I am late with the Little Bighorn post. It is due mainly to being on the road for much of the day. This morning I set out to follow, as closely as possible, the Seventh Cavalry’s route from the Yellowstone River to the Little Bighorn.
One of my initial stops was at the June 22 camp site. I was already familiar with the marker at the beginning of the post, but there is another, newer historical marker next to it. From what I could gather, a local county has begun installing markers along the Yellowstone and throughout the Rosebud Valley devoted to pertinent events in the Great Sioux War.
Much of the drive was on a gravel highway. Ranches dot the valley in either direction and it appeared some of it is still open range. Along with passing a few roving cows, I spotted prairie dogs and a few grouse. I even came across a snake, however it had already been pulverized in the middle of the road. I pulled the car around just to confirm that it was in fact not a rattlesnake.
One of the things that stood out was the landscape. The terrain got rockier and the valley walls taller the farther I drove from the Yellowstone. At the marker for the Seventh’s camp of June 23, I received a bit of a surprise. The plaque on the pyramid shaped rock pile has been removed. Beginning on the twenty-third,the regiment began to encounter signs of a massive Sioux village, which continued to grow the following day. Lt. George Wallace, who would survive the coming battle only to be killed at Wounded Knee noted how so much grass from the valley floor was gone due to the grazing of the large herd of Indian ponies.
My last stop is not marked along the highway. I pulled over at the Medicine Rocks, just north of Lame Deer. There, dring the annual Sun Dance in the early summer of 1876, the Huncpapa medicine man Sitting Bull had a vision of soldiers falling headfirst into the Sioux and Cheyenne village. This vision was interpreted as a sign of a great victory to come.
Tomorrow, I am headed back to the battlefield. I plan to explore the area known as Deep Ravine.
Until the next…