The Quick 10: 10 Facts About the Men of the Battle of the Little Bighorn

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Today is the anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The battle actually lasted overnight, but today is the day of Custer's Last Stand. So, here's a little trivia for you about some of the men who made history.

10 Facts About the Men of the Battle of the Little Bighorn

1. George Armstrong Custer had almost as many nicknames as George W. Bush. When he was young, his family called him Armstrong and Autie, which came about when a young Custer tried to pronounce his middle name. Later in life, his troops called him Curley and Jack. Jack was actually because of his initials, G.A.C., which were emblazoned on his satchel. Finally, the Plains Indians called him Yellow Hair and Son of the Morning Star. I bet they had some other choice nicknames for him as well.

2. Somewhat bizarrely, Crazy Horse's nickname was Curly, too. He was born with the name "In the Wilderness" or "Among the Trees" but eventually took on his father's name, Crazy Horse. People called him Curly because he had his mother's (Rattling Blanket Woman) light, curly hair.

3. Custer liked to wear cinnamon-scented oil in his hair.

4. Custer may have had a son with Mo-nah-se-tah, the daughter of Cheyenne chief Little Rock. She had her first child in January 1869, a couple of months after Custer's 7th Cavalry killed her father in battle and took 53 Cheyenne women and children captive. She had her second child late in 1869 - this is the child speculated to be Custer's.

5. By all accounts, the battle with Custer's Battalion lasted less than an hour. In fact, some evidence shows that it was less than HALF an hour. Which makes sense, considering that the 7th Cavalry was really outnumbered. No exact numbers have ever been determined, but it could have been as high as 9:1.

6. Not only did Custer die, two of his brothers, his brother-in-law and his nephew were also killed.

7. Lakota Chief Sitting Bull had a premonition that they would prevail over the 7th Cavalry.

8. The 7th Cavalry broke up into pieces during the attack, which included battalions led by Custer, Frederick Benteen and Marcus Reno. Reno went to West Point, where his best friend was none other than James Whistler. On a test, Whistler wrote that silicon was a gas. Many years later, Whistler told Reno that if he had gotten that question right on the test, then he would have stayed in the Army and been a general. Reno's response? "Then no one would have ever heard of Whistler's mother." Some of Reno's friends say this is the only joke he ever made.

9. Sitting Bull traveled with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show for a few months in 1885. During that time, he nicknamed Annie Oakley "Watanya Cicillia" - "Little Sure Shot". He asked to adopt Annie after seeing her shoot the ace of hearts out of a card at 30 paces.

10. Black Elk, a famous Sioux Medicine Man, said he acquired his first gun at the Battle of the Little Bighorn when he took it from a dead trooper. Black Elk was one of Crazy Horse's cousins and took the name Nicholas Black Elk later in life when he and his family converted to Catholicism.
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June 25, 2008 - 10:46am
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