August 5 - 15, 2017 - 7th Ranch RV Park, Garryowen, MT
LITTLE BIG HORN BATTLEFIELD – (Battle of the Greasy Grass to the Indians)AKA Custer’s Last Stand
The trip from the Lazy R campground in Ranchester WY to the 7th Ranch RV Park in Garryowen MT was an easy, short drive under clear, sunny weather. It took about 1 hour to drive. We went in two separate vehicles, Bill driving the motor home (as yet un-named) and Mary the new pickup truck, who we call Eddith2, because we did not yet have the base plates (tow hookup) or the lighting wiring for the truck.
CAMPGROUNDThe campground at 7th Ranch RV Park in Garryowen MT is actually within the Crow Indian Reservation, closest to Crow Agency, MT, but has a Garryowen address. Actually its address is just Reno Creek Road (with no number attached to it. Being on the Reservation and there being so few places on that road, the post office, Fedex and UPS all know exactly where it is, not to mention that it is also the first place on Reno Creek Rd. The campground is actually a sideline of 7th Ranch, which is actually is working ranch. As one drives up to the campground the first thing one sees (apart from the ranch house on the hill) is a corral (often with horses in it), right next to the RV Park office. The park itself is very pretty, well-organized, clean and even stepped so that each site has a good view of the surrounding area, between or over each other site, which is about 5 feet lower (or higher depending on one’s point of view). Around it there is nothing but open land and beautiful scenery and sunsets. There are a few trails, one leading to an American flag on a hilltop and further to a wrought-iron cross, with no special significance, which we did take a walk on and then cut through the side of the hill, despite the warnings that there are rattlesnakes around. We didn’t find any of them. The pan picture of Mary on the hill shows the campground in the background. It is a very nice park which we would recommend heartily to anyone wanting to visit the Little Big Horn battlefield and are around it. (www.historicwest.com)
We had made arrangements to meet our Coast Guard friends that we met in the Thousand Trails Lake Conroe (TX) campground, and then again in Decatur IN, last year, in this campground as they were in the area and also wanted to visit the battlefield. We had a lovely visit for the 3 days that they were there and would have put their photos on the blog, except that the photos came out turned sideways on the blog with no way to straighten them. It seems we have to take photos ‘landscape’ with our cell phone, or they get turned sideways. Knowledge is power.
INDIAN MUSEUM (Private)
This museum is right around the corner from the campground (@ 5 miles) and is of importance because it has many artifacts and uniforms from Custer and the soldiers killed on the battlefield, that are not available to the US Government agencies, like at the Little Big Horn Visitor Center. WHY? Because when the massacre of Custer’s men, the only living personnel left was the Indians, and they took ALL the soldiers uniforms, weapons and artifacts of the battlefield that they could find before the remaining forces of the Cavalry garrison came to their aid (though too late). The Indians refused to give back anything they had and only gave it to this particular museum because it was Indian owned and within the reservation, and they received no funding from the US Government, so they were under no obligation to ever share these item with the government. This museum also has a much better video (45 mins. long) of the facts that led to the battle and of how the battle was fought and its aftermath. It is especially advantageous to visit this museum (and see this video) BEFORE going to the Little Big Horn Battlefield, to better understand the events that took place there. Unfortunately, this museum does not allow ANY photography within it, so we only have 1 photo available to show you (from the entrance, outside).
BATTLE OF THE LITTLE BIG HORN NATIONAL MONUMENT
As one enters the area, one is advised that PETS are not allowed on the grounds of the national monument area. So, if you visit it make arrangements to leave your pets at home, or with a friend. WHY? We can only imagine that it is a sign of respect for the significance of the area. It is not a park for entertainment, but sacred ground where brave men (on both sides) have given their last full measure of devotion. The Cavalry fought because they had the orders of an ego-maniac who apparently cared only for his own glory, but the Indians fought to preserve their way of life, that the government kept trying to overrun.
The visitor center is quite well detailed with facts and photos, and it also has a video but theirs is only 25 minutes and not quite as informative as the Indian museum’s video. Outside there is a cemetery for soldiers fallen in battle or as a consequence of combat injuries, and also apparently has civilians and children. Though not stated why, we would guess that these were either immediate family of soldiers and civilians lost in combat, or related somehow. Among them we noticed the headstone of ‘Curly’, who was an Indian Scout of the US Army during this time that comes up in many tales of events in this Frontier. His photos are presented in both the Indian museum and the national monument visitor center, as well as many other places.
From that cemetery, which can only be appreciated as to its scope in panoramic photos, one can also see at the top of the hill beyond the visitor center, what is known as Custer’s Last Stand… that hilltop to which they were driven with no other place to go, and fought tooth and nail until they were all killed. At that point, Indians tell that soldiers were aware that at that place is where they were going to die, because they put a bullet in their horse’s head to use its body as cover, but aware that without their horse, they had nowhere else to go. And yet they kept fighting until the last man died.
Having seen the Indian video and heard a semblance of the noise of battle we could almost also smell the gunpowder in the air, and see the men fighting and dying. Then again, looking out at these fields, now so still, quiet and beautiful, it is hard to imagine what actually happened in this hallowed ground.
These photos are mostly panoramic due to the great expanse of territory to be covered. Where appropriate we included the sign that tells of what happened on that particular view, so you can see it as we did. The white markers were where US Cavalry and some civilians were found by the garrison when they came to the scene of the battlefield. The red granite markers were that of Indian warriors where they had fallen. Where known, the name of the soldier or warrior is etched into the marker, otherwise it is just marked “unknown” or left blank.
Brave men died here from both sides, but they each had a reason to be there and to fight. However, not just men died there. Horses, who had no reason to be there and who would get nothing out of it, also died as a consequence of the struggle between the US Army's orders as a consequence of Washington's policies, Custer's irresponsible vanity and the Indians struggle to maintain their freedom and way of life. So it is befitting that these horses be free to graze upon this land, where perhaps some of their own ancestors died, as is the case of the Indians who today live on this reservation, bordering the Little Big Horn. Being open range there are no fences for them, and it is truly wonderful to see them FREE.
Above, the monument at Custer Last Stand Hill, where Custer made his final entrenchment and met his end with the remainder of his soldiers. It is hard to stand on that hill and look around at the quiet, peaceful and beautiful scenery, and try to imagine the desperate hours, noise of gunfire and orders being shouted, men shouting and bodies falling of horses or standing next to another, etc. At this hill the soldiers new that they had nowhere left to go and there are Indian accounts of the soldiers putting a bullet in their own horses' heads to use their bodies as shelter from the Indians.
The soldiers and settlers called it the Battle of the Little Big Horn, but the Indians called it the Battle of the Greasy Grass. The title is derived from the Lakota name for the battle, termed after the "greasy" appearance of the grass in the waters near the battle. Each year the Lakota of the Great Plains commemorate their victory over the US Army at the Battle of the Greasy Grass (better known is American History as the Battle of the Little Big Horn, as it occurred in Big Horn County MT, along the Little Big Horn River.
The white and red granite markers (headstones) scattered all along these field were placed there to mark exactly where a soldier's or scout's (white markers) or Indian's (red granite markers) were found after the battle. Where an identification was possible, their names are identified on the markers; when not, the name "unknown" (or just left blank) identifies the person buried there. To look across these fields as far as the eyes can see and see all these white and red markers... sometimes in groups of 5-8, or 3 or even all alone is heartbreaking, knowing not only that they died, but also how they died... and WHY.
Leaving the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument.
Custer Battlefield (Little Big Horn) Trading Post
BOB SMITH FORD, HARDIN, MT
So, having obtained the base plates and wiring harness from Etrailer.com sent to us at 7th Ranch RV Park, we went on to Bob Smith Ford in Hardin WY, who said they could do it. The Installed the tow plates (that which attaches to the tow bars), but they could not make the wiring actually light the brake lights and turn signals on the truck. The following day went back to Bob Smith Ford, to give them a chance to correct their installation, but they were just unable to do so. Actually it was the mechanic's fault, who could not do as he was told even having given him a video of how to install it on a truck the same as ours. So they did not charge us for the work, but did waste our time (13 hours, instead of the 2 hours that it should have taken).
Actually more than the dealers, we blame FORD. We just cannot understand WHY, if Ford invests so much money and effort into making the majority of their vehicles ‘flat-towable’ behind motor homes (Class A's and C's), then WHY won’t they insure that all their dealers have the knowledge to also add the base plates and wiring harnesses to that end. But they just don’t. Therefore the Service Manager, Randee Anderson, did not charge us for their labor. We also called ahead to Fremont Ford in Cody WY to see if they would… Nope! They don’t know how to, either. However, we were able to find an RV service facility in Cody (Park County RV Service), that said they could and would, so we’ll just have to drive separately again, until we get to Cody.
This couple was in from NY to replace their fuel pump, THAT Ford can do. Good thing they did not need to get hooked up to tow a brand new Ford they had just bought to tow behind their RV. Maybe a boycott of Ford, until they step up to the plate and decide to support the RV industry is in order.
Next Post is The Road to Cody Wyoming. Happy Trails!