Sarah, Christin and Bart are the 2012 summer interns at the Custer Battlefield Museum in beautiful Garryowen, Montana. On this blog, we will record our museum adventures and describe all of the events we have the privilege of experiencing this summer.
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!
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!
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 (Brulé, 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.
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.
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.
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:
This week has gone by fast, but it's been packed with a lot of people at the museum! As Sarah said in the previous post, earlier this week Chris took us out to see where the unknown soldier was found as well as the battlefield and National Monument. We got a chance to walk through a part of the cemetery and see where Goes Ahead and Curley, two of Custer's scouts, were buried. Major Reno is also buried there and was the only officer from the battle to be buried in the cemetery with such high honors and an eleven gun salute. We got a chance to see the monument and Last Stand Hill where Custer and his men fell. The view from the top of the hill was incredible, but there was a somber mood throughout the area, despite the crystal clear morning. Seeing the markers on the hill allowed visitors to get a grounded view of what happened during the Battle of Little Bighorn, and envision it to the fullest extent. Across the road from the monument was the Indian memorial which was dedicated in 2003 in memory of all the tribes who died defending their way of life during the battle. It came to represent the mutual understanding of the infinite all the dead possess, both 7th Cavalry and Native American. Inside the memorial were beautiful displays dedicated to the Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapahoe and Crow Indians who lost their lives. We're hoping to get a chance to attend one of the Ranger talks and visit the battlefield again very soon.
Cutting the watermelon
Yesterday we got to throw together a BBQ with Chris and invited a group from the 7th Ranch down to attend, along with a few other friends in the area. It was a lot of fun preparing the food and setting up, and it was a great chance to meet everyone and share experiences. Good food and great company always bring people together and this was no exception! Not to mention the delicious watermelon Sarah and I got to cut up for dessert, along with the New York style cheesecake our guests brought (which reminded me of home). Hopefully, we'll get a chance to throw another gathering later on in the summer. All in all, it's been a very productive week and we're looking forward to our new interns arriving and the reenactments soon to come.
This week Chris took us out to see where the Battle of Little Bighorn's Unknown Soldier was discovered. The soldier currently resides in front of the museum in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but he was discovered by the Weibert Family in 1925 south east of the current town of Garryowen. The timing of this find was fortuitous because the 50th Anniversary of the Battle was the following year in 1926. He was identified at a Cavalry Soldier and, due to his placement, as one of Reno's men. He is an almost complete skeleton and with the anniversary coming up it was decided that a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier would be dedicated to commemorate the battle. This dedication is famous because it is where the American term "Burying the Hatchet" originated. The Native Veteran, White Bull, dropped a hatchet into the trap door of the tomb to symbolize the end of the tensions between the two communities. The Veteran from the Seventh Cavalry was General Godfrey (he was a Lieutenant at the time of the battle) and the two men shook hands over the tomb. There were other artifacts placed in the tomb along with the hatchet, one being a letter from Elizabeth Custer explaining why she could not attend the dedication. We tell people about the Tomb everyday at the museum, so it was nice to actually go out and see where he laid for 50 years before his move to Garryowen.
My name is Christin (or Chrissy) and I'm from New Jersey, currently studying for my bachelor's degree in History (concentration in U.S. History) with an anthropology minor. It's been a beautiful first day here. Looking forward to spending the summer here in Garryowen!