Traveling West and Looking Around
Last time in Denver and some observations.
My youngest son and I took off to the Little Big Horn to see where Custer made a fool of himself. He died for it and took a whole bunch of others with him. We spent the night in Hardin, Montana in a cheap, yet clean hotel, in a small room with double beds. There was not much to the town of 3600 people. It was not a dangerous place to be either. I felt more danger in Mesa AZ. We the gray-hairs, are viewed as being vulnerable.
Craig and I went looking for a restaurant. Everything was buttoned up tight due to Covid. This included its best pizza place. All due to the pandemic. I guess no one there knew Covid is no worse than a cold or the flu? I had the two Covid shots and another for the latter. Colds come and go
We ended up ordering food at the a liquor store attached to a closed bar. Fortunately, they had a grill. Shoulda got the burger as the breaded fish was not like you would get at a fish fry in Wisconsin or Michigan. One can always hope they found an unknown gem. Since the bar was closed, we picked up some bourbon, and retreated to our room. Hardin like other little towns are are suffering badly from Covid. The infrastructure was looking tired too.
Hardin was struggling. The local grocery store was the only place having cars in the parking lot and people inside.
There were not many people at the Little Bighorn battle field. The site has a cemetery and we spent some time reading the stones. One thing I did notice was with each retreat, attempt to rescue Custer, or Reno’s retreat from the Little Bighorn village was a trail of tomb stones. There remains an unexplored ravine were solders were trapped and shot from above.
At nearby Billings, MT; we stopped to eat dinner before returning to Hardin. The waitress was trying to be noticed by my young son. He was busy doing other things on his phone. I asked him why he did not respond in a manner to her. He said she was unfriendly. I listened to her conversations and agreed. Pretty only goes a short way in life.
The next morning, we took off to Cody, Wyoming to visit the museum. If we had time, I think going to Yellowstone would have been more interesting. About 45 minutes into the departure, I discovered I left my Movado watch at the hotel in Hardin. We turned around and got it at the front desk. And took off through the snow into the mountains of Wyoming again.
Cody, WY was different from Hardin, MT. We plurged by staying in a LaQuinta Inn this time. Compared to the Homestead Inn, plenty of room and my son paid for the room again. I picked up the bill for food and liquor. Not sure who made out on that arrangement. Vibrant town and touristy. Plenty of places to eat and people out on the streets. Buffalo Bill’s museum brings in the touristy crowd. And skiing brings in the ski crowd. Not a down hill skier. I do like cross country skiing.
We toured the Native American wing of the Buffalo Bill museum and talked to the staff pointing out a couple of things they did not know about the Little Big Horn site. Kind of surprised some who worked at the museum did not visit the Little Bighorn.
There is also a large collection of various bullet-spewing-weapons in a couple of wings for those who love to play with them. Quite a few animal trophies. The museum is an interesting place to visit and worth a day of looking around it. A lot of tales about Buffalo Bill and his history is all over the museum.
There is a contrast in America. Little towns struggling and bigger towns making out. Much of which the success of being prosperous can be or is due to industry or travel destinations located in them. If America is to be successful, it would behoove its politicians to pay attention to the plight of small towns too and the abandoned inner cities.
There is more to be written as we were making our way across the US from Chicago to Denver and into Phoenix, AZ. Later . . .
Really fine writing.
” You go down there, General.”
“If America is to be successful, it would behoove its politicians to pay attention to the plight of small towns too and the abandoned inner cities.”
No to small towns. They are doomed worldwide.
Yes to parts of cities.
Been through Montana a couple/three times just before and six months into covid and was struck by the general seediness of it all, Missoula in particular, where I spent both a couple nights and a big chuck of my younger days (Go Griz!). Last time I stayed in Missoula I actually changed my mind in the parking lot of the Motel 6 because after a sixteen hour run out of MN in March a two o’clock in the morning parking lot full of meth-heads partying their hearts out wasn’t someplace I was gonna’ stay (though I probably would have slept right through it, I wasn’t leaving my truck out there).
It was pretty seedy when I went to school there too, but … you see things different.
West Yellowstone a year earlier was fun, the spouse DID NOT APPRECIATE all the dead animals hanging on the walls of the Yellowstone Hotel (Teddy Slept Here!), but we got a great rate 😉
Over all it was a good trip. We met a young waitress who was going back to college (in Wyoming) on Scholarship. My youngest son is thirties. She was excited on getting back to school. We split the tip to kind of help her along.
Last time through Wyoming, we were in Cheyenne looking at houses. We stopped at a grill which was part building, truck, etc. The food was good and too much of it. We talked about the old locomotive “Big Boy” with the owner. It was refurbished there. In his little restaurant, he had a lot of railroad memorabilia. I am a gray-hair, old Marine Sergeant, and not that intimidating. Just talk to people . . . and see if I can find something they have in common.
Did you get a chance to chat with any of the bison? Did you find any dinosaur bones when you were there?
No Justin. I did not chat with the bison. You were not there with your horns to chat with.
Small towns have always had it rough, except perhaps in that period between the end of Reconstruction and maybe into the 1920s when the South concentrated on cash crops but imported food.
Montana has it rough because so much of its economy was oro y plata, gold and silver. That’s the state motto. When the veins run out, the money stops rolling in. You’d think states like Montana would push for a federal small town revival policy, but people tend to get stuck on a return to the past fantasy. If it isn’t about more oro y plata or bringing back manufacturing or something familiar, it can’t be good. Worse, it must be opposed.
The trip sounds good, not great, but you had time with your son which is really more important than sightseeing, food or even liquor.
Thank you for adding to this brief post. It was great trip for both him and I. He was history major and I had read a lot. My oldest son and I hiked the Pubelos and white water rafted the Arkansas. I never got to do this with my younger son. Since I am compromised, my abilities have decreased. Not so much as to prevent me from doing certain things as I will explain in the next part of going from Chicago to Denver.
On the way west, we stayed in small cities doing well and not-so-well.
Checkout the Chas Russel Museum
I found a paper back of his drawings in my wife’s family papers. Scanned them all in as there was no copyright. Some funny ones.
Thank you for the site. I collect and have some nice pieces of signed art besides a Tang Dynasty horse which I had shipped from Hong Kong.
I am not sure why you end up in the trash. I do check it daily and approve your posts. For some reason, it does not take.
i was there about a hundred years ago. the monument was closed for the weekend. nearby was a small grocery store at or for Crow Station. All Indian. Lots of kids with in-line roller skates but no sidewalks. Got back to my truck and found it would not start. went back to store to ask for a push. ignored…. except by a red headed lady who rounded up three big guys and had them give me a push. they never looked at me.
Custer may have made a fool of himself, but there is at least one historian who thinks he may have won the battle of Gettysburg by keeping J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry from showing up behind Union lines at the same time Pickett charged.
Custer left behind a battery of Gatling guns. The Lakota and Cheyenne still may have won due to their numbers. It could have been at a great loss. Then too, Indians do not stand still to be shot.
from history net:
Custer has been criticized for not taking along a battery of Gatling guns, but General Nelson A. Miles commented on their usefulness: ‘I am not surprised that poor Custer declined’ taking them along, he said. ‘They are worthless for Indian fighting.’ Equipping the cavalry with another type of weapon probably would not have made much of a difference at the Little Bighorn.
Would’ve been a nice trick by Stuart to do si, as he was with Lee during Pickett’s charge.
[I saw no mention of the crimes for which Custer and his entire unit were executed at the Little Big Horn.]
Colonel George Custer massacres Cheyenne on Washita River
Without bothering to identify the village or do any reconnaissance, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer leads an early morning attack on a band of peaceful Cheyenne living with Chief Black Kettle.
Convicted of desertion and mistreatment of soldiers earlier that year in a military court, the government had suspended Custer from rank and command for one year. Ten months into his punishment, in September 1868, General Philip Sheridan reinstated Custer to lead a campaign against Cheyenne Indians who had been making raids in Kansas and Oklahoma that summer. Sheridan was frustrated by the inability of his other officers to find and engage the enemy, and despite his poor record and unpopularity with the men of the 7th Cavalry, Custer was a good fighter.
Sheridan determined that a campaign in winter might prove more effective, since the Indians could be caught off guard while in their permanent camps. On November 26, Custer located a large village of Cheyenne encamped near the Washita River, just outside of present-day Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Custer did not attempt to identify which group of Cheyenne was in the village, or to make even a cursory reconnaissance of the situation. Had he done so, Custer would have discovered that they were peaceful people and the village was on reservation soil, where the commander of Fort Cobb had guaranteed them safety. There was even a white flag flying from one of the main dwellings, indicating that the tribe was actively avoiding conflict.
Having surrounded the village the night before, at dawn Custer called for the regimental band to play “Garry Owen,” which signaled for four columns of soldiers to charge into the sleeping village. Outnumbered and caught unaware, scores of Cheyenne were killed in the first 15 minutes of the “battle,” though a small number of the warriors managed to escape to the trees and return fire. Within a few hours, the village was destroyed—the soldiers had killed 103 Cheyenne, including the peaceful Black Kettle and many women and children.
Hailed as the first substantial American victory in the Indian wars, the Battle of the Washita helped to restore Custer’s reputation and succeeded in persuading many Cheyenne to move to the reservation. However, Custer’s habit of charging Native American encampments of unknown strength would eventually lead him to his death at the Battle of the Little Bighorn…
Custer died for your sins.
we probably need to remember the Black Kettle massacre in the hope of preventing future crimes against humanity.
i was not attempting to exonerate Custer, but merely to point out that the guy who “made a fool of himself” was also likely the man who made the Emancipation Proclamation effective with the same military skills and warrior ethic.
but i don’t expect people to change. after all Jeb Stuart couldn’t have been there because he was with Lee.
Inasmuch as Lincoln had no intention of relenting, the South’s uncivil war of secession was unwinnable from the start. The North had the South outnumbered and vastly out industrialized. The South’s only advantage was when they were fighting on their home court although the early crop of Northern generals died on the vine. Individual tactical outcomes belie the obvious strategic imbalance between the antagonists.
you are right about the strategic imbalance. But to win a war you still need to win battles. Both the South and the North knew about the strategic imbalance. The South thought it could win anyway. And Lincoln had to fight to make the strategic imbalance work for him. He was constantly worried about losing the election of 1864.
McClellan was iosing the war because he was reluctant to fight…perhaps believing there was no point in getting his men killed since the war would be over for political reasons soon anyway. It was probably LIncoln’s impatience with McClellan that led to Burnsides brainless aggressiveness at Fredricksburg. Meade and George Thomas were probably technically better generals than Grant and Sherman, but Lincoln and Grant and Sherman knew that agressiveness was going to win the war…soon enough to keep the South from winning by default.
I think, without a lot of evidence, that Custer’s recklessness, for all his faults, won the battle of Gettysburg by keeping Stewart from attacking the Union rear at the same time as Pickett charged the front. Gregg, as a reader here points out, was the local commander, but I am not sure he would have stopped Stewart with his relatively passive distribution of his forces.[I have to give a lot of credit to Lee and Stewart who seem to have lost their grip at least temporarily. Lee ordered a charge out of a textbook, and Stewart announced he was “in place” when he was still 3 miles from the Union line with Gregg (and Custer) between him and it.
Obviously I don’t know what “would have happened,” but then neither does anybody else.
Lee sent Stuart around the Union right to appear at the Union rear at the same time as Piketts
charge. I have read this from several sources. Only one of those sources claims that this was Lee’s fatal error at Gettysburg. I take it that Lee and Stuart did not consider that Meade might have prepared for that.
And because of where he started, and inferior numbers, he had no chance to get behind. There was a calvary battle. He withdrew.
yes. he withdrew. like Custer at Big Horn he knew the odds against him. as for the numbers. what i have read suggests that the odds at the critical point of the battle were 6000 rebs, 200 “Wolverines.” other sources count the rest of the part of the Union army stationed near the battle, and discount part of Jebs forces as being elsewhere at the time. Curious to know your sources..but since I don’t want to google mine, i won’t insist on you detailing yours. But please note: so far you have Jeb “with Lee” and “there was a cavalry battle.” which?
He started with Lee, he was not behind union lines. Custer was in support of Gregg, not the leader. Union had 11,000 Calvarymen at Gettysburg.
but the 11000 union cavalry were not at east caalry field and those that were were not all involved in Custers charge that ruined Jebs day.
Jeb never showed up directly behind the Union center where Pickett was charging…because the Union rear was not unguarded.
So Jeb “started with Lee,” never got behind union lines (where he signaled Lee he was “in position” by firing four cannon shots, charmingly in four directions, but got beat in a battle behind union lines because of where he started (with Lee?) and inferior numbers? meanwhile Custer “supported Gregg” by going out and charging Stuarts cavalry. I think the trouble may not be in your sources.
I never heard of gattling guns at Little Big Horn. But I don’t know everything. Oddly enough, in view of my comment to EMichael re Gettysburg, it looks as if the Indians went around Custers right to appear behind him at the same time as other Indians charged him from the front. But there is no real comparison to Gettysburg.
I have heard that Stuart had about 6000 cavalry and Custer about 200, but sources differ,
similarly at Big Horn Custer had aout 200 and the Indians about 3000. again sources differ.
Sources differ. That sums it up nicely, sources differ.
He had it coming …
Cob, you need better sources.
did you read the article you linked?:
“Custer agreed to stay, and McIntosh’s men deployed. Before long, a heavy dismounted engagement raged in the fields around the John Rummell farm. Stuart’s command took heavy casualties in this engagement, and he sent Chambliss’ brigade forward in a mounted charge. Gregg responded by sending the 7th Michigan Cavalry, with Custer leading them, forward in a mounted charge that stopped the Confederate assault dead in its tracks. The Southerners fell back, and Stuart ordered a mounted countercharge by the brigades of Brig. Gens. Fitzhugh Lee and Wade Hampton.
The Southern horsemen deployed into line of battle, slowly marching, the blades of their sabers glinting in the bright afternoon sun. They charged, headed straight for Union artillery blasting away at them. Gregg again ordered one of Custer’s units, the 1st Michigan Cavalry, to charge, and, with Custer at their head crying, “Come on you Wolverines!” their charge split the Confederate line in two. Units of McIntosh’s brigade and elements of the 5th, 6th and 7th Michigan Cavalry regiments joined in, attacking the flanks of Stuart’s charging lines, and the confused Confederates broke and fell back. Taking more heavy losses, Stuart abandoned his quest to reach the intersection of the Hanover and Low Dutch Roads. The fight for East Cavalry Field was over.”
“while infantry fighting resumed on the morning of July 3, two brigades of Union cavalry under Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg picketed the intersection of the Hanover and Low Dutch roads three miles in the rear of the Union army. A third brigade of Michigan cavalry under Gen. George Custer was close at hand and supported Gregg’s troopers. Control of both roads would be essential if the Union army was forced to withdraw from their positions around Gettysburg.
Artillery fire signaled the opening of a Confederate attack followed by dismounted fighting on the farm of John Rummell. Three brigades of Confederate horsemen under Gen. Jeb Stuart, who had arrived on the battlefield the evening before, launched a series of mounted charges, each of which was repulsed by a counter-charge from the Federals. After suffering heavy losses, Stuart withdrew. The Union rear was secure.