Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 6, 1976 · Page 93
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 93

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 6, 1976
Page 93
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Custer Battlefield off 1-90 in southeastern Montana is visited by thousands every year. The 100- Year Mystery By Lois McBride For 100 years history buffs and historians have puzzled over the battle that shouldn't have happened but did, a victory that should have happened but didn't. The Battle of the Little Bighorn--the military-Indian conflict on the wild Montana prairie that catapulted Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer into history and decorated with legends the Sioux names of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Gall. June 25 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and at the Custer Battlefield National Monument, near Billings in southeast Montana, special observances have been planned to mark the occasion. At sunrise on June 24 the American flag will be soberly raised over the battle site, honoring the military dead and silently emphasizing the fact that though the Indians won the battle, they lost the war. The day will be dedicated to the battle itself, with Indian and military speakers and music from Indian drums blending with the bugles of military bands. The battle anniversary--June 25--will be dedicated to the deceased veterans of all wars. Observances on that day will include an address by Robert Utley of Washington, D.C., a historian who is known as one of the ultimate authorities on the battle that captured the imaginations of the American public as no other Indian-military battle has done. In the battlefield museum the story is told and told again, and a film is shown continously--"Red Sunday," a film battle-interpretation that has won a Cine Golden Eagle and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame award as Best Historical Documentary of 1975-76. Military, the Battle of the Little Bighorn carried little significance--yet it has become one of the most controversial legends in State Magazine;-June 6. 1976 American history. Certain elements of the puzzle will never be unraveled. Why did Custer so drastically un- dertimate the Indian forces--attacking with a m i l i t a r y force of less than 700 one of the largest con- centrations of Indians ever assembled on the continent? Why did he split his command, why did support fail to come, why did he fail to support his own attack? About those brief two hours in the history of the West more has been printed, painted and written than any other American battle. the elements of the battle are a classic example of superlative drama. The cast of characters would have won an Oscar nomination: Custer--dashing and glamorous, demoted from his Civil War rank of general and anxious for a smashing military victory to further his ambitions; Sitting'Bull, spirit chief of the Sioux, whose visions had assured him the Sioux would be victorious: Crazy Horse and Gall, superlative Sioux generals and masters of daring tactics, flaming with anger over intrustions by gold-hungry whites into the sacred Black Hills of the Dakotahs. 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