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General Custer Promoted Black Hills Agriculture

“CATTLE WOULD WINTER IN THESE VALLEYS WITHOUT OTHER FOOD OR SHELTER.”

GENERAL CUSTER PROMOTED BLACK HILLS AGRICULTURE

BY JACK MCCULLOH, RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA

The map of South Dakota has over 49 place names because of one trip the US Frontier Army took through the territory. Tilford, Ludlow, Custer Peak, and Trail City in Corson County are on the map to memorialize the Army’s trip through The Great Sioux – Cheyenne reservation led by George Armstrong Custer. When the territory eventually became a state in l889 one of the first names chosen for a County seat west of the Missouri River was Custer County located in the southwest corner of the new State.

The Mormon Church had accomplished a major population shift into a new territory in the West from Missouri and Illinois. For years thousands had struggled overland for California Gold; and the Montana Gold Rush moving west along the Platte River on established roads.  Those with goals of reaching the West had no interest in the Black Hills guarded by hostile Indians on their trip through “the Great American Desert.” 1

CUSTERS ORDERS TO THE TROOPS TO THE BLACK HILLS

……… care will be taken not to molest or in any manner disturb any Indians who may be encountered on the march, unless the latter should first act in a hostile manner . . . This command is about to march through a country infested by Indians, more or less hostile, and even should the latter, as it is hoped, not engage in general warfare and the usual acts of hostilities, there is no doubt but that they will endeavor to make captures of stock and to massacre small parties found imprudently beyond the lines . . .” his military dispatch of July 15, 1874 from Prospect Valley, Dakota (” . . . Our march thus far has been made without molestation upon the part of the Indians . . . As I sent pacific messages to all the tribes infesting this region before the expedition moved, and expressed a desire to maintain friendly relations with them . . . [o]ur Indian guides think differently, however, and believe the Indians mean war. Should this be true they will be the party to fire the first shot . . .”); and his second military dispatch, from Harney’s Peak, August 2, 1874 (” . . . gold has been found at several places, and it is the belief of those who are giving their attention to this subject that it will be found in paying quantities. I have upon my table forty or fifty small particles of pure gold, in size averaging the size of a small pin-head, and most of it obtained to-day from one panful of earth . . . Until further examination is made regarding the richness of the deposits of gold no opinion should be formed . . .”). 2

The Black Hills of Dakota Territory are different than the nearby Black Hills around Laramie, Wyoming. The Northern Black Hills are   a lot like an inverted bath tub on a flat prairie – 40 miles wide and 80 miles long with a geological rim running around the base of the Hills. These Black Hills are about the size of the present day state of Israel.

The Army explored around the Black Hills of Dakota several times before Custer’s trip.  Before the Civil War the army had sent expeditions around the Black Hills including Harney in 1855, Warren/Hayden in 1857, and Raynolds in 1859.  These military expeditions did some mapping but none had entered the Black Hills before Custer.  In 1868 the US War Department sat down with the Great Plains War Chiefs and in the Treaty setting up the Great Sioux – Cheyenne Reservation the Indians agreed to stop fighting people for a price. 3

Proclamation of Gen. McCook against

Occupation of the Black Hills of Dakota

I, Edwin S. McCook,  Acting Governor of the Territory of Dakota,  by direction of the President of the United States, do … warn all  unlawful combinations of men …, that any  attempts to violate our treaty with these Indians,  … by an effort to invade … said reservation, will not only be illegal … but will be disapproved , and  Government will use  … military power … to remove  all .. who go there in violation of law.4

The first time the Army actually entered the Black Hills was in 1874. Everyone at that time knew you could find gold.   The only question was how much and could you get it?

The War Chiefs agreed they would hunt in certain areas for a limited time, receive annual issues of sugar, coffee and cattle, and would stop harassing the railroads and settlers.  The US Government agreed to remove the manned forts they had established protecting the Bozeman Trail. It’s the only treaty with Indians the government ever entered into that removed military posts from territory to be settled by the spreading population.

CHEAPER TO FEED THAN FIGHT

In the Secretary of War’s report of 1874 he wrote; “The feeding process by 1874 has been now continued for six years with the Sioux, has so far taken the fight out of them….They have been sitting down at the agencies along the Missouri River, to risk the loss of coffee, sugar, and beef in exchange for the hardships and perils of a campaign against soldiers.  As a result the Custer expedition penetrated to the very heart of their wild country, and returned without any opposition; and the military camps at Red Cloud and Spotted Tail Agencies are in safety, though surrounded by a force of fighting men from ten to twenty times larger than their own number.  To have tamed this great nation down to this degree of submission by the issue of rations is in itself a demonstration of what has been so often argued – that it is cheaper to feed than to fight wild Indians. 5

The purpose of a thousand men and their supply wagons entering the Hills and finding a route was to record what was there.  President Grant was near the end of his second term as President, and he spoke bluntly to the Indian Chiefs when they visited him in Washington D.C. that he expected them to live in peace on reservations.  He would not allow free roaming Indians to check in just to receive food, clothing, and money.  Grant’s policy was — if you choose to roam/live free off your reservation; your tribe will not receive annuities – or land grants – or cash payments.  Sioux Chiefs such as Spotted Tail and Red Cloud resisted being counted in the census claiming it was against their religion.   Grant put a stop to their tribes receiving anything until they were counted.

Grant would not negotiate directly with the Chiefs; instead, they must negotiate with the Secretary of the Interior and the Church run (Quakers) head of the Indian Bureau.

Grant wanted Indians treated as citizens of the United States and insisted they deal with the Government through the responsible agencies. He amended the law to make Indians citizens instead of banning them as citizens.  He expected them to learn English, and make their own way in a short time by working land. Indians were issued plows, seeds, and farm equipment.

The chiefs on the Northern Plains knew that Congress had designated reservations as sovereign areas and the army could not enter reservations except by permission of the tribal councils.   Some insisted as heads of “Sovereign nations” they would deal only with the President – not with Indian Agents assigned by the Government – because as heads of nations they had equal rank of the President and they did not like Indian Agents telling them anything.  The chiefs wanted to select their own agents to act for the Government in providing for them.

Grant lost his patience with argument and ordered the Secretary of the Interior (Columbus Delano) at the time which was essentially a privately run church related welfare operation financed largely by Government manpower and money, to feed and cloth only those Indians living full time on reservations .He also ordered the army headed by General Sherman to remove tribes from non reservation land after a two year deadline to their reservation.  Trail herds of cattle from Texas  had  for several years been  grazing during wintertime  in Montana territory, replacing the depleted Buffalo herd on the Plains ,  and cattlemen wanted Indians put  on reservations , not free and able  to steal horses , raid local ranchers and  run off their cattle  herds.

In the Great Plains the Sioux and Cheyenne claimed hunting areas by treaty.  They argued Grant could not take away rights approved by Congress in 1869, but never signed by two thirds of the bands affected called for by the treaty. The treaty let the railroads through the Great Sioux Reservation along the Platte River.   Congress   let the time limited parts of the 1868 Treaty run out (food and clothing) and expected Indians to be in “Indian Territory” (present Oklahoma) – or on reservation they set up in limited states on a case by case basis.

CUSTER BOOSTS AGRICULTURE FROM HARNEY PEAK

“Twenty six days were spent traveling inside the Black Hills, and about 300 miles of valley were traveled by the command. Placer  Gold  was found  …;   The search for gold was not exhaustive, … but at one point a shaft was sunk to a depth of eight feet, and  gold was found amounting to five cents per pan at the top, … to twenty cents at … eight feet. ……Custer’s Gulch, where twenty of the explorers took gold claims, declaring their intention to work the claims as soon as a possession of the country can be obtained, seven miles south of Haney’s Peak.”6

When he climbed Harney Peak Custer wrote a promotional pitch.  He said

“Cattle could winter in these valleys without other food or shelter than that to be obtained from running at large.” His published report caught the attention of Gen. William B. Hazen, commander of Fort Union, at the junction of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, who was convinced the Great Plains was the Great American Desert.

‘”The lands are not worth a penny an acre,” said Hazen, and in the winter “men and beasts perish from cold.”

Custer thought General Hazen was fond of notoriety and “consequently scribbles a great deal for the papers.”  Custer wrote a nine column article in the Minneapolis Tribune (published April 17, 1875, shortly after the Black Hills Expedition) refuting Hazen ……Custer had extravagant praise for the Black Hills country.7

“Agriculture in no portion of the United States, not excepting the famous Blue Grass region of Kentucky, have I ever seen grazing superior to that found growing wild in this hitherto unknown region.  I know of no portion of our country where nature has done so much to prepare homes for husbandmen, and leave so little for the latter to do as here.  In the open and timbered spaces a partly prepared farm of almost any dimension, of an acre and upward, can be found here.  Not only is the land cleared and timbered for both fuel and building, conveniently located with streams of pure water flowing through its length and breadth, but nature oft times seems to have gone further, and placed beautiful shrubbery and evergreens in the most desirable locations ….The soil is that of a rich garden, and composed of a dark mould of exceedingly fine grain….Nowhere in the States have I tasted cultivated raspberries of equal flavor to those found growing wild here…Wild strawberries, wild currants, gooseberries, and wild cherries are also found in great profusion and of exceedingly pure quality.  Cattle would winter in these valleys without other food or shelter than that can be obtained from running at large.”8

Joe Reynolds read these reports in the Chicago Inter Ocean newspaper while working successfully his gold claim in the mountains of Colorado.  He was working a claim in high country near Leadville and decided to pack up his mule and head for the Black Hills.  He settled in Custer, and returned to Colorado to bring back a wife.  He developed a homestead in what today is known as Reynolds prairie. Today Ivan’s son is still operating a ranch on Reynold’s Prairie

CUSTER TAKES REPORTERS TO THE BLACK HILLS

What the first journalists in the Black Hills reported stimulated thousands moving to the Hills from all directions, filling up of the country to overflowing in 1875.  Thousands of jobless, underemployed and immigrant men read in the papers the word “gold” and decided to head for the Black Hills.

New York City’s population at the time was near 2 million; Chicago was near 400,000, Kansas City was 350, 00, and Minneapolis was just short of 100,000.

Newspapers sent reporters with the Army to report on what was out their in unknown territory. The public was always interested in the activities of the hyperactive Civil War cavalry officer – George Armstrong Custer. Reporters invited along paid their own way, including horses, to be on the outing. 9

Promoting Agriculture and Grazing

“Portions of the Black Hills are well fitted for agriculture, especially those from two to three thousand feet above the level of the sea, and all are adapted to grazing.  The general elevation of the hills varies from four to seven thousand feet above the level of the sea, their base alone having an altitude of from fifteen to twenty-five hundred.  From this it will be seen that they are not very high, taking their altitude from base to summit.

“When the present expedition returns, mining companies will be organized to test the value of the minerals found, and they will go fully prepared to overcome all opposition from the combined force of Sioux, Arapahoes, and Cheyennes, who will soon throng the region in quest of game for their Winter food; and if they contain any treasures of importance these Argonauts will soon make the fact known.”10

The Acting Secretary of Interior Smith in his annual report of 1874 wrote;

“A military expedition to the Black Hills caused great excitement among all of the Sioux people.  They regarded it as an infraction of their treaty, and were filled with the fear it might lead to their exclusion from a country they highly prized.

“The exaggerated accounts of rich mines and agricultural lands given in dispatches of Custer and news reporters with the expedition increased the eagerness of people to take possession of the country.  The correction of these exaggerated claims, by statements that no indications of mineral wealth were found, and that the lands were undesirable for white settlements, along with the strict prohibition of the War Department of any intrusion into the Territory did not stop parties from fitting out and leaving from Yankton, Bismarck, Denver, and Helena Montana.”11

The dispatch of Custer announcing gold in the Black Hills set off a stampede of fortune-hunters into Lakota territory. Although the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty requires the government to protect Lakota lands from  intruders, federal authorities were asked and felt they  had to protect the miners traveling along the road Custer blazed for them, which they call “Freedom’s Trail” and the Lakota call “Thieves Road.

The Army with less than 25,000 men on active duty in the entire Army failed to keep Gold seekers out of the Hills with several companies. So did the 25,000 Sioux who were not fighting among themselves and other bands scattered all over the Great Sioux Reservation.

Both the Army and the Indian Tribes failed to keep the public out of the Hills when the public got Gold Fever.

THE LAKOTA WAR – 1876


A Senate commission meeting with Red Cloud and other Lakota chiefs in 1875 to negotiate legal access for the miners rushing to the Black Hills offered to buy the region for $6 million. But the Lakota refuse to alter the terms of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty and declare they will protect their lands from intruders if the government will not. So Congress repealed the 1868 treaty in 1877, stopped all benefits the Indians argued they were to receive, and Congress took back 40 million acres of land.

END NOTES

(1) The Northern Pacific Railroad was built during the years of 1872-1873 to Bismarck across the River from the site of Ft Lincoln Custer was assigned to build. During those years, the country west of the 100 Meridian (which runs through the middle of South Dakota) had an above average rainfall. This resulted in a perception the land was suitable for farming. Custer reported the abundant grass on his 1873 expedition to Montana. His reports along with the railroad’s advertisements designed to sell land and entice settlers west, painted the country as conducive to settlement. Hazen refutes these claims by reports from those who experienced the normal seasons that received little rainfall.

(2) Samuel J. Barrows went with the Yellowstone Expedition of 1873 and with the Black Hills Expedition in 1874 as a reporter for New York newspapers. Barrows was elected to Congress in 1897. He promoted legislation to remove Indians from reservations, believing assimilation would lead to equality.

(3) Wikipedia encyclopedia – Internet

(4) The New York Times, published April 9, 1872

(5)Newspaper Chronicle of the Indian Wars, Volume 4, compiled by Marc H Abrams, Published 2010, Page 16

(6) The New York Times, published September 1, 1874

(7) My life on the Plains by Custer, representing the major part of Custer’s life, was first published some two years before the General’s Death. It is a vivid picture of the American West, the rigors of life for the settlers, and the horrors of Indian warfare.  The first edition of the book included a chapter by General W R Hazen which Hazen later privately published separately as a pamphlet entitled These Barren Lands.

(8)His articles on the Plains Indians were first published in the Galaxy Magazine 1872-74, and then incorporated into his book, My Life on the Plains, or, Personal Experiences with Indians, published in 1874.

(9) Robert Strahorn spent his life writing and promoting.  Instrumental in settling west of the Missouri river and developing its resources.  He was one of the best at selling something that existed only in dreams.  He touted farmland Often land so tough it would take 3 generations to succeed.

(10) The New York Times, published April 28, 1874

(11) The New York Times, February 1, 1874

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.

Remembering Custer’s Last Command in South Dakota

Bates, Also Known As Murphy, Has Three Graves in Sturgis

By Jack McCulloh
Pictures by Scott Nelson

The geography now South Dakota, in 1874, was an empty, blank space on the maps. The highway into this unknown territory was the Missouri River. The post Civil War U.S. Army had troops in camps along the river. Fort Union was one of the major Army forts and was walled with “drive up” windows and a room for trading furs with the Indians. Security dictated Indians not be in direct contact with troops and families inside the fort. The fort in 1874 was commanded by General William Hazen, George Armstrong Custer’s nemesis clear back to West Point when Captain Hazen ordered Custer court-martialed. The fort was where the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers join and run south together.

Southwest of present South Dakota, the Army bought a trading post that became Fort Laramie. Its mission was to supply, rest, repair, and protect the thousands of wagons and people traveling on the Oregon and Mormon Trail. Population in the United States was exploding and everyone with influence in the Territory wanted the Army involved in protection from Indians.

President U.S. Grant’s administration in 1868, by agreement with Red Cloud, abandoned army camps protecting the Bozeman trail to gold fields in Helena, Montana. The treaty agreed buffalo could be harvested by the Indians for seven future generations. (1)

A series of treaties with Indian bands was needed to allow railroads, telegraph lines, roads, and trails to gold rushes to California and Montana, and to the coal mining needed to supply the Transcontinental Railroad and homesteaders moving West up to the 100th meridian. People were moving into blank spots on the map seeking the dream of owning land. What was later labeled “The Great American Desert“, after a generation of starvation, was just on the west side of the Missouri River.

General Phil Sheridan was the driving force behind organizing a massive expedition into this territory in western South Dakota, explore and prepare a map and report on the country around Bear Butte. Sheridan was anxious to have a military post to control the Indians who were not agreeing to go onto a reservation. (2) Crazy Horse was one of those leaders who would not quit the freedom he had always lived.

Sheridan sold President Grant on letting him use the 7th Calvary, stationed at Fort Abraham Lincoln at present day Mandan, North Dakota, for the exploration. Across the river at Bismarck was the end of the rail and telegraph lines. Sheridan had the option to use the railroad and Fort Laramie troops but he did not want to stir up the Indians in the area from Fort Laramie to the Black Hills. There were reporters from Chicago and New York on the trip and many other population centers.

The 1874 exploration in the wilderness is memorialized in modern maps of South Dakota. There are over forty-nine map locations: Ludlow, SD (Chief Engineer on the trip); Tilford, SD (Commander of Fort Rice and head of infantry on the trip), Custer peak, and even “Turk head” rock (after one of the hunting hounds the General brought along) because of the exploration.

Scott Nelson, Pierre, SD (3), is making a serious effort to find and photograph the grave sites of members of the 7th Calvary buried in South Dakota. Many were on the 1874 exploration and others enlisted after the trip and were in the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June 1876. Some served in building Fort Meade in 1877. The army base was located by Sheridan when public pressure arose from the massive numbers of people seeking fortune in the Black Hills due to the reports of gold from the 1874 expedition.

Locating the graves of the 7th Calvary veterans in South Dakota is a challenge. Joseph Bates is an example. Soldiers of the time may or may not have used their given name and often used different names when they enlisted or re-enlisted.

On the east end of Sherman Street is Bear Butte Cemetery, so named because it has a magnificent view of near by Bear Butte, which has a gravestone purchased by the G.A.R. marked Joseph Bates.(4) Also in the Bear Butte Cemetery is a smaller military marker (5) which reads Jno. Murphy inside the G.A.R. and on top of the gravestone is an attached silver plaque of about 3 inches by 4 inches engraved:

Joseph Bates
Alias
Jos C. Murphy

Ernest C. Gottschalk, 97, was the one who attached the metal plaque to the headstone. The inscription “ECG -97″ stands for Ernest C. Gottschalk and 97 is the year he placed the plaque on the tombstone (1997). Before it was engraved by Gottschalk, the silver plaques were the standard marker used to identify grave sites before a headstone was placed in the cemetery. From 1986 Gottschalk, who lived at Vale, S.D., made a project of finding grave sites in many counties in the northwestern part of the state that were no longer marked. He kept records of the graves he found and re-marked them. He filed his findings with county offices in Lawrence, Meade, Butte, Harding, and Ziebach counties, which have booklets of information listing his findings by cemetery (6).

Joseph Bates

Jno. Murphy

Joseph C. Bates

Ernie Gottschalk was given a Certificate of Recognition from the South Dakota State Historical Society Board of Trustees in December 1993 “for documenting burial sites.” These certificates are given out from time to time for meritorious acts in the history field.

Gottschalk depended heavily on pioneer papers of the area, most of which are only available on microfilm in local libraries. Gottschalk died in 1997.

On the west end of Sherman Street in Sturgis is the Catholic St. Aloysius cemetery. It’s about three miles straight west from Bear Butte cemetery.

Joseph Bates

Joseph Bates has the only military marker in one section of the Catholic cemetery. He was a survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn valley and the hilltop fights.

Bates obituary said:

“Joe Bates is dead. And the verdict of the coroner’s jury is ….he took Paris green with suicidal intent. No blame is attached to anybody, as Bates repeatedly said he was all right, and wouldn’t have a doctor. The coroner’s jury decided he died by his own hand.

Deceased served in M Troop, 7th cavalry, and was first sergeant for some time. He has been around Fort Meade ever since the post was established, and was a laborer or teamster in the quartermaster’s department for years. He had only one ear, having lost the other at Fort Lincoln…He was driving an ambulance when the team ran away and he fell under the vehicle, one wheel cutting the left ear off clean, but doing him no other harm. Bates was buried yesterday afternoon, and Calvin Duke post members, G.A.R. followed his remains to the grave.” (7)

Bates was born in Rhode Island and re-enlisted in 1870 at age 31 in Carlisle, Penna. He deserted in 1872, was apprehended in 1873, and joined Company M by Special Order issued by the Headquarters Department of Dakota in 1874. He is not listed as Bates on the 1874 trip into the Black Hills area but John Murphy is listed as a private in 17th U.S. Infantry (commanded by Major Lewis G Sanger) and 7th US Calvary(Commanded by 1st Lt. Donald McIntosh) (8)

Bates was 55 years old when he died. His military record shows when he was 40 years old the post surgeon certified Bates “as incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because the nearly 27 years that I have known this man he has been on Sick Report or in the hospital. Half the time for inebriation bordering on delirium…..He is useless as a soldier and unfit for that profession”

Bates service records listed him as Joseph C. Murphy in L, 1st Massachusetts Calvary in 1863 rising to the rank of 1st Sergeant. After the Civil war he re-enlisted as Joseph Bates and was assigned to the 7th Calvary.

He may have suffered from shell shock/combat fatigue. In those days alcohol or addiction to morphine was the only way soldiers could deal with this problem. Many soldiers were sent to insane asylums or committed suicide. Bates’ long military service and memories of action at Little Bighorn with Company M may have been too much for him. (9 & 10) He was discharged in 1877 after the post surgeon at Fort Rice, Dakota Territory, issued his report.

Civil War records say that John Murphy was a Captain in Company L of the 1st Massachusetts Calvary; his death is listed as September 11, 1893, and his headstone was supplied by the Vermont Marble Company for the Bear Butte Cemetery in Sturgis, S.D. (10)

Conclusion

This research is presented with the hope someone has information that will answer questions that still remain.

NOTES-
1. People who have not read the Treaty of 1868 still claim it says “so long as grass grows and water flows.” No agreement with Indians – or Treaty – during Presidents Grants eight year administration has any such language or guarantee.

2. President Grants’ policies for Indians of the time; a. Sanctuaries (Reservations) b. annuities and c. re-location. d. Peace e. time lines.

3. Website is http://pie.midco.net/treasuredude. An active contributor to Little Big Horn Associates and the website http://www.littlebighorn.info

4. Section 2, lot 43, Bear Butte Cemetery. The GAR was active in providing financial assistance to veterans with no family and no money.

5. Section 2, lot 45, Bear Butte Cemetery

6. Angela M. Ross, Meade County Register of Deeds, Sturgis, S.D. – E. Mail – mcrod@meadecounty.org – keeps on file in her office the material Gottschalk filed with Meade County by cemetery of graves he found and marked with these plaques. Ross reports Gottschalk filed with many counties information specific to the county where he filed the report. He also did some marking of graves in Wyoming. The legality of marking 300 graves and changing markings on headstones with aliases used by veterans, based on obituaries published, for over 10 years is an open question.

7. Sturgis Weekly Record, September, 1893

8. In the book Private Theodore Ewert’s Diary of the Black Hills Expedition of 1874 – edited by John M Carroll and Dr. Lawrence H Frost – No Joseph Bates is listed in the roster of the Command and civilians. John Murphy is listed as a Private in Company G, 7th US Cavalry, and command of 1st Lt Donald McIntosh. John Murphy is listed as a private in Company G. 17th US Infantry under command of Major Lewis G Sanger. No Joseph G Murphy, John Murphy, or Joseph Bates is listed in the roster of civilian teamsters

9 & 10 Book – Men with Custer – Biographies of the 7th Calvary – 25 June, 1876 by Kenneth Hammer -E Mail communication with John A. Doerner, Chief Historian, Little Big Horn Battlefield, November 14, 2007. – John_Doerner@nps.gov

11. The NPS Soldiers and Sailors web site lists Joseph c. Murphy. It lists two John Murphy’s in the 1st Mass. Calvary.

Bio-

Jack McCulloh, Larry Owen, and Joe Sanders all of Rapid City started tracking as a hobby and a way of hiking in the Hills every week including skiing Terry Peak. the Custer Trail in the Black Hills with a GPS in 1994. After the publication of this research McCulloh started guiding groups to sites visited by the 1874 Exploration and conducting community education classes on the 1874 expedition.

Scott Nelson describes himself as a Custer buff.