The Battle of Little Bighorn and its aftermath Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in The Battle of Little Bighorn and its aftermath Deck (9)
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Overview of little bighorn

The Battle of the Little Bighorn was the most decisive defeat for the US Army during the whole of the Indian wars.


Describe the background to the battle

hiefs Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull refused to accept the peace of 1868.
Gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874.
The Sioux refused to sell their land in the Black Hills.
The government ordered the Sioux onto small reservations. When the Sioux refused, they were declared 'hostile'.


Describe the battle preperation

General Philip Sheridan was sent to defeat the Sioux.
In June 1876 US armies, led by the generals Alfred Terry and John Gibbon, met at the Yellowstone river.
Gibbon was set to march up the Little Bighorn river, and Lt Colonel George Custer was ordered to march round the Wolf mountains, as part of a two-pronged attack on the Sioux camp.


Describe the armies

he Sioux had been joined by the Cheyenne and Arapaho, making an army of more than 3,000 warriors, armed with Winchester repeating rifles.
Custer marched his men through (not round) the Wolf mountains, to arrive at the Sioux camp first.
Custer divided his 600 men into three groups.


What happened at Custer's last stand

Custer sent Captain Frederick Benteen scouting, and sent Major Marcus Reno to attack the Sioux village from the south.
Custer headed north of the village with 215 men.
The Sioux cut off both Reno and Custer. Benteen rescued Reno, but Custer and all of his troops lost their lives.
The Sioux withdrew when Terry and Gibbon arrived.


Why was Custer defeated?

He acted alone - even though Gibbon's last words to him were - Custer, don't be greedy. Wait for us.
Instead of going round the Wolf mountains, Custer force-marched his men through the mountains. His troops and horses arrived tired after the long march.
He weakened his forces by dividing them into three - although this was classic US Army tactics.
He expected the Sioux warriors to scatter and run. Instead they outmanoeuvred and surrounded him.
He was hugely outnumbered.
He was arrogant and over-confident, and wanted the victory to bolster his political ambitions, he was considering running for President in future. He ignored the advice of his Crow scouts to wait for reinforcements.
The Sioux leaders - especially Crazy Horse - were expert and experienced generals.
The Native Americans regarded the war as their last chance - they fought with desperation.
The Sioux were determined - The whites want a war and we will give it to them, said Chief Sitting Bull.
Custer had poor information - he did not know how big the Sioux army was, nor that they were armed with Winchester repeating rifles.


Although Crazy horse won the battle of little bighorn what happened afterwards?

Although Crazy Horse may have won the Battle of Little Bighorn, it was only a temporary halt to the advances of the Plains settlers and American army. If anything, it made them more determined to force the Native Americans onto smaller and smaller reservations.


Describe the key steps after little bighorn?

November 1876
The US Army began winter campaigns against the Sioux, starving them into surrender. Colonel Mackenzie destroyed Dull Knife's Cheyenne camp - driving the Cheyenne into the hills to survive the winter without any food.
January 1877
Chief Sitting Bull fled to Canada. He joined a Wild West show, but eventually returned to join the reservation.
October 1877
Chief Joseph of the Nez Percé tribe tried to flee to Canada, but was intercepted. I will fight no more forever he vowed.
Richard Pratt opened the first boarding school for Native American children.
The Sioux were given cattle and forced to become cattle-herders.
Geronimo led a series of rebellions by the Apache warriors, but eventually had to surrender and become a vegetable farmer.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued the Code of Religious Offences, banning Native American religious customs such as the Sun Dance.
The Dawes Act divided the Native American reservations between the different families.
The Oklahoma Land Run. The government split 2 million acres of former 'Indian territory' into 160 acre plots, and people had to race to claim a plot. The race began at noon on 22 April 1889 and by next day all the land was claimed.
A medicine man called Wovoka started a Ghost Dance - although it was peaceful, the Army, fearing a rebellion, tried to arrest Sitting Bull, who was taking part (he was killed during the attempt). Then when Sioux Chief Big Foot, trying to avoid the trouble, led his people to Wounded Knee Creek, they were massacred by the US Army.


Why did the white Americans win the West?

White Americans won the West because everything was on their side. The Native Americans fought bravely, but the odds were completely against them.
Little Bighorn - the massacre of Custer's regiment caused thousands of 'Custer's Avengers' to join up, and it made the US Army determined to hunt down and destroy the Native American warriors.
Lies - the US government made promises which it later broke.
Economy - the US government had unlimited men and money. After the Little Bighorn, the Sioux had to disband their army because the land could not support so large a group for long.
Technology - the US Army had access to repeating rifles, machine guns, cannons and the telegraph. The Native Americans had to buy rifles, and used smoke signals to communicate.
Railroads - thousands of white Americans and US soldiers could travel to the West in hours by railroad.
Slaughter of the buffalo - after the 1870s, white hunters destroyed the buffalo, not only for their hides, but partly to destroy the Native Americans, whose way of life depended on these animals. By 1895, less than a thousand buffalo remained on the Great Plains.
The US Army was too big and strong for the Native American warriors. It controlled the Plains from a system of forts.
Reservations destroyed the Indian way of life, because people on them were forced to become farmers. Many warriors became alcoholics. The influence of the chiefs declined, because the reservations were run by agents. The Code of Religious Offences destroyed the Native American religion, and the Dawes Act ended community ownership.
Education - the Indian boarding schools, which the children were made to attend, forced Native American children to become 'white'. They were beaten if they even whispered in their own language - the motto of one school was kill the Indian to save the man.