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Friday, September 14, 2012

‘The last man to talk to the last man’



As we move further and further from the momentous date of June 25th, 1876, the opportunity to meet with individuals that have a direct connection to the Battle of the Little Big Horn diminishes.  However, a window to the past coincidently opened up at the Custer Battlefield Museum on the date of June 24th, 2012.

That window to the past was Ex-China Marine, Thomas Edward Kendley.  On Tueday, Thomas humbly sauntered into the Custer Battlefield Museum accompanied by his son Steve Kendley and told his captivating story in detail to one of the museum’s current interns.  Born January 27, 1917 Thomas has seen and partaken in some of the most important events in American History of the 20th century.  Thomas is a proud veteran of World War II.  Mr. Kendley is also an enthusiast of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  Throughout his life he has made several trips to the battlefield.  One of his earliest trips was in 1926, which was the 50th anniversary of the battle.  Thomas recalls the time when there was nothing more than a superintendent’s office and a small collection of artifacts located near ‘Last Stand Hill’, which is now known as the Little Big Horn National Monument.  Interestingly, Thomas mentioned that many of the artifacts were collected by Crow Tribal Member, Big Man, who is an ancestor of one of our clerks in the Gift Shop here at the Custer Battlefield Museum.

One of Mr. Kendley’s finest memories associated with the Battle of the Little Big Horn was when he met Charles Windolph, author of the book I fought with Custer.  Charles Windolph was born in Germany and served in the 7th Calvary under Captain Benteen’s H Company.  At the time Thomas met Mr. Windolph in Leed, South Dakota in 1948, he was 97 years old and the last survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  Mr. Windolph was also a Congressional Medal of Honor Winner and distinguished himself during the battle by drawing fire from the Indians while carriers dashed to the river to collect water.  Despite the heavy rifle fire from the Indians, only one man was hurt during the action. 

During their conversation in 1948, Charles requested that his daughter retrieve “his letter”.  She brought back Mr. Windolph’s most prized possession, it was a letter in mint condition that had never been opened in 70 years, addressed personally to Charles Windolph from Captain Benteen.  Mr. Windolph asked Thomas if he would do him the honor of opening his letter and reading it to him.  The contents of the letter described Benteen’s appreciation for Windolph’s service and wished him farewell.  Nonetheless, Thomas felt honored to view such a document that Windolph had been waiting to read for all those years.

Now 95 years of age, Thomas is truly the last man to have talked to the last man of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  It was an extraordinary opportunity for myself to meet him and the Custer Battlefield Museum was honored to have such a distinguished guest.                  

Intern - Bart Maney

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friends from Garryowen, Ireland!


Chris with Geri from Garryowen, Ireland

This week has been very crazy here at the museum due to the reenactment weekend, and we had tons of visitors here. One of the other interns will be updating about the reenactment soon enough! This past week we had a visitor, Geri Slevin, from Garryowen, Ireland stop in the museum and Chris got some pictures taken with her in front of the Garryowen sign in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was really cool to meet someone from overseas, and I'm always pleasantly surprised to see how many visitors we get from across the pond. We've had people from South Africa to Australia and all over Europe come visit us here at the Custer Battlefield Museum, but having someone straight from Garryowen stop by to visit was the icing on the cake.

The Custer tattoo!

Also, during the commemoration last weekend, a woman came in the museum who had a tattoo of Custer on her arm! Chris got a picture of our Custer reenactor next to her tattoo, which was just awesome. I wasn't expecting someone to come in with a tattoo of him, but some history buffs out there will go to any lengths to show their love for history. During the commemoration, all of us interns got a group picture with Custer as well, which I'm going to put up on the side near our brief bio. We're looking forward to the rest of the summer and memories to come!

Posted by Christin Fimiani

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Meet Autie, Thomas, and Boston!

Exciting news to share! Last week, Chris brought us a surprise: three little bunnies! Sarah and I named them after the Custer brothers. The three of them have been a little mischievous in escaping their cages, but we were finally able to get them a large dog cage which they have enjoyed immensely. They are very curious about their new home and keep exploring every chance they get. They've been flipping around with joy and loving the hay that we got them to chew on. We've been giving them lots of lettuce, carrots, and vegetables to nibble on as well. They're spoiled! It's been exciting to have them in our room and take care of them for the summer though.

Yesterday was pretty busy in the museum with the reenactment taking place down the road, and the ceremony out front. The 7th Cavalry came down to Garryowen to do the commemoration in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was exciting to see Custer there as well, and all of the interns got a picture with him which we will post up here soon enough. I still can't believe how many people we've had in the museum the last couple of days. It's been nonstop running around, but lots of fun. A couple of us are going to head into Crow today to check out some of the Native Day entertainment (and get some bbq ribs/fried bread), so I'm sure we'll have lots of pictures to update you all with in the next few days. Lots of exciting things going on here in Garryowen!

Posted by Christin Fimiani

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Tipi is up!!


Tipi against a beautiful backdrop!
 After much anticipation the Tipi is finally up on the back property! You might ask why the Custer Battlefield Museum puts up a tipi here in Garryowen and I will do my best to answer! Before the Battle of the Little Bighorn, over 7,000 Indians were camped here in the valley along the Little Bighorn River, in a camp that stretched 5 miles wide and 1 mile deep. All of the different tribes of the Lakota Sioux Nation (BrulĂ©, Oglala, Hunkpapa, Black Feet, Miniconjou, Sans Arc & Two Kettle), the Eastern Dakota, the Northern Cheyenne and the Arapahos camped separately. The camp situated the farthest South was Sitting Bull's Hunkpapa camp, which made it the first camp that was attacked by Reno, starting the infamous battle. Today Garryowen sits on the site of Sitting Bull's camp and each summer we put up a fill size tipi at the locations where historians speculate Sitting Bull's tipi sat during the battle.

Posted by Sarah Szabo

Saturday, June 16, 2012

They save the best for last...

Howdy blog readers,

My name is Bart and I'm the latest intern to arrive at the Custer Battlefied Museum in Garryowen, Montana.  I hail from Helix, Oregon and I'm currently studying Human Physiology at the University of Oregon in Eugene,OR.  I'm super-excited to be here and I expect that there will be plenty of intersting adventures to share with you on this blog throughout the summer.   

Friday, June 15, 2012

History of the Cavalry in the U.S. Army!

The museum has been pretty full the last week or so, and many people are asking about the anniversary of the battle this year, which has been fun to talk about. Both Sarah and I have had some pretty in depth conversations with visitors about various topics of the battle, and we've been learning a lot in the process as well. In fact, one visitor I spoke to yesterday reminded me that it was the anniversary of the army (6/14/12) and I figured it would be interesting to talk a little about the beginnings of the Cavalry branch within the U.S. Army, which was prominent in the 18th-20th centuries, especially during the westward expansion.

Little Big Horn Battle Reenactment, Cavalry
George Washington first saw the effect a small British cavalry unit had on his men at the Battle of White Plains, and asked Continental Congress for a small "dragoons" force in 1776, which was approved for 3,000 men. Congress appointed the Polish revolutionary soldier, Count Casimir Pulaski, to train them as an offensive strike force during winter quarters of 1777–78 at Trenton, New Jersey. After the Continental Army was discharged in 1783, the first cavalry unit to be formed was during the War of 1812, but it would eventually be disbanded after the war due to being too expensive to maintain in a standing army. The Westward Expansion of the early to mid 19th century would bring the cavalry forces into the spotlight once again, securing them a place in history during the Civil War and the Indian Wars. They began as Mounted Ranger Battalions protecting settlers among the East bank of the Mississippi River. To correct what was perceived as a lack of discipline, Congress formed the United States Regiment of Dragoons as a regular force in 1833. After infamous battles such as Little Big Horn with the 7th Cavalry and Custer's legacy forever attached to the mounted forces, they proceeded into the 20th century during World War I and even into World War II, until they merged with more mechanized regiments (tanks, heavy machinery, etc.) The last horse cavalry charge by an Army cavalry unit took place against Japanese forces during the fighting in the Bataan Peninsula in the village of Morong on January 16, 1942, by the 26th Cavalry Regiment of the Philippine Scouts.

I found it pretty interesting to see how the cavalry, and the Army, have progressed over the last 250 years or so. I'm glad that visitor reminded me of the anniversary, despite the vague idea I had, because much of this information I didn't know until I researched it. Thank you, visitors, for your little tidbits of knowledge! We love hearing them and can't wait to interact with more of you.

Posted by Christin Fimiani

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The 7th Ranch RV Camp


Follow this sign down the
 Frontage Rd
 
After having a great time at the BBQ with the 7th Ranch work campers we decided to go up to the 7th Ranch ourselves and take a look around. The RV park is very easy to get to, when you exit at 514 you simply turn left, going under the freeway, and then follow the signs, which take you south down the frontage road until you get to Reno Creek, where you turn left again until you get to the beautiful 7th Ranch. We get visitors in the museum who are staying at the 7th Ranch and they have nothing but good things to say about the facility, which after taking a look myself, I have to agree with.

Full Service Sites
 The setting is gorgeous with rolling, green hills on all sides and a wide, blue sky as far as the eye can see. The 7th Ranch not only offers full or partial service sites, with trees between the sites to give shade on sunny days, but also cabins and tepees for travelers without an RV or who are adventurous and want to experience a night in a tepee! For the comfort of their visitors they also provide laundry and bathing facilities with soft water, which is a luxury in this part of the country. Chip and Sandy are native Montanans and have owned the ranch for 20 years. They purchased the ranch from Henry Weibert, author of Sixty-Six Years in Custer's Shadow, who was happy to pass on his property to people who were as interested in its history as he was.
 
Cabins and Teepes!
If you are interested in gaining more information about the 7th Ranch you can follow the link below to their website:

You can also visit them on facebook for up to date reservation information and additional photos and videos:

Posted by Sarah Szabo

Follow the road to glory....

Follow the road to glory....

The View From the Outside Looking In

The View From the Outside Looking In

All the Pretty Horses

All the Pretty Horses

The First Visit to LBH NM

The First Visit to  LBH NM

Battle Recreation Table

Battle Recreation Table

Ghost Dance Shirt

Ghost Dance Shirt

LBH Miniatures

LBH Miniatures
a close-up of the battle recreation

Custer's Cravat

Custer's Cravat
Somebody loves the cravat

Lewis and Clark

Lewis and Clark
A bear, a 400-year-old canoe and a ram head, with one thing in common

Justin and his gun

Justin and his gun
he is waaaay too excited about holding this gun

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