Some of you might remember that I enjoy reading the Flashman books by George MacDonald Fraser. Flashy is a coward, cad and womanizer who somehow is present at many of the battles of the 19th century, including the Battle of Little Bighorn of George Custer fame.
The battlefield is somewhat confusing and the best way to get a sense of what happened is to look at the Park Service map.
The white marker represents where a soldier's body was found after the battle.
The darker marker represents an Indian's body.
The trees line the Little Bighorn River. The Indians were camped on the other side of the river.
Looking back to the visitor's center.
We drove along a five mile road that follows the high ridge that formed the spine along which the battle was fought either side.
Some of the soldiers attempted to flee up this gorge. They failed.
Mountains way off in the distance, still with snow.
The horses moved off the road when we arrived. They are used to the tourists.
At one stage, some of the soldiers retreated up this gully.
The signs help to understand what was going on, but if I went back, I would try to get on an organized tour.
We never got to see Custer's marker. You have to walk back up from the visitor's center and at the end of a long day we just wanted to get to our motel in Billings which was about an hour away.
So read the book sometime. I think it gave a better picture of what happened.
The battlefield was much bigger than I expected and I think I had not realized that soldiers and Indians on horses could travel a couple of miles so quickly. Estimates vary but apparently the final part of the battle was over in 15 to 30 minutes. Since there were no survivors from Custer's Last Stand, there are only estimates of what actually happened based on the stories that the Indians told and the position of the bodies.