This Week in Little Bighorn History

Charles Albert Varnum (left) was born in Troy, New York, on June 21, 1849. He was a Second Lieutenant in Company A who commanded the scouts during the Battle of the Little Bighorn. He participated in the valley and hilltop fights and was wounded in his leg.

Luther Rector Hare (right) married Augusta Virginia Hancock, niece of General Winfield Scott Hancock, on June 21, 1878. They divorced prior to 1906 when she married again. Hare was a Second Lieutenant with Company K who participated in the valley and hilltop fights.

Frank K. Lombard died in San Diego, California, on June 21, 1917. His burial location remains unknown. He was a Private with the Band and was not present at the battle.

George Custer (left) met with General Alfred Terry and Colonel John Gibbon aboard the steamer Far West on June 21, 1876.

Frederick William Benteen (right) died on June 22, 1898, in Atlanta, Georgia. He was originally buried in the Westview Cemetery in Atlanta but was reinterred in Arlington National Cemetery in November 1902. He was the Captain of Company H who commanded a battalion during the battle. He led a scouting party and was wounded during the hilltop fight.

Charles Welch

Charles H. Welch (right) died in LaSalle, Colorado, on June 22, 1915, and was buried in the Evans Cemetery in Evans, Colorado. He was a Private in Company D who participated in the hilltop fight. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle.

Carl August Bruns was born on June 23, 1830, in Brunswick, Germany. He was a Private with Company E who was not present at the battle due to detached service.

John Brightfield was born in Dearborn County, Indiana, on June 23, 1853. He was a Private with Company C who was killed with Custer’s Column.

Fred Stressinger was born on June 24, 1852, in Ripley County, Indiana. He was a Corporal in Company M who was killed in the valley fight.

Jacob Adams was born on June 25, 1852, in Stark County, Ohio. He was a Private with Company H who was with the pack train and in the hilltop fight.

Edward Diamond was born in Stoughton, Massachusetts, on June 25, 1854. He was a Private with Company H who participated in the hilltop fight.

In honor of all who lost their lives on June 25 and 26, 1876, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn: Soldiers, Warriors, Civilians, and Scouts.

Chased by Owls (Hinhan Okuwa), a Two Kettle Lakota, died on June 25, 1876, during the battle.

Cloud Man (Mahpiya Wicasa), a Sans Arc Lakota, died on June 25, 1876, during the battle.

Olans H. Northeg, whose birth name was Olaus Hansen Nordeeg, was born on June 26, 1841, in Nannestad, Akershus County, Norway. He was a Sergeant with Company G who was in the valley and hilltop fights.

Cornelius Bresnahan died as a result of a railroad accident on June 26, 1901, and was buried in the North Cambridge Catholic Cemetery. He was a Private with Company K who participated in the hilltop fight.

Breech Cloth (Miyapahe), a Minniconjou Sioux, was killed on June 26, 1876, while fighting on Reno Hill.

Black Wasichu or Black White Man (Wasicun Sapa), an Oglala Sioux, was wounded during the Custer fight and later died on June 27, 1876.

The Last Man


One of the articles in the Summer 1956 issue of Montana: The Magazine of Western History was a reprint of a 32-page booklet that was copyrighted in 1936 and presented with permission of the widow of its author, Wallace David Coburn. “The Battle of the Little Big Horn” was an account of a story told by Major Will A. Logan (below) who had been the superintendent of the Agency at the Belknap Indian Reservation in Milk River, Montana, and who had just been named the first superintendent of the new Glacier National Park, a position he held in 1911 until his death in 1912.
Logan told his story to a small group with the admonition that it be kept secret, but he further instructed that “on the death of Mrs. Custer this story must be given to the public.” Libbie Custer died in 1933, so the story was kept secret for over two decades.

As with most accounts of the battle, mistakes are apparent throughout the narrative. In addition, this narrative is similar to “Sole Survivor” accounts in that it is questionable if Logan was even there. Logan stated he was 17 years old at the time of the battle, but he was born in 1856, which would have made him 20. He said he was a scout for the Seventh Cavalry but that his father, Captain William Logan, had him transferred to Gibbons’ command prior to the battle. He claimed that General Terry sent him out into the night on June 25th with instructions to find Custer and deliver new written orders and information about their movements.

To make a long story short, Logan claimed to have been the first white man to witness the aftermath of the battle. He said he witnessed the celebrations of the Indians and heard intermittent firing from the area now known as Reno-Benteen. When asked of the condition of George Custer’s body, he replied, “Stripped naked, scalped, mutilated, and with more arrows sticking in him than in the body of any other man on the battlefield, with the possible exception of that of his brother, Colonel Tom Custer.” While the condition of George Custer’s body as described is likely, other details, such as saying they had they “met their doom with smoking rifles and dripping sabers in their hands,” are known to be false.

Logan ended his story with a tribute to the “last man.”

Like the flame of a coal blazed his eyes. His teeth glistened like a fighting grizzly, while from his lips a war-cry came that was weird and strange, making the marrow thicken. In his right hand gleamed a cavalry saber, his left gripped the butt of an empty six-shooter.

Hurling the revolver into the face of a big brave, the white man then commenced to cleave his way through the line. With lightning strokes the saber flashed, dealing sudden death to three more of the bolder braves.

Back rolled the red waves of desperate red fighters, leaving the white brave alone for an instant . . . he looked up at the red sun . . . laughed and said something . . . then laughed again as the red tide swept back over him stilling his courageous heart forever.

His slayers claimed that they never touched his body for he was so brave that they wanted the signs to remain . . . to show others how this warrior of warriors had fought and died.

Who was the last man according to Logan?

Captain Myles Keogh.