Skip to comments.Custer's last flag: Little Bighorn banner for sale
Posted on 06/27/2010 7:36:34 PM PDT by Saije
An American flag found at Little Bighorn after Lt Col George Custer and nearly 270 men were wiped out by Indian warriors is expected to fetch as much as £3.3 million when it goes up for auction.
The swallowtail battle guidon of the 7th Cavalry Regiment was the only military artefact left behind after Custer and his men were defeated by thousands of Lakota and Cheyenne Indians, led by Sitting Bull, in June, 1876.***
The victorious Plains Indians had stripped the corpses clean of trophies but evidently missed the flag, which was hidden under the body of a fallen soldier. It was recovered by Sgt Ferdinand Culbertson, a member of a burial party, and was sold for $54 in 1895 to the Detroit Institute of Arts.***
The auction house has estimated it will fetch between $2 million and $5 million (£1.3 million to £3.3 million) but hopes it could even exceed the current auction record for a flag the $12.3 million paid for an American flag captured by the British during a 1779 engagement during the War of Independence.
"It's not a piece of decoration. It's a sacred relic, people died for this flag" said David Redden, a Sotheby's vice chairman.***
The battle was part of the Great Sioux War, which started after the US government tried to drive the Indians out of the Black Hills region in what is now Montana.
The land had been ceded to the tribes in perpetuity but, following the discovery of gold there, the US insisted the Indians move to a reservation.
The 7th Cavalry surprised the Indians, led by Sitting Bull, in their village only to realise they had considerably underestimated the enemy's strength.
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
Bad intel, like elections, can have devastating consequences.
Gen. Custer was one of the first to wear an Arrow shirt.
The History Channel many years ago had an Oli Stone tin-foil hat episode where Grant was jealous of Custer so he gave his intel to the Indians and had him whacked..
As Custer said, Where in the hell did all them Indians come from?
I hope it is 0bama saying those words in November.
I’ve been reading and learning more about this battle and the outcome. There’s a large and popular mythology that surrounds these events - much of which was created by Custer’s wife after his death.
Some items for starters:
1. Custer didn’t surprise the Indians. Their picket riders ran into Custer and discovered the size of Custer’s forces. This forced Custer’s hand as he was weighing the prudence of attacking what his Crow scouts were telling him was a large group of Indians.
2. Custer did know that there was a very large number of Indians in the area. His scouts and trackers were telling him this, but he refused to accept their interpretation of the tracks.
3. In the end, what did the 7th in was a failure of leadership. Custer failed to maintain unit cohesion, failed to deal with insubordinate officers under his command and he attacked without having a clear plan communicated to all units.
I personally can’t understand why someone wpuld cough up millions for this artifact.
Your susceptibility to slanderous revisionist history is somewhat explained by your understanding difficulties .
Two good recent books on Custer and the battle - A Terrible Glory by James Donovan, and The Last Stand by Nathaniel Philbrick.
The Black Hills are in South Dakota. The battle was in MT.
if by “slanderous” you mean “research that pops the bubble of those who believe the romanticized version of events,” yep I guess that’s what romantics call it.
The Black Hills do run into MT from SD. Not picking a fight...it’s just geography...The Black Hills National Forest is located in southwestern South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming. You are correct, that the battle happened near the Little Bighorn River near Crow Agency, Montana.
It is my understanding the flag was recaptured by elements of the 4th Cavalry...is this the same flag for sale?
Interesting. Thanks to all posters. BTTT.
I’ve read so much about that battle and I still can’t figure out what Custer’s plan was. I know he thought the indians were aware he was in the neighborhood, which is why he attacked in the middle of the day, but what did he figure Reno was going to accomplish with his little attack. And what was the point in sending Benteen off on a wild goose chase?
Seems the flag is government property and belongs in a military museum.
Read the article after the 4th Cavalry post..no need to respond.
Stone really has no concept of reality.
I enjoyed the book and the movie ‘We Were Soldiers’. Especially when Sgt. Maj. Plumley (Sam Elliot) said “Custer was a wussie. You ain’t.” to Lt. Col. Moore (Mel Gibson). In a replay of that our Congress is the ‘wussies’ now, specifically the RINO’s and anyone against this country.
The Little Big Horn was a classic failure of intelligence. Others would include the Israeli 6 Oct 1973 Yom Kippor surprise attack (for Egypt and Syria) the Gorelick Wall precipitating 9/11 (for America).
The 7th Cavalry fought well in the Pusan Perimeter in Korea as well as at LZ XRAY in Viet Nam. This article was interesting to say the least. I too thought the flag was the property of the US Government (as another comment said), the US Army in particular, and as such should be returned to them. If sold the flag and the monies received for it should be confiscated by the Government. (I would not condone this action in many circumstances but this one for sure) Free enterprise, for me, has no place here. As far as I am concerned the Detroit Institute is just SOOL!
That flag should be in the Smithsonian or at West Point Academy. Hopefully the winning bidder will donate it to an appropriate museum.
I’ve always thought that Custer planned a pincer movement of some kind where Reno attacked on one end of the camp and Custer would attack from the other end.
It seems as though Custer refused to accept the fact that the Indian village he was attacking was freakin’ huge - until it was too late.
It seems as though Custer, at least once, went down to the river in an attempt to ford it but was turned away and headed back up to what was referred to the ridgeline he had been following as he tried to find the other end of the Indian camp. It was up along that area where he was finally encircled.
There was a study done back in the late 80’s or early 90’s that examined archeological evidence found on the battle field. They noticed certain marks on shell casings that seemed to indicate that Custer’s men experienced a greater than expected number of shell misfires and jammed carbines that led to a decline in fire disclipline.
Just a theory, that’s all...
“And what was the point in sending Benteen off on a wild goose chase?”
Custer’s point was twofold: (1) He wanted to block any attempt of the hostiles to flee toward the immediate south; (2) He did not want a repeat of the Washita fight which nearly cost him his hair and those of his command (in attacking Black Kettle’s camp on the Washita in 1868 Custer failed to determine the existence of several other, larger camps nearby, and when those camps got wind of the attack on Black Kettle’s band they came out in force and could very well have wiped out Custer’s command — as they did Major Elliott’s squad earlier that day — had Custer not held a lot of women and children from Black Kettle’s band hostage).
“I personally cant understand why someone wpuld cough up millions for this artifact.”
Well, I’ve been an avid student of the LBH fight for some fifty years now, and if I had that kind of money I’d buy it, and would leave it to the museum in my will.
Yeah, the Sioux were shocked. Shocked I tell you. LOL
Roster 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment’s Little Big Horn Operations “personnel in combat” 25-26 June 1876
I've seen that a couple of times and it was a great documentary. It would have been so cool to be a part of that going around with metal detectors finding bullets and shell casings.
These days it may well be bought by the Lakotas or Cheyennes and displayed in a casino.
You do know that the problem with books and their revision of history is not always accurate? I’m not really sure what happened here...and probably never will. Factual accounts seem to go by the wayside... You have to believe what you want to by reading several accounts of the action.
It is really a shame that our education system (including the publication of books) has become so inaccurate or just plain false... Sign of the times I suppose...
The History Channel many years ago had an Oli Stone tin-foil hat episode where Grant was jealous of Custer so he gave his intel to the Indians and had him whacked.
I’m somewhat curious as to why President Grant, in the last months of his Presidency, would be jealous of Custer? To me, something does not add up.
I saw one of those shows about the Battle of the Little Bighorn on History Channel also. Some pinhead “expert” had come to the conclusion that all of the soldiers didn’t fight on the hill as is always depicted but that they all ran away down the draws and washes like a bunch of cowards. He came to this conclusion because that’s where he found many empty cartridge casings. I’m no “expert” but I have spent some time out looking for arrowheads. If you throw artifacts like that on the side of a hill and come back 150 years later to find them, only a pinhead would look for them on the side of the hill where they were thrown. It’s a weather/gravity thing. The clown on History Channel didn’t seem very familiar with the phenomenon.
There was a Twilight Zone show..a national guard tank crew was taken back in time to 1876..with the tank..
They joined the battle..but left the tank behind.
>>> They joined the battle..but left the tank behind.
Everybody understands soldiering in the decades between the Civil War and WW1 was a tankless occupation.
Libby worked hard to protect the legacy of her husband after the battle. As an aside, she owned the table which Grant and Lee used to sign the surrender at the Maclean house at Appomattox Courthouse. I’ll bet it would bring as much as the flag.
He said, as he opened the bidding...
The Brits better get out a map, while the Little Bighorn battlefield is in Montana the sacred Lakota Black Hills are in South Dakota.
Do you feel that the books I mentioned, A Terrible Glory by James Donovan, and The Last Stand by Nathanial Philbrick, are not accurate in their historical representation? If so, how so?
I think that is the general consensus, but I thought there was testimony from Reno's men that they could see Custer on a ridge waving his hat - at the time, Reno was in full retreat. If those stories are true, Custer must have known Reno's attack was a failure when Custer was still 2 or 3 miles from where he meet his end.
I thought Reno was told by Custer to attack and he (Custer) would support him. Even Reno wasn't clear on what "support" was supposed to mean because he anticipated Custer was going to follow him in the attack.
I know some think that was Custer's plan - if he could get into a position to separate the women and children from the warriors, he would then be able to intimidate the warriors into returning to the reservation. Maybe that was the point of Reno's attack - The warriors would focus on attacking Reno while the women and children would flee in the opposite direction. It would have been nice if Custer had bothered to inform Reno and some of his other officers who survived what "the plan" was.
The expulsion of the Sioux from the Black Hills is a sad parallel with that of the Cherokee from the Great Smokies. In both cases, gold seems to have been the motive.
Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.
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Hair tingling too.
Does hair still tingle when it’s hanging from a pole outside your lodge?
Yeah, well, Custer never was one for sharing a plan with his subordinates, probably because he often flew by the seat of his pants, so to speak. The man was brave, and had some moments of innovation, but he was really not all that good a commander.
There is no question that the Indians outgunned the 7th. The 7th’s ‘73 carbine was a good weapon, but was no match for a repeater within 200 yards, especially given the soft copper shell casings that had a tendency to jam in the receiver when the weapon got too hot. Also, the Indians were able to shoot a storm of arrows from concealed positions, and those sharp missiles falling from the sky caused no end of problems for the troops. The Battle of the Little Bighorn was Murphy’s law in action.
What's really interesting to me is how he apparently changed. Men who served with him during the Civil War loved him, but ended up hating his guts during the Indian Wars.
I thought this flag was in the museum at Ft. Riley...
Most of the grave markers are placed where they found the bodies after the battle. The guys were scattered and several were found in a draw.
At least one theory (partly based on the shell casings they found) was that it appeared Keogh's position was flat-out overrun in very short order. Once his position was gone, it could have generated panic and confusion.
The indians were using the draws for cover and concealment; Custer's guys were exposed on the hills and shot to pieces.
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