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The Last Man

CoburnTitle

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
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.

Those Who Later Lived Near the Battlefield

Members of the Seventh Cavalry Who Later Lived and/or Died in the LBH Region (Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota) Including the Indian Scouts but Excepting Those Who Died in Other Battles

Joseph Bates, a private in M Company who participated in the valley and hilltop fights, died on September 13, 1893, in Sturgis, South Dakota, and was buried there in St. Aloysius Cemetery.

Black Calf, an Indian scout also known as Boy Chief, was with Reno’s Column. He died on June 4, 1922, in Armstrong, North Dakota.

James P. Boyle, a private in G Company who participated in the valley and hilltop fights and was wounded in the back, died on September 2, 1920, in Bismarck, North Dakota. He was buried on September 14, 1920, in St. Mary’s Cemetery, in Bismarck (Lot 8, Row 8, Block A).

Carl August Bruns, a private in E Company who was on detached service at the time of the battle, died on January 4, 1910, in Mandan, North Dakota.

John W. Burkman, also known as Old Neutriment, committed suicide on November 6, 1925, in Billings, Montana.

Michael C. Caddle, a sergeant in I Company who was on detached service at the time of the battle, died on May 1, 1919, in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Charles A. Campbell, a Private with Company B who was with the pack train and in the hilltop fight, died on August 2, 1906, in Bismarck, North Dakota.

John C. Creighton, also known as Charles Chesterwood, resided at 107 Seventh Avenue, Mandan, North Dakota, in 1927.

William Cross, a scout, died in July 1894 in Culbertson, Montana.

Curly, an Indian scout, died on May 21, 1923, at the Crow Agency.

William A. Curtiss, a sergeant with F Company, died on October 27, 1888, in Helena, Montana Territory.

John F. Donohue died on December 3, 1924, in Butte, Montana.

Peter Eixenberger, one of the musicians who stayed aboard the Far West, died on September 12, 1917, in Sykes, Montana, and is buried at St. Aloysius Cemetery in Sturgis, South Dakota.

James Flanagan, a sergeant in D Company who was in the hilltop fight, died on April 21, 1921, in Mandan, North Dakota.

Moses E. Flint, a packer with the Quartermaster staff, was with the pack train and in the hilltop fight. He died in 1902, presumably in South Dakota, and was buried at Spring Valley Cemetery in Pollock, South Dakota.

Harvey A. Fox, who was not at the battle, died on March 28, 1913, in Warm Springs, Montana.

Peter Gannon, who was not at the battle, died on June 12, 1886, at Fort Assinniboine, Montana Territory, where he was originally buried. He was reinterred on March 27, 1905, at the Custer Battlefield National Cemetery, Montana, in Section B, Site 1285.

Edward Garlick, First Sergeant in G Company, was on furlough at the time of the battle. He died on January 25, 1931, in Sturgis, South Dakota.

Goes Ahead, an Indian scout, died on May 31, 1919, at the Crow Agency and is buried in Custer Battlefield National Cemetery.

Hairy Moccasin died on October 9, 1922, in Lodge Grass, Montana, and was buried on October 11, 1922, in Saint Ann’s Cemetery in Lodge Grass, Montana.

Half Yellow Face died in 1879 at Fort Custer, Montana Territory.

John E. Hammon, a corporal in G Company who participated in the valley and hilltop fights, died on January 19, 1909, in Sturgis, South Dakota. He was buried in Bear Butte Cemetery, in Sturgis, South Dakota.

George B. Herendeen died on June 17, 1918, in Harlem, Montana.

Max Hoehn, a private in L Company who was on detached service at the time of the battle, died on January 6, 1911, in Sturgis, South Dakota. He was buried at St. Aloysius Cemetery in Sturgis.

Jacob Horner, a private in K Company who was on detached service at the time of the battle, died on September 21, 1951, in Bismarck, North Dakota.

John J. Keller died on February 8, 1913, in Butte, Montana.

Ferdinand Klawitter, a private in B Company who was on detached service at the time of the battle, died on May 17, 1924, in Nax, North Dakota.

John Lattman, a private in G Company who participated in the valley and hilltop fights, died on October 7, 1913, in Rapid City, South Dakota. He was buried in Elk Vale Cemetery which is east of Piedmont, South Dakota.

Little Sioux, an Indian scout who was with Reno’s column in the valley fight, died on August 31, 1933, in North Dakota.

John J. Mahoney, a private in C Company who was with the pack train and in the hilltop fight, died on July 27, 1918, in Sturgis, South Dakota and was buried at St. Aloysius Cemetery in Sturgis.

Samuel J. McCormick, a private in G Company who was in the valley and hilltop fights, died on September 10, 1908, in Fort Meade, South Dakota. He was buried in Bear Butte Cemetery in Sturgis, South Dakota.

Thomas F. McLaughlin, a sergeant in H Company who was wounded in the hilltop fight, died on March 3, 1886, in Jamestown, North Dakota.

Jan Moller, who was also known as James Moller, was a private in H Company who was wounded in the hilltop fight. He died on February 23, 1928, in Deadwood, South Dakota, and was buried there in the Mount Moriah Cemetery.

Lansing A. Moore died on July 27, 1931, in Rawlins, Wyoming.

William O’Mann, a private in D Company who was in the hilltop fight, died on April 26, 1901, in Fargo, North Dakota.

Daniel Newell, a private in M Company who participated in the valley and hilltop fights and was wounded, died on September 23, 1933, in Hot Springs, South Dakota. He was buried in Bear Butte Cemetery in Sturgis, South Dakota.

John Pahl, a sergeant in H Company who was wounded in the hilltop fight, died on January 28, 1924, in Hot Springs, South Dakota and was buried in Bear Butte Cemetery in Sturgis, South Dakota.

James Pym died on November 29, 1893, in Miles City, Montana.

Michael Reagan, who was not at the battle, died in 1917, in Columbia Falls, Montana.

Red Bear, who was also known as Good Elk, was an Indian scout who was in the valley fight. He died on May 7, 1934, in Nishu, North Dakota.

William Sadler, a private in D Company who was on detached service at the time of the battle, died on November 12, 1921, in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Hiram Wallace Sager may have homesteaded in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1887. See http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/sd/campbell/land/camp-st.txt.

James W. Severs died about 1912 in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

Walter Scott Sterland, a private in M Company who was on detached service at the time of the battle, died on August 27, 1922, in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Strikes the Bear, an Indian scout who crossed the river with Reno’s Column, died on June 7, 1929, in Ree, North Dakota.

Strikes Two, an Indian scout who crossed the river with Reno’s Column, died on September 8, 1922, in Elbowood, North Dakota.

Peter Thompson, a private in C Company who was wounded in the hilltop fight and later awarded the Medal of Honor, died on December 3, 1928, in Hot Springs, South Dakota. He was buried in the Masonic Section of the West Cemetery in Lead, South Dakota.

James Weeks died on August 26, 1877, on the Crow Agency in Montana Territory.

Henry Charles Weihe, who was also known as Charles White, was a sergeant in M Company who fought in the valley and hilltop fights and was wounded. He died on October 23, 1906, in Fort Meade, South Dakota, and was buried in the Old Post Cemetery at Fort Meade.

John S. Wells, a sergeant in E Company who was on detached service at the time of the battle, died on July 16, 1932, in Dickinson, North Dakota.

Adam Wetzel died on March 20, 1909, in Bozeman, Montana.

White Man Runs Him died on June 2, 1929, in Lodge Grass, Montana, and is buried at the Custer Battlefield National Cemetery on the Crow Agency, Montana.

White Swan died on August 12, 1904, on the Crow Agency, Montana.

Felix Villiet Vinatiere, the Seventh Cavalry’s Chief Musician, was not present at the battle. He died on December 15, 1891, in Yankton, South Dakota.

Charles A. Windolph died on March 11, 1950, in Lead, South Dakota. He is buried in the Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis, South Dakota.

James Wynn, a private in D Company who was in the hilltop fight, died on March 21, 1892, in Fort Yates, North Dakota.

Younghawk, an Indian scout who participated in the valley and hilltop fights, died on January 16, 1915, in Elbowood, North Dakota.