“Custer had been usually effective as an Indian fighter for several years… He was adept in bringing off surprise attacks that crushed and paralyzed resistance. Both his reputation and his experience as an Indian campaigner were second to none; and the Seventh Cavalry…was held one of the best regiments in the service. It was but natural, then, that when the regiment marched proudly away from the mouth of the Rosebud on its mission, Terry could and did feel confident that if he could but catch the recalcitrant braves of Sitting Bull between Custer and Gibbon, he would certainly crush and capture them; and if, perchance, Custer found them elsewhere than was expected, the Seventh Cavalry, under such a leader, would be more than equal to any emergency.” From the Story of the Little Big Horn
In June 1876, General George A Custer was detailed to a column under General Alfred H. Terry. After being sent ahead of General George Crook at the Rosebud River, Custer and the Seventh Cavalry discovered a Souix encampment on June 25. Not realizing that he was far outnumbered, Custer divided his regiment into three sections, sending two, led by Major Marcus A. Reno and Captain Frederick W. Benteen, to attack upstream. Custer’s section stayed to launch a frontal assault, and every man under Custer was killed.
Soon after the massacre, Custer became a tragic hero in the eyes of the American public, and the event achieved an almost mythological reputation. It was not until fifty years later, however, that the first book-length history of the battle, The Story of the Little Big Horn, was published.
William A. Graham, 1875-1954, studied at Beloit College in Wisconsin, Stanford University, and the University of Iowa, from which he received a law degree in 1897. Graham practiced law until 1912, when he joined the Iowa National Guard. Although he saw active duty, he spent most of his Army career as a judge advocate. In 1919 he began to study the battle of the Little Big Horn, and first published The Story of the Little Big Horn in 1925. He later published The Reno Court of Inquiry: Abstract of the Official Record of Proceedings and The Custer Myth: A Source Book of Custeriana.
Brian C. Pohanka, one of the nation’s leading authorities on the life of the common soldier of the Civil War, is a frequent consultant of film and the television producers on Civil War reenacting and living history. Formerly an assistant editor and researcher for the Time-Life Books Civil War series, he is the author of Distant Thunder: A Photographic Essay on the American Civil War and Civil War: An Aerial Portrait. Pohanka is also active in Custer and Little Bighorn studies, including archaeological work on the Little Bighorn Battlefield. He works as a freelance writer and consultant from his home in Alexandria, Virginia.