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The Next Generation In The Study Of Custer's Last Stand

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Re-enactor Events

By Gay Jones

Webmaster's Note: A big thank you to Friends' member, Ms. Gay Jones for sharing her observations of the re-enactor events.

All photos © Heather Deschane, Chief Historian John Doerner, and Gay Jones as noted.

The 130th anniversary weekend was my second trip to the battlefield. I’m thankful I attended because it will be a journey I’ll never forget.  It seemed like there was some event taking place somewhere at all times. I’m sure I attended all of them, but the highlight for me was when the re-enactors arrived at the battlefield on the morning of the 25th.  I felt like I stepped back in time to 1876 as Larry Gibson’s re-enactors marched up Last Stand Hill. When they passed by, I could hear the sounds of their horses, and the leather and bits while the U.S. flag snapped in the wind.  

Traffic stopped to allow the riders pass by. When Gibson’s group reached the top of the hill and across from the 7th Cavalry Monument, they stopped, turned their horses to face the monument, and then quietly saluted.  The crowd was hushed and stood in awe. Then the bugler began to play Taps. Before he was finished, I had goosebumps. This event was so serene, so solemn, and so very poignant.  Then, just as they arrived, the riders turned and descended the hill. Later that day, I had the honor to follow this same group back up the hill to watch them place a memorial wreath at the monument.

Also on the 25th I was lucky to witness Steve Alexander’s group of re-enactors arrive at the battlefield before the noon ceremony.  The long column of horsemen with Custer leading the way, marched across the prairie and then halted in front of the visitor center.  It was an astounding sight!   

The soldiers dismounted a few at a time, picketed their horses, stood in formation, and then crossed the road where they visited with individuals in the crowd and posed for pictures.  Again, I felt like I had stepped back in time.

The entire anniversary weekend was remarkable, but seeing the re-enactors made it extraordinary for me.

Gibson's Re-enactors

Gibson’s re-enactors approach the battlefield entrance via Hwy 212. Photo by Deschane

They rode 500 miles by horseback beginning at Ft. Lincoln near Bismarck, ND. Photo by Jones

They start their ascent upon Last Stand Hill. Photo by Deschane

“The U. S. Flag snapped in the wind.” Photo by Deschane

“They stopped, turned their horses to face the monument, and then quietly saluted.” Photo by Jones

“Then the bugler began to play Taps. Before he was finished, I had goosebumps.” Photo by Deschane

After 500 long dusty miles, Gibson’s men finally can honor the fallen of June 25-26, 1876. Photo by Jones


Alexander's Re-enactors


Alexander’s men ride down Medicine Tail Coulee. Photo by Doerner

They approach the Custer Battlefield. Photo by Jones

They dismount. Photo by Jones

They wait for the order to march. Photo by Jones

And approach the visitor center. Photo by Jones


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