skirmish I killed one Sioux and saw a little bunch of Sioux horses come out of the brush just ahead of soldiers, and Bloody Knife said, "Take these horses and drive them to the rear." We all had infantry rifles with two bands. All of us had those guns except Stabbed who had his own gun -- a repeater. While I stood on edge of bank clearing my gun, the soldiers began firing. I looked behind and saw three Rees coming: Boy Chief, Red Star, and Bull in Water. Some one turned and saw three more coming -- Little Sioux, One Feather, and The Whole Buffalo (Sioux).
The Sioux horses captured by Bloody Knife now stampeded and crossed the river, and we, I and above six, put in after them. My horse went in to his back, and I got my seat wet. Some of them ran back toward Sioux village, but we turned them and got the whole bunch together. I was driving twenty head and one suckling colt. Red Star had three, and Boy Chief (Black Calf) had five. Red Star was named White Calf then.
Of our party of seven, four were holding horses. While we were driving horses up hill from river, some soldiers passed by and fired on us by mistake (Custer's soldiers), and one of the captured horses was killed. We drove the horses up high bank on east side and Stabbed now joined us, making eight in the party, and soon Strike the Lodge and Assiniboine (Assiniboine was a nickname for one of the enlisted scouts; he did not explain which one) came up, making ten, and we drove horses back and got them in a good position. Here a soldier with stripes on his arms came along (probably Knipe [Sgt. Daniel Kanipe]) and asked, "How goes it?" While we were going back we saw the pack train come along. Bull and Share were each leading a pack mule (They were not in the fight in the bottom).
Here we distributed the horses, giving [them to] Assiniboine, Soldier, Red Star, Good Face, Stab, Little Sioux. Each one now saddled up afresh horse, and we followed the pack train to river, and soldiers were retreating out of bottom and soldiers all in confusion. The Sioux were pursuing soldiers up hill, and we charged them and drove them back to west side of river where soldiers had been killed. We could see bunches of Sioux all over the valley. While we were watching here, some soldiers came out of timber, having been left there when Reno retreated. Watokshu and Good Elk also escaped from the timber at this time.
The pack train had now arrived on the bluff where we were standing and looking into the valley. We called Varnum Pointed Face.5 A white soldier was on Bobtail Bull's horse, Bobtail Bull having been killed, and we took his horse and put him among the pack mules. We also found Little Brave's horse and tied him among the pack mules. Bobtail Bull's horse had blood marks down his legs and on hoofs and saddle, so we concluded [Bobtail Bull] was wounded and killed after fording the river -- that is on east side. Six of us left the bluff and went to where we could see the timber, and Young Hawk, Forked Horn, Foolish Red Bear, Goose, White Swan, and Half Yellow Face came out of the timber in the valley. From same point we could see that Custer was being defeated.
We six went to where pack train was, and Stab and Soldier proposed that we water our horses, and the three Sioux scouts: Watokshu, White Cloud, and Karu [Caroo] joined us, making nine (He must have Karu confused with one of the other Sioux scouts), and we went to water horses. A Sioux interpreter (Billy Cross) went with us, making ten in all. We watered, and on way back we stopped to smoke. I took a walk and saw seven men whom I supposed to be our scouts but found out they were Sioux who had surrounded the soldiers. Stab proposed that we hit for some timber and we did so, but found timber scattering and went on to a knoll and had a skirmish with pursuers. The Sioux interpreter (Billy Cross, White Man) went with us. Soldiers on bluff [were] surrounded and fighting at same time, and all of us fought until sundown. After dark we could see flashes of guns. We got on horses and fired guns and made a bluff at a charge and then started for Rosebud.
Arrived at Rosebud at daylight. The others holding captured horses had started ahead of us. On Rosebud we found some abandoned hardtack, some moldy. On Rosebud Black Fox came up from front and joined us, having started back on trail ahead of us. He had a mare and colt. I was thirty-two years old then. We camped on Rosebud to rest, and two of my horses got away from me and went on ahead, and they were caught by Indian scouts coming toward us from mouth of Powder. Next morning some of us went out looking for these horses and ran upon track of a shod horse (soldier coming with dispatch). Stab had extra horse and loaned it to me and we went on to Tongue River. We camped there and then went on to Powder River.
The interpreter (white man Billy Cross) was still with us all the way, and when got to Powder River, all the soldiers crowded around him to hear what had happened. After we got there we saw the Rees who had captured horses. They had ridden captured Sioux horses and left their own horses that were played out. We came back on the same trail that we went up with Custer. Later we returned to Rosebud where whole command camped. The Crows were here visiting and had their women with them (Terry's camp in early August). Never heard of dead soldier or dead horse being found near mouth of Rosebud.
Walter Mason Camp's Notes:
l. Walter Camp field notes, folder 54, BYU Library. Strike Two was an Arikara scout born at Fort Clark, Dakota. He had been enlisted in 1873, 1874, and 1876. His fourth enlistment was on May 9, 1876, at Fort A. Lincoln. After crossing the Little Bighorn he aided in capturing a herd of Sioux ponies and driving them across the river to the ridgetop. He returned to Yellowstone Depot on the Powder River. He died on September 8, 1922, at Elbowood, North Dakota.
Custer in '76: Walter Camp's Notes on the Custer Fight, edited by Kenneth Hammer, Brigham Young University Press 1976 p 135 - 137
For more information on Custer's scouts, please see The Twisted Saga of the Unsung Seventh Cavalry Scouts.