A: We all remember learning about “Custer’s Last Stand” in history class, but some of us may be a little foggy on the details. Heck, a few of us can only point out that “Custer” sounds like “custard,” and then go hunting for dessert. But if you’re one of the lucky few who can fend off your appetite, let’s find out why this so-called General Custer (actually Lieutenant General Custer) was so interested in standing.
In 1876, three U.S. commanders – General Crooks, Terry, and Gibbon – were sent to converge on the Ogallala Sioux encampment at Little Bighorn in Montana. Their task: to destroy the Sioux resistance and force them onto a reservation. Lieutenant General George Armstrong Custer was serving under Terry’s command, and unbeknownst to Custer, by the time he arrived, other Sioux tribes had more than doubled the size of the village, bringing it to 7,000 inhabitants.
After an initial skirmish, Custer was afraid the Sioux would retreat before he could attack, so he split his command of 657 men into three groups and attempted to surround them – a fatal mistake. When he finally located the village, Custer led his troops in an all-out assault, saying “Don’t worry, boys – there’s enough of them for all of us!” Indeed, there were.
As the Sioux sounded the alarm, things turned sour rather quickly. In the end, Custer made his famous “Last Stand” with about 100 men on a small hill near the village. In long-range fire against 1,500 Sioux warriors, Custer’s forces fell to the last man when they ran out of ammunition. A total of 263 U.S. soldiers died that day in what was the worst defeat ever inflicted by Native Americans on the U.S. military. And, as advertised, Custer’s standing days were definitely over.