Archaeology, History, and Custer's Last Battle: The Little Big Horn Reexamined

Front Cover
University of Oklahoma Press, Sep 1, 1997 - Social Science - 416 pages
4 Reviews

On the afternoon of June 25, 1867, an overwhelming force of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians quickly mounted a savage onslaught against General George Armstrong Custerís battalion, driving the doomed troopers of the U.S. Seventh Cavalry to a small hill overlooking the Little Bighorn River, where Custer and his men bravely erected their heroic last stand.

So goes the myth of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, a myth perpetuated and reinforced for over 100 years. In truth, however, "Custerís Last Stand" was neither the last of the fighting nor a stand.

Using innovative and standard archaeological techniques, combined with historical documents and Indian eyewitness accounts, Richard Allan Fox, Jr. vividly replays this battle in astonishing detail. Through bullets, spent cartridges, and other material data, Fox identifies combat positions and tracks soldiers and Indians across the Battlefield. Guided by the history beneath our feet, and listening to the previously ignored Indian testimonies, Fox reveals scenes of panic and collapse and, ultimately, a story of the Custer battle quite different from the fatalistic versions of history. According to the author, the five companies of the Seventh Cavalry entered the fray in good order, following planned strategies and displaying tactical stability. It was the sudden disintegration of this cohesion that caused the troopersí defeat. The end came quickly, unexpectedly, and largely amid terror and disarray. Archaeological evidences show that there was no determined fighting and little firearm resistance. The last soldiers to be killed had rushed from Custer Hill.

  

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Review: Archaeology, History, and Custer s Last Battle: The Little Big Horn Reexamined

User Review  - Charlie Brown - Goodreads

I got two books on the Little Bighorn fight because I knew that, as the result of a grass fire, the battle field had been examined by archeologists in 1984 and 1985 using metal detectors and modern ... Read full review

Review: Archaeology, History, and Custer s Last Battle: The Little Big Horn Reexamined

User Review  - Mike Kershaw - Goodreads

Great book that led me to restudy the Little Bighorn Battle. This book is full of technical detail but brings together the recent (1990s) archaeology of the battlefield and the doctrinal history of cavalry employment into a compelling reexamination of our nations most written about battle. Read full review

Contents

Introduction
3
Archaeology and Objectives
7
About This Book
14
Glances Forward and Back
23
Part Two Archaeology
37
Models Methods and Patterns
39
Fieldwork Burials and Distributions
63
Custer Battlefield Archaeology
94
The Custer Hill Episode
195
The South Skirmish Line Episode
203
Causes and Factors
223
Prefatory and Immediate Causes
225
Contributing Factors
260
Part Five Fate Blame and Strategy
273
Fate versus Choice
275
Fixing Blame
289

Part Three History and Archaeology
133
Prelude
135
The Calhoun Episode
143
The Keogh Episode
162
The Cemetery Ridge Episode
173
Strategy
295
The Whereabouts of Custer
319
Conclusions
325
Copyright

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About the author (1997)

W. Raymond Wood is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He has authored or edited numerous articles and books on western American history and archaeology, including "Prologue to Lewis and Clark: The Mackay and Evans Expedition", also published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

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